Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Great Wall of Mumbai – The marathon report 2011

It was to be third time lucky for me at the Mumbai marathon…

I have family in Mumbai now with my sis moving there last year - Rest, Pasta, positive feeling taken care of. I had trained less and rested more since my last marathon at Singapore – a technique that had produced good results at Auroville in 2009. I had the perfect pacing partner in Dharam, an experienced campaigner, who knew the course like the back of his tanned sweaty palm. The weather Gods were behaving themselves – Mumbai was 8 deg cooler than usual. The organizers, Procam had paid heed – the race start was advanced to 6:15AM and there were 2 water stations in the previously arid Sea-link…
So, I must have run a flawless marathon, right?

But as Coach JoeEnglish puts it in his “The (non-)Mythical Flawless Marathon”, “It isn’t that marathons don’t go well all of the time. They do. But for a marathon to go flawlessly is a rare happening. When the weather is perfect and the course is great and the people are awesome. And when the pacing is done just right and the nutrition works and the hydration is spot on. And and and. . . when it all works, it is an almost mythical experience.”
On this occasion, I was deprived of this mythical experience. After having run the first 30k in 2h:38m averaging 11.5kmph, I had to take nearly 8 massage breaks to ease cramps in the last 12k. A distance that would normally taken 60mins, took me well over 100mins to cover. I finished with my shoulders drooping, my head hung low.

My 5k splits give the full picture:

Shreya had a great story. The run-up to the race day was not the best for her too. She had severe stomach pains on the evening before the race. She had more than made up her mind to get into an ambulance after the 10k mark. I was prepared to hear the worse when I received her call first thing post-race. That, she was sitting someplace near the exit / toilets and refused to talk about the race over phone, made me fear a dreaded DNF against her name.

… but Voila!!! She completed her half marathon in just under 3hours. Oh, and how she enjoyed it. She made friends with a couple, who were brisk walking their way through every km mark. And while she jogged along (& sometimes danced to the live bands playing), she obliged many Samaritans & kids who were offering chocolates, cool drinks, chikkies to the runners. One cute kid with outstretched palms into the blazing sun pleaded, “Just take one candy Aunty, Please, it’s good for health.”

There were plenty of positives as far as the marathon itself was concerned. What Procam missed in execution they made up with intent at least. There seemed to be more water stations this time round. I saw a volunteer also hand over sponges (that it was dry was another story). There was a water spray zone, but was rendered ineffective by Mumbai’s heat.
I am proud of my running friends from RFL. All (yes, every single one of them), had a fantastic race, if not a Personal Best. Sunil, Anjana, Bhasker easily beat my expectations, Dharam, Nitin, Rishi, Amrita, Meher, Shantanu, Jaggi, Nari, Vasu, Chandra… the list is endless.

Quoting again from JoeEnglish:
There is a problem with all of this in that running the perfect marathon includes both internal and external components. The runner can put together an absolutely perfect training program and then show up to a 100 degree broiler and have their hopes dashed before they begin. But that’s why the occurrence of a nearly flawless marathon is even so much more rare. Because all of the stars really do have to align to produce one. The external factors, such as weather and crowds and jet-lag and the theft of your running shoes the night before the race, all of have to themselves work out — and all of this is in addition to you executing the race properly.
As for me, the Great Wall of Mumbai still remains to be conquered; will someone get those stars to line up, please...