The signs were ominous. I was really short of match practice (training) before the big day, which had crept up really fast. The last few months had been woeful. First, I got this left calf injury when preparing for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 4 weeks before the event date (Nov 1st). So, it was almost no running in between trying to give myself time to recover.
On the other hand, I was being silly going out on weekends occasionally to play Badminton (practicing for an upcoming tournament). And even playing football one fine day just for the heck of playing it. So, my training basically comprised of a couple of half marathons and a 10K since Nov 1st.
So I was off to Gurgaon at 4:00 am in the morning on Nov 6th for a 5:30 am early start the 2nd Running and Living Gurgaon Marathon. I hitched a ride with my running buddy, Mayank, and his bro-in law and we were there at the starting line by 5:00. It was fun again meeting old friends and making new ones, all through the day. The run started around 5:30 am though the half marathon runners were let loose only a couple of hours later. It was 70 runners for the 42K and something like 300+ for the 21K.
As always, the first 21K is like a training 21K, nice, easy, relaxed and consistent with no real pattern to it, and with no foreboding of what lies ahead. Me and Mayank ran together, and company takes away a lot of pain and worrying thoughts too. I was running with half an eye on the Mumbai marathon, India’s finest marathon, and notorious for the high temperatures and higher humidity. I had a chat with Ian Ladbrook, the elite athlete coordinator at Delhi and Mumbai events, and he had suggested that to acclimatize for Mumbai, run with multiple layers of clothing to keep the body extra warm and sweating profusely. So, I was running with 3 layers on top, a sleeveless running vest, a full sleeve running shirt, and a warm jacket on top.
The 21K was hit at 2:18. By the time we hit 32K, I was already getting hot under the collars, and was trying to think of how it feels in Mumbai at this milestone. I felt a certain familiarity between the two situations, and by the time I was on the last 5KM stretch, it was almost as if this was Mumbai. I was down to run walk frequently (instead of the 17/3 which we were trying for the first time), and having the same horrible time as always in Mumbai. My face was getting dry and salty very soon as if there was no water left in the body, and I was desperate for any water stops. The last few kilometers required all the motivational thoughts and incantations I could muster. I finished in 4:48, 10 minutes slower than my last years time at this event, and my second best marathon time ever.
So, it was overall a very satisfactory experience, maybe a bit beyond my expectations as well (actually, I started with a 4:40 thought, but then runners always get over-optimistic before the runs, don’t they, especially senseless ones like me). I hope this run, and further training holds me in good stead for the Mumbai Marathon on Jan 17th. I am still thinking of what it will feel to run over the Bandra Worli Sea Link.
Special thanks to the organizers, Rahul Verghese, founder of Running and Living, for organizing this great event. It was managed exceptionally well, something which was appreciated by each and every runner. Runner support was excellent in the form of great nutrition at each water stop. Gatorade, biscuits, chips and bananas were in plenty all through the 42Ks when at most of the other events, it is actually difficult to find water in the latter part of the run!
Complete race results awaited. I will post them here as soon as I have them.