5 hr 55 min!
That’s how long it took to run/walk/crawl to my first Marathon finish.
Arrival in Mumbai
I took a Spice-Jet early morning flight to Mumbai the day before the marathon. The weather gods were quite pleased and spared the fogs which had all flight schedules going haywire just a few days back. On reaching Mumbai, I took a local train ride to Mumbai Central, and checked-in into my hotel.
Marathon Expo and Mumbai Darshan
Took a cab to the Expo at World Trade Center in the late morning. Moving around, I got this feeling that the weather in Mumbai was hotter than what I was expecting. Unfortunately, it would only be on the coming day that I would realize how it was going to affect me. The rest of the day was spent in some sightseeing, going to the Gateway of India, wandering around Marine drive and Chowpatty, visiting Haji Ali and the Heera Panna shopping complex.
Morning of marathon… reaching Azad maidan.
Got up at 5:45 am, and after a quick shower, I was ready to go. Took a cab to Azad maidan at 6:30 am. The sun was yet to come up when I reached there, and people were pouring in from all directions, many walking a lot because of traffic restrictions around the area. The only noticeable group of people were the Maharashtra Home Guards, dressed in their navy blue running uniform, about 75 of them.
Half marathon starts.
The Half Marathon was the first event to be flagged off at 7:00 am. Half marathon participants were given blue colored running numbers, while the Full marathoners had them in red. Some late comers continued to come in even after the Half marathon had started, and some of them stayed back to start with the Full marathoners.
Full marathon is GO… cheer groups and bands.
At 7:30 am, the holding area was opened for the Full marathoners. I did some stretching to loosen up and drank some fluids to keep myself hydrated. At 8:00, the full marathon was flagged off to the sounds of some high decibel, fast paced, Bollywood numbers. There were quite a few cheering groups from Radio Mirchi and Kingfisher, particularly around the Marine drive area, egging the participants on. The bands were also playing some nice tunes.
Good start initially… great going at flyovers.
It was a good start for me, I felt in great shape going around the Marine drive. The first of the flyovers came at about 8 KM from start, and since I felt good, I did not hesitate to run over them rather than walk across the climb, which I would have normally done, and which a lot of runners were doing to preserve there energy for the latter half of the race. I think this was one of the mistakes I did for which I would have to suffer later on in the race. On the way, I saw a lot of Half marathoners on their way back, some walking, others running.
Milind Soman, and other celebrities.
Noticed Milind Soman, who was also running the Half marathon, at Marine drive. I bet he would have got a good timing, he looked in great shape. I guess he may have been the only celebrity running one of the bigger runs, the half or the full. Not sure about Anil Ambani, I know he runs the marathons too. Abhishek and Rani were also there, besides others. Saw Prakash Padukone, the former All-England badminton champion. But most of the celebrities were in the shorter 5 KM or 7 KM races, for the cause of charity, or supporting the Senior citizens.
Half of the marathon done … about 2 hr 20 mins.
It was good going ahead, water stops were there at about every 2 KM, and I made sure to get some water at every stop. I reached the 21 KM mark at about 2 hr 20 mins. That was good as per my estimate, and considering the fact that I had covered this distance in the Delhi Half marathon in 2 hr 12 mins, and I had to run more conservatively keeping in mind the bigger distance. At this point, I thought that at this pace I would be able to complete this race in about 5 hrs.
Somewhere beyond this point and to my surprise, I found Sathish running besides me (in fact it was he who found me). Somehow, he must have remembered my BIB no., as we have never met, just fellow bloggers. He had a sprain in one of his legs, but it was good knowing later on that he managed to finish the race. Before the start of the race, at Azad maidan, I tried to lookout for some of my blogger friends, since I knew their BIB nos, but could not locate anyone.
Heat takes its toll.
As we continued forward, it kept on getting hotter. It was humid too, since the race had started an hour late compared to the previous year, it meant that by the time we finished, it would get hotter. As I ran over the concrete road around the Bandra Reclamation U-turn, I could feel feel the heat getting to me. I was feeling like a car running out of fuel. The legs were feeling like wooden logs, and I could feel hot road surface as I ran. As I reached the 28 KM mark, I realized that I had to give running a break, and I started walking.
Another try at 31 KM, too much.
After walking the next 3 KM till I reached 31 KM, I felt a little better, and gave myself a second chance at running. I still thought I might be able to run the next 11 KM. However, within a KM of running I realized that the tank was totally empty, and I got back to walking.
Walk it, Baby.
So, it was walking all the way back. Sometimes it was slow walking, sometimes fast walking. My left knee was in bad shape by now, and even walking was proving to be a tough job. But I had few options. Giving up was certainly not one of them, I had to get that finishers certificate and medal, which I will cherish always. I realized while walking that if I had to finish within 6 hrs, I had to walk real fast.
The Finishing line… Certificate and Medals await.
The last few kilometers were really tough. I never knew that a simple act of walking can be this treacherous, but after running for 30 KMs, it is. Fortunately, I met this guy Sachin, a Mumbaite, and walking with him helped me keep going. It was a great relief to see the “500 meters ahead” sign indicating the finishing line, and soon the actual finishing line, which I crossed in a time of 5 hr 55 mins since the start of the race. I know I will need much more that the 4 months of practice I did for this event to run the complete race, at least this one in Mumbai. I collected the participation certificate and the finishers medal and was on my way back to the hotel.
Hitting the sack… and on my way back.
At the hotel, I had some food to get back some of the energy I had lost, drank a lot of replenishment drinks, and then just rested till the evening, after which I was off to the airport for the return flight to Delhi. A job well done, and to be bettered some day.