2 years ago, I ran my first half marathon and since then lot of water had flown under the bridge. I participated in 3-4 half marathons and it was time for me to graduate to the next level. Full marathon was knocking.....and Mumbai it had to be.
The reasons Mumbai was selected as the venue for my first marathon had nothing to do with the reputation it carries of being the most prestigious marathon of the country. It was primarily the feedback received from Sanjeevi on how well it is organized and how the Mumbaikars contribute to success of the event and make it memorable.
Having had experience of at least couple of half marathons in Bengaluru and had heard of the state of arrangements for full marathon, my expectation from Mumbai was not too high.
The practice took off but never went as per plan, So I was kind of half-baked by the time the time came for taking the plunge.
The race day had arrived and I could not sleep the night before. The excitement, tension, pressure and fear of unknown kept waking me up every 30-40 minutes. finally it was time to say bye to the bed and get ready.
All set, I started towards Matunga Road station where Rahul and Sanjeevi were waiting for me.
As soon as I met them, I realized - I forgot my Bib.
It was time to rush back, get the bib and rush again to the station were a local train had just arrived and both Rahul and Sanjeevi were waiting to get onto that. I also jumped in. Sweat was there on my face and perplexed fellow travelers in the train - "what kind of a runner is he, who gets sweat even before the marathon starts." I just smiled.
Reached the venue and even before I could understand what, how and where, I was running along with the crowd.
Mumbai roads had some nostalgia inbuilt for me as my initial childhood days were spent there. I used to enjoy going to Nariman point, Marine Lines and Chowpatty as a kid and here I was running on those roads. Good music was being played by different bands, which also included Navy band - another nostalgia. Crowd had gathered to cheer up the runners and that gave the feeling of being a celebrity in our own rights. At the corner where Marine lines turns towards Peddar road, there was a gentleman playing melodious music on guitar.
Running on Sea link was amazing and I stopped to have a glimpse of the bridge and the water around. It went on well for some more time before my body started pushing back and yearned to give up.
Then started the mind game. One side of me wanted to give up and another wanted to finish what I had started. I saw someone holding a placard "Pain is temporary, Pride is permanent" The view of that placard kept on hitting back every time the mind wanted to give in to the pain. The struggle continued till i crossed the finish line.
I realize running is less physical more mental game. I would say it is mere 20%-30% effort for running is physical and the rest of it is mental. A strong mind makes up for weak muscles.
In whole of the process what I enjoyed the most is the attitude of Mumbaikars. Throughout the route, I saw many people standing with water, oranges, lemon, biscuits and chocolates offering them to the runners. And look at their humility - the way they were offering as if they are not doing a favor to the runners but it is other way round.
Around 37th KM, I decided not to accept any water bottle as only a small distance was left to be covered and once you accept bottle of water, you tend to stop and drink water and slow yourself further. I wanted to finish the run as soon as possible as I could not stand it any longer. I was already on the road for more than 5 hours. just when I decided not to accept any more bottles from the great hosts citizens, a small girl came up offering aa water bottle and sweetly said "uncle, please take the water." I could not stop myself from accepting the bottle. I smiled at her and said "Thanks."
By the time I reached the finish line, 5 hours and 45 minutes had passed and I had no wish remaining but to crash down.
Though the body was tired and exhausted, the psyche, the mind and the soul were indebted to Mumbaikars to make my first Marathon a memorable one. The indomitable, empathetic and friendly spirits of the denizens deserve a bow.
The marathon just reflects the spirits of the citizens.
Congratulations Prashant on this great feat. Its very nice that you spared time to pen down these memories which will live with you until your last breath. The sense of accomplishment and pride will keep you going forever in your life and career. Hearty Congratulations and Stay Fit & Well. Cheers, Rma Goyal
Hey Prashant, Congrats on the achievement. Loved this post, the vivid description, very well written. Reminded me of this gem by Murakami who is a writer and also a runner. http://www.amazon.in/What-Talk-About-When-Running/dp/0099526158