Part 1- The Training

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Hellios. The only reason am writing this post right now is because I am waiting for the last episode of season 2 of ‘Awkward’ to finish downloading. Yeah… from all the great suggestions on facebook on which is the next big series to watch … I didn’t pick any. But I will… once this is over.

I, finally, ran my first half marathon. After around 300 km of practice in this year alone I finally ran 21.1 km. I wish I could say I was confident. I wasn’t… it was scary. Initially, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish… then I told myself- its ok. If I don’t finish, it just means I need more practice. Anyway, this marathon is not why I started training. The main event – Airtel Half Marathon is in November. That is the big one… the one I need to finish in 3 hours. The marathon on Sunday was just about checking how much more training I need.

But, let me start at the beginning. I did not wake up one day and decide to train for a marathon. It happened gradually… over a period of a year. Yep… I have been running for 1 year now. I started jogging in Gurgaon in 2012 when I was trying to lose weight and had not joined a gym. I would jog for 30 mins in the morning and do functional exercises in the evening. Then, I moved to Mumbai and joined the fuck all ‘Gold’s Gym’. It is the worst gym and I hated doing cardio there. There is a post on its fuck- all ness somewhere on this blog. Anyway, I started jogging in the mornings and it was fun trying to run while avoiding pot holes… not getting hit by buses… and generally just getting out. I experimented with a few apps on the smartphone and runtastic fit the bill. It tracks pace, distance, calories and a lot more. I have been using it for the last 1.5 years and it has never failed me. The distance is always, always accurate.

And then I moved back to Gurgaon and started jogging again. Raahgiri helped me run longer on Sundays. Raahgiri is mainly an event every Sunday morning where 4 km of roads are blocked for vehicles. People use the roads to dance; skate; play cricket, football, badminton; run; cycle… anything and everything. I had access to 4 km of road for running… 2 rounds would be 8 km and so and so forth. Until then I was scared of walking on Gurgaon roads… it is no secret. But now I can take off where ever I feel like it… I have run in DLF Phase 1, Galleria, Golf course road, golf course extension road, villages on the outskirts of Gurgaon etc etc. And that is the fun part. There is no fun in doing 20 rounds of the area I stay in. I don’t know how anyone can train like that. Running is about getting out and discovering new roads… it is about enjoying the weather- hot, cold, sunny, rainy… listening to music undisturbed… regulating your breating… in with the nose… out with the mouth.

I decided to run the half marathon after the 6 km at ADHM. Imagine getting on the metro at 6 am and finding it packed with people going to JNU stadium to run…. the roads of Delhi blocked with people out to run/walk/jog… cheering for the half marathoners… seeing young, middle aged, old, very old running 21.1 km and wondering how can ANYONE do that?

I started my training in Oct’13 and looked for many training plans online but did not find anything suitable. All of them suggest running everyday and I couldn’t do that. I had to go to the gym and there was Jazz too. 2 days of Jazz, 2 days of gym and 3 days were for running. Sunday was my long run day and the other two were for short but fast runs. I added 1 km each month to be able to run 21 km in November’14. My first 10 km was in Dec’13 on a trail run organized by the Running and Living foundation. I had only done a 8 km then and trail runs are very, very difficult. Running on a road is easy… but trail run is in the jungle on muddy tracks… with pebbles under your feet… thorny shrubs around you… you cannot run on that ground if you don’t want to hurt your knees. But I finished the 10 km… it helped that Milind Soman was also running and since he started the run later than everyone else… I had enough time to drool over his calves. Yeah, I have a calf fetish. Since I started running I have started noticing people’s calves and drooling over them. In fact I even googled on how to get sexy, muscular calves but apparently they are genetic. Sheesh!!! Let down by genetics… always.

Everything was going well… until Running and Living announced a half marathon in August. I wasn’t sure about enrolling but did not want to do a 10 km again… definitely not a trail run since they are so hard. And I decided to register for a half marathon and train … and then decide whether I wanted to run. After 13 km the runs started getting very difficult. I felt like I had sailed through 10 km compared to now. Complications increased… I needed to hydrate on the long runs which meant carrying a bottle of water along. Thank god for Raahgiri. Runners with bottles strapped to their waist is a common sight on Sunday mornings in Gurgaon. And runs longer than 75 mins meant I had to also carry a Gatorade (hate the taste) to refuel. And to add further misery Gurgaon experienced 40 degree weather. I had assumed winter is the worst for running (breathing in the cold is very difficult and slows me down) but summer set a new record. I started waking up earlier to escape the heat but things were still not easy.

My last long run before the half marathon was 17 km… I had never run 21 km and that made me nervous. There are a lot of websites which said that even if you have done 13-14 km you can finish 21 km. Sounded comforting but I decided to lower my expectations. I didn’t want to do the 21 km in 3 hours… I just wanted to reach the finish even if it took me 4 hours. The idea was to finish. That was the only objective. I told myself I just had to reach 17 km… and after that another 4 km would not be a big deal… they would take me less than 30 mins to finish. I just had to reach 17 … and that shouldn’t be difficult because I had run that distance 2-3 times already.


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