Sunday, February 19, 2012

3 affairs in 3 months

On completion of Pune Marathon in Dec 2011, I started to think about Auroville. Sujit sent me a video link and it seemed like the best place to run a marathon. I had a notion that running had nothing to do with surroundings. Only the run mattered.
But the Auroville video reminded me of Taljai terrain. I felt 42 km of such terrain was definitely worth consideration. 
I enrolled for Auroville Marathon in Feb 2012. 
Sujit, Nitin and Umesh had enrolled and it looked like a fun run.

My Recovery post Pune Marathon was quick. Nitin pursuaded me to give a try at Mumbai Marathon and I started thinking about it. Lot of guys felt that it was one of the best runs. Well supported too.
Sujit got me a bib and the die was cast. “Bestin Jose” would run SCMM.
(A marathon every month? It seemed like a crazy idea and I had just started.)

I studied my practice runs and compared them with The ‘do it yourself’ Marathon guide. There was a Huge gap in my training. I had never trained for beyond 32. I hoped that the Pune 42 km would give me some advantage.


I had a train ride after a long time (10 years?). Umesh shared good news about arrival of a new baby. Yet here he was here; determined to run!

We collected the bibs from World trade center. On return to Fort area, westarted looking for Food.
Nitin opened conversation with a policeman.
N:” Where’s a good place to eat”
P: “Will 5000Rs worth do?”
Nitin burst into laughter “ We came for Marathon.”
P: (Laughed) “ That’s why I asked. Is 5000 ok?”
The Policeman was in jovial mood to pull a gag, and he directed us to Amdar Niwas canteen where he eats.
We walked across Prince of Wales museum. Aamdaar Niwas seemed to be a common abode for the Police. My dish of Fish Tali was sumptuous at a meager cost of Rs 90/-.
The Advice of the Policeman and the walk was worth it.

Nitin and Umesh were wearing Slippers and I thought it would be good investment post marathon. I bought Sunshade and Slippers from the roadside.

 The room at Manama smelled of pesticides. We had tears in our eyes and lungs burned.
Nitin negotiated with the manager and we got an upgrade to executive class at some extra charge.
We joked about the terms Marathoners use..Esp. Carb Loading and Taper…None of us were serious. Probably, our Diet would give jitters to serious marathoners.
(We had Spicy Canon Pav Bhaji for Dinner, the night before Marathon.)

I was carrying my “Golis” for a clean stomach. When one didn’t work I had other and my friends had a good time observing me.

I woke up at 2AM. The Pre Marathon night is full of Anxiety and I rarely get a good sleep. At 3AM we walked down to the Hotel mess for Carb “loading”. Bread and Jam with Coffee. (I would have preferred Green tea.) We met rest of the Pune running guys.

We walked back to the room to ensure a “Clean” start.
At 5, “Bestin Jose” Joined the group of runners.
The run started on time. The crowd consumed Nitin and Umesh and I was on my own.
The run gave me a chance to see the Oberoi Hotel. I felt very good as the temperature suited me well. The run along Marine drive and I joined few others to vacate my bladder.

The flyover near Peddar Road seemed steep and I dropped into a walk. I passed Raghunathan Sir and Umesh who were running barefoot. A bystander read my bib “Bestin Jose” and I smiled. I was not used to this kind of support!
Nothing can beat the spirit of the Bystanders who constantly cheer and support, I believe demonstrates the spirit of Mumbaikars. “Mumbai mer Jaan” I thought and tears of pride welled in my eyes. I was born in Mumbai and here I was, running in the city of my birth, thanks to my friends and Pune Running, who had persuaded me to run.

I ran past Worli and the half marathon group was running on the opposite side of the eroad. I cheered! I picked up a water bottle at the start of the sea link and chewed on an orange. There were no stations on the sea link road.

The Center pillar and the cables looked marvelous. I stopped to gaze at the perspective as they loomed over me. The sun was rising over the Bandra creek and I could see the skyline silhouetted against the morning sun. I increased my pace as I knew that the rising sun would bring more heat. I passed the 21 km mark at 2:15 my best time for half. I beat my earlier record by 2 min. I stood at a support station where the volunteers sprayed Relaxyl on my taut calves and Knees.

Near Siddhi Vinayak temple I chew on a chocolate bar, which tasted like cardboard. I had a bout of dry acidity which I cleared with a gargle. An old man overtook me and I could not keep pace with him. There were few more seasoned runners much older than me who started a thought. Long distance running is not about age or time. It’s all about patience and endurance. The chief factor may be in Mind training when you cross the 30KM mark.

I saw Sujit walking in the opposite direction and I waved to him. A fleet of Motorcycles followed by a jeep warned us to keep on the right side of the road. The accompanied a group of Elite black runners almost at a sprint speed. One Female knocked me off the track and I gave more room. The 5 km Bus passed me and I realized that I was going too slow. I had timed 5:02 in Pune and certainly was doing a bad pace.
“Well. It is what it is!”

I was already in a Run walk run mode. The flyover at Peddar road slowed me down further. I started to run again as the “Cheer Girls” cheered from the peak of the flyover.
A Parsi Old lady shouted… “Its only 5 kms. You can do it.”
A small boy was holding a tray of Biscuits, that no one seemed to pay attention to. His parents were cheering and he took a step towards me. I thanked him for the biscuit and he smiled. Such a great support from Mumbai!

A runner stopped on the side of the road and sat down. Hit by the wall I thought. They were few more. I decided to walk. A navy band was playing on Queens necklace. There were other colorful groups walking on the other side of the road. I made the left turn towards CSt station. Only 2kms left. I started my jog. 1km to go..I could see the 500 mtrs mark then the 200 mts. and I was there.

Bestin had completed his race. I messaged to Sujit, Umesh and Nitin on my time. I saw Milind Soman signing autographs for girls. I walked to the ground collect my medal and joined Sujit. Soon Umesh and Nitin joined us. Umesh had completed his 1st Bare foot Full marathon within the cutoff time. Nitin had completed his first full marathon well within cutoff time.
Me! I had completed my 1st full marathon without any pain from my Right knee.

We walked to the hotel, showered. Walked to CST Canteen for a quick lunch and Boarded a train for Pune.

Auroville Marathon; The dream run

After Mumbai Marathon I reduced exercise to a gradual “Taper”, although I ran 7 km the very next day after the marathon. My Body felt much better than the day after Pune Marathon.
I continued 3 runs of 9 km each per week with rest days.
Once I ran bare foot 14kms on the race course. The feet felt “liberated” and I timed better, feeling fresh at the end of the run. (Cadence improved due to the sting of the pebbles, and the feet impact improved too. Feet did not heat up, as in my shoes.)
However, the next day was painful as I tried it again with taped feet. An innocent bystander showed genuine concern, why I did this to myself. The ground was not clean. I mentioned that it was a part of my training, supposed to be good for the posture.

Bare foot run started a pain in the heel joints and I went back to normal routine with shoes.

Nitin had pre-planned the entire Auroville stay-Transport and accommodation.
As soon as our flight landed, Nitin’s friend, Venky, picked us up and drove to his place. At 5 PM Nitin drove us down to Pondicherry. Hotel Suruguru was easy to locate with the GPS. We retired to the AC rooms after dinner. It was a good escape from the heat. Sujit and family were staying at the same hotel.

Next morning, we felt the heat as we wandered along the promenade. I knew well from Mumbai, that my performance got worse with the heat. I would need to cover more distance before sunrise.

The French Embassy

Dwija and Mihika
Umesh and Nitin

Laxmi (Digital painting)

Aurobindo Ashram
After rest we drove to Auroville to collect our Marathon bibs.
Umesh and I did a .5km stretch bare feet to test the ground.
We went to visit the Matrimandir.

Bare foot Ted’s lecture fetched a big crowd.

That night back at the hotel, I gave up the idea of Bare foot run due to pain in my heel joints. We bought some Bananas, bread and jam for quick start next morning.

We woke up at 3AM and got ready. Umesh was bare foot.
Sujit and the two of us drove to Auroville in a cab. Nitin would follow later as the ½ marathon started an hour later.

We had a warm up before the start of the run.
The run started sharp on time. I trudged on with the mob at my set pace.

It was dark and the torches lit the way.
Not a space craft

The run consisted of 3 loops of 14 km in a well vegetated region. Some foreigners on bikes, accompanied the runners , to clear the way and cheer up.
The first loop was not eventful. I felt that I was not making the same progress I would make on the road.
During the second loop, the half marathoners joined us. They had a much faster pace.
I took a “ Shower” at one of the support stations, as a girl poured a jug full of water over my head. It was very relieving as the heat had started to bother me.

The third loop started and within two kms I had a bad pain in my knee. I was not carrying a kneepad as Mumbai run was painless. I started limping my way thru the vegetation.
Every shaded place counts!

A runner from Hyderabad called up from behind. He encouraged me to start my run again. I carried on for some time but dropped off into a walk again. When chips are down constant pain amplifies.
I walked for around 10 kms. At the mark of 40KM, I got a buzz from Nitin. He cheered me up and mentioned that he and the kids are coming to pick me up.
I started off with a new energy. Met them around the corner.

It must have looked like a train as the kids ran behind me and Nitin. 6:09
I got my medal..rushed to a food stall. I ate sambar rice-wada and got my T shirt.

I ran to the end point to capture Umesh’s finish. Bare foot in scorching heat.

Auroville treats the runners with prestige. There was a tent for massaging the knotted muscles. The Medal with two rag dolls and the Auroville T-shirt were the takeaways, I could flaunt.

Nitin drove us to Chennai airport. The ordeal had not ended.
The 9PM flight got delayed to 1AM and we reached home at 4AM.
It was the longest Marathon day for all of us.

I had completed 3 full marathons in 3 months.