Race Recap: Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4-Miler 2014

Who writes about a 4th of July race 10 days after the fact…?

This person. :)

Sorry for the delay, guys! I had a very successful second week of training for the New York City Marathon, which I will share with you all tomorrow or Wednesday.

In the meantime, I would feel remiss if I didn’t at least write a short post about this year’s Cranford Jaycee’s Firecracker 4-Miler. Not because it was particularly eventful or anything, but because I run it every year and this race is especially meaningful to me because it was my VERY FIRST RACE EVER.


Firecracker 4-Miler, 2011

This year, it was even more special because it was my first time running it with a partner.


And since it starts in Cranford, where I just moved from, and runs through Kenilworth, where I grew up, I like taking part in this particular “hometown” type of race because it’s a way for me to be a huge giant dork and kick off the 4th of July holiday “where I came from.” :)

The 4-mile race begins at 9am in the park where I’ve done the vast majority of my training for all of the half and full marathons I’ve conquered thus far. There are some kiddie rides and games in the parking lot, and they try to make something of a festival out of the occasion, which I think is a nice way to celebrate the holiday.

This year, fortunately, it wasn’t QUITE as hot…unlike 2013 when 4th of July temps were in the freakin’ upper 90′s by the time the race started! So I ended up looking a little something like this by the time I crossed the finish line (before 10am)!


Firecracker 4-Miler, 2013

Long story short, I know going into ANY summer race not to expect my best performance. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m the type of runner who just cannot tolerate the heat/humidity, and this was supposed to be a “just for fun” type of race anyway, so I wasn’t planning on pushing it.

We ran the 4 miles at a steady, even pace — between 10 and 10:30 — and finished a little under 41:00. We were cheered on by locals along the way, and I ran through a whole lot of sprinklers and hoses people were kind enough to spray at the runners — which is my new favorite way to lower my body temperature when running in the summer. (You gotta do what you gotta do, right?)

I think it’s funny I finish this race between 40:00-41:00 every single year. You’d think I’d get discouraged by seeing no improvement since my first race — which I definitely did at first — but I take comfort in knowing that if by some chance the temperatures were to drop to, say, 50 degrees on the 4th of July, then I’d PR like there was no tomorrow. But, until then, 10ish-minute miles are fine by me. The race attracts some 3,000 runners, and the course is super flat, but it’s also ridiculously crowded…so unless you start the race with the scary-looking super-fast runners, you’re bound to get stuck in “traffic” and there’s really nowhere to go!


Then, BEST OF ALL, we enjoyed my most favorite part of the Firecracker 4-Miler: the free ice cream at the finish line.

In addition to water and bananas and the usual fare, there’s also lots of goodies available for runners, including FREE snow cones and popcorn. One of this year’s sponsors was apparently Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars, and they had tons of the bars out in all different flavors. Including my absolute fave flavor combo ever: mint chocolate chip.


Anyway, the moral of the story is that it was fun to run this race again this year with Todd. And hopefully he will indulge me and let me sign up again next year, even though I legit don’t live in town anymore, haha.

There’s something about running the same race every year that makes you think about how far you’ve come since last year’s race, so it was cool to be able to participate together and wear the shirts from our first half marathon together (Rock N’ Roll Philadelphia) and the Bondibands from our first full marathon together (Rock N’ Roll USA).

And no, I didn’t plan for it to work out that way…it’s not my fault they all happen to be red, white, and blue. :)

Is there a race you run every year?

Did you race this 4th of July?

What’s your favorite holiday-themed race?



  1. That’s so fun that you did the same race again! I really hope to make the race I did as my first half marathon an annual event!

    I didn’t race this fourth of July because it’s so darn hot. We only have once local race and it gets pretty packed since it’s the only one we have from may – october lol.

    • Jennifer says:

      I know what you mean! I totally wish I could afford to run the Princess Half every year… ;)

      Haha, really?! Only one race?! I’ll bet it’s packed. But, yeah, 4th of July is definitely not the optimal day for racing, that’s for sure.

  2. Awesome race! My body shuts down in the heat, so I completely understand you not PR-ing. I would probably end up walking the whole thing if it were anywhere close to 90!

    • Jennifer says:

      Haha, tell me about it! If it’s above, say, 70, I already KNOW what’s going to happen…so I just relax and have fun with the race, instead of torturing myself. :-D

  3. Love that you have an anniversary race to do each year! That’s sort of how I feel about Wine & Dine, it was my first race ever so it always means something a little extra to me! : )

    • Jennifer says:

      Yup! Know exactly what you mean. I also feel that way about Princess, as my first half…and I’m excited to go back for WDW Marathon Weekend and run my first full all over again, too. :-D

  4. I JUST wrote about my 4th of July weekend race too. You’re not alone :) Yay for raceiversaries and ice cream!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hahaha, good to know I’m not the only one who’s a tad behind schedule. And I’m not even going to pretend like the ice cream wasn’t a huge highlight of the day… ;)

  5. My body responds the same way during the heat – luckily it rained right before my 4th of July race so the air was pretty cool :)

    • Jennifer says:

      That’s the best (well, aside from the humidity)! It was a little bit rainy that day, too, but we didn’t get anything more than a light drizzle for the race…the storm didn’t come until several hours later.

  6. Yogurt bars and snow cones? Yes please! Once again ya’ll look too darn cute in your race outfits! They were so appropriate to given the theme. Your outfit from last year was cute too. I may need you to give me some ideas for outfits for my upcoming races! P.S Are you guys doing RnR Philly this year?

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Meranda! Haha, that’s what I said. Is it wrong that a large part of the appeal of this race is the free goodies afterwards? ;)

      I am ALWAYS happy to talk race costumes! There’s nothing that excites me more than having a “theme,” haha — just let me know what you’re thinking. :-D

      We probably won’t be doing RnR Philly again, although it was a lot of fun! Todd will be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, though. Since I’m all wrapped up in NYCM, we’ll have a (sort of) light half marathon racing schedule this year. In October, we’re doing Hershey, and I’m doing Tower of Terror, and that’s pretty much it. :)

  7. Every race should end with ice cream and/or a snow cone!

    I do W&D every year (this year being my 3rd). But it gets harder and harder for me to not do the Princess every year since that race was my first. I must be strong and not register! I must focus on Goofy!

    • Jennifer says:

      AGREED! How awesome would that be?! :-D

      Oh, I know EXACTLY what you mean. It took everything I had not to register for Princess for 2015. It’s such a nostalgic thing for me, I wish I could run every year! But I’m doing exactly what you’re doing: focusing on Goofy! :)

  8. Ice cream sounds so good after a hot race. I don’t do well in heat at all, so I let others do the 4th of July races. I’ll do frigid races for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but hot temps keep me on the sidelines.

    • Jennifer says:

      There is NOTHING better than ice cream after the race. I know exactly what you mean…I’d much rather race for the cold-weather holidays. ;)

  9. What a fun time!! There is something special about running your first race every year, I do the same thing! :0) I am glad you had Todd with you for it this year – y’all look so happy!! (ps – love your Bondi Bands!)

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] posted my 4th of July race recap 10 days late, so why not go ahead and recap weeks 2 and 3 of my New York City Marathon training all [...]

  2. [...] like the Firecracker 4-Miler on July 4th, I run this race every year…and, back in 2011, it was my very first [...]

Leave a Reply to Stacie@SimplySouthernStacie Cancel reply