Note: I was given a complimentary entry into Oktoberfest 5k, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!
Cambridge 5k's Oktoberfest 5k has zero luck when it comes to weather. In four of the five times I have taken part in the race it has rained... yes today was #4! We somehow got away with a rain-free race in 2015. I guess that was just a fluke. ;)
Oktoberfest 5k was run out of Kendall Square in Cambridge... until this year. Race director Eddie moved the start and post-race party to the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall area, which is where three of his other races run out of. While some may be over having a race series all start in the same area, but I like it.
Because there are so many streets and neighborhoods in the area that you can have a different race course for each race... and Eddie does just that.
PLUS since the weather is usually uncooperative, as I mentioned earlier, it is nice to have the post-race party indoors. Woo!
PLUS PLUS the area around the Cambridgeside Galleria mall is FLAT! Hollah!! :)
Since I was busy at work the days leading up the race I had to pick up my bib on race day. Luckily we live a 7-minute drive away from the race so I was able to stay in bed until 8:20am! The wife dropped me off. but since there wasn't a space to pull over - she just slowed, I opened the door and did a tuck and roll out of the car. ;)
Just Kidding! :P
Did you guys believe me on that? I know I am goooood. :P
Anyway, I jogged to the mall and headed down the ramp. That's right. Our bib pick-up and party was being held in the mall's parking garage. It was warm and cozy. We had a designated corner of the middle floor of the parking garage.
I quickly found my crew in the Slumbrew Happy Soles tent. Yes any team with 35+ members got a VIP tent that had beer and pretzels waiting for us post race. How sweet is that?
I headed over to pick up my bib. The lines were a little long since folks like me procrastinated. But then I heard there was a Season Pass Holder line. Oh really? Well I so happen to be a pass holder. So I got out of the line I was in and walked right up to the pass holder line. My bib was ready and waiting. I quickly got my wristband so I could enjoy a post-race brew. Thanks Eddie for having so many volunteers checking IDs so the line moved quickly! I grabbed my t-shirt. Yes this was all within a 5-foot radius! :) Then headed back to our tent so I could drop my bag off. Yes I also got to avoid the bag check area thanks to the tent.
The Slumbrew Happy Soles were the second-largest team at Oktoberfest coming in at 108 strong! :) I chatted with the crew while we all got our bibs on, ate our GUs and stretched. Since it was drizzling outside I took my time getting to the Start corral.
I followed the crowd back up the ramp to the street where the Start Corral was. There was a little logistic issue since we all came up the ramp and were met with a small sidewalk area to walk down. Picture 2000+ people trying to emerge from a ramp and snake there way to the corral. It was tough. Many folks were not moving while they were waiting for friends. People weren't sure how to seed themselves and just jumped in wherever they could.
As a result when the horn sounded to start the race, there were strollers and kids on scooters near the front rather than in the back of the corral like usual. I also tripped over someone who jogged over the line then immediately stopped to walk without signaling that at all. I love everyone participating in races, but it is important for everyone's safety to seed yourself correctly. It is all about safety!
With the crowds at every year's Oktoberfest 5k, I know to never set my sights on a PR at this race. Mainly because I can never get into a good spot seeding wise due to above mentioned cluster that seems to happen each year with this race.
Once I hit the line, I started bobbing and weaving through the crowd to get into my own groove. I spotted my friend and teammate Dave whizz by me and used him as a goal/pacer. I needed a push.
My only goal for the race was to run sub 8-min miles since I needed to remind myself that I could. Since I've been focusing on distance so much this year I wanted to let myself fly a little. I knew it wouldn't be a PR (21:46), but I wanted to shoot for something below 24 min.
Focusing on Dave would help! :)
The course was a little slippery since the paint on the ground was a little wet so I made sure to be careful on the turns. No need to get hurt today.
Mile 1: 7:25
As I ran, I sauntered up to every Slumbrew teammate to say HI and apparently be creepy. I love being at races where I can do that all along the way!
Seeing who would be next kept me pushing forward as well. They were like my own character spots. ;)
I also focused on thanking each and every volunteer and cop along the way. At least I was moving in the drizzle, they had to remain standing in it the whole time.
Make sure YOU thank the volunteers and cops
along the way of YOUR races!!
Mile 2: 7:31
I was finally able to catch up to Dave. I was chatting with him while drafting off him, but he had his headphones in and didn't hear any of it. :P So I had to do my creepy stalker saunteering to get beside him.
I realized I had made it over two miles into the race without taking a pic or selfie. Well time to fix that.
Not my best work, but not too shabby for taking while rocking a 7:30 pace.
I found out after the fact that Dave was trying to photobomb. Man had I realized I would've taken another immediately.
Mile 3: 7:30
The mile 3 mark was just at the end of the street of the final stretch. It was time to give it everything I had for the final 0.1. It was wicked easy to do since the street was lined with finishers, spectators and the DJ pumping up the crowd!
FINAL TIME: 23:05
GAH!! Wicked close to sub 23. I saw the time ticking away as I ran towards the Finish Line, but since I didn't start right as the clock did I really had no idea how close I was until I stopped my Garmin.
FYI: 23:05 was good for 307th out of 2377 overall participants. Man that time would win some 5ks in some parts of the US. Hell NO in Boston! :P
Once I grabbed my water, I hooked right around to start cheering in the rest of the Slumbrew Happy Soles. I love this group. Seriously it was awesome seeing how many people finish, turn around and get right back out there to cheer the rest of the crew in! No teammate left behind, we want each person to get a good cheer into the Finish. Only then can we all go grab some beer! ;)
I am wicked proud of everyone on this team. While we couldn't get all 108 folks in the picture, we did a pretty good job.
Since we had pretzels and NOTCH beer in our tent, I didn't even have to go into the food or beer line. My teammates said the food lines and beer lines were speedy and bearable, respectively.
Now that we all made it through the run, it was time for more fun. I love getting a chance to catch up with teammates I haven't seen since the last C5k race or group run.
We cheered on those that won awards and took in a bit of the dance party. I am a full-time dance party viewer and a 0 time participant. YAY! Keeping that streak alive. ;)
Overall, the race was great. There was a nice flat course with a good number of volunteers and cops protecting the runners from traffic. Race day bib pick-up and ID checks ran smoothier than in years past. The VIP tents were a great way to stay near friends, avoid any lines and just feel cool. ;)
My only recommendation would be to improve the path to the corrals and maybe set up some pace signs so folks seed a little bit more accurately. Other than that the PROs outweigh the little CON. Plus if I was actually racing the race I would've gotten out to the Start early and set up near the front.
Until next year Oktoberfest 5k...
In the meantime, sign up for Cambridge 5k's Yulefest 5k taking place December 11 in Harvard Square. It is my favorite of all the C5k series races. Be sure to join Team Slumbrew Happy Soles!