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A couple of marathon to my name - finally!

You are stupid and inexperienced if your first half of the race is faster than the second half.
You are untrained if you cannot run above zone 3 for a full marathon.
You are stupid if you don't plan your hydration and nutrition for a race that takes more than 3 hours.

Waiting for opportinity

I hadn't run a marathon till October 2014. But I had done one in Lalbagh garden in 2012 on my own. But generally, I don't have the motivation to go out and run such a long distance without the right atmosphere. Bangalore didn't have any such event except the oddly timed mid-night marathon, which has very unattractive course. I also don't have the time and energy to travel to other cities to do one. So, when Bengaluru Marathon (www.bengalurumarathon.in) was first announced, I jumped in immediately and I was one of the early birds to register getting free tees.

2014 Bengaluru Marathon

I set a 3 hours target for this marathon. This is a stiff target, specially considering my lack of experience. I had done only one half marathon and that too was a slow one that took 92 minutes. So, running a double distance with more or less the same pace was a big challenge. But I practiced decently well, running thrice a week, two months before the event itself, most sessions spanning about 90 minutes and covering a distance of mostly 20 km. Two months of training is a lot for me, because I train for two weeks for most other races I participate.

Surprisingly, my work schedule that usually goes easy became hectic in the run up to the event. I also registered for the first Bliss In the Hills, which is a 1200 km cycling through mountains with elevation gain of near 15,000 meters. Bliss In the Hills happened too close, just the weekend before the marathon. So, I didn't have any room for recovery, leave alone additional training. I did try a 10 km run in between to test if I was ready for a 42 km at that condition. I pushed for a 45 mins 10 km and that probably drained my energy more.

Anyhow, I ran carrying a bottle of gatorade. No nutrition and not enough hydration. Out of grit, I pushed myself hard and finished in 3:32:49. I felt really bad about it and I decided to run the mid night marathon. I registered, but something else came up and I couldn't run.

2015 Bengaluru Marathon

I wanted to do well this time. But again, I couldn't train. I was without the support of my father-in-laws, who used to help with my kids study and school pickup and drop. I was in a water tight schedule to balance work and family. When my in laws returned in mid of September, I had to cover up my work as well. So, no training at all. Meanwhile, I decided to ride the Bliss In the Hills again with my Cleated Warriors team-mates, specially Ganapathy, who was my companion in my first 600 km ride in 2011. I did manage to run a 5 km. Ride Nandi repeats on one holiday. Accompanied wife for 17 km to practice for her first running event, half marathon in the same event. I also got to ride to Basavanabetta on Bakrid holiday. So, basically I was relying on my Bliss In the Hills ride as my training for the marathon. This ride is also a trial ride for something big coming on my way in the near future. Anyway, I finished the ride strong taking all the time I was given! I had two weeks gap this time before the marathon. So, I ran another 5 km and then another 10 km between - both in office treadmill.

Target 3:10

I was ill prepared. But I set myself a target of 3:10, but was going to accept even a 3:15 under the circumstance. My plan was to do 4:30 a km pace all throughout. I mixed three sachets of enerzals of 50g each in a bottle and mixed water just to make it liquid. Plan was to sip it and drink water from the aid station. It was working well. I also got to run with a bunch of around 6 runners who were running at my pace till the half way mark. Towards the U turn, it was up slope. A couple of them went ahead of me and the rest went behind me. I was still doing good but I knew that my energy was going to drop as I didn't have any nutrition. I didn't even bother to see what was there in the aid stations, but I think, there was no food until towards the last 10 km. Or did I not look carefully? Anyway, I continued. My bottle was empty at around 28 km mark. I relied on the aid stations for my 3:10 target. The target was still in sight though.

The mad crowd of half marathon

Half marathon was flagged off 65 minutes after us. So, at my pace, I was going to catch scores of them as they progress their second half. There was hardly any space for me to run straight. I still managed through. Then came the biggest problem. Each aid station was heavily crowded and it was almost impossible to grab a glass of water without stopping for a considerable time. At one station, I grabbed two bananas and I felt much better in energy level. I gulped some plain water in another station. Still, it was way below the required amount. I was running low now, with very low pulse rate, trying to simulate a higher heart rate. Hands and legs felt the lack of blood flow - a kind of numbness for the lack of a term in my dictionary. I started walking a few meters every 500 m in the last 4 km. The target was then revised to 3:16, then to 3:17 then to 3:18 and finally to 3:20. Finally I saw the last 500m sign post and I pushed.

A 3:20:21 finish. I was hoping for a prize, even if a 5th one in my age category of 35-40. When the result came out, I was 6th, two minute behind the 5th person. To my surprise, age category of 30-35 had lesser competition compared to 35-40. The older category of 40-45 was even tougher than 35-40. That is what mid-life crisis does to men! They are crazy and they are tough (LOL).

I will still do a sub-3 hour marathon sometime in the future, hopefully in the 2017 event as I plan to skip the 2016 one. A target in mind will at least keep me motivated to go back to the event at least. All I need is a two months training and some light nutrition on the course.

Keep running!

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