That’s beyond my wildest expectations, and a personal best! And I was already inspired even before the run, by the special BIB number 001! That too on my 5th marathon and overall 10th marathon event (including half marathons!). Looks like it was destined to be a perfect race. I was 9th in the overall standings and 3rd in my age group.
The full marathon was supposed to start at 5:30 a.m., but actually started about 15 minutes late due to some last minute logistics issue. It was still quite dark, and chilly, and so I kept on my track upper instead of just being in my running vests. From the full marathon list, I could make out about 35-40 participants, and there was a roll call before the run and except for a couple of folks everyone was there (and I guess they also turned up is some time). BTW, those 4 elite Ethiopian runners who were expected to be here did not turn up, much to my disappointment. The ambulance from MAX hospital was already parked to handle any situations. After participating in some of the local Delhi events, I have come to know a lot of the regular folks, so every event turns up those familiar faces, and its a delight to meet again and share updates.
Below: clipping from TOI’s (dated Feb 23, 2009) review of the run.
Wide straight open roads, with no traffic, running in the midst of the tall buildings of Gurgaon, its a big urban corporate jungle out there. Nothing compared to the delight at Auroville, but clean good stretches. Initially it was a bit lonely with few marathon runners, but there were more faces as the half marathon started at 7:00 am (probably about 150 odd runners there). The volunteers were doing a great job, well stocked and frequent water stops on the route, a lot of Gatorade stops as well, and I made it a point to take a few sips at every stop. Some of the volunteers were on the cycle, just overseeing the route and looking out for any runners needing help.
The strategy, as decided earlier, was simple. Keep going at 6:30 min/km pace for at least 32KM, with a 5/1 run/walk interval (timed by my polar), and then see how it goes from there. And I was able to follow that strategy by the letter, doing the 10K in 1:04:30 (30 seconds under), 21K in 2:16 (1 minute under), and 32K in 3:28 (on dot). The route was a 14 KM out and back route, so it was 4 loops of 14, 7 (half loop), 14, and 7 (half loop). I was looking for a time under 5:00 with this strategy, and once 32KM was done, I was sure I was going to get it. But how much, that remained to be seen and run. The weather was cool, and it was a bit windy at times with head-on winds.
After the 32K mark, I was still trying to keep moving at the same 6:30 pace, though I must have been gradually slowing down a wee bit. The last 4-5 kms were the tough ones, and it took a lot of effort the push through them running. At the 41K mark, I realized that I was 7 mins from a sub 4:40 time, and to make sure I made it, I pushed hard and did that final KM in about 6 minutes to finish at 4:38:57. I exceeded my wildest expectations, the overall pace was 6:35 mins/km, with the first half in 2:16 and the second in 2:22.
This was also a personal best for me, by more than half an hour from my 5:11 Mawana marathon 2008 timings. The medal was also really special, big, and made of quality leather! Really a collectors item. Will put a snap of it soon. This run officially closes the 2008-2009 running reason for me (there’s a 5K still left next month though), but I hope to carry on running, at least the weekends. My thanks go out to Rahul Verghese for organizing such a wonderful run, and giving us this wonderful opportunity.
Below: Pace analysis from ZumTri.com.
TOI news article on the event.