This was my first half marathon for a couple of years and I’d been looking forward to it. Even though the weather was bad there was no real danger of the race being cancelled and in the end the conditions, though tough, were not as bad as they could have been.
We were staying with our daughter Jo and husband Jono in their flat in Westhill, Inverness. They are about 5miles from the centre of Inverness but quite a bit higher. We woke to quite thick snow and it took a friendly neighbour and his shovel to get our car out of the estate.
I went down for 10am to register while Katrina relaxed before her first ever half marathon. I met my friend Grant from Paisley. This was to be Grant’s first ever half marathon too and I’d been helping him with his training plan.
Grant arrived with a guy called Terry who was staying in the same hotel. It seems Terry reads this blog and wanted to say hello so that worked out well.
Once I’d registered, had a chat with Grant I headed back to the flat, got changed, encouraged Katrina that it wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought it was going to be and we headed back to the start.
We found one of the last car park places. As we parked we saw Ian and Sandra going for an easy warm up. We wandered over to the hall with about 50mins to go before the race. We met up with Grant and his two boys and also saw Katrina’s friends Jenny and Martin.
I had decided to wear a long sleeved top under my club vest and shorts. I had planned to wear a pair of gloves but during the warm up decided to leave them in the car.
I made my way to the start with 10mins to go, saw Katrina, Jenny and Martin and also a few of Jo’s Uni friends who were running and stood next to Ian and Sandra waiting for the off.
Here is the route ….
Here are my splits ….
Me and Grant before the race
We were fairly near the front but I reckon there were at 150 in front of us. The gun went and I very quickly got into my stride and worked my way through the runners ahead.
For this race I decided to concentrate on each mile. I set my watch to show lap distance and lap pace and nothing else. I wasn’t going to worry about overall pace or time but aim to run each mile under 6.45.
As we approached the bridge after about three quarters of a mile I could see the leaders heading down the road on the opposite side so decided to count how many were in front. I reckon I was about 80th or so.
The first mile arrived in 6.28 which I was happy with as I felt quite comfortable. My breathing was fine and I was making my way slowly past the runners ahead.
For the next 2 miles we had the wind behind us and I worked on getting into a nice steady rhythm. I decided to count four sets of 50 breaths and then glance at my lap pace. I did this for the rest of the race.
200 breaths worked out about 0.80 of a mile so it gave me an indication of where I was at. Miles 2 and 3 were 6.24 and 6.25. I was really pleased but wondered whether I might pay later. But I was still feeling good and still passing people.
The 4th mile has a long gradual hill and I knew it would be slightly slower. I was passed by two young lads who were the only runners to pass me in the whole race.
After the hill we turned left off the main road on to a smaller side road which had some snow on the sides but the road, though wet, was fine. The gaps between runners now was getting bigger but I was still slowly catching people.
I could see a female runner in the group ahead so decided to see how long it would take me to catch her.
I went through the 5th mile in 6.34 and I resisted the temptation to see how long the first 5miles had taken me. I was enjoying working on a mile at a time and didn’t want to spoil it!
Just as I approached the roundabout which is also the 9mile mark I caught up with Tina (as I discovered her name was from the shouts of encouragement for her). I went past but she worked hard to stay with me and then went back in front.
After a few more minutes I caught again and this time pushed on. At some point along this bit I saw Gary with his camera. Here is the photo he took …
I knew there was a 3 mile loop back to the roundabout so again concentrated on counting my breathing and seeing how many more runners I could catch. I was running with a guy in a red jacket for the past couple of miles and stayed with him for the next few miles.
I’d caught him at 3miles, only for him to push past on the uphill during the 4th mile. I caught him again at 6miles only for him to power past again at 7. The third time I caught him I decided to run just behind him and he pulled me along until the 9th mile when he pushed on again.
I ran the 7-9mile loop consistently at 6.34 pace. It was during this loop I realised that I was going to do a decent time. My pace was consistently around 6.30 and I knew that would get me home around 1.25.
So even if I slowed during the last 4miles I would be under the 1.27 I had been secretly aiming for.
We went past the roundabout where I saw some runners at the 6mile point. I wondered where Katrina and Grant where and hoped they were both going well and enjoying it.
On the downhill a young guy in a black top went sprinting past red jacket guy and me. So he became my target over the next couple of miles to reel him back in!
Once we turned right I knew we’d be against the wind for the next couple of miles but I was still feeling strong and I was still catching people. I find it is always a good indication of how well I’m going whether I can hold my position or even catch people.
The guy in red was about 50 yards ahead but we were both working our way past people. I was please to go through the 10th mile in 6.24. Again I resisted the temptation to see my overall time but knew it must be around 65mins (in fact it was 65.03).
If I could run the last 3.1miles in around 20mins I knew I’d have a good time. The 11th mile was fine and again I was pleased to see I was holding my pace at 6.31.
I was slowly catching the guy in black and drew level as we turned left to run along side the river. We also hit the wind in a greater way. I found that last run up to the bridge the hardest of the whole race and I was pleased to get on the bridge, turn left and have the wind on my back.
I’d left the guy in black behind and now worked on catching the few runners I could see ahead. I went through the 12th mile in 6.41 which wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I continued to count my breaths and keep the pace up. I decided to count to 200 breaths and then switch my display to overall time and pace. I caught up with two more runners and then only had the red jacket guy ahead but he was too far to catch.
As we ran towards the stadium I switched my watch display and it read 12.75miles in 1hr 23mins. It gave me such a boost to realise that I was going to be around 1.25 that I pushed in as hard as I could.
I entered the track and ran round to the finish. The announcer called my name and I stopped my watch on 1hr 25mins 38secs. I was very pleased with that!
I took some fruit, goodie back, had my chip removed and went over to the guy in red to say well done on a good run and thanks for pulling me along. He said, ‘oh you were the guy breathing down my neck!’
I went inside, found my bag, changed into some dry clothes and asked someone to take my photo!! …
Once I was dressed I went outside to wait for Katrina, Grant and friends to arrive. Just as I stepped outside I heard the announcer call Sandra’s name. She’d finished in 1.42.44, a pb which she was very happy with! Ian had finished in 1.32.40 in his 90th half marathon. I had a quick chat with them before heading off to look for Grant and Katrina.
I was going to stand at the finish but decided I needed to keep walking to stay warm. I went out the stadium and headed down the route. It was 2.57pm so (1hr 57 into the race). I’d thought all along that Katrina could run around 2hrs so was hoping to see her soon.
Then she was there running strongly with a few minutes to go. I shouted encouragement and then ran back to the stadium to see her finish.
Katrina’s official time was 2hrs 00mins 37secs! What a great run for her first half marathon. She ran the whole way and even said that she enjoyed it far more than she thought she would. She even admitted to smiling a few times as she ran!
We went inside to warm up and just as we were about to leave we saw Grant with a big grin on his face. He’d finished in 1hr 57mins 11secs well inside his 2hr target. He, too, had exceeded expectation and was really pleased with himself and rightly so!
We drove back to Jo & Jono’s flat for a shower and a sandwich before heading back to Paisley. We stopped at McDonald’s in Perth for a chicken sandwich and I took in my netbook to see if the results were up.
So a great weekend and a great race. I will certainly be back!