Cambridge Half Race Recap (a “just for fun” race)

I’m going to start this race with a confession (runfession?): I am really, really susceptible to peer pressure–especially when it comes from other runners. After crushing my goals for my half last weekend, I was feeling a little bit jealous that a ton of my local runner friends were signed up for yesterday’s Cambridge Half Marathon. I ran the inaugural Cambridge Half last year absolutely loved it–and I also loved the Oktoberfest 5k organized by the same company. So when a teammate had a bib for sale for half price, I jumped on it, figuring I would pace a few friends and just run for fun.

The first warning sign came with a very strongly worded warning to pick up our bibs before race morning. Having been warned that the lines were long on Friday, I went on the later end of the Saturday pickup and was stunned to walk into the back of what was apparently a 40 minute line to pick up bibs and jackets. Luckily, I ran into a friend (thanks Chris!!) who grabbed my confirmation and picked my bib up for me, but then it took us more than 30 minutes just to get out of the mall’s parking garage.

Come race morning, I left my house planning to arrive at 6:30 am (according to my GPS), a full hour before race start. It was marginally too early to take public transit, which I would have preferred–especially because I then sat in traffic for an extra 35 minutes trying to get into the garage, missing the Oiselle team picture 😦 Things were hectic and disorganized, and I couldn’t find the bag check or the bathroom before the staff starting yelling with megaphones for everyone to get to their starting corrals. Luckily I stumbled into some teammates in the corral and we took off, keeping things conversational and comfortable. At mile 5 I popped into a porto potty and then managed to find my friend Sarah, who I had promised to pace for her marathon workout. Unfortunately, a couple of factors were working against us–the rain had picked up and the 7,000 runners were herded on and off of a narrow series of dirt paths. The crowding was made even worse as everyone tried to avoid the mud pits and puddles that were rapidly forming. With our shoes soaked and the traction not being ideal, we kept the pace under control to make sure Sarah gets to her goal race uninjured.

Finally we hit a long paved path towards the finish, where we picked it up for the last three miles, hitting splits at 8:33, 8:18, 8:06, and 7:15 for the .1. Appropriately, the race ended with a series of huge puddles mixed the red clay of the path. Dirty and soaked to the bone, I crossed the finish at 1:54:02, feeling pretty good and fresh after last weekend’s hard effort. We headed inside to change into dry clothes, and the attempted to navigate a super confusing after party with lots more long lines. There were mimosas, bloody mary’s, beer, and cider on hand–and apparently lots of food, but everything was so spread out it was hard to find. Luckily we managed to find some treats and grab a few well-deserved drinks before heading out.

While the rain definitely didn’t add anything, this race was one of the least well-organized events I’ve ever run. On top of the long lines, lack of direction, and overcrowded course, they lost a bunch of the jackets so people couldn’t get the sizes they had ordered, and the photos are all dumped into one 700-photo album instead of being searchable by bib number. Overall, this race was pretty frustrating–and would have been even more so if I had been running for time or if I had paid the full ticket price of over $100. That said, it’s always fun hanging with my birds and it was a super motivating way to get a long run in.

Back soon with a recap of the Prospect Park Turkey Trot I’ll be running with my brother on Thanksgiving! Anyone else have fun turkey trots on tap?

 

Cambridge Half Marathon Race Recap and BIG NEWS!

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NRC Gals: before!

Hey all! I’ve been off the grid a little bit recently trying to clear my head after last week’s election debacle. After a few good cries watching this and some time to grieve, I think it’s really healthy for all of us to move up and out of the negativity and treat ourselves to some TLC, which for me meant pushing forward full steam ahead into this weekend’s half marathon. I had been going back and forth about my plans and goals for this race–part of me wanted to just run to enjoy it and not worry about pace at all, and part of me knew that I had a PR in me and that I owed it to myself to give it my all. Spoiler alert–my competitive side definitely won out and I ended up PRing by more than 3 minutes!

While this was the first-ever running of the Cambridge Half Marathon, the race organizers are true pros and have organized a series of popular 5ks in the area. I picked up my bib and shirt on Saturday at the Cambridgeside Galleria, and the despite a decent line the process was really smooth. Sunday morning I woke up at 6, ate my new favorite race day oatmeal from Run Fast Eat Slow, and then Jeremy gave me a lift over to the mall for the race start. 14991305_10155391215334256_1337456909081040667_oProbably the weirdest part of this race was the fact that all of the race-related events (including the after party) took place in the parking garage of the mall–but it actually was totally fine. I dropped my bag at the bag check, waited in the porto lines (long but nothing unexpected), and then happily happened to run into the track gals as I tucked into the 8 minute mile corral.

The start was a little bit chaotic since all 6,000 runners went off at once, but it pretty quickly evened itself out and I didn’t have to do too much bobbing and weaving to get into a comfortable part of the pack. Local Boston-area races like this one tend to attract a fast crowd, and this was no exception. The course was really lovely–some small rolling hills but mostly flat, and on a mix of roads and scenic paved paths.img_0903 There were a few crowded moments along the way, but again, nothing that really slowed me down. I used to live in Cambridge and it was a blast to run through some of my old haunts! The weather was absolutely perfect too–in the upper 40s at the start to lower 50s by the end. I spent the first few miles feeling things out and found myself feeling decently comfortable running 7:25-7:30s. I didn’t let myself get too excited, but I picked it up a bit and squeaked out two 7:14s during miles 6 and 7. The next few miles were a bit slower, but I started doing the math in my head and decided to negative split the last three miles to solidify my PR. I really kept my mental game on point for this race, using the mantra “fast and relaxed” and envisioning myself digging deep into the well to finish strong. At mile 11 I ran by Bry, who was volunteering, and yelled out “I’m going to PR!” Power of positivity, right??img_0899

The last three miles the crowd had thinned considerably–most of the runners I had been pacing with had dropped back, and I was mostly in a group of buff-looking dudes. So of course I channeled my inner nasty woman and gunned it, running my last mile at a 6:55 and sprinting it into the finish at a 6:11 pace. My official finish time was 1:36:55, which was certainly a new PR over the Hyannis Half which I ran in 1:40:27 back in February! I am beyond elated–this is something I’ve worked so hard for and it definitely felt like a little bit of redemption after Chicago. We celebrated with some cider and photos at the after party, and then J and I headed to a well-deserved brunch 🙂

A quick word about the gals in that picture above–I am beyond grateful to have found some awesome, welcoming running friends. Finding a crew that’s right for you isn’t easy, and the NRC track ladies have been amazing. More to come on this topic, which deserves its own post, but if you haven’t found the right running crew yet don’t give up! They are out there for you!

Last but not least–my BIG NEWS: as you might have noticed, the ole blog has a new name and a fresh new look! Shorter and Faster actually came up when we were running 200s at the end of a hard track workout–I immediately decided I wanted that on a t-shirt. Even better? On a blog! So welcome to the brand new Shorter and Faster… stay tuned for all of the adventures still to come!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap and Tuesdays on the run!