Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fire Cracker 5k – South Charlotte 7/3/17

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and post race activities were spoiled by a steady down pour settling over the area. My walk back to my car left me soaked to the bone, but surprisingly, the cold, soaking rain felt awesome on my skin after hours of being in the hot, humid, and sticky weather.

Such was the life for nearly everyone that ran the Fire Cracker 5k in South Charlotte last night.

For past several years, my Fire Cracker 5k experiences were focused on volunteering for this race at the 2nd water stop.

This year Corey talked me into running. Then, why not? Getting in a race on or around our nation's Independence Day should be on everyone's bucket list.

Rumors were abound that this was a pretty tough race. With hot and humid July weather on one hand and a hilly coarse on the other, runners didn't get many chances for a reprieve.

The start was a bit crowded but the competitors quickly strung out. Aaron was quickly making his way to the front, and slowly but surely he was disappearing in to the distance. Around me was a bunch of runners. All were younger than me, and they all seemed to be full of energy and speedie legs.

Through the first mile, several were passing me on the downhills while I would pull them back on the uphills. Megan, Ben, Chase, and Rob yelled encouragement as we passed them several times during the race. Hearing encouragement from the sidelines is always nice. Sounds from the distance motivate me to push more when every part of my body is telling me to slow down.

Just before 2 miles, we hit what is perhaps the steepest and hardest hill on the course. One guy pulls over and starts walking. Lower my head and pumping my arms, my focus is on one single solitary objective – reaching the top of the hill.

After 2 miles, the course calms down with only a few small rollers of hills to overcome. My legs felt the best that they had the entire race. Helping me along was the fact that I was still passing runners.

With less than a quarter mile left in the race, I was were I wanted to be – at the front of our group. I have always found my chances are much better when being on the front of a group than hanging off the back.

Nearing the finish line, I could still fell them pressing hard just behind me. Then, there was the expectation that someone would come sprinting by me. Corey was back there somewhere. I fully expected him to put in a strong finish.

Making the last right hand turn, I was sprinting as fast as I could humanly pick up and put down my Hoka racing flats.

My time was 18:31 which I was extremely happy to have run, and I finished 3rd overall.

Later, I got a chance to look at the results. 2 seconds back were 2 more runners. Another second after them was another runner. 4 seconds after him was the last runner in our group. If I had let up even for a bit, I could have easily went from the 3rd to 8th place in the blink of an eye.

May be this is why humans don't have eyes in the back of their heads. Do we have any business worrying about the things coming up behind us when we should be solely focused on the road in front of us.

Kudos to S2F for their efforts. The race was well organized and the course was well marked which has come to be the norm for their races.

Kudos to Aaron for upholding the Masters division by taking home the win.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to two of my Charlotte Running Company/Hoka Race teammates: Mary Kate, and Stacy. They ran a strong race together and finished in a dead heat. Congrats on your awesome efforts ladies. Great work!

The Cool Down Runner

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