First HM Race Report : Airtel Delhi 2012 (Read 1185 times)


    Apologies – this has turned out much longer than I wanted it to be. There also a few gross details ahead (vomiting etc) so would like to sound out an alert for readers who find such stuff gross.


    Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Race Report:


    I’ve uploaded the Garmin data from the race on the log. This was my first HM and I finished it in 2:56:46 (this is from the timing chip). Although my intention was not to have a target time and run the race dictated by the “central governor” as suggested by Noakes, it was conceptually too vague for me and I needed something more concrete to run the race by. My last long run before the HM (exactly a week before) was 16.5 kms in 2h19m at a pace of 8:30 per km and I used this as a base to target a pace of 7:30. The 8:30 pace seemed quite comfortable and I had estimated that a pace of 7:30 (a minute faster) would be a decent target pace for the HM. I was so terribly wrong!


    Nutrition / Hydration:

    Had a pre-race breakfast of 2 slices white bread with jam and butter about 90 minutes before the race. I had also gulped down about 400 ml of Gatarode 5 min before the race started. Was having a couple of sips of water every km or so. There were some issues with the facilities on the race – Gatarode sachets were being distributed with small water bottles (rather than the mixed solution) after every 3 or 4 kms and as the race wore on these were becoming scarce. It was also a bit time consuming to stop and prepare the solution and then carry on.  I was used to having only Gatarode on my training runs while I didn’t have much Gatarode during the race, but mostly water. When I reached the 16, 17 and 18 kms mark they had run out of drinking water as well. Although, it was very hot and humid, I found I couldn't drink as much water as I wanted to because of a "full stomach" feeling.


    Post race:

    I took some time out to do some stretching and lied down to relax. Reached the hotel and was feeling a bit dizzy and extremely tired. After 2.5 hours or so, I even had a bout of vomiting. Was not sure if it was due to the race or dinner I had the night before – pasta at the hotel didn’t seem cooked well enough. Checked my heart rate and it was close to 90 and remained around those levels even 5 hours after the race. The first time I urinated post the race was around 2 hours and in spite of trying to remain hydrated it was very dark. Increased the water intake but still just didn’t feel like taking a leak for another 2 hours or so. Thankfully, it was light yellow in colour then. Is this normal?



    The weather was very hot and humid on race day and I was not prepared for it. I run in Mumbai which has stronger monsoons and the weather in September was hot, humid, rainy and overcast but Delhi was plain hot, humid and sunny. I guess the combination of setting my race pace aggressively and the scorching sun got the better of me and I was already tired by the 14th km. The first 12 kms were comfortable and I was feeling good at a pace of about 7:30 to 7:50 per km but as the weather got worse I had to give up running and started walking quite a bit. The last 4 kms were mostly walking with a bit of running in between. I wasn’t very particular about tempo runs in training and would definitely like to improve that now. Also, I was following Tim Noakes training program but had to quit that as it emphasized more frequent runs rather than long runs on the weekend and as the HM came nearer I wanted to increase the weekend long run while decreasing the weekdays mileage (to keep weekly mileage constant). This backfired for me a bit as I never got that discipline and structure which I had while following Noakes and my runs became more arbitrary and haphazard.


    Path ahead:

    I have another HM coming up in January 2013 and would greatly appreciate some advice on training and a reasonable time goal. How much would it be possible to improve over the next 14 or so weeks? My weekly mileage in September was about 33 kms a week. The monsoons should give way now and that should mean more regular training for me. My goal is to run 3 times on the weekdays with a tempo run (4 kms at 7:00 min per km pace) and a couple of easy runs of about 5 (40 mins) and 8 kms (~65 mins). The long run on Sunday would be around 16 kms. Will increase weekly mileage by about 10% every alternate week while keeping the long run distance constant. Does this seem like a good strategy to prepare? Is it too early for me to be thinking about hill training, intervals? 


    Given that I met a 49 year old lady who completed the race with only a month’s preparation and no prior fitness in 3h15m, I am really disappointed with my 2h57m time. I know I shouldn't be comparing with others and every runner is unique but I had started running about 9 months back (although from scratch) but think I should have done better than what I ended up doing! My time is just embarrassing Sad

      Congrats on the finish. Your nausea and stomach issues could just be caused by dehydration. For the next one, add a day or two of easy running per week, and try to average at least 40-50 km/week. The HM being 21 km long, 30 km/week just isn't enough. It's enough to just finish the race as y ou just did but if you want to see improvement run more. I think 16 km would be plenty for your long run ( assuming this takes 2:00-2:20 for you to cover that distance), may even be a bit high unless running over 50 km/week. After you have built a good base, then think about tempo and other runs, for now focus on slowly getting your mileage up until December and you'll do fine on your next race, especially one in the winter. And just forget Noakes' theories, you are not being limited by any governor yet, you just need some miles.

        Thanks for your advice!


        I will admit that I've been unable to jack up the weekly mileage beyond 35 kms per week since June. I've just not been able to make time for the increased mileage - maybe it's motivation, discipline or lack of time, most probably a combination of all the 3 factors. Will try and put in a training plan in the log which gradually takes me to 50 kms as you've suggested by December. Hopefully, committing to a schedule will help me increase the mileage consistently and gradually.


        Please do have a look and let me know if it looks doable. Thanks once again!

          I am sure other more experienced runners can help you come up with a better plan but to me your training plan looks fine. However if it was me, I'd move the Friday easy run to Saturday, I'd rather would run 3 days take a rest day, run a short quicker workout then do a long run. The Saturday run need not be an interval or a tempo session, but rather some strides at the end of the run. So you if you are running 5 km, run the first 3 km easy, then pick up speed (get up on your toes a bit) for about 30-45 sec (don't go too breathless), recover from that by jogging 2-3 min and repeat 4-5 times.  

            I think trying to run a good half marathon in high heat and humidity is really tough...the person who did 3:15 on less training may simply have more heat acclimation than you.  As far as a time goal for the next one, it is probably too early to set one, other than beat 2:56 by several minutes.


            Can you run 6 days/week?  If you were to do easy 5km, long, then recovery 4 km, that would be helpful.  I don't think it is good to have days off both before and after your long run. 

            Man in Tights

              Hi I ran the Airtel too. I finished in 1:44. Even for a hardcore like me the weather was awful. So it was a tough race to start your HM career with. 

              I see you're planning to run the Stanchart in Mumbai in January. You need to up the mileage. Running 33 km a week simply wont do. And Mumbai is tougher since there is the fairly long hill section after 13K. Running ahead has a good HM training programme for beginners. So does Hal Higdon. Or of you live in Mumbai join the Mumbai striders a running club which has decent trainers. Rather than focus on time you should focus on completing the race feeling good. The times will automatically start tumbling. All the best. 

                Congratulations on your race!  Running a race in the heat is always tough, no matter how experienced you are, so I think finishing as well as you did was a great achievement.  Not having water in the later kms in the heat is no joke!


                Now you've got your first PR and you can chip away at it with time.  I really wouldn't compare yourself with others if you can help it.  I have a little sister who kicks my butt on half the training, so I've had to learn to "run my own race."


                It looks like you've been running about 20 miles a week.  If you continue this, you'll likely improve over 14 weeks.  If you wanted to improve more, you might try to bump your mileage up a little, maybe to 25 mpw to start.  I think the half marathon really responds to mileage.  


                Congrats again!


                  Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! Recovery runs - As my pace is anyways quite slow, I think a brisk walk would be a good recovery on Monday after the long run? Would be difficult for me to slow down further and still be "running" Narsi - I do all my long runs on the nariman point to worli stretch which I believe is the actual route of the HM. Maybe that should help!

                    If you could mix a brisk walk with a slow jog on your recovery day, it would be helpful.  Like, brisk walk 5 minutes to warm up, then jog 2 minutes/walk 2 minutes 5 times, then finish with a 5 minute brisk walk.


                    Training on the HM course is very helpful! 

                    Man in Tights

                      Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! Recovery runs - As my pace is anyways quite slow, I think a brisk walk would be a good recovery on Monday after the long run? Would be difficult for me to slow down further and still be "running" Narsi - I do all my long runs on the nariman point to worli stretch which I believe is the actual route of the HM. Maybe that should help!

                       I run the same route too.  We've bound to have crossed each other. Hope to meet you some time.