You have to be a certain kind of crazy to wake up at 4 am on a Sunday to run– says the CEO of a leading financial services company. I agree with him.
I have a lot of friends who just don’t get why some people do this. Or why I do this.
I was introduced to the Marathon in Delhi. In Delhi, as in Mumbai, the earlier years saw a lot of media coverage as well as public enthusiasm for what is known as the Dream Run – 6 kms of carnival. This saw a lot of participation particularly from corporates who sent in large contingents of employees wearing branded T – shirts, carrying their logo and what not. There was a lot of individual participation too. Prizes for best fancy dress costume, large speakers belting out the latest hits, people cheering on the sidelines, participants singing were the hallmark of the Dream Run. Everyone enjoyed the once a year Sunday morning walk. Some even tried to run. Slowly over the years the focus shifted to what the Marathon is really about – the marathon. Today you see more media coverage on the actual marathons. And why not? Running 21 kms or 42 kms is all about fitness and more importantly will power. Atleast the last 5 kms is sheer will. The will to carry on putting one foot in front of another even though every muscle is protesting. The Dream Run, of course, sees humungous participation too.
So the first year we ran the dream run in Delhi. Me, hubby and a couple of friends. Atleast, me and the couple of friends walked. Hubby ran. Then we moved to Mumbai. We missed the marathon the 1st year as we had no clue of the registration process but were careful about not missing the process the next time. Hubby, along with a colleague and very dear friend, decided they were going to do the half. I continued ambling along on my 6 kms with a deep sense of achievement at the end of it. I cannot forget the expression of pure exhilaration on the hubby’s face once he finished his first half marathon in 2 hours 6 minutes. This was in Jan 2010. He was hooked. He continued his tryst with the half and I with my Dream Run till sometime in 2012 he suggested that I try the half. He is like that. He’s always been responsible for figuring out my hidden strengths and helping me explore them.
I mulled over the thought till he told me in August that he’d registered for me too. There. So I started training. Irregularly. I still hadn’t discovered a love for road running. That was because I used to run 5-6 kms and give up.
January arrived and I was still not sure whether I could do it. His advice to me was simple. If you can’t run, walk. Just don’t give up. Finish it. Don’t think about the time taken. You have no clue of the high you’ll get once you cross the finish line.
So I ran my first half marathon in Jan 2013, last year. I started off on a high. He galloped ahead, while I took pictures of people running on the sea link. The first 8 kms were awesome. I felt so exhilarated. I felt a part of something HUGE. And then doubt set in. My first negative thought appeared on Worli seaface where I wondered what the heck I was doing. I could have been in bed, and reached later for my 6 kms which starts at a decent 9 am instead of an unearthly 5.30. And then came this bunch of Worli residents standing along the track with water, oranges, biscuits, jaggery, pushing and encouraging everyone to run. It gave me such a kick and so much motivation. I then learnt my first lesson of running a marathon. I began to break up the distance into short goals. Instead of thinking about the end, I thought about rewarding myself with a biscuit once I reached Haji Ali. It worked. Also, watching the full marathon runners on the other side gave me such encouragement. They were doing 42. I could do 21.
The next 5-6 kms were a breeze. Especially the Peddar Road stretch. More encouraging Mumbaikers, lots of music. By the time I hit 16 kms, hubby had reached. He called me. He was very encouraged by my time.
And then I hit Marine Drive. The last 5 kms of the Mumbai Marathon/Half Marathon are on Marine Drive. Those are the most difficult 5 kms. Marine Drive stretched endlessly in front of me and I knew I was going to give up. I started walking. Slowly. The phone ran again. More words of encouragement. I could still do this in 3 hours if I pushed myself a bit. Given that I had hoped to finish it 3.5 hours, I was highly encouraged. I dragged myself alternating between jogging, running and walking. I swore to myself I was not participating in this madness ever again. I enjoyed the Dream Run and I was going to continue with that.
The exhilaration was all gone, replaced by deep misgivings, anger and frustration. My muscles hurt. And then I saw a board that said 500 metres to go. I don’t know what happened. I don’t where I got the strength from. I started running like mad. Sprinting. I could see the finish line and I wasn’t going to waste another precious second. I had to do this in good time.
And then I crossed the finish line. The photographs that Procam ( the organizers) sent me shows me with a smile on my face. I had no clue I was smiling. I thought I would be grimacing.
I spotted my hubby standing right after the finish line. He guided me to the holding area and I sat down. And trust me. You have no idea of the exhilaration. The sense of achievement, pride, satisfaction and joy. The timing does matter. But what matter more is the fact that you crossed the finish line. And I knew I was going to this as long as I could. I finally finished in exactly 3 hours.
I ran my second half marathon this year and bettered my time by 6 whole minutes. Hubby graduated to the Full Marathon this year.
The Mumbai Marathon is awesome because you get to run 5 kms of it on the Bandra – Worli sea link. So many more kms are along the sea face. But what makes it most awesome are the huge no of residents who come to encourage you shouting slogans, carrying water and stuff to eat, encouraging you to believe in yourself that you can finish this. I know for sure I can’t do this without their encouragement.
I love the Mumbai Marathon.