20th January, 2019 was the big day for me. All those days of waking up before the sun while my bed was at its comfortable best, getting myself mentally prepared to run while I struggled to get my stride in order and through all that constant soreness, muscle pains and what not!
It was going to be a tough day. One I was mentally prepared for; however it actually turned out to be tougher than I anticipated. Running the race for the 3rd time this year, I thought I had a slight edge over some others thanks to my experience. But the weather gods had something totally different in mind.
I did anticipate the first 5-7k to be really hot and humid, thanks to the thousands of people together, as well as it being very humid towards Nariman Point. However, slowly as the crowds begin to separate, the more seasoned runners pulling ahead, it starts to get better, with more breathing space (literally) for everybody. And usually, you start to feel the cool air whisking through your face as you near Haji Ali.
However this year, it was way worse. I was sweating so profusely by 10k, that I already felt slightly light headed. And what good weather usually starts hitting you by 9k, only came to us around 15-16k when we hit the Sea Link. To give you a better idea of how bad it was, I shall type an excerpt from The Times Of India, dated 21st January which goes as follows:
“A sweltering Sunday meant that nearly 40% more marathoners needed medical attention compared to last year: By noon, over 3,200 were treated at the event’s medical camps for dehydration, exhaustion and muscle cramps. Fourteen needed hospitaliztion, though barring two, the majority went home by evening. Because of heat and humidity, several seasoned runners said they took more than their expected time to reach the finish line: Many who wanted to beat their personal best were disappointed as their running time increased by 25-45 mins.
In the morning, the minimum temperature recorded by IMD’s Colaba observatory was 20.3 degree Celsius, 1.4 degrees above normal. The maximum temperature was 33.6 degrees, which was 4.1 degrees above normal. Adding to the unconducive weather was a humidity level of 93%. Studies have shown that elite athletes can suffer one to four-minute slowdowns due to higher temperatures and humidity.
‘This year cases of cramps and dehydration were more mainly due to warm and humid weather. Also, the number of hospitalizations were more than last year’, said Dr. Vijay D’Silva, director, critical care and medical affairs, Asian Heart Institute (AHI). As compared to the 2,324 runners who required medical attention last year, the number rose to 3,226 this year. As a point of reference, overall participation rose by a little over 200 this year.
It was a tough game mentally. I was running at a very good pace for the first 25k, covering that distance in just a little less than 3 hours. Then slowly as I felt a cramp start to build up, I had to slow down, and even walk in the midst cause I had another 17k to go, which would be just under the sun. And if that wasn’t enough, I felt morally depressed as I saw all the various pacers run past me.
Such is life. From a high of wanting to finish the race in 5:15 hours to wanting to quit at multiple durations, cause the cramps were getting to me. However, I knew this would be a blip on my running career, I’d never be able to forget. And giving up has always been something that’s very hard for me to accept on all levels. So I carried on, one step at a time, running slightly and walking all the more, doing my best to block all the pain that came with it. All is well that ends well I suppose.
Another thing I’d like to add at this point is, being well prepared for it, I don’t hate running as much as I did last time. I started my training keeping in mind this race a year ago, after finishing it in 2018. Last year, I did not take up running for almost a couple of months thanks to all the anguish and pain it caused. This time around, thanks to better conditioning, I’ve been on my feet on the day of the marathon and the next day (today); and I am looking forward to starting training again by the end of this week.
And like always, I did manage to run for the last 1.5k, just so that I could get this race over with. The timing was nowhere close to my liking, way past it. But it was a humbling experience and something that is going to surely help me grow as an individual and a runner. Looking forward to sharing many such experiences in the future.