If you have a race report, and you're not an elite/fast runner, but just a 'normal' person (whatever that is!) doing it for fun or personal achievement, then please email it in!
7.15am. I opened my eyes with a positive mindset - I'm going to run the Cambridge half marathon! I'm young (i.e not yet receiving my pension), I'm healthy and I'm fit. I swing my legs out of bed and do a bit of stretching. After the many sleepless nights anticipating this day, I actually feel excited now that it has arrived.
7.35am. It looks bright outside, so I throw open the curtains. The world has turned white! Reset the mindset. A bit of snow isn't going to deter me. I've trained for this - I'm ready. Rethink the running gear that I laid out last night and move my bib number out by 3 layers.
8am. The snow is still falling and the wind is picking up. I'm starting to wonder if this really is such a good idea. Recite my mantra - I'm young(ish), I'm healthy and I'm fit. I eat my toast and banana, now is not the time to try new breakfast ideas. Okay, time to go.
8.30am. I leave the warm, comfortable cocoon of my car and battle the frigid wind to arrive at Midsummer Green. The warm-up gets the blood flowing back to my extremities - maybe the pleasure of a heated car seat was a mistake, now that I am outside and my rear end is frozen. The excitement of the people around me is contagious - once I warm up a bit, I think this might actually be fun.
9am We are directed to our Starting Pens and as I look around me, I see that there are people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Some are talking about previous races, others look as inexperienced as I am. At least in this Pen I think we are all just here to run our race, we're not really in competition. I'm young(ish), I'm healthy and I'm fit.
9.30 am. And they are off! The elite runners take off and we all move forward, slowly at first, picking up speed until we actually start to run. For about 10 paces, then we come to an abrupt halt. The crowds have not actually dissipated enough for us to really get started. Suddenly, it is our turn. As we approach the start line, the adrenalin starts to flow. We step over the sensors, the beep recording our start time, telling us that we are officially on our way. At this point, everyone is on a high.
Fast forward to Mile 1. This isn't so bad. My time looks good, a bit faster than I'd expected and I'm feeling good. The crowds cheering at the side of the road and the cars honking as they pass, add to the fun and help motivate me.
At the 2.3 mile water station, I figure I need to stay hydrated, so I grab a water pouch. Luckily I had watched the instructive video on how to open it. The big question was whether or not to stop at a Portaloo, but I decided I was all right to keep on going.
Not quite as fast-forward, but still moving along, at about 5.5 miles, the lead runner flew effortlessly past, on his second lap! Feelings alternate between envy and awe - if he can do it finish this, so can I. Inspired, I continue into Midsummer Common, stopping briefly, as Nature doesn't take into account that the clock is ticking. Sadly, I run past the turn-off to the finish line, I still have another lap to go.
Another mile under my belt as I pass the Mile 7 marker and realize that I'm more than half way there. Still feeling quite good, until I remember that this lap will be the hard one. I've run 7 miles regularly in training, but this is going to be new territory.
At 8.9 miles I approach the Drink Station and decide it's time for a gel. I'm thinking to myself that, prior to training for this race, a run would have involved a car and a stop for jam and scone. Unfortunately this gel doesn't have a scone attached, but hopefully it will help my energy levels, which are starting to wane.
By Mile 10, the balls of my feet are starting to hurt. I don't know how to "train" for this issue - they are fine for shorter runs, but once I cover around 10 miles, they start to throb. There are two men running together just ahead of me. One of them is running with a 20kg pack on his bag, which they appear to be taking turns to carry. Wow! Everywhere I look I see runners wearing tee shirts bearing the names of the charities that they are supporting or people that they are doing this run for. It really is inspirational to see so many out running, in support of some-one or something that they believe in. Mantra time - I am young(ish), I'm healthy and I'm fit. I can do this.
Mile 11.1 -As I run past the last drink station, I am offered a water pouch or Gin & tonic!! No, they said " isotonic" cartons. Too bad, a G&T sounds good right about now.
Back through Jesus Green and Midsummer Common, we seem to be zig-zagging all over the place. I can see where the finish arch must be, but unfortunately we are not taking the most direct route to it. My feet feel awful. I'm alternating between running with my toes scrunched up, stretched out, running on my toes, on the outside of my feet or on the inside but nothing seems to help. There are loads of people around, cheering us on, which really does help. Even if I'm not really "almost there", their enthusiasm does make me smile. As I reach yet another corner, I realize that I've just passed the Portaloos, which means I only have one short stretch until I'm in the finish funnel! Off I hobble to that last corner and then suddenly (well, not exactly) there is the glorious arch. I really do seem to be rejuvenated as I fly towards it. I'm actually passing people as my mantra runs through my head - I'm young, I'm healthy, I'm fit and and I've done it!! Family and friends are cheering wildly as I cross the finish line and am directed into a tent, to collect my medal and snacks. I trudge through the mud to be reunited with my family, glad it's over. But as we head back to the car and I am talking about my experience and I realize that my feet don't hurt anymore. Even scarier, I'm thinking to myself "hopefully the weather will be better next year when I do it again!"