I had trained reasonably well for it. I say reasonably, of course, whatever that might mean. I expected that the things I needed to do were: intervals (like a 6x800m thingie); steps (to take care of the fact that my training course in Chennai is FLAT), good long runs (I figure an optimal long run for me is 15-18 km, not less), core (abs, etc.), and just good old running. I only really did well in the very last one. I ran very regularly. I did two good long runs, one a fantastic beach run with Guns (20 km) and a really painful (for me) 16 km run on campus with RM. Did not have time/enthu for more than that. I did intervals two times or so, but it seems to hurt my knees, so I ditched that. Steps are too small in number so its a pain to incorporate a work-out of sufficient length around them so although I did a bit of that, I was not happy overall. I did some core, but not everyday (twice), which is what I think I need.
And the one thing you want to avoid in Mumbai is a Mumbai-Day-Out on Saturday. No, I don't mean popping off to a bar late Sat night knowing that you have to run on Sunday. Nope. I just mean hanging around traveling around the city of Mumbai in the sun in a ratty taxi through interminable traffic. And missing lunch. Well, there was nothing I could do but suck it up and pretend as it it didn't matter. I was dog tired by the time it was 5 pm on Saturday, and still had to finish up a work meeting I had set up. But the meeting went well and I got to chill for half an hour or so before dinner. Which was memorable, and tasty, but not very relaxing.
However, staying 2 mins away from race start location was a good idea!! I slept well and woke up relatively rested. Coffee! Granola bar! Gatorade sips! Push-ups! (More on that later). I wormed over to the front and found Srgtpepper (I know, what are the chances!). He wanted me to pace him. I was quite sure it was a bad idea, but anyway I just listened to my music and ran. The sealink was really lovely. I know people complain about too few hydration spots, but as you may know, I don't need too much to drink when I run. I usually carry my own bottle of isotonic. Plus, I have been carrying some food in my pocket too, of late. I had Gu this time. Double Espresso.
I died at Pedder Road as usual. It was a bit better than the last few times, I never had the urge to walk, but my pace fell a lot after that fly over. I cursed myself a bit for not concentrating better on the uphill training. But hung in there. The timing was not too bad. The 2 hour bus crossed me and Savio who was the bus told Srgntpepper that he was going at 1:58 pace, just FYI. I sort of planned to just keep him in sight but gave up that goal too as I reached 17-18 km. Still, it was not so bad. I tried to increase my pace a couple of times, but couldn't. Srgntpepper went ahead at some stage and I waved him on. I had my Gu and it gave me a bit of a surge in energy. I saw the 500 m mark and saw that it was past 2:00, but not too much. I did my final sprint and finished in 2:03:10 on the clock. The final official time was 2:02:56 ; overall gender rank 35; category rank 32, got a medal (all finishers got it, its a nice one), some chick from Hindustan Times interviewed me and put my name and everything in the paper the next day (though she got my time totally wrong. ugh!).
Its a PR for Mumbai, which is a race that I have run often (I started with 2:35 in 2006!) but always struggled with. Especially the flyover. I know I have to just stop THINKING about Pedder Road. There were some slopes in Delhi that I was unaware of so I just ran them. I run in Chennai, the weather is positively insane here. And it was cool this year in Mumbai. But, overall, although its not an overall PR for me, for the first race of 2011, I am satisfied (which isn't saying much, I am always satisfied with my races, no point fretting over them at least in the immediate aftermath). The thing is that unlike Delhi and Chennai in recent past, I had pain later in the day this time. So the timing might not reflect it, but I did give it my all (or most of it, at least). The legs are recovered now. My stomach was bad too, later that evening, leading to another set of worries as I made my way over to Powai for the next set of work meetings.
Why do I do these races? I like to put myself out there. I like to feel out of my depth, a little bit. I like to work hard on stuff. It makes me feel like its worth it, after all. I do it for myself. And I like to travel. For whatever purpose, I like to travel. And I just love running. I might just be deluding myself at those times but I do tell myself, half-way through a race, "Think! You still have 10+ more kms to go! So much more road to run!"