Tuesday, February 1, 2011

i am a marathoner

After having run 6 half marathons in Mumbai and 3 more during the year 2010, the beginning of the year saw me resolve to go upto full marathon – why? Because I thought I was ready for it and many of my friends were also graduating at the same time. So, when the time came to fill in the forms for Mumbai marathon sometime in July 2010, I filled in the form for full marathon without any trace of trepidation whatsoever.

My preparation for the full marathon which should ideally have encompassed two or more 32 kms long runs, did not really take off at all because I was doing all sorts of runs throughout the year with the KTM trail half in September, Bangalore Ultra 25K in November and Goa half in December. So the build-up did not take place at all – October was my busiest month in terms of mileages – I logged in 260 kms that month compared to about 140 kms in September, which month also saw few ankle twists taking place – a couple of them monstrous ones. Post ultra, the ITBS came knocking on the left knee – the scourge of all long distance runners – my first injury since I started running.

Nevertheless I managed to sneak in a 30 kms on December 26th of which about 12 kms was barefeet in mahalaxmi race course and 27 kms a week later, barely two weeks to go for the main event. So injuries, lack of proper mileages were the bane when I started off the full marathon on 16th January 2011. my idea was to somehow reach 30 kms and then do the run/ walk or walk/ run or walk/ walk for the rest of the distance, time was not a constraint at all. The days leading upto 16th was bitterly cold and perfectly good conditions for running a marathon. We were eminently pleased with the weather leading upto the marathon and was expectedly awaiting similar conditions on the 16th. Alas, it was a different story on the 16th, as even at 3.30 a.m. it was quite stuffy and I was in fact, sweating – I decidedly thought weather was different today and cursed the weather gods – same thing happened to us during the Bangalore Sunfeast, KTM & Bangalore Ultra – the preceding day was lovely weather whereas a different pattern prevailed on the actual day.

Well, we assembled at goregaon station at 4 a.m. for probably the first ever train to depart on the western railway system – we were raj, arjun, sripad, sohanlal & myself. We had to perforce take a leak at the churchgate station – this was a yearly ritual except last year when they started the half marathon from bandra – met with giles, qureshi all raring to go. Walked down to the azad maidan – on the way we met a couple of foreigners – a Kenyan with a 2.18 time and a Japanese. Security was no problem this year and when we sauntered in to the holding area, the rest of the crowd were already there – zico, amit, srinivas, allan, santosh, ashok and others – tension was palpable in the air – we met up with asha arora – seasoned ultra marathoner from Chandigarh and ashok nath – accomplished marathoner with a 3.15 target time. Met a few more folks, took a few more leaks to completely clear the system, handed in our baggage and went in to the start line – amit sheth was holding his 5 hour bus balloons and Rahul Varghese was distributing head bands to the other runners. Started off exactly at 6.15 a.m. and maintained a steady pace along d.n. road and then to the v.n. road, marine drive – the front runners were already crossing the other side when we hit the marine drive – early ones included ashok nath.

my waist pouch started moving sideways causing me disturbance and I had to repeatedly keep it shifted to the right side which was more comfortable. Apurva shah kept company for some time, then rohit bansal came by and went past to catch up with the 5 hour bus, the pune runners – Nikhil shah & vivek Prasad came by and also went past, caught up with veera who was clutching his sides complaining of side stitch after having decided to run with the 5 hour bus and then sanely decided to do his own pace – mithika came by – we were to push each other in our first marathons – but she was too damn quick and picked up pace. End of marine drive – had to take a toilet break and also adjust my waist pouch – by then the first of the half marathoners started coming in – I kept my pace up the kemps corner incline – where I espied the first runners from our group – tanaji nalavade – hollered out to him – am sure he did’nt hear because he was running at furious pace – kept looking for other runners – there was a sardarji runner who went down the kemps corner flyover instead of up and we had to shout to reach him – Milton came by at haji ali – since the half marathoners were coming up, the positive vibrations from them were rubbing off onto us (am sure they felt the same thing) so the route along the annie beasant road etc. went off like a blip by shouting encouragement to other runners – saw savio with his 2 hour bus – hemant before him, kaushik after him, bharatbhai, supriya, radhika, genieve, Milan, venkat with his 3 hour bus, shashi & others.

When I reached worli sea face – the full runners were turning out from opposite the old passport office, so the same cheering and hollering went on – going still good – there was an undescribable mist tunnel of no use or purpose to the runners – descended to annie beasant chowk in good condition, saw the sun searing out at that junction, but there was enough shade from the buildings – people were lined along the street – though sparsely – and feebly shouting encouragement – reached prabhadevi – when the buzz for which I was waiting for started – this was the arrival of the elite runners – those magnificient athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia – was hoping to get a glimpse of them at the siddhivinayak temple – giving me a double darshan of the goods – and that is what precisely happened – the gods both spiritual and human blitzed past near the temple – going still good – met neeta ramakrishnan at the hinduja hospital who handed me a Cadbury dairy bar – passed suneela at around mahim causeway – she was struggling a bit – but went on to the sea link road – here the sun hit the runners very badly – there was nary a tree cover or shade and it was brutal – sea link started – pain also started – struggle to get going with the unrelenting sun – reached 26 kms and decided to walk a bit – that bit became almost 5-6 kms – tried running but the cramps put paid to any efforts in that direction – first suneela went past – she was running good now and then veera came by strongly – ashish met me at the end of the sea link and graciously handed me a volini cream sachet – sea link ended – still the walk/ struggle run routine – went past the 29.9 kms mat – and walked a few more – until mela restaurant – by then the traffic was allowed to start and by the time I reached the haji ali corner – traffic was in full swing – walked through the pedder road incline – slowly starting to put some effort in running until it hurts – did this same routine i.e. running until either cramps or ITBS or both started nagging me – was determined to finish no matter how much time it took me that day; I was not bothered with my baggage kept at the baggage counter – I was going to finish this one.

Turned the Babulnath corner – this was my arena baby – milton’s monthly bandra-ncpa group runs were of much help here psychologically I was very strong, my mental reserves were very good – continued with run/ walk routine until I turned into v.n. road – and yes, almost there – few runners were ahead of me – kept them in focus and reached flora fountain – few more kilometers and I am there – when I reached the Canada building opp the old handloom house on d.n. road, was awash with emotions because this was the very same building in which my late father had worked in his whole life in a LIC branch – there was an old gentleman in ordinary banians, working shorts and barefoot running determinedly – I gently tapped him on his shoulder and said “well done, uncle” – he just nodded and I went by – determined to get a strong finish – cramps were very strong (evident in the marathon photos), could barely run but did have a running finish to clock 6.10.57 minutes by my watch (later the chip timings recorded 6.10.52 seconds). Very glad to run into madhu who was there at the finish line to greet all us runners, despite not running that day. Finally, I am a MARATHONER.