The Redemption

Time flies.. After being ravaged by the cold, tattered by incorrect preparations and heartbroken by Peddar Road, i struggled to a sad Marathon Debut of 3:27:41 last year.  I wrote a blog, connected the dots to see where I went wrong and promised myself some redemption next time I came to Mumbai.

And here I was again. 5:41 AM(Late as usual), as the runners rolled out from VT, commencing my 42.195 km journey to redemption.

A lot of things had been different this year : Training, nutrition, hydration, accommodation, motivation.

Few people to thank here, before I start yammering : Mom and Dad(For their unconditional support), Sugandha Ranjan( For faith and motivation), Shreyas Karnad ( The mastermind behind plot to redemption ), Ramakrishna Purnam and Dharamendra Kumar (For Nutrition{No, I didn't eat them, they gave me Gels, C'mon!}), Anurag Sharma ( for bringing over my race belt and waiting for me as I showed up late) and Mr Subash Amin  (for the awesome accommodation which was at really close proximity to the race venue).

Running long miles, is not the answer. Back to back runs of  10 miles through the week are hardly as useful as a week consisting of mixed workouts, an interval session, a tempo run session, a long run session. This change in perspective meant that I tried real intervals for the 1st time in my life, ended up doing solid hill repetitions and doing a race pace long run of 20 miles.

Cross training by biking, a little bit of swimming, stern core sessions and most importantly rest days to recover came in handy. Mileage wasn't low, but wasn't insanely high and not at the cost of recovery. There was more sleep and more time to recover.

As easy as it seemed and given my yearning to go out and hammer out more miles ( as I write this, I am struggling to even walk and I am thinking of running 14 hours later :P ), this technique of efficient training seemed to be working.

Landing in Mumbai, way before the race helped acclimatize to the significant rise in temperature. I "chilled", doing two easy paced runs on Marine Drive, bumping into Kenyan Pros and a Boston Qualified Irish Girl.  I ate everything this time around, knowing that playing with my diet would be the worst thing to do.

The race was based on a 5 Gel strategy, 3 of which I got from Ram Sir and 2 I had to collect from Dharma at the start line. The night before the race, I bought some pasta and downed it with half a bottle of Gatorade and half a bottle of water. Carbo-loaded, I slept ensuring 7 hours of sleep before I started with race prep. I even managed to surprise myself, by arranging my clothes, shoes, socks, race bib, the only thing missing was my race belt, which I was to collect at the start venue.

Race Day :
"Time for the show", muttered my dramatic brain as I woke up to my 4 AM alarm. having promised Arjun, company through the run I proceeded with my pre-race meal of 2 Belgian Choco Shots, 1 Besan Laddoo, Half Bottle Gatorade and another Half Litre of Water. Right before leaving I downed a Can of Red Bull.
All set, I proceeded downstairs as 4:55 with Arjun already present on the race venue, Anurag Ji waiting with my belt and Dharma with my gels.
And the gate was locked. Having disposed off some the liquid through my oral cavity as an acid reflux due to nervousness, my stomach grew more and more queasy as I frantically searched for the guard. With every wrong key that he inserted into the lock, 5 strands of my hair became gray. I left at 5:15 AM with 25 strands of grey hair.
Jogged through the darkness, stopped for a leak at an empty public leakhole pretty aware of the fact that there would be a major rush in holding area.
5:25 AM, standing in line with my belt, gels and partner inside I consumed my first gel. Found Anurag Ji, drilled bigger holes in my Bib(one tough sheet of paper that thing is made of) with my earphone jacks fit it in my race belt and moved to the holding area.
5:33 AM, searching for lineup A I made my way through the barriers, spotting my supermom, Sayuri Dalvi who gave m a pre race hug that calmed me down.
I started jogging, music blaring in my ears and my app all set as I saw the start line.
"Here goes nothing" I muttered as the chip beeped at 5:41 AM.

Collection Complete (1-10 kms) :
"Dharma is right up ahead" shouted Rahul as I ran past him. Dharma gave me the 2 gels I needed.
"Go go go" he said as I stuffed them in the back pocket of my shorts, which now looked like an orange in rear end (or atleast felt like it).
I ripped out the ill fitted earphones(note to self, need to stop losing my earphones time and again), let the music blare and my Nike Lady speak her feedback after every kilometer, through the speaker.
One of the best things is how people try to sprint along with you, as you go past them. 3 tried but my Poker Face( Lance Armstrong Tip : Show it like you are doing it effortlessly, it weakens your rivals)intact I ran past them.
Maintaining my pace for a 40 min 10k, I thought of how betrayed Arjun must be feeling when I realized I was running behind him at the incline at 8 kms. He was running strong, gunning for a time of 3:05 on his Marathon Debut as I matched him stride for stride.
10k down in 40:05, It was time for my second gel.

You high bro? (10-Half Way Through
Gels suck without water, Atleast GUs do, but there was no dearth of water.Lemon Sublime kicked in as I was shocked when I had a negative split(positive movement)on my pace. Carrying on at my pace, I moved ahead. The crowds cheered as I blew a kiss :P. I heard someone call my name in the dark which prompted my response "Arrey waah". Maybe it was the caffeine, maybe the endorphins but boy was I high.
My usual show off when I saw the Nike Run Club group, shouts "Ganpati Bappa Morya" "Jai Hind" to the half marathon crowd on the other side of the sea link made me realize i might be wasting a bit of energy doing this. Nonetheless, I swung my arms up to Bhangra Beats :P.
Sea link was a lot less windy this time around, and as I reached the toll gate I asked the gatekeepers if I needed to pay the toll.
I made it a point to thank every volunteer this time around, and so the guys and girls at 20k were a bit surprised when I told them "Good job guys, you rock".
 I spotted my friend, 2 time Ironman Nagaraj Harsha, who called me out. I was delighted to see him, maybe too delighted as I blew a kiss to him as well ( Yes, I am straight. I was too high and too happy to realize I was doing that).
Last year, the mess up began at this point. Consuming my 3rd gel, high fiving the crowd of kids by the side of the road I carried on.
I felt rather relaxed and easy, just a bit of a pain in my left foot thumb caught my attention. Unperturbed, I moved forward.
1:25:24 and 21.1 kms done.  Just needed to repeat it again.

Dadar Station (21.1-30 kms) :
Carrying on at the same pace, I refused a slice of orange at 22k and was clicked doing so (If people needed any more proof of me not eating, well, it is now documented)
I wish I had hair like her.

Carrying on at the same pace and feeling real good about myself, I spotted a crowd. The slower bunch of the Half Marathoners, who inexplicably were running on the same road as the marathon runners (Ok, we may not be Elites, but we are not junk either). My friend, Akshay Samel put it rightly as "it looked as if we were at Dadar Station". Dodging them, I carried on at the same pace only to see their number increasing. "Marathoner, coming through" became my war cry as I tried hard to achieve my targeted 30 kms in 2:03. The only respite from the rush was the small U turn stretch of 1.5/2 kms where I consumed my 3rd gel, washed my mouth with Enerzal and then dove head first again into the crowd. 
My Nike app had stopped (It has been doing this a lot recently, after 25 kms). I ran purely on feel, the Kilometer markers and my phone clock. I was on track, on my way and well placed.
30.3 kms in 2:03:29. 
The only thing that bothered me in the next 12 kms was the crowd. How long would they really last?

Kilian Jornet Mode Activated (30-36 kms) :
A woman almost stopped dead on my tracks, prompting me to shout "Are you kidding me?". Not really my fault(sorry for not being sympathetic to the poor lady who was struggling through the 21.1 kms, but I too had a job to do, and I was nervous )
I don't know how many weaves I made through the crowd, but I saw empty road on the wrong side. 
Kilian Jornet came into me as I leaped from the divider to the wrong side as I climbed the "dreaded" Peddar Road, leaping back again to the right side whenever I saw a kilometer marker, just hoping I don't miss a timing mat. 
Tough times resumed as soon as Peddar Road descended, the crowds merged again.
I took my last gel at 36k and saw the time. 2:59:59 (the beginning of Sub 3 club), would mean I had 34 mins to run the last 6.2k.
"Should I spray paint a graffiti : Separate lanes for Marathoners and Half Marathoners" crossed my mind, as I rejected  and continued to push through the crowd.

Is this even real? (36-Finish Line) :
"Enough time, just keep moving, don't be perturbed by the crowd, give way idiot, click the picture later" lots of thoughts came in my head as I coasted by Marine Drive again. "Chak De India" downed Messhuggah on my phone and certain surprised watchers, happy to see a marathon guy pass by cheered me.
37,38,39,40,41 : All these kilometers I ran with my half marathon buddies. 13 minutes for the last 2 kilometers. Lol. This felt so good, yet a daunting task given I was pushing through Dadar Station.
"Sir, take the middle lane" said a volunteer on the last mile as I parted ways from the crowds into a separate lane for Marathoners.

"1000 meters to go", I put my hands on my face and started crying. I had no clue about time, I knew it would be Sub 3 was possible, I could do it and now that it was happening the feeling hit me. 
Boy did I cry. I cried and then I laughed. 400 meters to go I ran fast.
Through my blurry vision I saw the clock read 2:57:10. I shouted something *secret for personal reasons* and the chip beeped for the last time.

2:56:24 was the official time Sugandha told me, though I was on course for 2:51 (as per the Mumbai Marathon App, nice touch Procam).

This run silenced a lot of things, silenced my demons, silenced the voices who questioned and said I was good only in Half marathons and can't sustain my pace.
I heard the silence loud, I heard my blister scream and calves beg for mercy.
I heard myself chuckle. Yes I made it :)

Qualified for Boston, Sub 3 Marathon goal, Enjoy a Marathon : All 3 checked

I promised Mumbai, I would be back. I hope I didn't let my 2nd favorite city(after Leh) down.

Better rush management, Better training, Better Shoe Selection, hopefully next year will be even better.

I hope this leads to a better path, better sponsors and better times in the future.

 Keep Running :)

Post Script : I had 1 bottle of water, which the police officer at the airport refused to pass through the security check. When I asked him, what to do with, he said throw it. I told him, I won't waste water and a-la Milkha Singh I drank the entire contents of that 1 liter bottle infront of his eyes in 1 gulp, smiled and said "Now I can throw it".
That's how high I was. Lol.


  1. Great description of event, feelings and mid set . Keep it up Dear

  2. keep running & keep writing. You are a born star.


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