Race Day — well more like a Fun Run
Last session Shuvendu and Shekhar had clearly explained that we should aim to be at the parking lot by 5AM latest by 5:15. Of course!! We left the main gates at precisely 5:22. As a result we ended up parking 1.57km away from the starting point and then walking all that way. It was ok the weather was nice the vibe was truly energetic, active. The 21K runners were on loop number one and by the time we reached the grounds at around 6AM the first lot of the 10K runners had started passing us by. So yeah it is definitely advisable to reach early. We were just in time for a highly embarrassing round of Zumba… the poor fellow on stage leading the session, smoothly went right I went everywhere but right, he lifted his leg I did my best imitation of Sunny Deols dance from Yaara O Yaara…
I guess I will never get around to this form of warming up. Thankfully it ended in about 300 hours and we were ushered off to the starting mat.
Shekhar here did a very commendable job of organizing people into compatible speed pairs. He put people who he knew would run in a similar rythm together and that helps in the long run. Sangeetha and Shekar were running with us which was another morale boost. Shuvendu was at the start line organizing the run and making sure everything was in place. So here we were ready to take off. Siddhartha and I had been running together for the past 8 weeks and had figured out the push pull that got us going through the paces. Of course with age and weight on his side (he’s around 18year lighter and 500kilos younger than me) he does most of the pushing, also the pulling, I just try and keep up and hold him back most of the time, he’s a very tolerant lambi race ka ghoda for sure. So yeah we were like 30 people deep when the countdown started. One look at the missus and after confirming that she had her team of girls running with her I shot off with Siddharth.
We took around 42 seconds to get to the starting mat, there were so many people ahead of us. I started my Strava about 200 meters out of the starting point.
By around Km 4 both of us looked at each other and said let’s slow down and conserve for the last 500 meters. That’s when I took the phone out to check how I was doing. I was absolutely blown away. I looked at Siddharth at my side and then back at the phone screen. He asked “what?”. I showed him the screen. Both of us let out an (insert favorite expletive here) together and started back up… We had actually finished just 0.99km not 4km! Anyway we seemed to be pretty comfortably placed doing a nice and toasty 6:42/km which was much faster than the usual 7:13-7:30 range and we were pretty much at the head of the yellow shirts, not 30 deep anymore. More like top 10 I would think (if only they had timing comparatives somewhere… Final results from the timing chips are here: ). Of course that too was a misconception. Siddharth came in 10 seconds ahead of me at number 74 and I came in at number 77! Out of a field of 474 that did run yesterday. It’s ok we were in it just to finish (insert bawling emoji here). The difference between the guy who came first and me was a mere 8 minutes 9 seconds (Ok I agree that was a lot.. now if Milkha Singh starts running C25Ks where we ordinary mortals will go?!).
At the first refueling point I gulped down water and picked up two pieces of banana that the seriously wonderful kid was holding up for the runners. I am so impressed by the organizers of the event especially for the child labor we were able to enjoy. Where do these wonderful kids get built ours will never agree to waking up at 4 in the morning and standing at water stations to hand out fuel to strangers? Big thank you to the babies who were managing the water stations and hats off to the parents who are bringing up such disciplined kids. Speaking of kids there were a few really small ones running the 5K with their parents as well. My opinion is divided on this part considering you feel tempted to keep running behind them to protect them from getting bumped by other runners and also “who wants to race a 5year old making such a horrifically huge effort to run a 5K?!” Anyway so yeah kids were a breath of fresh air. At one point I saw these three 12-15year old jumping around and running like kangaroos and started running behind them imitating their running style (I was like Shuvendu has said observe and run like children) after a point I realized I was looking more like a fool and not running any faster, so I looked for Siddharth and went and caught up with him. His foot was by now acting up so we decided to continue our slow jog rather than speed up and catch the pack leaders (rrrrrrigghhtttt like I could’ve done that). We saw Aravind and then Manjunath as well on multiple occasions while taking U-turns they were just about 100mtrs behind us for the most part.
At 500mtrs to go I was seriously excited to see the sign that said “500M” and shouted out loud “500 meters to go!!” everyone around me jumped out of their skin I got few “bhai you are ok I hope?!” looks. The last 500mtrs were probably the tougher ones because of the steep climb (or maybe because you could see the end and were like “ok I’m done can I go lie down?”. Anyway so I heard people behind me making an effort to get past me, I gave way, 1…2…3..4…5…15 I was like haan ab to we’re there what’s the big hurry?! now I know… there are 5 people whose finishing time is 35:00-35:19… It’s ok I don’t think I’ll be competing in the next one also, I run to have fun not to win…. like Shuvendu says if you go for timing then you wont be able to enjoy yourself… and medal anyway every finisher gets. So yeah all good. I finished, the kind people at the finish line put a tick on the bib, put a metal on my neck, the sweet kid with the camera took a picture and they sent me along.
As I walked away the breathing had stabilized, I saw Siddharth about 100 metres away walking towards the stage and then it hit me Biwi kahaan hai? So I turned around got off the track and started walking back. Passed Aditya, Sangeetha, Mukta, Greeshma and all of the others, kept walking and shouting out to the fine ladies and gents who were putting in a splendid effort into completing the run “c’mon c’mon just 200 mtrs to go”… then “250 to go” then “300 to go”… no biwi in sight. Aditya called from the presentation area asking where I was, just as I was shouting “c’mon good job keep going 300 mtrs to go”… he understood I hope… I kept walking, saw Shekhar helping everyone along. He shouted out to me “you’re done already?” I replied “yes got you your guru Dakshina” holding up the medal. I kept walking saw Seema and Anusha waved them on shouting “350 mtrs to go! c’mon c’mon lets go”… and then I saw Sonali ambling along with Madhuri B. Good good she’s still ticking… jogged over and asked her “haan ji heart rate kitti?”… she grinned checked her watch and said “153”. I was like “good good, cramps in the calfs etc.?” answer came “nothing so far, this is a good pace”. I thought to myself “haan that is what we are going to change now”. So I started my lets go lets go routine. They both started jogging after a point probably thinking “get this monkey off our backs someone”… Madhuri crossed over first at 50:58 and Sonali at 51:00. Done. Selfie also done.
Let’s go find the others. The others were near the stage. Siddharth still had a sore foot so I suggested some stretches. Hope he feels better today.
There was food which we initially ignored, because I anyway do not eat before 10-11AM and later I was like “hum jahaan khade ho jaate hain line wahin se shuru hoti hai, hum lambi linon mein nahin lagte”… Mukta though was full of determination and made sure everyone who was not as headstrong, and myental as me got into the line, stood patiently and got served. I went off to take a few pictures at the presentation for the mentors. Seriously the mentors deserve all the thanks and then some for the patience and tolerance they have shown this past 8 weeks. Personally I have never run injury free and this time was no different however the bouncing back from injury was super fast thanks to the way Sangeetha, Shekhar and Shuvendu guided us with the warm ups and cool downs.
Also the graduated increase in pace and distance was equally important. Running too much too fast too soon is why I used to get injured and stay injured earlier. Not any more. going forward I’m going to stick to this pattern of increasing pace/distance gradually. Next year as a tribute completing a 10K will be the goal.
Running is about managing your head for the most part and as long as you can do the crazy in your head, like assuming you’re at km 4 when you’ve just about completed 0.99km, and still go on at an even keel…. its all fun. Don’t go in to win races, just focus on finishing the run with zero injury. Optimize your element of joy and everything will be alright. Most important give way to everyone their urgency to get that pole position is their own race you need not stand in their way. Oh and once you’re done go and cheer up the ones coming in after you… I know I like it when someone on the side specifically points out to me and says “yes you can do it c’mon c’mon”… similarly when you can simply walk back and do that for others make sure you do it… it adds to the good experience for everyone. Pictures, leader boards and results are all fine those help you sell the indulgence to family and friends “I came 77th in a field of 474! Yay big deal” but what really comes back with you is how you made others feel. I actually stopped and spoke to the kids while running. Joshua, yeah Joshua was the youngest one at 5yo. He was running with his mom and dad. I ran behind him for almost 200mts, I was worried he might get run over… eventually he ran off (so much for standing guard like Rocket Singh)… Nice experience overall. Will I do it again? Of course… not if they make me do Zumba again… naa it was ok I can always channel the inner Sunny Deol.
To be fair I did feel a bit competitive along the way. However when you are huffing and puffing like a rhino in heat and a 20 something kid passes you by at supersonic speed it’s not really possible to keep at it and pretend you’re Tom Cruise anymore. At that point the best pivot is to turn into Russel Crowe (the big, grizzly post A Good Year version) and enjoy the scenery. I was so excited seeing the insides of the University campus that I actually said to the wife on the way back they might have a vacancy for a creative English writing course I’ll do it even without salary So yeah hook me up guys if you know someone in there. It’s a beautiful mesmerizing campus. Just the sort of place one would love to live at, jungle mostly. Peace.