Thursday, 31 January 2013

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2013 - I Completed the Full Marathon!

Mumbai Marathon - Date 20.1.2013
Status - Completed
Distance - 42.2 Kms
Time - 7 hrs 30 mins approx

The goal at the top of this blog says - I need to complete a marathon. Happily thats done. My revised goal is to do a marathon in under 5 hrs 30 mins nw! Unfortunately due to an extremely busy home life I wasnt able to document much my marathon preparation in this so called "fitness blog" of mine. Thats mostly because my fitness efforts have been sporadic rather than systematic! But I still ran the marathon. And finished it. And am still in one piece. Here is an article detailing my marathon story.


Going to Mumbai for a marathon??? Why??? This was the standard enquiry of incredulity from friends and family alike. I really wanted to go for the half marathon. I shifted to India end of June 2012 from Malaysia. By the time I found out about the marathons in India and discovered the SCMM website, the registration for the half marathon was over. So I enrolled for the Full Marathon instead. Dont ask me why, I was not remotely prepared for it. Enquiring with the organisers made me realise that the confirmation for the run would only come mid Dec.

I go to the gym fairly regularly. I run a couple or more miles and do some weights for my leg muscles. My entire long distance running amounted to one formal 10 km run and a couple of informal group runs of the same distance. By the time I registered it was the second week of November (I think a couple of days before registration closed) and I meant to start training in earnest. Really. It never happened. With two school going kids and almost no domestic help, shifting woes, training never took off. All I could manage was going to the gym 3-4 tmes a week max. 7 kms was the longest I could cover in training. There was never time for more. Finally in desperation I started walking stairs in January to build endurance. I built it up to 60 floors of climbing and descending at a stretch before stopping the week before the run. So on the day of the run, I had no idea how much I could cover. 42 kms seemed an impossibility. I was confident of doing the half marathon distance at least. I decided to enjoy the experience to the fullest, however.

And enjoy, I did.

It was exhilarating just to be at Azad Maidan early in the morning. I couldnt believe I was finally at the starting point about to run a full marathon, with my kids and husband in Bhubaneswar 1500 kms away!

I started the run a bit behind the 5.30 Bus (the pacers that took you to the finish in 5 hr 30 mins) but realized I couldn’t afford to follow their pace if I meant to complete. So I deliberately fell behind and soaked in the atmosphere while clipping along. The noise, music at Marine Drive, the sea at Chowpatti with the fishing boats, the early half marathoners crossing me, Haji Ali, very filimisque in the distance, the suburbs skyline…ahhh. I am not a Mumbaiite and these typical Mumbai sights seen early in the cold morning while actually running – let me tell you nothing can beat the experience. I am sorry to say, doesn’t sound professional, I even stopped and took pics. I am so glad I did. Because I plan to compete against time the next time round and there might be no time for pics!

Then came the most tedious stretch of my journey – the Worli Sealink. The sealink looks a dream from the distance and I had been really keen to run on it. Just imagine – running on the Worli Sealink before getting to drive on it – when the road has been cleared for you! But the stretch did get monotonous. The only relief was the lead pack of Kenyans crossing between 15-16. They came after a pilot vehicle and helicopter and ran by at a flash generally leaving me agape. I was so stunned at their speed and grace I couldn’t even get the mobile up for the pic. Kipketer crossed by me and I got to read her nameJ Savoring hose moments of wonder got me across the sealink – but not before a cramp happened at 18. Never having run a really long distance – I was not familiar with the crippling feeling of a runner’s cramp. I settled down at the side of a hoarding and did a few stretches, applied the small tube of Volini so fortuitously provided in the running kit and felt good enough to continue.

At 22 I messaged my hubby that I was half way through. I realise the message has been sent at 9.10. I was not really keeping track of the time during the run. 3hrs 20 min for 22 kms while taking pics, cramping, seems pretty fine to me! At home I don’t even start a run without the ipod – here I had covered 22 kms without using it! I plugged it on to my ears and continued still feeling okay. By 29 I was feeling bad – real bad. My legs were totally cramped by then. That got relieved only after the 30 k mark when I got some Religare sprayed on the muscles. It worked like a miracle and I made it till 35 walking, jogging alternately. 30 k was done at 10.40 when I again messaged hubby informing him of the status.

35 km till the end was a nightmare – relieved only because I was running with a co-runner. After 38 we realized BMC had taken down the markers, even though the markers at the other side were still there! It seemed a long long distance before finally the turning to Churchgate came our way. Kingfisher water stalls were still on the road – but not much else. Churchgate to Flora Fountain was a bad – especially when one had to ask directions. But the longest stretch was from the Fountain to the Azad Maidan gates. A paltry distance of hardly 1 km seemed to go on and on. We had to ask the way all along in our dazed state, the roads were really crowded, the sun was blazing down and I was dragging and limping along alternately. The last 7 kms took more than 2 hours and I could only cover it with the thought that stopping was not a choice after coming so far.

After reaching the Maidan I realized that Finishers medals were still to be had. I was really thinking all would be shut down and the organizers would have packed up! But the finishers just ahead of me egged me and said “go and get the medals”. That literally infused new life into my oh so tired limbs! I ran to the stalls, picked up the medal and for some moments I was feeling as fresh as a 1 year old – as if I could go for miles and miles more.

Sitting in the car for the trip to my brother’s house brought a reality check. I hadn’t done the post run stretches while I was still standing, so couldn’t move, I had huge blisters on 8 toes and well I just wanted to go to sleep for ages.

But what the heck – I had completed a marathon and plan to do it all over again! For someone who was obese and a couch potato till 1.5 years back, a Mom of 2 starting to run after 40 years, I have come a long way…


  1. Hi,

    The contents of your blog undoubtedly and definitely instills inspiration on us, sedentary life-stylers. Not sure whether I can match-up to even 1% of your efforts, energy and enthusiasm! Can I borrow a bit of your "guts" that you certainly have?

    I definitely enjoyed reading your real-life experience, particularly the 3rd paragraph (from the last)..."After reaching the maidan.....". what a thrill it must have been to pick up that medal at the finishline!! Your hubby, children and other family members must have been extremely proud of you!!!!

    I know the event dates for the 2013 marathons (Boston: Apr 13, London: Apr 21, and NY: Nov 3) but am not quite sure of the registration deadlines. Hope you have registered to participate (and take up one more challenge)in at least one of them!

    From one of your admiring relatives!

  2. a wow...good luck for your 5:30 hrs target too.