SCMM 2016- the race

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After most races, I come home and evaluate where I could have done better. Like at ADHM, I could have easily cut down on 2-3 mins and I will keep the gaps in mind when I train for it this year. For today’s run, I have no such feeling. It was as perfect as it could get. I am very, very happy with how I performed. Strangely, I didn’t have a timing target at all. Is that how I should train this year? Focus on the process and let thr results follow? It’s definitely something am going to think about.

For SCMM, I kept two things in mind while training :

  1. The last 4-5 km. All half marathon training plans have 16-17 km as the last long run. It is assumed that you will complete the balance 4 km. That is alright if the target is to finish but if you are training with a timing in mind, the last 4-5 km are very, very crucial and cannot be left to chance. This time my last long run was 21 km to train for the complete distance. For the next half marathon race, I may even train for 23-25 km so that 21 km is less stressful.
  2. The Peddar Road flyover. This stretch of 4 km slope is sheer torture and is encountered in the 2nd half of the run. I was determined to train well for it. Migma had shown me Bio Diversity Park which is located at the point where Gurgaon ends and Delhi begins on MG road. It is a lush green park with slopes and inclines. Even though I only ran there a few times and did 2-3 hill repeats they were of great help. Shshank Pundir (ultra marathoner) who had given me the full marathon plan told me about ‘muscle memory’. Your muscles remember the training and draw from that memory during races.

I woke up with a horrible stomach upset and wondered how am going to run. I had strong black coffee instead of  the planned banana and left MIL’s house half an hour late. I reached Worli at 5 am and got stuck in a traffic jam 2km from the holding area. All the runners got out of the cabs and walked the stretch. I managed to get hold of pills at a medical shop which was quite a relief. We reached the holding area at 5.40 am and reached the start line at 6 am- 20 mins later than the scheduled time.

This is how the route went :

  • 1 km at Worli. I was very uncomfortable. My head band didn’t feel right. This was the first time I was wearing one. My TomTom watch couldn’t find tthe GPS (first time that happened). I decided to run without waiting for tthe GPS but then slowed down to a walk and it finally found the signal. I don’t know how much time I wasted.
  • Sea link towards Bandra. The best stretch was here and I still didn’t feel great. It took me another 2-3 km to get into the race mode. I picked up pace but then we came across a U turn and headed back towards Worli. I lost pace because this stretch was slightly uphill.
  • Worli. By now 7-8km were done and it had been an hour. I decided to cover 16 km in 2 hours and think about the balance 5km later. That was my timing target. I picked up pace at Worli because we would reach Peddar Road soon and I would have to slow down there.
  • Peddar road after crossing Haji Ali. As soon as I saw Peddar Road, I resolved that I wouldn’t walk or stop at all. No matter how tired I was or how breathless. I rembered the hill repeats at Bio D when I would start slow at the bottom of the slope and slowly pick up pace as I went higher. I would be huffing and puffing but kept going. I pushed myself till the top and sometimes I walked rest of the stretch and other times kept running till the end. This was done over and over again- 8 to 10 times. Peddar Road didn’t seem that steep or daunting anymore.
  • 18 km at Marine Drive. Now I was tired and my willpower was flagging. I used the enthusiasm and energy of the cheerleaders and local residents to push me onward. A high five here and slogans there kept me going.
  • CST. Last 1 km. That point where you tell yourself a few minutes here and there don’t matter. It is the point where I stop caring what my timing is. It happened in ADHM. Once I knew 2 hrs 30 mins wasn’t going to happen, I gave up. I pushed myself … 500 m… Sprint, walk, jog… 400 m… Sprint, walk, jog. Then at 200 m I saw Shailija (podium finisher and Boston marathon qualifier) screaming at the top of her lungs asking us to keep going. I ran. And crossed the finish line in 2 hrs 39 mins 9 seconds.

4 mins more than ADHM and 21 mins off last year’s SCMM. Failures are a stepping stone to success. If I hadn’t felt let down last year, I don’t think I would be back this year with vengeance on my mind.

SCMM is one of the toughest races in India because the course is not 100% flat. The Peddar Road flyover has beaten down quite a few runners and the roads on Marine Drive are far from perfect. But consistent training conquers all.

Nope, now I don’t rest. I start training for New Delhi (half) Marathon on 26th Feb from Sunday itself.

Tomorrow – Things I liked/disliked about SCMM and the running plan for 2016.

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