Happily Ever After
Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, three cats, garden wildlife, a camera, a computer – and increasing amounts about running
Earlier posts can be found on Adventures of a Lone Bass Player, where this blog began life. Recent entries can be found here.
Inverness Half Marathon 2023
by Russell Turner - 12:07 on 15 March 2023
It could have been worse. The forecast was for heavy rain from 1pm – 30mins after the start – for the rest of the afternoon. On the day, we had a dry start, light rain after an hour and heavy rain for my last two miles. If I’d run faster than 2:17 I would have missed the worst of it.
I wasn’t disappointed. Overnight I’d randomly picked 6min/km as a target pace, even though I knew that was over-ambitious, but the first kilometre was covered in 6:32, felt as fast as I wanted to go, and stayed around that mark for the rest of the race, of which every step was run – a bonus after last week’s 10k. After all, the half was just a training run.
Matchgirl the spectator and I arrived in plenty of time for bag drop and general faffing, but as the sports centre car park was already full, and more cars were arriving all the time, she dropped me at the entrance and left to find more distant accommodation for Cooper the Mini. The place was heaving so I found a spot where I wouldn’t be jostled and whiled away half an hour by examining my fellow runners’ kit choices (from vest and shorts to jogging bottoms and waterproof jacket) and general appearance (from teenage whippet to wizened OAP and every shape and size in between).
I favoured tights, long-sleeved top, gloves and buff, which turned out to be fine for me. Also in use – for only the second time – was my 10L Harrier race vest; it passed the test, staying comfortable all way round. I’ll try test runs with it more heavily loaded as RTTS training builds up.
Time was passing so I jogged to the starting area, found the 2hr10-2hr30 section, and waited for the off, which came without the hyped-up over-excited warm-up that seems to precede so many events. Runners streamed past me but I stuck to my comfortable pace and despite an undulating course was never tempted to walk, even when I passed others who’d felt the need for a break.
The route, sadly, is mostly urban with few Highland vistas to enjoy, so I concentrated on trying to run tall, breathing easy (unlike some of the panters around me), and slurping Tailwind at 1km intervals. The other runners continued to offer distraction: the two women in black, with black bum bags and fluorescent yellow vests, who from the back looked like police; the two women of a certain age in matching shorts and orange vests emblazoned, on the back, with “Women in flowery shorts”; the skinny girl in gaudy tights who, at closer inspection, was dressed in tiny shorts and startling tattoos; the suffering guy who’d come from Aberdeen and hadn’t expected so many inclines.
Crossing Ness Bridge, it feels like the end is close, but then comes the riverside section and the cruel half lap of the sports centre running track, in the rain. At least I had the welcome sight of a sodden but enthusiastic Matchgirl among the bedraggled spectators waiting for their finishers. It turned out she’d had a harder day than me: having to park a mile away; being refused use of the gym while she waited for me because the jobsworth there claimed, incorrectly, that she’d not been instructed in the new equipment; failing to eat because the nearby cafe she’d earmarked was packed out and the sports centre’s was overpowered by the chemical smell of the swimming pool. I had the easy job.
I did the Morecambe and Wise dance over the finish line, collected a decent medal and some snacks (but no shirt – I favoured Trees not Tees), and after reunion with Matchgirl plunged into the maelstrom of the sports centre to collect my bag and don some dry clothes. I was stiff, but some of the John Wayne walks on show suggested that others had endured a tougher race.
Outside, the sports centre environs was in gridlock, so there was a silver lining to Matchgirl’s distant parking, even if the rain felt heavier.
My finish was 10mins slower than my previous Inverness HM, in 2020, and 20mins slower than my PB, but I was satisfied. I ran it all. Race to the Stones training now begins properly, with lots more elevation and much more run/walking. Less than 17 weeks to go. The time, unlike me, will speed by.
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