On the Fourth of July, I woke up early, hopped on my bike and rode over to Franke Park for the annual Firecracker 4-miler race. It’s a race I had run three times previously. The first year, 2008, I ran it in a blistering 48 minutes. I was not last, though I’m sure I was in my age group.
Last year, I broke 42 minutes on a hot, humid morning. Fourth of July this year was not nearly as hot as last or as humid, still I figured if I broke 42 minutes again, I’d be happy.
Instead, I broke 39 minutes, a PR. For me, that’s impressive. I don’t do a lot of speed work, except when I run with my dog and she sees a squirrel or a rabbit and has to go after it, pulling me along at a much faster sprint than I want to run.
The race at Franke Park includes two trips up to the top of the former Soap Box Derby hill. If you’re not familiar with the Soap Box Derby, gravity provides the power that makes the cars go, so a long, steepish hill is needed. The race is also part road race, part trail race. As much as I like running on trails, I don’t do much of that either.
As for hills, I seem to thrive on running up hills. We don’t have a lot of steep hills here, but we do have a fair number of hills. I live near a river and when I run, I often run away from the river, which means running up hill. I also think all of my bicycling in some way has made me a stronger runner, particularly on hills.
Now, I don’t live in the mountains, and I’m sure I’m not ready to run the Pike’s Peak half-marathon or the Western States ultramarathon. But the hills of northern Indiana don’t seem too intimidating.