Monday, December 5, 2011

Pune Marathon 2011- New milestone

Oct 2009 Mt Tinchenkhang.

I was with a group of 4 other climbers; of which, two had completed full Mumbai marathon. Long distance running was a far-fetched dream. Mangesh (an dear old friend and PTC colleague) thought that I should enroll for full Mumbai Marathon. I had timed 55 min in 10 km category and was toying with the idea of half marathon. Sada was keen on registering for a full marathon.

Mangesh and Sada passed away during an accident on the mountain. The thought of improving my running, stuck in my mind. I could use it as a tribute to my friends.

In Dec 2010, I ran my first half marathon and I timed 2 hrs 35 min. I had absolutely no practice, apart from one 8 km run a week, before the marathon. I had bad blisters on my feet and could barely walk. If I could run a half, I could probably do it again with some training.

I joined the Pune running group and on the first run I missed the turnaround point. I completed 26 km run and broke the ½ marathon barrier. The next run was during rains and I bettered to 2 hrs 19 min. The very next run in Oct 2011 , I timed 2 hrs 17 min, which was my personal best. I felt in shape, less tired. Absolutely no knee pain! (I used to suffer a bad left knee, that I inherited from my days of climbing.)

A good running circle and my mates at PTC, Sujit, Nitin and Umesh was an inspiration. My son Neel started accompanying me and soon he completed his 1/2 marathon with Pune Running.

The Mumbai marathon registrations started and I did not enroll. The thought; why run at a different location, when all I need was a road without traffic. I registered for full Pune marathon in Dec 2011.

I pursued my runs at Pune racecourse. Ensured at least two week end runs of 8 km each. Yet two weeks before 4 dec, I had too much work on my mind and the practice ebbed.

On the last week, I caught a cold infection. A bad throat could worsen my chances on completing the run.

The night before the event, I weighed myself. Neel cooked pasta for me. I could not get a good sleep due to anxiety.

I woke up at 4.30AM. Tried to progress with a digital painting that I was working on.

Brewed some green tea. Then I sniffed few drops of Nasivion to clear off nose congestion. I was ready and was picked up by Nitin’s bro to the venue where the PTC folks were waiting. I had to hurry to the start point as Full marathon was due to be flagged at 7AM sharp.

After registering, I joined a group of Kenyans and Ethiopians. I felt overweight . I met Mr Raghu, I guess he was at least 10 years older. He planned to run barefoot. He was to serve as an inspiration.

After the flag off, I was being pushed aside by a small Afro- lady who was keen on a good start. The run was on. I soon adjusted to my normal pace.

I reached the 10km mark (Blue Diamond) without much effort, timed at 57 minutes.

The water stalls by Pune running group were well spaced and I kept a wet sponge with me to keep myself fresh. I saw Sujit’s better half and kid with a plaque in hand. Go Parag! It was encouraging. I quickly picked up half an orange and it helped me get back to normal self.

At the next stall of Pune running, I continued with another Orange.

I broke into a walk-run-walk mode and reached the half marathon point at 2 hrs 17 mins. Raghu crossed me and waved a hand.

Someone mentioned that I could not continue full marathon as I had missed the time. It seems that the cutoff time is 1.45, which I guess I will never meet.

He also mentioned that I would not get any support from then on. I continued at my own risk unaware of what lay beyond. At 23 Km I started longer walk and short run. At around Bremen square I had the last glass of juice, unaware that I would not get any water after 25 km. Traffic was in full swing. For them the marathon was over.

A Volks wagen stopped by and someone inside cheered. I started my jog again. Another marathoner caught up with me. He was a young lad doing his first marathon. Offered me water. I still had Gatorade in my pouch. I was no match for his speed and he soon vanished. I recalled that I had a walkman which I switched on. Deff Leppard screamed “ACTION”.

The slope to Symbiosis hurt and I was at 32 km well inside the city. The traffic was dense and people kept glancing at my limp. (The left knee has started paining.) I could not jog anymore. It was too painful. A call from Nitin-“Do you want us to pick you?” to which I replied no. I wanted to know my time for full marathon.

I followed the marathon posters to Kothrud Police station- Karishma-Mhatre bridge.

I limped to the tune of the “Orinoco Flow” and soon arrived at Nehru stadium. It was 12.07.

All signs of the marathon were removed. I looked inside and a truck full of banners was being loaded. I realized.. I had just completed the toughest of all marathons.

I could not even qualify for Pune M; but I completed it without support from 25 km to 42km.

A new goal was reached.