Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Delhi Half Marathon

Ok… so this is not likely to interest many people but here it is.

Back in July while I was in Australia some friends of mine were talking about doing the Blackmore's Sydney Half Marathon which was in September. After a bit of discussion I thought I might be able to squeeze another trip to Sydney in and run it with them. So when I got back to Delhi I started training at Siri Fort on their 1km clay running track (I don't know how many hundreds of times I have circled that track).

So the challenge was set and I had to somehow go from a completely sedentary lifestyle to being able to run 21k in 2 months. But unfortunately life got busy and I realised there was no way I was going to be able to get back to Sydney in September to run with my friends. This turned out not to be a problem as one by one my piker friends had pulled out of the 1/2 marathon too. By the time the decision was made not to run I had already worked my way up from barely being able to run 1km up to about 6km. So rather than let all the hard work of running in the Delhi humidity go to waste I decided to focus on the Delhi Half Marathon which was to be run in late November. This turned out to be a good decision. It gave me a bit more time to train and Delhi is dead flat so no need for any hill training… I have no idea where I could have done that in Delhi.

So training was going well and somewhere along the line a 7k run became really easy. I guess this meant I should have picked up the pace but I am too lazy and not at all competitive. I ended up taking a short break from training mid October when I made a quick trip to Australia and I also somehow picked up a mild dose of Dengue… luckily it did not stop me altogether. So gradually I stretched out the ks and about 2 weeks before the event I did my longest run of 17ks…it was not too bad and I figured I could pull out another 4ks on the day.

So on Sunday the 27th of November I hopped out of bed at 5am after a lousy nights sleep, got myself together and headed out the door. The event was starting at the big Commonwealth Games stadium 5 minutes from my house… convenient. So while it was still dark I waited with about 8300 other runners for the race to start at 7:10am.

The race was flagged off and it took about 5minutes before I actually crossed the start line. This probably had something to do with a couple of Bollywood stars flagging the race off and then all the Indian runners wanting to stop and take a photo on their way past.

So I was on my way. Not much to tell about 21ks of running really… bit boring even with a few podcasts for entertainment.
It didn't take long to get into a good rhythm and I was heading along quite comfortably. When I got to the 6k point who should I see coming down the road in the opposite direction at the 16k mark but a bunch of Ethiopians and Kenyans running at a cracking pace… these guys were machines… they made it look so easy. To put it in perspective I was plodding along at 6 minutes per kilometre and they are running at less than 3minutes per kilometre… crazy! We are talking 21km per hour compared to my measly 10.

Every now and then during the race I would have a little mental battle with myself, especially when I was at the furthest point from the start/finish line.
14ks I was doing fine.
17ks getting a bit nervous as I hadn't run further than that before and I hadn't managed to score some Gatorade so my glycogen stores were getting seriously low. By this stage I was saying to myself I am never doing this again. My breathing was fine but my legs were weakening.
At the 19k mark Hunter and Ray were at the cheer zone. They thought I was looking strong but I certainly didn't feel it… my pace had slowed but I was still running.
At the 20k mark I was unsuccessfully trying to convince myself to enjoy the last 6 minutes.
At 500 metres to go I was thinking there was no way I could ever run a full marathon if this is what half way feels like. There was another sign at 300 metres to go and all I could think was that the last 200 metres felt like they took forever. Then before I knew it I was at 100 metres to go and then done. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes. The longest 2 hours and 20 minutes of my life.
I was too scared to sit down as I was so worried I would not be able to stand up again. So I collected my medal and my snack pack and headed for the gates hoping I might find Ray. It crossed my mind that if I couldn't find him I would have to take the metro home and that reminded me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney runs the New York Marathon and is on the subway home but he cant get off because he cant stand up…I was so worried that would be me. But I need not have worried Ray was doing a drive by and picked me up.

So here I am 3 days later…my legs are still a little sore but I can't wait to get back to Siri Fort for an easy 7k run. And even though I swore while I was running that I would never do it again and that I had no interest in improving my time I have already been looking for events to enter… I am a sucker for punishment.

One last thing… I am not a runner. I was never good at any running events at school. It does not come easy to me. So if I can go from sedentary to running a half marathon in 4 months anyone can.

It seems Airtel were too scummy to remove the copyright info off my free photo

3 comments:

Chris said...

Congrats on completing it! I have done one half marathon, in Rotterdam a few years back (also dead flat). Unfortunately my experience was a bit more problematic - my right foot inclines quite badly which leads to serious hip pain whenever I run more than about 15 km, so I was in utter agony for the last part of the race and swore I'd never run more than 10 miles ever again! Glad you're sticking with it though.

doomedunreality said...

heh, nice written up blog, detailing Indian exp, gr8 to hear it from a foreign perspective

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