Where it all began…

While walking towards the start line from the B section…

Parul  says, “Oh, the race seems to have started.”
A kind hearted runner explains, “Don’t worry,  there is a mat ahead, at the start line and the time for your race will start only once you cross it.” A few polite steps ahead, Binita and I burst into a peal of laughter. So cute!  And that set the tone for my 5th ADHM! Life had come a full circle. Back to being a novice Runner. 🙂
With the excitement of Raceday, pumping music, runners hi-fiving each other, seeing the buses, my ambivalence from pre race disappeared and I began to feel good. Words of a few (those who knew me better than me and still love me!) rang in my ears. Kill it. You are fitter than you think you are. Of course you can race this one. Don’t run easy! Go for it! And I smiled. I was prepped and race ready.
There was a slight nip in the air, so the race conditions, like the organisation, was perfect.
This is why I run Delhi. It is an effortless race. The start was smooth and after the initial cobbled patch, I moved into a lower gear with ease. I stayed abreast with the 1.50 Bus (ably led by my friend Keshav with great gusto!). I felt strong. I seemed to be the only outsider in a primarily Delhi group. As they proclaimed “Jai Hind” I made my presence felt with a “Ganpati Bappa Morya”.
As a runner from that bus expressed anxiety, “ Hum aukat se bahar bhaag rahe hai!”
I countered it with, “Aukat main Rehane main koi mazaa nahin!”
And Keshav says, “Bahut badhiya!”
Towards the halfway point I began to feel the strain and so I eased up slightly. I took a walking water break and a moment to savour the place where I was.
The wide tree lined roads (all of which look the same to me!), Lutyens’ architecture with the iconic buildings, and India gate in the distance gave me goose bumps. I was happy.
My first race post Boston, and if running by feel meant running this pace, which for most of my life had always been only aspirational, I was happy.
I went back 7 years, and remembered that ADHM 2010 was my first out of town race, having just joined Savio’s group. It was a small tight group and we had had a blast. I had done 2.17 and was thrilled to bits.  Little did I care that I was the slowest runner in the group then! I was happy.
I picked up my feet and smiled. The bus was long gone as I snapped out of my reverie. That’s the problem with a half marathon. There is no time to waste. No time to dream. And once it’s gone, there is not enough distance to make up as the pace vacillates between furious and not-so-furious.
Settling in, I ran relaxed.
A conversation from Saturday came back me.
Shiv, ”People ask me what do you think about during a race? I really don’t know what but something or the other is always on!”
Parul ,“Sometimes it’s the noise that becomes a problem!”
As my thoughts flowed like the course, smooth and easy, I understood why I loved to race. These were those hours when I lived in moment and everything was in the here and now.  No past. No future. No people. No work. It was just me, the road and the runners alongside me on this journey.
As I saw the 17km mark I realised that the end was near. In 2010, as a novice runner I didn’t know the significance of the last 3-4km. That it was the time to dig deeper.
I plugged in my IPod, relaxed my shoulders and focussed on my breathing. I felt the pace quicken as I started passing runners. Slowly I was back with a lot of the runners I had run my initial kilometers with. That was my cue
for the final push and I finished with the last 4 km lap being my fastest!
1:53:27
Far from a PB but Not a bad time either.
As I woke up on Monday morning I woke up sore. Not sure whether it was because of the race or the post race celebration!
 
From my ADHM 2014 post (my first sub 2!):

“We can train for hills, we can train for speed. But if we run with Joy,

that will be our best pace.”

                                                     2010  – Obviously!                                              Now! 😉

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