Monday, September 20, 2010

My first half marathon - part 4- the final 10k and the finish

( continued from part 3)

'Oh! Oh! the route was familiar, I had run this before' I thought.   The 12th km was the easiest one.   My bro held the backpack for a while.  

Suddenly, I dont know from where, a wave of exhaustion swept me.   The backpack suddenly became heavier, and heavier and heavier... my shoulder slumped, pace dropped to near-walk speed.   Everybody was overtaking me  - runners who found new energy and eager youngsters.  

I took a walk break - a rather long one.   Rajesh, Akila and KK had moved about half a km ahead of me.  'Will do this slow, but sure'- I said to myself.   It become a walk and jog routine - till I reached the Adyar bridge and then it became a walk ( 16k).   My team were snapping away photographs - but too drained to catch up.   I was exhausted, but not out.  If only I could handover my backpack,  I thought.

As they say - when you are in trouble, dont give up hope.   My hope was answered. An angel appeared - we call him SLMP or Shankar.  One of the better runners in our group, Shankar was more keen to create a photo-document of this largest ever CR gathering till date.  So he was happy-snapping at everybody and hence running lot slower.  At the 16k mark, he reached me; and reached out to me and made an offer that I could not refuse.   Time: 2:17.

'Handover the backpack' and ' run this like a 5k, and finish strongly' he said.   So happy I was, I relieved the backpack off me, and then said a small thanks and ran.   I caught up with my brother and Akila.   KK had some cramps at 17k, and Rajesh was also slightly tired.  But Akila was going strong.  

Water points were depleted of water - only wasted 500 ml bottles lying around.    The stalls had wound up;  there was lot of jay walkers.  Everybody seemed to think that the race was over.   

Around the 19k mark, Rajesh did a small reverse run to trace KK, who had fallen behind; Akila was off like an arrow out of the bow - fast.  She found a faster companion who accompanied her till the finish.

Rajesh and I had given up on time, and intent to finish; did a run-walk-run , counting the number of poles as we ran along the Beach road;   the distance seemed to grow, and the last mile the longest.   Students, cops, by-standers were cheering.   The sun was behind the clouds, but humidity was not that kind enough.   Exhaustion poured in, but the finish was now in sight.

About 25m from the finish line, my calf muscles pulled, and I started limping.  Rajesh pushed me along, and there, there - I crossed the finish line along side Rajesh.  My first HALF Marathon.  In 2:54...!!!  

We all were exhausted.  The better runners had a good finish, and had a happy-snappy photograph session.   I joined them for couple of photographs.

Everybody had medals, so I pushed my way into the crowd, argued, fought with the organizers and finally got one.   The political drama was going on in the stage - everybody praising the other, how great the high and mighty are...

What the heck - I had my first half marathon under the belt, and a medal too!!!  

PS - this marathon series is dedicated to two special people - My brother Rajesh and Shankar Lal Patel , without who the finish line would have been there for sometime more to be conquered!!!

My first half marathon - part 3 ; the race - first 10k...

(continued from part 2)

The bugle blew.  The CR elites started in the front;  there were other groups including few social advocacy groups for better life, against discrimation etc.,   There were people of all types - old and young, men and women. 

We brought the rear of the pack.   Rajesh, Akila, VT, KK and myself were running together - for the first time.   The comfort for me was that I was with better runners;   The ambulance and the cop vans followed.  We felt like some royal road party being escorted;   Some students and passers-by cheered us to run faster.

Personally I had a bag with couple of bananas, gatorade sachets, and about 6 caps that were stuffed during the start by some over-eager distributors of one of the sponsors.   I was wearing goggles and cap when I started the run.

The other groups picked up speed, but as we thought - we ran at a slow pace.   Post Santhome church ( around 2.5k), the escorts decided to ahead, as we were oscillating at near-walk pace and jogging ( about 8 min/h)

All this time, there was a promise of rain as clouds covered the eastern skies.   With such positive promise, around the 4th km, we tried to accelarate a bit.   We were doing 7.2 km/h. Into the 5th km, we had reached the Adyar park;  the back-pack started weighing me down.   With no visible solution around, I took my cap and goggles off, and started running.

Once in a while, along the Adyar bridge and the service lane leading to the Besant Nagar Avenue, Akila + Rajesh would over take me, and I would play catch up in turns.   VT had dropped off, and KK had gone ahead.

Here we saw the return party - some barefooted champs, a shirtless Westerner, some people who have to win to earn the prize money for the return trip coming back.  It was then 7k for us and 14k for them... then we saw the first bunch of CR's - Anand, Senthil et al.

Slowly, around the 8k mark, we found ourselves sticking at 7 min/h speed; then a clutch of Chennai runner elites and other runners waved us on our way back.  By this time, the backpack was becoming heavier and heavier and I slowed down to 7.5 min/h mark.

The water points were excellently operated; too sad to see that runners, including me, could only could take few sips out of the 500 ml bottle and throw it off - lest it should become a baggage. 

We could see some early morning walkers and sleepy-eyed bystanders looking like ' what the hell is going on'.    The roads were free, and the overzealous cops kept the jaywalkers off with exhortations and stick-waving.   The sky had opened up, and humidity was increasing.

Rajesh and Akila started moving ahead; I ran at a slower pace.   Few people had started walking, and I was passing them.   That was a good motivation.

Around the 11k mark (along the Elliott's beach), I saw another clutch of chennai runners - lot of cheering from them at the round about point;  I could also catch up with Rajesh and Akila.   There was a 200 m walk break.   Till this point, things had gone well.   The weather, the organization, running conditions, and my internal self were going fine. 

10 k - 1.12 min at 7.2 min/h;  Was feeling slightly exhausted, but Ok; Half of half done, half to go...should be easy, or so I thought.  As they say, surprises are always round the corner...

( to be continued)