This was my third time running the Firecracker4 (you can read about last year’s race here). It’s one of the few races I almost always run with friends, so that makes it one of my favorite races! It’s a challenging course, but it also has great spectator support.
We adopted Bandit the night before, and I was so pleased when Mr. Judy had no problems with him while I was gone half the day the very next day. Little did I know what was to come (with Bandit, that is).
Getting There & Hanging Out
My neighbor Mary Jane and I drove up together this year. Although we had chatted a few times, as we live a few houses apart, we didn’t really know each other until meeting at last year’s race. Since then we’ve become more friendly and this is the second race we’ve gone to together. We left around 6:45 for a 9 am race, yes, we did, because parking is crazy. We parked at the parking garage — score! — because it was a sunny, hot day.
No USAFit Albany tent this year; we had made plans to meet up with friends inside the Saratoga City Center, where packet pickup is held (Mr. Judy had kindly picked up both Mary Jane’s and my packets on his way home from work on Friday, as there’s early packet pickup at Fleet Feet Malta).
As we walked around the vendor’s village, we “ran” into my running buddy Denise — she’d scored an excellent parking space, and I bummed some water off of her since I had some supplements to take and had left my water in the car. And because it was shady where we were, we just hung out there chatting for a while.
The weather & dressing
It was a warm, sunny day, but thankfully it wasn’t too humid.
I love Sparkleskirts almost as much as I love Skirtsports, but they’re even pricier and rarely on sale. But they also don’t ride up, the pockets are even larger, and there’s always a zippered pocket, too.
The mio mesh tank from Oiselle is the lightest top I own (and pretty see through, too); I find it extremely comfortable for very hot runs. I actually buy mine from Title9. And none of these are affiliate links, by the way, just stuff I love.
I also wanted to put in a word here about how I hydrated (mostly for msyelf). Normally I try to stop drinking liquids a couple of hours before a race. One nice thing about this race is that there are real bathrooms.
I stuck to that plan, but rather than drinking less because I had to get there so early, I actually drank my normal couple of glasses of water and couple of mugs of tea. I think it really helped me in the race.
So not to self: drinking more than normal the morning of a hot race will ultimately be a helpful thing.
My Race Plan
Firecracker4 is a challenging course — hilly, with a long hill at about 3.5 miles — which is half a mile before the end of the race. It starts late morning, and usually by 9 am on July 4th, it’s pretty darn toasty.
I knew going in it wouldn’t be a PR, so my plan was simple — try to beat my time from 2014, when there were similar weather conditions.
- Mile 1: 12:01. A congested start and there’s a short decline, then incline at the start. Denise & I started together.
- Mile 2: 11:47. I think we kept together through mile 2, and there was a water stop.
- Mile 3: 11:36. Somewhere around here Denise decided to slow it down and drop back. Plus there’s that hill — it’s actually not terribly steep, but somehow it really feels like a mountain! I believe the second water stop was around here. Yes, I grabbed water at both. It was about 70, and while not terribly humid, very little cloud cover.
- Mile 4: 11:31. Can’t say I really remember much about that last mile, except for my running buddy Jan cheering me on right before the finisher’s chute — thank you Jan!
- Mile 5: 8:43. My Garmin has the race just a little long, but yes, I sprinted to the finish (where I found out Denise had beaten me by about 1 1/2 minutes — again!). She always does this; fades in the beginning but beats me at the end. And I ran negative splits! It’s very annoying.
47:10 — Official Time
11:48 Average Pace
Was the race well run?
Mostly. I think it’s the best spectator support of any race in this area (but then I don’t race as much as some!). All of Saratoga turns out, or so it seems, and there are spectators with sprinklers, with hoses, and just lining pretty much the entire 4 miles.
There were plenty of volunteers at the finish waiting with a bottle of cold water, which I was dying for!
Packet pickup was easy enough for Mr. Judy.
They did start the race late, though, and they almost always do. 15 minutes late this year — apparently someone had had a seizure before the start? Or so I heard. We were just waiting (thankfully in shade), wondering what the heck was going on.
I really do wish that they would start the race earlier. It seems like it would be no problem considering it’s a holiday.
I hope to be running Firecracker4 with my friends in 2017!
Don’t forget to leave me a comment:
What is your favorite local race? Why?
How late is too late to start a race in the summer?
What’s the hottest race you’ve ever run?