*RECAP* VERT Sasquatch Trail Run - The Race That I Almost Missed

*RECAP* VERT Sasquatch Trail Run - The Race That I Almost Missed

Welcome to the race recap that almost didn't happen.

On Sunday morning I woke up nice and early to sneak in 2 relaxing miles before the 4th Annual VERT Sasquatch Trail Run (2.35 miles).

After a cool run and a light breakfast, I began driving to pick up my friend and Slumbrew Happy Soles teammate Heather for the race.

That's when it happened.

My car died.

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Freedom Run 5k Recap: PR City Baby

Freedom Run 5k Recap: PR City Baby

Ahhhh I gave away the whole story in the headline of this post, but I just can't contain my excitement!!!! So yes yes yes - I did get a PR at the Cambridge 5k Freedom Run 5k on Sunday, June 7.

But you HAVE to continue reading to find out how it happened... :)

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*RECAP* Cambridge 5k Craicfest 5k With Slumbrew Happy Soles

My first-ever 5k was March 20, 2005. A local St. Patrick's Day 5k in Somerville. So racing in honor of the St. Patrick's Day holiday is wicked special to me. So the Cambridge 5k Craicfest 5k on March 16 would be the closest race to my 10-year anniversary! It would now hold a special place in my heart.

How did this girl who was once a 235 lb couch potato become a 28-time half marathoner and 6-time marathoner?

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Race #52 of 2014: Cambridge 5k Yulefest 5k Recap

52 races in 2014. It began with 1st Run on New Year's Day and ended with December 14's Cambridge 5k's Yulefest 5k with the Slumbrew Happy Soles!

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?

*RECAP* Run, Beer & Pretzels Equals Cambridge 5k Oktoberfest 5k Fun

For three-straight years it's rained during Oktoberfest 5k, why would we assume it would be any different on October 5, 2014. It was even raining on Saturday when I went to pick up my race bib and sweet t-shirt.

Thankfully the rain made other plans on Sunday and for once the Cambridge 5k Oktoberfest 5k would be held under the shining sun! Wahoo!

Since the race was a mere 15 minute ride from my house, I could sleep in until 8am and casually get ready for the race. Race would be kicking off at 9:30am.

Apparently I was a little too casual about the race as I almost left the house without my bib. Umm thanks honey for noticing that. Oops!

Maybe I should get back to laying my clothes out the night before ANY race not just the marathons. ;)

I enjoyed my water and toast with peanut butter on the drive over. I wanted to make sure I had some fuel in my body, but not too much that would weigh me down for the shorter distance race.

Oktoberfest 5k, which benefits Cambridge Family & Children's Service (CFCS), was moved to a different section of Technology Square in Cambridge and it was a great decision by race director, Eddie. The space is much larger than the previous space and allowed ample space for the post-race party and dance off.

I managed to run into a bunch of people I knew - blogger friends, Weight Watchers members, fellow Slumbrew Happy Soles and more - while wandering around before the race. I love being able to catch up with so many people at a race. It always puts a big smile on my face. :) Who knew I would be so happy meeting up with folks at races and making so many friends through running.

All of a sudden I checked my iFit and realized it was 9:20am. Yeah I should probably start moving over to the Start Area I thought to myself. I was going to be living on the edge opting not to wait in the never-ending port-o-pottie line and chance it.

I also need to promise that I did't purposely match my outfit to my race bib. :P It just happened to work out that way.

I opted to wear my lighter ASICS Gel Hyper Speed6 sneakers since they are more of a racing flat. I like how they are lightweight for the 5k distance, but anything longer than that I tend to stick with my trusty ASICS GT-2000s.

There are a ton of speedy folks that run in the Cambridge 5k series so I tried to get up to the front-ish to make sure I could get into my own groove with limited people passing me on the onset.

Oktoberfest is the biggest race of the Cambridge 5k series so there tend to be more congestion than at any of the other races so placing yourself correctly is crucial.

The gun went off and so did we. I did pass a couple right off the bat that seemed a little shocked at how many speedy people there were. Not sure what they were expecting at a 5k race. But the folks that run the Cambridge 5k series run the gamut from the 5:xx min/mile runners to first time walkers. That is what I love - everyone is welcome!

The course was different than in previous years and was touted as being flat flat flat. I liked the sound of it, but doubted it being pancake flat. FYI I was right. ;)

I tried to get into my own groove, but for some reason my body had other ideas. I felt sluggish right from the get go. I knew my lack of sleep and not pristine eating habits over the past week could catch up with me ... and they did.

I honestly thought I was running in place for part of Mile 1, but I trusted my body was in fact moving in a forward direction.

Mile 1: 7:23

Now normally I would be thrilled with that for Mile 1, but I was disappointed. I have been working on getting faster and it was paying off recently, but on this day the body had other ideas.

It is always something to remember - you never know which body will show up on race day.

So I decided just to go with the flow. Either way I would be thoroughly entertained by the costumes around me. Many folks took the German theme and ran with it. *Ba dum dum*

There are random droppings of spectators along the course so I relied on the volunteers for some pick-up energy and they didn't disappoint. Big thanks to those folks along the course directing runners, handing out water or offering up a high-five.

Oh and you can welcome some inclines to the party. As I traveled upwards I thought to myself how that was in fact not flat. :P I didn't really mind, but always find people have different definitions of flat.

Mile 2: 7:41

Lots of potholes on the roads of Cambridge so I made sure to triple check the ground before snapping my mid-run selfie.

Yup I felt myself slowing down, but just kept telling myself to move forward and either way the BEER would be at the Finish.

Just after Mile 2, I saw my Slumbrew teammate Pat sit down on the side of the road and grab his knee. I ran past him then made sure to back  track to see how he was doing. Without thinking about it I stopped my Garmin. Yeah that doesn't happen during a race. It did show me that Pat and I chatted for about 17 seconds. ;)

Pat said he was okay and didn't need medical help so I restarted the Garmin and got back on the course.

The final mile of any race is always a mental game with me. I started passing the time - since I didn't wear headphones - by counting my steps. It calms me down. I've also come to realize 150 steps is 0.1 miles so I play games with myself. I know cool kid. :P

Some of the course looked familiar as we crossed over some of the streets from the Cambridge 5k Yulefest 5k, which is held in Harvard Square in December.

The sun was high and the shade was at a minimum. The short sleeves, while they sucked before the race, came in really handy during the race itself.

Mile 3: 7:43

The final stretch included three separate turns, which made the final 0.1 seem like an eternity. But coming through to a bunch of cheers and familiar faces is always a joy!

Final Time: 24:16 (7:49 min/mile pace)

While I was disappointed with my time - no one to blame but me - I was extra mad to be 54 seconds slower than last year's Oktoberfest. Grr... Some races I seem to be going backwards in my speed instead of forwards. Again I know every day and every race is different, but it can still be frustrating.

Something I am going to focus on and work on in the future.

The good thing was the race was done, the water drank and it was time to move on to the beer and pretzels!!

Cambridge Brewing Company provided beer (Pale Ale and Pumpkin Ale, Swiss Bakers had the pretzels and Jason Wirth also provided food.

Eddie, race director, set up the square with 4 different beer tents pouring to try and shorten the beer lines, but unfortunately with 2100+ runners there were still lengthy lines at times.

We entertained ourselves in the line as best we could. :)

Just after 11am, we gathered as many of the 56 Slumbrew Happy Soles as we could for a team pic.

It is amazing being part of such an awesomely supportive and great group of people.

Big props to Slumbrew runner Craig who came in #1 overall with an amazing time of 17:05. How amazing is that? I wonder what it is like to break the tape.

With Craig and some other speedsters on the team, Slumbrew took the #1 team overall. Waaahhh!!

Our team never wins until Big Bad Wolf 5-Miler in September, when we were 2nd overall.

The prize? A growler of CBC Pale Ale ... which we all shared on the spot. :)

Victory tasted delicious!

After many hugs and high fives, it was time for me to head home and continue my Sunday. I missed the dance off, but heard a Slumbrew Happy Sole member actually walked away with the crown there too. Hollah!

So if you are thinking about checking out Cambridge 5k Oktoberfest 5k next year ... do it! You might see a familiar face ... or 10!


Want in on the final Cambridge 5k race of the year? Join the Slumbrew Happy Soles and I at Yulefest 5k on December 14. Register here.

*RECAP* VERT Big Bad Wolf 5-Mile Trail Race

It's not often you get to run or party with a wolf...

Okay okay so at Saturday's Big Bad Wolf 5-Mile Trail Race we didn't actually party or run WITH the wolves. BUT we looked at them. ;)

We made the 45-minute trek to Ipswich to rock the Wolf Hollow with my fellow Slumbrew Happy Soles. I love meeting new people and seeing familiar faces when the Happy Soles get together at a Cambridge 5k/VERT Race Series race.

After lots of hugs and laughs before the race even started, it was all of a sudden the 1 minute warning that the race was starting. Ohhh I am with all my friends to actually race THEN drink beer. Oops I sort of forgot about the running part. ;)

I finagled myself up to the Start Line and we were off. I had no expectations for the race. I was hoping to beat last year's time (40:38), but with the sore hamstring I didn't have my hopes up.

I started the race chatting with fellow Happy Sole Kate, who was also experiencing some pain in her hamstring area. So we swapped treatment ideas.

The first 1/4 of a mile or so is on the sidewalk as we head from the Start/party area to the field/trail portion of the race. The race is tight at the beginning, but really opens up once you enter the field.

Since I did this race last year, I knew the terrain. The race consists of two 2+ mile loops.

The Big Bad Wolf is a great into to trail running. The race is in a huge open field with some small inclines. It also features that uneven terrain that basically all trail races have. The kind of uneven footing that you feel in your ankles the next day.

But thankfully there aren't any huge inclines/hills that you will have to face.

I really would recommend it to all fitness levels/paces. There were runners, run/walkers and walkers on the course.

Mile 1: 8:02 Mile 2: 8:01

I was really shocked at the pace for the first two miles. I think I was excited to see so many fun folks out on the course. Also there were some STELLAR costumes out there. Folks who take part in this race series take the costume contest very seriously. ;)

Mid-run selfie

I made sure to slow it down this mile while doing the mid-run selfie and posting due to the uneven footing. I had a sprint tri the next day and REALLY didn't need to twist an ankle.

Mile 3: 8:17

On the second loop, I felt some pain in my right hamstring. NOOOO not both of them. Oh yes folks both of them. I tried to keep focused on being over halfway done. I promised myself I would stretch extra when the race ended.

The final loop was a little tough. Knowing how long you have left in a race can be pretty tough mentally. Anyone agree?

I really need to hand it to VERT for offering free race photos. Yay!

I was trying to give the photographer a "Hey there" hand gesture, but he caught me mid gesture so I just look awkward.

Mile 4: 8:14

Man was I happy when the Garmin buzzed for Mile 4. One mile to go. I wanted to stretch and enjoy a beer. :)

As we hit the pavement again, I knew I was in the home stretch. My Garmin buzzed before we hit the Finish Line for 5 miles.

Mile 5: 8:13

So my paces may be slightly off since the Garmin gave me 5.13 miles.

But either way the final time was 41:41. I was happy with the results even though I was almost a minute slower than the previous year. I finished 94th overall and 25th among females.

The Flagraiser IPA hit the spot post-race. I love seeing all my teammates come together after the race, checking in on each other and cheersing with a Slumbrew.

Once everyone had crossed, it was time for a group photo. Proud that our teammate Kristina said: "Now we chug ... 1 -2 -3" and this picture was born. :)

After our photo it was awards time.

Now our group never really has a shot at the team prizes ... except on this day.

Kate and Kat had brought two friends with them and welcomed them with open arms to the Slumbrew Happy Soles family. They just happened to be uber speedy. George (second from left) finished the race 3rd overall, while Craig (left) took the #1 spot overall.

These two speedsters helped land the Slumbrew Happy Soles in second place among the 12 teams.

Can you tell we were a TAD excited???

It was awesome seeing how excited the whole team was. We all took turns drinking out of the trophy.

Now we wait for the Slumbrew Taproom open so we can proudly display our trophy! :)

Once awards were handed out, it was time for the costume party and dance off. That's right this race has the complete package.

The wife and I had to duck out at this time as she had a hockey game. But it is always a joy racing with the Happy Soles.

So if you are in the Boston area and interested in trying trail racing? Use the Big Bad Wolf race as a jumping off point. If you don't want to drive to Ipswich, you can always use the commuter rail to catch the free race shuttle.


Have you ever thought about trail racing?