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The Chennai marathon or actually the half-marathon was an eye-opener for me. This was my first attempt at running a long race. I had run 5K (5 km or 3.12 miles) before in the US. I had run 10miles, altho not in a race, on two earlier occasions. So this was going to be tough, but turned out, not what i expected at all.
This was also the first race, i was participating in India, and so it offered opportunities to compare between races in the US and here. Well, this makes sense today, only because the organizers were trying to break the Boston Marathon record in terms of participation.
So the marathon got off to a funny start, with the MC messing up statements in both english and tamil. It was quite funny, and it helped tho, easing all tensions one would have had running a big race. There were about 3-5 of us, really enjoying this chap and his comments. Then the guests, chief and otherwise, all added their bit of spice. Since things were comical now, anything anyone said seemed funny. What a mood to kick off the race.
We started off, a little after 6:30am. There were huge number of people, and being one among the crowd it was difficult to count. My race took me exactly 3 full hours to complete. I couldnt take the heat, after crossing the 9km mark, and having had a bottle of water, i was also feeling heavy. I quickly slowed the pace, and was soon walking. Once you are in the almost given up state, it is difficult to get the body to kick start again. And i never did. The heat only added ammunition for my body to fight of any remaining will power. I was reduced to walking, jog, walking, jog, for the remainder of the 21km.
A few good things about the support structure that helped the race. There were cops all along the route to help keep things under control and help with traffic and pedestrians etc. There were also limited but essential first-aid counter, specializing in physio-therapy etc.
Now the bad. Not a single portable toilet at the start or anywhere on the route. It is rare that you would need to piss when you are perspiriing, but still biology is biology.
Very limited water. The sun was up by 6:45, and shining hard. Water was plentiful in the beginning. It vanished from the 5K point till about the 8K point. Then there was far and few. It may also be, that they were only serving the ones that were doing good pace. Because as i was running i did see signs of water (bottles,caps,sachets etc), but no one around serving any more. By the time i was doing the home strecth from about the 15km down, water was completely missing. By now, the sun was bearing down hard. No wonder that there were more people breaking down and seeking help. More ambulances flying back and forth.
All in all, it was a pleasurefull personal experience. However, i wish the organizers of the next one take more care.
Today was supposed to be just another day. Well given it was sunday morning, it wasnt meant to be another day. I got up early to do my usual run. There was a plan to ride/drive to the beach (Gandhi Statue) and run along the marina. But since that plan didnt work out, i was to follow my usual course and may be run a lil longer. Even before leaving the house, i was planning or thinking of some variation, but my body was showing the usual signs of lethargy. The challenge is usually, until i wear the shoes. Once armed with the shoe, the final piece of the armor to be fitted, the mind wins over the body. There is no more struggle, atleast to get started.
As soon as i stepped outside my house, i knew it wasnt going to be the normal run. I started from my house in Gandhi Nagar, with the intention to run about 3 miles. But when i started running and crossed the first kilometer mark, i knew this was going to be long. I decided to run till the marina, which was about 7 km from home. It wasnt a breeze, but this wasnt something new to me either, and so with a little bit of huff and puff i managed to run upto and beyond the Gandhi Statue at the Marina. Along the way, i noticed a lot of water stands, cops, and finally notices/hoardings indicating a race today, another ‘Chennai Marathon’.
This is the about the 3rd time or so, that i am running thru town, to find that there is a race that day. I am not ready to run a marathon, but usually these have smaller races too. I guess its a matter of time, before there are regular 5K, 8K and mini-marathons in the city. Running along the marathon course, only energized me more. I arrived at the statue without major complaints from my body. I then decided to run some more.
So i took a left turn and continued running. This time, i wasnt sure how long. I was thinking i will run till i come across an empty auto (auto-rickshaw/mini-cab), and then get a ride home. I was covered in sweat, so i wasnt sure how these chaps will react to me getting on. Luckily my feet was feeling comfortable, inspite of the run so far and i kept cruising on. I ran on till the Music Academy junction at Alwarpet, before finally deciding to changing my stride into a stroll. That would have been a total of about 9K, i think? I will hopefully drive my car to get an accurate distance reading.
I walked till the Hanuman temple at the Alwarpet. The temple has become pretty famous and draws crowds all the time. Small temple, owned by the adjacent bank. I quickly paid my obeisance. I picked up an auto right outside to get a ride home. I was impressed, not because of the distance run, i have done that before. But i always wanted to run thru’ the city, and this was a first for me. Now this will enthuse me to attempt this run or similar runs thru town.