I just arrived in Palo Alto yesterday. The soreness has subsided except for a few spots. I can now touch my toes without pain. I can climb stairs as well.
The 2007 Mumbai Marathon was the most difficult marathon I’ve ever run. My time was a full 30 minutes slower than previous ones. I attribute it largely to the heat and humidity. I knew it would be difficult, but there’s really no easy way to train for the combination of weather and distance with my schedule. I was lucky that my asthma was under control. I tried my hardest to maintain a pace and not walk, but the heat was overbearing. I was tempted by some of the taxis that passed in the driving lane. I wondered many times about the info girl’s hint, “You know the energy drink is only for those running the full marathon.”
Yet the marathon was one of the most amazing runs out of the 4 that I’ve completed. Because the field was relatively small I got to see the Africans warm up. They are thin but all muscle and damn fast. I could barely sprint as fast as their marathon pace. I met one of the elite runners who told me he planned to run it in 2:12. I told him that it would take me more than twice the time, but I would cheer for him whenever I saw him. It was JK M--- (I can’t remember his last name). It was like meeting a rock star because he was one of 5 recognized international runners at the start. When the initial rush came at the start, I got behind him to make sure he would not fall down. If he won, I could claim that I helped a tiny bit.
The path was really beautiful. The organizers tried to put us near the ocean whenever possible. Many of the streets also had good shade in the early half. There are so many modern buildings rising across the skyline. It’s a lot like Hong Kong, but with much more masala. It’s very impressive to see the growth of India juxtaposed with the trees, oceans and older buildings between km 15-30. I tried to memorize the path so I could remember the landmarks as I passed them. I saw Mumbai in a way I’ve never seen before.
Fellow runners were equally nice. I met a whole bunch of people while running. We passed each other with words of encouragement many times. All were very nice. One overweight looking Swedish woman in her 40s had run 20 marathons in the last 5 years. And yes, she did finish in under 5 hours. It shows you anything is possible.
The organizers did an excellent job making sure there were water, energy drinks, and medical aid at many locations throughout. It’s amazing that people are willing to volunteer so much time just to help out.
While there was some bureaucracy in the end, it was pretty good considering that this was only the 4th time the event was run. They will only get better. Maybe they’ll forgo that steep hill at 35 km and start an hour earlier. Then again, just having the event was a boon for the city as about 5 crore was spent cleaning up.
Most of all, the fans who sat along the course were inspiring. Lots of kids called out “Rajiv Uncle” and slapped my hand. Many people cheered us on the hot sun even though there were no famous people or race to see. It helps push you along. My parents, Rajesh and Sameer were waiting for me at many points along the course. It was so nice so see them each and every time. It makes a huge difference. You know you have to finish. When I saw my father a ways away at the Finish, I grit my teeth and ran as hard as I could. I felt that as difficult as the end was, I had to finish strong. I hit 8.2 mph at the end, the fastest I ran that day.
I was lucky that I was well enough to go to dinner that evening with the Position2 Mumbai team. I didn’t actually feel all that sore, though it could be the Advil. That came the next day, but I’m glad to have some gas left in the tank to do all those meetings the next day. Even the plane ride back was OK.
Thank you all for the warm support and kind words!!!
Here's a pic taken by Sameer from our Mumbai office:
Below are some kind comments by Sameer from our Mumbai office:
Mumbai Marathon - One of the most grueling courses in the world. Non-natives are known to melt in the intense heat and humidity. Rajiv braved the 42.3 kms + the bureaucracy to get his medal & certificates to finish 171 of several thousand marathoners. This feat was achieved well under 5 hours, which is amazing, since many marathoners give up mid-way or do not get ranked if they exceed 5 hours.
This is him at the 18 km mark with the official drinkskeeper (me).
More pics of crossing the finishing line, jubilation, medicine tent, etc to follow.