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  • Writer's pictureLt Cdr Bijay Nair (R)

Pune Womens Half Marathon

As I gave a firm glance to my  TomTom the time read  2.41 and I could feel  my inner voice saying “Nair saab  run now, leave that lady alone , go for your target pacing time “ ,being a 2.45 pacer at Pune Womens Half Marathon . Have been pacing from few years for different time requirements  at various events and have never missed a pacing timing .

So on sunday , had a choice of completing yet another pacing successfully or to cross the line with the young lady whom I was pacing ….she too was aware that we had to cross at 2.45 .

Neha was running her first half marathon and had ran few 10kms before . FreeRunners  invited me to pace their event Pune Womens Half Marathon first of its type in pune . Believe me , the registrations were free and the registration had been full long back . Saturday was a busy day since I was allotted a  stall to showcase the book TheyInspire . So , me , mala and shloka took this opportunity as a break from our busy times . Met many friends Sunil and Sangeeta , Swetha , Amit and Samaira, Kalyani and Shailesh , Yogesh , Taru , chandan , Aziz , Arati  . Many friends from Pune whom I  have known on social media . 

We were up 0400 next morning and along with sunil and sangeeta I reached the starting point , after warm up and some zumba , meeting many friends , the race was flagged off .

Since , I was recovering from a ITB few weeks back , my physio had  instructed me to do runs of lesser distance i.e 4 kms , 8kms , 10 kms and 21kms in a gradual progression as per my treatment schedule . All my shorter distance runs were good and pain free , so I decided to give my confirmation as a pacer .

I wanted to pace 2.30 but Sangeeta requested me to pace 2.45 . For me 2.45 is a very comfortable pace last one odd years since my training has been good and I was regularly clocking 2.10 to 2.15 in all practice runs . So I started  cautiously,  mind saying  “run easy” . Recently had attended couple of workshop on running and I thought this was the right time to implement all the techniques . So started running along with few lady runners most of them first time HMers   . As the kms passed by so did the runners , some going ahead and some dropping the pace . Route was undulating and was a tough one .

My only worry was people seeing me enroute with a flag on my head like a roosters crown should not mistake me to be a eveteaser who was chasing and running alongside the strong , beautiful and tough women…..  laath aur punch naa pade.

Gave lot of input  to many first time and seasoned runners who were running with me. (Note: This inputs I have gained from many senior and experienced runners whom I run with “I am not a coach”)  . Told many running stories humorous as well as serious . So 04 to 05 runners were part of my pacing bus  , I took them till 10.5kms sweeping , motivating and visualizing  them the feeling of crossing the finish line .

A young lady probably in her fifties did enquire whether I was from Telugu Film Industry (blushing ….no I am from Malayalam movies …., I have come to pace you ) . She smiled and so did me till we disbursed .

Two particular ladies were in and around in my line of sight  from 3kms . So my task was zeroed on to get this ladies cross the finish line in either 2.45 or motivate them to goahead at right time . One of them was Neha I asked her name around 17 Km….. was telling her stories and other girl I don’t remember her name . She was ahead and would drop pace and I would push her ahead . At 18th Km told her if you do it in 2.38 I will send you a gift (#TheyInspire) , she went ahead and did complete . She later sent me a message she did in 2.44 and the day she do a 2.38 she will ping me for the reward. She want to earn it . Loved the spirit .

I was sharing with Neha inputs about running and training . At 19th Km  a steep incline stared  , she decided to walk , I too followed  her with constant look on my watch . At 20th Km I told her we need to do a 2.45 since we have a good 8 to 9 mins . However , she would run and walk . She was getting tired , she requested me to go ahead , I had two minds , if I run I will probably do yet another successful pacing and if I take her along I may miss the timing by a minute or so .

Someone who trusted me to take along  as a pacer since this was a special event since the task was to pace someone and to achieve her dreams . She requested me to goahead and not to miss 2.45 , I stayed back with her to complete along with her the first HM for her ……with she crossing ahead , I following her , it was like “Jaa Simran jee le teri zindagi”, together we achieved a dream she crossing the finish line and seeking a memorable event of lifetime for her and me crossing the finish line and seeking the satisfaction of achieving her dream.

Glad that I missed timing by couple of  minutes or so…… 2.47.59 to be precise (Official timing )

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