The downhill has come O lord

For the last 7 years of  running I have made improvements every year. Slowly moving from one  goal to another. I started with a modest Airtel Delhi Half marathon in 2008 at 2 hrs 50 minutes to my personal best of 1 hrs 41 minutes in 2015.

So why this year had to be any different.

But yes different is what it turned out to be precisely on the 20th November at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016

Just previous year I had clocked 21kms at 1hrs 41 minutes which my personal best. I wanted to better my record and get over the other side of 100 minutes. But some things are  not to be. Not only I failed to cut the 100 minute mark I also slipped my personal best by 1 minute to finish the  half marathon in 1 hrs 42 minutes and 15 seconds.

Now this is not a bad time by any stretch of imagination. It just stopped my improvements over timing in the tracks.

I started the race with some lofty goals in my mind. Yes may be this is one where I will beat the 100 minutes mark that everyone Half marathoner wants to achieve ( We would love to boast that we finish half marathon in double digits- 99 minutes or less).

No such pleasure this time.

I know its not a big deal. The run was not to win any medals. Every runner knows that there are no prizes to win in the end . Its race against yourself.

And this is precisely I have failed.

The other area where I have failed is in making the same mistakes over and over. I ran the first 5 kms faster than I had ever run in my life sometime clocking as fast as 4 mins 36 seconds to a Km. This really pushed my heart in the red zone from where I never recovered. This made me struggle a lot in the last 7 kms of the race. Close to 50 runners overtook me towards the end of the race. Yes I was counting.

So what are the lessons.

Wait for muscle soreness to get over. Wait for another 12 months. Airtel Delhi Half Marathon we will meet again in 2017 and we will see if we are getting any older or not.

May be I should train more regularly and learn to pace better or else like they say- This is the beginning of a slippery slope my friend.

 

 

 

 

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The Making of Mukteshwar Marathon

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come or discussed over some really nice coffee.

So it happened that one day over some fine coffee some of us decided that may be the best way to raise money for Chirag school is to organise a marathon. And not just any Marathon the Mukteshwar marathon, its first edition and at an altitude of 2200 mts above sea level.

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Fast forward 3 months and come to 5th May 2013.And it is actually happening. There is a huge flex banner welcoming runners, people are pouring in for the run , everything is set and in place.

In the 3 months that I quickly fast forwarded we launched a website, asked for registrations, got permissions in place thanks to Chirag, finalized and ran the route and put the whole event together.

We had two categories Half Marathon 21kms and Fun Run 5kms. Our theme was – Run at 2200 mts above sea level and run to help educate kids. A day before the marathon we had organized ” Marathon Expo- which is fancy word for a place where you can collect your running bibs and goodie bag. We also coupled that with some Kumaoni “Song and Dance” by the local school kids.

For those who don’t know Mukteshwar, it  is a quaint little town about 50kms or so from Nainital. If it were  not the buzz of Taxi’s ferrying tourists to “Chaoli ke Jaali” or the famous Mukteshwar Temple it would almost qualify for the idiom- One-horse town. On a clear day Mukteshwar has some breathtaking views of  Nanda Devi. So if your idea of holiday is to going out for lovely walks, watching the mist play hide and seek and enjoying chai and samosa then Mukteshwar is the place to be.

On 5th May 2013, 7.30 am was the flag off time. Aid stations were all set with Gatorade, Biscuits, Water and all the good things that runners like to eat on the way. Aid Stations were manned by enthusiastic volunteers from Chirag. We had a doctor and an ambulance on call in case of any emergency.  As soon as Vihan waved off the green flag 150 runners  from all over the country participated sprung to action in one of the toughest runs in India.The running route had some really mean looking climbs. Our advice to all the runners was- take it easy, remember- what goes up, goes down too.

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Mukteshwar Marathon  was probably the biggest sports event in Mukteshwar and nearby areas. It connected locals, outsiders, NGO people, Local Police and administrations to the love of running. Like one local participant commented- people  flock to Mukteshwar during  Shivratri now people will also come here for running. Amen to that.

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Three months before the event, this was just an idea. Yes we wanted  to organise a marathon. But it was so  hard to believe when it actually happened. It’s a surreal feeling. You will know what I mean if you have gone through the experience of creating something from scratch. It is  like  your idea has come to life and so many people all across the country have contributed to it.

Some of us are runners so we knew theoretically how to organise a marathon. But then actually putting something together is a huge logistics exercise and costs time and money. But what truly overwhelmed us was the kind of support that we got from sponsors such as makemytrip.com, B2r and Sure wave media for the marathon. Everyone we went to was willing to lend a helping hand.

For us Mukteshwar Marathon connected the twin love for  mountains and running. Not only the idea has taken shape, it is infectious too so rest assured we will be back with a bang in 2014.

I also write a piece about the Marathon  on Makemytrip.com blog. We are thankful that Makemytrip.com  for generously supported the making of mukteshwar marathon.You can read the blog here  and show them some love 🙂

http://blog.makemytrip.com/have-feet-will-travel/2013/5/6/story-behind-the-mukteshwar-marathon.html 

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Run “Mumbai” Run

The start is near. On 15th of this month the whole of Mumbai will be United in the “colors of running”. Our running gang from Delhi is also getting ready to cheer and run with Mumbai in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

Mumbai Marathon has a special place in everyone’s heart for many reasons. First its bloody tough. The flyovers, the  incline of Peddar Road and the heat/humidity can take the juice out of any runner. But second and most important is the love and warmth of  Mumbaikar’s.They offer us biscuits, water, nariyalpani, oranges, poha and many more things. And we love it :). One of my friends has also decided to offer chilled beer to distract the runners… but then that’s an offer no serious runner can refuse isn’t it.

This is my second attempt at Mumbai Full Marathon. The last time  I was so badly injured that I was  off running for almost a year.  This year I’m in my worst form. Since I got injured during my first attempt at Mumbai Marathon I have never ran more than 22 kms. I been off and on running the whole running season. But what the heck. My whole gang is going for the run so I’m going to run with them. The only thing that can probably work for me is  that “I’m so well rested” . C’mon don’t laugh. Only a true runner can understand how profound this  statement is.

There have been offers to ” pace” with a seasoned runners but I don’t think I will be going for it. No 5.30 hrs running bus for me.  I think that would just psyche me out.  I want to run free plus “Hum Apna Shekaar Khud Karte hain “. The only person I will be pacing with would be my running budding Shruti. She has many full marathons and ultra marathon ( 50km where she came in the top 3)  under her belt. She is also carrying these wonderful little cubes of joy and energy called ” gu-chumps”. So can’t leave her 🙂

So what is our strategy- to run easy, eat lots of stuff, be hydrated, chat and constantly think of the cold beer waiting for us at the end.

I will post my experience after the run what ever be the result. I don’t have high hopes. And I have made a promise to myself that if I get the slightest of pain I will quit. I love running too much to risk it for my ego.

But in the the unlikely case of me completing the marathon I would love to dedicate this run to Haruki Murakami whose book what “I talk when I talk about running” has inspired me to run into the unknown ( which is more than 21 Kms).

Haruki has this advise for himself- Just be focussed on the next 3 yards.

Let’s see if it works.

 

 

Missed by 3 and shaved off 20

So yesterday was Delhi Half Marathon and I managed to complete it in 2 Hrs and 3 minutes. This is a full a  3 minutes more than my original target of  under 2 hours but still 20 minutes less then my previous timing of 2 hrs 23 minutes ( Mumbai Half 2011).

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Since yesterday I’v been  replaying the whole run in my mind. I was so close to my target yet I missed it by a whisker. May be if I had ran the first 7 Km a little faster, I would have made it to sub 2 Hrs. This brings back the memories of childhood when I missed getting into an engineering college of my choice by just 1 mark.

The next Airtel Half Marathon is still 1 year away but I have set myself two important goals. First is to finish the Shimla Half Marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes. And second is to finish the  Airtel Half next year close to the timing of  two Amit’s who are undoubtedly one  of the best runners in our running group.

This half marathon a lot of things worked for me. First, I did most of my training at Jahapanah Forest which is a tougher route. Second, I was eating these little chunks of energy called “Gu Chumps” thanks to my running buddy Shruti Saxena. Gu ensured that I was not out of energy at any point of time during the run. And third, I was carrying my own water with ” ORS” in it for hydration. Amit Kapoor told me that its better to carry your own water even if its a little  awkward to run with it because we tend to lose time at water points.  And last not the least- this year’s route was just amazing with no flyovers at all and perfect weather.

The next timed run is Mumbai Full Marathon. Both me and Shruti have a simple plan- to finish the full respectably. In our parlance it means under 5 hours 30 minutes. I’m not a huge fan of Full Marathon’s but this is one thing that has been haunting me especially after a miserable performance in 2009. I want to get  this done and be over with it and then focus on running Half Marathon’s faster, stronger and in style 🙂