The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon is arguably the most challenging road marathon in the country. With three flyovers at the 9th,13th and 24rth Km respectively , rolling hills specially in the Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills areas and a gentle uphill between 38th and 41st Km the route is testing both physically and mentally.
I have run the Hyderabad marathon twice before and both times my experience has been very good in terms of race organisation and experience and my race timing. Though tough on the legs the rolling hills has helped me do well there. The route this year and last year is fairly similar to the route of the earlier years with some small modifications. Being organised by Hyderabad Runners , one of the largest and most vibrant running communities in the country, the event is very very runner friendly. As the first of my 12 marathons in 12 months in I thoroughly enjoyed the first edition of the run in August 2008. I had to miss the run in August 2009 after registering for it due to sickness - the only DNS of my running career so far. The event did not happen in 2010. In its new incarnation as Airtel Hyderabad marathon in 2011 the event was much bigger and established itself as one of the 'must do' road marathons in India. Though hit by severe cramps around the 34Km mark I managed a PB in that race. Being away from India I gave the 2012 edition a miss; as this report from a good friend and ace runner testifies it was once again very well organised and a resounding success! So without a thought I registered for Airtel Hyderabad marathon 2013 on the day registrations opened - had already booked my travel even earlier when airlines were offering discounts in February 2013!
Race goal and pacing strategy
I have trained for 10 weeks using the 'Run Less, Run Faster' program of FIRST for a target goal of 3:35. While the training has gone off well I am aware that this is very ambitious considering the challenging course and that my all time PB is 3:37:20 in SCMM 2013 and my PB in Hyderabad is a good 17 minutes slower!. I will start the race with this goal and tune it depending on how it goes.How the legs hold up to the hills and the temperature, winds and rain(if any) will influence my race strategy. I hope to at least beat my PB failing which my next goal would be to keep my time sub 3:40.
My pacing strategy for a FM has generally been 30-50-20 ie about 5-10 secs per Km faster than target goal for the first 30% distance ie upto 12 kms or so, close to target pace for the next 50% distance ie up to 34Km and then push as hard as possible for the remaining 20% distance. My target pace being 5:05/Km the intent is to hit 34Km between 2:50 and 2:53. I intend to follow the same strategy in this race expecting to lose about 15-20 secs /km in the flyover/uphill stretches and hoping to gain the same in the downhills.
So the following are my interim timing targets:
10Km 49mins (4:55 mins/Km pace) - this would be towards the end of the 1st flyover
21Km 1:45 (5mins/Km pace)
34Km 2:50 to 2:53 (between 5 and 5:05/Km pace)
Though this will be my 38th race of FM or longer distance(including the 6 unofficial RFL runs in 2008-09) it has been the usual nervy period of ten days leading up to the race. Now with less than 2 days to go, I am looking forward to the first FM of the season - hoping to enjoy the experience and catching up with runner friends from around the country!!