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Monday, 20 January 2014

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) 2014

This was my third half marathon overall and in Mumbai. I never blogged any of my earlier runs (3 10K and 3 Half marathons) but this time I felt I gave too much to this run so its worth to write about my experience.

The practice

I came back rom home after my Diwali vacations in Nov. I had 2 months to prepare so I decided I will play Frisbee regularly for one month that will boost my stamina and during the last month I will practice my runs. But you plan it and its screwed. It was my first game after vacation and bang I got a soft tissue injury in thigh (above knee). I was so serious about my run that I gave a full 2 weeks rest to let it heal. But it took around 5 weeks to heal to extent that I could start my cycling. Then I did my first practice run of 3kms and walked 5km from office to home. Then another 2.5 next day and 5Km with session of football and Frisbee along. Sadly another injury that was long silent came up, this was in my left leg. With less than 3 weeks to go I had no option but to bicycle regularly to build my stamina. I bicycled thrice a week around 40kms and during the second last week I did a practice run of 11Km followed by a 35Km ride 2 days later and lastly with 6 days to go I ran another 16.5Km. My last run was really tiring as I practiced with a limited supply of glucose water and chocolate biscuits. Unlike last year, where I practiced maximum 13Km I surpassed it. 2 days before the run I planned another 5Km run on road to get accustomed to terrain. This one was really tiring and demotivating 4km that I eventually ran. I was worried how will I manage 21km 2 days later.

The Run

I was following a strict diet of carbohydrates and proteins during my practice, alongwith good hydration. And the last two days I gave more emphasis to carbos and also resting my body with all the necessary sleep during my travel. I had good plans for my timely dinner (with extra carbos), milk and sleep but maybe due to excitement I could not sleep much.

Mumbai marathon was even more organized this time with all the route support published before the run. So I could plan this more accurately. My plan for the run was to warm my muscles with first 4 Kms and use the water point to stretch and hydrate myself. I was also planning to carry some local chikkies of jaggery to boost energy at every 20-25mins. That late night my plan changed. I now decided to warm my muscles at the hold area and do my first stop at 8Kms, follow energy and hydration every 20min, next stop at 18km and final sprint post 20.5Km.


The D-day I woke up at 4am. I was living with my friend Aniket in Thane that was around 30Km from the starting point. The race was due to start at 6am. I did some pushups and ate some bananas, and a lot of water early on. But the nature calls did not behaved in time and I had to bring my focus back to the task ahead. Thanks to all the arrangements by SCMM, I could pee properly before the start line all the water I drank in the morning. Then I warmed up and stretched with all people around me also doing the same. The atmosphere was fantastic. There were thousands of runners waiting at the hold up area in Bandra for the long awaited run. Some handicapped runners as well with prosthetic limbs gave a sight of thought. Finally we stepped towards the start line. The celebrity John Abrahim flagged of the event this time. I was waiting to cross the first sensor but I realized I was already among the runners after crossing the start line (did I miss it?).

The clock said 06:14:xx. The start is always tough with so many runners to overtake. Many a times you are stuck behind some slow runners and you have to alternate your path to move ahead. After the first km you are on the Bandra-Worli link of Mumbai which is the most delightful part of the run. This time I missed the view of the lightened cables as I was too focused to overtake the slow runners holding me back. The playlist of songs was rocking my head and was really pushing me up on each step. I observed another Sikh runner with a prosthetic left leg during the first Km. I wanted to slow down and wish him luck but I missed in the flow of my pace. I held a water bottle that I sipped during the next 5kms. During the end section of the link I saw the 02:30 bus, crossing which I was sure I will end up less than 02:15 as I started at 15min late. On the other side of the link I could already see the full marathon runners. Too much respect run naturally from half-marathon runners to the full ones as we all realize what they are capable of. The crowd of Mumbai was already on the road to cheer up the runners. The next 2-3 kms also went in a snap where I overtook many runners, at times u get frustrated when you are not able to cross some slow runners for a while.

I now reached the 8km mark where I planned my stop. I remember from my last year there was a Punjabi aunty standing with gur (jaggery) for the runners. I saw her during my last 2 runs so I was sure she will be there. I saw a orange stall before that where I paused for few seconds and got orange (a full orange!) I ate half of it and kept half on road side. Moments later I met the aunty and took some Jaggery from her. I said 'Namaste Aunty' in a swift and continued. She was busy and I really don't think she recognizes my face. Now was the U-turn point where the second set of sensors you cross. I knew I am close to 10Km mark and I haven't taken a proper halt yet. My strategy is to never walk but always make a complete halt, stretch and continue in a span of 40-45 secs. It was 11+Km now and I saw a set of people with sprays in their hand. I now decided to take a halt. I let them apply the sprays to my knees and calf and then I stretched my muscles and continued. I always had a bottle of energy drink or water in my hand that I kept sipping all the while. This was the marine drive section which is broad and you run parallel to the Arabian sea. The view is great and the people cheering around also are enormously gathered here.


The route takes another in-city turn now and there is a section of steep climb as well. Although I decided my next halt will be post 15km but I couldn't pace much during the climb and I took a halt to stretch at around 14km and eat a banana plus some oranges offered by the gathered crowd. There were amazing kids some dressed like small cheer leaders and some holding those banners that said "run Mumbai run" etc. This entire section is full of so many motivators you hardly feel to give up at all. There was a kid suffering from autism supporting the runners. I waved my hand to him and he had that smile on his face. Till 15Km the route had its climb and later it descended for a while and flat. We were back to the section parallel to sea after a sharp left turn. I used a sponge to cool me down and at the 16Km mark I saw the 02:15 bus. I was so motivated that I have another 5Kms to make it to sub-2 this year. But a Km later I saw another 02:15 bus that kept me confused how accurate were these. I kept pushing myself as it now became quite tough to continue. Little pain I could feel below my right rib. I should have stopped right away but I pushed myself beyond 19Km mark. This was the final halt. I had to give it a careful shot as during my last year I had to take another halt post 19Km. I stretched for a while, sipped some water, took good breaths and continued. The pain was not there now and I was nicely going towards the last 1000m. I waited for another board of 800 or 700m to go but it was directly 500m to go. I tried to pace up a little now. I could see the finish line now. I expected to see 08:13 something on clock as I crossed the 02:15 buses, but to my surprise it showed 08:15:xx. I pushed myself beyond the finishing line, carefully stepping over the sensors. I was done! My eyes were broad open, I was breathing hard and I could feel full drainage of my body. I quickly held  a water bottle, also took out the chikkies from my pocket and finished them. Holding my breath back I now gave myself a good 10-15min stretching session. I could see few celebrities like gulshan grover and aftab surrounded by cameramen. I ignored and continued towards the refreshments zone. I took refreshments and my medal (which I almost lost later). I didn't wanted to stay alone now and wanted to talk to any fellow runner. I then found Mr.ArunKumar from Hyderabad (which I realized seeing his t-shirt o Hyderabad runners). We sat talked and enjoyed our refreshments. I felt happy, content and was smiling continuously for next few hours. Two girls later took a small interview of mine for their project that made me feel special

Mumbai marathon has its awesome charm. The organizing, the support system, the spirit of local mumbaikars and the amazing runners. Its a fest with a huge number of brands shining along the route, with all those flying choppers above you and the treatment you get, you really feel like a hero, a special person. And what to say about the feel of finishing the run, when u overcome a self challenge. Hard to say what I get out of my running, but at times its only running that makes sense to me.

I feel I will grow more with my runs as till now I am a selfish runner with my timings etc to achieve and show off but I know runners who say running is a team work. They talk, motivate people around them and want everyone should finish their run perfectly, how slow it maybe. I think I will be there only after I reach the sub-2 group.


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