My Marathon Preparation..

A peep into how my practice session went about since the time i registered.

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Registration and Planning..
I registered for Mumbai Marathon at the start of Aug and had got the confirmation by the end of the month. Assuming that I was waiting for this confirmation to start my practice (oh! what an ass I am) I was left with 4 months excluding Jan. Four months is a good enough time to prepare if you just want to finish the run and don’t consider the time required. By this I mean you can complete the run in around 5 hour mark (This is my guess anyway, 5 hours for marathon is not considered as a ‘good’ effort).

So I had 4 months – Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec. I was told that I might be going back to India by Sept end or few weeks into Oct. So I had more than a month in UK and two and a half month in India. Planning a training plan over two location is really tough as situations, facility and available leisure time will all vary. It was expected that my practice in India would be much tougher in India than in UK for few main reasons which I am listing below..

1. I am coming home after long time and my friends & family would want to spend time with me. This might need me to constantly travel on weekends, eat foods which are soaked in fatty oil.
2. Weekdays were a nightmare with nearly three hours being eaten by travel from home to office. Office also had rules which ensured that I had a real tough time to regularly go for practice runs.
3. No good grounds near home for me to run.

Practice in UK..
Given the condition in India, it looked like I should make the most of my stay in UK to ensure that I have enough practice to build my confidence. So I planned to run in UK during evenings. Call it Luck (or lack of it) my best manager had an idea for which he wanted me and three of my colleagues to work on. It was an idea which he wanted to be implemented to be shown to his manager and hence wanted us to do it ASAP (as soon as possible). As this was NOT a official project we used to start working on this after 6 PM every evening. We used to work till 8 or 9 PM and wind up for the day.

Though it looked very easy (only when my manager described it) we were taking an eternity to complete (as per my manager) and it started eating up my (our) evenings and weekends. The final few days I had in UK was spent completing this never ending project. We did our best to complete it before schedule but we could not and the project got scraped. I was totally drained out. I had sacrificed everything for this – new found love – Tennis, Weekend fun with flat mates(Krishna, Manish and Karthick), Football and finally my running practice. I guess I had forgotten that I have registered for MM09.

Planning sessions in India..
Then I came to India on 4th Oct. Soon I realized that things are drastically different, even for runners. Buses replaced cycles, new tougher role replaced the easy one, chaos and crowd replaced calm and serenity, family replaced friends. I spent at least 2 weeks thinking about how, when, where of my running sessions and could not come up with anything noteworthy. By the end of Oct I had finally came up with master plan of running near Infy on weekdays and Lalbagh in weekends.

As planned one weekday I tried in Infy grounds and it was good. The time and effort required to reach Infy grounds was quite high. Also I had a slot of 4.45-5.45 pm to start my run as it used to get too dark after 6.30. I could not start anything before 4.45 pm (even for a 4.45 start I had to leave my desk at 4.30 which was so tough). I used to find it extremely difficult to make this slot with new role and related work. new tasks, onsite call, new issues all used to knock the doors at this time itself. So I could not be consistent in my running. Attributing my inconsistency to lack of running partners I partnered Pankaj, a running enthusiast and Infy colleague to run regularly. We just ran together for a day but busy life gobbled us up.

Practice in India..
I had ordered Forerunner 50 with footpod and HRM from US with the help of my friend Phalgun. It was a super equipment for runners. I took it to lalbagh couple of times and clocked all my runs. it was nice. In few weekend visits I was able to reach a distance in excess of my previous best 13.1 miles. However it was only by a small margin. The sad part of my weekend runs was that I could not sustain it as my weekday runs had dried up completely.

Even thought I always have this airy confidence about my running but even with that I entered December being bit wary of my chances of successfully running the marathon. However I could not back out now and hence I booked my tickets early December. Just around the same time I ‘suddenly’ realised that I have 2 of my mandatory official certifications to be completed. The company had made such rules that either you clear certifications or better quit. So I slogged it out all of Dec like a school child and somehow cleared both certifications by Dec 31st.

I do sound as if I was too cramped for time. Yes, I agree that I had enough time every now and then to fair better than I actually managed to. After all one can do anything if s/he has the willingness to do it and I did not? Its not the case really – I had too many things going on on other aspects of my life like marriage. You know when you don’t know what to do when it comes to marriage, for me nothing else mattered (yes at times marathon too).

The Actual Preparation..
So now I was left with only 17 days of time for my practice. These were the same 17 days which I had originally excluded from my training period when I first registered. But now this is what I had and had to make the most of it. I now had 2 weekends before the d-day 18th Jan. So I thought if I could do 15 miles on first weekend and 20 miles in the second I would be on course for 26 miles on 18th. Looked fair enough on paper but the reality was that I had just crossed my previous best – 13.1 miles, just once till now. So jumping to 15 miles and 20 miles in two successive weeks without any practice was way too much to expect.

However I went for it as I had no other option to boost my confidence on the marathon day. without confidence I would surely be a sitting duck in front of 26.2 miles monster. So I planned to run in one of the near by parks whose circumference came to about a half mile. So with simple maths its 30 rounds which will take me to 15 miles and I am done for the day and the (previous) week.

The Agony and its Tail..
I started to run and just after some 10 rounds my lack of practice started showing its signs. I was struggling and things were getting bad to worse with almost every other step. I never wanted to stop or quit as this was the last chance to salvage my marathon dreams. So I continued with all the struggle. It looked like I had come to a stand still at times and at times I felt my legs were made of bamboo sticks. By the time I completed the scheduled 30 rounds I had taken nearly three hours (2h 58mins).

This timing cracked me up. I was hoping that I would be able to complete the marathon at a decent time but above numbers screwed my confidence. Surely an hour extra for 2 extra miles was too much for me to take (my previous best 13.1 miles – 1h 52 mins, this 15 miles practice run – 2h 58 mins). I limped my way out of the park, took my bike and went home. However my mind was still limping..

Just when the worse was thought to be over it began. It was known that such long runs will cause muscle pains but I never expected pains that last for days. My left foot was having severe pains for next few days. I could not walk properly at all. By the time the next weekend approached I was still struggling. So running 20 miles that weekend was thrown out of the window. I actually did nothing as I still had pain. The pain was intermittent but it was still there. I just forgot about training and just hoped that it would be great if my foot recover on time for the run. It was enough for me. I was not looking for anything, I had no expectations. I knew that even if the pain subsides for a bare moment its chances of reappearing in the marathon run is huge. And once it comes I had to stop running and with that its good bye to marathon too.

The weekend passed away so did the two and a half days that followed. I packed my bags and left for Mumbai. I made sure that I had Moov in the bag as the pain in the foot was still there. I had never imagined that my training would end up beings such a disaster. My airy confidence had taken a huge beating but the hope was still there and hence never wanted to quit without trying. It looked like for once I truly believed in miracles and wanted them to happen for me..

Sab bolo.. Harish, Best of Luck.. 🙂

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