Last week I found myself hoping, for the first time in my life, that the snow would go away. For Sunday was the Cambridge half marathon and since coming back from a period of illness over Christmas I’ve been training hard to maybe this time, finally, go below 90 minutes. I was quite confident I’d be able to do it: two weekends ago I went out and ran 15km at an average of 4:07/km, which left room to go slower and still come in below an hour and a half if I could keep it up. In fact, it raised the tantalising possibility of beating my friend and rival Dave’s all-time best of 88 minutes.

So I was distraught by the possibility the race might be cancelled, or that it might go ahead in poor conditions with slush or ice on the roads that would make it impossible to run at a decent pace. Or that, although hills aren’t a problem in Cambridgeshire, the winds unobstructed by our flatness would push me back. But the weather turned at just the right time, the wind dropped, the roads cleared, and the temperature rose to a balmy 5°C. Perfect conditions in fact.

And, uh, yeah it went really well, I’m sub-90 now. Sub-84 actually: my timing chip registered 01:23:59 (3:58/km), which I couldn’t really believe for a while (although my thighs could). It’s still nothing remarkable—I came in 184th place in the race overall—but I’ve been running for seven years and that’s faster than I ever thought I’d be. And 184th out of over seven thousand isn’t bad. I am pleased. I had seven pancakes for lunch and two burgers for dinner on Sunday. My thighs still hate me.

I’ve been saying for a while now that I’d like to do a full marathon just the once, not to get a specific time but to just make sure I can do the distance and run all the way around it. But now I’m thinking, maybe if I did a couple and really trained I could go under 3 hours? Stay tuned.

sprint finish

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© Tom Harris 2015–2018.

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