Ah Firecracker: the race we love to hate and yet keep coming back to, year after year. Always hot (except for one fluke cool year), it was much hotter than previous years. We all set out to take it sort of easy and enjoy the race — and we did!
Getting There & Hanging Out
We have a group that has been either meeting up at the race and/or going up together — like this year. A few others come and meet up with us too, and we all ran into more people we knew as we walked around, as usual — including a few ladies from the Freihofers training challenge, which was nice to see.
Thankfully the city center, where packet pickup is, is air conditioned. And real bathrooms. You would think that we would just hunker down inside there — that everyone would hunker down inside there — and we pretty much did.
It wasn’t quite as bad as we all thought it would be, though. We had time to take a few group photos before the race began. Afterwards we were all a hot mess!
It was hot — 80F — and not a cloud in the sky.
My Race Plan
Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy had a plan for me and it was basically to use this as a progressive run. I didn’t ask, but with the hot temps, I threw the plan out the window and just ran by feel.
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 10:59. Last year I talked about being frustrated by slow racers/walkers in this mile, but mused if I’d started out faster maybe I would have slowed down in the last mile. Somehow this year I started out much faster and for the most part, just maintained a consistent pace.
- Mile 2: 11:00. The first water stop isn’t until this mile, but I carry my own water and never stop at a stop (but I sure ran through every sprinkler and hose out there, and I quickly lost count of how many there were — the spectator support is one of the reasons I love this race!). Because parking is difficult and we have to leave early, I’d have filled my bottles with water the night before and froze them. Otherwise it would have been like drinking bath water — that worked well for me.
- Mile 3: 10:50. Almost exactly the same pace as last year; it’s a relatively flat mile.
- Mile 4: 10:57. This last mile is always tough. There’s no shade. It’s mostly uphill. Always a hot race, this year was the hottest one ever — 80F at the start as opposed to last year’s 70F at the start — and as usual, not a cloud in the sky. There was a man that went down right in front of me in the last half mile — always so scary (I assume it was due to the heat).
44:02 — Official Time
11:04 Average Pace
43 out of 100 in 55-59 division
I had no clue what my past race finish times were. I just went out to run by feel and not kill myself. I was astounded to snag a course PR (not my 4 mile PR, that was set in a race in early Spring quite a few years ago that was much, much cooler) — by a mere 9 seconds but I’ll take it!
The best part? Of course it wasn’t easy, but it didn’t feel as hard as I expected it to.
Was the race well run?
This race is so much fun — if you’re ever in Saratoga, NY on the fourth you should check it out. There’s a ton of spectator support and the locals are out in force with hoses — much appreciated — even on a hot fourth like this one!
The late start is a pain, as is parking. Unless you know Saratoga well, the parking situation can be nerve wracking.