After a 5 month hiatus, I finally went for a run in Delhi and it felt GOOD. Part of it was laziness but mostly it was because weekends have always been kinda busy with some domestic stuff happening.
I first heard of runningandliving.com when I went for the Bangalore Ultra Marathon. There was a paper insert with the stuff the organisers were handing out. Talk about timing - at work, talks were on about my move to Delhi. Within a few days of reaching here, very proactively I signed up as a member on their site and started getting updates on runs. In the initial days, most of the runs seemed to be in Noida and I was in the guest house at Westend. Since I didn't have my car yet and I didn't know the route (imagine trying to find Sector 61 early in the morning) and it was soooo cold, I had enough excuses to not go.
The run which was held on last Sunday - 9th May was at Gurgaon. As usual, there was a timely reminder sent out by Rahul Varghese who is the Chief Runner. He is an ex-MNC marketing head with 25 years of experience which he quit to explore his then new passion of running. As the days came closer, I started feeling nervous because a) I felt I haven't done enough training b) It had been a long time since my last run. On the eventful day, I got up at 4.30 am (blinking like an owl) and as usual took almost an hour getting ready. How I envy people who can get ready in a jiffy. I then drove like mad and reached the start point by 5.40 am which was the time most people also came in (the 10k run started at 6.00 am while the 5k was at 6.30 am). The start point was near Rose Park which is further down from Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gurgaon. The park has a huge parking lot and so have no worries of parking. After 5 minutes, Rahul came up carrying a small megaphone and took us through the run and the route. It was quite light hearted with him claiming credit for the good weather and comparing us to Olympic runners :) Post this, one of the sponsors - Elemention Gym had their trainers stationed who took us through a good warm up routine.
By this time around 40 runners had gathered and we started at sharp 6.00 am. The start point was the parking lot and the run was on the road. The distance one way was 2.5 kms and so we had to loop back and then do it all over again. Since it was so early in the morning, there was hardly any traffic. I had set my playlist to finish in exactly one hour because I wanted to better my previous time of 62 mins. I started off and the first two kms went off smoothly. Then I started to feel the strain. As usual, my upper back started to pain. Then my breath started getting ragged and I was like - "Did I get up at 4.30 am to do this? Why am I going through this hell?" After what seemed like ages, we finally came back to the starting point and I started getting my second wind. I checked the time and saw that 28 minutes had passed by. Simple math meant that I would finish the run in 56 minutes :) but I had to factor in that I was slowing down. I wanted to speed up a bit then but tried to keep a steady pace till I reached 7.5 kms. All the while, I was wondering how much of time was left. I took the turn without stopping to drink water as I was scared of breaking my rhythm. I started stepping up the pace by focusing on overtaking the person immediately in front of me. Not as easy as it sounds because that person was in front by virtue of running faster than me in the first place. Still, I gritted my teeth and pushed on. You are not going to believe the next part - first there was a foreigner whom I would overtake and then he would catch up again. This happened 3 or 4 times till I decided enough is enough and sprinted ahead to put a few extra metres between us.My next target was a bald specy guy and the fun started all over again. By this time, the last km came up and the strain really began telling. My lower back and my legs started protesting big time and I slowed down. Just as the end was in sight, a couple of things happened - the songs ran out and that meant the hour was up. Also the foreigner overtook me at this time along with two others. Oh crap!! I finally crested the finish line and hurriedly pulled out my iPod to check the time. Hurrah, I had completed it in 1:01 hrs - one minute better that my earlier time. This combined with the euphoric feeling of completing a run successfully gave me an instant high. Course that was in my mind, my legs were still looking for a place to rest my bum. I sat down and waited for the world to steady. People were milling around chatting about their run, comparing, laughing or just cooling down. The organisers started handing out some packets and I was hoping it was completion certificates (like a Red Indian collects scalps, I collect paraphernalia ;). Unfortunately, it was only information leaflets. I quietly got up, did a few stretches and left the area remembering why it was that I came to these runs - for the happy ending.
p.s - do check out the video. It is not in exact sequence but done quite well.