Resisting the temptation – Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016

Considered and termed by numerous runners as the Mega Carnival of running in the capital region, where you run as much as you socialize, Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is one event that almost all Delhi/NCR runners look forward to. Scheduled in the month of November, right at the onset of the beautiful winter season, it offers a flat running course which passes through the historic India Gate.
Unpleasant past experience
I was stepping into this event with some bad track record:
2014 – This was my first HM and I got major cramp in my thighs at the 18 km mark. It was a painful walk/run through the remaining distance and just after crossing the finish line, I went and crashed in the recovery zone
2015 – despite clocking 2:10 during the recce run, I completely drained myself out on D-day at the 13 kms mark. Remaining run wasn’t all that fun, but I did not pass out at the finish line 🙂
2016 – This would be the 3rdHM distance I would be doing in 2016. The first one being SCMM FM (5:17) and second one being at Ironman 70.3 Bintan (2:34); both of them weren’t great in terms of timing.
For the last two and a half months I was generously recovering from my last event and fixing my lower back ache. During this period, I was mostly doing short intervals and some bike rides to stay active. Though I was not nervous about the event this time, I was also not aiming to clock any fantastic time; anything under 2:15 would have made me happy. And more than timing, I was aiming at finishing stronger rather than fading away towards the end.
Meeting the pros at the expo PC: Garima
Finally a D-day without any anxiety
I couldn’t get enough rest on the day prior to the race. Somehow managed to put myself to sleep by 9:30 p.m. and woke up by 3:00 a.m. I was happy to receive an audio message on my phone from coach Deepak wishing me luck and sharing some key points I must remember for the race ahead. Had 400 ml water, a toast with peanut butter and then packed my gels. Just when I was stepping our, I decided to carry my own electrolyte (Fast&UP Reload) instead of relying on the one arranged by organizers and it really paid off. The energy of fellow BootCampYellow runners was encouraging as we boarded the bus that was arranged for the journey to avoid the hassle of parking. I had the opportunity to sit next to a fellow runner, who was a climate change scientist and had worked closely with the Government of India. Call it coincidence but with the recent reports on increasing pollution levels in Delhi/NCR, it was quite an engaging and enlightening conversation all the way up to the venue.
We decided to take this group pic before the race, rather than at finish line 🙂
This time, the organizers had equipped the security volunteers at the entrance with handheld scanners which displayed the photo of the runner the moment they scanned their bibs. It was a smart way to ensure people do not pass on their bibs to someone else to participate. Some easy warm up followed by meeting and greeting few familiar faces while moving towards the holding area for section C.
First half of the battle
Like every year the energy levels were quite high as runners dashed out of JLN stadium. “Ok calm down Sid, no need to rush in the first 2 kms” I kept telling myself. Saw a lot of familiar faces and lot more people overtake me in the first 2-3kms but I resisted the temptation to pick up my pace. Between 4th and 6th km, I saw the 2:05 bus catch up and I tried to match upto their pace but then reminded myself that this wasn’t a 10k run. And I kept telling myself to maintain a consistent pace until the 10 km mark. Had half my gel at the 5 km mark and the remaining as I reached the 7.5 km mark.
At the 7 km mark  PC: Anjali
Time to step up
I always find the stretch between 10 km and 16 km the deciding point for my HM distance runs. Now that I was over the 10 km mark, I decided to pick my pace and maintain it until the 15 km mark. Had another half gel at 11 km mark and popped the remaining around 15 kms. I kept my electrolyte conserved for second half of the race and it was time to consume it at equal time intervals. At 15 km mark, I saw my watch and it was 1:25. Did a quick math in my head and realized that I could manage a sub 2, but did not let this get me excited. But yes, I did continue to gradually pick up my pace.
At 15.5 km mark PC: Ajit
By 16km, I could a feel slight tension in my right calf muscle. For a moment, I thought that this might get aggravated over the next 2-3 kms, but luckily it did not. By now lot of runners were slowing down and the moment we took a turn towards Lodhi road at the 19 km mark, I decided to give it a final push. By the 20 km mark, I realized I fired a little too early but tried not to lose the momentum for the last 1.1 km. Finally crossed the finish line and saw my watch read 1:59 and I tried to contain my excitement before the official time was published. The good part was I dint have to crawl upto the recovery zone. Felt absolutely fine and had enough energy to do another slow and easy 10k run.

Warning: Before you decide to rest your bum on the tarmac after crossing the finish line, please be sure that the surface is wet because of water from the bottles and not someone’s puke 😐

Post Run
Met with fellow runners, picked my medal, food packet and few bottles of water. Did some stretches before walking another 2-3 kms to reach our bus and head back home.
Someone has grown up between the two ADHMs 🙂
Post Race Analysis
Some things which went well:
  • Pre-race and during race nutrition strategy. Dint try anything new on race day
  • One thing I have learnt early on during my tri training is to conserve my energy for the end. The idea is not to phase out, but to finish stronger as you approach the finish line

What could have worked better:
  • I gained 2-3 kgs in 2.5 months training period and I should have been a little sharper
  • Need to get to my target season weight for the run next year
  • I wish the organizers move the expo back to JLN stadium, more space and less chaotic location
Official Data from Timing Technologies
Garmin Data
Final Result
Net Time: 1:59:24
Avg. Pace: 5:40 min/km
Avg. Speed: 10.6 kmph
Rank: 1650 / 7726
Cat Rank: 264 / 1345
Gender Rank: 1569 / 6773
Going by the pattern, I should be clocking the next ADHM in 1:46. Will I or will I not – lets wait and watch.

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