I ended up shaving 10 minutes off the 2hr20min that I did in Singapore. Not too bad in isolation, but in context...wow, runners in Cambridge are serious. I saw a grand total of maybe 5 people walking. And unlike in Singapore, I did not finish in the top half of the women, let alone overall. So yes, in a way, it is quite demoralising and it's a bit of a harsh reminder of how average I am at running. But all in all, I think it could have gone worse. I could have been slower than in Singapore. And I really tried to do my best to hang in there, keep putting one leg in front of the other, not letting up until the end.
Alas, it was but an attempt, for I stopped for maybe half a minute at the last 2km (it's always the last 2km that kill), for I'd honestly felt like I couldn't go on anymore. Before that--or at least, I think it was before that--we had to run up a gently sloping bridge. The slope was so gentle that it would have been no big deal on any other occasion...but when you'd been running for 1.5 hours straight, probably more, that was just a bloody fucking nightmare. I was also groaning mentally when we ran along the Backs and cut into town via the Orgasm Bridge, so nicknamed by students because it's a steeply inclined bridge and when cyclists try to cycle up the slope, they grunt as if having an orgasm. Hence Orgasm Bridge, or O Bridge. How intellectual. Point is, when I saw that the route took us up the bridge, I was thinking, Fucking hell. When I started running up, the British man next to me muttered, 'Fucking hell.' It was funny because it was so British.
Like in Singapore, the absolute hardest part was the last 2, 3 kilometres. It was probably slightly harder this time because they marked distances by miles and I have no idea how many kilometres one mile is exactly, so I was relying on my Nike Run Club app. When my app said I had 300 metres to go, I sped up, thinking the pain would end soon...but I ran past a volunteer who shouted, '500 metres more!'
It's just 200 metres, right? NOT IF YOU'D BEEN RUNNING FOR 2 HOURS ALMOST NON-STOP AND YOUR LEGS ARE ABOUT TO GIVE WAY. I don't think words can adequately describe how deflated I felt when I heard that, and even the word 'deflated' is a massive understatement.
Luckily, it wasn't that windy for most of it, and the rain was but a light drizzle. Unfortunately, sometime around the last 2km, strong winds suddenly appeared along with a stitch in my left side. The lethal combination of these two things slowed me down tremendously and I think I really lost a lot of time there. That was why I even stopped.
Overall, I found it quite challenging to settle into a comfortable pace because of the number of people and narrow streets in the city centre. I was also looking down a lot because I wanted to avoid stepping into puddles (my shoes and socks were soaked anyway) and avoid tripping over the uneven parts of the roads (Cambridge really needs to repave their shitty roads). I also brilliantly did not pin the bottom two corners of my number tag to my shirt, so it kept flapping about in the wind and I had to keep it down, sometimes worried that it would fall off (it didn't). And because I didn't want to waste water, I ended up holding the small bottle of water that I took at the halfway mark in my hand for the rest of the race. Oh, and because I didn't bring any longsleeve compression tops from London, I wore one of E's, this really tight one, and I felt a bit suffocated at one point (when we were running in Grantchester). But I was glad to be wearing it when the wind appeared from nowhere and made a mess of things.
What I quite liked, though, was the support of the local people. There were people just standing along the route on the pavement, cheering the runners on, and even giving out candies. This happened more frequently when the route was in more residential areas, so I surmised that those people giving out food/candies lived in one of the houses on that street. That was really nice. And some guy on a bike joked about charging 25 pounds for a ride on his bicycle.
Finally, E was super sweet. The original plan to take the bus to town and walk to Midsummer Common was ruined by the fact that the bus starts only at 9am on Sundays (what the fuck, man?!). So he figured out the driving route, where to park, and got me there 5 minutes before I had to gather in my pen. I ended up spending 15 minutes queuing for the toilet, but at least I wasn't stressed about being late. He sacrificed his Sunday lie-in to get up at 7 and accompany me when he didn't have to. Super sweet, right? He was sad that he missed my finish. He was maybe a minute late. There's theoretically an online tracking, but the information was rather paltry, to say the least. It showed nothing after 10km. I was sure that I ran over at least four of the tracking things, so I was surprised that it provided only the start time, the 10km time and the finish time. Really useful for supporters that wanted to know the right time to make their way to the finish, right?
Raffie said the exact same thing when we finally found him and G. He also said the whole thing was a mess...which it was. There was just a huge mess of people middling about Midsummer Common and it took me way too long to first find E, then Raffie and G. Ah Raffie, my loyal supporter, who was the only one who came down to support the end of my 10km run two years ago. It was nice of him to come down this time given the crappy weather.
Apart from the last 2 or 3 km, the Singapore one was considerably tougher. I kept recalling the Singapore slugfest when I found myself struggling, and it actually worked. If you've been through the worst, the absolute worst, however bad it feels in the moment can only be better, right? I think so too.
E and I were thinking of going to the cinema tonight but nah, I think I'm too knackered!
(No photos because too lazy.)