Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Journal Update: November Runs

November has been a good month for me - running wise. Not only have I completed two half marathons - Delhi (1st Nov) and Hyderabad (22nd Nov) - but I have also been able to improve my time by 18 mins over my first half marathon (30th August, Hyderabad) time. Importantly, I have been able to remain injury free. The knee pain which was becoming almost a regular presence during the first two months of training is gone now. I always knew that the pain would last only until my quads get stronger and start taking more responsibility of my relatively broad and heavy upper body. A bit of cycling in the gym also helped in cross training and easing the work load on my knees. Apparently my quads are stronger now and behaving like good responsible grown ups! Though I am sure they still have some way to go when it comes to running up the inclines. Hopefully, all in due time.

Now, about the two runs.

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

After my first taste of endorphins during the August Half Marathon in Hyderabad, I realized that the endorphin was not a bad thing to get high on. So I registered for ADHM and Ghaziabad being my hometown I also decided to use the occasion to make a trip back home. Only, now because of the run I was going home a week after Diwali - which, as you can imagine, was a bit hard to explain to family and friends. But I managed.

The venue of the run was about 30K from my home so on the day of the run I had to wake up at 4 in the morning and then my brother drove me to the venue - Nehru Park. There were long queues with hundreds of runners waiting to enter the holding area in the park. It took about 15 mins to reach the holding area from where one had to go to the other gate of the park and then to the starting line. By the time I reached the starting line, the big clock there read 8 mins - but that didn't matter because the run was chip timed and I was not competing for a top slot.

Waiting to get into the holding area.

What surprised me at the very beginning was the sheer number of runners on the road. It took about 15 mins into the run for the runners to be distributed to a reasonable density. After that it was easier to get into the rhythm. The cool November morning, an even route and historical delhi buildings like Indian gate and Rashtrapati Bhawan as a backdrop made for a perfect race settings.

Personally, I felt quite good - the rhythm was good and I was feeling strong. In fact, I remember that somewhere around 12K mark I felt so good that I thought - "Good thing, still 9K left". But as someone said - "If you start to feel good during a marathon, don't worry you will get over it." I did get over this feel good thingie. I remember my feet grew a lot bulkier and gravity a lot more intense during the last 2 Ks.

Joy of Running @ 20K: Ignore the face. ;-)

But all the weariness just flew away when I looked at clock on the finishing line - it read 1:59:xx which meant my net time was comfortably under 2 Hrs. After that my brother helped me stretch a bit and gave me a really good on the spot massage.

01:50:55 :-)

I then collected my certificate and the medal along with some much needed refreshments. Considering the number of participants, I think the race was well organized. Most of the times one step just smoothly flowed into the next - which is always a good thing.

Hyderabad 10K Half Marathon, 22 November

In terms of performance and feel-good factor, this was undoubtedly the best of my three Half-Marathons. I improved my timing by about 5 mins in three weeks and more importantly I still felt strong after the run. In fact, going by my experience in Delhi Half-Marathon I was surprised to see the finish line so early - just before I saw it I was thinking that the finish was still at least 1K away.

01:46:14 - My best so far !

The conditions here too were good for running - nice comfortable temperature and decently even roads. Though, I think a little more thought could have gone into the organization part of the run. For instance since the run started when it was still dark the organizers should have made sure that the street lights were on for the initial stretch around Husain Sagar. Also the traffic at some locations could have been better controlled. At one point an half-awoke APSRTC bus driver almost got competitive with me while crossing the road at the same time. Had not my natural modesty and good sense made me back out from this encounter the things could have got interesting. But I am willing to ignore these minor slips and specially so considering that some of the traffic cops were genuinely clapping and encouraging the runners.

Here I must also relate a rather peculiar incident that happened along the run. In my overenthusiastic effort to remain hydrated before the run I drank lots of water in the morning. But, as is my wont I reached the venue in a rush and just on time and forgot to relieve myself. As anyone who has drank more water than he can handle can imagine the things got a bit uncomfortable after a while. Luckily, I saw a Sulabh Sauchalya (the paid urinals on the roadside) soon enough and darted right into it. Since I wasn't carrying any money on me I tried to explain to the guy that I was running and didn't have any money right now and will pay him later. He apparently wasn't convinced (and I am not sure he even understood what I said) but not wanting to waste any time I just ran away from there - literally. I heard him say something under his breadth which luckily I did not understand. After that it was quite a different run. :-)

And the other good part of the run was that I got to see the Charminar for the first time - even though I have been in Hyderabad for about 3 years now. But again, to be true I am not much into the historical sight seeing scene right now. I still remember my first reaction on seeing Taj Mahal a few years back was "Man! It looks the same as it does on TV." Shahjahan would not have been impressed. But I digress, back to the run.

The other good part of the run was catching up with Hyderabad Runners group - a contagiously enthusiastic lot with some really good runners. A good thing for me because I can use all the enthusiasm and experience I can get to train for my next big run - which I hope will be a full marathon.

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