I’m not sure why they are such a tradition, but 4th of July runs are a staple event despite the inevitable heat and humidity. Locally, our July 4th race is the Melon Run 3 Miler. Today was the 36th annual running of this race. I think because it’s such a tradition it really draws out a lot of runners, and a lot of those runners are really FAST! This is my fourth running of this race. I ran it back in the 90’s, again sometime in the early 2000’s, last year and now this year.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, I am NOT a fan of the summer in general and running during the summer in Florida is just torturous. I don’t race much during the summer, but with this being such a staple in the local running community, I always get excited about it. The turnout today was over 400 runners which is huge for a local race.
Don’t laugh at me, but I couldn’t remember if I’d signed up a few months ago on Active or not. So, Erik, Eli and I all left the house at 7am and drove to Westside Park so I’d have plenty of time for on site registration if needed. I got in the pre-registration line and they looked me up and I hadn’t registered. Off to the day of race registration line. I got the last printed registration form (this was around 7:20 am), filled it out and paid my $20. It looked like they might be running low on safety pins, but I figured they just needed to replenish the plate of them because no one said anything about only taking two, so I took my normal four.
After a requisite pre-race potty break, I walked around, jogged a bit to warm up and spent a while stretching out my calves because they’ve been tightening up on me in the first mile of my runs and I didn’t want to have to stop mid-race and stretch them. When it was time to line up, I met up with two friends which was really fun because I’m almost always waiting alone before a race. Note to self: talk my friends into running with me.
I work with Christina and she dressed up in an amazing Wonder Woman costume:
For some reason, the race started almost ten minutes late which was annoying, but I’m sure there was a good reason for the delay. Here are the lovely conditions at 8:09am when we started:
Yeah. It was hot and so humid. I guess you can’t get more humid than 100%. And not a cloud in the sky. The speaker system was not loud enough, so those of us in the back half could barely hear the National Anthem and we couldn’t hear the race instructions at all. I figured I’d just follow the people in front of me, and I’ve run this course before so that was ok.
The gun went off and away we went. I had lined up right about the middle, maybe just a bit behind the middle because that’s where I tend to finish in this race. There were runners with dogs, runners with pretty small (maybe early elementary age) kids and runners pushing strollers (even one brave soul pushing a double stroller).
The normal start line chaos ensued. People who had no business lining up at the front were causing a lot of congestion to weave through and speedsters who had no business lining up at the back were getting a bit frustrated. As always though, within the first half mile, things had worked themselves out neatly and I had room to run at my own pace.
It was HOT. It was HUMID. To be perfectly honest, I was still a little worried about how my body would react to a race pace because this was my first race since starting high blood pressure medicine. But I decided to just accept what the day brought and I pushed as much as I was comfortable with. I did make the mistake of forgetting to hydrate the day before. I’m not used to racing on Fridays, so being at work all day Thursday I didn’t even think about hydrating while I was drinking my one cup of coffee and two large unsweetened iced teas. I think I managed to get down a couple of glasses of water, but not what would have been smart the day before a hot summer race.
The first half of the race is very flat, but the second half involves a couple of pain in the rear hills. OK, they aren’t really very big but I live in Florida and while we do have hills, I tend not to train on them because I hate them. Sigh. Not a good plan because while Florida is mostly flat, the race directors here find a sadistic pleasure in searching out the few hills we do have and incorporating them into every stinking race course. Note to self: stop being a wimp and start doing some tempo runs with hills in them.
The water stop was a welcome sight halfway through and was very refreshing. By that point, I’d found a nice space to run in with people going a similar pace. A few times I would fall into pace behind someone feeling like it was a good pace, look down at my watch and realize I was going way too slow. So I kicked the speed up and passed and tried just focus on my breathing and footfalls and to keep moving and ignore that voice that urged me to just walk for a minute. Nothing wrong with walk intervals but I didn’t want to do them in this particular race.
I pushed hard up the last hill and passed a good number of runners, turned the corner and it was all downhill from there (in a good way!). I felt pretty good and saw Erik and Eli at the finish line cheering which was really nice (I tend to let them sleep in for my races). A teenager was trying to pass me in the finish chute and I sprinted and stayed just ahead of him (yeah I’m a little competitive!). Here are my stats:
They had watered down powerade or gatorade or something at the finish (which I like, the full strength stuff is way too sweet and sticky for me) and orange slices and watermelon slices. I grabbed one of each and went off to find my family. Eli claimed my well-earned watermelon and we walked around for a bit and then went over to the finish area to cheer on the rest of the runners on the course.
This is a great race (well as great as a race in Florida in July can be) that is well organized. I think they might want to consider giving a bigger discount for early registration because a LOT of people just showed up on race day to register (me included!) and I think it was more than they expected since they ran out of safety pins (they did get more before the race) and registration forms and had some trouble making change. The course is challenging but not punishing and the after-race treats are great. They give out whole watermelons for age group awards and I’m determined to get one next year (I have to take a full minute per mile off my pace for that!).
I ended up placing 7th (out of 20) in my age group which I’m happy with, especially considering the weather conditions and the fact that I didn’t actually want to run at all today. Just getting out there was a victory and putting in consistent sub 10-minute miles and finishing strong was icing on the cake.
What did you do today? Race? Rest? Party?
I need to list five things so here are the five things we did today for 4th of July fun:
- Ran the Melon Run 3 miler.
- Cheered on the other runners.
- Eli and I had an impromptu race and dance party.
- Picked up a ton of pinecones and limbs from our yard from the crazy storm yesterday.
- Had a fun family BBQ (yum!)
Make sure to visit them to see all the other great posts about what people were up to today!