Tuesday, July 4, 2017

RACE REPORT: Firecracker 5k in Reston Virginia

First, and most importantly - Happy 4th of July Everyone!  Hope you have a safe and fun time (and wake up tomorrow with all your fingers and toes still attached).

This morning I ran the "Firecracker 5k" in Reston Virginia.  Everyone who's run in the Northern Virginia area probably knows the course that begins and end in the Reston Town Center.  I've done the 4th of July run here twice now - both times a big turnout, almost 2,000 people.

Morning Routine
Set my alarm for 5:45, planning to leave the house around 6:30 for the 8:00 race start time.  By 6:30 I had my usual pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and a small glass of milk, and COFFEE.  Did a quick 1/2 mile jog around the house to get the bloods flowing - rounded up my wife, daughter, and my daughter's puppy - and headed for the race.  Arrived around 7:15, which is fine since we already had our bibs.  Found my wife and puppy a good seat / vantage point to watch the finish and headed out for my warm-up.

Warm-Up and Plan
This course is uphill for the last 0.7 miles or so.  I've run it a couple times before, and I haven't yet paced well - slowed down considerably at the end - being passed by at least a few folks each time.  So, my warm-up today was to run the last part of the course backwards, going down the finishing hill, then turn around and run back up the hill to the finish line.  The idea is to "gauge" best I can, the extra effort I'm going to need to finish strong, and emotionally "prep" for it.  Add in a couple strides and I'm to go.

The weather at race start was 75F and 65 dew point.  Best I can tell, from my on-line search, this is about a 3% "adjustment" from perfect conditions, and similar weather to the 4 mile race is did 10 days ago.  My 5k PR is on this course (in perfect March conditions) is 18:41.  Last week I ran the 4-miler in 6:09 pace, so I'm figuring I can run about 6:05 pace - and if all goes right, get under 19:00.  Last July 4th, I finished this race in 19:15 in fairly similar conditions, if I remember correctly.

National Anthem - usually don't mention the National Anthem, but the recording (traditional set up prior to the race) wasn't working.  The color guard was all set up, we had our hands over our hearts, but when it was supposed to start playing - nothing.  After about 30 seconds, the Potomac River race organizers announced "Okay, WE are going to the sing the national anthem - I'll start" and with that we all sang it together - on the 4th of July.  Pretty cool, actually.  I CAN NOT sing, AT ALL.  But, there was a young woman not too far from me that could REALLY sing!  So, I shut up and enjoyed listening to her rendition - very good!

Okay, so here's how the race went, blow by blow (mile splits from Garmin):

  • Mile 1: 5:58.  I had planned to go out around 6:05 for the first mile.  I even lined up a few rows back to force myself to take it easy at the start, and hold back some on a short down hill about 1/4 mile.  Still out a little faster than plan, but "feel" good.  I'm in a small pack of about 4 cruising along, under control.
  • Mile 2: 5:54.  About the pace I planned, mile 2 is about a 60 ft net drop.  I tried to hold back some, knowing we had "the hill" toward the end of the race.  Around the start of mile 2 a woman passed me, and I let her pull me through the whole mile.  We passed a few folks who were now slowing down....
  • Mile 3: 6:12.  Around the start of mile 3 I let the woman I was drafting go, I felt her pace was a little too fast - another guy came up behind me - and I let him tow me for a while.  I would guess my pace fell off some prior to "the hill" but not much.  Around 2.5 miles we start going uphill, and I'm "emotionally ready", I start to push best I can to hold my pace - I only got 5 minutes to go.  I held up pretty good - I passed 5-6 people (in prior races this is the point where was getting passed).  Around 2.75 miles I made my finishing push and tried to "bring it home".  I was able to drop a couple teenagers I was running with (that always feel good when you're old).
  • Last .14: 50 seconds (5:47 pace).  This section was STILL uphill, and I was pushing hard.  I was able to pass one runner with 100m to go, and almost caught the woman I let go at the start of mile 3.  She beat me by 2 seconds, makes me wonder if I should have hung with her the whole time....
Total Time:  18:50.  9 seconds off my PR.  1st AG (M50-54)

I feel pretty good about the result - only 9 seconds off PR in 75F and 65 dew point weather.  Take off 3% for perfect conditions, that becomes 18:16...which WOULD BE a huge PR.  I know...I know...only calculations, but makes me feel better.

So, that's it for targeting shorter races in 2017.  In a few weeks I start marathon training.  I'll run a few races along the way - but always with the 'A Goal' of the Philly marathon in November.

Shout out to Elizabeth, Lisa, and Mika!  Great to see you all, and hope you had a good race today....



  1. Wow, given those conditions you really nailed it. It was great to see you at the start of the race!

    1. Thx Elizabeth! Good to see you again too - and great effort on a tough day!! Maybe we'll see each other again later this year. My next planned race is Leesburg 20k in mid-August.