Race Recap: Freedomthon 5K

Considering how many Uberthons races I’ve run in the past three years, it’s hard to believe that my first Freedomthon waited until 2014. With no scheduling conflicts of any kind, I was free to start our country’s birthday with a good 5K race. As a perk of being on the advisory board for the Oregon Marathon and Half Marathon, I received a comped entry to this race.

Race time was 8:30 a.m., to be followed by a pancake and sausage breakfast at 9 a.m. Breakfast was included with the race registration, and non-running family members and friends could buy breakfast for $5 each.

The race location was Beaverton, right next to the library. As with past races in that city, Beaverton police officers were out in force to help manage the race course by blocking traffic from cross-streets, thereby enabling runners to use both directions of the two streets that made up the entire route.

I had picked up race bibs on Wednesday at the Road Runner Sports in Tualatin and was therefore able to sleep in a bit more on Friday (although day of race bib pick-up is usually quite efficient at Uberthons events). There was ample parking even though I arrived just about ten minutes before the start of the race.

The race course was simple: about a mile east on 5th Avenue, turn right on to Western, go for about half a mile, and turn around and come back. The aid and water station was at the turnaround point.


Just before the start of the 2014 Freedomthon

At the start of the race, it was about 60 degrees and partly cloudy, pretty near ideal running conditions. I was with my son, so I didn’t weave my way to near the front of the pack, but stayed about one-third of the way back. Uberthons used to start races in waves, which meant less clogging at the beginning of the race, but unfortunately, it’s moved to the “start in one massive group” approach that other races use. The difference between my gun time and chip time was 13 seconds, and all of that was walking in a tight pack.

This was when I discovered that my smartphone’s GPS was acting up and would not lock on to the satellites. D’oh! I was going to learn what it would be like pacing myself by feel. (If I’d been thinking clearly, I at least could have started the timer on my watch, but all I managed to do was glance at the time and note that I’d started roughly around 8:30:50.)

Once crossing the starting line, I had to edge around a bunch of runners to get some clear running space. Not long after, I could see a thin line of runners ahead of me, stretching longer and longer as the frontrunners continued to outpace everyone. For the first half mile, there was a gentle descent of about 20 feet in elevation, and then we crossed under the 217 overpass. Here, the route began a steady ascent all the way through the right turn on to Western, peaking at a gain of 50 feet at the turnaround.

There were a couple of women ahead of me. As they – and I – started the return segment, we were running opposite the runners still making their way to the turnaround. The two women in front got a lot of “Yea, first women!” cheers from the running crowd. I saw my friend Eileen Kuffner making good progress toward the turnaround and called out a greeting to her, getting one in return. Not too long after that, I saw my son. (Yes, I am not one of those parents who runs at his child’s pace.)

I felt like I was running at an even pace, rather than slowing down, but I couldn’t be totally sure. I had a rough sense of how I was doing based on the mile markers and the estimated elapsed time, but I was discovering how much I rely on RunKeeper to tell me my pace. (I was also thinking that maybe the new Garmin Forerunner 15 GPS watch wouldn’t be a bad thing to get.)

Around 2 1/2 miles, I passed a couple of more runners, including the eventual female winner (Stephanie Heilman) and my friend and frequent Uberthoner Brent Huber. The last half mile turned out to be tougher than I would’ve anticipated, largely because the finish line was deceptively far away. Where I thought I saw it was actually just a stoplight. Fortunately, I hadn’t destroyed myself with a hard kick too early.

With less than a tenth of a mile to go, volunteers were handing out American flags to carry through to the finish line. I managed to grab mine without messing up and held it up high as I crossed the finish line, for once not having to fiddle with my phone to stop RunKeeper.

Me, at the finish of the race, with flag in hand (photo courtesy of Uberthons)

With race medal in one hand and a cold bottle of water in the other (my phone having found its way into my pocket), I recovered from the run and waited for my son, pleased to see him finish with a strong kick. And then it was time for the post-race breakfast. Everyone got two sausage links (regular or turkey; I opted for turkey), two pancakes, a little container of syrup, and fruit (banana halves and orange slices).

There was enough time to eat, and then race director Darwin Rasmussen started the awards ceremony. Besides announcing the top 10 male and female finishers (a cutoff I especially appreciated, since I nabbed the #10 spot), Darwin called out the top three in each age/gender group. There was even a  three-tier podium that the age/gender group winners got to stand on for pictures.

For another view of the race, here’s fellow Run Oregon blogger Marilyn Tycer’s recap.

For full race results, click here.

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