The above quote sums it all. Airtel Hyderabad Marathon, which is India’s toughest marathon poses new challenges every time. My running journey started in 2014 with Airtel Hyderabad Marathon where I participated in Half Marathon thinking that this will be my only race in life and it will become a ‘Tick’ in things I wanted to do in life. With a preparation of only running 5 km and without proper shoes (I had no clue that you need proper running shoes), I somehow crossed the finished line and to add to that the weather was a real dampener.
This running experience became an addiction as I slowly started participating in races all across the country and I realized that practice was important. Hyderabad Runners have been a great motivator as I started getting tips about the tricks of the trade. So slowly discipline started setting in and it was early morning runs so that I do well in the runs.
I did participate in AHM 2015 and AHM 2016 and I did reasonably well, having understood what it takes to improve the timing. And the weather was lovely in these two years.
I had registered for AHM 2017 as part of a discount from the Masters’ Series (Airtel Hyderabad Marathon, Bengaluru Marathon, Spice Coast Marathon and Chennai Marathon) and this being my home ground (given that fact that I have now lived in Hyderabad for more than ten years), I wanted to do well.
With the date in mind, I started my practice on my own. Hyderabad Runners conduct a very structured training programme but I was not able to attend that because of my frequent travel. But yes, I maintained a discipline keeping in mind the terrain (three flyovers) and the weather. Three days in a week, I used to run around 7 kms. One day was a long run for about 16 kms. One day was reserved for gymnasium (as I needed a strong core). Out of the remaining two days, one was for free hand exercises and one day was a complete rest day. I also started doing the Sambhavi Kriya which I had learnt as part of the Inner Engineering Course by Sadhguru which made me mentally tough and also increased the flexibility of my body. In terms of diet, I introduced millets in my diet for strength and gave up on rice and potato. I was overweight and I knew that I had to lose a few kilos to be faster. People believe that you lose weight by running which is true to some extent but slowly the body gets used to it and you actually do not lose weight anymore. Diet plays a very key role here. And running is an intense sport and needs its own checks and balances. Since we run mostly on roads, it is important to protect our ankles and knees. So an additional 1 kg is equivalent to 4 kgs on the knees. Secondly, long running has a potential to affect the kidneys. Hence it is very important that we are hydrated to prevent any damage.
After a decent preparation, the D-day finally arrived. I went to the expo the previous day to collect my bib and T-shirt and more importantly the Masters’ medal. I was greeted by the ever enthusiastic Hyderabad Runners group and it was a great experience at the expo.
The Half Marathon run had a scheduled start time of 6 am. I got up at 4 am and by 4:30 am I was ready to go. I had hired a cab and I got down near Basheerbagh and started walking. The Full Marathon had already started and I was amazed to see such a large number. This year Airtel Hyderabad Marathon had cutoffs and it was heartening to see that so many Full Marathoners had actually qualified. I reached the Start point at 5:15 am and met my old running friends. Then it was warm up time and it was quite a good work out.
At dot 6 am, the run was flagged off (Hyderabad Runners is notoriously good at that) and we all started off. I started a bit slow as I usually require 4 kms to find the pace. The weather was very conductive for running and hence there was no need for me to stop for the aid stations till the 6th km.
The atmosphere was electrifying and there was so much cheering. People had come out of their houses just to cheer for us and that gave us a reason to do this well. The aid stations and the volunteers were just too enthusiastic. I met my fellow runners and everybody seemed to enjoy the run so much. We were talking, laughing and little did we realize that we have crossed two flyovers and were near Cyber Towers.
Here we were joined by the 10 km runners and the stream of runners never seemed to stop. We were still going very strong. The first signs of fatigue started at the 18th km but I knew that I had to push. And once I entered the stadium, it was a sprint. I just love the tracks. Yes, one more half marathon done, not the best of my timings, but I completed this with ease and there was no sign of any weakness.
At the Finish point, the beautiful medal was waiting and this added one more to my kitty. Then it was time for some stretches because the idea was to run and finish injury free. We were next served a sumptuous breakfast as always. Time for some photo shoot and once that was done we started cheering the runners who were coming in.
Overall this is one of the best races I have ever run and I will continue to do this every year as long as my legs last!!!