What a way to start December! I’ve begun to get used to weather in the 40’s but the Cambridge Winter Classic was cold and wet.
I used to run with The Slow and Thirsties, but everyone is either dealing with an injury or life. For a few years we had our own team table. Now the race director, Paul Clark, is kind enough to set up a table for the “Unaffiliated Runners” as I like to call us. We have a different mix of runners at each race.
For the Winter Classic, since it is close to Christmas, I call us “The Table for Misfit Runners.” We are a collection of Paul’s friends who do not belong to a team but still love to run his races. Over the past few years I have met some people several times and we have become running friends.
Some I know their names, some I do not. But we always recognize each other and the conversations seem to pick up where they left off. Often about running, but sometimes politics, family and work. The usual stuff.
Running the Cambridge Winter Classic 2018
This was my last race and second to last run before the Honolulu Marathon on December 9th. I wanted to have a good run, but avoid any sort of injury. At this point no run is going to appreciably add to my run in Hawai’i but one bad step could derail everything.
The week before any marathon is important. You need to keep your body in shape and not let things slip. But you also have to avoid any type of injury. I normally wear shoes around the house just to keep from stubbing a toe.
I’ve only run about 70 miles in both October and November, so I haven’t exactly been killing it. It’s been hardly what I would call a marathon training program. Knowing what I face in Honolulu I have put some emphasis on hill running but my long runs have not been long!
I woke up around 7AM and heard the rain. The race didn’t start until 9:30, but if I got there early enough I would get a good parking spot. I took my time getting ready but kept things moving.
I found a parking spot around 8:00 and went over to race central to use the facilities. On the way over I saw Paul Clark and his crew getting things ready. We said hello and kept on with our business. On the way back to my car I saw Emily McDivitt and her cousin Daniel. We chatted for a bit but they were headed back to their car to get warm also.
I sat in my car, listened to a book on CD and watched other cars pull up and then leave. I was parked in front of a building with a “No Trespassing” sign screwed into the wall. It was Sunday in Cambridge so I thought I was okay. After about six cars pulled up and left I decided to drive around the block and look for friendlier parking. There was none.
I headed back to the same street and took up a spot near where I had been before. The building may say no trespassing, but it is a public street. Before I left my car two others pulled up and parked.
When I got to the table for my “team” no one else was there. I chatted with the people at the next table and then headed for the start.
With the cold and the rain it was easy to get a good spot. We entered the coral from in front of the start line and then walked back as far as we wanted. I stopped about 50 people back from the front. I didn’t plan on setting any records, but I wanted to be able to do my thing also.
The announcer soon told us we had about 30 seconds and that he would give us a verbal command with a count down from three.
And they’re off!
Just about on the nose we started at 9:30. I was quickly across the start lines and headed for the first turn. Some people don’t like to run the same course repeatedly. I don’t mind as it allows me to run more strategically.
I know it takes us three turns to get onto Mass Ave and that on Mass Ave I’ll have all the room I need. As we ran down Albany Street towards Mass Ave. I picked up some speed and started passing a few people. When the corner approached I was in the clear and didn’t have to slow down.
Running down Mass Ave in Cambridge has become familiar to me. I know it’s about a mile of clear running and I can kick it in if I want or hold back and take it easy.
I hit mile one about half-way down Mass Ave at 7:53. It felt really comfortable and I knew I had some more speed if I wanted it.
I decided to push a little harder and cruised down the street to our next turn onto Putnam Ave. Usually there is a water stop just after the turn, but I didn’t see one this time. We really didn’t need it.
On Putnam I began to feel the run. I could tell that everyone around me was feeling it too. My lungs felt a bit of that cold air burn and others were doing that heavy breathing thing.
I knew that pushing my legs on this run would help me in Honolulu. Running through fatigue now at a much faster pace is good training. I was well over a minute faster than my goal marathon pace.
We hit Mile Two at the Western Ave intersection. I came in at 7:29. I was working but still felt pretty good.
Finishing the Cambridge Winter Classic
Now we were about a mile to the finish. I still felt good and decided to hold on as much as I could. I passed a few more people and hoped they wouldn’t be passing me just before the finish!
Around 2.6 miles we turned onto Brookline Street. This is the last long stretch of the race. Only one more turn to the finish. I was feeling the race and my left knee was acting up a bit, but not too much.
There were a few people out spectating, but it was 40 something degrees and raining. You can’t expect a crowd.
Before long I could see the final turn. My watch chimed for mile three and I had a pace of 7:25. It was now down to about 1/10 of a mile.
I noticed there weren’t that many runners around me as I made the last turn. Often it is crowded at the finish. Maybe I’ll get a good photo?
As I approached the finish line I saw 24:07 on the clock. I knew it took me a few seconds to cross the line, so maybe I would get under 24. My watch showed 24:16 when I stopped it after the last timing mat.
There weren’t that many people at the finish line. I saw some high school kids walking towards the runners with bottles of water and I happily grabbed one. As I passed a table with more water bottles I grabbed another. I thought I might need it.
I kept walking down Franklin Street away from the crowd and towards the team tents and beers! It was still raining and I wasn’t waiting for anyone, so why hang out in the rain?
As I walked along I had hoped to see a food company providing samples. I was actually hungry during the race and was looking forward to a little something. Unfortunately, no one was there.
I chugged down my water and headed for a recycle bin. Another runner was in front of me tossing in two bottles of water! Don’t mind waiting for that!
I headed down the left side of the plaza towards the beer stand. When I went to look for my tickets I didn’t see them on my bib. I thought maybe I tore them off while running. Turns out they were just folded under my bib!
As I approached the beer stand, mud oozed into my wet shoes! I tore off two tickets, grabbed two IPAs and headed for the tent. I was hoping to avoid the soon to appear crowd and the mud which was sure to get worse.
I put down my beers took off my jacket and racing shirt and put on a dry cotton University of Maine t-shirt. It felt a little better, but my jacket was still wet.
After a few minutes Jessica Crispin and Christina DiCalogero from The Melrose Running Club showed up. They were cold and wet also, but were in good spirits and had run a good race. The ladies hung out and chatted for a while.
As they went to leave we insisted that they take of one the six packs on the table. Surely their husband’s or someone would enjoy the beer, even if they didn’t want to drink them.
I saw other people looking at their phones and I kept waiting for a text message with my finish time. I never got one. My official results were emailed to me later in the day.
I ran 24:11 at a 7:47 pace. That was good enough for 244th over all and 18th in the Men’s 50-59. I made the top 30% in my bracket and top 25% over-all. I know that’s pretty good, but I just can’t seem to get under 24 minutes lately.
I’m not complaining. If I want 23 or 22, maybe 21? I need to work for it. I can be done, I just need a little more discipline.
Within a half hour we had a dozen people or so around the table. I recognized most of them from previous races and even knew the names of a few! I always have so much fun hanging around after a race talking with people and having a few beers. Paul Clark dropped by to say hello, and he seemed to know everyone at the table. I think he made his way around to every table after the race.
Even with the canopy tent, it was still cold and wet. I drank less than my limit, grabbed a six-pack and headed for home.
Run well my Friends and stay warm!