A Full Marathon is one of the most important milestone for any aspiring long distance runner. So, was for me. I registered for a full marathon at Auroville scheduled on 13th Feb 2010. But, I didn’t want any surprise on race day similar to those I had in Bangalore Ultra last year where I participated in 37.5 kms category. I had practiced for only 30 Kms once before that. I didn’t know it will not be enough till I almost gave up in the race. I had zero heat training. And the Sun didn’t show any mercy that day. I had tough time completing my last 12.5 Kms which took 2 hours 13 minutes when first 25 kms was done in 2 hours 45 minutes. So, I didn’t want to run my first full marathon in Auroville. I needed to make sure I can run 42.2 Kms before I could run 42.2 kms. That is running. How do I know I can run distance till I really run that distance?
It has been much less than a year since I seriously started running. I did my first 10K in little more than 64 minutes. Three and half months later, I ran my first half marathon in 2 hours 9 minutes. Then I just assumed that I can keep running at around pace 6 for any distance. I didn’t realize that when I ran first 10K, I was pretty naïve and slow. With decent practice, I could do 21 KM at same pace. But when I tried same in 37.5 Kms, I failed miserably. I wasn’t prepared for it. I needed to learn to run slower for longer distance. I don’t want to walk or finish dull. I want to finish strong. I want to make sure I can waive my both hands up in air and say, yes, I did it.
Many runners complains about running in loops for longer distance. And so do I. It is just so easy to give in any of loops. Your mind finds tens of reasons to give up. The time when you are not racing with anybody else, you need to keep racing with your mind. I didn’t want to give up again after 21 kms as I just gave up couple of weeks back as soon as I was back in Mini Forest from Lalbagh. I needed to make sure when I practice for complete marathon, I don’t give up. But that creates another problem, how do I manage logistics to carry lot of water and energy drink and something to eat during the run.
While I was looking for solution for all these to practice for Auroville, I got really inspired by Sabine, Gopal, Jagadish, Sindhu, Suresh and many others, who came up with idea of doing 12m12m – 12 marathons in 12 months. I wanted to be part of that team. I decided to join them and do as many as 12 marathons in 12 months. It may seem little crazy for a person who has not even done a single marathon. But I had to anyway do Auroville Marathon in Feburary. And I need to practice one before that in January. So, that makes two. Why not do just 10 more.
Most of 12m12m folks were running Mumbai Marathon. I hadn’t registered for it. Few of them would be running their full as part of Strides of Hope. I didn’t want to wait till that late in month.
I decided to do run my first full marathon on Jan 14th 2011. There was no event. My wife and friends agreed to help me. And that was all I needed. I chose to start my run early from Mini Forest. I ran first 14 Kms in Mini Forest. I also made sure that I don't run faster than around 7 mins per km to ensure that I have energy to run longer. I was joined by Bharath after 11th Km. Anu joined us at around 13th Km with a bag full of energy drink sachets, banana and glucose biscuits. We ran toward Lalbagh then. Anu did Run – Walk. I and Bharath kept making loops to make sure Anu stays with us. I was done with half marathon by the time we reached Lalbagh. Anu took break once we reached there. We were joined by Karam in Lalbagh. Lalbagh loop was approximately 3.5 Kms, thus not very short. Also, availability of drinking water helps in kind of self support running. Bharath was with us till we were done with 28 Kms. I took my first little food break of couple of biscuits after 31.5 kms. Karam continued till around 36 kms. By that time, I was sure there is no chance to give up now. I had planned to run back to Mini Forest to finish full marathon. But decided against it due to possible heavy traffic. Soon, I finished my first full marathon in Lalbagh itself. It look 23 minutes more than what I expected. But I was glad I finished it. The feeling of happiness, satisfaction and tiredness was just amazing. I am really thankful to my friends and wife who helped me in finishing my first marathon distance.
I was a marathoner. Who else knows what it means to run 42.195 Kms?