Monday, January 21, 2019

Mumbai Marathon 2019

A little bit of blood, lots of sweat and some tears...

Y’day was the 15th edition of the Mumbai Marathon (now called the Tata Mumbai Marathon).

The last year has been a significant year (and not just on the running front) in my life. With the birth of my son in Apr last year, I decided to put my running way down on my list of priorities at least in the short term. From Apr to Aug, I ran for just 3 days a week and at an easy pace. From Sep, I began running 6 days a week while continuing to run easy. By the time KTM came around in Nov, I was in good shape, despite no speed work.

I had a very good run at KTM thanks to some German business travellers, running under 90 min for the first time ever. So I was looking forward to Mumbai this year wondering this would be the year I would have a good run in the full marathon. Since 2011, I have had great runs at Mumbai in the half but a good run in the full has been elusive.

I had been to Mumbai last week (Well, Vashi isn’t exactly Mumbai - it is much cooler than South Mumbai, for sure) and I knew that come race day, the weather would suck - like it has in most years. While I wasn’t looking for a PB, despite being in PB shape, I wanted to beat my best time in India 3:14 from a race in Bangalore. I knew that was possible as my fitness felt better than that. I felt confident enough to tell anyone who asked me what my target was that I’d love to run between 3:10-3:15, unlike in previous years where I felt telling someone my target for Mumbai would jinx it. As an aside, I don’t feel like this at other races - when Hari (a running buddy) had asked me at KTM what my target was, I had said that I’d love to get as close to 1:30 as I could. And I did. But then…

Since the race started at 5:30 am this year, I woke up at 2:30 am as I was staying with a friend at Worli and wanted to be at the venue by 4:45. Since I had nothing to do after 3:30, I tried taking a nap till 4 am but that didn’t work. I finally ended up at the venue by 4:15 itself as the ride was a breeze. My cab went thru Marine Drive which was a surprise since I expected road closures much before the race start.

The race start was great as my first km took me almost 4:40 thanks to the crowds. I was kicked as I have never started this slow. I spent kms 3-10 talking to Murthy, a fellow runner from Bangalore, about his daughter, already a promising runner. Once we hit Pedder Road, I held my pace but Murthy dropped back a bit.

By the time I got to half way point, I was so looking forward to the 32km mark where I would begin a planned surge. That was not to be. Thanks to my bowels not being empty, I ended up with gas which got progressively worse from around the 26-27 km mark and I slowed to a walk. I went to some shops on the sea-face and asked for ginger which helps with gas. Since I couldn’t get one, I had to walk as my abdomen hurt a lot. I got one only by end of the sea face with a vegetable cart! That helped a bit.

I then stopped at a porta-potty at Kemp’s Corner but that didn’t help at all.

I began running again but in another 4-5km my legs which had got compromised thanks to a weakened core, just didn’t recover. I gave up and did a mix of walking and jogging till the end. I even entertained thoughts of pulling out of the race at the 29km mark when I passed close to where I was staying in Worli, but the memory of my only DNF in a 75km race at the 50km mark, thanks to a bad attitude haunted me for a year. I just sucked up and went on. As I established a few years ago, if you don't hit your target, any number is not palatable. So even if I finished in over 4 hours, it didn't matter.

Only when an old running friend, Priyankar popped up by my side with about 200m to go, did I attempt any sort of running.

That helped me finish looking better than I did after 30km but my stomach was bugging me.

Due to the gas, none of the electral and water (or even a banana) I had consumed along the way had been absorbed. Due to this happening at the ultra, I knew I had to puke it out or risk a messy flight trip back to Bangalore. So I did that. An old trainee and friend, helped me get thru this. We were both spooked when I puked some blood at the end. At first I thought it might be ORSL in the apple flavour, but I went home and checked that the drink is just light brown in question. I am guessing that my dry throat must have gotten scratched and puking must have made it worse.

Anyways, I was fine after this and went home, showered, had a nice lunch thanks to my host and left for the airport. Just a few years ago, I would have agonised over this. Thanks to the baby, there were very low expectations. I am disappointed but not exactly shattered. Another year, another race.

See you all next year.

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