Monday, December 13, 2010

PB @ Bengaluru Midnight Half-Marathon 2010

The Bangalore Midnight marathon has found its way into the Indian running calendar. The run is organized by Crossroads – an event management company with support from the local Rotract Club and some wannabe local politicians.

My last year’s experience of the run was good (report here) and didn’t want to miss this edition. Shreya had a tough time waiting sleepily in the cold last year and decided to give it a miss.

It was only a week after the Singapore marathon, but I landed up at the Registration counter by 10pm. The spot registration were badly managed and a long line greeted the runners. The organizers ran out of bibs and we had to settle with the ‘highly unreliable’ timing chips in place of bibs. With a few minutes before the start of race, the melee at the registration posed a threat of a first DNS (Did Not Start) for me. But it did provide me lots of time to show-off my new shiny Singapore marathon medal to all my running pals.

I managed to stay ahead of the crowd when the race flagged off (after some misplaced speeches) and was speeding right from the word Go! It was a boring 5loops of 2.2k and back. There were enough water stations and the traffic was blocked for this 2k stretch. I was focused to keep under an average pace of 4:30 mins/km. I clocked my best time for 5k (21m:25s) for the first 5k. I knew I was on the way for a Personal Best when I saw Athreya overtake me only on the 4th loop.

I finished 21.1k in 1h:39m.

The accumulation of the loop error of 100m, meant that half marathoners ran 1k more to the finish and a miserable 2k for the full marathoners. And one of the advantages of a fast finish is a less crowded medal / certificate counter. This is my Personal Best for a Half Marathon…

Route details here

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2010 – Race Report

Surreal Singapore
Singapore was the perfect start to the holiday. Shreya and I reached here on the 30th Nov, with 5 full days before the marathon. We were treated to royal hospitality by Shreya’s Aunt, Shirley. Over the next 3 days, we spent lots of time on foot, ambling in and out of the Metro, the buses and malls. We visited a few of the regular landmarks – Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer, the Zoo, Sentosa island, China town & Little India. With the marathon approaching, we put our legs up a couple of days.

From Preparation to Pasta:
Although the training plan (an ambitious one spanning 22weeks, targeting a 3:30h finish), was a fine mix of interval and tempo runs, it was marred by frequent bouts of illness, a broken arm taking a month to fix. A few notable training runs included a 13k in 1hour in Pune, a 2:40h 29k in North Goa in Oct, a 1:41h half marathon, a 2:47h 30k and a 3:07h 35k in Nov in HSR, Bangalore. The complete training log is available at the Garmin connect site here.
I had to scale down my target finish for the marathon from 3:30h to 3:45h.

Pasta Party was fantastic, thanks to my dear SJCC friends – Balu and Bharath, with Balu providing the kitchen and Bharath providing culinary advice.

Race Day, 05 Dec 2010:
It was Shreya’s birthday and we had a nice little sign pinned to the back of her running t-shirt that said “Happy Birthday to me”. And as the runners passed her during her race, some wished her, some made small talk, others even sang in chorus...

Shreya and I had different start times and starting points for the HM and FM. My race was to start from Orchard Road at 5AM and the HM was starting from Sentosa Gateway at 6AM. I had booked myself into the 3:15AM (yes, you are reading it right) bus from Yishun stadium. Shirley Aunty and Robert Uncle were kind enough to drop me off to the stadium at that unearthly hour (and then go back home, pick up Shreya and drop her off to the MRT!).

The scene of the marathon was vibrant as always. Runners were pouring like roaches from all crevices between the skyscrapers in the twilight. Orchard Road was in lit up for the Christmas extravaganza. Runners were moving around like Brownian particles – around toilets, information kiosks & the starting pens. Bibs were color coded by target finish times, my sub-4 target gave me the right to stay right behind the elite athletes at the start.

I sat down on Orchard Road leaning on the barricade, listening to the MC shout out many a encouragement and instructions over the microphone, silently running over my plan for the race. The pacers with the yellow balloons reading 3:45 were the ones that I had to stay ahead of. The quintessential marathon song – Chariots of fire was played and the race started at 5AM sharp.

The route was fantastic, winding through Orchard road, Marina Bay, the F1 course, up on the bridge to the East Coast Pathway. The sights of Marina Bay sands, flier and Esplanade against the river was a spectacular. The flat course helped me keep my rhythm and I clocked perfect timings for my first 20k. The 5k split timings read – 23m:40s, 23m:48s, 23m:57s, 24m:43s, finishing the HM distance in 1h:41m. This was also about the time when the sun was coming up over the ECP and beginning to make it nice and bright.

I managed to keep good focus on speed and discipline in water (and 100plus) intake. I also generously poured water over my head to keep me cool. Cheerleading groups, an occasional band, small talk with passing fellow runners helped me keep the positive momentum going till 30k which came in 2.5hours. All I had in mind was to keep the pace for the next 5k and I would then be sure of a sub-4 finish. I did just that.

I distinctly remember running through the construction site, with the sun beating down, the casino in the distant skyline, I looked down at my watch, it was wonderful to see the 2 meters change readings – as the clock ticked to 3:00:00, the distance changed to 35k. What a sight!

I slowed down a bit and began to use the tiger balm a lot more to soothe the cramps, but kept it at bay right till the 40k. At 35k the FM course merges with the half marathoners and the 10k runners. It was a delight to see the ocean of runners take the flyover towards the finish.

I stumbled 200mts before the finish and stopped again for more massaging and that much was enough for me to miss my Personal Best. I finished strong in 3:50:08, 7 secs slower than my PB at Hyderabad in 2009.

The 5k splits for the race were - 23m:40s, 23m:48s, 23m:57s, 24m:43s, 26m:28s, 26m:48s, 30m:48s, 33m:59s.

Post race:
The finish area was well organized too. The finishers walked into the Padang park were handed out medals, finishers tees and refreshments.
I met Balu, who had finished his 10k in 70mins and we called Shreya. My heroine limped towards the Asics tent in sometime, having finished her maiden HM in 2h:45m. We got our complimentary massages and an Osim foot massage in the massage chair. That evening we were treated to some fine Indian cuisine by Shirley aunty and Mathew uncle and drove around Orchard road & Clarke Quay bidding our good-byes to this wonderful city…

Some interesting stats of my run from Runpix:
(All results based on NET finish time - 3h:50m:08s)
1. Result in the entire field – 303rd place
14564 finishers behind; about 2% of finishers ahead
2. Result in Gender (Men) – 275th place
12331 finishers behind; about 2% of finishers ahead
3. Result in Division (M 30-39) – 106th place
3442 finishers behind; about 3% of finishers ahead
4. Of the 14859 who finished, 15% were women and 85% were men
5. For the record, you were ahead of about 99% of women finishers
6. Over Final 12km: You passed 7 runners; And 111 passed you
7. Average Speed 11kmph

Shreya’s Half Marathon statistics:
(All results based on NET finish time - 2h:45m:36s)
1. Result in the entire field – 4346th place
6469 finishers behind; about 43% of finishers ahead
2. Result in Gender (Women) – 1065th place
2867 finishers behind; about 31% of finishers ahead
3. Result in Division (F 20-29) – 422nd place
1541 finishers behind; about 21% of finishers ahead
4. Of the 11274 who finished, 37% were women and 63% were men
5. For the record, you were ahead of about 51% of men finishers
6. Average Speed 7.6kmph