This is the third year in a row that I have run the Brentwood Firecracker 5k race. It has become a nice little tradition it seems. One of the reasons I like this race so much is that they are constantly improving it. My first year running it they didn’t have chip timing! Then last year, they did the shoe chips for timing and I remember after the race the feeling that I was about to pass out and volunteers just yelling at me because I was walking past them with my chip still attached trying to find water. This year, they teamed up with Elite Runners Racing Management team and I think they finally found a winner!
The day started pretty early as I ended up getting to Brentwood around 7:30am. Parking is pretty tight for this race so I wanted to make sure I got there early to get a space at the Funeral home. Yup, nothing like making sure you’re parked at a funeral home for a race. There is something about that I think. By the time I arrived, Jeff, Steff and Gloria were already there with Lauren arriving pretty quickly after me. The race didn’t start until 9am so we just hung out and caught up.
Finally around 8:40am we headed to the start line area. I had planned to take it easy for this race and so I lined up right around the 10:30 pace group. I figured if I could keep 10:30’s for the first two miles, I’d try and pick it up for the last mile. I knew breaking my course PR (29:09) was just unobtainable on this day. Surprisingly that is still one of my top 3 5k times even though this course is nothing but rolling hills.
What makes this race so much fun is that just after the race at 10am, is the Brentwood Fourth of July parade. This means there are tons of people out there along the course cheering you on! People actually will put out their chairs days before the parade to mark their spots. Local residents will also be out there spraying water for runners or set up their own water stop. It’s quite the community event!
As I squeezed into the start corral, I got closer to the 10:00 pace group than I wanted, but I figured it would be okay. Again, I didn’t plan on truly racing. The race started with a huge cannon and off we went.
As I mentioned, this race course is nothing but rolling hills. I wouldn’t necessarily call them gently rolling, but more just rolling. It’s also an out and back and all done on Brownsville Road.
The first mile seemed to go by pretty quickly. I kept that 10:00 pace group in front of me and was feeling pretty good. I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself too much and felt like my pace was around 10:15. The weather wasn’t that bad, which I was thankful for. It was actually chilly for this time of year and low humidity. I won’t complain about that.
When my watch buzzed at mile 1, I was quite surprised to see my pace: 9:59! I truly didn’t think I was going that fast. I tried to slow down and I knew mile 2 had more hills, so I figured that would also help slow me down. In this race, mile 2 always feels so long. It’s got most of the ups and downs and then also has the turn around point. Surprising to me though, I actually felt really strong going up the hills. I actually passed several people on every hill.
I was even more shocked when my watch buzzed again at mile 2 and it showed I had just run a 9:57 mile. Through the whole race, I didn’t look at my watch once and I even tried to slow down so seeing a 9:57 miles was just shocking to me. At this point, I figured I was going this fast, I’d keep pushing to see if I could stay around the same pace for the last 1.1 miles. I also knew there was the longest uphill around mile 2.5, so I figured that would slow me down and my pace would drop.
Well, apparently I was wrong again. I busted up the last hill and came into the home stretch where again at mile 3 my watch buzzed and I saw a 9:51. What?! When I finished and saw I had a 30:54, I was happy to see it, but was clearly not expecting it. It was a nice little confidence booster to get a 5k under 31 minutes and see my average split in the 9’s, especially when that wasn’t my goal.
Once we were all done, we met back up and then headed to the post race festivities. The race always has red, white and blue popsicles and beer as post race goodies. My first grab was the popsicle and then we waited in line for beer. They seemed to step it up this year on the type of beer and had Shock Top as well as the crappy Michelob Ultra or Bud they always have. Finally after several minutes of being in line, we all had our post-race celebratory beers!
None of us were in no hurry to leave as this race has some of the best post race raffle prizes. While the race director calls out the overall awards and age group awards, he also scatters in some great price giveaways. Typically they give away items such as coolers of beer, TVs, pirates tickets, etc, but this year since it’s the 100th celebration of Brentwood, they were giving away 15 $100 prizes with the grand prize being $500 (which is always the case every year). Sadly none of us won any prizes, but we still had fun hanging out together. This was a great way to start the Fourth of July holiday.
Official finish time:
62/133, Females, 30-34