Friday, February 10, 2012

Mumbai Marathon 2012

Mumbai Marathon 2012:

2011 was a hectic year for me in terms of running – I did my first ever full marathon, graduating to the ranks of a marathoner, although I took little over 6 hours to complete the distance – latter in February, I broke my personal best for the half marathon in Thane and then in August, I broke a sub-one hour for 10K. During 2011, I also redeemed myself at the Kaveri Trail Marathon and Bangalore Ultra in between tackling a tough and grueling Hyderabad half marathon in August and a tough, humid half marathon in goa in December. In all, 9 nine events during 2011 was a busy year in terms of running events, the most that I have done in a year.

But during all these events, there was only one thought that permeated my brains and that was my second full marathon in Bombay in January 2012 for which I wanted to come under 6 hours. I believe in laying modest goals for myself so that when I achieve these achievable targets I am mentally satisfied.

During 2011, I also started doing core strengthening exercises believing that a strong core is required for a long distance runner. I focused on one core workout day per week and usually it was a Thursday or Friday that I used to do at least 45 minutes core workout. I became quite religious about my core workouts not missing them except perhaps on a few occasions, when travelling. It was also during this period that I started doing a lot of hill workouts and focused hill repeats of the dreaded Aarey Forest and Borivli National Park taking especial delight in conquering the hills and doing as many repeats as possible sometimes taking in 4 to 5 hill repeats.

I wanted to do as much thing as perfect as possible and that is why I kept probing and questioning the experts offline and online – some of my best running buddies are in both spheres. It was during one such exercise that Bobby from Bangalore recommended that my tapering be very focused and intensive rather than slow long runs – a complete antithesis to what I had read and known about marathon tapering – yet there I was doing a brisk 21k on two Sundays before the marathon (it was cold winter morning and an absolutely beautiful day to run) and a fast 10K at the hills at Borivli National Forest the Sunday before the marathon race day and followed it up with two fast 5ks and 7ks respectively during the week preceding the race.

I was in as best shape as possible and eager to throw the gauntlet so to speak at the 42kms of superhuman effort. I was also determined to do as perfect carbo-loading and hydrating as possible during the 2 days before the race day and therefore ended up drinking 3.5 litres each of water/ Gatorade on Friday and Saturday before the race day. Carbo-loading done, hydrating done, bibs pinned and ready, chips tied and ready, GU-gels, water bottle, cap, socks, shoes all kept in readiness for the morning of the race, I went to sleep at 10.00 p.m. half expecting any sound sleep. I was to get up at 2.45 a.m. to get ready for the marathon journey. But since I had a comfortable siesta on Saturday, I was not unduly worried about lack of sleep.

2.45 a.m. – I am up and started getting ready for the race – had my usual oats milk with one teaspoon each of honey and chia seeds and one banana, took a shower, did my usual quota of 10 surya namaskars and got out at 3.45 a.m. for Bhasker to pick me up from outside my house. We were to latter meet Aishorjyo Ghosh, Vaishali Mane & Mithika D’Cruz, the four of us cramped comfortably in the back seat of the cool cab and joking as if we were going for a picnic rather than to run a dreaded 42 kms on the roads of Bombay.

Azad Maidan was abuzz with activity at the unearthly hour (well, no time is unearthly in Bombay) of 5.00 a.m. with police around and V.T. station foyer witnessing more runners than passengers. We walked under the V.T. station subway to the holding area at Azad Maidan passing through numerous police barricades who were asking us to show our “pass”, which was pinned to the t-shirts.

The number of my friends has increased vastly in the last couple of years due to my running activity and due to the inter-actions on the numerous social networking sites and so when I reached Azad Maidan there were numerous hand clasps and hi-5s to be given to RFL, FB, DM friends et al. There we were at Azad Maidan on the morning of the most important day in 365 days casually joking and chatting and guffawing aloud with nary a care in the world of the enormous task at hand that of running a grueling 42 kms. I was completely relaxed and not thinking about the finish line but of enjoying the race. I was planning to run at my easy pace for a couple of kms and then see how it goes. I am not the kind of runner to constantly peek at my watch to see what pace I am running at.

So off we go at 5.40 a.m. from V.T. station, the first thing I noticed is that the number of runners doing the full marathon had increased, nay almost doubled from last year. In every one there was an intensity, a religiousness which meant that these guys were into serious training!! At the Marine Drive going into first of the loops at near the Trident Hotel, I was still behind the venerable Giles Drego who was chugging along looking at his watch time and again!! I passed a few people at this stage but latter on more people started passing me along the Marine drive. I was happy that the 5 hour bus was behind me, so I was doing good so far. The weather was beautiful a nice gentle breeze blowing across from the Arabian Sea.

The going was good until the start of the sea link, which was 15 kms when I had my first GU gel as planned. The pace dropped in the sea link but I was still before the 5 hour bus. I picked up some Gatorade at the only stop where it was available i.e. at the end of the sea link just before the bandra causeway. When I turned into bandra causeway I saw Dr. G.B. Sharma coming back. When queried he gesticulated that he was puking and therefore quitting the race. Natasha gently inquired about my progress at near the Mahim masjid and a little after that the 5 hour bus went by, singing raucuously. Well, anyway, I thought a sub 5 hour marathon would have been a dream so I thought the next best strategy – don’t allow th3 5.30 hour bus to overtake you!! By that time 22 kms had passed and it came to my knowledge with consternation that Gatorade were simply not available at any water station. Everywhere you inquire Gatorade was “no Sir, not available here”. From here onwards I started taking walking breaks of 30 seconds at each kilometer board/ mark and that way I reached Worli Sea Face into kilometers 27, 28 & 29. Somewhere around kilometer 28 i mixed plain water with the Gatorade that I had in my water bottle since Gatorade was anyway not available, the next best strategy was to have sufficient water. The humidity and heat were still not an issue at this stage. Subsequently i was to realise that even relispray was not available save at a few places during the run.

From kilometer 29 onwards i.e. just before the old passport office turnabout, I started feeling cramps in my left calf muscles – from then onwards it was a struggle and I resorted to run/walk/run with as little walk as possible. Soon the cramps spread to right calf musle, ITBS on my right knee started hurting, then more cramps. Like this I kept going ticking off one kilometer mark after another. At Pedder road hill, I tried to climb it without stopping but could not do so due to cramps. But for the cramps I was okay physically and also mentally. It was at Marine Drive that I started feeling the heat of the early morning sun but at the end of the Marine Drive before the turn to Veer Nariman Road was delighted to see my daughter standing in the middle of the road and clicking photographs – that was indeed a moment of satisfaction and glory – she got a good number of photographs of me as well as other runners from that vantage point.

Turning into D.N. Road from Flora fountain I was determined to finish strongly, but the damn cramps were severely impeding me now. Every time I was trying to accelerate to finish sprint style, my leg was hurting, still a good run in the last 100 metres to finish in 5.34 hours a whopping 36 minutes better than last year. I was happy with the timing and the result on my body as I was not fatigued or completely exhausted like last year. Met with Madhu, Vignesh Easwar who were at the finish point cheering the runners and thereafter walked slowly to the finish holding area, collected my medal, refreshments and wanted to lie down for a few minutes, but the damn cramps attack was severe this time. Luckily Abhijit Shome who finished in 3.28 hours was there to help me with stretching. Later on met with friends from Bangalore – Bobby, Pani sir, Suresh, Gerald (from Shillong) and enjoyed the post marathon party with beer and food and friends.

1 comment:

  1. congrats ...epecially for the beautiful report...helps u to understand better.other people who may become runners...and write my report which I still haven t figured. ciao from