Last Sunday we had the Hyderabad Marathon event and I ran the Half Marathon……till the last flyover. After that, I walked.
The event was organized by Hyderabad Runners – a running group that promotes the cause of running in the city. It was done with such class that it would put any professional event management company to shame. There were volunteers all along the route, water stations, pacers with balloons urging and guiding people with time targets, marshals on bikes, policemen regulating traffic when not cheering the runners, it was perfect……until the last flyover.
The weather was simply lovely; customized for the run. A cool breeze took care of the sweat and the cloud cover kept the sun’s harshness at bay…..oh, it was such fun to run. Until the last flyover.
The route was challenging; not many flat stretches in the entire route. There was one flyover right at the beginning followed by another one after a couple of kilometers and then this lovely rolling stretch with gradual inclines and descents that kept the boredom away. The route then turned left at Cyber Towers and was a very gradual downhill slope all the way till the Old Mumbai Highway. This section was probably the easiest on runners and I would imagine that most of the runners – including me – ran faster in this stretch and covered up for any lost time on the uphill stretch. Great going and I was feeling very happy with my timing….till I reached the last flyover.
So what was it with the last flyover? I guess, it was mostly psychological. This flyover has recently been completed and has not yet been opened to traffic. Since I don’t pass it every day, I was not even aware that it was ready and was expecting that the route would take us from below the under construction flyover. However, when I saw people ahead of me getting on to the flyover, my racing heart skipped a beat.
The second reason is that by that time I was close to hitting my wall and only determination would have helped push me ahead. The flyover completely crushed that determination.
Thirdly, it was a pretty long incline and would have completely knocked me out had I attempted to run while climbing it. The finish line was barely 2 kms from the flyover but that stretch was as good as running the whole run. Anyway, I resumed running on the downhill section and tried to maintain a disciplined run/walk schedule for the last stretch. However, I was running for much smaller stretches and walking longer.
A 50 year old gent overtook me during one of my walk breaks. And then a 60 year old whizzed by. I had crossed them sometime back and here they were, catching up with me, giving me words of encouragement before flying ahead. I was crushed. (at least I feel crushed now. At that point, I couldn’t have cared less even if an 80 year old would have run by…I just did not have any energy left to do anything more than what I was already doing).
And this was just the Half Marathon. My ultimate goal is to run the full at Mumbai in January. I had serious doubts on myself during the last stretch – how on earth will I be able to run 42kms when I have so much trouble just finishing 21? Why am I doing this? As any endurance runner would know, such questions are very common and keep popping at challenging moments. The idea is to trick the brain into not triggering a shutdown and keep going. I am determined more than ever to attempt my maiden full marathon in Mumbai but I know that I will have to train much harder physically and mentally. Thanks to the last flyover.
Anyway, coming back to the run, the end point of the run was inside the Gachibowli stadium. Thankfully, I had enough energy to sprint the last section. As soon as I entered the stadium and set foot on the track, I threw away my water bottle and started sprinting towards the finishing arch. Meters before the end, I raised my hands above my head in victory hoping that the photographer behind the line would freeze this moment for ever. I had done it. A doctor asked me if I was ok. I am fine, I said, panting. I looked at my watch. 2 hours and 30 minutes.
(Still waiting for the official timing; it could be off by a few mins)