Half Plus Half Equals One?

26 Sep 2015 - running

Does two Half Marathons count as one full marathon? I don’t know, but I had a chance to find out at the recently concluded Double Whammy event.

When I first signed up for the event, I registered for back-to-back 10Ks. I’ve done 10Ks before and I’ve done half marathons before. I figured 10K would be easy and doable. Later, I talked to Souvik and I realized 10K isn’t really a challenge. I know I can do two back-to-back 10Ks, I wanted to do something that was more challenging – so I asked to be upgraded to back-to-back half marathons. Later when I realized that it was not only challenging, it was also a little beyond the edge of craziness.

Day 1

The race start time was 5:30 am, which meant I had to wake up at least as early as 3:30 am to grab a snack and then head over to the start line which is a good 20 km away from home. The drive was a long one and after I got there, there was about a 1 km walk to the start line from the parking area. Once I reached the start line though, there was the cackling of nervous laughter and familiar faces. It was quite dark when we started and I maintained my pace with the other racers, incredibly enough, without noticing how fast I was going. I later learned that I was going speeding too fast. I didn’t want to slow down too much and be the last one, so I kept at it. Eventually, I slowed down to what felt comfortable (Again, I later learned this was faster than normal for me).

The first day’s course course was tough, and we knew it. I’ve run on GFR in the past, I remember there being barely any shade, so I was ready with sunglasses and a cap. As an out and back race, I dreaded every descent, I knew I’d be climbing those back up on the way back. I didn’t really have a pacing strategy in mind, but it so worked out that I only took walking breaks at aid stations and at the big incline on the way back. That one was tough to run and I didn’t see any point in running it up. I just leveraged my long legs and took long steps up.

Let’s Run Gurgaon events have been very well organized. We had a reasonable number of aid stations and the best thing they stocked was the 5 Star bars. They probably gave me a bigger boost of energy than anything else :D

Once I finished the run, I realized how long the 1km from the starting point to the parking area was. Never before has 1 km felt that long. I’m still unsure how I managed to ride my bike all the way back. My leg muscles hurt and there was nothing I could do about it. Most of Saturday was spent recovering (read: sleeping, eating, and drinking water).

Day 2

The second day’s start point was near TERI. It wasn’t too hard to locate given I ran through the road the previous day. When I got there, a crowd of tired, but excited runners who were all in various amounts of fatigue and pain greeted me. It was supposedly a more flat terrain on Day 2 compared to Day 1, but it was no walk in the park. Until the half way mark I managed fine, after that the muscle soreness hit me. I had to do a run-walk until the last aid station. With about 6 km to go, my phone died stopped giving me pace alerts. I remember charging my phone but when I got to the start line, it only had 30% battery. I brought a battery pack but not a charging cable :( After the last aid station, I walked pretty much the rest of the route until the last 500 m or so.

The runner’s high from crossing the finish line was pure bliss. And I can’t remember how I found enough energy to laugh at all the silliness we were all doing. There was someone talking very seriously about Krav Maga and he tried to demonstrate, but all he managed was spill someone’s drink :)

And another thing

The most surprising part about doing this race was that, after the second day, I had some body pain, but not quite a lot of it. I did a recovery run on Tuesday and I was totally fine afterward.

During the bib collection, there was a gait analysis and correction workshop by Dr. Rajat. He confirmed what I suspected all this while – I heel-strike. He suggested a simple activity to fix it that I’ve found massively useful – Skip in place for about 5 minutes before the run. You can’t actually land on your heels when you skip, you’ll always land mid-foot. This will create a muscle memory that’ll be carried into the run. Additionally, it’s also a great pre-race warm up.

The disadvantage of back-to-back races is that, well, you need to wake up early on back-to-back days. This is not fun, despite me being a morning person. I had nightmares during the week of the race about waking up too late. This may have something to do with my first run on GFR. I woke up early, snoozed, and eventually started running at 6:30 or so. I didn’t bring my cap or sun glasses that day and got completely exhausted thanks to the heat.

The good part though is you get to run the full marathon distance with some rest, skip the sunnier parts of the day, and get some time in between to sleep and rejuvenate.

This race weekend is officially my week with the highest mileage - 45 km. I can’t wait to beat it in a few months :D I managed to set a half marathon PR on the first day of 2:28:50. The second day saw a huge drop in my speed thanks to all the walking to 2:50:19. I’m in disbelief about maintaining a 7:03 min/km pace throughout the first day. With AHDM around the corner, I’m curious to see how well I can do in terms of pace. Next year is already close and I’m working on planning which races I want to run :)

Oh, and Double Whammy Spring 2016 has already been announced and tickets are open. This time I’m wondering if I should run the 42+42 or improve my 21+21 timing.

Not going to forget this medal for some time

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