Today is the 4th of July holiday, and I have the day off from work. I still set the alarm for 6AM though, because I had plans that required me to be awake early: I was running in the Aatrix Software & Y Family Center Firecracker 10K (6.2 mile) race.
I ate breakfast, pinned on my racer’s bib, and headed out into the muggy summer morning to walk over to the Demer’s Avenue Sorlie Bridge, where the race was starting from. I felt a little tired from spending most of yesterday in my garden, but still had some spring in my step during the half mile stroll. I wondered if I would be able to beat my best time of just under 48 minutes today. I’m in better shape than I was in February, when I finished with that time, but the humidity was already making the air feel heavy and stagnant.
I chatted with fellow Red River Runner Erin, while waiting for the race to start, during which time people began inching towards the starting line. By missing out on this creeping process, I ended up starting at the very back of the pack of runners. It was announced that due to part of the 10K route being under water, we would be running the 5K route twice. I groaned because that meant I would have to cover the same stretch of the Grand Forks Greenway 4 times by repeating the same “out and back” route twice.
The 5K run/walk was being held simultaneously with the 10K race, so there were hoards of families who would be walking and pushing strollers situated in front of me. When we got the signal to start, I began zigging and zagging in an effort to get past most of the heavy traffic. I achieved my own space about half way through the first mile and settled into the pace I would need to maintain to best 48 minutes. I have always started these 10K races slow, and finished strong, and was hoping to maintain a little steadier pace through today’s race.
I finished the first half in 23:24, right where I hoped to be! My legs felt great, but I was very warm, and I was breathing a little faster than I wanted due to the heavy air. I eased up a bit, and mile 4 ended up being the slowest of the day for me at 7:48. I walked through a water stop about that time, and after drinking what was offered, I thought I had enough left in me to attempt another strong finish!
I reached the turnaround point with 1.5 miles remaining, and with the breeze now in my face, cooling me just a bit, I kicked it up a notch! I passed my friend Jay, who asked me to give him a tow, and then set my sights on our male Red River Runner guru, Andrew, who was just ahead. Stacy may be the heart of our running group, but Andrew is the mouth, and he always has something to say! As I drew even with him I taunted “Are you going to let an old man beat you?” Andrew must have been tired, because he didn’t have a snappy come back, and instead politely commented that I had a good final “kick” going!
It turned out that I maintained a pace of 7:35 on the back stretch, and it just seemed faster because I was passing other runners who were struggling with the humidity more than I was. I crossed the finish line in 47:19, according to my watch, setting a new personal record (PR) by 30 seconds. Now I have something else to celebrate today! Happy Independence Day!