The clock showed 6:55 a.m., 10 minutes more than the scheduled start time of the Mysore Half Marathon 2011. All the runners were waiting patiently at the start line - The imposing Mysore palace. Okay, the “patiently” part was a lie. We had all warmed up for a 6:45 start but apparently Chief Guest Javagal Srinath does not mess with his 8 hour sleep cycle. We greeted him with a loud ‘boo’ when he finally ambled along to the start line. I was targeting a finish of 1 hr. 40 mins, which meant running faster than 5 min/km for 21 kms. My friend Bala from Bangalore was targeting 1 hr. 45 mins but he gamely agreed to run with me for the entire distance.
The elites simply took off as soon as the start gun went off. Not sure if it was the pace the elites set or our own stupidity, Bala and I decided to give them chase. Big Mistake. We ran the first two kms in around 8 mins, way faster than what I had planned. Any distance runner worth his salt would tell you that you should not run somebody else’s race. And here I was disobeying the most basic tenet of long distance running. I settled into a nice breathing pattern, slowed down and let Bala compete with the elites!
My plan was to finish the first half of the race in 50 mins. But realized that I would get there about a minute or two early at our current pace. The route meandered into Kukkenahalli kere, the best running place in my beautiful hometown. We ran into the elites returning from the midway point. And the three in the lead were blazing. Their coach was on the sidelines and screaming at them to pick up pace. Hah! That is one coach I hope to avoid for the rest of my natural life.
At around the 8k mark, the effects of chasing the elites caught up with Bala and I ran alongside him for the new few kms. My lace came untied twice and I wasted sometime getting it right. My hands were unsteady and my fist and jaw tightly clenched – a clear sign that I was trying too hard. Stopped for water at the 12k mark aid station. With little humidity and cool breeze, I decided that I could manage with only one stop for water. And that certainly helps.
|The Celebration Mysore Half Marathon|
I checked out my GPS watch and found that I had to run the last 8k in 39 mins to finish within my target of 1 hr. 40 mins. My usual running pace at that point in time was 5 mins/kms meaning 40 mins for 8 km. I just had to run a couple of kms faster. Sounds easier when I put it on paper but the second half had a few up-hills and increased traffic which meant that saving that one minute was not going to be easy. My mom had promised to come to the route to cheer me, but I missed her as well due to my decision to go for glory.
The final push never came. Somebody on the road shouted “Boss you are 28th… Run faster, so many people have gone ahead”. That brought a smile to my in spite of all the pain/pressure I had put myself in. Finished in 1 hr. 41 mins and Bala finished a couple of mins behind me. Missed my running season target by around 1 minute. Almost there but not there. Story of my running life really.
Soni Mathew finished in 1:09 mins and took 1st place in men’s division and Kavita Raut in 1:20 took 1st in the women’s division. As for me, I have time until the Auroville 2012 to reach my season target of 1 hr. 40 mins. With all the arrogance and confidence I can muster, I declare myself good enough for a 1:40 HM in the coming months. Only time will tell!