“Nerves are good. They show it matters!”
With Josie’s words ringing in my ears, I pressed my watch ‘start’ and set off. I’d not gone out for a PB for ages, and the fear was as real as ever, bubbling away inside me.
The first mile was congested, and whilst I tried to keep calm and not dart around, I couldn’t help but get a bit panicked at how off pace I thought I was getting. I tried not to look at my watch at all and keep at a pace I thought might be 7.11 minute miles. Finally the group started thin out, and I started to settle in and take in the route without feeling stressed. We cruised though the city, and out into the countryside, past horses and people cheering out of their windows. The volunteers and the crowds were great, especially given the rubbish weather for pretty much the entire race.
I tried to make sure I kept in a group that felt like they were running roughly the same pace as me, and guessed most people around me were aiming to dip under 1 hour 35. As I got more settled and the rain eased off, I started to get a bit competitive, and tried to pick of people in front of me. As the miles ticked into double figures, I tried and failed to do the maths of what time I was going to come in at to take my mind off my legs beginning to tire and my brain drift into what I was going to eat in the pub.
With 5K to go, I started to really want to give up and I had to block out everything and just run. I had tried for the whole race not to look at my watch and run on feel, and things were starting to feel bad, but I could also feel I was on to a good time. But at the last hurdle things nearly fell apart: my mantra for the race had been ‘run the mile your in’ – which for mile 12 was ‘run into all the headwind and up the only hill and hold on as best you can’, and it seemed to go on forever. Finally, the finish came into view and off we all went to power on through the finish. My ‘kick’ is pretty useless, and so it always feels like I’m going the wrong way on a conveyor belt, but I was super pleased to finally cross the line and just. stop. running.
I managed to take 2 minutes off last year’s Cambridge time, and finished in 1:34:16, which I’m delighted with. I still think I’ve got fuel in the tank for faster too, so I’ll have to look for a summer race to take it on again.
This year’s race in Cambridge felt much bigger than in 2016, and I wasn’t massively impressed with the organisation given the increase in numbers and probably won’t be back until they’ve ironed some things out… Thanks for the PB though!