So, it was a 4th of July 5K on the 5th, none the less.
That's what happens (sometimes) when our nation's birthday lands on a Sunday. Not a problem; not an issue. But it does make for a fun play on words.
This was the 26th year of the Sully Freedom Fun Run 5K, and it (consequentially) was my first 5K in just over three months. The temps (and humidity) were just as expected, the race day excitement was on par, and (despite the previous day's 46-mile bike ride) my body was ready for some action.
This was not my first rodeo on this race course. I've been there many times before, in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020. I had to skip in 2017 (as I was enjoying luxury accommodations, via a hospital bed, in recovery from surgery) and in 2019 (when I elected to run a different race).
As mentioned, the weather was just what one would expect in Iowa in July.
With an 8:20 start time for the 5K (following the 1-mile run, which would start at 8:00), we left town at 7:20 for the approximate 20-minute trek to the town of Sully. Once there, we easily checked in and got our race packets (we = myself, the hubby, and Barb).
As we were getting ready for an easy-paced 1-mile warm-up run, Allison found us (another local runner friend, who I've just recently become acquainted with). The hubby took our packets back to the car, and the three gals headed off for our warm-up.
Somehow, every time I've run this race, I've gone into race day with some concern as to how I'd do. The warm, humid weather was pretty much a constant, but this particular year I'd also done an ambitious 46 miles of biking on Sunday, as well as a somewhat tough 12-mile run on Saturday. Even though this race was run mainly for fun (because, hello! It's usually held on Independence Day!), each year I've been able to snag an age group award...and it would be nice for that tradition to continue. Just saying.
So, that being said, I did come armed and ready with my own bottle of water (to stay as hydrated as possible, and to avoid the water stand at the approximate halfway point). Trust me, this was much more for convenience than a time-savor.
Barb and I have run this race numerous times, but it was Allison's first time on this race course. The hubby has been nursing some weird cramping in the calf muscles, so he wasn't sure how things would play out. Fortunately, the town of Sully is pretty small, and the race course is two laps around a large portion of the residential area...so if he needed to bail, he wouldn't have far to walk to get back to the town square, where the start and finish lines were.
The starter gun fired, and we were off! Within the first few blocks (not even a 1/4 mile), I was already feeling thirsty. Thankfully, there was intermittent shade along many of the tree-lined streets.
I heard my Garmin beep, and saw I'd run the first mile in 8:09. Whoa! That's way too fast on a hot summer day, especially when there's still another two miles (and change) remaining. I'd lost sight of Barb, but Allison passed me shortly after the 1-mile mark. I didn't know if I'd see the hubby or not since I knew he'd be running pretty conservatively.
I kept taking small sips of my water, every 1/4 mile or so. There were a couple of spots where the residents had set out sprinklers near the street, so I made certain to run through those (on both laps).
The course looped back to the town square, but I didn't see the hubby anywhere...so that was a good sign his calves weren't giving him too much trouble and that he was able to run without issue.
As I made my way around the second lap, I continued to feel constantly thirsty...so I kept sipping my water (boy, was I ever glad I'd decided to bring it along!). Allison kept her lead on me, but I still wasn't able to spot Barb anywhere.
I finally made it to the final stretch, and only had the loop around the town square remaining. Still no sight of the hubby. The street was lined with numerous spectators for the jaunt around the square, so there was plenty of cheering as I made my way around the final corner and through the finish line chute. It felt pretty incredible to be done; I was such a sweaty mess! While I didn't land a 5K PR, I did capture my second fastest finish time (for this event) of 26:05!
I grabbed a Gatorade, and walked around for a few minutes. It didn't take long to find Allison and Barb, and the hubby joined us a few minutes later.
We'd seen our finish times, on the monitor, so we learned we'd all placed in our respective age groups. Thankfully, we had a good 30 minutes to cool off and rehydrate/refuel before we had to think about smiling for the awards ceremony pics. Allison had gotten second place, Barb and the hubby both got third places, and I was able to grab a first place.
Turns out, it was a decent day for us all. Even though the temps were warm and muggy, there was a nice breeze. The post-race refreshments were sufficient...the standard bananas, granola bars, cookies, water and Gatorade.
The event shirts are nice. They're cotton, so I doubt I'll wear mine, but I think the colors and graphics are eye-catching.
Overall thoughts? I'm pretty happy with how the race went. We all know the heat and humidity are a factor on race day...and both command our respect and attention. My goal is to always run by feel, and to run strong without over-exerting myself. I have a pretty big fear of burning out, so I tend to hold back instead of pushing my pace to the point of exhaustion. For the most part, this serves me well. That said, I seldom ever finish a race feeling totally tapped-out, with nothing left "in the tank," and this race was no exception. I'm fine with that...it would have been stupid to try to push a pace that just wasn't in me on such a hot day (though I do often wonder just how much "faster" I could have finished...).
So that's what went down at the Sully Freedom Fun Run 5K.
Did you run a 4th of July race this year? How daring are you when it comes to pushing your pace, in the heat?