The Finish Line of any race is a sweet and special spot... ... but imagine it was moved to the 50 yard line of your favorite Football team.
That would be freakin' sweet.
Well the Finish At The 50 race did just that.
The Finish Line was at the 50 yard line of Gillette Stadium, aka the home of the New England Patriots.
Sign me up.
Oh it's the 5th anniversary of the race so you are going to add a kick ass medal on top of it all.
Where do I hand over my $$$$???
On July 3rd, the wife and I took the drive down to Foxboro. With it being the day before a holiday weekend we got wicked nervous about traffic and proceeded to leave Boston at 1pm. The wife's 5k was taking place at 5:30, while my 10k went off at 6:30. Expecting hours of traffic and bib pick-up, we hoped we had plenty of time to head South.
It took us about an hour. Well then...
I'd rather spend a few hours at the race site, which had stores, restaurants and Dunkin' than cutting it close to race time.
We quickly picked up our numbers and shirts and proceeded to find coffee and air conditioning. Other racers had the same idea we had and Patriot Place (the shopping area next to Gillette Stadium) was bumping. Especially with families as there was a Kids Race prior to the 5k-10k.
Now normally there are fireworks after the races, but with a Hurricane heading our way it was canceled. Boo, but understandable.
There were plenty of booths set up so we had enough to entertain us.
After finding the wife a place to change, having a few snacks, hiding in the Patriots Pro Shop for air-conditioning and catching up with Molly, CEO of Blue Trailer Mobile Lockers, it was time for the wife to stretch and line up for her 5k.
Molly, brains behind the operations, and I
The weather was hot so we both made sure to take the race easy. I was hoping to find lots of water on the course as the race had warned folks to stay hydrated. They also offered 10k runners the choice to drop to the 5k if they needed to due to temps.
Thanks for the pic Erin!
(Note: if you squint, you can see the 5k runners running up and down the ramps behind us)
Thankfully the corrals were in the shade. I was trying to soak up as much shade as possible because I could only guess how hot and sunny the course would be.
While hanging out around the 9 min/mile pace, Cat and her fiance Chris joined us. Cat and I run on Tedy's Team together. :) She was the one that got me to sign up for this crazy race with a promise of sweet sweet bling. (This race doesn't normally have bling, but being the 5th anniversary they decided to have one.)
After some more chatting and stretching, it was finally time for everyone to squish forward to start the pre-race ceremonies. The wheelchair group went off a couple minutes before the rest of us. The announcer gave us a 30 second warning before the horn went off, which I sort of missed because I was only half listening. ;) Because all of a sudden the horn went off and we started the awkward pre-race run, jog, wog, walk to the actual Start Line. Everyone know what I am talking about?
As I crossed the Start Line, I clicked Start on my Garmin and we were off.
Tori had finished the 5k in 42:56 and had warned me that her course was lacking adequate water and to be careful.
Well too late for me to do anything about that so I just hoped for the best.
Less than half a mile into the race I spotted my friend John and fellow Team Chocolate Milk running mate. :) I love seeing familiar faces out on the course.
After passing John, I came up to the most inspirational duo in sports - the Hoyts.
If you don't know anything about the Hoyts please run to Google now and get yourself caught up. I'll wait.
Moved to tears? Yeah, I always get that way when thinking of this father-son team. It is an honor to run in races alongside them.
I had to grab a quick selfie.
Once I saw the Hoyts, I was motivated to keep moving myself forward to the best of my ability. If they would be giving it 100%, I would to.
Mile 1: 7:59
Umm yeah that first mile was on Team Hoyt high! I knew I wouldn't be keeping that for the whole race.
I was already feeling hot, sweaty and thirsty. This would be a looong 6.2 miles.
After the first water stop, we took a right and entered a quiet neighborhood where we would spend most of the race.
I want to thank the residents that stood outside with hoses trying to keep the racers cool. The ones out enjoying their evening cocktail cheering us on.
But they were few and far between. The course was unfortunately boring and for the most part quiet.
Mile 2: 8:23
The uphills started early and I learned would be constant. It felt as if we kept going up with very little down. Ha.
I thought the race committee would've added additional water stops due to the high temperature, but unfortunately that didn't happen. :/
I was happy to see at least one ambulance along the course.
Mile 3: 8:35
It was around the 5k mark that I focused my attention on smiling. I learned from Sarah Reinertsen at Heartbreak Hill Festival that when she is feeling down or any pain in a race, she smiles and it fakes her body into thinking everything is fine.
So I tried to put that motto into practice.
I could tell I needed new shoes - there was little to no support left in my sneakers - and I was thirsty. The entire time. There just needed to be a water stop per mile or some music out on the course somewhere. Just a little action to keep the spirits up. At least the spirits of the people around me. We all tried to cheer each other on in the moment.
Mile 4: 8:35
There was finally a decent downhill. I wanted it to last forever, but it felt like maybe 1/10th of a mile. Hehe. We had a decent flat leading back into the Gillette Stadium campus.
The spectator of the day went to the woman during Mile 4 offering a hose for relief and watermelon slices. While I didn't take a watermelon slice, I really did appreciate the creativity.
Just after seeing Ms. Watermelon we took a right to re-enter the Gillette Stadium campus. We would be wrapping around the outside of the Stadium before entering.
It was just before the Mile 5 marker that I took this sexy mid-run selfie and pleaded to my social media friends for an extra boost of support.
I was hot, tired and really felt exactly how I looked. :P I wondered if I would make it through the final mile. Granted the final mile is what I endured the whole race for ... to FINALLY be inside the Stadium.
Mile 5: 8:40
And there it was Gillette. Just after a water stop we headed to the ramps. In the 10k, we only had to go down ramps not up like the 5k. ;) We ran down two ramps, along the concourse, down two more ramps and back out of the Stadium ... to the parking lot. :/ Womp womp! We clearly had to make up some more distance so we did a zig zag through the parking lot before we headed back into the Stadium and onto the field.
Mile 6: 9:18
Not sure how the Garmin did in the Stadium since we were covered and satellite was lost briefly. But as soon as we re-entered the Stadium, I dug deep to finish strong!
I felt like I had endured really the first 6 miles of boring course for the final .2 on the field. It was a thrill running on the same field as so many Hall of Famers including Tedy Bruschi, the captain and founder of that very charity team I am honored to be a part of.
It was crazy to come to the Finish Line and see yourself on the large Jumbotrons in the Stadium.
Official Finish Time: 53:01 ... 267th out of 1,609 overall and 31st out of 304 in my division
The medal is soooo sweet. The football is made out of the same material as a real football. Amazing right?
It was great having the wife at the Finish Line. She had plenty of time to roam around and snap pics, while I was out sweating my booty off. ;)
Since the fireworks were canceled, we snapped some additional pics, grabbed extra water and headed back to the Lockers to pick up our bag.
Funny thing is Garmin said 53:03, first email from Granite State results said 53:02 and official website said 53:01. Haha. At least the time was getting faster. ;)
Since the fireworks were canceled, we got back in the car to head home and take care of the pups.
Oh and enjoy a celebratory drink of course.
Overall, the race was a huge disappointment and I don't think I will sign up for it again:
*90 percent of the 10k was out in the neighborhood, while about half of the 5k was on the ramps inside the Stadium.
*There wasn't enough water, especially for the weather. My wife said there were 2 water stops during the 5k, but 1) the first wasn't until halfway through the race and 2) they weren't ready with water. She actually had to wait for the volunteers to fill water up.
Now I know that they probably didn't expect as many 5k runners since people at the last minute dropped down, but still. It is a crucial aspect of the race to keep the runners hydrated.
*The shirt was cotton, which is tough because they aren't as useful as tech shirts.
*No one policed the corrals meaning there was chaos and it seemed no one lined up properly except the "elites," which caused for bottlenecking and tripping at the Start.
*The course really was pretty blah. It had rolling hills, but no entertainment outside of some scattered residents.
*The residents and volunteers ROCKED. They did the best they could with what they had.
*The medal is off the hook, but it isn't a yearly feature.
*I expected a flawless race as it was headed by DMSE, which is run by Dave McGillvray - who is the Race Director for the Boston Marathon and other great races.
Did you take part in the Finish At the 50 5k or 10k?