Sunday, February 16, 2014

A matter of the heart - SCMM 2014 marathon report

SCMM 2014 - A report

4 months, 1210kms in some 106hours of training, for an overall standing of 53 in about 2500 runners, a finish time of 3:27:32, and a personal best by 25secs.

It does not sound bad by any measure and search as I may, I find it hard to put my finger on what went ‘wrong’.

My mind is conjuring up these numbers in its defense, while my heart is looking for the lesson, for it knows, there was something that wasn’t right.
Coach Jack Daniels says, “Run with your head the first two-thirds of a race, and with your heart the final third”. I lacked the heart to race, to finish with the killer punch.

Along my 19 marathons and 3 ultra-marathons, I have overcome many ghosts –  an ACL tear, too much muscle, stamina, cramps, dehydration, hyponatremia, the mental fatigue, shoe issues, lack of structured training, diet – pre and during a race.
Seems like peeling an onion, every layer peeled reveals another one. Bad analogy, but I can’t help but wonder if you will be left with teary eyes and stinky fingers at the end of it all...

Pre-race SHIT (Some How In Time):
Not the ideal race day eve. Spent 6 hours on Mumbai’s roads to get to the expo and then over an hour for falafels at Moshe’s – and I was guilty of dragging my nephews, Rishabh and Aryan, Shreya and Neha through this ordeal.

Even getting to the starting line was chaotic – I had to take a second loo stop at Azad Maidan (thankfully, they were clean and not crowded) and started warming up about 15mins before the start time. I budgeted for about 5mins to get to the starting line (the A corral), but had to wade through a lot of runners of the D-C-B corrals and barely made it to the start line even as the digital clock showed 5:40AM - the start time. Waved to Pankaj at the start, SHIT! Made it.

In that melee, I had to abandon my plan to run with the 3B’s of Pacemakers – Bobby, Brijesh & Brian. I spotted Sampath ahead of me and as we dodged runners we were negotiating on the target pace. Sampath was saying 4:30/km, I was on 4:50. We eventually settled down at 4:40 and decided to stick it to. (I am surprised how deep rooted this bargaining philosophy is – millions of $ business and our desi sales guy wants to start higher to allow room for bargaining, wah!)

For a long time, Sampath and I were only saying either “Too fast” or “Too slow”. We didn’t hit steady pace even on the flat Marine lines section and Peddar road, with its undulations, didn’t help either. Along Peddar road, we raced down, speeding past a lot of runners, hitting as high as 20kmph speed. As the course got flat, so did our pace, around target pace, despite the heavy cross winds on the sea link. Somewhere close to the 25k mark, Sampath shared a Gu gel with me and suddenly we found our wings. 26k came in 2 hours, 30k in 2:20.

Pause... look at the graph and you will know most of the rest of the story!

At 30k, I let Sampath go ahead saying I will slow a tad bit. At 31k, I stopped to relieve myself and when I started again, Bobby and Brijesh caught up. I stayed with them till 34k, 34k in 2:37. A 5min/km pace from here would have taken me to the finish line in 3:20.
Picture: digging deep on Peddar road

It is wrong to say Peddar road broke me down, it was the thought that Peddar road will break me down, that did it. By this time, the roads were filled with half marathoners and lots of cheering Mumbaikars – kids, families, littered with empty water bottles. For every positive push, there were those that were asking me to stop. I managed to do more running than walking, even ashamed to look at the Garmin. I did push myself for the last hundred meters or so to the finish.
At Azad Maidan, I picked up a bag of ice someone had discarded and helped myself so well deserved ice massage. Caught up with a lot of friends with many stories of personal bests, podium finish. Took the local back to Andheri with D, who had a great race himself (report here).
Picture: With D at the finish

Even a month after the race, I still have a confused feeling about the Mumbai marathon 2014… at the heart of the matter, it is all a matter of the heart.
Didn't have the heart this time around, perhaps next time. Cheers!
Here's how the Pros do it
And another one on mental training for a PR here