Sometimes I need a goal to get my butt into gear. Having had to take a very long break from running after Freya’s birth, now what better way to get back into it than with the Delhi Half Marathon – http://www.procamrunning.in/adhm/.
Luckily the race organizers heard that I am in pretty bad shape and moved it back a few weeks giving me more time to train – so it is now set for December 15th.
As today is Gandhi Jayanti – Gandhi Ji’s birthday, and national holiday in India (and as a side note the United Nations has also declared October 2nd, the international day for non-violence) we had the day off work. In honour of Gandhi Ji’s values, this festival is celebrated through mostly quiet ceremonies unlike many of India’s bright and vibrant festivals.
Why not head out for my long run which I’ve been completely avoiding I though – no excuses. The temperature has started to cool to a balmy 30 degrees celsius (I am seriously jealous of sweater weather in Canada) . Except – running in Delhi is well….running in Delhi. I tried the treadmill thing. Oh I tried. I put the T.V on, I tried to read on my kindle while bouncing up and down and got motion sickness, I tried to rock out to Bon Jovi. I lasted about 15 minutes on the treadmill. There is simply no way I can train for the big day on the treadmill – so I figured I had to head outside.
So far, my runs have been in nearby Nehru Park on a 2.6km loop. It is close, and lovely, but…it is only 2.6km. I run on the wrong side of the trail, watch the yoga workouts, and people of all sorts getting into shape. Today though, I needed something different. I glanced at the map, and though Buddha Jayanti park sounded good. Off I went. And i learned a few things.
5. Expect the unexpected.
After only 6 weeks in Delhi, I am in constant amazement at the incredible diversity in this city. Every corner offers a new sight, the abnormal has become normal and the normal has become bizarre. Families that at home wouldn’t fit in a mini-van, pile helmet-less on a bajaj motorbike while SUVs and Audis zoom by. Piles of garbage are next to the most beautiful of flowers. Sweet smells mingle with the not so sweet. Just when you think traffic is going in one direction, you see a vehicle, or cow, going the opposite way. When you are on a lovely side walk, it ends. Delhi is a feast for the eyes, and a long run is sure to provide hours of endless entertainment – just watch where you are stepping…
4. I’m terrified of monkeys.
I thought, that I thought, monkeys were cute little creatures. Apparently, I’m terrified of them, and not putting on a brave face terrified, but sweaty running girl hiding behind much calmer Delhiites assuring me “yah theek hai” as we traverse the sidewalk they’ve taken over. That was episode 1. Episode 2 involved 2 monkeys chasing each other (at mock speeds) across traffic straight in my direction. I stood glued and declared a way too loud “oh shit” as I was sure I was done for.
3. Bring Water, money, phone, DUH!
I’d planned on going for an hour. I’d not planned on getting lost. I hadn’t planned on my knee seizing up about 12km in (of what turned into a 19km run and having to walk much of it). All of this might have been a tad less stressful if I’d had the foresight to bring water, money, my phone. Duh!
2. Sometimes it is ok to go back the way you’ve came.
One of many complexes I have is never going back the way I’ve came. With so many new sights and smells in every direction, why would I want to see something I’ve already seen ( and face the monkeys again?!). So, when the run is starting to be an hour longer than I planned, most people with half an ounce of common sense would follow the path back to their destination. Nope, not me. If I did that, I might miss something. So in this city of curving streets and crazy traffic circles, I thought I’d let my exquisite sense of direction guide me. It could have been worse – it could have been much worse. It was just bad enough for me to realize that sometimes, it is ok to go back the way you’ve come.
1. Delhi is not a running city, but amongst the chaos there are oases of calm.
Delhi is a surprisingly green city. Many nooks and crannies have beautiful parks, some with even marked running tracks, children playing cricket, and all-types of people doing every-type of exercise imaginable. These parks make great running destinations. Getting there though, as I learned today, is not always so easy. When I finally found my destination, I had about as much energy left to turn my head, and put it on my mental map to return to in the future. As strange as it seems, if you are heading to a park to run, take a tuk tuk -even if it is just a few kms away – especially if you haven’t been there before . This way, your time can be spent focusing on your workout, not fearing for your life as the side walk ends and you are jogging on the side of a 2 lane road, with 4 cars across and breathing in a wide range of noxious fumes which probably isn’t great for your health.
In honour of Delhi, but unfortunately not from today’s adventures – here are a few photos.