It all started with Anita Bhargawa.
In July 2008 when I met her I just wanted to run away from all the problems in my life. Running was not on my agenda, in fact it was so dark and cloudy that I had no plan at all. These were the darkest days of my life. The days would pass somehow but it was tough to get sleep in night. And then when Anita introduced me to this motley group of people who would run together it came as a blessing. I would run everyday and by the evening I would be so tired that I would fall asleep. I moderated my drinking and all the bad food habits that I had picked up on the way.
Now I was infected and And I had a goal-To run 5kms non- stop.
I thought if I could run 5kms without stopping then that would be like magic. It seemed impossible at that time at 95 kilos
I still remember the run that Anita did with me in August 2008 in Deer Park when for the first time in my life I completed 5kms. My shoes were sweaty- I mean really sweaty as if I have stepped in a bucket and my nipples were bleeding. I thought I had cancer. But let’s leave that story for some other day.
It is through running that I met Shruti Saxena. We immediately bonded- I can talk, she can listen. And we never took running too seriously. Very soon we developed a pace at which we can chat non-stop. We would always be the last ones to finish.
But Shruti is way more disciplined than I’m. Where I would find excuses of not doing a very early morning run ( 5 am) she would not only give me a wake up call but also pick me up from my home. I did my first half marathon together with her and very soon realized that even I can run out of stories over long distances.
In Jan 2009 my first full marathon happened. This was in Mumbai and our whole running gang went for it.This is the first time when I met Amit Ojha who kept us enthralled through out the train journey by ABSOLUT juiciest gossip from Bollywood.
2009 Mumbai marathon was a disaster. The run was too long and too hot and both Shruti and I finished it in a dismal 6hrs 50 minutes. We must have walked half of the race under scorching Mumbai sun. We cursed everyone including ourselves for volunteering to go through an ordeal like this..
I also got injured during this run, which set back my running to where it started. Later on we realized that we had over trained ourselves to a point where there was nothing left to give in to the race. We were running 7 days a week for 3-4 months. An important lesson learned there that rest and time for recovery is very important.
Come 2012, I been off and on running. Winter mornings through 2010 and 2011 were very difficult to run for very memorable reasons. There some work pressures too, which put a lot of travel on to my plate.
I also discovered these wonderful shoes called Vibram 5 fingers, which helped me fight from injury and start building my foot muscles very strong. As a result for distances up-to 21kms my running was really improving and in 2011 Airtel Half Marathon I did my personal best- 2.03.
2012 Mumbai Marathon happened and through it was better than my first one I still managed to complete it 5hrs 51 minutes. One hour less than my previous one but still no- where close to where I would have liked it to be. Doing a full Marathon less than 5 hours seemed like a dream for next life.
Enter Mr. Amit Ojha, a dear friend, super athlete and an outstanding human being. He offered to pace with me in the Mawana Half Marathon to help me complete it in under 2hrs.
And we did it. I completed Mawana Half Marathon in 1hr 57 minutes.
Amit basically helped me do 2 things- not to run too fast in the first half of the race and preserve everything for the last 5-7kms. A few of the choicest superlatives from him did motivate me during the run.
This is the same strategy of preserving in the first half of the race that helped me complete the 2013 Mumbai Full Marathon in 4 hours 48 minutes.
To be honest, this time I was far better trained than I have been in the previous attempts. I was doing regular runs, my weight and diet was in control. But pacing is what made a huge difference. Amit Ojha insured that we were running at a steady pace till the first 32 kms or so and we would eat and hydrate properly.
For the first 25 kms almost 50% of the runners were ahead of us. And then we started picking pace. The last 5 kms or so we ran at an average speed of 5 minutes to a km overtaking almost everyone on the marine drive. It was a great feeling to be able to run strong towards the end of the run.
My 2013 Mumbai Marathon is dedicated to Amit Ojha whose self less support to improve our running has made such a difference. He could have run this marathon to better his own record but he chose to help us create ours.
A big hug to Ojha.
Next stop under 4.30 Mumbai 2014.