I ran in a lot more races this year, for sure. I never thought I would run the Delhi Half Marathon, but this year, I did! I also used it as an excuse to raise funds for a couple of my recent acquaintances Children's Day program.
Like I have lived the past two months, I ran the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, wrapped up in my world but not completely unaware of surroundings. I have cut fuss out of my life, almost. I did not carry a bag to the venue. I ate paruppu podi saadam and curd rice for dinner. I stayed awake till the household slept - thankfully, not very late. I told the husband to rest and not join me at Delhi. I took the simplest option for getting there. I woke up, ate a banana and drank some coffee. I zipped my old phone, a couple of hundred bucks, and a Gu that my friend (let me call her Atom) gave me, into the pocket. I ate a granola bar and a tiny bit of water. I reached and did the security and the loo (so many people cribbing about the loos, please, you cannot expect anything else, just do that thing you have to in India - and Srilanka too - DONT SIT DOWN - just perch). Met friend. She suggested a strategy. It sounded good. She paced the first 5- 8 km, just awesomely she paced it. We stuck together. I ate a bit of Gu and drank some water at 8 km. at 11 km, the time was 1:00; which was our target per strategy, so that was good. I was waning a bit earlier but when I saw the 12 km, I felt awesome. My head was down somewhat so I don't even really know what road we ran on. I met with the one and only Sivey at some stage, I think it was 8-12 km, he was dressed all in black.
Atom was happy with our pace though she said she was waning a bit at 15 km. I was not. She is an experienced girl, I was sure this is what she would want me to do, so I carried on, reciting multiplication tables in my head. We met only at the end after that. I was at 17 km. I had a bit more Gu some time. I decided to chuck the rest of it; now its between you and your mind, Kenny, I told myself. I did pick up some Lucozade sometime; that was DEFINITELY helpful, and thank you, sensible people, for having it in a cup and not in a giant 0.5 l bottle. Upslope. My strategy for the slope was simple, not think about it. Left and right people were walking. I did not care. This was not a slope as far as I was concerned. That worked (incredibly enough)! At 19 km was a crazy dude out in the middle with a mike, great job ma'am, you are at 19 now, he said, loudly, into the mike. WOOT, I said to him and smiled. When I hooked the U and came back, I found him faltering once and saying, you just have 19 more to go! Ha! funny that! Just before that, one guy missed the water station and was crying 'Water' rather plaintively. I gave him my bottle. So now I am at 19 km and have nothing in my hand except my towel.
A glance at my watch. Cannot do the math. I can only count now. Not even the 1 times table. Guy playing Guzaarish on his phone/musical device. I cannot look at him because that involves turning my head. I sing a few snatches of it and pass him. But I can see in my watch that I have not crossed 2 hours. Wow. This has never happened before. I practice what I will say to the husband when I call him. I search desperately for the 500 m mark - I know its there because I saw it on my way out. I cannot do math at this stage at all, but I figure I should finish within 3 mins now, if I can just find legs enough for a little over a stadium loop. A loop I know I can do in 2 mins in normal circumstances. I accelerate a bit, and am almost surprised to see the 300 m mark. A lady in black that I have been chasing all morning long is just in front. I would LIKE to overtake her but don't want to focus on that and that alone. I decide to just give it my all and sprint, and not look at her, or anyone else. Okay, maybe stride-sprint if not sprint-sprint.
I dip my head (old sprinter habit refuses to go away).
I have finished in 1:58 per my watch, I see. The board above me says 2:03. That makes sense. We were at least 4 mins behind the gun. I am still sensible. Nothing hurts, really. I get my finisher medal. I can walk. I can think. I find lemon lucozade. Awesome. I drink some of it. Of course I am glad its in a bottle. I hold on to that bottle and drink it all day long.
Atom finds me, we think she is a minute behind. I am confident she finished under 2 as well. Which was our goal... I dont even stretch much, really. I just walk around a bit. I pick up the snack pack - awesome pack with one banana and two apples. Nothing nasty in it. I buff the apple and eat it. I have not even sweated too much. The weather and route were just perfect, I realise. I have done my personal best time. And finally met a goal. I bask in that for a bit.
I return back to Gurgaon. The SIL and husband and kid are waiting with a board that says 'You are a champ' I feel embarrassed, chiefly. I am also hungry, and in desperate need of a bath. 'Do you want a hug' I ask them - this is my standard line every morning for the past few months after a sweaty run. 'Eww Amma, go bathe RIGHT NOW' says the monster as I slowly pick up my towel and step onto the cold bathroom tile...