Registration and Planning..
I registered for Mumbai Marathon at the start of Aug and had got the confirmation by the end of the month. Assuming that I was waiting for this confirmation to start my practice (oh! what an ass I am) I was left with 4 months excluding Jan. Four months is a good enough time to prepare if you just want to finish the run and don’t consider the time required. By this I mean you can complete the run in around 5 hour mark (This is my guess anyway, 5 hours for marathon is not considered as a ‘good’ effort).
So I had 4 months – Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec. I was told that I might be going back to India by Sept end or few weeks into Oct. So I had more than a month in UK and two and a half month in India. Planning a training plan over two location is really tough as situations, facility and available leisure time will all vary. It was expected that my practice in India would be much tougher in India than in UK for few main reasons which I am listing below..
1. I am coming home after long time and my friends & family would want to spend time with me. This might need me to constantly travel on weekends, eat foods which are soaked in fatty oil.
2. Weekdays were a nightmare with nearly three hours being eaten by travel from home to office. Office also had rules which ensured that I had a real tough time to regularly go for practice runs.
3. No good grounds near home for me to run.
Practice in UK..
Given the condition in India, it looked like I should make the most of my stay in UK to ensure that I have enough practice to build my confidence. So I planned to run in UK during evenings. Call it Luck (or lack of it) my best manager had an idea for which he wanted me and three of my colleagues to work on. It was an idea which he wanted to be implemented to be shown to his manager and hence wanted us to do it ASAP (as soon as possible). As this was NOT a official project we used to start working on this after 6 PM every evening. We used to work till 8 or 9 PM and wind up for the day.
Though it looked very easy (only when my manager described it) we were taking an eternity to complete (as per my manager) and it started eating up my (our) evenings and weekends. The final few days I had in UK was spent completing this never ending project. We did our best to complete it before schedule but we could not and the project got scraped. I was totally drained out. I had sacrificed everything for this – new found love – Tennis, Weekend fun with flat mates(Krishna, Manish and Karthick), Football and finally my running practice. I guess I had forgotten that I have registered for MM09.
Planning sessions in India..
Then I came to India on 4th Oct. Soon I realized that things are drastically different, even for runners. Buses replaced cycles, new tougher role replaced the easy one, chaos and crowd replaced calm and serenity, family replaced friends. I spent at least 2 weeks thinking about how, when, where of my running sessions and could not come up with anything noteworthy. By the end of Oct I had finally came up with master plan of running near Infy on weekdays and Lalbagh in weekends.
As planned one weekday I tried in Infy grounds and it was good. The time and effort required to reach Infy grounds was quite high. Also I had a slot of 4.45-5.45 pm to start my run as it used to get too dark after 6.30. I could not start anything before 4.45 pm (even for a 4.45 start I had to leave my desk at 4.30 which was so tough). I used to find it extremely difficult to make this slot with new role and related work. new tasks, onsite call, new issues all used to knock the doors at this time itself. So I could not be consistent in my running. Attributing my inconsistency to lack of running partners I partnered Pankaj, a running enthusiast and Infy colleague to run regularly. We just ran together for a day but busy life gobbled us up.
Practice in India..
I had ordered Forerunner 50 with footpod and HRM from US with the help of my friend Phalgun. It was a super equipment for runners. I took it to lalbagh couple of times and clocked all my runs. it was nice. In few weekend visits I was able to reach a distance in excess of my previous best 13.1 miles. However it was only by a small margin. The sad part of my weekend runs was that I could not sustain it as my weekday runs had dried up completely.
Even thought I always have this airy confidence about my running but even with that I entered December being bit wary of my chances of successfully running the marathon. However I could not back out now and hence I booked my tickets early December. Just around the same time I ‘suddenly’ realised that I have 2 of my mandatory official certifications to be completed. The company had made such rules that either you clear certifications or better quit. So I slogged it out all of Dec like a school child and somehow cleared both certifications by Dec 31st.
I do sound as if I was too cramped for time. Yes, I agree that I had enough time every now and then to fair better than I actually managed to. After all one can do anything if s/he has the willingness to do it and I did not? Its not the case really – I had too many things going on on other aspects of my life like marriage. You know when you don’t know what to do when it comes to marriage, for me nothing else mattered (yes at times marathon too).
The Actual Preparation..
So now I was left with only 17 days of time for my practice. These were the same 17 days which I had originally excluded from my training period when I first registered. But now this is what I had and had to make the most of it. I now had 2 weekends before the d-day 18th Jan. So I thought if I could do 15 miles on first weekend and 20 miles in the second I would be on course for 26 miles on 18th. Looked fair enough on paper but the reality was that I had just crossed my previous best – 13.1 miles, just once till now. So jumping to 15 miles and 20 miles in two successive weeks without any practice was way too much to expect.
However I went for it as I had no other option to boost my confidence on the marathon day. without confidence I would surely be a sitting duck in front of 26.2 miles monster. So I planned to run in one of the near by parks whose circumference came to about a half mile. So with simple maths its 30 rounds which will take me to 15 miles and I am done for the day and the (previous) week.
The Agony and its Tail..
I started to run and just after some 10 rounds my lack of practice started showing its signs. I was struggling and things were getting bad to worse with almost every other step. I never wanted to stop or quit as this was the last chance to salvage my marathon dreams. So I continued with all the struggle. It looked like I had come to a stand still at times and at times I felt my legs were made of bamboo sticks. By the time I completed the scheduled 30 rounds I had taken nearly three hours (2h 58mins).
This timing cracked me up. I was hoping that I would be able to complete the marathon at a decent time but above numbers screwed my confidence. Surely an hour extra for 2 extra miles was too much for me to take (my previous best 13.1 miles – 1h 52 mins, this 15 miles practice run – 2h 58 mins). I limped my way out of the park, took my bike and went home. However my mind was still limping..
Just when the worse was thought to be over it began. It was known that such long runs will cause muscle pains but I never expected pains that last for days. My left foot was having severe pains for next few days. I could not walk properly at all. By the time the next weekend approached I was still struggling. So running 20 miles that weekend was thrown out of the window. I actually did nothing as I still had pain. The pain was intermittent but it was still there. I just forgot about training and just hoped that it would be great if my foot recover on time for the run. It was enough for me. I was not looking for anything, I had no expectations. I knew that even if the pain subsides for a bare moment its chances of reappearing in the marathon run is huge. And once it comes I had to stop running and with that its good bye to marathon too.
The weekend passed away so did the two and a half days that followed. I packed my bags and left for Mumbai. I made sure that I had Moov in the bag as the pain in the foot was still there. I had never imagined that my training would end up beings such a disaster. My airy confidence had taken a huge beating but the hope was still there and hence never wanted to quit without trying. It looked like for once I truly believed in miracles and wanted them to happen for me..
Sab bolo.. Harish, Best of Luck.. :-)
Yes, its offical now. I have officially completed half marathon in the event Adidas half marathon 2008 conducted at F1 silverstone circuit. I took 1 hour 52 mins 54 secs to complete the whole distance. I was 1840th (overall ), 1575th (gender – male alone), 1200th (in my age group). Its really good to see my name in the list of runners. My friend Abhijith did bit more analysis and told me that there were 4000 who completed the run. Though my position not look so good what really matters is 1h 52mins which is not too bad. This is pretty satisfying.
Here is the official link
What next? With London marathon beyond me and considering the time and effort needed I am looking forward to registering for Mumbai marathon 2009. I will surely be in India by that time and as it happens in early jan I should have enough time to practice.
Yep.. Thats right. I am now officially Mr. Half Marathon man. Just to clarify I mean I am one of those who have completed a half marathon (13.1 miles). Today, As I take an off-day from work to rest my stressed legs and body its time to look at how the whole day went. Let me try to recollect whatever I can of the glorious day..
It all started very early at around 2 PM thanks to bedbugs and an extra glass of water I had the previous day (old form of alarm which fired too early :-/). Slept again to wake up at around 6:45. Plan was to catch 8:30 special bus. Anxious of getting too late, I got up early and finished my daily chores and called Krishna, my (best) pal would accompany me to the event. We left our individual house around 7:30 planning to meet at 8 or so at Victoria tube station. I reached around 8:10 and just before I dialed his number the announcement said ‘Partial closure on Piccadilly line’ and I knew what was coming. I called up Krishna to find where he is. He was in a replacement bus :-(. It meant that there would be a obvious delay. I searched a bit for our special bus and by the time I got it located it was 8:25 am. I spoke to the driver about the problem but they clearly said they have to leave at 8:30.
On the Move..
Though they waited till 8:40 by the time Krishna had called me to say ‘I am here’ it was around 7 minutes too late. By this time I had searched a cozy place beside a young brit lady. She was engaged in what looked like a maths assignment. With the experience I had in Infy buses in breaking Ice with ladies sitting beside me this one was never a tough job (Why? Infy Ladies are exponentially fussy talking to a new guy compared to a Brit lady).
I started off asking her for her previous marathon experiences. Even though she looked young, to my amazement she was a very experienced runner. She had completed several small runs and one full marathon just the previous year. She was talking to me like a ‘baccha’ saying ‘Oh! your first run, you must be so excited’ (which I was). However I did not stop asking my questions as I always wanted to ask to another long distance runner about lot of things. So went on shooting one question after another. Though she did not show resistance in answering my questions, she was not too eager too. Once she got a phone call she forgot that I existed beside her and with that I retrieved myself into a sleep..
Before the Run..
Never been there before so I was never sure what to do. We reached one hour before schedule and I was wondering how to proceed. I had my pants put on top of my running shorts, so a corner was enough to get into my runner gear. The climate was uncertain with sun peeping in and out every now and then. A chilly breeze was always there making sure that I stay confused on whether to run with the jackets on or not. I went to a corner and sat down to put the timing equipment called the ChampionChip on my shoes. It was a tedious task but I managed it in the end. I did the next important thing – double knotting my shoe laces, an essential step to ensure that laces don’t give trouble during the middle of run.
After this I woke up and walked around. Everyone I saw looked very assured of what they are doing. Some doing set of warm ups, some doing stretching exercises but I was doing nothing. Then I realized the article which I read in the bus which said stretching is most important before and after the race. So I planned to do some stretching. I knew very few stretching exercise myself so I looked around. Looking back at these things I feel may be I might be the most under prepared runners out there. However just that as in the past practice runs, my (blind) confidence always made things happen for me.
The Run ..
I managed to spend the time till people participating in the event were invited to line up for the run. the run was getting organized in the famous Formula1 SilverStone circuit. We all got in and lined ourselves like F1 Cars. I had read in the event magazine that runnersworld would send out experienced runners to lead batches at different paces (7, 8, 9 min/mile pace). I was searching for 9 min/mile group but what I saw were only 8 and 7 min/mile runnersworld leaders and not the my 9 min/mile leader. I was not very confident of going with 8 min/mile batch as my avg speed when I ran my previous best distance – 10 miler in the ground it was near to 8.5 min/mile. So with more than 3 miles more add I was not ready to take any chances. So I planned to run with 8 min/mile runners until i feel tired and from then on to run at my own pace.
The track got filled with people and all started to do their usual warm ups. Family and friends of sitting at the stands started to waive their hands to their loved ones who were running the event. I wished I had Krishna out there for me. After few moments the run started and all legs started keeping small steps. It will be so jam packed at the start of the run that you feel it takes an eternity to start a decent jog let alone running. After some time I got some breathing space and I started to jog.
I had felt good all day and it got translated into my running. I started running at a decent pace and it was crowded at start I started running on the edges of the road, footpaths and outside. I got past as many people as possible. I got past 8 min/mile folks of runnerworld and that too quite easily. It felt good. I ran first few miles at a decent page (i.e my best pace and not optimal pace) and the lap route we took around the circuit was around 3.5 miles. I took over 1/2 hour for completing it.
I had no watch for this run. I wanted to ask Dushyant but then choose not to (or rather forgot to). So running was not that much fun as I was not really knowing how I am performing. The run looked to stretch on and on. After the first main lap along the circuit the run was deviated into inner parts of circuit. The inner parts were not good. The roads were muddy with patches of water – something you never expect them in a F1-circuit. Those of us who were running on the edges/borders of the road had to take most of the brunt for our antics. We had to jump, run wide, slowdown to avoid wet muddy patches or logged water.
I started to feel signs of tiredness when I crossed 6 miles. I felt I was slowing down. Till then I was taking small easy steps and at a decent rate. But after this point I started to slow down. I tried to get back some paces but it only made the matter worse. So I thought let me changed the way I am running and see how it works. So I started taking longer steps but at the same rate at which I was running at that point. It was in a way to make it look like I am not putting any extra effort (to my mind that is) and it worked :-). I started to gain bit of speed and momentum. I knew without this change in momentum it was all downhill for me because I had started running this run at my best pace and not optimal place and hence my stamina will only decrease (and not increase) with time/distance.
I managed to run continuously even though I was seeing lot of folks taking breaks for loo, water and tying shoe laces. I was tempted to follow suit but afraid about my rhythm. I feared that I might not be able to run once I stop for anything. This fear kept on pushing me and I got past 10 miles – my border beyond which it was an unknown territory for me (remember, my maximum distance was 10 miles). In theory every step after this distance was a new feat and something I can be proud of. However I knew I had to complete the whole distance before using the word ‘Feat/Achievement’.
This unknown territory also got my mind repeating the chant of ‘Oh! this is new.. you might not be able to make it’ every now and then. This very thought was justifying my reduction in pace which had started few meters past 10 miles. The only thing I concentrated on was not to stop. I kept on going without stop. But by then I was running as fast as an old man on a speed walk at Lalbagh. So naturally every tom,dick and harry started to get past me and with ease. Believe me it was not a good feeling. At some point 8 min/mile folks comfortably got past me and my every effort to follow them failed.
I tried everything to increase the pace. Firstly, I tried to take the longer step approach (which I had tried successfully earlier) but this time I could not sustain it for more than few steps. Just when I was clueless a hot lady got past me. She was wearing this beautiful blue and black body hugging outfit and a nice bottom to complement the outfit. I took chasing her down as a motivation to increase my pace. Surely this should spur things up but reality had other plans. She slowly got further and further away from me and I was slowly loosing sight of her (even though her dress and attributes helped me to track her down even from great distance). Every time she looked further and further away from me and each time I used to tell myself ‘This is the time to accelerate! This is the time..Come on!’ but legs never listened.
When blue babe became too far for my specs to focus another slim yellow babe passed me. I tried another go at chasing her this time. Guess what? same result – she just ran further away from me in short time. Just when I thought I had enough of these chases the salt to the wound was still waiting to come. I had this very old man, may be in his 60s got past me with ease. Now surely this should help me put the record straight as who has more stamina (look at my plight, I had to compete on my stamina with a 60+ grand pa, sorry grand pa). Sadly it did not work either. Grand Pa just left me deserted. I thought of shouting ‘Grand Pa’ .. wait! but did not ..
Finally, after I put in more slow yards, after allowing most the folks to get past me, I saw the finish line at a distance. This was good enough to spur me on (yes, really). I started putting longer steps at first. After couple of yards longer became longer and faster. I beat couple of folks who had just got past me. There was this big man who had also accelerated and moving fast. I now started running side by side to him. By this time I was some 100 meters from the finish line. I was able to hear the cheer, shouts and ‘Come ons!’ and it pegged me up further. I put my best yards and I think I got past the big man to the finish lane.
I was completely exhausted by the time I crossed the finish line. all were given a plastic bag containing a shirt, medal, water and bananna. I slowly went out of the circuit. I sat down at a place for a while ate the bananna, drank the water. I felt better. I corrected my stuff from the counter and went towards my bus. I got on to one of the seats and wanted to sleep badly. It so happened that the next seat was occupied by the same lady I met during the onword journey. I had no idea of my timing but she did. she said she did it around 1h 44m which was really good. I was content that I completed the run. After all how many get this chance and do it?
I am still waiting for my official timing, somthing nice to know. I will update it once I get it.
A week back I got this pack from Adidas Half Marathon organizers. It had many items in the packet and it was quite interesting and exciting. Here goes the list..
A book which mainly served as an information guide to race. However it also had articles on why half marathon is good in its own right and what one needs to do to keep oneself fit.
It had a small plastic clamp like thing called race championship. I never realized two things at first. One, With thousands and thousands of folks participating how would it be possible for a person at the last to beat the person at first? How on earth he will be able to clock the similar timings considering that he/she is so far back. How would one account for the lost time in crawling those slow yards to reach the star line with so many in front of you?
Well, The answer is the persons time will not start ticking till he crosses the starting line and this is tracked by the race championship. Secondly, the fact that this item was supplied in the pack.
A plastic bag with a sticker to place my belonging at the time of entering the race.
And finally a big piece of paper with a black and bold three digit number written on it. It read as 843. The moment I saw that I felt a bit buoyant. Never in my life till now I was a part of sports fraternity where I had to wear a number and the day had come. I felt great. I did not clearly knew the purpose of it (mainly because I had not given a hard thought about it). Apart from serving as a head count it had a higher purpose. Behind the paper there is a form which need to be filled out with the basic details and emergency contacts. Quite a simple and nice idea.
I could not resist capturing mine and share it with you all :-)
Here it is for you..
After the reality bit me hard I realized how tough it is to run a marathon. Its stacked up with 26 mean miles which will be thrown at you one after the other. Once you start running its a uphill battle all the way. Each mile takes ages to complete and takes a lot to of effort too. if one gets completed, the other is new, fresh and ready to be completed, however the problem is you are no where near new. Each passing mile brings in a new mile to be finished, but each passing mile makes you exponentially older and weaker. So there is no fight between the mile and you and thats the real challenge of a marathon and hence some people relish it.
Going to moon, climbing everest, crossing English channel (by swimming) could be termed as actions beyond a normal human reach but marathon surely is relatively easier to be achieved (having said that its not that easy too). And as it stands completing a marathon is one of the biggest achievement of a ‘common’ man.
I am just embedding a video which talks of the same.. A nice video!
Yes, my first marathon is quite far away but my legs are already itching to run it. Is it my poor legs or this ever unsatisfiable mind of mine which is itching? :-)
After dropping the plan of running a full marathon this April I am quite relaxed now. One main advantage is I dont have the pressure of rushing through my preparation. yes, a half marathon of 13.1 miles is not a small distance but I am quite confident of making across the finish line. Actually I am so confident that I have already booked a slot for one of the half marathon to be held almost a month in advance before my planned marathon date.
Yes, I have booked a slot to run in the Adidas Half Marathon to be held on March 9th.