I’ON Firecracker 5K (22:26)

On Tuesday, I ran my worst race in years, the ION Club Firecracker 5K.

July 4 is the second largest day for running races in the US, just behind Thanksgiving Day, but I’ve only run a handful of holiday races. This year, a couple of my friends were running holiday races, and when I was overcome with Fear Of Missing Out (and Lorcan offered me an entry), I signed up for the I’ON Club’s Firecracker 5K.image

The Firecracker 5K is held in the I’ON neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant, SC, an upscale planned community off Mathis Ferry Rd. The race is only a few years old and advertised a course of both road and trail.

My goal race is in August, so I didn’t adjust my training much for this 5K. On Monday, I cut my easy run about a mile short and skipped strength training. With some of the course being on a trail, heat, humidity, and a 7:30 AM start time, I hoped for a workout that would show SOME fitness gains after three weeks of following Pete Pfitzinger’s Road Racing for Serious Runners 5K plan.

I woke up at 5:15 to hydrate, caffeinate, and head to Mt. Pleasant. I knew none of my neighbors were running because the fireworks in our subdivision kept me up for much of the night. I got a few hours of sleep at a time but drank coffee, ran a two mile warmup with Melissa, and lined up, hoping to give my best. A lot of people arrived after 7 AM thinking the race started at 8 so we were delayed a few minutes.

We set off on the streets of ION and I tried not to start too fast. I want to be one of those runners who races a 5K instead of racing the first mile and surviving the rest of the race, but this goal is a work in progress. A lot of people were ahead of me including some “walls” of runners. I hit the first mile in 7:06. That’s a bit speedy, but I averaged a 7:04 pace at June’s Big Run 5K.

I wasn’t sweating the pace because I was sweating from head from the heat and humidity.

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Around the first mile, we hit the trail. I’m not a trail runner and only run a few trail races each year- and even those are charity races where the trails aren’t super technical. This trail was tough- single track with lots of hairpin turns, roots, and a few wooden bridges. The curves were sharp- plus some high school kids were in front of me… and decided to walk halfway into the race. Thankfully I didn’t collide into them, or into Adam from I GOT LEGS. It was very inspirational to see Adam on the course and know I was running for someone who couldn’t.

I didn’t look at my Garmin during the trail portions of the course because I was focused on not crashing into kids or falling. I was coming up behind another lady when my Garmin buzzed for Mile 2- 8:33.

I expected to slow down on the trails- especially being behind walkers and a mile into the race- but I didn’t expect to see a pace starting with an 8. Ooof. I’ve run trail half marathons at a faster pace. Heck, in 2016 I had this wild idea that I could run a 8:00ish mile pace for 26.2 miles and BQ- before injuries took me out of the game.

Soon after my watch buzzed, I hit the pavement and passed the lady ahead of me, but the rest of the race was a mental battle. Some residents were on their porches cheering for us, which was sweet of them but didn’t lessen the pain and mental battles. As much as I couldn’t wait to be done, I hated to see the finish clock. I didn’t want to look at anyone or be around anyone- I wanted to disappear.

I logged a 7:41 pace for the last .9 miles of the course, to finish in 22:26 and 8th female overall. I hate short courses, but I’ve never been so thankful for a short race in my life.

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After the race, Melissa and I cooled down for a mile, then I headed out to run another mile on my own. The ION neighborhood is beautiful and it was fun exploring. I headed back for awards since a few of my friends placed. I have speedy friends and hope their speed will rub off on me with their sweat.

I got back to the start/finish and searched for water. I think the race ran out of water but I finally got a bottle that was not cold. The awards ceremony was 10 year age groups and 3 finishers deep. The top male and female finishers were allowed to “double dip”, so they won both overall and age groups. That meant Melissa was third female overall AND third in our age group, and left Becky out of placing even though she was 4th overall female.

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The trails slowed everyone down, along with the heat and humidity. Even with the short course, all of us agreed we were around a minute slower than our usual 5K times. With the times, we all agreed to “pretend” it was 3.1 miles.

Needless to say, I was really bummed about my time and my mental state in the last mile. While I didn’t “give up” in the race, my head definitely wasn’t in the right place and I was upset. I found Cindy and Ed after the awards, and they invited me to try Cooper River Coffee Roasters with them. I met them at the coffee shop, where I met the barista/owner Paulette.

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I wanted a coffee drink to make me feel better (not just drip coffee) and cool off. Paulette made me the most delicious caramel frappucino, which was perfectly blended and flavorful throughout. Cooper River Coffee Roasters is less than a mile from where I finish my Saturday long runs, so I see myself returning for coffee more often.

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While I don’t regret running this 5K, I’ll admit I was really disappointed with my time. I know it could be a whole lot worse and am thankful that I finished injury-free…. but I’m sick of telling myself “At least I’m not injured” at the end of every race. Yes, I had some injuries but have been training again since April.

Time goals aside, I want to run a race that reflects my hard work and training. I want to run a race I can feel proud of. The Firecracker 5K wasn’t that race, but hopefully it will happen someday.


Race Name: I’On Club Firecracker 5K

Location: Mt. Pleasant, SC

Date and Time: July 4, 2017, 7:30 AM.

Course: Neighborhood streets (closed to traffic with police direction), single track trail, more neighborhood streets. The course measured 2.9 for many of us. Race Map.

Swag: Tech shirt (men’s cut)

Post-race Food: Bananas, apples, water. Refreshments and beer for sale.

Weather: 79 degrees, 89% humidity, sunny

I received a complimentary race entry from Lucey Mortgage Corporation. Please consider Lucey Mortgage Corporation for your mortgage needs, as they sponsor the I’On Club Firecracker 5K and many other running events in the Charleston, SC, area. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

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9 Responses to I’ON Firecracker 5K (22:26)

  1. Between the heat and the trails it sounds like it was a rough day. If it is any conciliation, I have been doing a few easy runs on trails this year and I feel so slow on them. I have yet to finish one with an average pace under 11:00. You are definitely correct that this race is not a representation of your current fitness. Hope you get to have a speedy race soon!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you. I really hope it was just a bad day, especially since I got boxed in by the kids on the trail. I try not to use heat and humidity as an excuse because I’ve lived here for five years and honestly, summer running gets easier each year.

  2. Elizabeth C. says:

    It sounds like this is primarily a result of all the obstacles placed in your way and not your running fitness. I would definitely expect to be a lot slower on a trail, especially if there were people blocking my path. Reading your reply to Heather above, heat/humidity is never an “excuse” because why do you need an excuse? You ran a very demanding race, you gave 100%, so what else could you have done? I feel like runners are often shamed for giving so-called “excuses” about why they didn’t perform, when the reality is that some performances just aren’t as strong as others. Plain and simple. Sorry this race wasn’t what you hoped for but there will be plenty of opportunities in the future!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- I have a few other races coming up and am eyeing a few in other areas that are a reasonable drive. I’m not expecting to set PRs in July, especially on a trail… but seeing the Mile 2 split was just really disheartening.

  3. Christine says:

    Ugh. Yes. I can relate. For two years, it’s been, “welp…at least I didn’t have an asthma attack and need medical help during that race.” It’s frustrating and no runner wants to be in that situation. I’m very sorry you had a disappointing race, but good job getting out there on such an oppressively hot morning. That race is on my list of ones I want to run since it’s so close to home, but I don’t feel race ready at this point in time yet.

    I also heartily second Elizabeth’s reply above – sometimes bad races happen and the reasons for it aren’t excuses. They’re real and adverse factors that contribute to a less than stellar performance.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It stinks. I’m just ready for my training to translate into a decent race. The last race I ran that I was proud of was the Publix Savannah Women’s 5K back in April, and that was coming off an injury but I still ran a smart race with great splits and a strong finish. It’s not always so much about the time being my fastest as it is the time reflecting the work I’ve put in.

      As far as July 4 races go, I highly recommend the Laurel Hill Firecracker 4-mile over this one. The Laurel Hill race had free beer, a cookout, and great pictures, and I believe it is closer to your house than ION (not that I know where you live, but based on your posts of living in North Mount Pleasant). If I run a July 4 race next year in Charleston, it will be Laurel Hill.

  4. Omg I HAAAATE trail races! To put it into perspective, when I ran trail races in 2009, I would be able to run a 3:40 road marathon but I’d come in last in the local trail races. Seriously. I could climb up, but descending was a nightmare, so I’d walk. I’d trip over every single tree root, so I’d walk over technical parts too. I hated it and I don’t blame you at all for having a pout!

  5. I give extra credit to all of you runners in the south! I was running on a 70 degree morning in 70% humidity this week and that had me sweating buckets… that’s probably the norm (or even considered cool) in the more-southern states. You pushed through a tough race and should give yourself some credit for that. It stinks to run a time that disappoints you BUT I bet you would be a lot more down on yourself if you would have quit! You pulled it off and there will be better race days out there!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I don’t think I’ll ever quit during a race. I’ll want to, but I think if I was ever going to DNF it would have been in the marathon I participated in back in 2013 (I’ll never say I “ran” it).

      I would do anything for 70 degrees and 70% humidity right now! But you guys have to deal with things like snow, ice, and hills, which we don’t have here.

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