(Rahul Verghese and I at the finish line in the Gachibowli Stadium. Pic Courtesy: Rahul, taken by Gopi)
Exactly around this time last year I was struggling to run a mile or two. Finally this Aug 16th 2008 I finished my first 26.2 miles, i.e. 42.25 KM in 4 hours: 54 minutes: 37 seconds. It did not happen overnight !
According Wikipedia (one of the accounts):
The traditional story relates that Pheidippides (530 BC–490 BC), an Athenian herald, was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece. He ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days. He then ran the 40 km (26 miles) from the battlefield by the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won') and died on the spot.
Why running ?
जिंदगी में प्यार तो बहुत बार हो जाता हैं
पर मोहब्बत सिर्फ़ एक बार होती हैं.
पर मोहब्बत सिर्फ़ एक बार होती हैं.
So why am I running ? No girlfriend problems, no family problems, no financial problems, no workplace problems ... then why ? I started to run to loose weight simple as that !
I've evolved as a person after my B.Tech way back in 2003. I thought I was the best and the way I handled things then looked apt, at least at that time. I used to consider all those who drink and smoke are some evil people born to be wild, talking to a girl was a taboo (its an other thing that I used to get more "Rakhis" than normal people).... I was a total slack ! In the hindsight all that thought process that occupied my mind may have been a part of my evolving process but now thing are different.
I wanted to look good like others, wanted a thinner waistline and wanted to get rid off those love triangles, wanted to tuck the shirt in, not always suck the tummy in whenever in public, all that a normal man of my age in his mid twenties wishes for. So I started to run without any schedule or target. All that I wanted was to become like a model in a month or two. It doesn't work that way, does it ? Running randomly in parks, thinking every girl who sees you will fall for you and all such sham thoughts occupied. My pal O.S.Kalyan played a very important role in here as he was an example and my first inspiration to run. I saw him loose weight just by running. This is the first time I was getting into peer pressure.
Around November last year, I registered with "weendure.com" wherein one can log running statistics. Sidd and Biswa were instrumental in getting me into this. So I used to run in a park near my place and log the statistics with Biswa being my healthy competition.
Auroville Half Marathon:
Sidd finished Mumbai Marathon and had set us a benchmark. It was Biswa who was planning to run the Auroville Half Marathon and I was initially a tad reluctant but then decided to join. Half Marathon was 21 odd KMs and my previous best was some 10KM. During one of my practise 10K runs my nipples started to bleed. I was damn scared and then Biswa and I figured out that it is a common problem and nothing to panic. All that one needs to wear is a proper running Tee (dry-fit) or put a plaster around the nipple. Biswa and I completed Auroville Half Marathon together in 2 hours and 45 minutes. After that there was no looking back. Also bought myself a pair of nice Nike Plus running shoes for a premium.
RFL Bangalore factor
I heard a lot about RFL and the next thing I did was to join their mailing list. There was this mail from Dr. Rajat Chauhan when he "Murdered the treadmill" by doing a marathon on it. That spruced me up. I started to interact and started to join their fortnightly runs. So around March-April I registered with RFL for their fortnightly runs and paid an annual subscription fee. This was just to force myself into a disciplined way to run. Every fortnight I used to run at different locations, meet different runners, get inspired and know all the "fundas" of running. Slowly started to train with runners from RFL (esp. Bhasker and Co.). 21KM was getting a norm and I was able to finish it in two hours and thereabouts.
Chennai ECR run
The Chennai ECR run was a flash point. I did 30K in gruesome sultry and humid weather. I took 4 hours and 10 minutes and was hugely disappointed. But I was determined to finish. I was in two minds whether to do a 30K at Hyderabad or just go for the marathon.
Hyderabad - my hometown
It is my hometown and I had to set a baseline here. So I decided to go for the 42K. Loaded myself with good home food and just rice for the last three days before the race started. That's my way of carbo-loading . I knew my weakness and it was my mind playing over the body. My legs can do it but sometimes my mind just scores over me. So all that I had to do is not to listen to my mind and just listen to my body.
(Rahul Verghese and I with ISB in the background. Pic Courtesy: Rahul)
I met Rahul before the race day to collect my bib and to buy his Tee. Never thought that I'd be actually running with him the next day. Rahul Verghese writes for "The Hindu" for the "Magazine" section on Sundays in the health section on running. He also runs this website http://runningandliving.com/. It was his 25th marathon and it was my first.
The Marathon - my first 26.2 miles
My dad dropped me at KBR park by 4.45Am and I met up with all my running mates. The race was organized by Hyderabad Runners and the Hyderabad 19K foundation. Just as I started about to stretch, Dinaz came onto the stage and gave us some quick stretching tips. That was thoughtful of the organizers. Dinaz has a celebrity following in Hyderbad for her exercise tips and training. There was this huge police contingent from AP Police Academy. Soon the full marathoners were summoned and a quick attendance was taken (never seen such a thing before).
The atmosphere looked perfect. There were all these police personnel in walkie-talkie wearing a red color jacket with POLICE written in bold shadowing runners on their motorbikes. One side of the road was thrown open to runners, major traffic intersections were stopped or diverted. The feeling was great.
Sriram was all set and Prashanth with India Tee were rearing to go. They finished half marathon in a pretty decent time.
Rahul and I
Soon I was slowly settling into a rhythm and speed and bumped into Rahul Verghese. I couldn't believe, we ran together for 28KMs for almost three hours. We started to talk on a variety of topics and I was acting like a tour guide to Rahul as we ran across the "Cyberabad". Cheering each and every runner and getting cheered in return. Guess we were stopping for a sip in almost every alternate water stops after the 8th KM mark. The weather was perfect and it was a great pleasure to run with him. After the 28th KM mark I dropped some paces and he tried to cheer me up and I guess by the time I finished was already in waiting for all of us to finish.
Great to run with you !
The one that I figured that while running just do not carry anything with you. I was a very clumsy runner before. I used carry mobile, some cash, some coins, keys, some energy bars, and water in hand. This is fine if there is no support structure in place. This time I just wore a proper running sleeveless dryfit Tee, running shorts that almost looks like an underwear. That's all nothing else.
Only during the later stages I picked up mini water bottles to help myself between water stops. But if you water stop between every two KMs then I guess it should be fine.
Ghajani (hair) cut:
Also trimmed my hair like Surya and Aamir Khan for their movie Ghajani. Just that I was all sane here and the blade and tattoo marks were missing. So no need for any head bands or sweat problems.
I must have tried all of Aamir Khan's hair styles from the days of DCH (including Mangal Pandey)!
We started from KBR park went all the way into Hi Tech city, then towards Cyber Gateway, then towards the Gachibowli road from the new detour from Vanenburg complex, then towards Botanical garden, then towards HCU, my college IIIT Hyderabad and then to Gachibowli stadium (half marathoners ended their route here). Instead of proceeding towards the Gachibowli stadium we proceeded towards ISB (Indian School of Business) and back to road leading to HCU, then around 6KMs inside HCU and then back onto main road towards Lingampalli and then a U-turn (35KM mark) to all the way to the Gachibowli campus.
But there was no Trail (I was expecting some trail).
Click here for the full marathon running route.
It was simple. All I need to is to get to the 30KM mark and after that I had to convince myself for the rest of the 12K. Surprisingly I must have walked just around 500 meters in this entire stretch and my mind never played over me at all. Just as I entered the Gachbowli stadium, our beloved KP Suresh was waiting to cheer me in for the last 100M that was on a track and the moment I touched the finish line I was handed over a medal around my neck. Great feeling. Rajesh smiled and said "42KM ? and I said yes" (In fact during my Chennai ECR run I told Rajesh I may not go for a 42K and he asked me to do at least two or more 30K runs before a marathon). Gopi was equally elated to see me finish. Caught up with Bhasker and Ambar as well.
The Team and Support Structure
It is simple as this. This run may not have been possible had there been no team like this. These guys were "professionals" and executed tasks given to them clinically perfect. Everything was there, water, electral, banana, sugar cubes, sponge and water. Every paraphernalia was there. The good thing was the presence of dustbins and it was well stationed a good 10 meters away from the water stop for people to drop it.
Just as we were hitting the 20KM mark Gopi came from nowhere and gave this "Power Gel" and it actually worked wonders and he cruised along for his half marathon. Very effective. Presence of police in such large numbers makes you feel very safe and it looked as if you are running in some elite marathon event.
Rajesh Vetcha, Gopi, Uma and everyone, hats off to you guys. Special mention to the police team and volunteers. You were just brilliant. Event organizing is no easy task and even one small mistake can leave people in bad taste. I guess this is just a precursor for events to come. You folks have set the right benchmark and have to beat it especially if you want to scale this event to handle much large amount of runners. Typically 10,000+ !
Thanks to all of them who at least managed to reach until this para (even by skimming). This is just the beginning.
पिक्चर अभी बाकी है मेरे दोस्त
Keep running !
Keep running !