The 40 km weekend

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I started looking for routes and planning the logistics for a 27 km run last week. After asking around on twitter and finding elite/experienced runners in Mumbai and Gurgaon, I got to know there is a run happening on Gurgaon Faridabad road on Sunday. The distances were 5km, 10k, 21km and 42km. I decided to run on the route since there would be security and other runners around.

On Thursday, the running group I have joined was discussing routes for a 30 km run. Some runners are training for a full marathon and decided to run their first 30 km at 4 am on MG road. The group leader suggested I come along since I know the route and I thought it will be better than running on Gurgaon Faridabad road at 6 am. By 8 am, my 27 km would be done. After setting 4 alarms at 15 mins intervals, I woke up 3.15 am and we started running at 4.15 am. There were 2 hydrations cars- a term I heard for the first time. Basically, 2 runners had brought their cars and drivers along. These cars would drive along while we run with water, food, electral etc. This was a new thing for me because I carry a bottle of water, gatorade diluted with water and energy bars in my pouch when I go for a long run. The hydration cars helped me because one of them was instructed to drive behind/along with the slowest runner. In this case, it was me. After 3 km, I didn’t see any of the other runners because they have been running for years and so are very fast. It was pitch dark and there were certain pockets on the road without street lights. I stuck to the service lane till it was day light. The first 15 km flew by. My pace was quite good because running few kms behind a group made me push myself. That does happen. When there are people around you running, you tend to pick up pace. Except for one incident, when a truck driver kept asking me where I want to go, I didn’t face any incidents on the road in the dark. Also, I didn’t use the services of the hydration car because I don’t want such luxuries. At 15 km, near Qutab Minar, I saw the other group of runners when they took a U turn. The last 5 km were especially tough. Running back on the same route is pretty boring and I wish I would have gone ahead towards Lodi Garden instead of heading back to Gurgaon but we had planned to go out for lunch and I needed to be back.

I was tired yesterday but not too much. I had planned to run at Raahgiri route today in Gurgaon but I was exhausted and decided to treat myself. I took an Uber to Lodi Gardens and ran around it. There was a 6-12 km run and relay organised and 1/4th of the road was blocked for runners, there were security personnel everywhere and volunteers. I decided to run loops on the route and take advantage of the arrangements even though I hadn’t registered for the run. With so many runners around me, I clocked my fastest 13 km which is pretty damn good.

The run was followed by fabulous b’fast, a stop at a bookshop and some great conversation. It was so much fun that I had decided to leave for home at 11 am but when I looked at my watch, it was 11.40 am. I told myself “I will leave at 12”. 20 mins later, when I looked at my watch, it was 1 pm. Reluctantly, I decided to leave because I don’t know what the rules are these days. What is the maximum time you can spend at someone’s house before they throw you out for over-staying?

The 27 km run experience made me think- How do people who don’t have access to expensive GPS watches, hydration cars, drivers etc train? It also makes me wonder if only the rich are running marathons right now. It makes me feel weird. Isn’t running supposed to be just about the outdoors instead of wondering how you will carry your water and food? I am not part of the high society of Gurgaon and I never want to be. And the idea of making someone drive with you at 4 am carrying stuff for you is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for these cars following me because anything could have happened on the Delhi roads in the dark at 4 am but this is not how I want to train or run. I would rather not run a full marathon than train like this.

I informed Shshank about my 40 km weekend and told him about the logistics issue in running long distances so early in the morning. He has offered to run with me next weekend and I am going to take full advantage of the offer.

So, the plan is to find running events happening in Delhi/Gurgaon and run on those routes so I have company for long distances but running with hydration cars is just not my thing. I like to keep things simple. The reason I like to run is because all it needs are a pair of shoes and a bottle of water. I plan to keep it that way irrespective of the distances.

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