In 2008 on the 4th of July, I ran in the 32nd annual Firecracker Run 10k in the town of Excelsior. I had so much fun last year that I decided to partake in the 33rd annual running.
Excelsior Bay on an overcast 4th of July morning
Excelsior is a pretty little city on the south shore of Lake Minnetonka. It still has a lot of small town charm despite being swallowed up by the metro area. They have a cute downtown area with lots of neat shops and restaurants, as well as a fairly impressive view of the lake.
A family of geese floating on Lake Minnetonka
For a weather forecast that had originally looked kind of nice, the day sure started off gloomy. Temperatures were around 70, it was overcast with occasional drizzle, and extremely humid. It felt steamy. Oh well, at least the cloud cover would offer a break from the sun, right?
Pre-race set up down in Excelsior Commons Park
The race starts and finishes at the Excelsior Commons Park. It runs through scenic residential areas to the east of the downtown area. The course is largely flat, but there are a couple of rolling hills to keep it interesting.
This race also really seems to embody what it is to be a "fun run." It has great community support (everyone seemed to know each other), and it is quite social. There was an interesting mix of a number of very talented local runners, as well as some runners who looked like their legs hadn't seen sunlight in years. There is a little something for everyone at the Firecracker Run!
Yours truly before the start of the race
At 8:30, they turned us loose on the streets. I managed to put myself in a good position at the start so I avoided a lot of congestion. Runners quickly fanned out and we ventured into the residential areas.
The route is pretty; lots of nice homes and many big trees in these older neighborhoods. The roads were also sort of winding, so there were a few twist and turns.
I thought it was hard running on Saturday. Even with no sun, it was still kind of warm and the humidity was off the charts. I tend to labor in stuff like this and felt like I was sucking air.
And, for the third race in a row, I didn't wear my watch. As a little experiment, I've been trying to run by feel and not be too concerned about time. The only times I heard were being called out at the one mile and five mile marks.
My race was going better than I had suspected. When I got to the five mile mark, I had passed that in just over 38 minutes. That was enough information to give me a little boost; I was on a good pace and running faster than I had originally thought.
Winding back into downtown, the runners made a beeline to the finish in the park. I had a decent kick at the end, too, passing a few folks coming down the home stretch. There is a really good crowd at the finish here, so when you run into the chute, there are a lot of cheering spectators.
I crossed the finish line in 47:08 (results here). Not only was that almost 2 1/2 minutes faster than last year's time, but it was also my second fastest 10k ever. The race ended up being a rather satisfying performance for me, especially in such humid conditions. Nice! Even better, they give you a red, white, and blue bomb pop popsicle at the finish line! :) Talk about a treat after a warm race.
The only bad thing that happened is that I did not get to partake in my semi-regular, post-race tradition of Chinese takeout. I checked out several restaurants in my neighborhood that are of the Asian persuasion, and all were closed for the 4th!
With no plans to do any cooking, I dined on a rotisserie chicken from Lund's, all the while learning a valuable lesson to become more aware of what businesses close for national holidays.
Until next time,
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