In which I am forced to reconsider my goals...
The Firecracker Run has been a long-standing 4th of July tradition in the Quad Cities, but in recent years, the organization has left a bit to be desired. I was happy to hear that race directors extraordinaire Joe Moreno and Dale Manley were taking over - so much that I quickly allowed Dale to draft me into volunteering the day before.
Working packet pickup was a blast. I lucked into a shift populated by friends of mine from the Cornbelt Running Club, plus we were busy pretty much the entire time. That meant moving fast, tossing t-shirts to one another, and before I knew it, time to go home! As an added bonus, Dale had special volunteer shirts for us. They were just like the race t-shirts, only red instead of blue - and both shirts are technical fabric. SCORE.
I woke up bright and surly the next morning and managed to snag the same parking spot I've had every time I have run this race in the past. As the runners milled around, I could already feel the sweat beading on my forehead. It was going to be a hot day.
The 10K course at the Firecracker Run is hilly and challenging. And of course, since the race is held on the 4th of July, you can pretty much count on it being brutally hot and humid. This makes it a perfect tune-up race for the Bix 7. I was looking forward to seeing how it went. It was not a morning when I woke up confident I was going to rock things out, so I decided to largely ignore Paula Garmin and just run by feel, then see how it worked.
Sure enough, the race was tough. I have trained pretty well on hills, so I was always able to pass people going up and felt comfortable flying down. The heat took a toll on me, and I took water 3 or 4 times - more than I probably would under better circumstances.
The last mile is a downhill (hooray), followed by a straightaway, then a turn, then about a quarter mile to the finish line. I was feeling tired. As I turned the corner, I saw a guy I recognize from the track. I don't know his name, but I think of him as Hardcore Guy. Hardcore Guy will run track workouts wearing a weighted vest, run on the football field wearing a parachute for drag, then relax by running bleachers.
Hardcore Guy was looking tired. I ran up beside him and said, "Come on. Let's go." My intention was to get Hardcore Guy to finish a little stronger, but being hardcore and all, he picked up the pace, which got me to do the same, and we sprinted to the finish. Somehow we lost track of each other in the finishing corral, but I'd like to say thanks to Hardcore Guy for making me work a little harder.
Hardcore Guy helped me push the pace, but my time was nowhere near a PR: 58:14. I'm certainly not ashamed of this time, but it made me rethink my 1:03:00 goal for the Bix. This race was on a hot day and a hilly course, neither of which are excuses I could use to say my Bix pace could be better, since the conditions would likely be the same. 1:03:00 just might not be in the cards for me this year, and I need to be okay with that. I truly lost a lot of speed coming off of the stress fracture last fall, and it will take time and work to build it back up.