Mistakes, Humanity, Pain and Hope : SCMM 2014

So, I am back!
I've been meaning to write more often, but the only time I get on weekends goes away sleeping trying to recover from the training.

Now though, I am sick! Chest congestion. As a result, I have missed a training day (1st in 85 days) and have had to take a day off from work.

Anyways, a happy new year to all (23 days later, the year is still as fresh as new :P )

I participated in my 1st official Marathon,  The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon on the 19th of this month.

For me the marathon experience was not about finishing it. I knew I have enough in me to walk to the finish line if I had to. The real issue was my timing. A sub 3 hour marathon was my goal.

Now,  a few months back I ran the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and ran it a little beyond my expectations at a 1:25:01.
I wanted to go faster and be better in Mumbai. What I missed was this : Before the ADHM, I had run 14 HM distances in the same year and at the end of each of them, I felt as fresh as daisy.  It was if , Half Marathons had become my best friends.
However, I had done just 2 distances past 25k, 1 at Bhatti and 1 solo marathon with my cousin.

Hoping, my legs would hold on easily and that hitting the wall would be easily negotiable (thanks to the numerous articles I read on it) I headed to Mumbai. #MISTAKE 1

I love Mumbai, honestly. The people are friendly and helpful and it has the SEA!! For a Delhite who was suffering under the cold weather, a lovely sea breeze and bright sunshine were magical.
As I had been in Mumbai before, I was fairly confident that I would manage it all on my own.

I landed in Mumbai, 12 hours before the race without a crew #MISTAKE 2

In the entire month of January, I had trained and then tried to protect myself from catching a cold. A day before the race, while returning from training, I didn't change my wet training clothes and raced back home.
Plus, I took a bath with almost cold water . You know what happened to me(Hint : It is the reason why I got time to write this) :)  #MISTAKE 3

At my guest house, there was a bit of miscommunication ( I was supposed to share my room with someone! NO WAY DUDE! ). It eventually got sorted out and then I made #MISTAKE 4 (Stupidest of them all) : I went for a RUN! Yay!
I have to run 42.2 kilometers in less than 10 hours time, I am in an unknown neighborhood and I am running a bloody 6k for fun? ( PS : Do not try this )
I ended up twisting my foot in the dark and at the time it seemed very minor, plus I was on a runner's high so I continued back to my barracks.

I had originally planned to eat something filling, but I think I taw a Tubway ( saw* Subway*; sorry Tweety Bird). I ate a Veggie Delite Sub a day before the race, with my lunch being the in-flight "meal".
Alrighty then! #MISTAKE 5

I had originally planned to sleep at 7 in the evening so that I could get up at 3:30 and have atleast a proper est before the race.
However, 7 became 9 ( they look similar as well ) and though I was in bed by 9, there was 1 "small" problem : The lights of my room just wouldn't close. No! They just won't! There was no switch.
I did contemplate breaking them, but my peaceful (read : dumb!) streak took over.

It was 11:30 by the time my eyes got tired of being irritated by lights and decided to sleep. #MISTAKE 6/TRAGEDY 1

3 hours and 30 minutes later, I woke up all fresh (yeah right!) and read to race ( oh yeah! )

I reached the race venue ( after gulping down a can of sugarfree red bull and a lunch box of cashews {not as big as you think} ), reached the starting line in half sleep and though it was pitch dark, I put on my Oakleys ( Hehe!)

Kilometers 0-10 :  Boy, this was fun. Off I went running a sub 4 pace like I had planned. The beautiful marine drive was looking gorgeous and the sea breeze made me go even faster. Plus, my running friends, who I had never met personally cheered me ( I heard my name called out atleast 5 times, which was so awesome! Just imagine running through a crowd, and unknown voices cheer you on)

At Kilometer 8, the fearsome Peddar Road Flyover loomed and I raced up it trying to keep my 10k time below 40 minutes. The incline was a bit too much, but somehow I got past the 10 k at 40:01

PS : Here, I realized something I wish I never would have : "Still 32.2 kilometers to go"
The finish line syndrome had struck.

Kilometer 10-20 :  My target for the HM was a 1:28 and I seemed to be quite on track, Passing the 14k mark at 56 minutes.
The Nike Running Club Crew was standing by the road side, and I passed them pointing to the Nike Logo on my Manchester United Shirt ( Theatrics are totally my thing! )

Very soon, I reached the Bandra Worli Sealink.
Note : I had really been looking forward to this ever since I had registered for the marathon. The very though of running on the Sealink was giving my insides a funny feeling :P

The sealink was something of monster, the winds were extremely strong and were pushing back. I tried to draft behind runners but they were few and far between.

PS : It is very easy to jump off the sealink. No kidding, the railing is so easily jumpable, you can take one awesome leap right into the sea.

Funnily enough, everytime I saw a camera I started running with a closed mouth. My Delhi HM pics were a brilliant teacher of how to pose while running.

The end of the sealink marked the end of almost half the race. I was still in stride, in pace and in form.
But the bad times were coming.

Kilometers 20-30 : The Half marathon mark went by at 1:29:21. I was in full flow, consuming liquids and being a conscious human being by throwing them at the side of the road where there was a lot of other bottles. ( That weaving was costing me distance , but i won't count that as a mistake. Being environmentally conscious is not a mistake)

At the 25th Kilometer a funny thought came to my head, a quote from Dean Karnazes' book "Run!" : "Why couldn't Pheidippides have died at mile 20? "
I was slowing down a little, the 27th Kilometer came at 1:50:04 and I had a target of atleast 29 k at the 2 hour mark. 
Then,disaster struck.

All my mistakes began to add up as my right leg began to cramp. As soon as the pain shot though my leg, I was alarmed. "Not this! And that too at this point!"
I couple of girls cheered, go Manchester United and I obliged by running through the pain.

My pace had significantly slowed down, but the will to finish was keeping me going.

Kilometer 30-38 :  Honestly, this was all a blur.
All I remember from the 31st to 33rd Kilometer :
a.) I high fived a bunch of kids
b.) I was overtaken by Ashok Nath
c.) I was cursing at the Half Marathon walking crowd asking them to get out of my way
d.) The elite athletes went past me and I had shouted "Go Kimaiyo!" ( for Lawrence Kimaiyo who eventually finished 2nd)

I was incoherent and in severe pain, and the Peddar Road flyover was approaching again.
I had strategised with my guru (Arun Bhardawaj), to walk uphill.

In retrospect, walking uphill was a 2 edged sword.

The amazing Mumbai crowd cheered me on, offered me a pain relief spray, food (which I refused) and water ( which I thirstily gulped down ) as I struggled up the flyover.

Walking broke my rhythm, my stride and as I moved on it seemed my stride just would not come back

The sub 3 dream was gone, and 3:30 was fast fading.

Running solo has its disadvantages, and they were showing.

Kilometer 38 :  I think, Karma pays you back.

All that training, and then a time more than 3:30? I would have been really heartbroken.

The vociferous Mumbai crowd was keeping my spirits high but not my speed.

And then a voice came from behind " Hello, Just 4 kilometers to go"

From 38 to 42.2 :  The voice was of a young runner, Pritam Kumar.

Pritam was an underprivileged runner, from Rewari in Haryana and was being sponsored by the Run with Me group ( God bless them! Even in Bhatti, Coach Ravinder Singh of RWM had saved me an extra 2 kilometers)

In full stride and a target of 3:30 he was the bus I needed to make it. We talked a little, but connected a lot.
My strides picked up again as the energy was back.

Humanity had struck, and struck at a crucial juncture. One of the reason why I love running is everyone is honest and supportive. It is not fake, every single step you take makes you a better person and in a marathon, it is a bunch of REAL and BETTER people running towards a common goal.

I didn't care which kilometer I was on, because I knew I could do a sub 3:30 from my strides.

As we converged to the last 300 meters, the happiness engulfed me.

Pritam told me at the last 100 meters, "Go, Run fast". I told him " You go ahead, You deserve to reach the line before me"

I picked him up at the finish line ( luckily he was a thin as me :P )

The marathon was over, but the race had just begun.

I was disappointed at the 3:27:41 I had got, but then during a chat with my Ironman Friend, Nagraj Harsha, I received a few words of wisdom : " Never repeat your mistakes "

This was my 1st official marathon and with many more to come (sans the mistakes I made in this one), I just hope that Sky is the Limit.



  1. Three cheers for your finisher Arunaabh

  2. Exciting Read buddy, Humility can never be taught, u earn it. I wish if i cud get a chance to be ur crew. Do ask me, if we wud be in position to plan it!

    1. Thanks a lot Nikhil :)

      I'll definitely ask for your help and would love to have you on my crew..
      I will contact you soon :D

  3. Wonderful read! Enlightening and informative!! but best of all you made me laugh...Well done AS ;)

    1. Sriram Sir.. Thank you for your feedback.. I try to be funny :P

  4. Dude trust me 3:27:41 is not at all bad for a first attempt. This was my 4th full marathon and after a good amount of efforts put in my target of sub 4:30 still remains a dream. I am really amazed at your passion for running and have become an ardent fan of you. I too run every alternate day but have not been able to manage anything lower than 5:40 pace. Dunno when I would be able to run like you and aim for a sub 3 finish!

    1. Amit Sir.. Practice will never go waste, you surely will rock a Sub 3 finish soon :)

      Thank you for your inputs and kind words :)


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