On Nov 1st, I ran my 5th consecutive Delhi Half Marathon, which over the years has gone through various title sponsors from Hutch for the first couple of years, to Vodafone, and then to Airtel for the recent two.
BIB No: 4004
Completion time: 2:21:31
Overall Rank: 1851/5326
I was suffering from a lower leg injury which happened about 4 weeks before the race day, and so, there was absolutely no running in between. However, I had done the last long run of 19K before I had got injured (while doing 400 meter repeats), which was really the saving grace for my training, which otherwise was going great and I had a target of going under 2 hours. So, the injury laid to rest any chances of achieving that and I had just a realistic goal of completing the run, anything under 3 hours would go!
A day before the run, I went out with a running friend to check out my leg. Ran, walked for a total of about 7KM and felt uneasiness with my leg, but not too much, so I decided to give it a shot, since I did not want to miss the opportunity to d a straight fifth half marathon at this event. I had first run here in 2005, the same year that the event was launched, and it was my first run of any kind too.
Photo: All my Delhi Half Marathon medals from 2005 to 2009
Expo was low key, disappointing to say the least. The saving grace was that I was able to meet some runners who are now like friends, but had never met them till that day. Vishwas from Ahmedabad (from Joyofrunning), Pranav Desai from Surat (member of DelhiRunners), and Satish Gujaran from Mumbai. Satish was having a tough time with his 21K registration magically being converted over to a Great Delhi Run (7K), and he was running all over to have that fixed. It took him probably 4-5 hours to have that addressed, really poor show.
We (me and my cousin, Athar) started off early in the morning with a target to reach the parking area at Bhikaji Cama place by 6:30 am. Did not have too much, just some water and a banana before starting off. Took a bus meant for transporting runners to the starting area and was there by 6:45 am. Big queues to just enter the holding areas, so I guess that aspect surely needs an improvement, also, more security required to handle the masses.
In the holding area, met a few more acquaintances from Chennai (Shankar Lal), Vishwas, Rajesh from my company, and this is one of the best part, meeting people you have just emailed, etc face to face.
We tried to be at the front as much as we can, since that impacts the final ranking, and keeps the gun time and the net time not too far from each other. Probably about 1 minute 30 seconds gone as we crossed the starting line. The run was quite relaxed, and probably the most I have enjoyed, ever. Why, due to the injury of course. The distance was no challenge since I had done enough training in the earlier months, and the time was no challenge since I was not having any time goals (other than the sub 3 hours finish!). So, it was a carefree stroll most of the way.
The first few kilometers felt good with the lower leg giving little trouble. However, by about 6KM mark, it started acting up, and I was finding it tough to run. So, I started walking, and started getting thoughts of backing out and going home if this did not improve. Fortunately, I started feeling a bit better very soon, and I restarted with my easy long run again.
And so it was, nice and easy all the way to the point where you hit the flyover on the return, approximately at the 16KM mark. That’s when I felt that sudden urge to increase my pace and do something better, and so I took off, right on the way up the flyover. There was no holding back then, and I probably would have run the last 5K in a 5:30’ish kind of pace. The last 400 meters, I gave my all, and that made way for some really good finishing photographs too!
So, with this, I complete my 5 out of 5 for all the Delhi Half Marathons till date, a motivating factor which had a big role in me deciding to run.
Later in the day, I registered for the Comrades Marathon, an 89KM run on May 30th in South Africa. There will be 7 Indians this time at the starting line, and an opportunity to be amongst the first group of Indian finishers at Comrades, ever, in its 85 year old history.