Holiday road races are magical. They are even better when you get to continue the Holiday throughout the week. I took part in the inaugural Cambridge 5k Freedom Run 5k during Memorial Day weekend in 2013. Read about it here. It was part of a double race morning for me Half Marathon at 7 and the Freedom Run 5k at 9:30.
So you can guess my pleasure when the Freedom Run 5k this year was moved to the week after Memorial Day for race logistic reasons.
Oh happy day! This meant I could extend my Holiday running to two weekends. Score!
Eddie, race director extraordinaire of Cambridge 5k, keeps the runners' experience at the forefront of his mind when planning and putting on his six-race series, which include two trail races.
So packet pick-up with Eddie is a breeze. I was in and out in a few minutes with my sweet shirt in hand. Eddie's shirts are the best race shirts around. Hello comfort!
I had to cover the bib number when first posting this. Ain't nobody got time for people stealing my bib number. BUT for anyone that follows this blog, you would easily figure out my bib number since I have the same one for each of the Camvridge 5k races. ;)
Without a race prior to Freedom Run this year, I was able to sleep in a tad before having the wife drop me off. This allows me to avoid any parking situations and bag check.
I arrived early to secure my wristband for the post-race dance party and to hand out team shirts to my fellow Slumbrew Happy Soles.
I love being a part of a team at the Cambridge 5k races. It is fun to catch up with everyone before the race, to welcome new faces to the Slumbrew family and to pump up the newbie runners. That's the joy of the Slumbrew team - we are about fun and good beer. It might be why our team line is: "First to the Finish Beer Line!"
As usual, I was too caught up with chatting with folks that I didn't realize the race was about to start. :P I high tailed it to the port-o-potties then squeezed into the Start Corral.
I stood under the large American flag thinking about what it stood for and just taking in the atmosphere. I love listening to fellow runners before a race: talking strategy, comparing playlists with friends or just smiling because they are happy to be able to run. It is truly a magical group of people.
I couldn't totally hear Eddie on the bullhorn, but as people fled down the street I could tell the race started.
Let's do it Garmin.
As usual, I failed to look at the course map before the race. Thankfully having run almost all of the Cambridge 5k races, I am pretty familiar with the possible routes Eddie could choose.
The race started on a flat with little incline or turns, which led Mile 1 to come in at 7:26. Wow! Definitely NOT what I was expecting after having done a brick workout (24 mile bike and 2 mile run) the previous day. This was a good test to see how my body was reacting to Half Ironman training.
This was about the time the left hamstring started acting up. I had been ignoring it for a while, but knew it would be getting angry during the run. So I tried to listen to my body.
It was getting hot and humid. That wasn't the original forecast. It was supposed to be overcast and 66. Liars weathermen liar.
Mile 2: 7:44
I heart running in race series because I always see people I know and this day wasn't any different. Scott and his girlfriend Dani (great name I know) came upon me during Mile 2. It was great to take some time to chat with them - and without feeling too out of breath. We were running sub 8's over here.
Dani was going for a PR so Scott and I were there as cheerleaders. There is a little incline at the end of this course that I remember and curse every time. It isn't a hill, but it is just big enough that you get annoyed. Oh and it goes on for longer than you think. But on this day I felt strong even with the hamstring. I buckled down and powered over it. I think all that biking is really paying off.
As I came around the corner to Mile 3, there was Eddie cheering on the crowd. Not many race directors get out there on the course. I always look forward to seeing him especially since it normally means we are almost done.
Mile 3: 7:36
I think Dani's PR pushed me to run faster that final stretch. I was happy to see her buzz past me through the shoot.
You can even see Scott behind me (#84)
As soon as I crossed the Finish Line, I immediately turned around to keep cheering for my fellow Slumbrew Happy Soles. I even got the ladies volunteering at the bag check to cheer for whoever I was screaming for. Power in numbers.
After the cheers were done, it was time to head to the beer line. I needed a celebratory Flagraiser IPA STAT. A beer after a good run is always a good decision.
Plus there are great high fives, hugs and smiles after pushing yourself to do your best out on the course. It isn't about time or pace, but giving it your all. I knew every Happy Sole had done that even with the unexpected hot temps.
Slumbrew Happy Soles
So proud of the way our team represented.
I love the all-inclusive atmosphere of the Cambridge 5k race series - all levels or runners and walkers welcome. Plus, you can show off your sweet dance moves at the dance off during the after-party. How many races offer that?
Next time you are looking to get together with friends, put up some miles and drink some beers - look up the next Cambridge 5k race.
Did you participate in the Freedom Run 5k?