Mumbai Marathon 2018 – My Second Full Marathon

371 days. Redemption.

Those days and that word has been playing on my mind ever since Mumbai Marathon 2017. Its one thing to miss your target, a completely different thing to be disappointed at your own performance cause your 100% was simply poor.

My first target for full marathon has always been to finish it in 5 hours, and I am not stopping until I get there. Although I could not achieve the same this year, I am not entirely disappointed with my performance, mainly cause I managed to shave off a good 53 mins from my previous attempt.This years experience for me was much better than last year for so many reasons.

Performance in 2017 Vs. 2018. Net Timing in 2017 was 6:36 hrs. 

Since I wasn’t amongst the last runners , there was an adequate amount of water, relispray and other services. Although, water sponges are still a luxury only faster runners can afford. Other than that, the weather was significantly better this year and an early finish meant lesser time in the afternoon sun. It also meant, more fellow runners alongside, which is just easier mentally.

The best part was after the race. Unlike last year, I had quite some energy left. The following 36 hours was simply soreness and a slight bit of stiffness; a way of the body saying, ‘you did run a full marathon yesterday’. Last year, I was almost flat on my ass, wanting to sleep and not get out of the bed cause I was afraid my legs wouldn’t be able to carry me. This year, I was back in the gym after 36 hours.

I also learnt that better running also enables better learning. Unlike last year, since I did not have to use all my mental reserves into finishing the marathon, I also had the mental ability to identify my mistakes. How I’m supposed to pace myself through the whole race, my hydration frequency, etc. Simply put, the quality of experience gained this year is far more superior than last year. Could never have noticed these things previously, cause my brain was busy reminding me and pushing me to finish and nothing else.

f1c03966-723c-44fb-8dcf-c0dc4e380a35.jpg

 

That’s me and my forever young father, who finished his half marathon in 2:24 hours. Mind you, he is 53 and has no intentions of slowing down.

I’ve never needed any outside motivation, cause I get some from the man across the mirror, and the rest from the man right next to me, proving by example that ‘Nothing is impossible’ and that ‘Its never too late’.

In conclusion, I’d say that running a full marathon is always going to be painful. You can never train enough to avoid pain. But you can train enough to reduce it and get used to it. Also, if you’re mentally strong and determined to do it, no power in this world can stop you from achieving it.

 

Regards,

The Travellothoner.

The Ladakh Marathon 2017 – An Overview

I participated in this race during the second week of September. It is quite a genius plan by the organisers, as it ensures more tourists and travellers in September, a period where tourism has started slowing down due to the temperature drop.

This particular race has 3 categories:

  1. The Khardung La Challenge (72km)
  2. The Full Marathon (42.2km)
  3. The Half Marathon (21.1km)

Talking about the half marathon, the following is how I would describe my experience and the route.

The route was spread out with multiple inclines and declines over the landscape, followed by a killer incline of 4kms to the very end, to remind you why The Ladakh Marathon can be accounted for as one of the toughest ones out there. The stretch, a beast in itself, to slay even the most experienced runners.

There are enough water and aid stations all through the race, with a lot of local school kids participating. What makes this a lifelong memorable experience is the challenge this race represents, and the beautiful landscapes that surrounded us.

The main key to this race is practice and pacing. Practice is obviously a prerequisite to any marathon, however practice in Ladakh or at similar altitudes is what I am talking about. Similarly, pacing plays an equally important role while running, however it varies in every marathon based on the route; it is no different in this scenario.

Too fast during the declines or downhill slopes and you might find yourself catching for air, maybe even to an extent where you can go no further. Too slow and you’d have missed the opportunity gravity provides, and spent excessive energy with inadequate returns.

My personal timing here was 2:53hrs. Having spoken to some experienced runners and other fellow participants, I concluded that a timing below 3hrs is pretty good. But there’s always the personal disappointment of not achieving your target. Not that I did not give it my 100%, but it wasn’t exactly satisfactory.

The main thing that held me back apart from my level of fitness, was “FEAR”. A fear of going out of breath too quickly, a fear of being unable to finish, and a fear of after-effects of the run, which all in all created a mental block, making me incapable of pushing myself too much. However, priceless experience earned and valuable lessons learnt, to be totally exploited for the next one.

If interested in putting the Ladakh Marathon on your bucket list, and striking it off, all you need to do is practice running and stay fit. Running a marathon at that altitude is no rocket science; and gaining knowledge or perspective from others always helps.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

Frankfurt And Paperworld 2017 – Part 2

Zeil

The Zeil is a street in the city centre of Frankfurt. It is also the best spot in the city in terms of shopping and tourist attractions. One can take a S train to ‘Hauptwache’ or get down at ‘Frankfurt Sud’. This area has the best showrooms and restaurants. From German pubs to Ramen places to an American styled diner to Starbucks, it has everything for everyone’s taste.

Showrooms in the area range from Jack & Jones and Levi’s to Louis Vuitton and Prada. One can find good stores like Zara homes for house accessories, a lavish Apple showroom for tech, and a sassy Tesla showroom right beside it to buy a car, this place has it all.

Two different directions in the area.

IMG_0732
The Old Opera House, Frankfurt Am Main.

Near this area, about 5 minutes from the Apple store is the Old Opera of Frankfurt. The original opera house in Frankfurt is now the Alte Oper (Old Opera), a concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt am Main. It was inaugurated in 1880 but destroyed by bombs in 1944. It was rebuilt, slowly, in the 1970s, opening again in 1981.The square in front of the building is known as Opernplatz (Opera Square).

As you walk straight over the road in the second picture above and take a right, you get near the Altstadt area. Here you come across The Romer and St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral.

St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral

Frankfurt_Am_Main-Roemerberg_19-27_von_Suedosten-20110307
The Romer

The Romer is a medieval building in the Altstadt of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and one of the city’s most important landmarks. The Römer is located opposite the Old St. Nicholas church and has been the city hall of Frankfurt for over 600 years. The Römer merchant family sold it together with a second building, the Goldener Schwan (Golden Swan), to the city council on March 11, 1405 and it was converted for use as the city hall.

IMG_0690
Waterfront to the right, and the church at the left.

IMG_0695

Walking right past the Church, or to the rear of the church is the waterfront again. One can see the rearside of Romer from here. A 15 minute walk along the waterfront and one is at Hopthanoff. Although, I’d suggest one cross the bridge and walk on the other side. That is where the museums and art houses are situated. One will also find a pretty lock bridge here.

Also on the other side, is a cool setting created, like a small garden, with a route for people to walk right besides the river. This seemed like the most favorite place for runners, since I could spot more than 20 of them during my stroll.

I don’t know the reason, but this area doesn’t have trees. Instead they are artificial poles with branches, which look like trees from afar. While walking towards Hopthanoff, one would come across a small park right in the center of the city. This is like a mini version of the Central Park, where people are taking their pets for a walk, or having their lunch in peace. Right besides this park is the New Opera House.

IMG_1035
The Park in January. The withered trees tend to be their own kind of beautiful.

This has been pretty much my experience in Frankfurt over 4 days. Feel free to like, subscribe and comment and let me know about your views and opinions regarding this post or blog. Until next time!

Regards,

The Travellothoner

Frankfurt And Paperworld 2017 – Part 1

I went to Frankfurt back in January from 27-31, from where I took a flight to Dubai (You can check my experience here). The same vacation I posted about earlier. Although this was more like an educative/business trip, it did have its own moments of fun and exploration. Before this trip, the only time I had landed in Frankfurt was while shifting flights when I was travelling via Lufthansa. This is a beautiful city, with beautiful and courteous people. It is well thought of, in terms of convenience for tourists for commute, communication and safety.

IMG_0577
View from my seat.

I was flying via Emirates this time, my most favorite airline ever, and it did not manage to disappoint. The view while traveling between timezones has its own advantages in terms of getting to see the sunrise and the view from the window.

To start with, I landed at the Frankfurt Main Airport, on terminal 2. Most international traffic is from the Terminal 2, and the public trains drop you on the Terminal 1 station, from which one is supposed to take the airport shuttle to Terminal 2. I myself did not realize this until I was lost, and almost scared on Terminal 1. Because I was travelling alone, and ahead of time, I managed everything on time. Hence it is important to arrive a little before time, and make sure about the terminal and flight arrangements.

Another thing to make sure is The Airport doesn’t have free WiFi, in case you want to contact someone as soon as you’re off your flight. How it works is that once logged in, the system sends a mail to your Email-Id which you’re supposed to use to get in. However, what they probably missed is an international traveler like me does not have any primary resources to access my mail in the first place. Hopefully, they’ve fixed this issue by now!

After collecting bags, and taking the airport shuttle to Terminal 1, one gets access to the trains. Tickets can be collected from the vending machines, and depending on your destination, one can take the necessary line. The ‘S’ train takes you to Hopthanoff, also known as The Frankfurt Main Station or The Frankfurt Central Station. This station has big and small lockers, to store your luggage while you roam around the city.

The locker is a very convenient option for people who have evening or night flights. On my last day after checking out, I stored my luggage in these lockers, and set about exploring the city on foot. Since this is the central station, I can easily collect my luggage and take a train to the airport. The small lockers cost €2 and the big ones €5. These are big enough to store the biggest of bags one can carry while traveling.

Take a right from this station, and a 10 minute walk would lead you to a river/waterfront. All the tourist activities like the museums, art houses, dance and music studios, etc. are all along this river. A 5 minute walk straight from the station would lead you to a couple of really good Indian restaurants, and a further walk will lead you to the New opera house; marked with a big Euro sign, which was made when Germany decided to be a part of the big Euro group.

IMG_0687
The Waterfront
IMG_0703
A pedestrian suspension bridge.

The river has some really beautiful suspension bridges, some only for cars, and some only for pedestrians and people on the bicycle. Also, about 5 minutes away from this place is the Red Light District, so one should be careful during the late hours.

Just 2 stations away from this place is The Messe Exhibition Center. It hosts some of the biggest exhibitions in the world, including the one that we visited, ie, The Paper World + The Christmas World + The Creative World, all at once.

Inside the exhibition. Some excerpts of the stalls.

This place has 10 big halls/wings, further divided into 10.1, 10.2, etc. depending on the wing and floors. It gets a footfall of about 45-50k people, within a span of 4 days. People from all across the world, and especially Europe, don’t miss this one.

Wudberg

About a couple of hours drive from the city, is this very pretty little town. Known for its breweries, this place has over 300 different breweries. And they have a huge festival during summers, with beer fairs and movies every weekend, and boy do the Germans know their Beer! We came across some Oktoberfest clips as well, and it gets as crazy as one can imagine.

Fun Fact : This place may seem similar to some people, cause this is where a few scenes from The Three Musketeers, the one with Orlando Bloom, was shot. It also happens to be historic for having the biggest ceiling painting here. One might argue that The Vatican has the biggest ceiling paintings, which is actually true, however it has a lot of slits/windows/columns in between. This place happens to have the biggest on a stretch.

Do subscribe for more updates, and Part 2 for this one coming soon!

Until next time,

The Travellothoner

My First Full Marathon

IMG_0460
After completing the race, The Mandatory ‘Tasting Gold’ Pose!

On 15th January 2017, I completed my first full marathon, and boy what a mix bag of emotions it was!

The full marathon, that is, a distance of 42.195 kilometers, took me 6:36 hours to complete, which is 6 minutes above the cut off time. Hence, I don’t get a rank, but I can say I finished atleast above 500 more people. This post is about my experience from the marathon and some do’s and don’ts. It is mainly for people who have already been training, considering running the 42K and are looking for information from someone who has already done it. For anyone who wishes to take up running, can hang on for sometime for my follow up posts, where I’d be giving running routines, exercise schedules and some nutrition plans. I will also be talking about a few marathons that i have run in, in and near Mumbai, to give you an idea of which ones to run, especially for first timers. A very good first experience is what inspired me to get to where I am today.

Fair disclaimer, I am not a professional coach or trainer, all that I post here is based on my running experience for the past 2 years. I have been reading a lot of articles and studies regarding the same, and can give you a certainty that I won’t be leading you on the wrong path. I also take professional coaching from one of the best runners in the country as far as long distance running is concerned, so you can say I learn from one of the best.

So this marathon for me was quite educative. I have run a lot of Half Marathons before this, and that experience helps to a certain extent but this is a different ballgame altogether. My initial aim was to finish it within 5:30 , but given the circumstances, i am happy i was able to finish it none the less. My initial plan was divided into 4 phases.

Phase 1 – The first 10 kms – 75 minutes.

Phase 2 – 10 To 21 kms – Around 2:20 to 2:35 hours.

Phase 3 – 21 To 32 kms – Within 4 hours.

Phase 4 – 32kms To 42.195 kms – Whatever time it takes.

Let me start by saying this, it is not so difficult if you have been training well, maintaining a good diet and have a strong mind. Your body will support you to the finish line, But it is the mind that will drive you home. Also a good rhythm during the 1st and 2nd phase will make all the difference.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was I did not follow my own plan. I did not push myself, but I ran at my average Half Marathon pace of about 9.5kms/hour. This did not affect my run so much, but it did leave me exhausted and gasping for air after the first 15kms. This is not a problem during half marathons cause you have only a few more kilometers to go, but for the full marathon, you are still 27kms away from the finish line.

I did not get accustomed to the extra humid climate on that day in the first phase of my run, and that to an extent affected me in the later part of the race. For the full marathon, all these small things can make a big difference. Another important aspect is hydration. Since the weather is cooler and one is not sweating too much, one ignores drinking water until he is thirsty. This will lead to dehydration during the later parts of the race, cause by the time you realize you’re thirsty, your body has used up/lost a lot of water via sweating or to cool yourself from within.

It is also important to eat something during the marathon, as you’d be on your feet for more than 5 hours. Most marathoners carry chocolates or dates in their pockets, and consume bananas or oranges with salt during the run.

My run was mostly foiled due to an injury. I covered the first 30kms within 4 hours, slower than I anticipated but still at a comfortable pace. I had a severe pain in the cuboid bone, that is the bone to the outer side of the sole of your feet. This is when your mental determination counts the most. When your body gives up, and you want to quit, is when the small voice inside your mind will start to take over and not let you quit. It is only to keep my head high and to not hurt my pride, and thanks to my determined mind that I was able to complete the race.

And the goal becomes clearer and gets nearer with each counting step and before you realize, you are jogging/running the last kilometer.

I hope this is post is helpful, and i shall be writing shortly for people who have just started or want to take up running.

You can always reach out to me, if there is something you need help with, or some topic you wish for me to cover, till then , enjoy and stay healthy!

Until next time,

The Travellothoner

Your Way To The First 10K Run

A lot of people have been asking me, what it takes to run a half marathon. The training plans, the diet, etc etc.

Let me start by saying it is no rocket science and doesn’t require any extraordinary commitment. It is easy, and just requires a certain level of dedication and discipline. It does not require any kind of strict or stressful training or diet. But yes, a certain level of control would go a long way in improving your overall experience and further commitment to the process.

There are usually two types of first time runners.

1. The people who practice, realize their potential, enjoy their runs and have an idea regarding what to do, what changes to make for their next one. Most of all, a good experience and an injury free run ensures you want to do it again.

2. The people who don’t practice, have an unhealthy lifestyle, are hit with cramps or other injuries and swear running isn’t for them.

As far as training goes, it is ideal to have a mileage of about 15-20 kms of running a week. Mileage here basically means the number of kilometers you run in a week. Include a couple of sessions to strengthen your core and other muscles and trying to have an active lifestyle. Add to this some stretching post workouts and you will likely avoid any serious injury to yourself.

One important thing to keep in mind is to not focus only on running. Excess running without strength training and stretching will increase your chances of sustaining an injury in the long run. Strength training will primarily help you to improve on your athletic abilities, and make your muscles less susceptible to injuries. Stretching and mobility workouts will help you improve flexibility and make sure your muscle groups are more involved into the workout. The more flexible you are, the lesser the stiffness, which leads to better muscle growth and movement. It is a very common misconception that one has to sacrifice flexibility for strength, which is never the case.

Another very important and the most basic principles in any kind of physical activity is to hydrate well. Drinking adequate water goes a long way in improving your abilities. Drinking a ton of water before the day of the run, a little water before the run and lots after! Too much water before the run and you will run with a heavy stomach or have to use the washroom, both of which are annoying and irritating in between your run.

Feel free to ask questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Another post on running drills, different types of running techniques, strength training plans, coming up soon!

Regards,

The Travellothoner