Inverness Half Marathon

Just over a week ago, Mandy and I caught the train from Edinburgh up to Inverness. I was racing the Inverness Half marathon while Mandy was racing the 5k.

This race was a sharpener, a chance to see how my Manchester Marathon training was going and I was told by my coach (Derek Hawkins from Hawkins Running) to go out and race it. No pace in mind, just go out and see what happens.

I had a nice breakfast in the Columba Hotel, where we were staying, and then we walked to the sports centre for Mandy to pick up her race numbers. The Half Marathon numbers were posted out to us pre-event which I really like. It just takes that little bit of stress away from the day.

I was super nervous. I mean, so nervous that I was actually probably coming across as a bit rude. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I just sat on the floor in the gym where our bag drop was located. I sat and waited. With 30 mins to go before the race I headed out in to the sunshine to do my warm up.

1.5 miles of easy running followed by some strides and drills. Job done and my race nervous were calming a bit. Not by much but I no longer felt ill with the nerves!

I had built this race up in my head for some reason, I didn't want to be slower than the Scottish Half marathon back in October, I'd worked too hard to be slower. I needed to see an improvement.

I had 3 plans in my head or 3 paces I would be OK with.

  1. 6:20min/mi - which would give me a 1:22.58 finish time, a 2 minute improvement from October's race.
  2. 6:15min/mi - this was probably the pace I was really aiming for and would give me a 1:21.52 finish time.
  3. 6:10min/mi - imagine! A 1:20.47 finish time and only 2 minutes away from my old PB from 2016! That would be nice but maybe a bit soon to think about that.

So I got close to the front of the pack on the start line and was now in the race zone. I had my racing shoes on, my race vest and my sunglasses (I always have my sunnies, even in the rain!).

5 second countdown and we were off.

The first mile we had the wind on our back and I was feeling good, a nice mile of 5:59 but I knew it was going to be tough heading in to the wind for the next 4 miles, plus it was slightly uphill now all the way to the 5th mile. My pace reflected this.

I ran by effort. If I felt I could run harder, I did. If I felt I was breathing a bit too hard this early on in the race, I backed off.

The marshals were amazing and the signage around the course was also brilliant. Thanks to all the volunteers on the day!

My next 4 miles were:

  1. 6.09
  2. 6.15
  3. 6.29 (the hill!)
  4. 6.18

I then got back in to a nice pace and was still feeling good. I hadn't looked at my average pace at all, I was just running hard and loving it.

I knew there was still one small climb to hit around mile 9 but from there on in it was downhill and flat. What I had forgotten about though was the wind that had been on our back for the first mile was now going to be in our face!

At mile 11 I did check my average pace and to my surprise I was running 6.10 avg! I couldn't believe it!

I headed in to the final 2 miles but the headwind kicked in and I had no-one to shelter behind, my legs were screaming at me and my lungs were bursting. I pushed as hard as I could but I couldn't keep the pace low enough to keep that 6.10 average.

The final mile in to the wind was a 6.24.

I came in towards the last 1/2 mile and I could hear Mandy shouting support to me, it really helped and I gave it one last push to get me round the corner and on to the athletics track where race finishes. You do approx 200 metres on the track and then you are done.

I could see the runner ahead of me but just couldn't catch them but I tried.

I crossed the line in 1:21.23 and I finished 62nd / 2130 runners! I was over the moon.

Without that headwind I know I could have been sub 1:21 and I was feeling super excited about Manchester Marathon.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Manchester Marathon has now been postponed until further notice so I'm feeling a bit deflated. I've decided to take a couple of weeks off from training and I'll refocus next week. See where my heads at, hopefully know a date for Manchester and start back training again. Who knows, by the Autumn, I might be back in PB shape and Manchestre Marathon could see a really nice result! Watch this space!


Owain Williams

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