Yulefest 5k takes place in Harvard Square and is my favorite of the Cambridge 5k series.
Since I signed up early enough I received the sweet winter hat plus the t-shirt. But everyone who registered received the warm hat.
With MBTA Red Line service switching to shuttle busses for the weekend, the wife and I opted to attempt to find parking in Harvard Square for the race. It ended up being shockingly easy to accomplish. Since meters are free on Sundays, we got free parking to boot! Hollah! I was hoping this would be setting the tone for a good day.
We waited in the car til just after 8:30 before braving the winter morning to head to the Start Area.
Thankfully it was a bright and sunny morning, but a tad chilly - low 30s according to the weather app. The party area/pre-race Slumbrew meet up spot had moved this year. It was slated as being a larger space than in previous years so I had high hopes it would be able to manage the large crowds.
The wife and I made our way to the Slumbrew tent to say hi to the rest of the Happy Soles and stash our bag before making our way to another part of Harvard Square to get our IDs checked and our bibs stamped to prove we were 21.
Around 9:15am we made our way over to the Start Line.
Instead of just passing the time by shivering, I was able to bust a move to the Start Line live DJ! Thanks for playing Jump Around sir - I needed the warmth. ;)
Being in line early gave me plenty of time to say hi to all my friends making their way to the Start Line.
Oh hey Amy!!
With the countdown on from Race Director, Eddie, I reminded myself to give it my all today, but to be okay with whatever the results would be. I was going on some tired legs - 6 mile run & 1 hour Spin class the day prior - and didn't want to walk away from the final race disappointed.
I love the Yulefest 5k course and since this was my third time running the race I was familiar with it.
The horn went off and we shot out of the Start shoot.
I love that this hot makes it look like I am the lead runner in the race. :P Thanks for the free photos Cambridge 5k! :)
As soon as I passed that start mat, I felt tired. I made the decision to not look at my Garmin unless it was at a Mile marker. I didn't want to get caught up in pace this race.
So I focused on the fun costumes around me and the Cambridge scenery.
Mile 1: 7:19
The race is flat for the most part, which was a treat for my legs.
I was proud to see a pace faster than say 9:00 min/mile on that first mile since that is what it felt like to my body. I didn't think I was moving as fast as I was. Anyone else ever experience that?
The streets were quiet for the most part when it came to spectators, but the volunteers were doing their best to keep the streets safe and the atmosphere lively.
Mile 2: 7:18
The final mile became a mental game. I wanted to just stop. My legs were feeling tired. I had to dig deep and shut down the voices in my head. I drummed up all the motivation I could. I thought about how I feel near the end of a marathon or how I kept going in the final miles of my Half Ironman this year. I could complete the final mile of a 5k. I had to give myself some perspective.
I also knew the final mile included the only hill of the race.
As I made my way up the final push, I could see a guy using the hill for hill repeats. Show off. ;) Ha! Okay I thought that in the moment because I was tired, but it gave me a little umph to push through up the incline. I knew I would be sailing down to the finish.
I wanted the Finish to be just over the crest of the hill, but alas there was .3 to go. I just kept my eye on the Finish Line. I may or may not have also picked a person in front of me and focused on finishing ahead of them for inspiration.
Mile 3: 7:20
Yeah I lost some steam on that hill. But worked my butt off to Finish strong.
I had the course a little long and apparently started my watch late or stopped it early.
Official Time: 23:08
Good for 316 out of 2,024 overall and 74 out of 1,048 females.
I am definitely proud of how I did relative to how I felt.
As soon as I crossed the Finish, I grabbed a water and turned right around to cheer folks into the Finish.
Folks had some amazing costumes.
I love cheering on runners and dishing out high-fives... especially when those high-fives go to fellow Slumbrew Happy Soles!
Unfortunately I don't have a shot of the wife crossing (40:12) because I was too busy jumping up and down. Ha. Oops. But I am so proud of how she did. It was her first race since the half in July!
After we saw the final racers cross the Finish, we headed back to JFK street for the post-race party.
And that is when it got crowded.
We had our bib stamped already to show we were 21 (in lieu of wristbands) so we headed in the corraled post-race party to a mass of folks. We needed to get from the front of the party to the back where the Slumbrew tent was. But the crowd was thick and wasn't moving. I'm not sure if people didn't know where to go or they just grabbed a beer and stopped in their tracks. But it was wicked hard to move from one end of the party to the other. I am claustrophobic so you can only imagine how my anxiety level was rising during this pushing fest.
The wife and I picked up other Happy Soles along the way and finally squeezed our way to the Slumbrew tent. I made the decision then and there to not move from the tent until I had to leave. So we had to cancel our team picture in front of the stage (which was at the front of the party) and opt for one near the tent. We squeezed as many of the 121 Happy Soles into one picture/video as we could.
I felt the post-race party was more cramped than in previous years. I was thankful to have the area behind the Slumbrew pouring station to hang out with the team and have some breathing room. The anxiety level definitely went down to normal once I was in that space.
I would love to hear what others at the post-race party thought of the congestion.
I want to give a big thanks to Slumbrew owners, Caitlin & Jeff, for being so generous with the Happy Soles by sending each team member home with a 4-pack of Happy Sol. Amazing, right?
It was great hanging out with Slumbrew friends and meeting new Happy Soles post-race.
But with the wife having a hockey game we had to call it early. We gave hugs to all and headed out. Thankfully the back of the party where we were had an exit we could leave to avoid going back through the massive crowd.
On the way out, I had the pleasure of meeting blog reader Christine! Thanks so much for recognizing me and saying hi! :)
Overall, Eddie puts on a great race with good swag, free race photos, lots of tasty local beer and good tunes. I was a little disappointed in massive back-up getting through the post-race party, which I didn't experience the previous years. I know when you move a party area there will be some growing pains and I think they were felt. At least by me.
I was proud that a teammate noticed and appreciated that I thanked every volunteer/cop on the course. Made me smile.
Will I be back next year? Of course. I know Eddie always tweaks the races to give the participants the best experience!!
Were you at Yulefest this year? What did you think of the post-race party area?