Miles, Smiles & Beer... Cambridge 5k Craicfest 5k Recap!

There were a ton of smiles before, during and after today's 5k, but unfortunately inside there was inner turmoil and negativity. NOT the way I thought this race day would go.

With the clocks springing forward, I made sure to set my alarm extra early today. Heather would be picking me up at 8:15am so I made sure I was up and out of bed by 7:15am. Juuussttt in case my iPhone didn't change for some reason. I made a quick trip to Dunkin' Donuts to get myself a coffee and have a coffee/donut ready for the wife whenever she would be waking up. :)

I made sure to pick my bib up on Saturday so that I didn't have to mess with any day of lines! I love being a Cambridge 5k Season Passholder. One of the perks is a limited-edition beer glass. Sweet right? You also get to choose your race number for all 4 races in the series. Of course I went with 82! :)

Since it was Sunday, Heather and I were able to park on any of the side streets in Cambridge! YAY easy parking. The race did come with free race day parking in the https://twitter.com/CSGalleria mall, but sometimes it is easier to just park on the street. Hello quick getaway post-race. ;)

The hardest decision for the race was which Sparkle Athletic skirt to wear. ;) I opted for green and am saving my Shamrock skirt for St. Patrick's Day! I didn't want the Shamrocks of the skirt to clash with the Shamrocks on my PRO Compression socks. Priorities right? ;)

I was STOKED for the 60 degree weather in March.

Heather and I parked and headed to meet the Slumbrew Happy Soles at our VIP tent. The Happy Soles were the second-largest team on the race with over 150 beer runners! :) It was great to catch up with old friends pre-race.

The course had changed again this year and of course I didn't look at it ahead of time so I just blindly followed the crowd to what I hoped was the Start Line. :P 

I was excited to break in my newest pair of New Balance Vazee Pace sneakers. Since August they have become my go-to shoe.

Before catching up with some friends, I snapped a couple pre-race selfies. It was the first time I was taking the green Sparkle Athletic visor out for a test spin. Works well with my green Sparkly Soul headband.

And to answer your questions - yes I was prepping to run the 5k with the BOA! It was a gift from a Slumbrew teammate Amy at the first Craicfest (this year was the third) and I break it out every year just for this race. :) 

As I was standing talking to Heather, Jason, Krystina and some others, all of a sudden the gun went off. Oh well okay then! Guess it was time to start. Clearly I was not paying much attention at all. :P

 Photo courtesy: @Cambridge5k

Photo courtesy: @Cambridge5k

Thankfully the Garmin was ready to go, satellites had been acquired and we were off.

I had no idea what my legs would do. On past experience, my legs enjoyed using the Craicfest 5k as a shakeout after a long-run the day prior. In 2014 and 2015, I had run 16 miles the day prior. This year it was a 14-miler. Maybe saving my legs from those 2 miles would help my pace. ;)

We headed out Second Street before taking a left on to Charles Street. We were running right by my work. I was thanking each volunteer/cop as I still had the ability to speak. Breathing was labored as I think I may be coming down with whatever the wife has.

When we took a left on to Edwin H Land Boulevard, we were hit with a serious case of headwind. I could hear my bib flapping in the breeze and I was worried it was going to rip off. Folks were passing me left and right... literally! So I felt I must be going slower than I normally do. I felt like I was pushing it already. Maybe it was tired legs or maybe it was the wind or a combo of both.

As we exited the Boulevard by taking a right on New Rutherford Ave, my Garmin buzzed for Mile 1 just as I looked up to see the Mile 1 timer.

Mile 1: 7:08

Hot damn! Not what I expected. But my mind immediately started racing to: is this something you can keep up for 2 more miles. If so, you will PR.

Well now I planted that little seed into the noggin and it became a math party. 

We did a lap around Paul Revere Park which is a pretty park if you are in the Greater Boston area. It is one I only visit for this race and need to make a point of checking out more often.

 Photo courtesy:  @Bisforbeer

Photo courtesy: @Bisforbeer

I felt like the headwind was sticking with me for no good reason. I am not sure how everyone else felt about the wind, but for me it was a battle. Maybe it was fatigue or a mind game.

While leaving the park, we headed over the cool North Bank Pedestrian Bridge, which is a treat! It again isn't something I usually run near so it is a fun change to a race course.

As we headed toward the Mile 2 timer, I took a deep breath before checking out my Garmin. I had no idea what I would see.

Mile 2: 7:06

Hot damn again! Not sure what had gotten into my legs, but I was going with it. I was ready to try and PR. My previous PR was 21:46 set in June 2015 at the Cambridge 5k Freedom Run 5k (a flatter course for sure).

Since I felt like a PR was in my sights, I passed on mid-race photos! Ahhh this was tough for me, but my arms were tired for some reason and trying to move my phone to take a photo seemed daunting.

We weaved through North Point Park before making our way back towards the Start/Finish area near the Galleria Mall.

I was trying to my hardest to put one foot in front of the other as quickly as I could. But I could feel my mind taking over. 

There is NO WAY you will PR! You are using the 14-miler as an excuse. You don't deserve to PR! What makes you think you can run a 21:xx 5k again? 

I literally was shaking my head trying to get the negative thoughts out. I was focusing on the person in front of me and just keeping up with them. I was counting down.

Okay we are at 2.6 miles - just 1/2 mile to go. You can do that in your sleep.

Just keep moving forward. Even if you don't PR that's okay, you didn't set out to do it today.

But with the math in my head, I was a ringer for one. I could do it. In my head I was going to cross at like 21:30. Maybe 21:40. But still a PR.

As we took the final left on to First Street, I didn't notice my Garmin buzz.

Mile 3: 7:16

I could see the Finish Line down the block. 

It felt like I was on a treadmill though. I felt like I was moving, but the Finish Line wasn't getting any closer. Ahhh would the last 0.1 ever end. Halfway down the block I could hear the DJ trying to bring me home. Alright I was giving it all I had for the last 0.05. I just had to get there.

I didn't even notice the Finish timer when I crossed.

I hit my Garmin to stop.

FINAL TIME: 22:26 (7:14 min/mile pace)

NNNOOOOOO!!! A large FUCK came out of my mouth. I have no shame in how upset I was. What the hell happened self? Was my math really that far off? I was a math major in college. ;) 

I think this picture shows my disappointment upon hitting Stop.

I immediately texted the wife, grabbed a water and just kept walking down the street. What had happened? 

I am never this upset over a race and I have no idea still what came over me. I should've been damn proud as 1) I finished and that is really all that matters, 2) I had a Craicfest 5k PR (2014 - 24:17; 2015 - 24:21), 3) It was still a time 16 minutes faster than my first-ever 5k & 4) I had a kick ass outfit!

So I was grumpy pants and had to walk it off before I saw the rest of the team.

I headed back into the CambridgeSide Galleria mall to go to the after-party which was in the parking garage. It was nice, warm and there was plenty of beer and Swissbaker pretzels (mmmmm)...

I am not going to lie I felt much better after enjoying my pretzel. :) Emotional eating at its finest. :P

The friends started flooding in to our VIP tent and I tried to put my race behind me and focus on theirs. Tons of folks were running after putting up major miles the day before, we had some folks doing their first double race weekends, some getting back to the pavement after taking the winter off and other just ready to get their beer.

It is awesome going to a run and having so many familiar and new faces around. Plus we are a group of beer runners who know how to work and play hard. Some folks were stretching before getting out on the floor for the dance off so we got the group together for a quick team pic beforehand.

It is amazing to see how the Happy Soles have grown from an 11-person team to the 150+ crew that we roll with now. It is amazing what can bring folks of all paces, ages and athletic abilities together:

Trying to get to the beer line first!

Before heading out, I checked in on the official results. 135th overall (out of 1598) and 19th female. Hollah! The speedy ladies must've stayed home today. :P The Happy Soles finished 5th out of 46 teams and I am sure represented well at the dance off.

I headed home to put my new beer glass to good use and to get to walking on the treadmill. The one downside with "only" running a 5k is a serious lack of steps on the ol' Fitbit.

Overall the Craicfest 5k didn't disappoint. New and challenging course. Lots of enthusiastic volunteers. Plenty of beer. Sweet tunes. Free race photos.

I will be back again next year and shoot for another race PR. ;)