Whew!! 2h.17mins – That was one solid run! With this I officially enter the league of serious runners and not to mention, I’m now one among those millions of half marathoners! Goal three for this year accomplished [Enduro3 and a Himalayan escapade being the first two.]
Running was never something that turned me on. I never really understood why people ran kilometers in a stretch and I could never digest the fact that it would over time help you in reaching your goals. It was only during the Jalori Pass Mountain Biking expedition when I met Viral [Who still wears the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon wrist band!], I gave a thought to training for the Marathon. Back in hyd things soon faded out. Leave alone training, running as a hobby never materialized. Only in August when there was talk in the air of the second edition of the Hyderabad Marathon organised by the Hyderabad Runners club and the Hyd 10k Foundation, the guilt feeling of not training sank in. It was pretty late to start training so I volunteered instead. I’m so glad I did! It was indeed a wonderful experience getting to see the expression on people’s faces as they were handed over their medallions amidst the thumping rock songs and tremendous cheering. Goal three got frozen right then!
Training for the HM wasn’t that great. As much as I’d loved to join the HRC members for a good run, distance of KBR park from my house was a big turn off. With no company to train in this part of the city I’ d started relying on dailymile for constant motivation and keeping those numbers up as days progressed [eventually ‘spamming’ my twitter account with training updates!]. Well, It did the trick! I managed to do a 10k and subsequent 6-7ks over the last couple of weeks. Though physically not that prepared, mentally that almost got me set for the 21.1k run. One day prior to the run, I made it a point to stay back at home and avoid any physical activity. Gulped litres of water and a decent carb. loading. A quick call with Ram to get some motivation and I was all set for the kill!
Nov 22nd – Sunday
05:00Hrs. The ambience was pretty electric at Peoples Plaza. About 220 runners were all geared up for the HM. The 10k folks were yet to arrive as their run was to start at 06:30hrs. At about 05:40 hrs, the group is fired off. Weather’s pretty good and the darkness gives good company. Even before you realise you’ve run a couple of kilometers, dawn breaks in and you’re directed towards ranigunj. Rock bands en-route give the necessary thump and slowly the ordeal begins. People move over to the sidelanes, stop by for water at the water stations but still move on. The AP police force make the roads clear at all traffic points. By-standers cheer you all the way and even before you realise you’re almost near the 10k mark. A few more kilometers and you reach Charminar. That is when I resolve to complete the HM come what may. It was as if this monument was effusing some positive energy that I never experienced before. The pain in the knees lingers but some unknown force motivates me to keep the leg moving. People over take me and I overtake people. Something in the air makes you feel more close to Hyderabad!
The last one kilometer is an amazing mix of emotions as we meet the 10k folks and run the last one kilometer together. There are no medallions this time at the finish line. Just a group of ebullient people amazingly self satisfied about their achievement. But what humbles you is septuagenarians and serious runners congratulating you wholeheartedly! The ambience is extremely cheerful and even before I realise, I’ve completed my first Half Marathon! I had no target in mind when I was training for the marathon. All I wanted was to complete the HM without any setback. But when I look at my watch,I realise i’ve clocked about 2hrs. 20mins. I’ve set a benchmark for myself today and opened up another parallel track in my list of outdoor activities. A day to remember.
A big thanks goes out to the Hyd 10k foundation for having organised this event so meticulously, the AP police force for having been so pro-active and responsible in cutting out the traffic from the flowstream, the volunteers and co-runners for being ever-cheerful and helpful all through the circuit and oh yes, not to forget, Allu Arjun for having shamelessly driving into the runners track in his BMW. Wonder how these people end up being brand ambassadors of sport events!