My First 5K for December was the Winter Classic 5K
2,690 runners finished this frosty race in Cambridge, MA. Racewire.com has full searchable results.
I managed to get to the race early enough to get free on-street parking on Mass Ave. I was a bit hesitant to park on the street as I always seem to miss the sign for tow zone, delivery zone, etc.
The temp was in the low 30s, but I had to take off my jacket and leave my bag in the bag check area. I did a little warm up jogging and then found a spot in front of a building to get out of the breeze and do a little stretching.
My first 5K for December is off!
No National Anthem or speeches for this race. The Race Director asked us to please come to him personally with any issues, which I thought was a little funny. He was the only guy there in a pink fleece, and he encouraged us to seek him out if we had any issues.
The wheel chair racers took off two minutes before we started. I started in the 7:30 pace area and the start was pretty smooth and not too congested.
The course was a little different than I remembered it. Instead of heading east on Sidney Street to Mass Ave, we headed West on Sidney Street and then took a left onto Pacific Street.
For some reason I always associate warm temperature with the word “Pacific.” At this point in the race I was running on the side-walk trying to avoid fire hydrants and street signs. The course was packed and the street name irony was amusing to me.
Very quickly we took another left onto Albany Street out to Mass Ave. Many of the buildings that we ran past were converted factories or warehouses.
I managed to negotiate all of these turns pretty well. On Sidney Street and Pacific Street I had to make my way through the crowd. As we progressed up Albany Street, the crowd started to sort.
When we took the left onto Mass Ave there was plenty of room. We had the entire right-hand side of the street and I was able to run freely.
We hit mile 1 on Mass Ave and I clocked in at 7:10. Not bad considering I had to deal with the crowd in the first half mile or so of the race. I felt pretty good but was starting to feel the initial energy leaving my legs. I also noticed that I was breaking a sweat.
As I cruised down Mass Ave I took stock of how I felt. It was 25° and I was sweating. I had properly hydrated so this wasn’t a problem. As I drank half of a Hint water before the race, I recalled people looking at me like I must have been crazy. Hydration is important even in below freezing temps.
My legs had lost their initial blast of energy, but I knew that everyone else’s legs were feeling the same thing. In the first mile, all of the casual runners re-assess their commitment to this crazy thing. They are all thinking “WTF did I sign up for this thing?, My legs are dead.”
Mass Ave is nice and flat and fairly well-paved. It was time to lock into cruising gear. My pace felt comfortable and my stride was easy. I started picking people off. A few people passed me and then I passed them.
On the down hill heading into our turn onto Putnam Ave, I picked up the pace. Down hill is not something to be wasted. I passed more people. As the turn came into view I made sure I was well positioned to negotiate the corner.
Turns are notorious bottlenecks where everyone tries to cut the corner short. By getting into some open space, I had the room I needed to make the turn without getting stuck in a crowd.
Putnam Ave took us through the West Cambridge neighborhood I mentioned in my previous post. There were more “updated” properties than I remembered. Lots of new buildings tucked in between homes, and homes tucked beside office/industrial buildings.
I saw classic triple deckers and even noticed a quad, or 4 decker, apartment building. I tried to take in the neighborhood as I was running through. I wanted to appreciate the place.
One thing I noticed in particular were all of the parks. A lot of them do not show up on my Garmin map. Some looked like house lots that the city had turned into open space. Some were larger open spaces that looked like a nice place to hang out on a warm summer evening.
It looks like a great place to raise your kids. And I thought about my girls. Both off to college now. And I miss them every day.
Before the intersection of Putnam and Riverside Street we hit the two-mile mark. All of the casual runners were now pulling back. The contenders were already closing on the finish line.
I was with my tribe
The feeling of pending death informs us of our effort. We’re not talented enough or disciplined enough to win. We run for the fun of it and to leave it all out there.
All the way down Putnam Street I passed a few and dueled with a few. Heavy breathing all around.
At the corner of Putnam and Brookline Street, we took the left onto Brookline. At this point I had to decide what I wanted. Was finishing enough? If I let up now would my finish time satisfy me?
Nothing hurt and I wasn’t throwing up. My legs were tired but under control. Mile 2 came in at 6:55 so my average pace was still over 7:00. Probably not going to get a 21:00 5K today. But I could tuck in under 22:00.
Brookline Street felt comfortable. I waved to a few kids and thanked a few cops and volunteers for coming out for us. I just felt in my bones that if I kept throwing everything I had at this race I could beat 22 minutes. I was all in.
I saw the turn onto Franklin Street approaching and made sure I was clear for the turn. My turn went well and I started looking for the finish line.
All of us were in the same boat: The finish was in sight and our bodies were tapped. I’m sure we were all thinking, “just hold on, you’re almost there.”
I ran a 7:03 for the last full mile and a 6:53 pace for the last 10th of a mile. About 50 yards to the finish this lady started to pass me. I recognized that we had dueled it out for a while. Maybe even for most of the race. I think I first noticed her on Mass Ave.
We were so close to the finish that I just tossed it all in. The clock was 21 and change when I first gained resolution on it. I had to beat 22 minutes.
Close to the finish, time and space are all F%^’d up.
With Shannon Katzmayr on my shoulder, I managed to cross at 21:42. Shannon came in at 21:41. I’m 50, she’s 27. I’ll take it.
After the finish line I grabbed onto a sign post and bent over to get a bottle of water. My breath was short and I had to squeeze the bottle to get enough water into my parched mouth.
I was winded and definitely felt like I had just run a race. But nothing hurt.
As I made my way to the beer table I picked up a package of corn chips from “Food Should Taste Good” and they did! This company is at a lot of races and their chips are really good. I wanted carbs and I didn’t want them all to be from beer!
I hung out with Lindsey from Wakefield and some of her friends. I put on an extra long sleeve running shirt and my jacket. At this point I was still warm. I finished my beer, said good-bye and headed for the VIP area.
On my way over I met several of the ladies from Melrose Running Club. They were cold and were heading out. We chatted for a bit and parted ways.
After the race all were welcome to the VIP area where Jack’s Abby was pouring “Wicked Hoppy Lager.” This was more to my liking. I met my buddy Jim and some of his friends. As we drank beer and traded stories we froze in the wind tunnel that was Blanche Street.
After about 20 minutes I decided it was time to seek shelter from the wind. I went to the corner of Auburn St. and stood by the building. More runners were there and we had more fun drinking and telling stories.
I ended up hanging out with a young lady whose name I don’t recall. We had a great conversation and I watched her smoke a cigarette! I’ve never seen a runner smoke a cigarette after a race before.
We saw people walking by with cases of beer, so I decided to go take a look. The cases were all gone, but the guy at the table gave me a six-pack of “Wicked Hoppy Lager” and another guy gave us both a bottle of the Lager.
Before I had too many I decided it was time to go.
This was race number 8 of my 50 5Ks at 50 series.
Next week is “The Assault on Mt. Hood” 3.5 mile XC race on Saturday. Sunday is the Marathon Sports “Somerville Jingle Bell Run” 5K.
Run well my friends!