Every town has a Firecracker 5K. It’s too catchy a phrase to pass up. This particular one is in Brentwood, TN at the Maryland Farms YMCA and is a staple of the Nashville running community. I ran this race last year with the goal of beating 30 minutes and strangely enough, that was my goal again this year. I also had a stretch goal of 29 minutes, but breaking 30 was my main goal for this comeback race.

I felt pretty good on race morning and showed up 15 minutes before the start, just like all Nashville runners do. I got my stuff and had just enough time to take the t-shirt back to my car before the race started. After greeting my running buddy Joe and talking about our goals (he was aiming for 30 minutes too), the race started. I got a pretty good fast start and Joe was just ahead of me, but he quickly pulled away. I wasn’t discouraged though because I’m coming back after 3 months off and Joe runs and works out fairly regularly.

As seems to be usual for this race, the sun was behind a few clouds, but quickly comes out when the starting gun fires. As the morning heat was building I just ran along. Many people were passing me, but after about half a mile I started to get into my pace and started slowly working my way through the pack. I looked down at my watch and was rather surprised to see a pace of 9:20 which would put me right at my stretch goal of 29 minutes. I didn’t feel like I was running that fast, but I kept at it.

After the first mile, I was feeling pretty good still and passed on the water stop. This race was going just about the same as it had the year before, minus the annoying teenagers. I didn’t really feel any fatigue at all until I got closer to mile 2. The first half of this race is mostly down hill and the second half is mostly uphill, so that’s when things really start to go bad for a lot of people. I was prepared though and just kept chugging along.

As I approached the end, my new goal was to try to beat last year’s time of 28:31. It was possible given my pace, but I still had to work really hard to try for it and try I did. I pushed hard for the last quarter mile and sprinted the last tenth of a mile. I came in with a time of 28:52, which didn’t beat last year (disappointing), but I did beat both of my goals for this race (Yay!). This time also gave me a lot of confidence in my new training plan which is slower than before, but has many more miles (at least 3 a day). I was worried the slower training pace would lead to a slower racing pace, but this race proved that theory wrong.

And to all you people out there on the sidelines, I’d recommend you go out and sign up for a 5K immediately. Any large city has one every couple of weeks or so and many people start out just walking. Five kilometers is only 3.1 miles and you can start out walking, running and walking, or running if you feel up to it. There were several people at this race that walked it in about an hour which is 20 minutes per mile which is a very easy pace that just about anyone can manage. It’s an easy thing to do and it’s gives you a goal to work towards.

Also special props go out to Emily who ran the entire distance for the first time in a 5K. Congratulations!