My First Half Marathon: Hyderabad 10k run

Not every day in your life does your good friend get married. Not every day in your life you run 21km in about two and a half hours. Not every day in your life are you faced with a decision to chose one over the other. That is precisely what happened to me last weekend. The title of the post tells you which one I chose, read the rest of the post for why I made such a decision and of course my experiences of My First Half Marathon ever.

Why I skipped my Friends Wedding
It was an innate desire to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving what I want to, that made me skip my good friends wedding. As some of you know, I am a Scanner by personality. Except for getting into IIT, I don't credit myself with any tangible achievement. I have dabbled in many a things but without any end result. I set out to change this and the first in line is running the Marathon. I don't know if I can convince any of you or this good friend of mine with the above argument, but in my mind I had no option but to run at least one Half Marathon in 2007.

The Preparation
It all started with running the IT city run on May 19th in Bangalore Mid Night Marathon. I am a lazy bum to the core, when it comes to anything to do with physical activity. With the help of the knowledge I had about my self, I started telling every one who cares to listen about my intent of running the full Marathon in January 2008 at Mumbai (I still have to run this). That set the tone for the rest of the things. I came across a fun group which runs with all seriousness, The Greater Bangalore Hash. I got to run a lot and also meet some very nice people at the hash. I missed only one Run at the GBH. Running the cross country and haring a couple of runs gave me good confidence that I can run the Half Marathon.

Apart from hash, I enrolled my self at a nice plush Gym. The gym and hash helped me not to become lazy for a long period of time. Not more than two weeks at a go.

Leading to the Run
I planned to run the Half Marathon in Bangalore Marathon, but the dates eluded me till date and I am sure the organizers will have a "Bangalore Marathon 2007" in 2008 or who knows in 2009 or beyond. Luckily for me, the Hyderabad 10k and Half Marathon was around the corner.
The online registration was pretty simple. I received my bib and the t-shirt by post in time (though not without follow up).

The last week before the run, I exercised myself without stressing out any body part. My trainer at the gym was excellent in helping me out on this. Two days before, I just stopped any physical activity and was just building my reserves. (read eating a lot ;) ). One thing I took care of was not to eat anything which my system would not accept. Over the last few months, I have a good understanding of my digestive system.

The Run Start
Woke up by 4:30 am on the day of the run, and was at the venue by about 5:40am. Collected the automatic timing chip. As is with any Indian event, there was enough confusion at the counter which distributed the timing chips.

I was impressed with some of the arrangements at this stage. (The mobile toilets, water supply). The public announcement was a big let down, the RJ who was announcing did not have clue on what are the necessities/needs that need to be addressed. With about 200 people for the Half Marathon and a few thousands cheering the run got started at 6:30 am.

First 15km
The enthusiasm and support was simply superb. The traffic arrangements were outstanding at this stage of the run. From People's Plaza to Lumbini Park, Abids, to Charminar, the road was kept clean of any distraction by the Traffic Police. Hat's off to them for such great cooperation and help. There were water stops, just at the right points. However, it would be nice to have water stops every 2km.

Watching the Charminar in all it's splendor was a feast. At this moment I made a wow to myself that I will run the Marathon's in as many cities as possible, just to be able to see some of the places over there, which is not possible other wise. Frequent chants of Dhoni Dhoni lifted my spirits more. (I have long hair locks).

We returned Lumbini Park along the same route.It took about an Hour and 40minutes to cover this distance. Except for a little pain in the heel and the incessant cough which was my friend for the last three weeks, I was in a good position to finish the run in 2hrs and 10-15minutes.

Last 6Km
As we entered the turn to enter Tank Bund, I realized my above conjecture is just that. There was a sea of humanity in all colors who were blissfully part taking in the 10k run. There was no way I or any of the others who were running the Half Marathon can run. We had to stop, reduce our pace and at some places forced to walk.

This was very disturbing and affected my pace. Nevertheless I kept moving. Another very disturbing thing was dual distance indicators for the 10k and 21k folks. It was lot confusing and in the end it ended up worse as the Half Marathoners were supposed to finish of 1km ahead of the 10km'ers but there was no indication to that effect, and we were made to go the extra km to the finish line. I still don't understand what was on the minds of organizers. Finally with great difficulty I made it to the finish.

The last two km were difficult, where we walked for most of the time. I even had mild cramps at the 1km mark, but could wade through.

F***ing Organizing (excuse me for the expletives)
Running the Half Marathon was not as difficult as it was to wade through the crowd and trying to find out what to do next.
i) None of the volunteers/people with all access cards seem to have any information about what the runners who finished the run should be doing.
ii) Worse, each of the person we talked to directed us to a different place for collecting certificates.
iii) A few volunteers were rude enough to shove and push the runners.
iv) There was a live band going on by a DJ,his group and some filmi actress from Mumbai, all the people were engrossed in it than attend to any issues with the runners.
Above all, there was utter disregard for the sport and the sportsmen. It hurt a lot that very old people who ran the half marathon were shoved and moved pillar to post. I am very sorry that none of the tv channels/ new papers failed to report this. Amidst all the euphoria it was lost that the people who made the event a success were reduced to just no bodies.

I still don't have the exact timing, in spite of paying for the timing chip. There is no information on the website regarding this (72hrs after the event).

Update:
I now have the result, I stand 93rd with a timing of 02:24:24.

In end it was a good event which could have been great.

Personal Scores
On the personal front, I am now confident of taking part in the Mumbai Marathon. (I have a small issue with my Left Hamstring, hope it doesn't impede my Mumbai participation).

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