21 st December Sunday 2014 Vasai Virar hal marathon
Dedication : today’s run is dedicated to kaushikbhai . He firmly believes that when one runs the same race next time she/he must improve on her/his previous timings. Today’s run will satisfy him as most of ( almost all ) the BNP runners have done their PBs.
The most stress free run : today’s weather is excellent and mood of each and every BNP runner is very positive and upbeat. Unlike SCMM where every one is damn serious about the run here janta is in relax mood. In SCMM there is a strong feeling of competitiveness and strong desire to do better than oneself as well as others. Here that stress is not there. No wonder at the end of race every one has done his/her PB. Stress free running has it’s own advantages.
20 th December
Through out the day
BNP running community is having very speculative trend. The Positives ( some of the group members are pushing the bar higher and higher ) are all for “The Bull Run “ . ( what is meant is “ The Full Run “ )
A lot of half marathoners have decided to run full marathon.
Rupal wants to confirm whether I am running half or full. She is worried as she has collected my BIB ( from town side collection centre ) and now does not know how to give me in time for my full . Sheila asks me twice whether I am running half or full as Alpeshbhai has also asked “ shailesh full kara raha hai na ?? “
On top of it some SCMM full marathon guys also say “ Yes “ on the whatsapp wall.
I try to call Sainiji to wish him all the best . He is driving so our talk ends abruptly. Later he tries but by the time I have gone to sleep.
The race day :Sunday
I am out on highway looking for an auto. The BNP T shirt does the magic as I hear “ Shaileshbhai” as one bike stops with sudden brakes. Ninad removes his helmet and invites me to join him . He is superfast as we are delayed for 5.23 Borivali-Vasai local.I am able to catch this train and be with all the friends only because of Ninad’s timely support.
Most of BNP runners are in the 1st compartment . Alpeshbhai , ever helpful , ever concerned is there as the chief coordinator cum the coach for warm up exercises. He is carrying his whistle and as usual busy on phone managing last minute coordination.
Dr Sachin distributes dates to everyone. His presence invites jovial comments . Unlike many of us he is more genuine person .He does not hide his thoughts and desires and is more open. What is there in his mind comes out easily. This leads to comments which makes the whole atmosphere more dosti –masti-thodi bahot Dr ki lelo …..types.
The bus arrangement from vasai to the race venue is efficient and prompt.
We have the largest circle of BNP runners who are doing the warm up exercises. There is DJ music and some of the remixed songs give rhythm to our actions.
Alpeshbhai somehow manages wide range of exercises in the short duration .
Our walk to the starting line becomes the second warm up exercise as we all walk a good distance from hold up area till start point.
The Race :
Whether is excellent. It is a khushnuma type of thandee.
As we all run in a crowded lane , one has to be careful even to find an elbow space. The run is through the lane leading to zenda bazaar and through bazaar peth area.
The lane reminds me of the small lanes which we find in coastal belt of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It looks as if I am running in a lane which can be found in valsad, navsari .
It has two story houses on both the sides.
The mood of the day as well as crowd gets established in the beginning itself. At the first turn we see small school girls in uniform and sweaters. Some are even doing lezim . Some are holding water bottles for runners. The dotting father in me starts thinking of Riva and Tvisha. I see different hairstyles of these young girls. Some are having two pony tails , some are having single choti etc and the visuals of Tvisha and Sheila gets played in my mind. Tvisha’s regular arguments with Sheila about her desired hairstyle for the day especially when daughters are running late for the school bus.
The arrangements : this is one of the best managed race in India. The local politicians put in the full might of machinery to make this even “ the people event “ . You have schools and schools participating with children on both the sides cheering .Few of them may find it “ forced decision “ , but their involvement will definitely inspire many of them to take any sports or physical activity on continuous basis.
There are communities which come out and put up their own stage ,music ,message, banners and music.
The runners are cheered, clapped given “high fies” . Each area is decorated with vibrant colours.
We have passed by small temples, couple of schools and soon reach the big cathedral “ Our lady of grace cathedral “ at papdi, vasai .It is a beautiful light blue colour structure and we run pass hearing the Sunday mass.
We take a nice curvy bend at the first talav ( lake ). The lake is covered with trees on three sides and a curved road at one side. It is picture perfect morning moment. The second lake which comes soon ahead is quite dirty as it is covered by slums type hutments at one side. At one end the women are washing clothes with the help of hand pump which is taking water from the same dirty lake. There is huge urban garbage of plastic and waste on the periphery of water and next to one such dirty are is their washing zone. We Indians easily juxtaposed ourselves with beautiful and ugly and live with attitude “ to kya ?? “The lakes of vasai virar can take cues from thane lakes which have become lively and add colour and culture to thane city.
At dattani square ( a mini mall ) the road becomes a four lane road and we runners get huge space. The roads throughout are well cleaned and even sprayed with DDT type of powder.
Most part of the running route is bare feet friendly.
On right side there is the first darshan of sun. the soothing orange colour sun is rising.
For next few kilometers I am running with or ahead or behind Rupal and Shanky. This is mainly due to different walk breaks we all are taking at individual level.
Rupal’s running looks effortless and Shanky’s face says “ I have clearly worked out strategy “ ( courtesy Sunilji ( !? )
We are diverted near vasai station sky walk and run away from station. I see Vinod who is sprinting and his presence tells me that our BNP full marathoners are soon to arrive.
Ankur soon follows. Till now it was a four lane road with divider but soon we come to two lane road and we now direct interaction with full marathoner is possible.
Dr Sunil Rai is running solo. He is going strong and his religious practice of stairs workout to strength building to repeated work outs of 10 km within 60 minutes running is clearly visible today. Even with such a fast pace he is at ease.
We are crossing the first flyover and at the end I see ever smiling Bhupendra . I chant “Bhopi-Bhopi “ from distance and we have our jadu ki zappi.
These solo runners are immediately followed by the first group of BNP runners comprising of Maheshbhai, Anant sir, Prashant, Shreyas, are running almost together and yes they are really fast. We pass on feel good – do good wishes and move on.
They all have already covered much beyond 12 km plus distance by this time
The stretch till vasant nagari is now open and without much trees. All these stretches become tricky to cross in October heat , but today it’s all cool.
Shanky approves our running when we complete little more than 9 km in 60 minutes.
We are on the causeway kind of bridge joining two land mass. At the opposite end is well planned vasant nagari.
We see the second large group of BNP runners. Punit the better than “garmin” baba ( his touch screen garmin has been airlifted for US for repair…..so soon janta will say “ Garmin “ can fail to function but not Punit. ) along with Sonal , Nileshbhai, komal, Arjun are running almost together
My meeting with the group is virtually at the centre of this bridge. They have come from a different country called Virar and I have come from Vasai and we are on some no man’s land. Weird drama kind of situation can be build on this kind of location.
I hug Punit as if we are meeting after Kumbh mela separation. Nileshbhai sweetly complaints….”aa na chale “ so we also have jadu ki zappi. we runners forget our timings and pace and have jaddu ki zhappi. Sonal reminds me to mention all this “ bharat milap “ kind of drama in the blog .
Vasant Nagari is quite lively. The complete complex looks quite well planned with 1+ 3 stories buildings with good amount of open space. People from individual society have come out to cheer runners. The AAP party volunteers are once again very active this year. They have taken the corner position with their banners, aap caps . Aap volunteers are from different religions, all coming together and cheering the runners.
Till nalasopara fly over we see different groups. At one turning our muslim friends are with banners reminding the “ “Holy Quran “ . there are some specific banners which talk strongly against heinous crimes against women.
At one place brahmakumaris are on both the sides of road. All in white . They have separate stage from which they are welcoming and supporting the runners.
As you run towards nalasopara the theme of balloons become prominent. At every major gathering use of colourful balloons for street decoration is liberal.
For next couple of kilometers the chain “ Hi Fies” become an interesting repeating feature. As I run I give “Hi fi” to a young kid and then the whole chain of kids in expectation follows. It becomes emotionally difficult to deny the clap/hi fi to the eager kids who literally try to jump on your moving hand.
At some places the crowd on both the side come so near that you have a small lane to pass through.
Usually the music everywhere is techno- fast- remixed type.
Bhag milkha is by compulsion. At one place I want to laugh loudly as the song which is being played when I cross is “ mere desh ki dharti sona ugale “ looks like 26 th Jan or 15 th august CD is being played by some extra helpful guy.
We take a long U turn and climb on usually killer nalasopara bridge. Today weather is still good , so incline has no major effect.
Soon I find myself running behind Vaibhav. He is very attentive while running towards very young kids. He tries to walk an extra step to give hi fi to the tiny hands who are out there , but with a lot of self doubt of getting any response. Vaibhav gives them gentle hi fi and hey you have 1000 watt smile on the face of a little angel.
I soon realize that his pace is faster and request him to go ahead.
We are now entering virar zone .The road now is narrow but has small village charm . It’s again a green stretch for few kilometers. On left side there are a lot of green zones. There are independent houses, bungalows and most of them have names ending with “ villa”. The road is quite shaded. There is no sun hitting you any where throughout the stretch.
Some families have put up their own little water stations outside their vilas,where the family members take turn in volunteering .
The water availability throughout the route is beyond imagination. right from hold up area to first few steps of the run to every 2 km to every locality to every community base cheer groups …..there is abundance of water.
At one place I see bananas and oranges being offered and biscuits are given at quite a few places.
In between I have passed an area where on left there is an open ground . I see Dr Sachin going on extreme left to get a pack of biscuits .
I am in dilemma . How do I overtake him . Yesterday on whatsapp wall I had shared one thought “ please overtake DR Sachin invisibly …..he should not come to know .” Here I am beyond 15 km running and I have decided to increase my pace. Do I announce my arrival to Dr Sachin and overtake him leaving drastic changes on facial curves ( and not supported by multi camera jerks shown in typical hindi soap opera ) or do I run discreetly .
On left there is beautiful golden idol of Lord Buddha ( it is similar to what we see during our trips to ladakh, Sikkim or Himalayan Buddhist area )
The sun rays are making the idol shine as rays get deflected.
Suddenly my mischief urge gets subsided and I take extreme right path ( away from Dr sachin’s path ) and I move on without bothering whether my BNP T shirt is having any residual effect.
Over the time I have also become a bit of “pace” observing runner. My early years of running were without any watch or stop watch. I was running , observing, having my masti time . I still observe around but now I also observe the garmin. Once I had opted for long distance running with Bangalore 50 km ( and future committed to regular long distance running ),garmin became a necessity .
With garmin comes the habit of continuous feedback mechanism. I believe this will go on till your body develops an inner garmin.
So from start my thinking and planning mind wants me to keep average pace within 6.95, even preferring intermittent pace of 6.45.
My walk breaks are also not liked by this mind as pace comes down to 9.5 to 10.
Beyond 15 km there is urge to increase the pace. There is an inner struggle . do I increase now? Do I wait till 18 km ?
Now the eyes go more frequently on garmin. I find myself getting irritated with this. what is becoming of my running? Am I becoming mechanical ??
To bring back my “ fun quotient “ I tell my mind let’s go till 18 km at slightly increased pace and we will skip last walk break beyond 2 hours.
Virar stretch is without much support. This has been the trend since last two years. May be they all want you to concentrate on your last phase. No more distractions. Race ke ghode jaisa bhago. Eether uther kya time pass karna.
18 + km and the pace goes few notches up. I am slowly touching 6 ka pace and again decide to slow down ….may be beyond 19 km plus. Last few kilometers are in a way fun to observe fellow runners( subject to your own conditions….agar tumharee khud ki phatti padi hai to kya observe karoge? ) .
There are no reverse km marking beyond 20 km . The first marking which comes as reverse is directly 400 m . I have to rely on my garmin and I increase my pace beyond 20 km and in last 600 m I start my sprint. There is no pandeyji this time to run last couple of hundred meters with me like goa. As I am approaching the finish line I see an ambulance moving at a slow speed exactly ahead of me on the middle of the main path. I have my moments of worries as it looks obvious that I will have to kill my speed and slow down to walking as there is not much space for runners to run.
To my surprise and relief the ambulance moves on left and goes on side and I am able to sprint till the very end .
The official time given to me is of 02:21:48 and for some one who ran extremely difficult 2012 vasai virar marathon in 02:59:54 this kind of result is quite amusing.
Kaunsee chakki ka aata khaya??
The main factor is only one “ the BNP family “
For some one who has 52 Sundays and few more days as assured run possible days , to reach here is a difficult task .
I remember asking maheshbhai outside our favorite charni road joint.
“what is more important ? half marathon with good pace or full marathon ??”
“running is best enjoyed if you pursue long distance running” was his answer.
He did not elaborate but it was like one of those “ mantra”
I did not realize the full significance . later when I started pursuing the dream of ultra distance ( by putting in more hours ) I did not realize the other effects.
Only with the results of pune half marathon and BKC half marathon I have realized with actual trials that “ once you pursue long distance running the distances like 21 km are no more the herculean challenges. They are kind of building blocks. Your endurance , stamina and yes those crampy cramps usually do not ask for undue attentions at 18 km or 19 km plus. You have pushed your body enough beyond these kilometers.
So it’s like life comes to full circle: if you want to see increased pace in your half do more full ( or long distance running )
Post run : I apply ice to my feet which have been hammered as I am still using the same shoes ( which by this time should be discontinued )
DR Mahesh kurle gives us the coffee treat as he is the magician who has cracked the secrete code of half marathon .He has completed his life’s first ever marathon in 02:14
Dr Sachin once again gives me company as we all decide to return home early. We get a share auto and reach virar just in time to take a borivli local.