Will take some time in the evening to pen down the details. In the meanwhile, here are the splits from the race, the rank, and the final timings.
Finish Time: 4:52:57 (net), 4:53:34 (gun)
This betters my performance from the previous two Mumbai marathons that I have participated in (2009 – 5:21, 2006 – 5:55).
This was my 7th Marathon (no half’s or training runs included), and for sure the one for which I had practiced the most, not necessarily in terms of consistency and overall mileage (which has to be my first marathon in 2006, a 5:55 effort in Mumbai), but in terms of long runs done. Leading up to the marathon, I had a 42K and three 32K distances under my belt, while for almost all of my previous marathons was limited to just one 32K run, as per most of the novice training plans.
I remember last year at Mumbai when it was so chaotic at the start that it was difficult to get inside the entry gates, with 10,000 plus marathon and half marathon runners jostling for space. This year saw a huge improvement with the half marathon start moving to Bandra, and so the marathon starting area almost felt a little deserted. Within a few seconds of the race actually starting, I too had crossed the starting line. I took all of 15 minutes last year to do the same due to the rush.
Race: First Half
The first 21 kilometers went exactly as per plan, which was to do a 4-1 run/walk at an average pace of about 6:30/km. The running was mostly happening at around 6:05, and walking at 9:00. I was feeling pretty good about the weather, and the sun when it came out was mostly hidden by the tall buildings or facing my back. I got some good company too of Mayank, a running friend from Noida, and distances tend to fly away when you run with one. I even commented to him that this was almost feeling like we were running in Delhi, it was that comfortable. The noticeable thing however was the absence of any portable toilets all along, unlike last year. I reached the 21K mark at around 2:19, within a minute of the planned 2:20 time.
Race: Second Half
As the sun came overhead and temperature rose, things started to get tough. Even before hitting the Bandra Worli sea link at 24 KM mark, I was getting a feeling that it was getting tougher, even compared to last year when I was basically good till 32K but went bonkers after 35K. The sea link part was tough too, and I think there was a minor miracle here as I got a couple of bottles from a medical van which was passing by. I did not realize it then, but later heard from all runners that there was no water at all on the entire 5KM sea link stretch. I need to find the guy responsible for this.
Beyond the sea link (29K) was more misery, but I was not particularly uncomfortable. However, around 35K or so, my calf really started bothering me, not too much, but just about enough to keep my mind occupied on things like if this goes bad, will I have time enough to walk fast enough to reach the finish line before 5 hours. I actually stopped a couple of times to get some icing done on the calf at the medical stops, and my gratitude to the volunteers who helped me with this. The calf remained uncomfortable the rest of the way, but did not become a show stopper.
Race: The Finish
My run/walk strategy continued right up till the end. It did get a bit different from a true 4/1, but not by much, which was really satisfying. I have yet to find a better strategy that this for me, probably better than last year’s 8/1, which had later turned to 4/1 and then to an all walk. With about a KM to go, I caught up with Pranav, a friend from Surat, who was struggling too, and we pushed ahead together to the finish line. With about a 100 meters to go, met another friend from Gurgaon, Ramesh, and the three of us finished the race together. The time of 4:52:57 was good enough to qualify me for the Comrades Marathon (an 89KM ultra) in South Africa in May-end, for which I needed a sub-5 finish.
Missed out a couple of important points which really played a big role in me achieving a sub-5 finish. First, I brought along a cap for the run, which was the first time ever I was running with a cap. It was immensely useful in keeping the sun out of my eyes, and avoiding the direct heat from getting to my head. And putting it on after putting some water on my head helped to hold the water longer, and provide extended cooling. Second, I got a pack of Powerbar energy gels from a friend, and took one every 45 minutes from the race start. I am sure they helped in a big way too.
The Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly
- Good: No chaos and delays at the starting line due to event being split with full and half marathons starting from separate points.
- Good: Several medical points in the second half of the race with helpful volunteers
- Bad: No portable toilets to be seen anywhere on the route.
- Ugly: No water point at all on the 5KM Bandra Worli Sea Link. This was a killer for most runners, coming between KM 24 and KM 29.
Results for all participants are now available online on timingindia.com.