Monday, February 3, 2014

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014- my second full distance race

A week before a race, I had got a request from a friend (FB Mumbai marathon) asking whether we can go together as our goals (sub4 hours) were same. She (Sandra) had run several full marathons in Munich, Jerusalem, and Berlin. Her best time was 3:36 Hrs at midnight Munich marathon. I was delighted with the thought and we chatted on line about the pace etc.

When my husband came to know she is coming alone from Munich just for the marathon, he said we should help her in staying here. We tried looking for hotels nearby our home at Malabar hill, but most of them were fully booked. We finally got a friend who helped us for booking her room at BHEL guest house. However, we offered her to stay with us, as it would be easy for her to go to the race venue.

She loved the idea of staying with us. She arrived on Tuesday night. We trained together at PDP from Wednesday. She is a trainer at NIKE runners’ club-Munich. I was so happy to have a runner buddy to run with me.. I’ve no words to describe the happiness and blissfulness I was feeling. As during my entire training, I ran all the long runs alone.. I always wished I had someone to run with me at my pace..
So, “God” had sent her for me! J  
We three marathoners in one house!! My husband, Sandra and me!
Sandra loves Indian food, so I did not have to worry to make her separate meals for her. So we ate together, carbo- loaded ourselves together. Also, enjoyed eating various fruits and having beet root juice for 3 days.. My husband (Capt Pramod) had got fruits which will last for 10 days for a dozen of people.
My fridge was overloaded with the berries, beet roots and grapes.. I had no place to keep a dozens of watermelons and musk melons and papayas!

On Saturday evening we dropped Chirag to his friend’s home for a sleepover. Chirag always looks forward to this marathon as he gets to do a sleep over to his favourite friend’s home. We were back to home early on Saturday. We wanted to eat and sleep early, but the door bells for maids though instructed before, and our friends (non runner) wishing us for the marathon was on till 11 in the night.
Sandra had already set up her running gear for the race day. Capt stitched his bib to his singlet. I too laid my stuff properly, but this time, I had a doubt about my running socks. My foot size has got bigger by half size. So the current shoes were not big for me to run the 42k. so, decided to wear thin socks.
I couldn’t sleep as I heard capt sneezing and coughing..Soon, the alarm rang. I jumped out of the bed. Went straight to the kitchen to prepare the pre-race breakfast for three marathoners. Sandra came out from the room completely ready! Capt takes hours in the shower.. till then, I made orange juice for three of us, and poured the porridge in 3 bowls.

Our neighbor Milind Dhume was ready with the car sharp at 4:30. He is very punctual in everything. He is an international level badminton player. His wife Swaroop introduced me to running at NRC at Police Gymkhana-marine drive.
So, Sandra and capt were ready before me. I had more stuff to do, than them. As a responsible person for locking the house, shutting the windows cleaning up the kitchen counter etc..
We reached at the venue, quite early. I mean, we were not late. This time we had decided not to take loo breaks during the race. 

So we visited it prior to line up.  Did some dynamic warm up stretches while
moving to start line.. the race had already began.  Forgetting about the line up section, as we three were in three different ones.. we strided to the start line and I heard my coach cheering me!

We were together at a good pace. Sandra was observing the pace via her GPS. I never used my New balance GPS watch while training, so didn’t bother to look at it. We were running easy .. When I was waving back to the people cheering on pedder road, Sandra asked me,” do you know all of them?”.
I said, “I think, we don’t need to know them.. they are there for us. to give us positive energy.”
At 10K my office guy offered me my energy drink. And I had my first block of power food.  We were running together, and then from behind we heard a group of runners pounding their feet- it was a 4 hour bus, who were running at a faster pace than ours. I told Sandra they are going ahead of us, let’s catch up. She said, they are going faster than our decided pace. So we stick to ours.
At sea-link, I saw Milind Soman running his first bare- feet marathon. I introduced him to Sandra. So, there were two celebrity runners I was running with. Sandra writes running blogs and motivates runners at Munich. She also raises funds for an NGO (Indo German society) that helps Indian women in rural area. Sandra had a tiny video camera with her to take the clips during the run. So, her mind was on it.

We were together matching each other’s pace. We crossed 21km in 1:52 Hrs. we were feeling easy and continued till 26km.. Sandra had enerzal at each hydration station. I had a doubt whether she could be OK with it as one doesn’t try anything new on the race day. I turned back and waited for her to join me.. but, she started getting slower as she felt dizzy and vomited too..i ran backwards to look for her.. she was way behind. So I moved ahead. Worrying about her, my pace became slower.. when I saw another veteran woman overtaking me, I charged up again and increased my pace. She mentioned me, that I had overtaken her at worli loop last year. She said that there are many faster veterans this time, and are already gone ahead.. so there was no looking back.. I increased my pace a bit.. as after 26km.. you are exhausted. I was feeling strong and no signs of pain or cramp.. so I kept my pace constant. I overtook 2 women runners. Every time I overtook a woman runner, I turned around to check the color of the BIB!! To cross check whether a veteran category runner or not!!:) ha ha..

I reached the pedder road, volunteers and cheering people were plenty.. Gathered all my energy and kept on running. I stopped for a walk break at pedder road climb. Another runner boy who was also walking talked to me. He said, no walking now.. lets go! So I ran with him. He was an ironman participant. He mentioned that he did not train for marathon! It was purely on his fitness level he ran it. Same like my husband, who doesn’t run till the rest of the runners, go for taper! He starts running in December, just 4 weeks before the marathon. He does workout in gym, cross trains, and swims etc.. But no running.

I saw the elites running down the peddar road  slope and I also ran faster taking the advantage of the slope.
I reached the cool zone section, but were they still putting it up? Or It wasn’t working..who knows?
Then, on marine drive the scenario changes complete.. there are people from various races.. some of them just walk and are not aware about what a marathoners face at this point of run.. Most of the half marathoners who are just finishing walking, walk in groups blocking the road.
At the turning of veer nariman road, I spotted Milind Soman again. But didn’t stop this time.. I had to do sub 4 hours, I didn’t know what the time it was.. someone was shouting cmon you can make it sub 4.. someone was screaming, 4 more km to go!! I was confused- what?? 4 more km??
I also spotted 500rs notes lying in my way.. Dodging them..i went on..I had only one thing in my mind.. to cross the finish line below 4 hrs.. it was my goal..

I sprinted to the finish line.. when the official came to note my bib number I asked him about the position.. he said u r late by 2 min.. I’m the 4th  in the veteran category.
I waited for Sandra at finish line, but no sign of hers.. so I walked to the medical base, took off my shoes to check my toes.. omg! The toenails were bruised, red.. and the big toe was swollen.. poor toes, I never thought about them when i chose to wear thin socks..Applied some ice on them.. and again went back to the finish line to look for Sandra and capt.  I saw Mani Kandan finishing his race. He was overjoyed to finish it.. I saw the joyful tears rolling over his face..why couldn’t I be so happy? I was feeling like a loser..
Sandra’s friend from Munich came to me. He was ready at the finish line for Sandra to offer her chilled Indian thumbsup. He gave me water. Sandra txted him about her location. She was at the medal counter. We went inside the holding area.. walked and walked to locate the medal counter. Then spotted capt already wearing the medal and holding the refreshments. Michael D’souza was taking pictures. He captured three of us. that’s our memorable picture of the race! I truly appreciate Michael D’souza for his contribution towards the capturing the moments at the races.

After the race, we walked for a long time to get the cab. We waited at Bombay hospital gate to get one. Me n Sandra had refreshing coconut water while waiting. Many of them were vacant but refused to go to Malabar hill. At last, we got into one of the cabs, went straight to the club to have chilled shower.  Sandra was upset, me, too. Capt was happy..He was proudly showing all three medals to his friends at the club. After shower, I could not wear the shoes, as my toenails were hurting and swollen. I was bare foot in the club. We had chicken soup and a bit of mutton biryani. One of captain’s friends dropped us home in his car.
Next day evening, at PDP for Chirag’s athletics I had many people ask me about my race.
Aunty what was your rank? What medal did you get? The track athletes know only Gold, Silver and Bronze! Luckily, I had one of them last year.. so their expectations are similar this time.. I can understand them.. but feel so confused.. about the reaction within me... The feeling is all in your state.  
The reactions were, oh c’mon you don’t stop in the race for anyone. Race is a race. When you spend most of the time of the year in training, you don’t deserve to be waiting for anyone. This was the remark of a track athlete.
Some said, you are the real winner! You stopped for a friend. Even captain stopped and helped a runner who wasn’t a friend. That runner had a cardiac problem. He called for ambulance and waited till it arrived.
Captain doesn’t follow a structured training plan. He doesn’t keep timing goals- (he may be having one but keeping to himself). He follows a fitness routine that helps him to run the marathon.
My training is structured, by my coach Dinanath.  He is aware about my limitations to run on the road. So in spite of participating in a road race, I train on the PDP tracks. This time also, I could do barely  5 runs on the road. One was thane Thane Hiranandani half marathon, other was pinkathon 10k, and one long from home to NCPA and back doing loops at NCPA-chowpatty. and  rest others also on marine drive -home to NCPA and back again . My husband says, no roads are safe for a runner in Mumbai.
Most of you won’t believe that I did not do a 20miler run anytime. This was due to time limitations. I can’t give morning hours to run. And even on holidays, I have to be back to home by 7:30AM to be on my toes for the day.
My timing has improved by 9 minutes this time. I understood that most of the people value the “position” and not the “performance”. If I answer their question about the race, “this time it was better! They ask, what’s your position?? How sad..

Lessons learned this time: you run a marathon or any other race all for “yourself”.
Don’t promise to run with anyone for the whole race. Runners will join you and continue their own run at their pace. You are running with “yourself”. No wasting time, if your target its like sub 4 or sub5 .. it hurts a lot when you miss it for couple of minutes that you could have saved..
I need to wait for another year to achieve mine..There may be many marathons during the year.. but I can run only scmm….as I’m not allowed to leave the town just for  running a race.
For my family, my running is for fitness.. not for achieving targets. Otherwise I could have gone to Turin, for master athletics championships. Or attended master athletics meets in India. Condition for attending a race for me is – I can do the one which is on Sunday morning AND in town.
Yes, another thing.. I had decided to change my DP on FB after I get a new winners medal from SCMM..
L But, there are faster women coming up..Some are just turning 40..not only from India but also from different parts of the world running SCMM full distance.

I hope I can change my DP ASAP..  


  1. Nice portrayal of your successful journey to the marathon. You are a champ..

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Brilliant Kranti, you are an inspiration and I agree with the person who said you absolutely did the right thing to stop for your friend. How would you feel if you hadn't? You might have got a medal but I think along with that an empty feeling. Also think of yourself as a role model to Chirag, he will remember what you did this time. You can look back with pride on your improved time and your generosity. x