Cambridge Half

Ryan Phillips Tuesday, 12 March , 2013
The end of week 14 of my marathon training plan saw me, along with the majority of the Men's/Women's Running Magazine Project participants runners line up in one of the countries most historic cities as part of the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon. For many, myself included this would be the first taste of a real race this side of Christmas and a good indicator of how of training is coming along and our current level of fitness. It was here that we could also see if we were on track to hit our marathon targets. The weekend started with checking in the Cambridge Premier Inn with Jemma and the kids and was immediately met by Jonny, Ken and Tommy from race sponsor and Project partner Saucony, Coaches Nick & Phoebe, along with Bernie, Hollie, and Helen. Aaron, Steve, Mark and Sheila were also staying over but at various hotels in the city. We all got together in the hotel bar along with Raph from High5 to discuss any training worries we may have had and to go over race day tactics and preparation, Raph then gave a very informative chat about how we can maximise results with the correct nutritional plan for the next day, training and the days leading up to our respective marathons. We all headed into Cambridge for a meal which would be the first opportunity for us all to chat in a relaxed social environment, and also for us all to meet each others partners, children etc. It turned out to be a great night and was just the right tonic for any pre-race nerves that may have been creeping in, not that we would have admitted it of course!

The following morning I was up bright and early to get my essential carbs in, in the form of muesli with pumpkin seeds, honey on wholemeal toast and a 700ml of High5 Energy Source - perfect! At least that pretty much what experienced runner Simon Freeman was having and looking at his PB's thought 'Well if it works for him'. The only downside so far was the fact that Cambridge had somehow forgotten that it was early March in England and not Siberia and had thoughtfully covered the streets with a lovely coat of white snow during the night, very pretty and scenic but not great when your planning on running a PB on the cities slippery cobbles!!!   We arrived at the Start/Finish area on Jesus Common via the efficient Park & Ride service with just enough time to stow away our bags at the 'Project 26.2' tent, receive a good luck kiss from the wife (my own I might add) and converge on the start line with Aaron and Mark. We all agreed the best thing to do was to ease into the first 3k and gradually wind it up. Mark and I were aiming for around 1:34, however seconds before that start I spotted the 1:30 pacer and thought "why not?" - surprisingly after the first mile we were a few seconds ahead of him and I fought the temptation to keep with him and carried on regardless. As I hit the half way mark, and some much needed encouragement from Jemma & the kids, Aaron's partner Angela and Nick I started thinking I had overcooked the first 6 miles and was seriously doubting whether I could maintain the pace for another 7 miles. Thanks in no small part to the great High5 IsoGels I actually managed to finish the second lap slightly faster than the first and came in at a time of 1:28:14, which I am absolutely ecstatic about. As I said I had planned on a time of around 1:34 so to go 6 min faster than that was out of this world! This worked out at an average of 6:41 minute miles which is not too dissimilar to my threshold training runs, so to maintain that for 13.1 miles was something I didn't think would be possible this early on in my running life, I had previously set myself a target of running a sub 1:30 half by this time next year, I'll have to rethink that now. It just goes to show what can be achieved by preparing properly in terms of nutrition, training programme and kit. Having a fantastic family and world class support team helps slightly too ;-)

A BIG shout out must go to the supporters who braved the freezing conditions to stay out and spur us on throughout the run, namely Jemma, Aaron's partner Angela, who was an absolute godsend in helping Jemma with the kids and Steve's partner Natasha who had strategically position herself in the city centre to shout out support on the 3 or 4 times we passed - It all helped massively and they deserved a medal every bit as much as we did!

I've also recently started going along to my local college for a Sports Massage every Monday night to give the muscles some much needed TLC - I'm lucky enough to have been assigned not 1 but 2 top quality Sport's Therapists in Nathan and Mike who do an excellent job in releasing the tension from the heavy legs and they're really helping me to push myself that little bit harder in training. They've really inspired em to look into doing my own Sports Therapy course and helping others as they've helped me.

Until next time people - Take Care! Follow on twitter @Philly3719.


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