It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since I’ve run The Cambridge Half Marathon. The race has been around for about six years.
In 2018 they went to a 10K race and I’m pretty sure they had to cancel the race at least one year during COVID.
The last time I ran the Cambridge Half was 2019. That year we had light rain during the race and some massive puddles from the prior evenings rain.
Getting ready for the Cambridge Half Marathon 2023
This year, rain was not in the forecast but a chill was in the air. Even the day before the race it was hard to know what we would get for weather. This being New England and all.
I hadn’t really prepared for this race. I paid attention to the weather and made sure my clothes made it through the laundry, but I wasn’t focused until Saturday.
I checked all my running gear bags, only to find I didn’t have any gels or bars. At Stop and Shop I picked up two Fit Crunch bars. They looked pretty good.
I decided not to wear my marathon belt which has two 8oz water bottles. The race had five water stops which I thought would be sufficient.
I often wear a running belt of some sort. The marathon belt also has a large pocket where I can stash my phone and a nutrition bar or gels. But it’s a bit much for a half.
My option was to wear something with pockets to hold a nutrition bar and perhaps my phone.
I have an old running vest with zippers that get stuck and an opening on the chest where there used to be a pocket. But, this vest had two side pockets which would hold my nutrition bar. I decided a phone would bounce around too much or fall out.
The decisions had been made! No water or phone. I selected a long-sleeved Under Armor shirt, MRC singlet and running hat, my old beat up vest, and cotton gloves. I chose my cool weather running shorts.
Cambridge Half 2023 Start
This race always falls on Daylight Savings Time day. I went to bed a bit nervous but with trust that my watch and phone would automatically make the shift. This year I woke up around 4AM and was having my first coffee by 4:30AM.
Around 5:50 I headed out and was parked in the garage by 6:10.
I wasn’t doing bag drop and wasn’t meeting anyone so I hung out in my warm car until 6:40 or so.
As I got out of my car and headed for the stairs I looked down and realized I forgot to wear my knee brace! Yikes! That’s what casual planning will get you.
It was a WTF moment and I was kicking myself. Was I really ready to run a half without it?
As I went down the stairs my knee didn’t twinge and I decided I would do what I could. If the wheels came off I’d have to DNF.
The line for the porta-potties was insane and I decided I was okay. They had porta-potties on the course.
I made my way to the corral and did some stretching.
As I looked around I saw big signs with a range of bib numbers on them. Somehow I had been assigned to corral one! That was for under two-hour runners. In 2019 I was probably a sub two-hour runner, but this year I was just hoping to finish!
Since I had the bib to move up, I started making my way through the crowd. After a hundred yards or so I noticed it was getting congested and moving up further would not help.
I started my watch and around 7AM we started walking towards the start line. At 7:04 I crossed the line and started my watch.
It was crowded but I wanted some time to warm up anyway.
This year we headed strait down 1st Street to Land Blvd and onto Memorial Drive.
As always, it was cool to run the super busy streets I drive on every day.
At about mile 3.25 we took a left and went over The Charles River, ran on a trail next to the river and headed down North Harvard Street towards the Harvard Stadium.
Those squiggly lines after mile four are our run to and through the stadium.
As we entered the stadium I had to look around. The architecture is Romanesque and the seating looked quite Spartan; cement benches. But the Romans did invent cement.
We ran the periphery of the the Harvard sports complex and of course, everything was quite nice!
After twelve turns we left the complex and headed over Soldiers Field Road to run the bike path along The Charles River.
In places the path was narrow and things got crowded. But, everyone seemed to know what they were doing and no one got bumped.
Just after mile six we went under The Elliot Bridge, which was paved and dry this year!
We continued on paths along the river for the next mile or so and then crossed The Charles again on The Arsenal Street bridge, which I believe is in Watertown.
Running in the Cambridge Half Marathon 2023
At this point we were headed for mile 8 and I was happy we were more than half-way through the race and I was holding up.
My left ankle was a little sore but my left knee wasn’t bothering me at! While this was a great relief, I also knew that my next step could change everything.
We ran about a mile down Greenough Blvd to the crazy intersection where Greenough, Memorial Drive, and Soldiers Field Road traffic comes together. Most drivers are challenged by the shifting lanes and people often make last minute decisions. It was so much easier to run on the sidewalk next to this mess!
As we rounded the bend in the river I thought how we were now on the way back and only had four and a half miles to go!
Anything could happen, but we were running this thing in!
My goal pace was 10 minute miles, but from the first mile I was running much better than that. I had tried to hold myself back and pace myself behind other runners. But it didn’t work! Only two miles were over 9:30.
Now that we were on the home stretch, I ran how I felt. I wasn’t going to set a PR but I was on track to beat my 2:07 finish at The Loco Half two weeks ago.
Just before Mile 11 we reached the bridge over the Brookline St./Memorial Drive rotary.
While I was not happy to have a “hill” this late in the race, what I really didn’t like was the surface.
It’s some sort of a steel mesh deck with concrete. Fortunately it was a dry day and the steel wasn’t slippery, but it was a hill!
The next water stop had Gatorade but everyone was standing behind the tables! I had to find a break in the crowd and reach over the table to grab a cup. When I lunged for the cup it crumpled and half the precious fluid spilled on the table.
I’m sure the girl thought I was crazy or rude, but it’s a race and I didn’t have time to say please and wait for her to hand it to me. Why were they behind the table anyway?
The race continued on Memorial Drive and then onto Land Blvd to First Street.
As I ran past the Athenaeum I checked out the new Triangle Park which is nestled between Land Blvd and First Street. It looked like a cool spot to have lunch.
They had seating and planted a lot of trees. It’s going to be great when all of that fills out.
But the task at hand was to successfully land this beast without getting hurt!
As I was “running it in” a lot of younger people were kicking and passing me. That was fine. I was just happy to be landing without pain or damage.
I crossed the finish line at 2:01:26 which was totally unexpected!
I grabbed a water and granola bar and headed into the mall.
To my surprise, there wasn’t an after party.
Not that I needed more to eat or a couple beers but it sure flew in the face of tradition.
All in all, a great race and a great day!
Run well my Friends,