Madras ISHM

Journey to my first half marathon and year 2020 in sports

It All started in March 2020, after completing Woman’s day run I was browsing through Indiarunning website to see the upcoming event, and found an event published for the year 2021. It suddenly caught my eye because of the date and distance of the run, 21-02-2021 & 21km, so many 21’s. Even though I started running in 2016, I never attempted half marathon (21km) so immediately I decided, in 2021 I will run 21km my first Half Marathon and registered for the event.!

Hurray registered for the event, 11 months to go

Meanwhile TCS 10k run which suppose to happen in May 2020 was postponed to September courtesy Wuhan Corona Virus. Lockdown started and all outdoor activities are stopped.

Woman’s day run in March was the last on ground running event I participated in 2020. It was very nice event. My lovely wife Ishwarya completed 5k, I along with Pavan and Prem both younger brothers completed 10k. Running inside Cubbon park was a bliss. Even though the location is best for runners I could not get my PB, managed to complete 10k in 72 mins.


NITK Karavali marathon was the first event of 2020. Enjoyed whole trip to Mangaluru, Udupi and Surathkal. Managed to finish 10k in 67 mins. Missed PB by few seconds!

Until mid of June every one was indoors, nobody wanted to venture out because of strict regulations from authorities.

Towards the end of June NEB Sports announced a virtual running event to rise funds for the people in sports community. Finally after 3 months started running.

Run To The Moon was a 30 days virtual running challenge from June 21 to July 20. Criteria was, each day one has to complete at least 2.5km. At the same time total distance covered will decide which club you belong to.

  • 65+kms finisher
  • 150+kms Silver club
  • 200+kms Gold club
  • 250+kms Platinum club

Everyone who completes basic requirement of 65km will get finisher t-shirt, but only one’s who belong to any of the club will receive finisher medal with custom t-shirt.

In July completed ‘Run To The Moon’ virtual run challenge, I managed to run 150+kms and ended up in silver club.

By now most of the on ground running events were cancelled. 6 weeks to go but TCS 10k team didn’t confirm about the event and didn’t start any marketing activity.

Though actual events were not happening, virtual events were on. In August on occasion of Independence day CHAMPION ATHLETES CLUB organized a virtual cyclothon. Ride 74km to commemorate 74th Independence day of India.

Its September, TCS 10k suppose to happen on 13th, but TCS 10k team didn’t comment anything!

Coming back to virtual events, advantage of these events is your one activity will be counted for all the challenges/events. Virtual cycling spree continued in September, In fact it was in peak. I registered for 4 virtual events!

  • 30 day cycling challenge organised by Life is calling
  • Trichy Randonneurs 180km in single ride challenge
  • Madurai Randonneurs 900km in a month challenge and
  • Bangalore Randonneurs Monsoon Challenge

Since I was riding so many kms in September, thought of taking my cycling to next level and registered for my first BREVET a 200km self supported cycling event organised by Bangalore Randonneurs affiliated to Audaux India Randonneurs. Event was scheduled for October 3rd.

This Brevet was named La Tomatino, because route is passing through scenic lands of tomato, Chintamani. Cutoff time to complete 200km was 13 hours. 13 hours including breakfast, lunch and other breaks which rider may take during the ride. I managed to complete it in 11.5 hours!!

Starting from Independence day cyclothon to completing my first Brevet helped my endurance a lot.

One more month short to Madras Inner Strength Half Marathon, most of the organizers cancelled the events.

Cycling took a back seat because my next event was Celebration Mysuru Marathon, a virtual running event. To start practicing for this I decided to train with Pavan and Prem, So on October 10th layed a foundation stone for our running group TRIO ๐Ÿ˜€

TRIO in action!

During these training sessions I found interest in new way of running “BAREFOOT Running“. After searching in internet I realized that overnight we cannot transition from cushioned shoe to barefoot running, hence bought a ‘Quadrillion’ minimalistic shoe from Indian brand Azani.

Since Celebration Mysuru Marathon was a virtual event, I decided to run in my native place Bhadravathi – Steel town, house to Vishweshwaraya Iron and Steel Limited, founded by Bharatha Rathna Sir M Vishweshwaraya, one of the greatest engineer India has seen.

November 1 – Kannada Rajyotsava. Running route was mostly flat and farming on both side of the route was treat to eyes. Fresh air from greenery and minimalistic shoe did the magic, it was my PB run.


After Celebration Run, decided to participate in Epic Nandi Race, a cycling event organized by BBCh. Distance of the race was 60km but climbing Nandi hill with elevation of 500m after cycling 52km was a real challenge. However successfully finished the race with just 5 mins to spare, and secured 9th place in Hybrid Bicycle category.

Selfie after EPIC race.

Exactly 12 weeks to go, no news from Madras Inner strength Half Marathon organizers, fingers crossed.

TCS 10k organizers announced that 2020 event will be virtual, also they gave option to run in next edition of event. I chose to run in 2021 on ground event instead of running virtual 2020 run.

Two months ago started transition from running with shoe to barefoot running. Initial days I faced Plantar Fascia pain on outside of my left leg, I was in dilemma to continue bare foot or get back to running with shoes, in that difficult time a YouTube videos from Run Forefoot channel helped me lot in understanding the structure of feet, knee, leg. Thank you Bretta Riches, now I am a full time barefoot runner.

December 10th while running my way back to home bunch of dogs attacked and one dog bit me on left leg near knees, luckily vehicle coming from behind honked and dogs spread out, else they would have ripped me. I was not sure what made them angry, it was my regular route and I am running in that route since 3-4 years! I thought it is nothing to be worried much but doctor assessed it as category 3 injury and prescribed 5 injections!

8 Weeks to go, no mail/message from Madras ISHM team, but I was hopeful that on ground event will happen, because Procam International who also organize TMM and TCS 10k, organized a real time Half marathon event for elites only participation in New Delhi, and it was a success. So with all excitement started practicing for my first ever half marathon.

Even though I was running since 2016, I never used a structured training plan, but half marathon is event which takes 2+ hours and I don’t wanted to see any surprise on race day hence used a training plan designed by GTN. Link to the video which helped me train better for half marathon is here.

Medals from 2016. Do you see that nice medal stand? that’s conceptualized by my sweet heart and gifted on my birthday ๐Ÿ˜

January 3rd, Skechers Performance Chennai Marathon was successfully conducted by Chennai runners, I believe this boosted the confidence of Madras ISHM organizers and on 5th Jan they announced registration date for the event, finally it is confirmed that event will happen.

After this announcement I followed the training sessions even more religiously. Sundays are for long runs, 2-3 easy runs, one tempo run , one cross training and a rest day.

All terminologies are good but what exactly is a long run? what should be the pace for tempo run and easy runs? I was not sure, then I found this very useful running pace calculator from Omni calculator. Now I suppose to decide the time in which I wanted to complete the 21km run. Until now my average pace was 6:30, that accounts to 2hr 18 mins, but I thought to push myself and decided to run 21km in sub 2 hours. Entering this timing in calculator gave me idea of what pace I should be running on specific runs.

Real challenge was to running those easy runs, they felt so easy and I was tempted to run fast, but I controlled myself because there is saying ‘Slow Down to Speed Up’, and ran those slow steady pace runs.

4 weeks to go, finally received mail from Madras ISHM organizers asking me to confirm my participation in the event. I was like YES YES YES, I will participate!!! Train ticket to and from Chennai are booked, hotel reservation done.

These are the books which kept me motivated all the way. Still reading ‘BORN TO RUN’, ‘21.1 RUNNING MISTAKES’ is a must read for beginners and ‘THE TAKE-OFF’ is full of inspirational stories of individual cyclists covering from beginners to pro’s. ๐Ÿค“

2 weeks to go, in past weeks I ran 15, 16, 18, 20km comfortably without a break during my Sunday long runs. Tapering started. I was pretty sure I will complete my half marathon but will I complete it in the time I thought off? excitement continued..

5 days to go received mail from Madras ISHM organizers about bib expo, I was surprised with the coincidence, I started my running career in 2016 and my BIB# for my first ever half marathon is 22016.

Model of the medal is revealed, surprise again it says “5” my 5th year in running. Madras ISHM started in 2015 but there was no event in 2017 so its 5th edition for them.

20th February, started journey to Chennai in train along with 2 beauties.

After reaching Chennai, first thing first collected BIB, had a nice lunch at Thoondil restaurant, which was near by BIB collection point. Ambience was awesome and food was very tasty.

Then checked into hotel, now time to explore the city. It was planed to visit Marine Kingdom, and it didn’t disappoint us. However cost of the ticket is not justifying the attraction inside, still experience is memorable.

We decided to check the event location in evening so visited Mayajaal, walked through the place to identify the locations of start point, hydration point, holding area. Then had dinner at an outdoor restaurant inside Mayajaal campus.

Its Race DAY! 4:45 was the reporting time, woke up and had light snack, t-shirt with BIB was ready the previous night, all set, walked to the location and by the time I finished my warmup lining up started. 5:14:50 countdown started 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1 and GO.

The plan was to finish the race with negative split, first half of the run was supported by tail wind, it was so relaxing and easy during the first half, but after the U-turn point the advantage of wind in first half turned into disadvantage, it felt like I was running in speed run pace but I was actually in tempo run pace, such was the resistance from head wind. Still on track with the plan, during 17th km slowed down because of heavy wind blowing straight from beach.

Target was to complete the run in under 2 hour but missed my own target by 35 seconds. Still I am very prod of myself for this accomplishment 49th place out of 232 participants.

Its not just my efforts, without support from Ishu and Diya this would have not happened at all. Love you both dears.

One response to “Madras ISHM”

  1. [โ€ฆ] T-shirt and black HRX shorts both gifted by Ishwarya for my first half marathon event on 21.02.2021 Madras ISHM. It took me 2 hours to complete HM and experience was amazing. In October 2020 I started [โ€ฆ]

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