2016 felt like the year of inaugural races and I loved it! :)
I have been a lover of the Cambridge 5k series since moving back to Boston in 2012. The vibe, the atmosphere, the energy, the beer. It's all up my alley!
So when Eddie O, the race director of the Cambridge 5k series, announced he would be launching his first-ever half marathon... you know I was on board.
The Cambridge Half took place on November 13 and was the first or second half for a majority of our Slumbrew Happy Soles. I loved seeing my friends going out of their comfort zones and tackling such an amazing task while being supported 110% by the rest of the team. For those not running, they were volunteering on the course or at the Finish Line. It was fantastic to see Happy Soles at every turn that morning.
Page would be my running partner on this day as I went to tackle Half Marathon #46, and 6th in a 9-week stretch. The course looked to be flat and fast. Again it looked that way. Yeah we all know I don't look at these things very closely.
The 2016 Cambridge Half started at CambridgeSide then wound its way through East Cambridge, Inman Square, Porter Square, Fresh Pond, Belmont Center, Harvard Square & Central Square before finishing back at CambridgeSide.
The Start Corral was a bit of a disaster as folks decided not to line up following the Pace Markers, but instead just come out from inside the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall parking garage (where bib pick-up/after party would be) and enter the corral from that point. Hello cluster. Since we didn't care where we lined up, we stayed with the mass of people rather than try to push up to the front.
Now the race director made ample announcements for people to get into the corrals early if they were looking to line up with a particular group, but apparently very few people opted to listen. :P
We couldn't hear much from where we were standing, but it was passed along from the front that the National Anthem was being sung so we all hushed down.
When people started moving is when we assumed the gun went off and the race would be starting. Yup I was totally paying attention... or chatting with Page and Susan.
We headed out on Cambridge St and Page, Susan and I fell into a good grove. Susan was actually trying to keep her pace in the 10s as she is training for her first marathon so she bid us adieu after Mile 1. I knew we would catch up with her again... it always happens to Page and I.
Page and I fell into our normal running and catch-up rhythm.
Mile 1: 9:26
Mile 2: 9:15
Mile 3: 16:20
I realized that I had to go to bathroom early on as I had skipped waiting in the endless port-o-potty bathroom line before the race. Thankfully we found a port-o-potty spot at the Firehouse outside Harvard Square just after the water stop. Can you tell we took a bathroom break while looking at our pace for Mile 3. :P
After an enjoyable mid-race break, we headed back out and joined the rest of the racers heading out on to Mass Ave. Since we had an extended time in Mile 3, it allowed many of our friends to catch up to us. This meant I got to cheer on and creepily creep up alongside many of them! :) I get way too much pleasure out of this.
I know many people do not enjoy running on bike paths/rail trails during races, but I really enjoy the time off the main road. Especially since it is normally in a space where I wouldn't run myself.
That happened during this race. We were on the bike path that is almost parallel to a space I run on a normal basis. Being open to different terrains and paths during a race is something I think a lot of people would benefit from embracing rather than immediately complaining once it occurs. Yes we heard a lot of that as we happily ran down the path, thanking volunteers and snapping pics.
Mile 4: 8:49
Mile 5: 9:38
Mile 6: 9:27
As we left the path and entered Belmont, we entered an adorable neighborhood where a TON of the local folks were out supporting the race. I wish I had snapped a pic, but there was a family offering up a bowl of candy to the runners. I may or may not have grabbed one of the last swedish fish in the bowl. Oops! Sorry runners behind me.
Just after that delicious snack, we turned to the left on to Concord Avenue and started making our way back to Cambridge.
So during this race, the water stops were actually in competition for best water stop. Whoever won would be getting a $$$ prize. These people brought their A game my friends. I wish I had grabbed a lei from the group on Concord Ave. Missed opportunity, but they had some great tunes to enjoy while we took a snack break.
Have I told you all lately that not much beats running in New England in the Fall? I mean can you even handle those gorgeous colors. :)
Mile 7: 9:03
Mile 8: 9:46
Mile 9: 9:21
It was Mile 9 where we realized there would be a little elevation on the course. Hello incline. Now this wasn't a daunting or big hill, just something neither Page nor I expected. Because as we all know I am a slacker when it comes to checking out race courses beforehand.
The Park had a good number of spectators which made the incline even more bearable. Cute kiddos offering high fives always take my mind off what I am currently going through. :P
Mile 10: 8:58
You know what happened right around Mile 10??? Page and I bumped back into Susan! YES indeed. I called during Mile 1 that that would happen. She was looking strong and moving at a good steady pace.
While we approached Harvard Square, it was finally sinking in that we were almost done with our fun run.
The volunteers were doing a great job. The spectators were bringing with their sign game. This was my favorite of them all. :)
I couldn't stop laughing a at this one.
We made our way back down Broadway in Cambridge towards the Finish, which was outside of the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall.
I was psyched to spy a few runners from Team With A Vision! I am hoping to become more involved with this amazing group in 2017.
Mile 11: 9:24
Mile 12: 8:48
The BEST part of the race was seeing these smiling friends as we came down the final mile. My Slumbrew Happy Soles know how to ROCK my world AND know that I need them to stop, drop and selfie with me at the drop of a dime.
Seeing those smiling faces put a little pep in our step as we finished the final mile of the race.
Mile 13: 8:15
FINAL TIME: 2:09:13 (9:52 min/mile pace)
You can see I got that the course was long by about 1/4 a mile. I asked some of my friends and random races if they got the same and they pretty much did as well.
Please Note: I have received word the Cambridge Half was a USATF certified course. Found here. As we know I am someone as many are that do not run a race on the tangent and can tack on additional mileage.
We grabbed our kick ass medal, water from my friend Monica then turned right around to line the Finish chute so we could cheer in the rest of our team members.
Boy I LOVE being a race spectator!!! It is such a thrill to watch people giving it their all and see so many accomplish something they never thought possible.
Once our team had all finished, we headed back into the parking garage to enjoy the post-race party aka BEER TIME!
Since we were the second-biggest team, we had a VIP tent to hang out in, but we ended up congregating behind the Slumbrew pouring station.
I would love to share a team pic here, but it has gone missing. I had someone take it, but we never saw it show up in the race photos. :/ You can trust me that it was epic.
I enjoyed some Swissbaker pretzels and Slumbrew beer with the crew before heading out before the dance party started. I heard it was an epic time as always.
It has already been announced that Cambridge Half will be back in 2017 and I can't wait to register.
Thank you Eddie and team for bringing a kickass half marathon to the Cambridge area.
Have you found a local race that you have run every year since the beginning?
Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary entry into this race, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!