Running Cambridge Half Marathon 2017

2nd Annual Cambridge Half Marathon

The 2017 Cambridge Half Marathon was a different race in many ways from the 2016 Inaugural Cambridge Half Marathon.

If I recall correctly we started in one big wave in 2016. This year they had three waves based on self reported estimated finish times.

Cambridge Half MarathonWave One was the way fast group. Wave Two was for the two-hour and under runners (ME) and wave Three was for anyone who planned to finish over two hours. I like this type of start as it helps reduce congestion at the start.

Wave One started at 7:30AM, Wave Two around 7:35AM and Wave Three around 7:40. Since the race is chip timed it wasn’t that important where you lined up.

I got to the race around 6:30 and cars were already backed onto Land Blvd. The garage in The Galleria was full and they were switching over to the garage across the street.

There were a lot of cars in the garage all ready, but I quickly found a spot. I soon realized that I had less than an hour to the race start and needed to get moving.

I pinned my bib on my Melrose Running Club singlet, and loaded up my running belt. My Cambridge Half Marathon jacket was stuffed in my drop bag, so there wasn’t much room for extras.

When I got into the mall things turned chaotic. Volunteers seemed scarce, but the few I saw seemed to know what was going on.

The bag drop and porta-potties were all outside, not in the mall. I guess I knew this, but last year everything was conveniently located in the Galleria garage. So I headed back outside and looked for the bag drop area.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, porta pottiesThe first line I saw was for the porta-potties and it looked an hour long! God help me, I thought. It was now about 40 minutes to start time and I still had my drop bag.

Fortunately the bag drop was within sight and in no time I dropped off my bag and got into the porta-pottie long and winding line. It was like being at Disney. The line was long and then we turned the corner to see another long line!

The couple behind me was running their first half marathon and we had fun joking about the weather and the line. I told them the race was chip timed and this was the most important line to be in, so hang in there.

Andy Nagelin, Cambridge Half Marathon 2017The race didn’t have any volunteers policing the porta-potty area. Some people tried to wander in front of us and pretend they didn’t see the line wrapped around the block! I saw several people who were in line block the cutters from getting into a porta-potty!

These people knew they were in the wrong and there was a large crowd ready to back anyone up.

Eventually a bunch of us started yelling when we saw a cutter wander towards the porta-potties. No one should mess with a runner who has stood in line for 40 minutes waiting their turn. I swear if someone got out of line 20 people would take them down!

When you have a black eye people just seem to take you more seriously!

I finally got my turn. It wasn’t disgusting and the person before had left both rolls of TP hanging so I didn’t have to try and get a roll started. This little detail is often lost on other runners.

I was now ready to run and headed towards the corral for Wave Two. It turned out I didn’t need to line up on a side street. A volunteer waved me through towards the start line and sent the Wave Three runners back down the street.

Cambridge Half Marathon New Course for 2017

Last year we started on First Street, and took a left onto Cambridge Street and headed to Harvard Square, then ran down 2A to Mass Ave and then went through the Alewife neighborhood.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2016We turned around under the railroad bridge in Belmont and made our way back past Fresh Pond, Harvard and then down Broadway to MIT/Kendall Square. Then took Galileo Galilie Way to Binney Street back to First to the finish line.

This year we headed West on First Street to Binney Street. I was trying to keep my feet dry for as long as possible, but there were a lot of divets on Binney Street. When Binney crossed Third Street it turned into Galileo Galilie Way and when we crossed Broadway the street turned into Vassar Street.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017At Mass Ave we took a right for two blocks and then turned left onto Albany Street. The last time I ran Albany Street was for the Summer Classic 5K. This was where the torrential thunder and lightening storm began. For this race the rain seemed to be ending at this point.

A few more turns and we were on Putnam Street. We ran Putnam for about a mile and hit the 5K mark before taking a left towards the river. At the 5K mark they timed us. Very nice!

I thought we were going to be running on Memorial Drive, but they had us on the bike/walking path.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, overcast dayIt was narrow and congested. Shortly, most of us were back on Memorial Drive. I was making good time and mile four came in at 8:28 and my overall pace was 8:30.

Shortly after mile four we had to get an the path to go under the Elliot Bridge. As I approached the underpass runners started backing up. Turns out there was a puddle under the bridge that left very little room for runners to get by without soaking their shoes.

I lined up behind some other runners on the right and went as fast as I could. A few people ran through the puddle and splashed all of us. A bunch of us yelled at them, but what could we do?

We were now on the path next to the river. This far up, the river looks like a wild area compared to below the River Street bridge. There were a few crew boats on the river and I wondered if one of them was my daughter.

Around 4.5 miles some of us got onto Greenough Blvd. for the next mile or so. At the 10K mark they timed us again. Mile six came in at 8:39 and my average pace was 8:41.

I was running with another guy for about a mile now. We were both locals and had run these roads before. His last run had been on a treadmill over a week ago. I joked that he had fresh legs and should do well.

I ran with him over the Beacon Street bridge but let him go when we got onto the path on the Brighton side of the river. He was a lot younger than me and I knew I had to run my race, not his.

We were now on the path next to Soldiers Field Road. I’ve run this one many times also. It was packed gravel in some parts but the runners were pretty well sorted by now and it was less crowded. At Arsenal Street we ran across the road.

After Arsenal Street we were on a paved path about 8 feet wide. A few holes and lumps, but overall not too bad. At the Elliot Street bridge we had to go under the bridge, but fortunately it wasn’t as flooded as the other underpass.

We continued along the river until just after mile 9 when we crossed the Harvard Street bridge back into Cambridge. Mile nine came in at 8:39 and my overall average was 8:43. I had plenty of time to play with.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, Memorial DriveI was beginning to feel tired and my left knee was saying hello. Around mile seven I took my only gel and the guy next to me looked at me like I was crazy. That juice was wearing off and my bottles were near empty.

Mile ten came in at 8:43 which made me feel like I was beginning to slip. My average was 8:49, so I was still way ahead of my 9 minute pace goal and only had to run a 5K.

At the BU Bridge we had to run up and over. The deck is steel and cement and always looks slippery. I’ve never slipped on it, but wet steel always looks like a slipping hazard!

It was only 16 feet up and down over the bridge, but at this point in the race it felt like 60 feet up.

Miles 11 and 12 came in at 8:59 but my average pace was still under nine minutes.

Finishing the Cambridge Half Marathon

Under the Longfellow BridgeAs I ran mile 13 I thought about how much difference this mile can make in a finish time. If you push and cut 30 seconds off the last mile, you are up 30 seconds on your finish time. If you relax and add 30 seconds to the last mile, you have effectively added a minute to your finish time.

With 1.1 miles to go, why hold anything back?

A minute may not seem like much, but this thought helped me manage an 8:50 mile 13.

We ran under the Long Fellow bridge and took a right onto the Cambridge Parkway path along the river.

At the Broad Canal we took a left onto a gravel path. As we went under the Land Blvd bridge I noticed a homeless person trying to sleep on some cardboard and kind of behind a trash barrel. With all the crap this person has to deal with, 8,000 runners were passing his/her bed.

At the end of the Broad Canal we were behind the mall and the path turned wet and muddy. No one could avoid the puddles and soon I was just running through them. You can only get so wet.

As we ran down Thorndike Street to the finish I could see the clock. I gave it one last push and passed a few people before I crossed the finish line at 1:56:03.

I was a little surprised that I didn’t do better than last week’s 1:53 at the Howling Wolf Half. Cambridge hardly had a hill, but it was very congested in many areas. Under the flooded bridge I basically had to walk. So, I guess taking all of that into consideration I did okay.

Cambridge Half Marathon Apre Party

Notch Brewing, Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, Andy NagelinOne thing that hasn’t changed since last year is the Apre Party! They had 26 team areas set up, just like the Cambridge Classic 5Ks. The line for hot falaffal was longer than the beer lines! After running in the rain for two hours or so, I guess everyone wanted something hot to eat.

KIND, Nature’s Path and That’s it. were giving out snack bars. All three are about simple ingredients. KIND is all about ingredients you can see and pronounce, That’s it. makes all fruit bars with two or three ingredients and Nature’s Path Organic uses Chia and Hemp seeds to pack energy into their bars.

Bantam Cider was there with two varieties. I tried one but it was just too sweet, and I tossed most of it. Sad.

Notch Brewing, Cambridge Half Marathon One of my favorite brewers was there, Notch Brewing. They had a nice light and clear wheat ale, Infinite Jest. I usually drink Left of The Dial, but the lighter flavored wheat hit the spot.

I was a free agent at this party so I just wandered around. I only knew one other runner and that was our new club president, Dan Slattery.

The place was hopping and I never saw Dan or the six other runners from our club. I did meet a guy from The Mystic Running Club named Rich. We hung out, traded stories and had some beers. There’s always someone to talk with after a race!

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017 JacketThe jackets they gave us were much more than swag. The were a nice nylon jacket with a fleece lining, zip pockets, Velcro sleeve enclosures and inside pockets. It’s always cold in that garage after a race, but this jacket managed to keep me warm.

Since I was on my own, I decided to limit my indulgences and headed for home before 11AM!

As I drove down Land Blvd and saw the time, I couldn’t believe it! A half marathon, a few beers and I’d be out of the shower and dressed by Noon! I wasn’t thrilled about the 7:35AM start. But the early start and close proximity made for a fun filled morning and I could now chill for the rest of the day.


Over 6100 runners completed the race. Use this link to view hundreds of great photos from the course and the party.

Run well my Friends!


Cambridge Fall Classic 5K 2017

It sure didn’t feel like the Cambridge Fall Classic 5K. While my phone reported 64°, the 98% humidity made it feel like a Summer race.

This year I ran the Cambridge Fall Classic 5K by myself, if you don’t count the other 1,063 runners. I usually run with Team Slow and Thirsties, but no one signed up for this race. Usually a few people from The Melrose Running Club also show up, but not this time.

It is deep into Sunday Long Run season and a lot of people needed to get in their 16 or 22 miles. I could have used those miles today also, but I love 5Ks and had registered for this one in the spring.

September is also a popular racing month and there were several other local races this weekend.

Pre Cambridge Fall Classic 5K

As usual I arrived early and managed to get a parking spot on Landsdowne Street about 20 feet from University Park Commons. This is party central after the race.

I wandered over to the pick up zone around 7:40 to get my bib and shirt. As I crossed Sidney Street I saw the race director Paul and his crew. He called out to me by name and I went from feeling like a stranger to feeling like I was home.

Pickup didn’t open until 8, but I was able to get my number and shirt and chat with one of the volunteers. I joked about the Summer Classic and how this weather was much better. I couldn’t tell if he knew what I was talking about or was just going along with me. That race is legendary.

I took my stuff back to my car, pinned on my bib and went for a warm up jog. Just quick loop out to Mass Ave and back to the start area. Nothing strenuous, but enough to work the kinks out of my muscles, knees and hips.

As I was walking through the pick up area I saw Paul again. He told me he had a table on the end for my “team” with the name “PVC” on it which are his initials. I thanked him and felt like I was getting way more than I deserved.

As I wandered back I saw Liz Emerald and told her about the table.

I went back to my car and got my bag and jacket. I’ve never had a problem with my gear walking away and felt safe on my own this time as well.

When I got to the table there was a case of Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager and six cases of Nature’s Path Superfood bars.

While I hung out and stretched I chatted with the ladies next to me at the Downeast Cider House tent.

At 9:15 I headed for the corrals.

Running Cambridge Fall Classic 5K

As I walked onto Sidney Street I realized I was in front of the start line. The opening in the barricade was right in front of me so I walked to the starting line.

There I saw Liz Emerald and Emily McDivitt. I invited them back to my table after the race, but neither one was much interested in drinking beer.

We were about 2 runners back from the front. When they moved the barricades and told us to move up, I let most of the crowd go around me. I was about 10 runners back and that seemed a little aggressive.

At 9:30 AM they called out “Go, Go Go!” and we were off.

I flew out of there with the rest of the lead pack. It was humid but cooler than my previous race in California, so I felt pretty confident in this pace.

Cambridge Fall Classic 5KAt the first left onto Pacific Street I still felt good and negotiated the turn well. I got into position for the next turn onto Albany Street and still felt good. As we ran towards Mass Ave I began to feel like I was running.

I tried to decide if I should push or let people pass me. I let some people pass. At Mass Ave we made a left and the wide avenue was open to us.

My legs felt strong and my feet felt solid as they landed. I tried not to think about my breathing but there were people around me who were laboring. I tried to ignore them and focus on my pace.

I didn’t want to spend too much time looking at my watch, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised. The first time I looked it said 7:14, then on Albany Street it was 7:12! Still early but I felt good at this pace.

On Mass Ave I locked into a pace around 7:20 and kept it going. Mile One chimed at Central Square and I had a 7:15 pace. Unbelievable!

Everything felt good and I was passing a few people. At the turn onto Putnam Avenue I got close to the curb and slowed a bit to slip behind some other runners. Just after the turn was the water stop.

Lots of runners took a cup and I was worried I wouldn’t get one. As cups got snapped up I saw one still held out and focused on it. As I approached I got into position to keep anyone behind me from grabbing it.

I made eye contact with the young girl and plucked the cup from her hands. Without breaking stride, I took a gulp, crumpled the cup and missed the trash bag. Almost a perfect execution!

Taking the drink broke my breathing pattern and it took me a few steps to get back into a normal breathing pattern.

I was half-way, had a drink and still felt good. Wow.

We were in the neighborhood now and there was some shade. I recalled how the last time I ran in this area it was pouring rain and the streets were lit by lightening. I was moving so much faster this time.

Just past Western Avenue mile two chimed in at 7:29. I was surprised I was still running so strong.

Putnam Avenue seemed to go on forever and then I saw the turn onto Brookline Avenue. How many more turns were there?

We were still in the neighborhood and I looked around at the shops and business as we ran down the street. It’s an interesting area. Way more urban than I am used to.

Before long the turn onto Franklin Street came into view. I was pretty sure it was the last turn and waited for mile three to chime on my watch.

Just over a block from the turn my watch chimed 7:30 for mile three! I had hardly slowed at all. Now the foot race down Franklin to Sidney Street began.

Finishing Cambridge Fall Classic 5K 2017

Soon after we had turned onto Brookline Ave, I knew I wouldn’t have any kick for the end. All I could do was maintain my pace and hope a bunch of kids wouldn’t smoke me at the finish line.

As I ran down Franklin towards the finish I kicked in what I had. It wasn’t much but I ran the last 0.14 miles at a 7:18 pace. Probably could not have maintained that pace for much longer.

At the Summer Classic I didn’t get any finish line photos. I tried to run on the right side this time and dropped back a bit so other runners wouldn’t block me. I didn’t see a camera person, but they must have been there.

I didn’t even see a clock at the finish.

As I slowed to a walk my breathing was deep and insufficient. In California my chest was actually sore from breathing so hard. This time nothing hurt.

As I made my way down the street I got two bottles of water and headed for the team area. I knew I was on my own so an extra bottle of water would keep me from drinking too many beers.

My official finish time was 23:13 for a 7:28 pace. In California I ran 23:36 on a slightly shorter course, so I was happy and surprised by my time.

Apre Cambridge Fall Classic 5K

Brooklyn Brewery OktoberfestThere was a case of Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager on my table along with six cases of Superfood bars. I went over to the beer table and grabbed a lager and an Oktoberfest.

Soon after getting back to my table I went into trade-show mode and started passing out Superfood bars. What else was I going to do?

It was actually a lot of fun and I got to talk to a lot of people.I managed to move all but a case of the bars. I took a bunch home and even managed to take a few beers with me.

Natures Path Superfood BarsSince I was driving I didn’t drink very much and even tossed some beer in the trash! With a box of beers, it made little sense to keep drinking. Especially since the crowd was thinning and I didn’t want to hang out by my self.

It was another fun Cambridge Classic, even if I had to make my own fun this time around.

Run well my Friends!


Cambridge Summer Classic 5K 2017

The Cambridge Summer Classic 5K is a new addition to the Cambridge Classic 5K road race series. I believe that 2017 was the second running of the Cambridge Summer Classic 5K road race. For me, it was a first, and not one I’ll soon forget!

Cambridge Summer Classic 5K road race 2017, Cambridge RacesThe Summer Classic 5K was held on Wednesday evening at 6:30. The start and party area were the same as the other Cambridge Classics, but this race took a different route. Usually we head west on Sidney Street, for this race we headed east towards Mass Ave.

I walked over from my office in Kendall Square and met my running buddy and Melrose Running Club President, Don Keren. He had managed to get a parking spot on Sidney Street in front of Star Market. I didn’t even know there was a Star Market over there!

It’s about a one mile walk from my office to the race area. It was a nice afternoon with temps in the 70’s so I felt fine walking around in my running gear. I had picked up my bib and shirt the night before, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get over there.

The Gang’s not Here

I met Don around 5:40 and we walked to the team area. Normally I run with “Team Slow and Thirsties” and we have a good sized group. Often I recruit a few friends and we get a table with a pop-up tent.

For this race no one responded that they were going. When Don and I got to the usual spot there was a table and tent, but our team name was not taped to the table.

We decided to claim squatter’s rights and took up residence. Slowly another group who failed to meet the 20 runner minimum showed up and we decided to band together. They were a fun group and we had a good time swapping stories and talking about the weather.

We watched the crew from Brooklyn Brewing distribute beers to team tables. We didn’t have a team or number, so they never stopped for us.

While hanging out, Diane Hughes from Melrose walked over to say hi. She was running with a group from BU, so couldn’t sign up with us also.

The forecast wasn’t good and the crowd seemed small. The ski was gray and occasionally there was that wind that harkens a storm. It was nice and warm and everyone was calm.

Don took off to use the facilities and I hung out with our new friends. I didn’t see anyone else I knew. I looked up and saw a purple Melrose shirt and thought we had another runner, and then I saw it was Don coming back to the table!

Around 6:15 we headed for the corrals. For a small crowd, it was pretty tight getting out to Sidney Street. When we got to the street we turned left and the crowd seemed small. Then I realized we were in front of the start line.

We crossed the barricades and walked down the sidewalk to get to a place to start. The start was packed. As we walked along we saw Peter Fopiano waving to us.

As we made our way through the crowd the race director, Paul Clark was walking down the street with a bull horn. He was announcing 5 minutes to start and that they were not going to delay the start. We weren’t even in a corral yet.

Nervously, I checked my bib for a timing chip. It was there.

Running Cambridge Summer Classic 5K

Andy Nagelin, Don Keren, Cambridge Summer Classic Road RaceThe crowd seemed bigger now that we were jammed into our starting spot. We saw one of our fellow squatters in the crowd and waved to each other. We couldn’t really hear much. I got my watch started and the race began almost exactly on time at 6:30PM EST.

We walked about 100 yards to the start and then began a light jog in a crushing heard of runners. All the way out Sidney Street to Mass Ave it was shoulder to shoulder. How no one ever seems to trip and fall is truly amazing.

As we approached Mass Ave a cop was there blowing his whistle and yelling at us or anyone who somehow failed to see the mass of humanity rounding the corner.

Don and I were trading the lead making our way through the crowd. No one was moving very fast and we seemed to be just falling into people. I certainly was not running a competitive pace, but I felt like I was the wind moving through the trees.

Cambridge Summer Classic 5K, Cambridge runningWe had half of Mass Ave so it gave us some room to run. Our next turn was a right onto Albany Street.

This part of Cambridge is cool because there are businesses and MIT buildings and labs all over the place. People have been doing amazing work in this neighborhood for years. Off of Mass Ave the buildings are more industrial than decorative. Shit gets done here.

Albany had cars parked on it and is not a wide avenue. Don and I were still making our way through the crowd.

We took a right onto Erie Street on which I have never been. A few runners mentioned this was a new run for them as well. A little change is nice once in a while.

Erie quickly connected with Sidney Street and just before our left turn, mile one chimed in at 8:46. Not bad, all things considered.

Fool in the Rain

I don’t recall when the first raindrop hit or when the first lightening lit up the ski or the first thunder rumbled in my chest. But somewhere down Sidney Street all hell broke loose.

The ski was torn open by lightening and all the moisture in the three-hundred miles of atmosphere above us seemed to come down all at once.

It went from a few drops to deluge in seconds. In no time I was soaked through.

Even in our obvious peril, I didn’t hear a word of fear or complaint. We were about half-way into the race. What were we supposed to do, turn around?

The composure of the crowd was really remarkable. Some people slowed down and a few people would occasionally go onto the sidewalk to walk. Bless them! Nothing worse than a walker, except a walker when it’s dark and rainy on congested streets.

We were running through residential neighborhoods, so there were cars on both sides of the street and on some roads, traffic. Everyone was extremely cool.

We ran to the end of Sidney and took a right onto Waverly Street for a short distance and then took another right onto Brookline Street. This is a larger street that comes off of Memorial Drive and is normally a busy street.

After a few blocks we took a left onto Putnam Avenue. We ran about seven blocks down Putnam. The thunder and lightening were amazing. Once in a while we would see a huge flash and instantly a thunder clap.

This thing was right on top of us.

At some point we passed a church that was under renovation. They had scaffolding on the building and part of the street was blocked off. I noticed a lightening rod on the steeple and mentioned it to a guy next to me.

We would have been killed instantly if lightening struck that building. Either from the voltage or all of the scaffolding and brick being blasted onto us. As our feet landed in deep puddles we had a chuckle.

“What a way to go” he said. I agreed. Who wants to die in a bed when you can be killed by a lightening strike on a 5K run. It would be so fitting.

The rain was relentless. I was thoroughly soaked and the street was on inch of moving water under our feet. Your feet just disappeared into the water and you hoped your ankle would not twist in a hole.

By this time Don and I had lost contact. Each of us had been making our way though the crowd and I had moved ahead a little bit. When I looked back to see him all I saw were faces in the dark rain.

After Putnam we took a right onto Pleasant Street. If I had seen the sign I’m sure I would have laughed out loud. Nothing pleasant going on here! Just after our turn, mile two came in at 8:24.

I didn’t look at my watch at the time. I was to busy navigating the crowd and trying not to break an ankle in a pot hole.

Pleasant went on for quite a few blocks and merged into River Street, another busy Cambridge road leading to a bridge over The Charles River.

We took a right onto Franklin and then onto Pearl Street. I have never run on these streets as far as I know. It would have been cool to be able to actually look around.

Pearl went on for seven blocks back down to Erie Street.

Most of us just wanted the race to end. It’s one thing to be tired and hot at the end of a race, but we were soaked and and taking a chance. With all of the rain there was 0% chance of over-heating. In a way it was pleasant.

Erie took us back out to Brookline Ave and I wasn’t really sure where the turn for the finish was. We ran another seven blocks up Brookline Ave to Franklin where we took the turn to the finish.

Don KerenThe rain was still coming down in buckets. I could see the finish clock but could not see what it said.

I kicked in everything I had to pass a few people and crossed the line at 28:14.

Even with the rain I needed a bottle of water. I hung out looking for Don, but the rain was unforgiving.

After a few minutes I started to make my way to the tent. The crowd was small still and I easily made my way to shelter.

Apre Cambridge Summer Classic 5K Road Race

I was one of the first to make it to our shelter.

Cambridge Summer Classic 5K, Brooklyn BrewingAs I walked over to the beer table the cups looked like they were alive. The rain was coming down so hard that beer and foam were dancing and bouncing out of the cups. So much was bouncing out of the cups that over time, there was beer running down the sidewalk!

I hung out with my new friends, had many enjoyable conversations and enjoyed the bounty of Brooklyn Lager available to all.

After the party I walked back to Kendall Square. As I walked along one person walked with me for a bit and we had a casual chat. Then a second person walked with me and asked me all about the race and running. We had a pretty extensive conversation.

It was fun to talk to strangers who saw a strange guy in a purple shirt walking as fast as he could in the rain. I’m sure that from a distance I fit right into Cambridge. They seemed curious about what the hell I was doing, but were intelligent, asked good questions and made good company.

When I wasn’t talking to strangers, I enjoyed looking around and enjoying the fabulous neighborhood that is East Cambridge. The weather was wet, but warm. I was totally soaked so a little more rain didn’t even phase me.

The whole greater Kendall Square area is amazing. MIT is a big presence but so are many high tech names like Google, Broad Institute, Genzyme and InterSystems.

It’s an exciting high-energy neighborhood. I’ve had several occasions to walk around the area well into the evening. There are always people out and I always feel safe.

Run well my Friends,




Running Cambridge Winter Classic 5K

Cambridge Winter Classic 5K 2016

The Cambridge Winter Classic lived up to it’s name and felt like a winter race. Pre-race ambient air temperature was 34° F with a 5 to 10 mph breeze.

My Garmin shows the ambient temperature at 36° with a 12 mph breeze during the race. There were times when the wind gusted much stronger than that. So it was a chilly run.

The race began at 9:30 so I didn’t leave my house until after 7AM. I made a quick stop at Dunkins for a large coffee and two chocolate glazed donuts.

Breakfast of Champions!

Sidney Street was still open when I arrived. I drove around the block and get a spot on Landsdowne Street about a block down from the team Biergarten area.

Our crew “Team Slow and Thirsties” only had four people signed up to run. A few other friends were also running but I never even saw them.

With such a small crew, I offered my car as a sanctuary from the cold. While texting away, Andy Brown walked up to my car and got my attention.

We hung out until around 9:00 and headed for the Biergarten. Andy went strait to the team area, I made one last pit stop before joining the team. Remarkably, there was hardly a line for the facilities. I think everyone was huddled in their cars to avoid the elements.

When I got to our table it was still just Andy and I. Within a few minutes Lisa Hines and Ashley Raven showed up. I had never met Ashley before and we enjoyed getting to know each other a bit. One of the joys of running.

Ashley and Lisa were discussing how many layers to wear for the race. Ashley had on a down coat that she was not going to wear during the race. Lisa had on a Smuttynose Half Marathon fleece, which was over a down vest and two other layers. She finally decided the leave the fleece.

Running the Cambridge Winter Classic 5K Road Race

Around 9:20 we decided to head to the corals. The ladies went their way and as we got to the opening in the barricade, Andy headed further back into the crowd.

Andy was looking to finish the race with no particular time goal in mind. I’m on the tail end of a long recovery, so I wanted to see what I could do.

I was still a hundred runners or so from the start, but the race is chip timed. I just didn’t want to be too far back and have to deal with crowds.

When they called out 2 minutes to start, I still hadn’t started my watch! It usually takes my Garmin a few minutes to get a signal and I was in a crowd of hundreds of other GPS watches. Luckily, I had a signal in no time.

They didn’t have the national anthem so the one minute warning was our next signal. When the race director called out “Go! Go! Go!” we all jogged ahead a few feet and then stopped. Then we started jogging another hundred yards to the start.

As I crossed the starting mats, I started my watch. The crowd was tight but we picked up speed quickly.

We approached the first turn like a flock of Starlings. Moving surprisingly fast, we executed the turn with great finesse and coordination. The next turn onto Albany street went equally as well.

I was feeling strong but reminded my self that we were less than half a mile into this race. As we moved down Albany Street I passed many runners. Approaching the left onto Mass Ave I got into a tight spot and had to slow down to make the turn.

Mass Ave was running heaven for me. We had two full lanes to run in and I stayed on the left side of the crowd and ran on the yellow lines. A few times I crossed over the line to get around runners.

I felt fast and strong as I kept passing runners. Me and another guy just blew down the street. A quick glance at my watch showed a pace of 8:11. Not particularly fast for a Cambridge race.

Mile One chimed in at 7:41. I was doing great and felt totally in control.

Cambridge winter classicI locked into over drive and kept pushing harder. All around me I could hear people breathing. The phlegm in my throat was getting gooey and I focused on clearing my throat.

At the left onto Putnam Street I was in a great position and didn’t loose any speed. Usually there is a water stop after the turn but I decided I wasn’t going to get a drink. I never did see a water stop.

Putnam Street takes us through the neighborhoods of Cambridge a few blocks back from The Charles river. A few people were on the street or on their porches cheering us on. With the sun in my eyes, I couldn’t really see anyone. I kept my head down and looked for pot holes.

My watch chimed Mile Two way before I saw the Mile Two sign. I was a little concerned being that far off on such a short race. But then, it didn’t really matter. I had no worries.

When I looked, my watch said 7:14! I was smokin’. Where was this coming from?

Race Prep and Good Luck

I didn’t do anything special to get ready for the race. I had two Dunkin Donuts, some coffee and a cherry juice box. Not the most nutritiously focused meal. I just filled the hunger.

I rolled my hamstrings the night before, but no other stretching. Before the race I stretched my quads and that was it.

It was so cold that at mile one I realized my arms were still cold and my toes were getting cold. I had been concerned about wearing a jacket and over heating. I didn’t unzip at all until the sun hit us on Putnam Street.

Starting where I did in the crowd allowed me to run as fast as I wanted. The first mile was a little tight, but I still ran a 7:41 mile. Any faster would have been too fast.

It was just perfect. Everything was going my way.

Push to the Finish

All the way down Putnam Street I knew I was running really well and probably at 100%. I never doubted for a moment that I could finish under 24:00. Nothing hurt, I wasn’t thirsty and my body temp was perfect.

Unless something happened, I was all in.

When we took the left onto Brookline Street I knew we were close. My watch said 2.63 or something like that. I told my self, “half a mile to go, no time to let up.”

I could tell some people were running out of gas. A few people passed me and some blew by me at impressive speed.

Any rise in the road took it’s toll and I continued to reel in runners. I could feel some fatigue in my legs but hardly noticed my breathing.

My watch chimed Mile Three near Pacific Street with a mile pace of 7:30. The Mile Three sign was down the road. This was going to be another long race!

The right turn onto Franklin Street was unencumbered and the finish line was in sight. I was slowing some and didn’t really have a kick for the end.

I had run the entire race near full capacity and could not push to 100% for the finish. Instead I prepped for the photographers! I unzipped my jacket so my Melrose Running Club singlet was in view and tried to keep back and away from the other runners. We’ll see how well that worked.

I don’t recall the time on the clock when I crossed the finish line. My watch said 24:12 and I knew I had crossed the starting mat about 15 seconds after the clock started.

Apre Cambridge Winter Classic 5K

I zipped my jacket as quickly as I could. It was freezing cold and my shirts were damp with sweat. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed for the biergarten. On the way I grabbed a few Lara Bars.

I grabbed two beers from the table and headed to the team area. I took one drink and headed to my car. With a nice breeze blowing I took off my jacket and singlet and put on a sweat shirt and my jacket. It took a while to recover from that!

By the time I got back to the table Lisa and Sheila were back and Andy soon showed up.

cambridge winter classic, team slow and thirsties, lisa hines, andy brownEveryone seemed happy with their times and ready for some fun. People stopped by to talk to Lisa and Sheila. Andy and I didn’t see anyone we knew but joined in the conversations with the ladies.

Did I mention that it was cold? I had already decided not to stay very long and Andy had to get home to get ready for a business trip. The cold beer hastened our departure.

Before we left I saw my buddy Jim Gallant hanging with his crew. We had a quick conversation before I headed out.

We said goodbye to the ladies and headed to my car. I did the bib pick up Friday night and had Andy’s shirt and beer koozie from the race.

I sat in my car for a few minutes with the heat blasting and took off my bib.

My official time was 24:10, but I had the course a little long at 3.21 miles. Backing out the additional distance I calculated a finish time of 23:34. Not a PR, but my official time was a top 3 5K finish for me this year, and the course was long.

I felt great running the race and had a great time hanging out with friends.

Here are the complete results from Race Wire.

P.S. I have been advised that this course is USATF certified and the distance was exactly 5K. Somehow I managed to run an extra 0.11 miles, which is only about 580 feet.

Run well my Friends!


Super Sunday 5 Miler

Super Sunday isn’t just for football. Here in the GBA we have the Super Sunday 5 Miler and 5K races.

Super Sunday 2015

Last year the air temperature was in the 20’s and the wind was gusting. Athenaeum Street where the race started was a wind tunnel. I ran the 5K which started 12 minutes after the 5 Miler started. The 5 Miler started late which meant even more time in that frigid February air.

The wind-chill must have been in the single digits.

People were looking for spots in the sun just to warm up a little tiny bit. I felt bad for the volunteers who had to stand around. At least the runners got warm after the first half mile or so.

Super Sunday 5 Miler

This year I decided to run the 5 mile race. Part of it was that I’ve run so many 5k’s in the past year, why not try something a little more challenging. I also didn’t want to stand in the cold for an extra 12 minutes waiting for the 5K to start!

Kendal Square is less than six miles from my house and number pickup didn’t begin until 8:30. This was totally low pressure for me. I even had garage parking less than a quarter-mile from the start area.

super sunday, 5 miler, 5kGenzyme had graciously opened their building for us this year. We had bib, hat and shirt pick-up in their heated lobby. Many of us lingered in the lobby to keep warm. The lobby is huge and there were well over 1,000 runners staying warm.

I found a spot on the stairs and within minutes saw Lisa and Cheryl from team “The Slow and Thirsties.” Amazingly, all of us signed up for the 5 Miler. Gotta love that.

The rest of our team showed up and we chatted and had a good time like always. Soon they announced that we should head out to the start. To fuel up I had a fruit roll up and a 250ml of maple water (or sap as we Yankees would call it) from a company whose name sadly I do not recall. It was pretty good.


It was pretty cold as we headed out the door and sauntered to the start. As we approached the starting line,it was hard to tell how many runners were there. Everyone was packed into and down Athenaeum Street. It turned out that 1,325 people ran 5 miles and 602 ran 5K.

I moved back from the front but only about 10 people back. It seemed like enough, but I didn’t realize there were still over 1,000 runners behind me.

Alain got up on a chair and announced that the race raised $30,000 to fight cancer. Lots of yelling and excitement over that. Very impressive. Then he introduced representatives of the groups that would share that money. More applause and excitement.

Then someone sang the Nation Anthem as we all took off our hats and looked for a flag.

Alain announced that there was some ice on our first turn, so be careful. After a few more minutes he gave the 30 second warning and we were off!

Cambridge Running

I have not spent much time training these past few months. I can still run a race but I know not to expect too much from this under-trained body. As such I decided on an 8 minute mile pace. That may be fast for some people, but this was a Cambridge race.

There are lots of good runners and lots of young runners at a Cambridge race. People started passing me as soon as the gun went off. I had a modest goal that would get me to the finish uninjured.

As we turned onto Broadway a runner right behind me slipped and fell. People yelled out as he fell and I turned in time to see him hit the road, do a roll and get right back up. A very well executed fall; there was no blood and he kept of moving.

Almost as soon as we started running my right should acted up. I hurt it about a week ago doing push-ups. You cannot run without moving your shoulder. It was repetitive shooting pain. I thought about walking and then took my right hand and grabbed my left should to try and ease the pain and maybe stretch a little.

I did this a few times holding that position for 10-15 seconds. It worked a little but the pain did not go away.

After seeing that guy fall I was worried. I was wearing my Saucony running flats and they are not made for ice and snow. If I fell and landed on that shoulder it would have been explosive pain.

As I ran down Broadway I could not believe that a pain in my shoulder would cause me to stop running. I’ve run through all kinds of leg pain. Was it not possible to run through this type of pain? If this level of pain was in my knee or hip I would have to stop. But a should injury? Come on!

I managed to pack the pain away in one of those deep dark crevices in my mind and keep running.

At mile 1 my pace was 7:39. I was relieved that I had 21 seconds in the bank. Every mile except Mile 4 were comfortably under my 8 minute goal. If my should hadn’t been killing me I may have pushed a little harder, but I was just happy to still be running.

My finish time was 39:39 at a pace of 7:56. Garmin had the distance at 5.05 miles for a 7:52 pace. I beat my goal, what more could I ask for? I got to run my race in spite of myself.

Apre Race

super sunday 5 miler, slow and thirstiesThere were a dozen beer, cider and wine vendors at this race. Last year it was a free-for-all with a drink ticket system that worked or didn’t work depending on your perspective. Let’s just say I went away happy last year.

This year as we approached the beer garden they appeared to be handing out medals. They turned out to be 4oz beer mugs on a chain. I was a little disappointed initially, but it worked out fine. I had plenty to drink, but not too much. I also left before the party was over. Last year I closed the place down.

I hung out with the ladies and saw more lady friends from the MRC. I think I saw three guys that I know at this race out of almost 2,000 runners.

What’s not to love, running a great race, drinking beers and hanging out with the ladies. It was indeed, a Super Sunday!

Stay warm and Run well my Friends!


© 2016 andrew nagelin