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Firecracker 15k - Run

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Lyons, Kansas
United States
Lyons Rec Commission
70F / 21C
Total Time = 1h 40m 34s
Overall Rank = 38/42
Age Group = 46-55
Age Group Rank = 3/3
Pre-race routine:

This is actually called "Freedom Run" not "Firecracker." I did sign up for it at the last minute. That's my excuse.

I have wanted to do this run for the past couple years, but it never worked out. Once hubby decided not to do the 20 mile bike ride the night before this race, I decided this year was my year to run this race. It's a point to point -- run from the county seat, 9 miles away, to our town.

I woke up at about 6:15, got dressed, made coffee and toast with peanut butter and jelly, and drove up to Lyons. Registered without incident, and then just hung out at the high school.
Event warmup:

These were serious racers. Even before the event began, I felt out-classed. Almost everyone seemed like former or current cross-country people. I knew for a fact that some of them were.

It's also important to know that I have been doubting myself for the past couple weeks. I saw race pictures of myself from two weeks ago, and I was appalled. Who am I kidding? I am old. My body looks old. I have thin arms, legs, neck, face, and this spare tire hanging just below my belly button. Where did that come from??? I studied the race photos. Obsessed over them. Even the overweight/fat people didn't look as bad as I did because they were fat all over the place. They looked good, actually. I just looked ridiculous. Like a caricature.

I know I'm probably being hard on myself, but these have been my thoughts. I've been swimming and biking and running, a little, but really, starting to rethink this whole athletic kick I've been on. Because I am a disgrace to the sport.

So, I decided to do this race and then show up to see incredibly fit and young people, and I just about got back in the car and drove home, never mind the $10 race entry fee. (Yes, only $10 -- no t-shirt, because I'm not feeling worthy.)

But I didn't leave. I walked and jogged a little, and my right hamstring and my hips were so tight. "I am so old, " I keep saying to myself. "This is ridiculous." More ridiculously fit and athletic people show up. "Maybe I just should have done the 5k. Because there are certainly no walkers in this group."

So it's time to run, and I'm feeling defeated before we've even begun.
  • 1h 40m 33s
  • 9.3 miles
  • 10m 49s  min/mile

So, we start out, and as expected, 45 out of 48 of us take off in a bolt of speed. One guy was running medium fast, and then there was me and one other woman (30 ish). I started in the back, so I was last as we started from the high school. I passed the girl in front of me in the first quarter mile, and after I passed her, she tripped and fell. I looked back, and asked if she was okay, and she was already up and running again, saying she was fine. So, someone did have a worse time than I did. It took her well over 2 hours to finish.

At mile 2, I passed the next guy. I told him, "Good job," and he said, "You are doing great." Okay. Whatever. At this point, I already can't see 35 of the speedy people, and it's a straight road. They are just completely gone.

So I did a lot of soul searching, as I was running and beating myself up. And I was running.

I asked myself if I really just wanted to give up. I could easily do nothing and gain 30 pounds in probably about three months, without changing much at all. I could eat the way I do and just add some cookies, desserts, and maybe some milk shakes, and I could just be fat. It would be so easy. I could sit on my butt all day. I could drive everywhere. Never walk. While I'm at it, I'll just get that lazy fat shopping cart at Walmart.

Then I passed someone else at mile 4. "Good job," we exchanged.

"No." I told myself. You do not want to be that fat lazy person who eats cookies all day long. Yes. I am old. I don't feel it, in my soul and in my heart, but I am. I am going to be a grandmother in five months (My step son and his wife are expecting their first.)

What kind of mother and grandmother do I want to be? That's the question I asked myself for the next two miles, as I was working on passing the next person in front of me, and begging her to walk just a little during the water stops. (No one in front of me that I could see walked one step. The entire race.)

Do I want to be the fat lazy grandmother, that would be so easy for me to be? Genetics are in my favor. I have strong peasant German blood in me, so I could very easily be fat and squishy like my grandmother and my great aunts.

Or, and I started pick the pace up a little because I could see that the person in front of me was beginning to fade a little, do I want to be the fit grandmother? Do I want to be the grandmother who can run around and play? Who likes to get out for a long bike ride and go for a real swim? Who makes healthy snacks? Who doesn't drink soda or alcohol?

Yes, I said, as I passed the person in front of me, ("Great job!" I said to her). I am going to be that grandmother. I am not going to win any races. Ever. That's never what this was about. What was it about?

I had lost sight of it over the last couple weeks. I've become so frustrated with my lack of swimming ability. Of how slow I am on the bike even though I am riding hard. Of the spare tire and c-section ledge that I don't believe I will ever lose, no matter how many crunches I do.

It's about being healthy. And that's okay. If that's all it is, that's all it is.

As I rounded the second turn of the race, into the lake park (I couldn't catch anyone else), I just ran the best that I could. I came in the exact time I predicted, over by only 30 seconds. I do know myself, at least. And I ran within my ability, and I will still be able to run tomorrow, and the next day, and that's important.

The winner was 19 years old -- a cross country star. He ran 15k in 54 minutes. I still can't wrap my head around it.

In the 5k race, the first two runners -- one a cross country star, the other a colleague of mine and an elite runner -- came in within seconds of each other. 16 minutes. The top five runners were all under 20 minutes.

And neither course, the 5k or 15k, is short. I have double checked both of them. I was running with crazy fast people. I know I looked unfit, slow, and old.
What would you do differently?:

It is what it is. At this point, I'm just hoping not to get too much slower too quickly.

Post race
Warm down:

Hubby and Jayson met me shortly after I finished, and I had some of Jayson's snow cone. It was amazing. I took off my shoes and just sat for a while, waiting for results. I honestly didn't know there was anyone in my age group, so since I was tired anyway, I waited around for the final results.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Age. Genetics. Lack of dedication to serious training.

Last updated: 2013-07-04 12:00 AM
01:40:33 | 9.3 miles | 10m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/3
Overall: 38/42
Performance: Average
Course: Leave Lyons High School. Turn south on K-96 and run straight to Sterling. Turn East at the entrance to the Lake and run to the finish.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2013-07-04 5:58 PM

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Central Kansas
Subject: Firecracker 15k

2013-07-04 8:38 PM
in reply to: #4796074

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

First, a hug for you.  I have been in that dark thought place and it is not fun.  I sure am glad that you found some positivity in this run.  Isn't it amazing how you can really process stuff while you are out there running? 

Personally, I think you are amazing.  You have a young son and you still find the time to train.  I love how sometimes you go swimming and biking together, and the word 'smile' or 'fun' always seem to find their way into your log.  You are currently involved in THREE challenges and are accountable in all of them.  Nope, you may never win a race.  But you are right, you will win when you can play with your son and grandchild.  And when they learn the value of being active and healthy.  Win right there. 

2013-07-04 9:08 PM
in reply to: bcraht

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Ahhhhhh, you made me get choked up. Standing ovation for choosing to stay the course... for your future, not just today. You're absolutely right. It's not easy, and many times it's downright frustrating. BUT for those of us who will never be FOPers, it's about being our best selves for us and our families. Be proud of what you ARE doing, not discouraged by what you aren't. Also, know that you have motivated and encouraged people to stay their own course many times, likely without you ever realizing. Keep on keepin' on. Laughing
2013-07-04 9:58 PM
in reply to: #4796074

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Thanks for allowing us in to your thoughts. I have those same thoughts and yet I always strap on my shoes or climb on my bike or (gulp) get back in the pool. We may not be fast, but we continue to improve our health and show those around us that fitness is important.You rock!
2013-07-05 6:45 AM
in reply to: rrrunner

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
I'm sorry you are having those feelings, but am so happy that you came to the realization that success does not have to be measured by coming in first or anywhere close to first. Success is getting out there and participating; keeping yourself healthy for you and your family. As far as being too old to participate, just remember Sister Madonna didn't even start doing tris until she was in her 50s ( pretty sure) and is still going strong at 82. So, age is not a limiter!
2013-07-05 7:09 AM
in reply to: #4796074

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

You are so much of a motivation. A young child, a marriage, a fulfilling job, and a  completely awesome life. Are we the fast kids? Maybe not, but I do know that you mentioned something in your report that rings so very true for me:

"I do know myself, at least. And I ran within my ability, and I will still be able to run tomorrow, and the next day, and that's important."

I pray that you continue to be exactly who you want to be, the healthy mom who cares deeply for her family, a proud grandma and a loving friend. I hope you find the enjoyment and fulfillment that running has given you, and I truly can't wait until you are running with that smile that is not just outside, but inside as well. 

2013-07-05 8:15 AM
in reply to: #4796074

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Thank you so much for posting a race report with so much honesty.  I have been in that dark place (different reason, but same dark place) and have also decided that I'm not going to win, but I'm going to continue doing what I can.  As long as you keep doing what you enjoy, I'll keep cheering you on!
2013-07-05 8:28 AM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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Caerphilly, Wales, uk.
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Very inspiring, and shows you have guts. Just remember, you're already faster than xx% of the population that DNS. Plus, even in this race, you did not DNF, and even managed to not DFL. Kudos to you.
2013-07-05 10:36 AM
in reply to: #4796074

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

Wow, Felicia, so open, honest and raw.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings, and it's a relief to hear you arrived at the decision you did, and the thought progression was fascinating.

Loved these quotes:

"It's about being healthy. And that's okay. If that's all it is, that's all it is."

". . . I just ran the best that I could. . . . And I ran within my ability, and I will still be able to run tomorrow, and the next day, and that's important."

You made the unselfish choice of deciding to stay active and be a healthy role model for your family and future generations.  The German blood in you which could turn you into a squishy body if you let it is also the hard-working, never-say-quit part of you, the stubborn part, the enduring part.  {{{hugs}}} thanks again for a beautiful write-up, I saw myself in much of your post as well, so thanks also for the reminder why the slower and squishier of us keep doing this.  Keep on moving forward.

And hey, PODIUM!!!   Congrats!

2013-07-05 10:43 AM
in reply to: #4796074

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

That's a lot of mental conversation with yourself for 9 miles.

You are fit and fabulous---we who are over a certain age have to be able to take pride in our ability to finish what we start here and be thankful for every opportunity we have to get out there and pass the kids.

2013-07-05 12:16 PM
in reply to: #4796074

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

I think you're amazing. 

You persevered, you overcame, and you realized some very important things for and about yourself.  Keep moving forward. 

2013-07-05 1:17 PM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

Well, Felicia, I doubt it helps but I can tell you nearly everyone I know within the full spectrum of ability, age and body type has these thoughts. While dark, I think it's completely fine to feel this way sometimes. To question why, the how  and that what the eff? 

Just be sure to not dwell on it too long and to let the light in. We are truly blessed to wake up, to lace up our shoes and to put one foot in front of the other. No mater what the pace.

2013-07-05 2:43 PM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Hey Nice race, you finished. Most people on here weill never win a race. i know i will not but i enjoy training and it is good for your health. i really hope you will continue and show your grandchildren how cool you are by racing...not a lot of grandmothers race and when i see one, I love it! They will be so proud of you!
2013-07-05 5:04 PM
in reply to: KWDreamun

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Lakewood, CO
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
First thought was - hey you are going to have to change your name to KansasGrandma

Way to nail your time even with all those thoughts running through your head.

These last couple of weeks when I am out on the bike and seeing some folks out running on the trails I realize, compared to them, how smooth they look, how quick they appear to be moving even in training - I don't run. I would definitely classify myself as a jogger - can be so deflating at times. But as you said, that is not what it is about......

Great job, keep it up and keep moving forward - don't look back and don't quit!
2013-07-05 8:48 PM
in reply to: #4796074

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

Dorothy, you are NOT in Kansas-nonathletic-land anymore.

Congratulations, athlete.

All I read is that you're thin and had doubts but you DID IT ANYWAY--and do NOT forget you came in the top three in your AG. THESE THINGS COUNT! You showed up!

2013-07-06 7:22 AM
in reply to: TriAya

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Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k

Wow.  I thought I was reading my journal!

Well done for doing it and even more well done for sharing those thoughts.  We all have self doubt and yes as a woman of a certain age that gets worse - those darned hormones are raging.

It does pass, I feel 100 x better than this time last year, remember when i was all about how many smiley faces per day and how I cried the whole time.  That's all gone - just some silly hormone at the end of the day.

You did great, top 3 (take that)

There are so many people that don't do what we do because they are afraid, not because they don't want to.  You faced that fear and got it done.

2013-07-06 8:21 AM
in reply to: jobaxas

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Extreme Veteran
Tallahassee, Florida
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
You are AMAZING! Karl told me that he was afraid that you were going to give up racing but then when I read your report, I realized that you had not only gone thru the dark place but you met the demons and looked at them and said, "Screw you!" Attagirl! It takes a lot to run when all is right and perfect in the world and it takes even more when we are carrying even more burdens. Keep on going GF. I'm so proud of you!
2013-07-08 9:37 AM
in reply to: Pink Socks

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Firecracker 15k
Thank you for sharing this heart felt race report.  I don't know what pictures you are talking about.  I do know that your Suicide Hill photos are awesome!  You look great in them and you look like you are having fun!  It was a hard race and you did it!  Good for you for doing the Freedom Run!  You could have been a DNS but you did it ;-)  We are so proud of you!
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