Firecracker 10k Race Report
Great race. But it was almost a disaster.
Jump back to yesterday, when I did the 40-mile Firecracker bike ride in the rain. Afterwards, I was tired and hungry and so I stopped by the supermarket on the way home. Now I know better not to go shopping when you're hungry, because you do stupid things: like buying the 24oz jar of peanut butter pretzels. My (lying) inner-vouce was actually telling me "you have a race tomorrow, but you can show restraint and only eat a few pretzels." Well this was the jar by the time I went to bed:
Note that I ate about 3/4% of the jar. That works out to 2415 calories, 120 grams of fat and 5692mg of sodium (2.2x USRDA). However, it's also 86g of protein so I'm gonna get buff!
As you might imagine, I wasn't feeling so good when I woke up at 6am. My original plan was to be at the race site at 7am to pick up my bib and be there for the kick-off ceremony at 7:30. But I was having some... gastro issues. My friend Jana was doing the 5k and called me on my cel just before 7:00. When I told her I hadn't left home yet there was a slight pause as she was doing the math and realizing how behind I was... then she just politely said "great! see you soon!"
But Los Angeles can be a funny place. Yes, it takes forever to drive anywhere during the day. But in the early morning our freeways are wide open. I drove to the race downtown, parked, and picked up my bib all by 7:20. I was still in frantic-mode however, because I still had to return my goodie bag to my car, come back for the opening ceremony, and find Jana in the crowd. And do a porta-potty stop as well. As I was literally running back to my car, I was freaked out by a random voice yelling "Save it for the race, Wedgie!" Turns out it was Gerald who was there doing the race as well.
Everything seemed to come together and I had plenty of time. The weather was perfect for a race (no rain!) and most importantly my stomach settled.
The race kick-off was very cool. First, they had a traditional Lion Dance right in the middle of the starting chute. Then they lit off 100,000 firecrackers. One. Hundred. Thousand. It was several minutes of bangs and pops and lights and smoke and was just amazing.
I knew the Firecracker race was hilly, but I hadn't looked at the elevation map until about 30 minutes before the race started.
The race has a purple zone. What's a purple zone?! I've never seen a race with purple. Uh oh.
I started the race somewhat slowly, and had quite a few people pass me. I was thinking to myself "foolish humans! Go ahead, waste your energy. You'll be crawling up that hill, begging for mercy!" But when I got to the hill at mile 1, people were still running. And halfway up the hill, people were still running. In fact, it was only until the last quarter-mile of the hill when I started seeing a significant number of people walking. I was impressed and humbled by the field.
Most of the course was in Elysian Park, and the race organizers had some nice touches: throughout the course, there were signs labeled "LOOK", pointing out specific sights of Los Angeles: The Hollywood Sign. Mt. Wilson. The Police Academy. It was a nice reminder to take in the scenery during the race. Best of all, there was a sign labeled "Top Of Hill" when we reached the summit. We all loved seeing that sign.
The downhill was nice of course, although the elevation map doesn't show a few hidden uphill sections that we had to contend with near the end. At least they were short. But overall the race itself was rather uneventful. Just an all-around pleasant experience. I was hoping to finish around 1 hour, and came in at 54:35. Not to shabby.
Oh, and what did I do after I got home? Finished off the peanut butter pretzels.