Running | Cambridge Half Marathon 2017

I recently got told that the latest sports psychology is changing the ways we set goals. Rather than approaching a race with a single goal in mind, we should aim to set three: Goal A, B and C so that if we miss our largest goal we can still celebrate our achievements rather than being disheartened or even giving up.

As I walked the mile from my house to my 5th Cambridge Half Marathon, the Speedster asked what I was aiming for. With Ironman training currently my primary goal the truth is I didn't know. The weather was set to be dreadful, I'd been training for a different goal but I also felt strong. Taking new sports psychology in to thinking I decided my Goal A was to beat my slowest time: 2 hours 44 minutes. After all I had no aims for the day just to enjoy it. Last year I paced a friend round their first half so beating last year's time of 2hours 10 minutes became goal B and finally Goal C was to break the 2 hour mark.

On Step Beyond took over the organisation of the Cambridge Half Marathon to bring back the event 6 years a go and since then I've completed 5 of the events, avoiding the year of the snow, and these 5 events have tracked virtually my whole history of running. The race on the day followed the same course as last year, a course I really enjoyed, which included a long out and back to the beautiful village of Grantchester, a regular route for me when I'm doing long runs from home so mentally a great section.

Race organisation was great on the day with bag drop really near the start and plenty of loos once you'd gone through to the start - all great thoughts by these experienced race organisers. The weather however was on no-one's side. The bin bags were running low at home so I donned my swing bin bag and stood shivering in the 5 degree pouring rain not feeling the happiest I've felt on a Sunday morning. This is the time I love being part of the Cambridge parkrun family - 5 different smiley park runners later all joking about how stupid our hobby of running was and I was feeling much happier.

I decided to set off in the second wave with the 2 hour-ish finish timers and after two kilometres running with my arms trapped inside my bag I decided I had to embrace the elements and just go for it. Adrenaline, not looking at my watch and the miserable weather saw me reach the 5k in 24:33, 40 seconds off a PB. Slightly shocked when I realised this I thought I'd just keep plodding to the 10k and reformulate what I was aiming for from there. Through Grantchester and out the other side I reached the 10k in 51:53. Suddenly my head started working out the timings. Amusingly, until I looked it up for this blog I thought my PB was 1:52 (turns out it was actually 1:55:57!) so I worked out I needed to run 5:30km consistently to reach a sub-1:52 time.

Photo: Paul Beastall

I'm not going to say it was easy. Around 15km I found it tough because my legs hurt and my brain couldn't understand why. But all too quickly I'd weaved back in to Cambridge, round my familiar home city and was approaching the long finishing straight. Crossing the line I broke down in to tears. 1:50:48. All the hard work getting ready for Ironman was paying off. I had just smashed my PB.

Celebrating with my wonderful friends afterwards I was reminded of why I love the Cambridge half so much: for me I celebrate my community's times: my amazing friend Pamela who just ran her first (and last!) half marathon in 2 hours 44 minutes, my friend Chris who finished 6th with a new PB in spite of having a not perfect race build up and my number 1 fan, the Speedster, who finally managed to break 90 minutes in the half running in at 1:29:55.

I need a new set of goals: one that primarily sees me running with my community, because that is what the Cambridge half marathon is for me. Community challenging the individuals within it to smash limits they didn't think were possible.

Until next year!

Finish time: Gun Time

Hours Minutes Seconds

Distance21097 metres
Position   (based on gun time)
Overall2401 of 6887
Female458 of 3158
Senior female140 of 721
Chip time 1:50:48
Finish time 1:50:57
Start time9:38:09
End time11:28:57


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