For the past several years, it’s been a family tradition to run the Freedomthon on July 4. This year, I hadn’t raced since March because of an ill-advised choice to try to relive the glory days of law school by signing up for an Ultimate league, which led to a slight hamstring pull and two strained Achilles tendons…. My weekly mileage, normally in the 25-35 miles/week range, was down to maybe 15 miles/week, and all of it slow and easy. I did not expect great results, but I did figure on having a good time, because the Freedomthon is always a blast (even without fireworks!).
July 4 was on a Wednesday this year, which is sort of an odd break in the work week, but a start time of 8:30 a.m. meant it was possible to get up at a leisurely time. As has been the case in previous years, there was ample parking in the lot across the street from the library.
The city of Beaverton stepped up its involvement in this race, with a whole bouncy area across the street from the staging area for the race. Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle was on hand to welcome runners. The current American record holder for the mile (3:46), Alan Webb, spoke to the crowd, too, offering words of encouragement for all, including his 7-month pregnant wife, who was also running the race.
As is typical for Uberthons races, we started in waves. I normally try to get into the second wave, but on that morning, I think I was in the fifth one, about one-third of the way in the pack. I got off to a fast start, and my aching Achilles tendons quickly let me know that this was an unacceptable pace. I eased off and things felt better.
The Freedomthon course is basically a rotated mirror-L. It’s one mile east on SW 5th Street, then a right angle turn to go south on SW Western Avenue, with a turnaround right before SW Allen Boulevard. Nearly all of the intersections and residential/commercial exits were blocked off by police cars, officers, and/or tape, which made it a very comfortable race in terms of road safety.
I was just a little ways on to Western when the first racer passed me going the other way. He had a huge lead on the next pack of runners!
The aid/water station was at the turnaround. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped for water in a 5K, but I was a bit tempted. It wasn’t a hot morning; considering it was the middle of summer, it was probably as ideal as you could have hoped for, but I was definitely far from my top form. Still, I decided I could make it back without stopping.
The remainder of the race wasn’t terrible. I managed fairly even splits throughout the race, which is not something I normally do. (Slower than usual splits, but still, something positive to take from the race.)
Uberthons had a new feature this year: a post-race gong. Per race director Darwin Rasmussen, you entitled to bang the gong if you set a PR. He defined PR quite broadly, including PR for this course, PR for your age, PR for this particular day. That last one was about the only kind of PR that I set, but since I was much closer to PW than PR in general, I didn’t avail myself of the gong. Perhaps next year.
You know what you get after finishing the Freedomthon? Entry to the breakfast bar, offering pancakes with choice of syrup (maple, strawberry, or blueberry) and whipped cream, turkey sausage, and lemonade.
There was a live band – Bottleneck Blues – performing, too:
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay to watch the annual pie-eating contest, but I’m sure it was epic. One of these days I might participate in it.
In all, over 350 runners finished the Freedomthon on a cloudy morning. If you are looking for a race with plenty of post-race festivities, you should consider running this race for the next Fourth of July.
For full results, click here.