On Sunday, Delhi blew hot and cold. The sultry, muggy conditions made running difficult on a flat and picturesque course. Delhiites, a species often accused of being surly and unfriendly, showed their cold side by not turning up to root for those who took the effort of lacing up early on an off day.
It's a pity, because the Delhi Half Marathon, an event as good as any, was marketed as an opportunity to cheer for the city and make new friends. Sadly, the citizens didn't respond.
Having registered for the 21km run, I got to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the start and finish point, at 6 am, after packing in a whole lot of carbs and hydrating myself silly.
Turns out I wasn't the only one to fill up my bladder to its limit. There were serpentine queues before the mobile loos, making for an amusing sight at a time when everyone was trying to limber up and look serious.
I started my run at 6.43 am, confident of clocking a
personal best if my troublesome heel didn't act up. For the first seven kilometres, I maintained a good pace and felt I was on track with my mini mission.
Running in Lutyens' Delhi is a pleasure, though it would have been nicer if the aristocratic occupants of those bungalows had cared to walk out and applaud. In Mumbai (I've run two marathons and five half marathons there), the whole city comes out to celebrate. From the high-rises of Peddar Road to the slums of Worli, you have supporters - often with fruits, biscuits and water - all along the course.
Going past the imposing India Gate and trotting on Rajpath was truly special. Suddenly, Mumbai's Marine Drive and Bandra-Worli Sea Link paled in comparison!
By the eight-kilometre mark, I was gripped by a nasty pain in the knee, putting an end to my hopes of a good timing. Having trained reasonably well for this event, it was crushing. For the rest of the course, I limped and hobbled, desperate to earn myself the finisher's medal - reserved only for those who complete the run within three hours. The beats of Macarena, DK Bose and Yo Yo Honey Singh, strummed violently at various milestones, didn't really help.
I got to the finish line with eight minutes to spare, kissed my medal, sulked, and packed myself among other runners in the crowded Delhi Metro.
By the end of it, I had a new friend: pain. It's now time to dip the feet in water. Both hot and cold.
When not in office, the writer loves to hit the treadmill and run outdoors.