Cambridge Half – I made it!

I had requested a decent consultant appointment and a decent half marathon to feel fulfilled, and I think I pretty much got it. The consultant was great, understood the issues and agreed a regimen of block and replace until I feel better, and then radiotherapy in June after my ultra. He did say that I shouldn’t really be able to run at all with my thyroid levels as low as they were, but promised the new drugs would make me feel better.

Friday was not a good day, I felt absolutely awful (and looked it too!), to the point where my husband suggested we cancel our weekend away and just stay home. We decided to go anyway which was the right decision, a day in the sun (it was 16 deg C on Saturday in Bedfordshire!) with some owls (a present from my parents for Christmas) and some time with my lovely niece later I was a new(ish) person. I was still exhausted on sunday though and dreading the Cambridge half. While waiting for a portaloo to become available with only 2 mins left until the race started I figured if I missed the start I would just find a perch, sit down and cheer people on. Unfortunately lots of people left the queue in front of me and I had time to do the necessary and then sneak into the starting pen, foiled!

I had struggled the previous year at Cambridge, it was hot and 2 laps and has the most horrible last mile of any race I have ever done, but at least I knew what to expect. I had stated 2:30 as my goal but was going to see how I went and at least with it being laps I could have retired at 6 miles without having a long walk back.

I had decided on the trusty run 8 min walk 2 min strategy, I struggle with stamina at the moment and wanted to make sure my legs could make it. As it was this worked a treat and the first lap actually went pretty quickly, I fuelled at all the stations and just held it back until my 2 min walk, and time passed pretty quickly. The only stupid thing I had done is not fuelled properly, I’d had a couple of pieces of toast but that wasn’t enough and rather annoyingly there were no jelly babies on the course, just water and gels. Aha, I thought, I’ll try a gel – usually I avoid them as they taste like flavoured runny snot, but I was desperate so grabbed one and shoved half of it down me. I was in the process of doing this when I realised that I had forgotten that they contain caffeine – I’ve been caffeine free for nearly 4 years ago due to thyroid induced heart issues, so to suddenly have a whack of caffeine in the middle of a race probably wasn’t the best plan. I monitored my heart rate closely for the rest of the race but it seemed to be fine, or no worse than usual anyway. Bullet dodged!

I was averaging about 11 min miles for the first loop, not bad with a run walk strategy – and I carried on much the same on the second lap (I had brief thoughts of dropping out as I was tiring but decided to just get on with it). I got to about 11 miles before I started to really struggle and then the last mile was as painful as it had been last year – for some reason they throw on a horrible loop at the end so you think you are done then have to do a sharp up and downhill over a bridge, then lap round what seems like half of Cambridge before the finish arrives, honestly, it is just horrible. I knew I was near my target so just pushed on as best I could and was delighted to come in at about 2:26. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty but I had got round under target. And just have to do exactly the same again for my April marathon and I’ll be under 5 hours and qualified for May… I suspect I need to work on my stamina before that though as I was absolutely shattered afterwards. No lasting damage although my calves are tight so there will be some foam rolling in my future.  All in all a job done though, and I look forward to increased levels of health and some actual training very soon.

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