Friday, July 04, 2008

Not to Be: Firecracker 10K Race

Path and blue sky
Originally uploaded by don33c

So my coach wanted me to run a 10K on July 4 wearing a heart-rate monitor. She wants to better gauge my fitness level to create a custom training plan for me.

But the Firecracker 10K Fun Run that was supposed to be held today in Carson City, NV - the only July 4 race within a two-hour radius of our cabin at Lake Tahoe - got downgraded on Tuesday to a "fun run", after the race director flaked out. Which probably meant no heart-rate info. But I tried, anyway.

What happened:

6:45 AM: We stumble out of bed and head to the fun run, about 1 hour away. The run was to start at 8 AM, but we knew there would only be 30-40 runners max, so parking and getting to the race start wouldn't be a problem.

7:15 AM: We get stuck behind a bunch of cars unloading families heading to the lakefront for about 10 minutes. Also inadvertently got caught in a July 4th parade route, but luckily it was still early in the day, so the wait was only a few minutes for that.

Meanwhile, I strap on my heart-rate monitor, which I've never used before, and try to pair the monitor to my running watch (I use a Garmin 50). Am unsuccessful. I pull out the Garmin 50 instructions. And find that they are in French. I laugh and try to read the instruction manual with my high-school French. Still unsuccessful.

7:25 AM: Still 25 miles away from the race start, we get stuck again - for 40 MINUTES - in a half-mile long stretch of traffic composed of cars towing boats - they were all waiting to get into the parking lot for a local marina. Damn Independence Day traffic. We were on a very curvy 2-lane road and didn't want to drive blindly into oncoming cars to beat the traffic jam.

After 20 minutes, I get out of the car and jog 1/4 mile to see what the hell was the hold-up. A couple of teenage girls in an SUV yell, "Whooo-hooo!" as I run past. I smile and wave. I look at the traffic jam at the mouth of the marina parking lot, shake my head, and jog back to the car.

On the way back, a car full of chubby 20-something men, who were already drinking beer, snicker and laugh as I run by. I stifle the urge to stop, stick my face into the passenger window, and say, "Why don't you get your fat asses out of the car and work off some of that blubber?"

8:10 AM: We get to a straight stretch of road, veer around the holiday traffic and speed towards the fun run. Which had already started.

8:40 AM: After driving past strip malls and into the Nevada desert, past a state prison and a reclamation plant, we arrive at the race start. Where there was no start/finish line, runners, refreshments, etc. The fun run was in a park of desert scrub and the trail was made up of loose gravel and sand.

Only a couple of guys, one of whom was from the Fleet Feet store, were there. He says that only 3 other runners showed up. As he was talking, 2 runners run in - the first had already come and gone. Fleet Feet guy adds there are no mile markers either on the route, either. Then he thanks us for coming, gives me and my husband very cool Pearl Izumi lightweight sweat-wicking shirts, and drives off.

8:50 AM: Now alone, we head out on the run. It's about 85 degrees already and the sun blazes high overhead. We trudge through the sand at an easy 9:30 pace. There are no other runners, just a couple of folks walking their dogs. By the second loop, we encounter no other people - the dog-walkers had come and gone.

9:15 AM: The air is very still and it's gotten hotter. It felt like we were on a mini Bataan Death March. Sand gets into my shoes. Parched, we run out of water. Several large birds sit in one of the few trees on the trail. They stare at us implacably. At first I think they were vultures, but then see they are hawks. I should be comforted by this information. But I'm not.

9:35 AM: At 45 minutes, out throats dusty and sweat stinging our eyes, we said, "The hell with this," and stop.

On the upside: I signed up a moment ago for a 10K to be held next Sunday, at the beach in LA. I can gather my heart-rate monitor information at this race. And sea breezes beat desert heat hands-down. I'm just hoping the race director doesn't freak out at the last minute.

Happy 4th of July, everybody!


  1. Wow, was the poor participation why the race director freaked out?! That's an incredibly low turnout. Glad you made the best of it.

  2. oh man - that sounds like a REALLY fun run - NOT! At least you got something out of your long, icky drive.

  3. Dang, what an ordeal. Enjoy the free swag at least.

  4. geeze that sucks. traffic, desert, state prison...ugh. i hope your day picked up after that miserable experience!

  5. What a fourth! Geez, if you hadn't gotten stuck in traffic, you could have won that race, er, fun run. Good luck in LA on Sunday.

  6. That could've been called the "I organized it but nobody came 10K"! Unbelievable!