I’ve run the Cambridge Winter Classic almost every year since it’s inception.
One year it was so cold that they had a huge tent with sides. Not just a canopy or pop-up. That was a wild day!
This year it was a seasonable 37-40º F. Balmy.
Getting Ready to Run the Cambridge Classic 2021
I’ve been dealing with injuries for about a year now. I’m beginning to think of this as “middle-aged runners syndrome”. It’s not just an injury. Not sure it qualifies as a “syndrome” but it’s more than a simple injury.
I got to the race before all of the barriers were up and was able to get a parking spot right off of Sydney Street.
Very few people were there so I was able to pick up my bib and shirt without standing in line.
I took everything back to my car and got my running kit together. It seemed nice enough that I would not need a jacket. Instead I tucked my phone into a running belt and put on some sun screen.
My PT, Sarah, has been telling me how important dynamic warm ups are, so I went out for a slow jog.
I headed towards Race Central and used the porta potty and continued on my way.
This part of Cambridge is really cool. Parts are residential as they have been since before Paul Revere and The American Revolution. Other parts are post industrial buildings and MIT sprawl.
Running a very slow pace, 13.20, I was able to look deeper into yards and further down side streets. I love architecture and history so it was more of a visual treat than a warm up run.
My vivid imagination saw people walking to foundries and shoe factories. I imagined all the secret work that MIT and Harvard did in those industrial looking buildings during WWII and The Cold War.
My knee hurt for a while and I actually wondered if it would be a mistake to run this race.
I’ve experienced more pain during a marathon, but a marathon is a mission. Neither hell nor high water will stop me.
It’s a fucking crazy frame of mind. It’s much easier to walk away from a 5K, or even not start. I’ve done it once or twice before.
When I got back to the Team Clark table my left knee was at least a 4 on a scale of 1-10. I did some stretching, walked about and did a bit more un-recorded running. It did happen even though it’s not logged!
Running The Cambridge Classic 2021
Before the race the only person I saw that I know is the race director Paul. There were about 3,000 runners including 6-8 from my club.
I hung out at the table until 9:23 and then slowly made my way to the back of the pack.
As I walked down Sydney Street I could see that we had a good crowd today. I kept going until I got to the end.
I chatted with another guy my age who had a similar idea. His was to start in the back and see how many people he could pass.
When they started the race, we were so far back that I couldn’t tell if the race had begun. As we walked to the start we wished each other a good race and parted.
It was interesting to be walking with the people with strollers. As I crossed the start I began a light jog. It took a great deal of restraint to not pass everyone.
When we got to the first turn onto Pacific Street I was running easy. A few times I was running behind elementary-school kids.
My mission was to run a 30-minute 5K.
As we turned onto Albany Street I could see people running onto the sidewalk or tucking in to the curb for a tight turn. I held back and stayed behind the kids.
The perfectly executed turn was not of my concern today.
As we ran down Albany Street I began to pass people. Many were walkers or almost walkers. If I went any slower I felt like I was going to fall over!
I tried to look around and take in the sights. I also had to watch the pavement as there were some rough spots.
When we turned onto Mass Ave I had to control my self. One of my favorite things to do is run down Mass Ave in Cambridge.
Normally it is 5-6 lanes of traffic and impatient drivers. On race day it is all ours.
I did pick up the pace a bit but rarely hit a 10 minute pace. Nothing hurt and it just felt so slow!
As we approached the left onto Putnam Ave I could tell that my cardio had slipped. I wasn’t gasping for breath, but I also wasn’t pushing it.
I made the turn at exactly 1.55 miles.
As we ran down Putnam I decided to maintain my pace until the two-mile mark. Then I would see how I felt.
Mile one was 11:44 and mile two was 10:22.
Finishing The Cambridge Classic 2021
Mile three began just after we crossed Western Avenue. It was a bit of a downhill so I went with it.
This road is in rough shape with wavy pavement and a few potholes. So I had to pay attention.
As I weaved between runners I herd bits of conversation about time at Harvard Law and joining the SEAL program. I also saw many MIT shirts running down the street. But I was passing these folks.
I tried not to open it up like I normally would at this stage in the race. And I really wanted to!
But I knew if I broke anything my PT would not be impressed! So I kept mile three to a 8:34 pace.
8:34 felt “fast” and I felt like my legs got the stretch that they needed. They wanted.
When we hit mile three I heard someone tell their running partner that they had 0.2 miles to go and they both put in the kick. I had to chuckle.
Hopefully they were able to maintain their kick for almost a quarter mile.
The street was narrow and many of us were bunching up. I thought about kicking but decided to keep a more constant pace.
My last 0.27 miles came in at a 9:07 pace. Not bad.
Apre Cambridge Winter Classic 2021
After the finish line I grabbed a bottle of water and headed for my car. I wanted to put on my jacket before the freeze set in.
In no time I was headed for the beer table. Security looked at my beard and told me to grab two beers.
I took the Zero Gravity Madonna IPA and a Conehead IPA. The Madonna was 8% and 90 IBU. It was actually too malty and sweet for me. Often brewers try to off-set a high IBU with extra malt.
Since I wasn’t enjoying it and the alcohol was 8%, I left 3/4 of it on the table. Blasphemy, I know!
The Conehead didn’t list the IBU which is odd since it features a cone of hops on the label. But at 5.7% it was much more enjoyable.
The Paul Clark table always has a few of the same folks for every race. I don’t know most of their names and some of us are getting older!
But we always have fun talking about the race, running in general and beer!
There were a few people who were new to me and we had a good chat.
Heading for the corral I saw one of my friends, Jessie Almeida. We just said hello and headed to our spots. During the race I caught up to Jessie on Mass Ave. She had earbuds and was doing a walk/run program.
We chatted a bit, but I could see I was interrupting her plan.
But after the race she came by the table with a few of her friends and we chatted for about 15 minutes. We talked science, running and beer.
By this time the crowd was thinning and most of us had reached our limit.
When I turned around my crew was gone and there was a twelve-pack of Zero Gravity with 11 beers sitting on the table. How could I walk away from that? I also took two energy drinks.
There were most of two 12-packs left and I could have taken more. But I’m not a big fan of energy drinks.
It was great to get out and run a race and spend time with people.
It has been a long pandemic and injury recovery.
Run well my Friends!