18 th January , Sunday 2015
The standard chartered Mumbai Marathon ( SCMM )remains the most competitive marathon for most of the amateur runners.
Most of us run to compete with ourselves ( the often misused, often repeated dialogue ), to do better than last time and subtly to score some points in the fraternity / group.
Some kind of stress is integral part of SCMM. Unlike many other races where many of us run “aarame” , ( at ease ) this race is not meant to be taken lightly.
Bhutan trip and health issues:
Maheshbhai has made us run in Bhutan in sub zero temperatures, but non stop partying ( including Thimpu night life ) during the Bhutan days have not followed “ hum sab filhal sant hai” ( holier than thou )kind of approach which becomes mandatory before SCMM.
After doing 2500 km road journey ( Kolkata to western Bhutan and back ) when we arrive in late evening in Mumbai on 14 th Jan 2015 , only thing in our mind is SCMM.
15 th morning when I get up I realize that body is asking for rest as non stop road journey has taken its toll.
By 15 th night I have major chest congestion. When I speak to Ashish Naik ( fellow companion in Bhutan trip ), he says he has been sleeping non stop and he also has cold and cough.
From sub zero – dry climate to humid and polluted environment !!!!
The backlogs in office after the long break makes me slog more , so 15 th is late office hours day.
16 th, I decide to follow Ananth sir’s advice. “ Sleep on Friday as Saturday is not sleep friendly day as it is a night before the race day “
Even though I sleep by 9:40 pm, when I get up on 17 th , I have a new problem of sprained neck .
What else can go wrong today ?? is the question I keep asking myself as the day passes. At 6 pm I tell my office ” the remaining backlogs will remain as backlogs.”
I am up by 2.00 am . I do my own stretching exercises at home only. On the way to station I see a fellow runner and I ask the autowala to stop so we can take him . He( autowala ) agrees when I offer extra money than the meter. The runner ( name ??? ) is from Faridabad and has come only to run Mumbai marathon .
I meet Roshan at the ticket window and we all rush to platform no 3
By the time I reach platform number 3 , I do not see any one out or near the door of any chosen compartment.
In the coach next to main indicator ,the whole group is inside sitting and waiting for the train to move. I realize there is no Alpeshbhai this time who usually hangs out or usually stands at the door doing last minute coordination.
The faces are all familiar but I see the great determination on every one’s face. I do an instantaneous tukbandi (rhyming )which is passed on as a 4.10 am shayari ( poetry ) on this slow local train to churchgate station .( south mumbai )
Unmesh starts stretching midway . Beyond Dadar the facial expressions of many of the runners slowly change. The pressure build up in bladders is now visible. I am also one of them . When we reach churchgate there is the most desired soo-soo break for most of us.
Post police scrutiny and further round of private security check when we enter the azad maidan, we realize the walking all the way from churchgate till the hold up area itself is mini warm up. Azad Maidan is without much illumination. Loo zone is at one extreme corner and on the way to holding area there are couple of porta loos.
I am at C section hold up area. Some runners are jumping the boundary and are trying to join B section and may be beyond.
The race starts at the 5.40 am and by the time we are allowed ( purely on the judgment of volunteer or rather on impatience of the runners ) there is a good time lag.
The Run :
I am quite apprehensive about my run. Will my chest congestion be the problem . Will my cold and cough ( which basically needs rest for recovery ) will also bring in fever ( mid run-post run ).
Initially I try to listen to music and also Osho, but very soon I just switch off everything.
One TV crew bike is moving next to few of us and is giving out generous dose of petrol smoke. I have the typical irritated feeling. Typical thoughts come to my mind :Am I overreacting.?This is Mumbai . Crowd, Pollution , Sound all are part of my life. What is the fuss??
Luckily after some time the biker decides to zoom ahead.
Near NCPA and in many SOBO areas , roads are repaired with asphalt patches. Looks like BMC has been put on some SOS task.
Soon I am on the marine line: queen’s neck less stretch . it’s still dark. The stages and stalls are being put in pace. Music trials are going on . At one place cheerleaders are performing on stage. In this early phase of run I see one lady limping and running , supported by her male colleague. She has some special long plaster on her leg.
Water stations and loo stations are in good number throughout the SOBO stretch . Beyond sea link the facilities reduce. Is it typical townies vis a vis suburbs game??
Near kemp’s corner flyover Punit comes and taps me from behind and zooms ahead. I am with Suvendu for some time on peddar road walk-run. Body is now some what relaxed , earlier it was a bit stiff.
At Haji Ali , Savio joins me . This brings in some welcome relief as on these very roads we both have been co-runners on many occasions.
Usually I become a chatter box and Savio has to zelofy me ( he in any way speaks less ( as compared to me ) , but today due to cold and cough he is saved by circumstances.
I want to run with him at least till 32 km distance.
Savio shows me Dan sir on the half marathon track .
Soon we are running with Suvendu . Suvendu is amused as he has just seen 2:30 bus ahead of 2:15 bus in half marathon zone.
Our own 6:00 hour full marathon bus is ahead of us. Soon we are on worli sea face. Rupal and Dilipbhai zoom pass on half marathon track and both call my name loudly catching me off guard.
Some of the runners are stopping and doing some stretch exercise in the early phase of the run . I remain confused….is this normal for them during every run? Is it one way to remind runner like me….he dude soon you will have problems…..
Just before the sea link turn Savio decides to take a Loo break. Contagious action : I also join .
By the time I come out with expression “ what a relief “ neither Savio nor Suvendu are seen. 6:00 hour bus is also beyond horizon.
I recheck and realize ….my “what a relief “ has been really long.
What follows is the memorable phase of the run .
I am running on sea link and there are very few runners in my vicinity. The run on sea link is quite rejuvenating .
There is some breeze. The sea birds flying. Some photographers lying low and trying for some best shots with best frame composition.
It’s like small exclusive run .
Through out the sea link what I experience is very similar to half marathon run group. During half marathon very soon every runner gets positioned in a group of runners with matching pace. During these runs you end up in being company of same set of people.
So here I am in company of few runners. One female runner is running as well walking. Her walk breaks are with very aggressive postures. Both the hands move vigorously and I am sure if some one comes in front of her will get a nice punch.
Her walk pace is also fast. Two sardars are running together almost alternatively overtaking each other.
Soon we cross the toll plaza gates and there comes the time car, followed by open bus with media crew and finally the elite runners.
The time panel reads 58 minutes.
In no time we are sidelined, overtaken and deservingly ignored by every one !
The Africans are virtually dancing….long strides, legs movements…hands movements ….there is beautiful rhythm and hey it’s like running poetry !
The road to bandra has huge film hoardings.
At the end of sea link I see sanjay who sadly declares….”I want to leave the race”…..At the end of 20 km + , the fast (and much better runner than me ) runner of BNPGR wants to quit. Suddenly my legs also start feeling the load and want to slow down. Oh this is tough !!The mind goes into an overdrive….hey you have not even touched 32km plus and all the gloomy feelings. I tell loudly to sanjay” nothing doing …do at least 32 km and then take a call”
Just before the S.V road, I see more than dozen traffic policemen on the fly over looking down . I even overhear the apt comment by the police men “ Hey aple Indian lokanch kaam naheen” ( looks like they have just witnessed the elite fast but calm African runners passing by followed by self pushing Indian runners like us whose desperate efforts are easily seen . the comment” we Indians just can’t match them is apt and may be appropriate “
At Mahim church while turning on cadel road I Join the 6.00 hour bus . Suvendu is also almost with the bus.
By shivaji park I am now ahead of 6.00 bus and surprisingly remain ahead of the bus till the very end ( even during the toughest phase ).
Near Old passport office and old satyam shivam area there is the Tee junction . One can see runners coming from INS trata almost touching Dr Annie besant road and taking U turn .
Oh this is a sweet as well as a cruel reminder “ I have to come back to this very junction point, but only after running few more kilometers ”
This can have two kind of effects :
Effect one : depressing and demotivating : oh can’t I just jump the line and join the INS trata line ??
Motivating : good I have reach here and I have to come back to this point .
I somehow convince myself on motivating side” Hey I will come back to this point/ area after taking the marathon route and will have same or similar thoughts when I will reach the U turn ……good some thing to look forward.
At worli stretch I run pass ultra uber luxury apartments under construction projects , which will have feature….first look only by invitation…..for the chosen few.
One funny aspect of long distance running is “timing of your walk breaks “
In this run I have less walk breaks…..for first 22 km one and half minute walk breaks after every 20 minutes and subsequently it is 125 steps.
But more than once it so happens that during the walk break….some one comes from behind and motivates you ….” Hey buddy c’mon run “ “ keep moving , keep running “
He or She may have the best intentions but you have that funny feeling.
Post petrol pump turn ahead of poddar college I am soon running on worli sea face road….on opposite side I see Maheshbhai taking his 5:00 hour bus towards Hajiali via worli dairy….soon 2nd 5.00 hour bus follows . even though I am far behind the site of two 5.00 hour buses gives me happy feelings. I have the feeling that I will be able to do my marathon within 6.00 hours. Soon the feeling becomes stupid enough to even dream of 6.30 hours .
Soon punit runs past on opposite side. His run looks smooth and effortless.
At INS trata Aadesh is seen on opposite side.
I am not able to see 5.15 and 5.30 buses as there are bushes and high level dividers.
When I reach the U turn point , I recall my earlier thought process and find my self smiling.
I even have the temporary typical competitive mood when I see a new runner just approaching the Tee point from prabhadevi end. Oh the poor fellow has to run many more kilometers before he comes back to this point .
I have been drinking water continuously. At every water station I take the small bottle if earlier one is over.
Again full bladder reminds me of nature’s call . Unfortunately all the loos ( there are few ) come on right side of road and everytime I decide to skip and postpone( the relief is given only at the beginning of padder road and that also after crossing over to the other side )
The sun is out with good force. The first minor jolt comes new worli dairy. For fraction of second I have this uneasy feeling ….am I giddy ???
I pour water on my face and my head….it gives instant relief.
I feel fresh again .
Pouring water on your face and head has its own problem if you are runner who run with specks. A simple drop of water on your specks can give you irritating feeling.
You have to be careful while pouring water. Otherwise till the time you wipe your glasses you will have that uneasy feeling while running.
At atria mall I meet Sidhi . at haji ali we join Ajit.
We three remain almost together till end of the peddar road till kemps corner fly over.
At the middle of peddar road fly over we slowly cross one man who is farting away to glory.
His farts are nothing less than big bang sounds.
One passerby is startled ! he says “ O sala eeto bomb chhodta hai “ ( oh lord this man is shooting/dropping bombs )
Reluctantly ( as it is the killer incline )we push ourselves and move pass him.
What is a good run …..is it only PB ? is it breaking your own record or beating your friend ( but saying ….yaar,we are comrades )
At times I think a good run is the run when you have had
- Good sleep on previous night/s
- Happy tummy before , during and even immediately after the run.
- No gas troubles
- No burps
And hopefully joyous mood and stress free run.
Beyond peddar road we discuss whether 5.30 is an achievable target??
I have already crossed the worli dairy stretch, the huge open barren sun hitting-no breeze hajiali long curve is behind me , killer peddar road incline is the recent past . Technically worst is over , but unfortunately best in us is also over…..even though now the distance of around 5 km or less is to be covered but pace has gone for toss . If now we can run under 7 ka pace with some sprint then impossible is possible.
Soon I enter the most interesting phase of run as I cross babulnath and reach chowpati.
I am again in open and sun is directly hitting me.
Mind and Body are constantly talking. Are they talking or avoiding the talk?? And who is talking and who is listening . Will it happen?? Can I increase my pace ? what if I get cramps? Oh hell lets push…..but if something goes wrong ???
Okay increase the pace in last 3 km , no last 2 km ….may be sprint in last one km…..
Why can’t the mind go blank…..it is blank !!! than who is talking ???? no it is tired…..just tired……
Suddenly I recall my often repeated self joke “ aur khao ganne !! Aur doudo marathon !!
I pass by two set shower mist areas…..but do not get much needed relief. I have already decided not to take any walk breaks beyond peddar road….so I am just moving…..i have stopped seeing the garmin…..
The site around is not good…..runners are walking…..runners are tired…..some are clearly showing the signs that they are in pain…..i do not want to look at any of troubled souls…..till marine lines fly over….till next signal ….till churchgate turn……I keep small tangible targets.
Soon I am running towards flora fountain . I see kashmira who complains about cramps……I see 500 meter mark ….want to increase my pace….which I am trying since 1 km remaining sign , but not able to do….i see Shanky sitting on road divider and clicking phots…wave at him and try to push……I am able to increase the pace in last 300 odd meters.
Finally I complete my first official full marathon .
As I come out from finishing lanes towards the end hold up area I see maheshbhai , sree ,varun and whole lot of friends.
I have the typical instantaneous “ pay lagoon guruji “ action for which he says ….””aapke liye yahaan dil mein jagah hai “ …….oh looks like Bhutan trip still has after effects……surprisingly I do not have great exuberating feeling …..neither I have that immense satisfaction feeling…..am I depriving myself pleasure of my first ever full marathon???
At medical tent I take two ice begs and have the cooling effect session. Kashmira , varun and sidhi join .
Pradeep and deepa help me to get into the medal and refreshment line…….
I have to go home as last two Sundays I have been away from family and I have promised riva that “if I have a good sleep post run , I will play badminton with you in the evening…..
The sms from procam certifies my run with timings of 05.49.54
With interesting words as” marathon early start run”