After volunteering for two years in Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon for Champions with Disability Event and spending one year in clicking photographs along the stretch of Marine Drive for Mumbai Marathon made me to seep into the spirit of Mumbai Marathon. Last year on 15th Jan, 2012 I made a decision to run in the current edition of Mumbai Marathon as a Half-Marathon Runner.
I was keenly following the event's registration process, but within three days of opening all the registration got closed for Half-Marathon. It shows the high reputation of Mumbai Marathon among the runners. But as I made up my mind for one year, it was difficult to go back over it. I registered for it through one of the NGO. So the first step of getting into the event was completed.
I kept next few months reserved for the practice. I started my training as per schedule from the website in the month of September after the monsoon subsided in Mumbai region. I started with walk, jog and their combination up-to 4-5 KMs in the Powai area. This was the time to step up and increase the distance and pace both. Next few weeks were really good as I succeeded in reaching the 8 KM mark with average pace of 7 min/KM.
After October due to festivals and lot of my office travel my schedule got disturbed and could not proceed further than that limit. In the whole month of November I could only made 3-4 small runs. When I started running again in December, it was like starting afresh.
Mid of December, I got a scare when my right knee started paining. I had severe pain even in walking. I did not want to abandon my race dream after coming this long. I went back to basics, searched on internet and started doing knee strengthening exercises. within next 3-4 days I could see lot of improvement.
My first milestone was to complete 10K Run Powai Run event organized by Rotary Group, Powai. It was scheduled for 6th Jan i.e. 2 weeks prior to the Mumbai Marathon. It was a good practice platform. I completed it in 1hr 12mins. It gave me good satisfaction and also the energy to pump myself up for the half-marathon. In next few weeks I did two runs of 15KM which made me feel fitter for the half marathon.
On the D-day of Half Marathon, it was a very cold morning as per Mumbai Standard. When I reached the at Bandra Fire Station, I could sense the excitement in runners even before the gates were open for holding area. Some people were going through their stretching exercises, some were looking for their friends and some were busy in setting up their playlists.
When the people from C-Band were allowed to move towards the start lineup, Lot many people thought that the marathon has started, but the event was still 5 min away. There were people distributing the stickers to be applied on your kit related to different concerns varying from Global Warming, Child Abuse, Justice for Nirbhaya and so on.
The start of the event happened with the chants of "Ganpati Bappa Moriya" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai". And after that you can see the ocean of people running along the Bandra Worli Sea Link. The atmosphere was so good and thrilling. People stopped at Sea Link to click their pictures not worrying about their timing. That's the Mumbai Spirit, right ?
Once the stretch for sea link was over, on both sides of the route you can find several citizens lined up for cheering runners. There were several booths created by organizers for water, energy drink, fruits etc. Citizens gave their full support by providing biscuits, juices, chocolates and pain-relieving sprays. Their were people ranging from kids to senior citizens working As ONE for encouraging the runners and exhibiting the Mumbai Spirit.
The whole route was carved out beautifully, majority of it going along the sea stretch. The most difficult part of the route was uphill on Peddar Road, People had to walk briskly there to save energy, their were cool zones and cool sponges provided which made up for this stretch Also there were many people encouraging you with their words.
In the last stretch of the run I got blisters in my feet and had to slow down. Once you reach Marine Drive stretch you are longing to finish the race as soon as you can. But the body was not responding to that. I targeted for 2:30 hrs finish but I could complete it in 2:51 mins. But still I felt happy that I could finish the race within 3 hours.
Next year I would run again and improve my timing. The spirit of Mumbai made my day.