Race Recap // Cambridge Half Marathon 2017


This past Sunday, my training finally came to an end and it was time to take on Cambridge Half Marathon!

If you've been following my blog for a while and keeping up with my training diaries, you'll know that I was feeling more than ready for for a half marathon this time round compared to other training cycles. I was getting faster(despite no speed sessions?) and my long runs were going really well and I was feeling confident going into the race.

The best feeling! To recap, before I started training, I wrote a post on what I wanted to achieve come race day. Firstly, my main aim was to run the whole of the half marathon without stopping to walk. Second, I'd love to get a time of 2:15 or under.. but was happy with any PB.

So with that in mind, how did I get on?

The Morning Of..
We woke at 5:45AM to have breakfast and get dressed, ready for a relatively shorter drive(compared to other races I do) to Park & Ride in Milton. We were advised to get there for 7:30AM as it would be busy, however we arrived at 7:20 and it was pretty much empty with no queues. Bus passes were already sent to us in our race packs, so that was no problem and we hopped on the bus to keep warm.

We arrived into the race village before 8AM, so we had 1hr 30 to kill before race start and quickly realised I probably should have brought more layers to wear before the race. The race village was on Midsummer Common and was all grass, out in the open with no cover. The wind was very gusty and I got cold very quickly!
Photo Credit: Cambridge Half Marathon FB Page
Our first stop was the loos, there was virtually no queue at this point which is always a bonus, afterwards we just had to keep walking around to keep warm(it didn't really help!).

We had another pit stop at the loos about 45mins before race start, the queues had built up but weren't horrendous and were moving fairly quickly.. until we got out and noticed that the queues were massive.. good job we always get there early and go again before things get bad!

Eventually, it was time to ditch our layers and get ready for race start, at which point it started to rain! It was going from bad to worse. I'd decided on a t-shirt, shorts and compression sleeves for race day, so I was not feeling too good about getting rid of my hoody.

For the next 20-30 minutes, I had to stand in the wind and the rain, shivering uncontrollably waiting to be able to go into the start pens and ready to start.

I was in the last wave based on my predicted time, so had to wait for another wave to go first before getting in the pens with sensible people who had brought disposable layers/bin bags/waterproof ponchos(I will have to get some of these!).

I was soaked and freezing before we'd even started, so I was a bit apprehensive about how the race was gonna go.. but I was going to give it my best shot!

The Race
Red wave started at around 9:40AM. I was pretty much numb at the start and it was so hard to get going. I must say, the support at the start of the race was incredible - thank you to those standing out in the wind and the rain to support us all!

The first few miles were pretty rough for me. I was having a hard time trying to get warm and my legs were like lead from being cold for so long. The route lead through the city, past Round Church, the Market, Kings College and Fitzwilliam Museum(which are always spectacular to see, the buildings are gorgeous!).
There were a couple of really tight places at the start(almost bottlenecks where we almost had to stop completely) The roads are also not completely closed during the race and there was often traffic on the other side of the roads and lots of junctions with cars waiting for runners before crossing/turning. Also on a few occasions, I almost ran into people with bikes whole were trying to cross the roads in between runners. :/

After mile 3, we exited the city towards Trumpington, which was pretty much straight roads all the way down until the War Memorial taking us to mile 5.

The route then headed out towards Grantchester with most of it being in residential areas. Between miles 6 and 8  was very out in the open with lots of fields surrounding(and some lovely views).. and being out in the open also came with a lot of wind(not that we hadn't had enough during the route anyway!)

At mile 9, we were heading back into the city, passing Fitzwilliam museum for a second time, following some of the roads we'd ran down earlier in the race. Close to 10 miles, we ran over Garret Hostel Bridge, which has more lovely views crossing over the river.
After 10.7 miles, it's a retrace of the opening 2.4 miles of the race so we were back in familiar territory and the support was immense. Crowds were out in full force to cheer on runners.

The last drinks station was just before 11 miles - there were 4 in total out on the course and all were spectacularly organised with lots of volunteers, there were small water bottles available and IsoGels from High5 to take which was a nice addition even though I pick up any.

Thought my training, I haven't actually been using much in terms of fuel other than a couple of jelly babies.. sometimes I would take them with me and not actually have them so I would do some long runs without fuel.. my race ended up being like that too. I'd taken some jelly babies with me in my running belt.. but I totally forgot about them.

The last few miles were a bit of a blur, after 11 miles, I really started to flag.. probably because of my lack of fuelling, which was totally my fault and I'll work on this for my next race. The last mile or so of the race was me holding back tears.. the amount of support was overwhelming. There were people that didn't know me calling my name and willing me to finish.
With the finish line in sight, I gave it a final push and as I crossed the finish line and came to a stop.. I started sobbing! A lovely volunteer came running up to me(probably thought I was gonna collapse or couldn't breathe.. in fairness, my breathing went to sh*t once I started crying! xD). He held my hand and comforted me and made sure I was OK before I went on forward to go and find Phillip and his mum.

I hadn't looked at my watch after I finished, I had no idea if I'd managed to get the time I wanted, I knew I was close but the last 3 miles I'd slowed right down so I wasn't sure. So I was pleased to see 2:15:23 and got a text message not long after with an official time of 2:15:20 - meaning I shaved 2 minutes 18 seconds off my PB which I was totally happy about! Woohoo! :D

I'd beaten both of my goals that I set out before training. I ran the whole race without stopping.. though I was very close to walking in the last mile.. if it wasn't for the crowd support I'm sure I would have and I got 2:15 too!

Just goes to prove that when I put in the hard work with my training, it really does pay off and I can do whatever I set my mind to! :D

Overall Thoughts
I thought the race as a whole was awesome, the support was incredible most of the way round, the course was great, some running through the city, taking in some spectacular buildings, with some running out in the open too for a bit of scenery change.

The course was 'flat and fast' but there were hills in there for sure, so it wasn't all flat.. unless of course they aren't really hills and I don't know the meaning of them as I actually live in a flat area! ;)

The water stations were well organised, kudos to all the volunteers! You did an amazing job!

Annnnnd of course I wouldn't be racing if there weren't a medal.. and it was a pretty big one which I was stoked about!
We got a goodie bag at the end of the race, filled with lots of leaflets, a packet of crisps, a banana, a protein snack bar. We also got given a bottle of water, a can of alcohol free beer with isotonics and vitamins for recovery and a box of Ladival Sun Protection cream(which I had to laugh at given the weather.. maybe an umbrella would have been better ;) I joke!).

My only major negative about the race was baggage collection after the race and others have had the same opinions. The queues were horrendous and given people were cold and wet from finishing the race, it was not great to be stood in an hour queue for warm clothes. From what I was told, it looks as though the race numbers were in wave order, so the lower numbers were the first wave and the last wave was the higher numbers, this means that as the first runners arrived back, they would all be waiting for bags in the same section, this doesn't make sense if you want to avoid queues.

Typically in other races I've done, the race numbers have been spread across queues or the baggage drop is done via surname to avoid huge queues like this. So I think this definitely needs some work!

A minor negative was the fact that the grass area for the race village/start area was completely trashed after the event and was like a mud bath and very slippery! I would be surprised if people didn't slip! I almost went over a couple of times with very stiff legs.

Other than this, I couldn't fault the race at all and I'll definitely be signing up for next years event!

I have a few other events lined up over the next couple of months, keep an eye out for a post in a few days time with an update on what I have coming up next!

Question: Do you have a favourite race with a great route/landmarks? What types of items do you like to see in a race goody bag? Do you race for a medal? or for times?

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  1. Well done for pushing through that final bit! Sounds like you did great, despite the rain :) Congratulations lovely, good job, well done! What's next?

  2. MELISSA CUNNINGHAM13 March 2017 at 22:52

    Congrats on your new PR! And for pushing through without walking and for braving the weather! So proud of you and that you accomplished your goals!!!!🏆🏆 I always enjoy races that have practical swag bags- chapstick, water bottle, sweat towel.im not picky though! Anyways, I enjoyed reading about your race, do you have any more races planned yet?

  3. Well done on the new PB! The medal is awesome


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