It was great to have the Cambridge Half Marathon back.
In 2018 they dropped the race down to a 10K and I was worried that it would disappear completely.
Cambridge Half Marathon 2019 Race Day Begins
The forecast was for colder weather and possibly rain, so the race director moved race day bib pickup inside the mall. When I saw that email I worried about a cold and wet race.
Another twist was that we turned our clocks back the night before the race. I am challenged enough by time zones!
I changed my watch and set the alarm before I went to bed. I also set the alarm on my phone but was not 100% confident that it would automatically adjust.
Both alarms went off around 5:45 and I was able to get out of the house by about 6:00. A little later than I wanted to, but I was charging my phone.
I had considered taking The T or parking at work. As I drove down Land Blvd it became clear that parking at The Cambridgeside was my best option.
By the time I found a place to park it was 45 minutes to race time. I had cut things a little too close.
So much for a porta-pit-stop.
I sat in my car and sorted my stuff. I took just my phone and a gel in my belt. No water bottles or anything else.
I stuffed my race shirt and some other items in my drop bag and headed for bag drop. The elevators were quick, but the mall was packed with runners. I made my way out to 1st Street, stuffed my jacket in my bag, tagged it and handed it over.
I was ready to run.
Running the Cambridge Half Marathon 2019
They had assigned bib numbers by your self reported estimated finish time. My bib was 5217 but I lined up near the back of the pack.
I knew the lower numbered corrals would be packed and make it difficult to have a good start. My buddy Don Keren sent a message that he was in that pack of runners down the street. I decided to stay put.
It probably took five minutes to cross the starting mats. No worries for me.
As we headed down First Street I was able to run a decent pace but still to look around. I work in the area but was surprised at how much construction was going on. It never seems to end in Cambridge.
On Saturday I had tried to remove a huge stone from a deep hole in my garden. I pried and pushed the stone towards the surface. I made progress, but the stone is still in the ground.
I was at it for about three hours and really worked my legs, back and butt. Not the best way to prep for a half marathon!
As I got up to speed I could feel all of the muscles from my neck down. Nothing hurt, but they were all tired. I wondered how this would effect my race.
At about a quarter mile we tuned right onto Binney Street. A nice wide street with lots of new buildings. It was pretty cool running down a street that is normally congested with traffic.
Soon we crossed 3rd Street. A busy intersection that I go through five days a week. No waiting for lights, bicycles or pedestrians today!
3rd Street turned into Galileo Galilel Way. As we made the turn I noticed that another building was missing. I think that Cambridge Plumbing Supply used to be there. Probably another lab for MIT is taking it’s place.
Galileo crossed Broadway and then Main Street. Two other hellacious intersections. But on Sunday morning a bunch of half marathon runners had carte blanche!
After we crossed Main Street my watch hit mile one at 9:10. Not bad for a crowded start.
The Middle of the Cambridge Half Marathon 2019
This year we wound through the MIT Campus and some of the Harvard campus. I ran through places I had never been before.
As we ran down Mass Ave I looked right to see the Kresge Oval across the street from MITs engineering schools. I had never noticed the large park and open space. It was really cool.
Then we took a right onto Amherst Street and ran past this vast open space and then onto Amherst Alley. We were now behind MIT’s athletic fields and there were MIT police watching out for us.
As we ran by I thought about Officer Shawn Collier who was killed by the Boston Marathon bombers. I believe that his name is on the MIT score board.
The alley was more of a street, but not as wide as Mass Ave. Then we took a right onto a narrow path that crossed Vassar Street and wrapped around Fort Washington Park.
It was cool to see areas of Cambridge I had never seen before but running on a narrow path with 5,000 runners kind of sucked.
Then we exited onto Putnam Ave where we passed Whole Foods. Putnam is good for running and I picked up my pace. Just after Western Ave we hit mile three and took a left down Hingham Street towards Memorial Drive.
We ran Memorial Drive up to Riverbend Park and went over the John Weeks Bridge. The first real “hill” on the course. We took a right off of the bridge onto the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path which is the path along Soldiers Field Road. It was narrow and I had to run in the grass to pass people.
Then we crossed Soldiers Field Road and headed down North Harvard Street. I used to travel this road when I took my kids to school. Traffic was always a cluster here and it was nice to be able to run through the intersection and down this busy street.
We hit mile four just before entering Harvard Stadium.
I had never been to Harvard Stadium and we ran down one side of the field and up the other! I took my gel here at about 4.38 miles. The field is Astro Turf which seemed easy to run on.
That was a cool run.
We ran through most of Harvard’s athletic facilities and out along Soldier’s Field Road again.
You can tell that Harvard and MIT have more money than they know what to do with. Everything is top notch or being built so it will be. It’s amazing how many buildings are going up or coming down.
Anyway, back to running!
After the loop-ti-loo trip through Harvard we were back on the trail between Soldier’s Field Road and the Charles River. The path is narrow and winding which makes for a crowded run.
At mile six we crossed under the Elliot Bridge. Thankfully the path was not totally flooded!
We continued along the paved paths through the parks along The Charles River. Still a little crowded but not to winding.
We hit mile seven just after Artesani Playground and took a right across the Arsenal Street bridge. Another small hill and tight turn onto the bridge.
We were now past the halfway point and running east beside Greenough Blvd. This is a nice wide sidewalk which I’ve run several times for other races. The crowd had thinned enough that I was able to make some good time.
We hit mile eight at a crook in the river and my mile pace was 8:54. I had slowed on the path along the river and all of the turns.
We crossed the Elliot Bridge again near BB&N and got back onto the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path next to Memorial Drive. There was plenty of room to run and many of us ran on the road.
Then we took a left onto JFK Street headed towards Harvard Square and deep into the Harvard Campus. Again, it was cool running down the middle of streets you normally have a hard time crossing!
At about 9.75 miles we turned east onto Mt. Auburn Street. There were people out cheering us and the sun was in my eyes! I could barely see anything.
Somewhere along this stretch of road I caught up to my buddy Don Keren. It’s funny how you can identify someone by the way they run. Often I can tell who someone is by their silhouette.
Don seemed to be doing okay but I was kind of surging at this point in the race. We kind of shook hands and exchanged words. After a while he told me he couldn’t keep up the pace and I headed off.
I hit mile ten on this road at 8:27. With only a 5K to go, I was running strong.
Shortly after hitting mile ten we took a right onto Putnam Street and passed the Whole Foods again. It still seems odd to see this huge store in a dense neighborhood.
Putnam Street is nice and wide with plenty of room to run.
I still felt pretty good and kept pushing. As Putnam crossed Pearl Street we hit mile eleven and my split was 8:14. I was getting faster!
With only 2.1 miles to go I felt confident and ready to give it my all. I knew I wasn’t going to PR or even do better than my last half which was on a more challenging course. But I had spent hours trying to excavate a huge stone the day before and my entire body was tired.
At the end of Putnam we took a left onto Waverly Street and passed Fort Washington Park again. This time we didn’t have to wind through narrow paths!
Putnam turned into Albany Street and I was on familiar road. I kept pushing and making my turns as efficient as possible. I was working this thing!
At mile twelve we veered left onto Portland Street and my split was 8:19.
We took a right onto Main Street towards Third Street. Plenty of room to run on both of these streets.
At one point it seemed like everyone in front of me was moving away from me. I was not keeping up. Could have been a lack of glucose in the old noggin, as I soon passed all of them!
In the heart of Kendall Square we took a left onto Third Street and headed for Athaneum Street.
I still felt pretty good and kept breathing deeply to keep up my energy.
At the end of Athaneum we took our final left onto First Street and headed towards the finish.
As the finish line came into view I couldn’t help but think how far away it looked. Just like Boylston Street! Not another receding finish line!
I kicked in everything I had left for the final 0.15 miles and clocked a pace of 6:56. They even announced my name as I approached the finish line.
As I approached the finish I knew I had not broken any records, but I had run a well run race. I ran a good race and was able to finish strong.
With all of the twists and turns and narrow paths, I probably lost two or three minutes. It was still an interesting run and a better race then 2017.
Run well my Friends,