This post will be full of gushing enthusiasm. 100% guaranteed. You have been warned.
So let’s start gushing and enthusing, shall we?
Yesterday, along with some of my gang of running girls, we took part in a timed race out at the amazing Formula 1 circuit in Noida, across the river from Delhi in UP state.
2 of our girls, Kathakoli Dasgupta and Sonam Taneja ran the half marathon, with our indomitable coach and guru, Dr. Rajat Chauhan pacing Sonam for her first ever 21km, and the look of joy on that girl’s face when she crossed the finishing line, with all of us cheering for her, spoke volumes.
One of our newer members ran the 5.14km, which took some doing in the heat – they started the last, at 9 o’clock I think, by which time it was seriously hot.
And the bulk of us ran the 10.28km and it was all brilliant and huge fun and, yes, after just 5 months of running, all hugely encouraging.
Before you ask. The slightly odd distances (5.14km and 10.28km) are because they correspond to one and two laps respectively of the Formula 1 circuit. Which leads me nicely to the venue. Far from Delhi, which meant an extremely early start – think 4am – and STILL there was a traffic jam at the exit road leading to the venue. A Rs 20 toll – really? Given that we didn’t get a receipt, I wonder if it wasn’t simply a bit of private enterprise, someone sensing a quick business opportunity, with hundreds of cars full of eager beaver runners, with race deadlines to meet and so ready to cough up without a protest.
Be that as it may, there was a ridiculous jam.
Running on a Formula 1 track was the hugest fun. As in the hugest fun ever.
Having been there twice for F1, it was brilliant to be in the pits and as we ran round the track, I recognised where we had sat in previous years, and discovered things I hadn’t seen on race days, such as a water feature. The track is also far more up-and-down than I had realised, and running up those slopes in the increasing heat as the dawn mist burned off was – well – challenging.
Downside of the track? Absolutely no shade whatsoever, which is why I pitied the 9am starters. Also, clearly, there were no spectators, other than some loyal family members who had come to cheer on runners, but that didn’t bother me at all, and what I liked was the relaxed feel to the race, with many of said family members standing all over the route to get good photos – a far cry from the uber-security of F1.
The race was organised by a company called Running and Living, and if a total newbie to this kind of thing is allowed her two pennyworth of critical feedback, it would be that there were not enough water stations on the track – just 2, though Katha told me there were more for the half-marathon, after they left the track.
I always have a water bottle with which I run, so I was fine, but when my running partner, darling 13 year old Shaivi, started having shin pain (a) there was no medical station and (b) there was nothing for her to drink, other than my water. As a rank amateur, I feel that something like Gatorade would have helped her cramps, and those of another little girl who ran with us, who was in quite some pain. Gatorade was only available at the finishing line, which was great, but it might have been a good idea to have it at the 2 water stations as well. And have more stations.
At one point, as Shaivi was stretching and trying to work out the pain, Old Mother Hen here spotted a tiny little thing also clearly in pain. Sanskriti, part of a Gurgaon running club who were there in huge, cheery, enthusiastic numbers, is an amazing little 11 year old who has already run a half marathon and was trying to run 10.28km in an hour to win a bet, bless her. She was struggling and asked if she could run with us, so there I was with these two young things, and we chatted and walked and ran and encouraged each other.
Shaivi and I finished, together, as we did for our first race in December. Our time was 1 hour 8 minutes and the encouraging thing is that we both know we can do better, and that’s pretty amazing. Well, naturally, it’s not that amazing for a fit 13 year old, but for old Auntie-ji here, it certainly is.
And so here are a few of my most memorable moments for you.
This slope might not look much, but you certainly feel it. Mind’s you, the down slopes more than compensate :
This was the amazing view as we approached the finishing line – it really doesn’t get much better, let me tell you.
Constantly aware of my age, in a sea of young people, I was thrilled to see this gentleman. What I failed to see was the front of his T shirt which said he had run over 100 marathons, or some such crazy figure. Almost made me feel young…
My 2 young co-runners, with their medals.
And the 2 of us.
And here is Sonam crossing the finishing line of her first ever half-marathon with Doc.
And yes they are big, as befits our group achievement yesterday.
My take home moment ?
Oh, the whole wonderful thing, from misty chilly start to sunny finish.
Running. New friends. Mutual encouragement and support. Aspirations…
…hey, I warned you this would be gushing.
And here’s my track log. The little jink is when Shaivi and I left the track to find support for her to stretch.