Yesterday morning, bright and early, the Pixies headed to Queens' Green in Cambridge for the 21st annual Chariots of Fire race.
By the time I got there at 9am, the atmosphere was already buzzing. We were waiting for Sarah L. to arrive, but as she was coming from Ely by train, she wasn't able to be with us from the kick off.
Our bibs were coloured according to which leg we were running. The lovely and highly-caffeinated Sarah D. was starting us off, wearing red. Followed by Lauren in blue, Elen in yellow, India in pink, Sarah L. (who made it to Cambridge just as the runners set off) ran in green and yours truly, the anchor-leg of the race, ran in black.
The 1.7-mile course wound its way through the city center (yay for clueless tourists blocking the route!), and then snaked its way through Trinity College, Clare College and finally King's College before ending 'back' in the Backs and on Queens' Green.
Sarah made it back in 15ish minutes (our time-keeping skills weren't the greatest. Five chatty girls and you want us to keep precise time? Yeah right.) and handed the baton on to Lauren. Lauren had been quite anxious about getting a good time after having a bad race at the Cambridge Town & Gown back in April due to the weather and some serious leg cramps. So when she made it back in 15:15 (9:06 pace), she was absolutely ecstatic.
But hey, we were in it to have a bit of fun. And that we did. Despite the slight rain that briefly marred our morning, we had a blast cheering each other around the course and watching the crazy array of smurfs, superheroes, chefs and other crazy fancy-dress runners come by.
An hour and roughly 15/20 minutes into the relay, it was finally my time to step up to the plate. I saw Sarah L. coming my way and cheered her on to a sprint finish before grabbing the baton and racing across the green, town-way.
I didn't mind going last (although the girls believing that I could make up a lot of slack was completely insane, obviously!). But it was rather strange being mostly on my own and racing through the streets of Cambridge with no one really knowing why the heck I was running around with a baton in my hand and race numbers stuck to me.
Despite having run 12.5 miles on Saturday (yeah, not smart, I know!), I was trying to maintain a decent pace, not wanting to let the Pixies down. I set off way too quickly, going at about a 7min/mile, before settling into a roughly 8min/mile. That was until I got to the colleges. There were a lot of tight turns and I dropped back a bit. Smartypants that I am, I managed to bump full-pelt into a bollard with my left thigh. Man, that hurt. But I was just grateful that the usher pointing me on my way didn't start laughing out loud (the thing was marked in neon yellow, d'oh!). That's gonna make for one pretty bruise.
I heard my girls cheering for me as I came out of King's College and turned onto the Backs. I figured I'd try for a sprint finish, or what I was still capable of at that time, and made it back, last in our team, but not last among the 300-something racers, in a very respectable (IMHO) 13:27!
Unfortunately our big plans of a pub lunch and celebration didn't come to fruition. Sarah D. had to make her way to some wizard world thingy-bob, Lauren was leaving straight after to go to Croatia on holiday (lucky her!) and the rest of us stood around chatting for a while longer before the low temperatures and wind got to us and we headed home.
It's not like we don't all work together!
6 x 1.7 miles: 1:32:20 [now confirmed]
Have you ever done a relay race? How did you find it?