(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)