Derby Firecracker 4 Mile Race Report

Oh man! What can I say about this race! It was awesome beyond words. My best performance yet. I felt like a real runner with a real race pace, especially when I look back at how well my races have progressed since the Easter Sun Run in April.

The race started at 7:30am, so I set my alarm for 5am. The race is only about 15 minutes from our house. A 5am alarm would have given us plenty of time to hit snooze twice, drink coffee, eat PB toast (for me) and bagel (for him), hit the bathroom, collect our race kit, and go. “Would have” being the key phrase there. Instead, I bolted upright at 5:50, realizing that the sun was already hitting my face. OOPS! We rushed around and still managed to get out of the house by 6:30 so we could get a good parking spot and do some dynamic warm-ups. Thank goodness my parents had kept the boys overnight so we didn’t have to juggle them as well.

The race starts at High Park in Derby. I have spent A LOT of time running in High Park, and I consider Derby my home running turf. Home turf advantage! The temperature was ideal, and the humidity was actually low for a change. We did a few snowballs and warm-ups, hit the bathrooms, and then got lined up at the starting line.

Image courtesy Derby Running Club.

I didn’t really have a plan going into the race. My running has been really strong for the last month or so. I have been consistently training under a 10min/mile pace, so I figured I could muster at least 38 minutes. I left the run/walk on my Garmin and told Noel that I would probably walk if I felt like I needed it. I tried not to start out too fast at the gun, but it’s tough when people are passing you like crazy. The first interval beeped and I plowed through. I knew the pace was fast, but I figured to beat 38 minutes, I needed to keep the run at or slightly under a 9min/mile pace. I clicked the first mile off at 8:50. Noel questioned my ability to hold that pace, but I just gave him a shrug. I walked at the 9 minute interval beep and told Noel that I would probably walk every other interval.

At about 1.5 miles, we closed in on a man pushing a stroller. He noticed our GoRun shirts and started asking us questions about the scheduled runs that the store coordinates. Sorry, dude…I’m racing. No chatting!! We passed him. I hope I could keep him behind me and manage to pass the other stroller that was in my sights. At this point, I left Noel behind. This was kind of exciting. He’s usually a few steps ahead of me when we do a training run together. He just motioned me on and told me to run my race. I clicked off mile two at a 9:09.

Right after the mile 2 marker, there was a sign that said “Water Station Ahead.” I got excited because I had been fighting cotton mouth for about a mile. I wanted that water! But I kept running, expecting to see the station. It wasn’t until mile 2.3 or so that we actually got water. Race directors…move the sign a little closer! I walked through the station, which resulted in mile 3 being ticked off at 9:24.

We entered the park and I knew I was going to break 38 minutes easily. The question now was by how much. My legs were getting tired. I wanted to hold off as many people as possible. I felt cool to actually be racing people, instead of just running to finish. I held off both of the strollers that I had passed. One older gentleman who used to lift weights with Noel played leap frog with me in the last mile. He finally passed me. I should have held him off though. Right as I approached the turn for the finish line, out of the corner of my eye, I see a familiar race singlet. NOEL! I thought I had lost him, but he said I was always in his sights. He came up strong. Between thinking he was going to pass me and seeing the clock reading 36:5?, I turned on the jets and hit a sub-7 pace for my kick at the finish.

We checked our official time, and yet again we crossed at exactly the same time. 36:57. A 9:14min/mile pace. A HUGE PR and an amazing accomplishment for yours truly. I should also mention that a big goal of mine has been a sub-30 5K. I have done this two or three times in training, but never in an actual race. When I hit save on my watch, little miss Garmin 220 told me my new 5K PR was 28:19. Now I’m just itching to make that sub-30 official. I’ll have to find a 5K in September because my August is already full with triathlons.

We milled around and chatted with two of our Derby runner friends. I think of these two ladies as speedy, and they finished right before us. One of them wondered out loud what I would be able to accomplish in October at my next half. Only time will tell, but I think all signs are pointing to a big PR and a big goal for the spring!

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