When the penny dropped

The Thane HM was an important race for a training run. The plan was to run it at my moderate Marathon pace, so that it would be a 21k tempo run. Unlike last year, when I had a target pace, this year, I had to run by feel. Simply follow the body and regulate my effort by way of monitoring my breathing.
The night before the race I slept well. Not a good sign. Or actually, completely in line with my mindset of it being a run rather than a race. The plan for nutrition was moderate too, just a salted date every 5k, no need for any gels and certainly no need for music. It was only a not-so-long Sunday run! As we set out for the long drive in the morning, the weather was beautiful. There was a slight nip which remained all through the race.

As for the race, anyone who has run Thane before, or knows someone who has, knows that the hills can be pretty challenging. Last year, the route became kind in the last 5-6km, with a long lovely sustained downhill, which let you just roll all the way down to the finish line. This year…it was relentless all the way through due to a change in route. Last year I had walked up the steepest part. This year, I was determined to run it all the way through. This year, surprisingly, at that dreaded incline my natural response was: pump your arms, lift your knees. Woah! Suddenly it became easier to climb the hill. All the hill work that I have done this year, hills during long runs, the long hill training,the short hill sprints had all worked! Thank you Sandeep, Rahul and Russa. This is why I needed to run Thane, I suddenly realised. Nowhere else in the city would I get continuous rolling hills for this distance. This was the perfect test for me. Like a child who had just understood how the formula works, I used the same technique over all the hills. Yes, the strategy was getting ingrained in me. That is why it is important for training routes to simulate race routes, race conditions. Hills scare me less now!
I completed the race feeling strong. With negative splits.
Thane Half marathon 1:55:05
I finished 2 minutes slower than last year, but the elevation change with much more.
I ran alone today. Stress free. Easy. Really enjoyed myself. (Except for the 3 km towards the end, where the 10km walkers clogged up the road, and brought out the mean me!).
All in all, a good day at the office.

“When they (Kenyans) see a hill, they see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to train harder, to work harder. “

– from Running with the Kenyans

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