Wednesday, December 16, 2015


On Sunday, December 6th, a group of us ran the Cambridge Winter Classic.  I was really fired up for this one for a few reasons.  First, it's part of a fun and well organized three race series (spring, fall & winter) and every year I try to run all of them if I can make it work.  Second, the course is flat and fast.  I've been training my ass off these past few weeks and I had a PR on the brain so I was ready to go for it.  And third, we picked this specific event as a meetup for all the local Oiselle team runners and quite a few of us were going to race and then head to brunch afterwards.  I love racing.  I also love brunch.  Maybe more.  Even though we're all teammates and live in the MA area, we're all different ages (I'm pretty sure I am the oldest), we have different jobs with different schedules and we're all spread out across a variey of MA suburbs which aren't necessarily right next door.  Basically, we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like to.  So, getting together to do what we all love (race and eat) is always such a treat.  My running bud, Kirsten, who lives in Winchester with me, would also be joining us as an honorary Oiselle bird for the day.  She hadn't raced a 5K in a while and was pumped to throw her hat in the ring and see what she could do.  So, yes, lots of good stuff going on related to this one race.  Fast forward to last Sunday.  Around 9:00am, I scooped up Jess, my one Oiselle teammate who actually does live next door and then we headed over to grab Kirsten.  This particular race always has a big turnout, in this case over 3000 runners, thus it was key for us to get there early so we'd have time to get our numbers, warm up, use the bathroom and probably use it again.  We arrived around 9:30, parked easily and headed over to the main area to grab our bibs and shirts.  It was a beautiful morning, but it was pretty chilly, somewhere in the low-mid 30s.  All three of us were bundled up in layers and wearing gloves when we headed off for our warm up.  By the time we finished, the sun was starting to work its magic and we were ready to shed a layer and ditch it in the car before we headed over to the start.

Off the the start

Kirsten and I did some dynamics and a few strides (for anyone on the LHS XC team reading this, yes, I did my strides) and then the three of us walked over to the line.  We quickly spotted a few gals with Oiselle singlets on and introduced ourselves to both Kyle and Cecil.  While the five of us chatted and waited, we listened to the race director announce the fact that the course, which is the same for all three races in the series, was now officially USATF certified and us not to give him any crap if our watches said something other than 3.1 at the finish.  Then he went on to say that if we did have a discrepency, than perhaps it was time we all faced the fact that our expensive GPS devices are never 100% accurate.  That got a good chuckle from the crowd.  Finally, it was 9:30, so after some quick hugs and high fives, we were off.

As I mentioned, I had high hopes for myself at this race.  My goal was to run it in under 19 minutes.  I haven't done this since college, so it was a lofty one.  But, with my recent marathon traning, I've managed to get my time down to a 19:05, so it wasn't too farfetched.  Funny, it doesn't sound like much, but the difference between a 19:05 and a 18:59 is huge for me.  I've been stuck in the low 19s for over 3 years now.  Grrr.  My plan was to start off at a 6:15 pace and hold that through mile 2. After that, assuming I wasn't dying, I was hoping to let it loose run the final mile in just under 6 minutes.  When we got started, there was quite a bit of bustling due to the size of the crowd and I had to hop up on the sidewalk to find some room.  Within a couple miutes, though, the crowd began to spread out and I was able to find a spot, settle in and get a rhythm going.  I passed mile 1 in 6:10.  Ok, I thought to myself, that was good.  I had a little wiggle room, but was pretty close to my target.  I was breathing hard, but I felt like I could manage, so I tried to settle my nerves with some deep breaths and focus on the fact that I only had to hang on for 2 more miles.  At a 6 minute pace, this was definitely going to be tough for me, but mentally, the sound of only 2 miles to go when I'm typically running 26.2 was incredibly easy to digest.  I didn't see the marker for mile 2 so I just tried to hold my pace and stick with the runners who were around me.  Eventually, I started to feel the burn in my chest and I had a feeling we were getting close.  But, when I looked at my watch, it said 2.8 miles.  Close but not as close as I'd hoped.  And then something strange happened.  My playlist, which I knew was exactly 20 minutes long, started over.  I wasn't totally sure about my pace, but I was pretty convinced that I'd been holding steady in the low 6s.  Thus, if my playlist was done than I should be done.  Up ahead, I saw people turning for the final .1, so I attempted to shift gears and bring it home.  At the corner, I looked up at the race clock.  It said 21 minutes.  My reaction?  WTF?  And then I thought, well, maybe I was more tired than I realized.  And then, whoa, I'm not even close to my goal time.  And then, wow, what a major bummer.  Yes, I went through that whole range of emotions in .1 miles.  When I crossed the line, I stopped my watch and checked it multiple times hoping that the official clock was wrong.  No dice.  21:19.

Does this thing WORK??

But, then I did a double take.  My watch distance said 3.47 miles.  Again, WTF?  I know the GPS systems are often off, but it's never been off by that much.  I started to look around and noticed that other runners were doing the same thing, looking at their watches and then looking at the race clock and then comparing all the information with each other.  I walked over to a group of men to ask them about it and one of them looked up and said, how did you like that 3.45 mile race?  What??  I replied.  Yep, he said, the lead car took a wrong turn and lead all of us on the wrong route which ended up being 3.45 miles.  No.  Way.  I said.  Way, he said.  Then, I started to hear a lot of talking, shouting even, as people realized what had happened.  I was really bummed.  But, not as bummed as a lot of the people around me.  As my teammates started to roll in, it was confirmed that yes, we all had run a 3.45 mile race, not a 5K.


Jess, Kirsten and I found each other and discussed the situation.  It was laughable and highly annoying.  All three of us had goals and because of the discrepency, we had no idea where we could have truly netted out.  We cooled down together and continued to talk, fume really, about what went down.  Jess and I said goodbye to Kirsten, who couldn't join us for brunch, and headed over to meet up with the rest of our teammates.  When I walked into the restaurant, the first words out of my mouth were, hey ladies!! Congrats on all your 3.45 race PRs today!  That got a good laugh.  Although, it was, in fact, true as none of us had ever raced this distance before.  And I can safely say that none of us will ever do it again.  Aside from Jess and a couple other birds, I hadn't met any of the crew that had gathered, so I got everyone's names and then we all settled in to enjoy our brunch.  Amazing how easy it is to hang with a group of people that you've never met when you share a common interest.  By the end of our meal, I felt like I really knew everyone and decided I wanted to invite the whole crew over for dinner because I hadn't had enough time to chat with each of them.  Halfway through, we all got an email from the race director that said the following:


Congrats on finishing the Winter Classic 5K + some today. As you have probably figured out, the Cambridge Auxiliary lead car missed the first turn resulting in a 3.45MI course distance. 

As someone who knows the pain associated with 3.1 miles, I'm deeply sorry for the extra tenths. On the bright side, it's a slightly better excuse to enjoy a couple more cold ones. 

The Winter Classic 5K

And that was that.  Would I have broken 19 if it was a true 3.1 course?  We will never know.  And I wondered about it for a while, but now, for the most part, I'm over it.  I was more than thrilled with my overall place (3rd woman), very happy to have placed as the first Master, a category that I am insanely proud to be in these days.  And, getting to spend time with my teammates, well, that was fantastic.  So, I'll chalk it up to a weird, but really fun day.   In the end, getting 12 super cool gals together to talk about runninng and life for 2 hours was pretty priceless.  There will always be more races.

Listen to this:
Set On Fire - Magic Giant

CONGRATS to Amy Upshaw and Ellen McKinna, winners of the SKECHERS giveaway.  Please email me your addresses and shoe sizes (for running) ASAP.  Thanks to all for entering!  And thanks again to SKECHERS for the shoes.  May you all have a very fast day.


  1. Ha WHOOPSIES! Glad you were all good sports about it. Is there anyway you can look at your splits to see where you where at 3.1 miles? PS- the title says 3.45k, not miles, so I was a little confused thinking you ran a 3k race instead of a 5k ;)

  2. OH, MY GOSH! This is crazy, Rebecca! However, I distinctly remember Jess running ANOTHER race (a 10K, I think?) where she had a goal and something like this happened to her then, as well. What's up with these races y'all are running?!! :) What a great effort by all of you; so glad you were able to meet up with so many Oiselle gals and make the best of a loooooong, fast race. Good grief!