Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Walk the talk

It all started back that day in Somerville. July, was it? I ran a small race with MSB that day. It was a great feeling though I was physically in bad shape (jet lag, lack of sleep, alcohol, age, you name it). I was not too concerned about it but that day left me with a feeling of 'slowing down'  Ever since I started running long distance, I have consistently run at the same, or better speeds. I have improved upon my half marathon timings, and in the recent past, hit the mat at 1:58-2:03 with an alarming lack of variation. I was pretty happy with that. Till that day in Somerville...

It was just a month after that that I came up with the plan of upgrading. To a full marathon. I think I was afraid that I would slowly fade away somehow. That my running career would come crashing down. Yes, despite it being not so much a career as a pastime. It felt like it was do or die now. It didn't hurt that my running friends were all poking fun of me for being a pansy with this. Just do it, already, we all know you can, they said. Well, I didn't know I could. But I was sure as hell going to give it a shot!

I signed myself (and as part of our usual deal in these matters, MSB) up for the Mumbai Marathon (full) the day the registrations opened. I did some massive scrounging for timing certificates and stuff like that. I still have that folder full of all sorts of crap I used for registrations. 'What? Are you mad?' said the husband. 'Sure, we can do it. We'll run together' said MSB. 'Soooper! Make a training plan. I am in too!' said Karthik P. 'You will die' said mum (in not so many words, but she was super worried).

I let the whole thing simmer until September rolled around. In September, I ran the Kaveri Trail Half. I finished it strong, coming in third. Then took off down the road for a few more kilometers. Came back on the trail, cut my chip off, and ran back and forth finding my friends on the trail. It was the first time I used my garmin, and I loved it! On the train, on the way back, I felt like shit. I was getting scared. If a half makes me feel this bad, what about a full? For me, its important to give it all at the race. But its more important to recover in springy manner. Back to hitting the ground running...

I dispiritedly ran some long runs with various people. The minute I pushed myself to beyond 21 kms, my body would revolt in some absurd manner. I would feel puky if I drank gatorade. Puky, if I did't. I got my period and it lasted too long. And came back up again too soon. I was pissed off at myself and my body by then. I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to pull this one off. But I was not going to admit that to anybody. I tried to initiate such discussions with my various running partners spread across the world. Everything they had to say sounded wrong, in my head...

With October and November though, some new spirit came into me. I started working out a bit with my husband. I did some core workouts at home with him [no, its not what you think...]. I started lifting weights a bit. I found that if I focussed on core+weights during the week a little bit, my weekend long run was strong (even if a bit too slow for my liking). So, I knew what I had to do. Although I suspected that already I had a bit of Plantar Fascitis going on in my right foot, I knew what I had to do.

November was a very busy month. In the first week was the IIT race that I was helping organise. That took a lot out of me. I remember that shitty half I ran on Nov 5th - the day before the race. I have never felt that under confident ever in my life. My breath was awful. I was hating it. I had issues with my period - although it was in its last stages it was still troubling - these things never happened. I should have been completely demoralised and abandoned my plans of running the full, on that day. I should have.... The second half of October was especially bad anyhow as I was running extra mileage but really suffering...and this one capped everything..

Somewhere along the line, with much soul-searching and thinking and so on, I had a show down with MSB. Basically I wanted him to not run with me at Mumbai. Once that idea lodged in my head, there was no taking it away. We generally have a deal for such matters, involving running together, sure, but I wanted out. I wanted to run this by myself, maybe, not sure. I just didn't want to run with him. I hope that he was just as relieved as I was once that deal was off... Once the meaning of that sunk in...

Then, on the train back from Mysore again, I started making a training plan. This was mid November. I felt that I had exactly enough time to get everything sorted out. I had browsed all the sites, and figured everything out in terms of 'What one has to do for the first full'. I cut off from my various 'social' running activities - meaning ones in which I will run to encourage new runners and so on. My sole focus was my own training. I knew that many things could go wrong, but I was not going to go down without a fight.

I did my weekday runs by myself. I had strict, enforced pace goals for that. I did my long runs with friends. I am grateful to all of them for putting up with me. I am sure I was irritating. Once I put my mind to it, my long runs started being strong. I initially stuck to a Run:Walk - the deal I have when I run with Karthik P. - but then I abandoned that after a point. The one thing though, with Run:Walk, I recover almost instantly, even if my pace is more or less the same. But I was getting a bit frustrated. My sprinter training in the past was making me antsy...

I hate sprint workouts these days because it reminds me how much I have slowed down. Its such an 'in your face' reminder of this fact. Y'all know I don't mind growing old. In fact, I want to stop looking young, I want to look my age. But this part of aging - this takes serious getting used to for me. But I sucked it up and did it anyway. Again, my friend Krishna is instrumental in helping me wrap my mind around a sprint workout. Thankfully, my legs were so toasty all of the past two months from my increased mileage, that I didn't mind a slightly shady sprint workout. It was justified. I couldn't possibly do my high school PR with lead-like legs based on my 60km week [I know thats not much mileage, but its high for me, and I built it up carefully and slowly and really followed rules, so ...]

On Saturday before the race, I ran the last bit of my training schedule. By this point MSB and I had re-united. Despite our comfortable peace at having widely different time goals for the race, we did the last bits of our training together. Which felt super awesome. I am grateful to him for not minding training at my pace. And for waking up whenever I needed to go run, based on my 8 am class or whatever. So that Saturday - a day before the race - run would be the last time we would run together, for a while... It was a beautiful day, and a great 5k to loosen the muscles.

On race day, I was so happy to run into all my buddies. Over the course of the past year, I have really grown close to them and love them like my own family. I was desperate to find SrgntPepper though. I always start the Mumbai Marathon with him. He is awesome! Though he was on injured list this year, he had decided to start the race and figure it out. He always starts at the front of the pack so I wound my way forward. I am good at that. I took MSB along with me, but we were just a minute too late so the gun went off as we neared the mat...

I thought it would be the last I would see of my favourite young running partner (did see his shirtless self twice though! Once just ahead of Milind 'Slurrrp' Soman..)... I know I was running a bit fast. I knew there was a chance of burn out. But I was not worrying about it. I was confident that my training would kick in when it was required. And I was mostly sticking to plan. And the plan involved not knowing what would come to me in the last 10km. I ran with my head down the entire time. I barely looked at the kilometer markers till I came up to 20-21km. I knew I had to take a break soon as I had run non-stop. I don't recall exact details any more. I took a short break at 25, I think. I started feeling a bit bad at 28 km I think.

I felt these massive calf cramps soon after that. My stomach was fine. Breath - awesome. But the cramp was massive. Again, I knew what I had to do. I stopped and got down on the road-side and did the 'downward dog' stretch that I have learnt from Tony Horton. Its the best calf stretch. I could run for a bit after that but had to do that often. Which can be pretty funny if you know what that stretch is. Lets just say I was happy that no one creeped up on my ass which was up high in the air!!

I still had a fair number of kilometers to go - like 8. I was in slightly bad shape, sure. The hill was up next too. What I had to do was, DIG DEEP. Yes, that Shaun T. See, this tells you all the cross training and core and abs I have been doing have other benefits for me!! I found the medical tent and sprayed the heck out of my legs. A bystander on Pedder Road gave me Volini. God bless you, lady! I shifted to a Run:Walk - which I know works when all else fails.

My goal A was still in sight but I sadly saw it pass by around then - in the guise of the 4:30 bus lead by Bruce Hargreaves. But then, that meant I was leading the 4:30 bus all the way up to 35 kms! Good enough! I pushed and pushed and gave it my all - despite all sorts of cramps in my right calf and left quad - I overtook an old looking female (she is the winner of the Super Veteran category, btw) - at the very end and sprint finished my first full marathon in 4 hours 35 minutes (per my Garmin)... Right between Plan A (4:30) and Plan B (4:45) and having eaten Plan C (5:00)....

It felt spectacular though I admit that the minute I got off the mat I said "FUCK!" and meandered over per usual to medical tent, took some ice, jostled for space getting into Azad maidan, called the folks, found ludwig and MSB and was glad I didn't break down and cry... 'cause I don't think the boys could have handled it... :-)


9 comments:

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

You are so awesome!

S. said...

This is super super inspiring :)

wordjunkie said...

Amazing! Congratulations!

Ludwig said...

> 'cause I don't think the
> boys could have handled it...

You should've, you know? Seeing as it was assuredly _not_ the day of holding on to bodily fluids unnecessarily... :P

Good job, though.

Don't do this again, though.

kbpm said...

ludwig- thanks for reminding me. ewwwwwwww

Saad Bhamla said...

Awesomeeeee :))))

We're running this again next year. I told you we'd dominate, didn't I :) ?

Space Bar said...

I dontwwanttoknow. I dontwwanttoknow. I dontwwanttoknow.

Ok, I'll bite. Tell All.

Ludwig said...

> ludwig- thanks for
> reminding me. ewwwwwwww

Heh heh. I sort of had a "woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat" moment yesterday when I remembered the unrestrained hugging after you guys picked up your medals.

> Awesomeeeee :))))

Rascal!

> Ok, I'll bite. Tell All.

Not. On. Blogger. Comments. I will call, once I regain the home country.

dipali said...

Oh wow! You really rock!