Well, I guess I managed to surprise even myself. I was on target at this pace in my practice sessions, but they were all less that 21K and I had the liberty of taking water breaks at my convenience.
The day started early, getting up at 4:30 am as I had to reach the starting point (People’s plaza, Necklace road) by 5:30 am. Looking at the BIB numbers of the participants, and taking a quick view of the gathering, I could come up with an approx participation count of 250-300 for the Half marathon (organizers claim a total participation count of 15,000 for all races, including the 10k). There were no timing devices here unlike Mumbai and Delhi, so I had to hand clock my timing.
The race started just after 6:00 and I was amazed to see the fitness level of the people here, most of the runners just exploding from the starting line (and I did not overtake a significant number of runners on my way!). The Hyderabad route had a couple of flyovers, but besides this, the road itself winds a bit up and down most of the way, which does test you. Added to that was the fact that there was almost no water till the 7.5 km mark at the Charminar u-turn, and it was a big-big relief when it came, because I was really getting tired.
There were very few kilometer markers on the route, the earliest one I noticed indicated 7 km to go! (I must have missed a few markers which I later saw going back after the race, which were in black and really small to be noticed when you are running). The 12 km to 18 km stretch must have been the toughest for me, and I just carried on with the hope that I was on tract for my target time. So, when I reached the 7K marker, I was amazed to see that I was just on target! That was an additional motivation for me and even though the next 3 kms were really tough, I somehow managed to push myself on and soon it was the finishing line for me! Mission accomplished!
I met a lot of people who I knew directly or indirectly. Some from the RFL gang from Bangalore, including Rajesh and Dharmendra. Met Ram from ChennaiRunners group. Vivek, who I met yesterday finished in 2:01. Aditya from Delhi was also there, though I did not happen to meet him. Also met Ashish, a former colleague and who has now switched base to Hyderabad and ran the 10K.
It was surprising to hear that the winner finished in 1:04! Going by Indian standards, this is a very good time, but since the route is not AIMS certified and with no chip timing, the importance is reduced.
The rest of the day was spent in leisure, visiting the Salar Jung Museum and the Golconda fort.