Cambridge 5K Freedom Run

When is a 5K not just an ordinary 5K?  When it ends with a wicked party, complete with what is essentially an open beer bar.  Such is the case with the Freedom Run, a Cambridge 5K race.  This would be my third Cambridge 5K race, starting with the VERT-Sasquatch Trail Race in 2012 and then the Yulefest in…2013 I believe.  The races are always well-attended with a young race crowd looking to have a great race and then a great party after.

I went into the race hoping for a good time on what I thought would be a fairly fast course.  After being only six seconds off my PR the previous week at the Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5K, running 21:12 on a course with a few good hills, I thought that I might have a better time in me.  I decided the race would be the perfect time to break out my brand-spanking new November Project Grassroots Gear along with my relatively new New Balance 1400v2 racing flats.

photo 1

A cool feature of the race, which started at Cambridgeside Galleria, was the offer of free parking in the Galleria garage such that, even though I was running later than I wanted to be, I was able to park easily, jog through the mall to packet pick-up as a warm-up, jog back to the car and then to the start and feel like I’d gotten my muscles at least a little on the warm side.  I said a brief hello to friends Kat and Thor and then made my way to the starting line, weaving my way through the crowd to get to a spot close to the front.

I resolved in this race not to make the same mistake I did before in Oak Bluffs, i.e. going out too fast in the first mile.  At OB, I went through mile 1 in about 6:24 so, true to my plan, I took it nice and easy and cruised through mile 1 in 6:14.  Damn.  The good news was that I had thought the first mile felt pretty hard and that old “I just don’t have it today” refrain started passing through my head.  I say good news because it would have been really depressing to feel like my legs didn’t have any fast in them and then have it confirmed with a slow opening mile.  As it was, I could take comfort in knowing I had just run 1/3 of the race at a fast pace (for me).

Mile 2 was pretty much a straight shot down Hampshire St., followed by a sharp right on to Cambridge St.  Throughout the mile I could see Kat chugging away ahead of me and set my sights on trying to keep her close, knowing that she would be going at a pace that I’d like to get close to.  Somewhere along the way I got passed by the newly-returned-to-Boston Mike Dow, who proceeded to remove his shirt and truly give the fans a show.  There was little else to report for the mile, and it passed in 6:41, much better than mile 2 of the OB race, which was 7:01 (though that included the two climbs).

The 1.1 miles were a long straight shot down Cambridge St., affording a good view of the runners ahead of me and giving me some targets to keep sight of.  I wasn’t able to catch them, but hopefully just having that visual helped me avoid slowing down more than I might have otherwise.  Though the course featured some slight, gradual uphills here and there on the course, the only real hill came around mile 2.5 and last about 0.2 miles.  It wasn’t a real hill by most race standards, but coming so late on an otherwise flat course, it certainly took its toll.  During the hill, my pace jumped up to around 7:25, not exactly the pace I was hoping for.  But, with the course finishing on a downhill, I was able to put the hammer down, at least as much as I had in me, and I felt like I really turned in a solid kick effort.  It certainly helped to see the clock ticking inexorably towards the 21 minute mark and I really, really wanted to be under that time.  My final, official time?  20:44, good for a 22 second PR and an ecstatic feeling given that I hadn’t seen 20:xx for a 5K since high school.  I’m particularly proud of this picture because, I think you can see the effort in my face.

photo 2

Post-race, I met up with Kat and we hit the beer garden.  I wish I could say that I hit it hard, given that I had to drive after, but I still managed to have some tastes of the offerings from the likes of Night Shift, Notch, and Downeast Cider.  If you can take public transportation to a Cambridge 5K party/race, I definitely recommend you do so.

When I got home, I allowed myself a couple treats to celebrate the PR, enjoyed while attempting to do some gardening.  Long story short, I was exceedingly happy with a great result at a great race enjoyed with some great friends!

The tribe is strong.



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