Katrina and I drove up to Inverness on Friday night after work to stay with our daughter and son-in-law Jo & Jono. It’s a win win doing the Inverness Half Marathon. We see them and have a run at such a well organised race.
We spent Saturday relaxing, doing a bit of shopping and visiting Ryan & Becki to see their month old son Orrin. So a lovely day and Everton weren’t playing so they couldn’t spoil the good mood by losing!!
It was very windy on Saturday but when we woke up on Sunday morning the wind had died down a bit so things were looking good. We drove into Inverness at 10.30am, parked the car in Rose Street and ran slowly the 1.5mile to the registration at the Leisure Centre.
We had plenty of time to collect our numbers, visit the loo and get ready for the race.We got a photo of us before the start in the hall with Katrina wearing her new WElsh Dragon vest.
This is the third time I’ve done the race. The last time was two years ago when I ran 1:27:32. I felt in better shape so had predicted 1:26:55 for my Jantastic challenge which works out at 6.38 pace.
The wind had picked up again meaning that the first few miles would be into the wind but the last few behind us.
We set off right on time and straight away I was able to settle into the pace that felt comfortable. I had put my watch onto mile splits so I couldn’t see the overall time. I was aiming to run each mile under or around 6:38 which would see me hit my target.
Over the first mile I could hear Ryan chatting away behind me and Steven Morrison went past with a quick greeting. I hit the first mile marker at 6:22 which was a little faster than planned but not too bad.
Over the next few miles I slowly caught and overtook a few runners until by about mile 4 I was basically in my position for the rest of the race. I used my counting technique to keep the concentration high. I count 4 sets of 50 breathes which normally takes me to around 0.85 of a mile. I then count another 50 and look out for the mile marker.
On the hill before mile 4 I felt strong and went past a runner wearing Hokas. I was running with another couple of runners, one in a blue vest and one in white whose design on the back looked like a target so I concentrated on keeping him in sight.
Once we hit the roundabout for the first time the group spread out a little and I caught a few more runners and a couple went past me. I was basically running on my own for the next few miles.
The miles were clicking by and I was staying around 6:30 pace except for the 4th mile which included a hill. Miles 8 and 9 were the toughest as they were mainly uphill and into the wind. I had to really dig in to maintain the pace and it was hard going.
As we came back to the roundabout I could see the runners approaching it for the first time. There is a long downhill run back to the main road into Inverness. I ran with a guy in a grey top who said, ‘The wind should be behind us for the final few miles.’
He was right and it was so good to have the wind behind us. I ran just ahead of the guy in grey and we slowly caught up with some runners ahead. With less than two miles to go the guy in grey went past and I couldn’t stay with him.
The final couple of miles are hard mentally as you can see the runners on the other side. I could feel I was finding it hard to keep the pace up so concentrated on each set of 50 breathes. It’s funny but after the set of 4 breathes I really look forward to seeing what the pace is. It became a kind of reward!
The final mile was hard. The guy in grey was going away and the guy in white with the target caught me. When a guy in blue caught me I decided that was the last runner so I clung on to him as we ran around the football pitches. Jo & Jonny were at the corner cheering me on and taking some photos. You can see from the photo below how hard I was working!!
I chased the guy in blue all the way round and crossed the line in 1:26:19.
Bryan Burnett, who I’ve met a few times, announced me as, ‘One of Scotland Premier Ultra Runners’ which made me smile. He also said this is just a warm up for John.He thinks nothing of going on 50 mile runs!!
Anyone who does ultras knows that running a Half Marathon flat out is just as hard but in a different way! I congratulated the runners around me, received my medal and goody bag and went into the hall to get changed and put some warm clothes on.
Here are our splits from the race.
Robert asked whether this is my best Half Marathon age graded wise and the answer is YES. It is equivalent to a 1:13:05 Half if I was under 35!!
We both finished in the top 5 in our age category with Katrina one place higher than me!
For me my focus now turns to the ultras with my first of the season less than 2 weeks away. I’m happy with my speed and fitness over 13miles but how is my stamina over 55 miles. We will soon find out!!