I had a near perfect race and while I narrowly missed my goal of going below 1:43 I still achieved a PB of 1:43:33 bettering my previous best in a half marathon by over two and a half minutes. Ravi Balasubramanya and I pretty much ran the whole race together. And I got the benefit of a running commentary on the localities we ran through from the local boy. Ravi , who is a much younger and faster runner than I am, was returning from injury and decided to stick with me. With the finish line visible a few hundred meters away Ravi found that extra burst of energy and sprinted to finish 13 seconds before me. Sid ran a very steady race and finished a few seconds ahead while Neera also ran a strong race to finish just after I did. I finished 30th overall out of about 173 timed finishers. See here for complete results.
The day started very early - 2am to be precise when my alarm went off. Though we had planned on driving down to Mysore the previous afternoon we changed our plans once we learnt that bibs would be given out on the morning of the race for outstation runners. I left home at 2:45am and reached Rich's place a little after 3am after picking up Sid on the way. Rich, Sid, Neera, myself, Raj and Sabesan then left Lavalle road at about 3:20am in Rich's Innova. Enroute I was able to doze a bit. We reached the start point outside the Mysore palace at about 5:45am just before day break. The area was buzzing with runners as well the road seemed to have quite a bit of traffic. We collected our bibs in a few minutes(thanks to Nikhil of RFL for helping us out on this) , got into our running gear and headed for the portable potties across the road. At about 6:30am the timing technologies folks were setting up the timing system at the start point and there was some confusion as to where exactly the runners were supposed to assemble for the start of the race. The cricketer Javgal Srinath and actress Nidhi Subbiah appeared soon after. However, the run did not start as scheduled at 6:45am as the chief guest - a minister arrived late. The crowd became very restless and started booing. Finally, after a few speeches which we could not hear anyway the race got underway a little over 20 minutes from the scheduled start time.
Ravi and I ran together from the start. In the 1st Km or so it seemed like the sun would come out; however thankfully it did not and it stayed partly cloudy throughout with little humidity. We went out on Devraj Urs road and continued on Hunsur road where there were a few gradients. Overall the route was quite scenic specially the Mysore university area and the trail around Kukkarahalli lake. There was a downward slope leading up to the entry point of the trail which provided momentum to both Ravi and myself. Ravi hit a curb and stumbled across in front of me - fortunately he was able to regain balance as I managed to grab his elbow - else both of us could have got injured and our race might have ended at that point. We turned around at the end of the trail a little past the half-way mark. At this point I was pretty much on target with my garmin showing a little over 49 minutes. The second half also had a few gradients and my pace strarted to drop a bit. However, I managed to keep the average pace at 4:55 . I could have possibly pushed a bit harder in the last Km - however as both my left glute and calf were hurting a bit I decided not to that. Both of these were sore tilla couple of days after the race. The traffic control was reasonable with the volunteers and cops doing their best to give priority to runners at intersections though there were a few instances when they found it challenging in handling buses. There were not too many Km markers on the route and also the route seemed to have the runners cross the road a few times more than is desirable. Otherwise , overall it was a good experience.
After the run we had a sumptious buffet breakfast at Pai Vihar and started the drive back to Bangalore at about 11am reaching home at 2:30PM. I decided to take a couple of weeks easy and do some light running and also undergo soft tissue therapy before starting on the rigors of the 'Run Less, Run faster' training for Mumbai 2012.