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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.