Monday, June 6, 2016


On Sunday morning, I made my way over to Cambridge to run the Freedom Run 5K, part of the Cambridge 5K Race Series.  I was participating as a member of the Glen Doherty Team and in support of the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation.  Quick back story on this -- Glen Doherty was a US Navy Seal and one of the four Americans killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.  He grew up in Winchester, MA (my town) and though I did not know him, several of my close friends and neighbors did.  It's the second time I've run a race in his honor and it's something I'm very proud to do as he was an amazing individual that made a big impact on a lot of people's lives.  Ok, so back to the race.  Wait, no.  Another little side note first.  As many of you know, I've been working with a running coach for about three years now.  While my training is focused on the marathon throughout most of the year, I do throw several 5Ks into the mix, using them as a tool to sharpen my speed.  Full disclosure....I loathe this distance.  I honestly would rather run a marathon.  No, for real.  Which is precisely why I add them in.  And despite the dread and fear (yes, it's bad), I get out there and do them anyway because  there is no question that they make me stronger.  Anyway, this time around, I was aiming to break 19 minutes.  Sorry, I've probably mentioned this more times than you'd like to hear.  Still, it's a goal that's been on my radar for quite some time now.  On Friday, I reached out to my coach both see if he thought it might be feasible based on where I am in my training cycle and to talk strategy if he did, in fact, think I might be able to pull it off.  Here's what he suggested:

Rebecca, I think that 5:55-6:00 is your ideal first mile, then 6:05-6:10, and then whatever you have left in the tank.  If you can do 400s in 85 or faster, knocking them out in 89-91 shouldn't be too bad until the last mile.

GULP.  An 18:59 finish requires running a 6:07 average.  That, in itself, is scary.  But, seeing that recommendation of running a sub-6 first mile made my eyeballs pop out.  No, not really.  But you get it.  I tucked his note in the back of my head and just focused on getting to the starting line without losing my nerve.  Ok, so now, we're back to Sunday morning.  The race was set to begin at 9:30am.  The weather was crap - rainy, 70s and humid.  Always something, dammit.  Fortunately, unlike most of my races, this one was a mere eight mile drive from my house and I was able to get into Cambridge, find a parking spot, grab my bib and shirt and throw my stuff at gear check all in about 20 minutes.  Silver lining.  As I was about to head out for my warmup, I bumped into Magda and Stephanie, friends of mine from Winchester who were also running on the Glen Doherty team.

Dropping bags off w/ Steph

After my warmup, I headed back into the main race area to find the rest of the team.  Mind you, I was thoroughly soaked thru with sweat at this point.  Not good.  I met a few more teammates, including Muffy, the woman who organized the whole thing, and received a very cool GDMF singlet to sport for the race.  Around 9:20 we made our way over to the start.  On account of the heat, I made the executive decision to tuck my tank into the back of my sports bra.  Anything to make the race (relatively) more comfortable.  The music at the start was blasting and the crowd was insane.  There were over 1,800 runners, maybe more.  It was mayhem.  Given the "Freedom" theme (many runners wore red, white and blue) and this huge American flag that hung down directly in front of us I assumed we'd get a killer rendition on the National Anthem before we took off.  Not so.  We got a Ready. GO!  That was it.  

In my head, I'm was still going to go for it despite the weather and my doubts.  I settled into a pace that I felt I could hold, trying to peg a few other runners who might be in the same range as I was so I could work with them or try to keep up with them.  I hovered right around 6 min pace which, to my surprise and delight, didn't feel too painful.  I crossed the first mile in 5:59.  Okay, I thought.  This is good.  Maybe I've got this today.  I was doing eveything in my power to distract my brain from the fact that I had 2 more miles to run....counting steps, singing, predicting songs, you name it, I tried it.  I was still chugging along, slower, but within range.  Mile 2 was a 6:09.  Right on target.  But, now I was wicked (sorry, it's the best descriptor) tired.  And the heat was pressing down.  And I was so, so tired.  Oh, I mentioned that.  Right.  This is when I started talking to myself.  I said things like:
"Come on, Rebecca.  You can suck it up for one more mile"
"Stop fighting yourself.  You've trained for this.  Let's do it."  
"Oh look, there's a Dunkin'.  An iced coffee sounds so damn good right about now"
I tried my best to stick with the guys who were near me.  But, at the same time, though I was still working just as hard, I could feel myself fading.  We had a slight, but in my opinion at the time, massive, hill to get up before turning to the finish.  Mile 3 was a 6:15.  SHIT.  I was at 18:23 and had .1 to go.  I had no wiggle room.  And I had absolutely nothing left to pull from.  I was toast.  I looked up to see the clock change to 19 as I was just steps away.  RATS.  I finished with a respectable 19:09, so close but yet so far.  It was the first race in years that I have literally been gasping for air once I stopped.  I had used everything in my tank and I felt it big time.  

Pic taken by my friend, Cecille

Once I had recovered a bit, I slowly trotted off for my cool down.  Very slowly.  I eeked out a couple miles and made my way back over the tents to join my team for the post-race party.  There were about 40 people in the Glen Doherty crew.  We had our own tent with a cooler full of beer.  I was grateful for the shelter but couldn't take down the beer.  My stomach wouldn't have it.  I met a few people from Winchester and others who had known Glen growing up and just relaxed for a bit with this nice bunch of people before heading home.  

As I packed up, I heard the DJ, a very charismatic gentleman who had the crowd singing and dancing in the rain, mention that awards would be coming up shortly.  There were no age group divisions for this race, which is rare.  So, out of curiousity, I went over and asked the timing company about the awards break down.  He let me know that top 3 men and women and top 3 male and female masters would be getting something and recommended I stick around.  I found a corner out of the rain and enjoyed the scene as I waited to see if I'd placed.  

Turns out, I was both second female overall and first female Master (40+).  They called my name twice, which was a little akward, so the second time I went up I asked the woman if I should hold off on taking a second cup.  Her response?  Nope.  You earned both.  Take 'em!  Well, HOT DOG!!  I'll take those two glasses, thank you very much.  

After all that, I'm so glad I stuck around as I bumped into my friend and Oiselle teammate, Cecille (aka @Chirpily) who I will be headed up to NH with next week along with 100 of our teammates for another round of Birdcamp shenanigans.  We both got a little giddy just talking about it.  Finally, around 11:30, I headed home.  As I thought about the race I realized I was happy....really happy....for a few reasons:
1. I haven't run a sub-6 mile in a 5K race since college and never thought I would again.  My hard work is paying off.  That's exciting.
2. I didn't hit my goal time, but I didn't die, either.  I could have easily given up when I knew it wasn't going to happen.  I'm psyched that I was able to hold on and finish where I did.
3. I ran hard for a good cause and had a lot of fun doing it.
4. I'm happy that I'm happy about all of these things.  As I should be.
And so, the chase continues.  Gotta dream big.  To be continued.....

Listen to this:
WOW - Beck

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