Yes, that is me. It was that hot and dusty Azad Maidan. That green stuff was dusty too. But then I was beyond the point of caring. My third full marathon. Technically fourth time running that monster distance. The sun was blazing - the kind that can tan even a brown person...
The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is a race I don't like to miss. I signed up within the first 8 hours of the registration opening this year. Exchanging frantic emails to get beyond the problem I had with the malfunctioning timing chip last year. I jumped with joy when they accepted my entry.
I swore I would train hard for it. That I would undo all my past mistakes, enjoy the run, be strong, and just go there and kick ass. I was going to do speed workouts! Superbly co-ordinated long runs! Core and ab workouts! I was going to do SO MUCH!
Well, I didn't. I did like 2 sessions of Yasso the entire season. I did 2 decent long runs. I ran an Ultra (50km) to Mahabalipuram - which worked more to train my mind than my legs ('cause I was slower than GMP). I picked up a whole range of random niggles that were super irritating, and my ankles complained constantly.
After a tough Hyderabad Marathon, I had decided to only train for the SCMM starting December. And I had a simple plan in mind, because of the niggles, I wasn't going to get aggressive unless I received some cues from my body that it was ready. That cue never came. I concentrated on a fair bit of strength training - quite diligently. The rule I followed in this was that different major muscles would be worked on different days.
My upper body actually started looking very toned, though my core - despite extensive work on it - looked mushy. Legs were fine. No changes there. The Ultra was a good test of the legs. They help up beautifully, recovered superbly. Beyond that I did very sensible little runs, a lot of it on the track, to save my feet. I didn't know what to expect, going into this marathon - wasn't even sure how to chalk out a strategy. So I just went with common sense.
The plan was simple. Hold myself back in the beginning, because I am convinced that thats a recurring mistake in my racing - though it has been giving me very good times in the Half marathon distance, the body isn't at that stage for the full. Not yet. So, start slow. I promised to hit myself if I sped up to insane paces at the start. The goal was a 2:10 first half.
I hoped that with the experience of all the high mileage runs, I could figure out a 2:20-ish second half. That would still give me a 4:30-ish time, a sure Personal Best (SCMM 2012 - 4:35; Hyd Marathon 2012 - 4:39). In fact, I declared that Plan A was 4:34:59 for the PB. I felt confident about it, though more than the time itself, what I wanted was that I stay strong throughout those hours on the Mumbai roads.
There is my poor, battered old device. Held together by lots of scotch tape, and much love. I don't know why I don't replace it. Well, at least it lasted till I did. I pulled in to the finish in Personal Best time. My body co-operated very well; I didn't cramp; nothing insane like my hip (which was hurting) breaking (seriously, I get idiotic ideas like that) occurred.
I took an extra day to recover compared to my usual. I was limping around a bit all Sunday and Monday; which is the thing I am going to try to fix next time. For now, I feel like I have finished the homework, written the exam, and passed the SCMM 2013. I enjoyed my day out in the Mumbai sun, the people were lovely, and it was a good vacation trip. I was stronger than last year, by far, see my pace graphs below for comparison!
(note that the scale of the bottom graph is much smaller!)
Why do I run? Truly and honestly because I enjoy it. "Conservative strategy" said my friend when I discussed the gory details of my race with him. Well, that was the plan, and I am grateful and feel very lucky that I could make a plan and stick to it, very well. My life didn't dramatically change on 20 Jan, after the race, but I did feel very happy and content inside me, surrounded by my friends, welcomed at the finish by my husband, euphoric from the running...