I am Number 4

Post the training for ADHM (Delhi Half marathon), where we focussed primarily on speed and this new structured diet (a diet for more power!) my fitness level has gone up. At least Sandeep (The Sensible) believes so. Hence the revised pace chart. I was now looking at numbers, which I would have never imagined to see on my excel file. (I’m thinking now…Not-so-Sensible!) From a happy “6 something”(pace) runner, I had graduated not-so-long-ago to a “5 something” runner. Alright, so I took that 5 pace speed work in my stride. But now, when I see “4 something”, albeit only for my short intervals, my heart flutters!

Today was the first day of the rest of my life. These dangerous numbers would be put to test (btw- I know it is all relative- my fast is easy for many ;-)!) I really didn’t know what to expect or to think- all I knew was that it was going to be really hard. So in my head I re-wrote the workout with the (slightly slower) paces that I had done 2 weeks ago- for another speed workout. I had given up on tomorrow before I had even attempted it! I resolutely refused to move out of my comfort zone.

Then, in order to gather some strength for the workout, I asked Sandeep to pace me. He was just getting into training mode, and in my heart of hearts I was kind of hoping that he would say no. To my (ill) luck, he agreed. Now I had no choice but to at least try going at that ridiculous pace! He would push for it and I would die. With that death sentence, I spent the rest of my Tuesday vacillating between panic, ohmygod, he’s going to pace me, and relief, thank god, he is going to pace me!.

Wednesday morning, 6.30 am. Race Course.

3km x 2@threshold pace

6 x 500m@short interval pace.

2 minutes recovery jog between all.

Having memorised this workout, we embarked on our mission!

I focused on my breathing, looked straight ahead, emptied my mind and simply followed Sandeep. We were fast and steady. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel like I was going to die!

And then he says, 600m to go. It seemed far.

400 m more. Not bad.

200 m to go. And then effortlessly, we picked up ever so slightly to bring the average pace down to my fastest 3k ever! I just couldn’t believe it!

Out of breath, I walked a few steps and then broke into a slow jog for recovery. Sipping water, I got my energy back, but my heart was still racing.

2 minutes done, pressing the lap button, we were off. I have done it once, I can do it again. Simple. I ran with this belief, but my mind started clamouring and my breathing went awry.

In the last 600m, we stumbled upon these two young boys, and me, with my “hello, hello” tried to alert them to make room on the narrow trail. Then Sandeep went, “Side, side.” They didn’t budge an inch. He managed to weave around them, and me, in no mood for any politeness, yanked the arm of one of them, manhandled him and charged ahead! Dude! You young guns, with rap in your headphones, ambling along, should go to a park!  Scrambling to the finish, I picked up pace, but realised that I still had 200m to go. Thinking that I would not be able to sustain this pace, I slowed down to pick up again, for the last 50m. Only, it was too late. The average pace for this lap was just over the threshold pace. Had I known I was racing against time, I would have pushed for the entire 200m! Oh, how I wanted it! I was crestfallen.

Typical me! Before the workout I think I will never be able to do it, but once I am in it I want to kill it!

Sensible Sandeep: “Don’t worry, you will get more chances! You just focus on the 5 – 600s you need to do now.”

Moronic Me: “600s? huh? What 600s? I have 500s!!”

SS: “It’s 600s. You haven’t read your sheet properly. ”

MM: “Ohhhhh, of course I haven’t! I looked at it and just assumed it will be the same as that previous week- with one more rep!”

SS: “Well, now you know…5 x 600s.”

MM : (mumbling, incoherently) “Okayokayokay, whatever!”

And off we were. My legs were burning. Heart was thumping. And in a state of panic I checked the Garmin. Only 300 m done! There is no way I can sustain this for another 300m! And I stopped. Right there and then. Dead, in my tracks. “My heart is beating at 1000”, I said, “I cannot do any more.”

Realising my level of despair, SS pacified me, by saying, ‘Lets do 300s or 400s only. We have had 2 good 3ks.” Consoled by this thought, after a few seconds of rest I was ready for a 400m. We did it. And then a 500m. “Let’s end it with a 600m lap”, I said to him. And that was effortless. We flew! Each lap, we ran progressively faster for the longer distance.

Thrilled to bits, post this workout (As I always only focus on what goes well, I ignored the lost 600ms repeats!) I practically skipped the whole 2.5km home from the Race Course.

As the day wore on, and my thoughts settled, I realised I just need to get used to this. These speeds are in an unknown territory for me. What I had always thought was impossible, is now visible on the horizon.
I just need to believe.




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