For the third year in a row, I started my Independence Day off with a BANG by running in the =PR= Race Series Firecracker 5K put on by Potomac River Running. PRR always does things right, and today’s race was no exception!  Their website says it best when explaining why runners should participate in the Firecracker 5K:

This is a wonderful opportunity to give thanks and show your support to our local military members and their families.  Enjoy live music and showing off your Patriotism by waving American flags!  Come out and root for your favorite military branch in the “Battle of the Branches” competition!  Which Military branch runs the Metro area?  Potomac River Running will make a donation on behalf of the branch with the most runners registered for the Firecracker 5K for the Troops presented by Leidos to the USO Metro.


Erin, Molly, and I arrived to Reston Town Center bright and early for the Firecracker 5K since the 2015 World Police and Fire Games were in full swing and headquarted at RTC.  One of my friends had mentioned that parking might be tight so I decided not to risk it, and arrive early.

We milled around Fountain Square, and Erin and I got a quick picture in front of the Virginia Is For Lovers LOVE sculpture.  I’d never had the opportunity to see it in person before, and now I’ve seen it twice in two short months.


Next we headed to find a restroom (of course we did), and I bumped into two friends in the restroom line.  First I saw Wendy, my running buddy from Ragnar Trail WV, and then I saw Susan from Skirts and Socks!  I love, love, love the running community, and that I’ve made so many friends along the way.


I headed out for a warm-up run and kept my eye on my watch to make sure I was back in time for our multi-chapter MRTT group picture, and got back with about a minute to spare!

While at the MRTT meet-up, I got to briefly say hi to Kim of Kim Runs Miles With Smiles.  Even though she wasn’t running the race, she was there there to cheer on her husband, and she and I got to compare our very similar shirts!


My friend Kim, her daughter, and friend were fully USO tatted up.  Kim’s daughter has reason to celebrate because she had a birthday coming up soon!  They had matching shirts that said, “She believed she could, so she did.”  Perfect!


On a very sad note, one of the Brazilian athletes was killed in a biking accident during the World games, and this little memorial was set up up at Fountain Square.  It was a somber reminder that life is precious, and anything can happen in a split second.


As I headed over to the race start I captured a quick photo of Fountain Square, then turned to find my spot in the sea of runners at the starting line.


Before the National Anthem, we had a moment of silence for the fallen World Games Brazilian athlete.

And then while waiting for the National Anthem to start, I snapped a quick picture of the runners in front of me…


And behind me…


After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem on Independence Day, the runners were off!


With a quick turn of the selfie stick, my GoPro captured the runners behind me.


By the half mile point the cloudy skies gave in to the looming rain storm.  We started with a light drizzle, but by the first mile we had light rain.  By the time we got to the water stop, we had a delightful steady rain keeping us cool.


Two flag-baring runners passed me around the second mile…


And as we approached the third mile, we passed Homeland Security’s police truck.


After a couple of turns, we made the final and very familiar left hand turn to head up Market Street to the finish line!


I finished in 25:53 (8:21 pace) (125 out of 969 females) and fast enough to finish third in my age group out of 42 women.  I was 1:34 slower than last year, and almost exactly the same pace as 2013.  It just goes to show that hill repeats and tempo runs work!  I went into the race feeling very under-trained and was very happy with my performance.  I know what I need to work on between now and my next race.

After I finished, I turned just in time to catch Erin and Molly cross the finish line…


And after we all had a chance to catch our breath, we had Kathy’s husband hold the GoPro for this pic.  Notice my right hand hidden behind my body; in it, I held my GoPro remote control and snapped the pic.  Technology is great – when it works!


Just as we were ready to go check our race results we saw Kathryn of From Dancing to Running!  It was great to see her since I hadn’t seen her since last summer at the Leesburg 20K.


One of the delights of running in races in Reston is seeing Ecris.  She’s a staple in the running community, and has been for years.  We’ve worked together over the years at two different gyms and it’s always delightful to see her, and cheer for her as she wins her age group time-after-time!


By the time the award ceremony started it was pouring rain.  We found shelter and killed time with some more pictures.


Kathy won her age group with a time of 22:26 (7:14 pace), and shaved 1:30 off of last year’s race. Fortunately for me, she’s in the age group below me, or I’d never have a chance!


We each received gift certificates to Potomac River Running Store.  First place is $20, and third place is $10.  Considering they are one of my favorite running stores, I’ll have no problem finding something to buy with it!  It’s worth mentioning that all runners received a “Support The Troops” wrist band from the USO Metro after they crossed the finish line.


Just before we turned to leave, Team RWB came in together as a group.  Most had finished earlier, but they joined forces to finish together in a very moving tribute to our nation’s veterans.  I’m so glad that I was still there to see it.


And finally, this year’s shirt is a very pretty lighter shade of navy.  It has the same logo, and same great women’s fit as my two previous Firecracker 5K shirts, but it’s the best color so far of the ones I’ve collected.  It will definitely be a shirt that I’ll wear!


If you live in Northern Virginia or metro DC area, and are looking for a fun way to start your Independence Day with a bang, consider running this great race next year!  Potomac River Running won’t disappoint!


  • Questions:
  • Did you run in an Independence Day race?
  • How did yo celebrate Independence Day?
  • Do yo have vacation coming up soon?