|The race temps were definitely "as hot as a firecracker".|
While the field was probably not as deep as other recent road races (how else would you explain my 3rd place overall in the Male Masters Division?), it was certainly a large field.
While I had hoped for a 7AM race start to avoid the heat, an 8AM start still made it much more bearable than any other time of day (hey, always look for the positives, right?). I had run the Summer Cross Country races the night before, but I had made sure to go much slower than the previous weeks as I was set to attempt a new 5K PR at the Firecracker. At least I wanted to break 20 minutes. I didn't, but that's ok. I walked away with a 3rd place finish in the male master division (oh, did I mention that already?) and 16th overall and a small stack of Fleet Feet gift cards...score!
The race started at 8AM sharp and i had lined up in the second row to ensure a good start. As soon as the race start was signaled, I pressed the start button on my Garmin FR310XT and took off. I planned to stay with the lead group as long as possible before fading away as usual but still maintaining pace for a PR. Well...there was only a small problem with my approach...I had forgotten, for the first time, I might add, to double knot my @!$#%&^ shoes. Sure enough, less than a quarter mile into the race, my right shoelace came undone. After exclaiming my dismay with an unfortunate word choice (note to self: In the future, exclaim dismay in your native German language rather than in the locally recognized tongue), I stepped aside and retied my right shoe. I took off sprinting as soon as I was done, but the lead group was way ahead of me now. Rather than take my time to even try to catch up (which would have been the smart way to go about it), I decided to try to catch them right away, with little success. While I did manage to catch up to a couple of runners that I expected to run at my pace, I spent all of my energy just playing catch up. I had nothing left for any final mile push or finish line sprint. I was physically done and the sun did the rest.
As we approached the final mile of an out and back race course that utilizes much of the Aldridge Creek Greenway, we became fully exposed to the sun again. Thankfully, the mid section of the course had nice shade cover. Not so the first and final mile of the course. I just had nothing left to push and it took all I had to just stick with David Bier, who was chugging along ahead of me (unbeknownst to me, he was pushing for and on track for a new PR himself). I decided I wouldn't even bother to attempt to pass him. Who was I kidding, I had nothing left to even try. Instead, I tried to just hang on and not let him drop me. Of course, he heard me huffing and puffing behind him and like any decent road racer, he wasn't going to be passed on the final stretch, so he picked up the pace. Crap! I wanted to tell him "slow down, buddy...I'm not gonna pas you, I can't, I'm tired, just slow down so I can follow you to the finish", but I didn't even have the energy to do that. I was too busy taking in all the oxygen I could to keep moving.
When I saw the finish clock I tried to sprint, I really did. There was a slight chance that I could still break 10 minutes, but life can be cruel indeed....my final clock time was 20:00 exactly, not 19:59 which is what I had hoped for, even if that wasn't going to be a PR. Oh well, I was glad to hear that David not only broke 20 minutes, but that he blew his previous PR out of the water. Awesome job, buddy, well deserved. The weather conditions certainly weren't perfect for a PR attempt and you did it anyway.
Thanks to the friendly volunteers at the church and to the RD for putting on this event. I will be back for more next year, which double knots in my shoelaces, determined to break 20 minutes!