Friday, July 4, 2008

Firecracker 5000


Last night Wil and I ran the Firecracker 5000. We only signed up on Tuesday because, well, I liked the idea of a night race and it was a run day anyway. So I grabbed some blue and pink glow bracelets/necklaces, some "patriotic" wristbands, and a "patriotic bow" at the party store on the way home from work.

The race started at Memorial Stadium, and of course Wil and I arrived a bit early. There were already a lot of people there, sprawled on the Field Turf (tm?) and chatting. We picked up our numbers (722 and 723) and our t-shirts.

Now, if you were a race director, and you were planning a race to be held late at night on July 3rd, which would finish on July 4th, and you called it the Firecracker 5000, what color t-shirts would you make? Well, in this case, the shirts were -- wait for it -- magenta. Not a pale pink, mind you. Nor a "day-glow", neon pink. A "raspberry beret" sort of magenta. Picture a lot of people standing around with magenta t-shirts, all saying "well, I won't be wearing this again" and you'll get the scene.

It's a shame because the design was quite simple -- the Space Needle, the race name, the date. And I know that they probably want to switch things up when people run the race year after year. But, still... you could cycle through red, white, and blue with no problem. Heck, through in heather grey, dark grey, and black if you'd like. But magenta? Weird. I expect to see a lot of those shirts at Goodwill in the not-too-distant future.

As it got closer to the start, we activated our glow jewelry (which I thought wasn't very glow-y, until Wil reminded me that we were sitting under bright stadium lighting), took a few pictures, and then dropped off our stuff at the bag check.

Lots of people doing some extreme stretching. Bless them. Wil and I walked around briskly for a few minutes and then lined up with the 11-minute crew. (I always prefer passing people rather than being passed!)

Then, suddenly, a horn blew and we were off with a whoop. Out of the stadium, along the out to Mercer, right on Mercer, then down the hill where everyone whooped again going under the overpass. We made a left on 9th, then another left onto Broad Street, where we went back under Mercer. They had stopped traffic on Mercer at the start, and then on Broad as we ran (even though we were running west). There were lots of cars stopped, some honking in a supportive way, others honking and cursing and gesturing in a peeved way. Funny! The hill from the bottom of the underpass up to the Space Needle seemed especially long and grueling. And did I mention it was hot? Hot and muggy and I had foolishly run in a long-sleeved shirt. Oops.

But then at the top of Broad Street we sped up again, passing the valet parking and wide-eyed tourists, on to Denny. Lots more cars honking and cheering, which was nice. Down Denny to Queen Anne Ave, lots of folks standing outside Tini Biggs and Hula Hula, high-fiving runners and urging us on. Up past Key Arena, Floyd's Place (more cheering, though we were across the street), and then right on Mercer again. As we passed 2nd Ave, faster runners on the second lap joined us for the run down the hill. They turned into the stadium road, while we went on to 5th for our final lap.

At some point we had slotted in behind a couple who were running a nice, steady pace. We lost them a few times, but always ended up back with them. So we stuck with them on the second lap. Right just before EMP, then through the Center grounds and past the fountain (which wasn't on, which seemed a shame). Then a right just before the Key, out past the Bagley Wright, and back on to Mercer where we got to feel like the 'fast' runners as we sped down Mercer. By the time we turned on to the stadium access road, Wil and I did our usual "leave nothing in the tank" sprint and were running at full tilt. Sorta fun to pass people at the end! Sped across the line and got to hear the announcer call our names -- sweet!

Of course, the heat and the sprinting (and, perhaps, the rye bread and cheese I ate at 10:15...) made me queasy and I had a moment of panic that I would hurl on the nice boy who cut my timing chip off my shoe. But I didn't.

In the end, we ran 33:31, not fast for us, but this was a hillier course than we've run a race on before. I was hoping to finish in under 35, so I'm still pleased.

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