Why Did I Register For The TCS World 10K Bengaluru
Although I am not a big fan of racing a 10K distance, since it is just such a hard effort from the word go to the finish line, I just HAD to sign up for it this time. One was the excitement of events post covid, and with a premier one happening in my backyard, I thought I would be a fool not to sign up for the event. Secondly, a big part of the Brooks contingent would come from across the country, and I was just excited to meet them all in person and race as a contingent - because "mujhko ekdum feels aa raha tha."
Anyway, I signed up for the event, and as it came closer, the excitement just grew. Many times, I questioned my sanity because I had also signed up for the Vagamon 60K, and the emails the organizers were sending across were putting the fear of God in me. Either way, there is a saying in Hindi - "Okhli Mein sar dala hai, toh musal se kya darna," which seems to be my motto in hindsight. Getting some speed & tempo runs in was necessary, so with that in mind, I continued my training.
Before we knew it, the event was around the corner - slated for the 15th of May, 2022. I have always considered this event my birthday gift - since it falls on the second Sunday of May each year. My birthday is on the 10th of May, so it always falls around the time of the event. Hence this cosmic connection with the event.
TCS World 10K Bengaluru - Bib Collection Expo
Anyway, when the team came down from Mumbai, I wrapped up my Friday sessions and headed over to the expo for my bib collection.
It was so amazing to meet the Brooks team from Mumbai and all of the regular faces from the running community. Time just flew by with meet & greets of old & new runners, organizers & crew.
I love the Brooks team because everyone on it is incredibly passionate about the sport. It speaks volumes when the Country Head is on the floor, at the stall in the expo, and spending time with the runners - despite a back issue - on his feet, spreading smiles for the miles - Hats off to you, Kartik - you inspire and bring people together. THIS spirit had a significant role in my spending a lot of time at the Brooks Stall at the expo.
Beyond The Finish Line
Later that night was a kickass event organized by Procam - Beyond the Finish Line - with some very inspiring speakers like CS Santosh and Justin Gatlin. They shared their own experiences of their journey. Come Saturday, the Brooks Athlete Team from across the country, plus some dear friends from across the country, were coming down - so again, I went to the expo to meet with them and spend some time with them. Post this was the Pasta Cookout event, another fun-filled meet and greet with some of the most incredible people in the running circuit. Yes, as you can see - it was a hectic weekend - almost an Ultra leading upto the event.
Pre-Race Jitters & Change of Plans
After wrapping up with these events, I returned home around 6 pm, ready to calm down and try and get a good night's rest before the event.
Come 8 pm, and it started raining - alarm bells started ringing in my head, and then I soothed myself thinking, we have all night, and the rain will only make the weather a bit more pleasant. I tried to go to sleep - but as I have mentioned - the night before an event is generally just sleepless as it is. Either way, I may have passed out around 12 AM or 1 AM - I don't quite remember.
I woke up at 3 AM. Mum was already up and had made me my chai. Race Start was at 5:30 AM, so the goal was to reach at least an hour in advance. It was Nihal's ( another incredible Brooks athlete ) first time here, and I had promised him I would meet him at the stadium - close to the Procam Marquee. Anyway, I didn't even have to glance out the window to know that it had been raining all night and the roads would all be wet in the morning.
Early morning, after consulting with Anjali, Nihal & Kartik, I decided to change my shoes from the Hyperion Elite 2(Carbon plated) to the Hyperion Tempo. It may not have the carbon plates - but it sure had a better grip. And, if you know one thing bout me - I always err on the side of caution - it's ok to lose a few minutes - then fall flat on my face.
Mum and Dad came and dropped me to the end of Cubbon Road - we saw another runner walking in the rain, stopped, asked him to jump in, and then spoke to the volunteers who allowed us upto the Tonique Junction in the car. From there, we jumped off - mum and dad wished me luck and headed back home. They wanted to stay and cheer on the route - but the weather was misbehaving and how!
Hours Before The Race Start
As we walked to the start point in the rain, Bala and I chatted - it was his first ever event, and he was very excited - I enjoyed listening to him. Once we reached the gate, he headed to his start gate, and I made my way to the marquee. I met Nihal and Kartik as soon as I walked in. We were all together, and we were home. Kartik just took on the role of manager and coached everything - he took our bags off us and said, focus on your race - he went and got water for us to gulp our gels down and was there - Nihal and I made our way to do our warm-ups. I was very reluctant - simply because it was raining so much. Anyway - as we headed out, a lot of other runners joined us - it was around 5:10 that we ran back to Kartik, grabbed our gels, gulped them down - redid our laces, and got mentally prepped to race.
The Actual Run Experience
5:20 am, and we both headed to the start line - Oh! The excitement - pushing, shoving - everyone standing around like horses at the start line - heaving and frothing - ready to go. It was still drizzling. Before we knew it, the countdown began - Nihal and I shot each other a glance - run safe, run hard, run fast, it said ( at least that's what I think), and off we went!!! Since we were lucky enough to get a priority start, we had fewer people ahead of us - but be rest assured, even this is an aggressive lot - pushing and shoving and going for the kill. Anyway - as soon as we got out of the stadium, there was a huge puddle, and quite a few people braked there, causing almost a traffic Jam - thereon, we got over the hiccup and moved on. The first 2 Km is a gradual incline, followed by a Km of decline and continuous rolling.
Like I have said before - the 10K is a tight race - and from the word go, you don't have time to think - For me, the only thought on my mind was - to maintain the goddamn pace until the end. With each passing Km, it was just nine more, eight more, seven more; keep the legs pumping, save the form on point and keep the breathing under control. And that is just how I rolled.
While running, I heard people cheering me on, and that, as always, only added a spring to my step. Before I knew it - we were on the finishing straight. I heard Kartik scream out my name - and from there, I sprinted my heart out.
As I crossed the finish line - I saw the entire team waiting for me - Kartik, Anjali, Nihal, Amar, and Anil. I checked my watch 44:45min - it was a PB by 9 seconds. Not too bad, I thought - Sub 44 would have been better - but as always - I will take what I get and be grateful for it. From what we knew, Nihal had come first in his category (33 minutes - can you even imagine) - he also came in 6th Overall, Amar came in 4th in his age category, and Anil 5th in his age category. As far as I knew, I had come first in my age category.
Post Race Celebrations
And this wrapped up the TCS 10K event - of course, post this, we made our way to get the finisher medal, headed back to the marquee for a hearty breakfast, caught up with Raina, Anjana and Deepak as well, and after that, we all made our way to the Bira 91 after-party. 10K ke naam par humne badi party ki. Bade hi drame kiye aur badi saari photo kheechi.
My Thoughts On Winning The Age Category
I had not received my finisher timing message from Sports Timing Solutions. So after I finished with the party, I reached out to Mitesh from Sports Timing Solutions, and he confirmed my official timing and that I was second in my age category. I was surprised but also in awe of the lady who had wrapped up the 10K in 37 mins. Either way, I moved on.
Two days later, Dilip Kumar, the unofficial manager of Bangalore Runners, called me to inform me that the person who had come in first was a Male who had run with a Female Bib number. He had raised the issue with Procam, who had accepted and advised that they would make the changes after verifying. So eventually came in first in my age category and 10th Overall.
It is a real treat to see that people around you care enough even to make an effort like this. I would never have investigated this. For me, it doesn't make sense - to cheat - firstly - who are you fooling, and why? And Secondly! We compete in an amateur category in a country like India where barely 2% of the population even attempts endurance activities - so look at the bigger scheme of things and see exactly where you fit in the picture - we are nothing on the larger scale of life. It just doesn't add up! Even if you get away with it - you will always know!
Anyway - with this wrapped up, the TCS World 10K event - is done and dusted. Moving onto the next mammoth event scaring the living daylights out of me - my first Ultra, my first Trail - both in one shot at the Vagamon ULtrail.