Friday, July 10, 2015

We Finished at the 50!

This past Saturday, Emily and I took on our original goal when I started this whole eat-live-exercise-healthier journey this past spring and finished a 5k together! To be exact, we actually finished our second 5k together! It was supposed to be our first 5k but we wanted to get a practice 5k under our belt ahead of time and the Dedham Trails 5k served as just that.

In any event, let me just say that our experience with this 5k was great! Now, in its 6th year, the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 is produced by DMSE Sports in partnership with Patriot Place, the shopping center adjacent to Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution.

The Finish at the 50 event hosts a multitude of activities for the whole family to enjoy! We talked about the pre-race fitness expo which is held the two preceding days, and includes Race Day as well. During the expo, participants, as well as families have the chance to partake in family-friendly activities as well as sample some goodies from event sponsors. Since we all love free things, we really had a great time and enjoyed the samples from KIND Snack Bars (some yummy granola bars) as well as juice and iced tea from Purity Organics and Lily enjoyed face painting and playing the sand as well as balloon animals, playing on inflatable bouncy houses, appearances from the Patriots Cheerleaders and more! There were also some fitness events where you could participate in Zumba, Yoga and other Fit-by-the-Field sample classes (more on that in a separate future post)!

Registration was a breeze. We wanted to get the whole “game day” experience so we registered on site, which couldn’t have been easier, and got the bib right away! The guys from DMSE sports were awesome and made the process SO easy! They have tons of experience with running these events as they are the same crew that help to put on the Boston Marathon!

In leading up to the 5k you all know that Emily and I have been going on training runs as part of the Couch-to-5k program and complemented those runs with some great group Zumba classes that are offered every other monday right outside of the Patriots Proshop at Patriot Place on the NRG Plaza. For the pre-race fitness expo, the NRG Plaza was totally transformed and hosted the race registration, gathering area for the race day as well as Super Heroes which the kids really seemed to enjoy!

The kids run started a few hours before the 5k race and had all of the kids start in various groups based on age. The littles ones (toddlers) could run with their parents and finish at the 50, followed by the older kids.

For the 5k, we gathered at 5 pm with a scheduled start time of 6 pm. Thankfully, it wasn’t scorching hot as in past years and there was a slight breeze. They also added additional water stations based on feedback from previous years. We were thankful for all of the snacks - especially the Muscle Milk and a new product called Power Crunch, a protein-filled snack wafer which tastes amazing!

Now for the race recap! We started to gather at 5:45 and they had difference pace groups separated by the minute. There was the starting line, followed by a 6 minute mile, then 7, 8, 9 all the way to 11. We met up with our friend Heather who was running the race when we were roaming around the starting line crowd. Wouldn’t you know it but they didn’t have a 14 minute mile (which some people said was walking pace) so we just stood around the 9 minute mark. I’m just happy that I got to the starting line! As one of my wise running friends always says “Finish Lines over finish times!”

We saw the people starting to move so we hopped in the group around the 8 minute mark but we didn’t realize that the line was just compressing for the start of the race. We quickly laughed it off and started to run. The start was an easy gradual up-hill jog by Showcase LIVE! and then we turned right and ran around the entire parking lot surrounding Gillette Stadium. I enjoyed running past the security shack that I used to drive past every day when I worked there 10 years ago!

Then we passed around the back of Gillette Stadium on the ring road and the first water station was perfectly placed! We stopped and grabbed some water and then started the ever so slight uphill run past the Patriots Practice Fields which fans can see during Training Camp. 

We passed the Dana Farber Field House which is also near where the Cheerleaders practice facility was (if I remember correctly) and as we passed it, a few cheerleaders who were running the race passed us. We said hello and kept running. We came up around the road by Bed Bath and Beyond and then turned right towards the Stadium’s gate. We came upon the gate and a water station! We grabbed a quick drink and continued on the length of the stadium until the Bank of America gate which was located right near the BW/MGH Health Care Center at Foxboro and we entered the stadium right near the ramps. We proceeded to run right up the ramps all of the way to the 300 level and I found that it wasn’t as long as I expected…. Once up the ramp and halfway across the concourse, we took a #MidRunSelfie and also had someone take a photo of us and then grabbed some more water. One thing we really enjoyed is that they had four water stations total with two of them offering chilled bottles of Aquafina! It was great! :)

After we grabbed a bottle of ice cold Aquafina, we kept running around the 300 level concourse, we took some great photos and then some more water and then down the ramps all of the way to the main concourse on the 100 level.

We enjoyed the fact that by this time, we were at the north end of the stadium and got to run across the iconic bridge and under the lighthouse that Gillette Stadium is known for as they are reminiscent of various New England landmarks. As we crossed the bridge my parents and Lily were cheering us on! It was awesome!

We kept running around the rest of the concourse and then down the back ramp to exit the stadium and a quick left turn and we ran right through onto the field! It was so cool because we got to run right through the same inflatable football helmet that the Patriots run through before each home game!

By this time we were SO jazzed and psyched that we didn’t realize we were on the field until the 10 yard line! It was a quick trip from there to the finish line at the 50 yard line. We grasped hands and held them high as we finished the 5k! We quickly got our medals and then took some photos with Pat Patriot (the team mascot), some cheerleaders and the Patriots’ Nate Solder who was high-fiving race participants as they finished and was kind enough to take a photo with me.

It was such a great experience and we look forward to making this race an annual occurrence! 

After the race, we ate some great snacks that were provided (banana, Ocean Spray cranberry drink, water, KIND bars) and then had dinner at Capriottis before watching some amazing fireworks that started once the 10k finished and the sun went down. 

Getting out of the parking lot was a breeze since the folks that handle parking know a thing or two about having a few thousand people in the parking lots. It was really well done and we can’t wait until next year!

with the starting line crowd

mid-race selfie

another mid-race selfie

finally done!

Dave with Nate Solder of the New England Patriots.

NOTE: We were provided with complimentary bibs for the 5k and Kids Fun Run. While we had an absolutely great time there was no promise of a positive review. All opinions and commentary are our own.

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