Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon-2017

Hi Runners
This race report wasn't easy one to write. Having done a nice debut, I had high expectations from myself. SCMM-2017 was my second FM after Bengaluru FM in Oct 2016. And it also marked culmination of the racing season. Well, I think some races end up teaching you a lot. This race taught me immensely in all aspects - be it pre-race aspects, during race or post-race aspects. Actually, it ended up being two races - one actual and next in hospital against sickness.
As usual, the race report has pre, during and post sections.

1.  Pre-Race.

General notes on Training. The pre-race period started right after the previous FM on 16 Oct 16 with reverse taper of two weeks. After that, it was steady mileage of 60-70km per week with easy runs. There was hardly anytime for SCMM and try anything new. November flew off in no time. Come December and it got chilly. Mostly, I don't fall sick irrespective of change of weather. But, this time it hit me. Before, I could take off and peak, got viral infection twice within a span of two weeks. What it really did to me was derail my appetite, intensity training and continuity overall. Still, whatever number of healthy days I got, my coach did try his best to get some anaerobic training done in. Long runs were mostly 2h15min to 2h30min. The last three long runs before taper had some elements of tempo interjected. We couldn't manage hill training this time. Overall, our effort was to try and go medically fit even if it is at the cost of some shape. The penultimate week had a baseline 5k, which I could do in season best 19:45! Rest all taper was easy and scaled down mileage of about 48 and 35kms.

General notes on Nutrition. I kept the nutrition philosophy same. A short time between two races doesn't give any liberty too for trying out new things. I have replaced the morning honey in warm water with apple cider vinegar (more info here). I did introduce Unived's lean pea protein about 3 days a week and increased the frequency to daily gradually. It was the best decision I took and really helped me recover, especially on tough days! On easier and low mileage days, carb consumption was reduced. Processed sugar was less in life anyway! Fruits including dry fruits continued to play important part of my mid-day snacking. What I did try new, albeit on minor scale, was consumption of gels during long runs. Tried different makes and flavours. I am still not sure of my final choice. Black salt water as one of the drinks in long run was taken more seriously. Overall, I did feel that I ate moderately due to average appetite in December. I wish I had eaten more!

The Carbo-loading.
One can be a little conscious about carb loading in the last week. It's a practise one needs to be rather getting used to in incremental portions as run up to long runs. Thus, any special and new effort done can get counter-productive. Most of my Saturday dinners have been rather benign yellow lentils with curd and rice to get easy and digestible carb in. Also, Saturdays used to see a little extra effort in eating porridge for breakfast and a nice,filled veg sandwich for mid-day. This practise continued for all long runs. So, for SCMM too, I continued to eat simple dal, roti and rice daily from Monday with Veg sandwiches as mid-day snacks. From Thursday, a little extra effort to get more carbs in started. By Thursday evening, I was in Mumbai in any case. Since, I was in a guest room, I faced first time issue in getting my choicest meals and snacks to eat. It was as per menu that day. It affected my carb-loading plan a little on Friday, before I took control on Saturday by ordering two pasta dishes specially. My Saturday special efforts helped me load up about 400gm of carb, as was my aim. The next target was to eat about 150gm carbs  before race.
Ser No
Food Item
Carbs (gm)
Three Bananas
Two Oranges
Enerzal 200ml – 2
Milk with Cocoa powder
Max Protein bar
ORSL 200ml
Pasta – 2
Real active carrot orange juice
One bowl yellow lentils
One bowl steamed rice
One bowl curd

The Travelling and Stay. The travel was planned by air. The idea was to reach there two days well in advance to acclimatize being my first coastal FM sojourn. The stay could be managed only in a guest room with fixed messing. Also, I wanted to avoid outside food, as much as I can. Coming this early has its pros and cons. It was good that I could manage two 30min runs in the morning on Friday and Saturday. So far, morning weather looked promising. Two days also ensured I am well rested. But what I did miss was family care and customised meals, especially, at odd times. I have been used to frequent eating. Nevertheless, one needs to adapt to different situations.

Expo. It was planned to be a quick visit spending less time on feet. The expo was about 8km away from my place. Hence, hired a quick cab and went straight to the expo site. As usual, met a few fellow runners, some happy, a few tense! The expo was a small place distributed over two floors. Number of stalls weren't many going by the proportions of SCMM. The stage area was too very small. Went straight to bib area, collected my bib followed by T shirt collection at ground floor. Work over, it was time to head back. Caught a taxi and reached back room. It was all done by 12:30 noon.

Had a good lunch by 1:30pm. After lunch, I did feel a slight sign of throat going off. Took levocetrizine at this moment to ward off anything coming! Kept the racing attire ready including the bag with its contents. Relaxed rest of the day and had early dinner by 7:30pm. It was simple rice,dal and curd. Gave myself sometime to gulp in hot milk and food to sink in before finally hitting the bed at 8:30pm. The alarm was set for 2:00am! As usual, it was an anxious night, not much sleep.

2.  Race Day.

Waking up. Woken up by alarm at 2:00am. I had the complete cooking kit ready the previous night. Did not change anything on menu. Went straight to mess kitchen and cooked up oat-meal, chickpeas with desi ghee and two peanut butter sandwiches. Cooking was done by 2:30am. Consumed oat-meal first. Somehow, stomach wasn't co-operating this time and was losing urge to eat. Eventually, couldn't eat chickpeas and sandwiches as planned. Not a good start to the day! Cleared morning ablutions without focusing too much on eating. The taxi was booked for 3:45am. It was at right time. Three more runners joined in for taxi share. by 4:00am, we were off to the start area,that is, Azad Maidan. By 4:15am, we were about 500m short of start area and had to get off due to cordoning of the area. We walked the rest of the distance. By 4:45, the entry gates were open and we were one of the first ones to enter.

Warming up. After a brief visit to wash-room, I was ready to warm up at around 5:05am. Did my 20min yoga routine (this one). Phew, I started sweating from yoga itself! A little hint on things to come! Followed it up with light jog and some dynamic stretches. By 5:30am, we started walking towards staging area. Gulped a gel. It was a long, circuitous walk, should have catered for more time for it! Met some fellow runners - Raghu, Arun, SK Mati. The start area was supposed to be coral'ed. But, it was a chaos. I was slated for Coral A, but found myself walking behind G, H guys. In all, it was a mixed up affair. Organisers realised that they were late in opening the only gate for entry to start area. By the time, we could even reach the start point, the race had started! Though, it doesn't matter from timing perspective, but from the number of people you will encounter before settling down on the route.

The Race. It was a long walk to start point. About 100m away, the race had already started sharp at 5:40am. Already lot of crowd was ahead. Walked the balance 100m and started the race after crossing timing mat. Since the FM route was same as last time, so elevation data etc was available from fellow runners. A rough guideline was prepared in an   excel sheet. A target of anywhere between 3:30 and 3:35 seemed okay. Accordingly, on broader front, the 5K splits were planned to be kept between 24 to 25 mins, as far as possible.
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Goal Pace 00:05:00
Variance (%) 30
Min Elevation -2.00
Max Elevation 2.60
KM Pace (elevation adjusted) Elevation (m) Elevation (%) Time (+/- of goal pace) Cumulative Time (elevation adjusted)
1 00:04:59 -2 -0.20 -2 00:04:59
2 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:09:59
3 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:14:59
4 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:19:59
5 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:24:59
6 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:29:59
7 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 00:34:59
8 00:05:00 -1 -0.10 -1 00:39:59
9 00:05:14 19 1.90 15 00:45:13
10 00:05:00 1 0.10 1 00:50:13
11 00:04:45 -20 -2.00 -16 00:54:58
12 00:04:57 -4 -0.40 -3 00:59:55
13 00:05:03 4 0.40 3 01:04:58
14 00:05:00 -1 -0.10 -1 01:09:58
15 00:05:00 1 0.10 1 01:14:58
16 00:05:06 8 0.80 6 01:20:04
17 00:05:00 1 0.10 1 01:25:04
18 00:05:06 8 0.80 6 01:30:10
19 00:04:47 -17 -1.70 -13 01:34:57
20 00:04:59 -2 -0.20 -2 01:39:56
21 00:04:59 -2 -0.20 -2 01:44:55
22 00:04:57 -5 -0.50 -4 01:49:52
23 00:05:01 2 0.20 2 01:54:53
24 00:04:58 -3 -0.30 -2 01:59:51
25 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 02:04:51
26 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 02:09:51
27 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 02:14:51
28 00:05:00 1 0.10 1 02:19:51
29 00:05:00 -1 -0.10 -1 02:24:51
30 00:04:59 -2 -0.20 -2 02:29:50
31 00:05:01 2 0.20 2 02:34:51
32 00:05:00 -1 -0.10 -1 02:39:51
33 00:04:59 -2 -0.20 -2 02:44:50
34 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 02:49:50
35 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 02:54:50
36 00:05:20 26 2.60 20 03:00:10
37 00:04:46 -19 -1.90 -15 03:04:56
38 00:04:53 -10 -1.00 -8 03:09:49
39 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 03:14:49
40 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 03:19:49
41 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 03:24:49
42 00:05:00 0 0.00 0 03:29:49
0.5 00:05:00 1 0.10 1 03:32:19

Split 0-5km. The first split went about wading through the initial crowd on Veer Nariman rd and Sir Doab Tata rd next to sea. It was a different experience in getting sweat early on in the first km itself. It was mostly flat. The idea was to exercise restraint, get into the groove and make way. Crossed an elderly Sardar gentleman and exchanged "Waheguru ji ka khalsa"! First 5k was done in 24:04 as planned.

 Split 5-10km. The route continued along the sea till it turned right at around 8k mark onto Hughes rd and then Peddar rd. By now, I could see myself following a good group maintaining nice pace akin to mine. As planned, drank gel after 40mins of run. The climb of Peddar started at around 8.5k, dipped a little, before it climbed again. Being in the initial part of the race, not much was felt at this point. Though, I slowed down a little, but it was negotiable. This split finished precisely at top after Jaslok hospital and was done in 24:53.

Split 10-15km. This split was mostly flat after a good downslope after Peddar on Lala Lajpat rai marg and Worli seaface rd. Opened up a little on the downslope, remebering to spread the wings with shorter, faster steps. Mostly I kept myself on extreme left side of the road as was evident from video walk through to make sure i am not doing a few meters extra.This split was done in 24:31, going by plan so far. It also marked our entry into Bandra-Worli sealink.

Split 15-20km. This section was completely on Bandra-Worli sealink. Initially it was a gradual, but gentle upslope, as if we are running on a treadmill with 1% gradient or so set. At 15km, picked up an Enerzal drink and kept sipping for the next 1km. This stretch was done well because I was able to keep good pace. From the opposite side, I could see hoards of HM runners on the other side of road. Time taken was 24:14.

Split 20-25km. We left sealink at around 21.5km. This section was through Mahim and Dadar West areas and mostly flat or downslope. I could see lots of families standing in their balconies and cheering runners. Also, many kids were out there standing with biscuits and chocolates to cheer runners. Hats off! Great feeling indeed! What a way to imbibe fitness in these kids? Also, for the first time, I could feel the engine getting hot. Hence, poured a 200ml bottle down my spine at 23km. But the water found its way to my shoes! Gosh! Wet socks and that thumping sound from wetness! Bad it was. Still, continued running. The section as done in 24:22.

Split 25-30km. This section saw us returning back to seaface road. At 26.5km or so, I could feel something going wrong with the body as I slowed down a little, though not stopped. It was a conscious decision to pick up pace later after 32km. There was a strange emptiness as if energy reserves have dried up and overall sickness. Still, didn’t stop and finished the section in 26:25.

Split 30-35km. This section saw the pace going down further. Stopped at 32km to have black salt with water. Momentarily felt better. The legs were feeling as if additional 5kg load has been added to them. It was a difficult stretch since the pedder climb was also part of it. Pedder was done running but very slowly. Gulped two Parle G biscuits too being offered by some volunteers. The thoughts at this juncture were to carry on slowly and pull up in the last 5km. Whatever FM was left was to be done on sheer willpower. At this point, I had all the license health-wise to stop and have a DNF. But belief in training done so far kept pushing me to complete. The section could be done in sedative 28:46.

Split 35-40km. The Pedder climbs were finally over at 36.6km. Rest was along seaface road. The thoughts of pushing in the last 5km were all evaporated. This section saw me walking with running. Out of rhythm, it was now run for as much as time possible and finish. Wherever I did feel the need to walk, I did so. The toughest of all sections, it was done the slowest too in 34:19. I must say at this point that I was feeling really bad about the whole thing. A race which was going so well, had to be like this towards the end!

Split 40-Finish-line. The last walk was at around 40.2 in this section. Thereafter, I had decided that I won’t walk till finish line and I did that! The 2.4km long small, but seemingly longest section was done in 15:39. There was lot of crowd on the last stretch and mile markers could be read in few hundred metres. The finish line was a pleasant sight, which I may not have seen running, I finally conquered running through it in 3:47! Thereafter,it was a bit of walk to get the medal and eatables being given along. Gulped in Nescafe Latte immediately! I did try to stretch in the zone earmarked, but couldn’t get hold of a volunteer for help. So, did a bit of foam rolling myself. Post-stretch, drank the protein drink (Zago).

3.  Post Race.

It was a mixed feeling of having completed a difficult race, but having gone off mark! But,as my coach mentioned later, one should draw lot of strength from a race like this. It is easy to attribute such failures to many reasons. But, I must say that I ended up learning a lot. In an effort to analyse what really happened, I forgot my post-race discipline too and fed myself poorly in the most demanding minutes after race. Nevertheless, I will summarise my take-aways as below:

  • Recovery between races: Often overlooked aspect due to over-confidence of runners. Feeling fine after a few days of a race doesn’t imply you are ready for another grill! The repair has to happen right from cellular level upwards. Thus, the recovery time has to be well respected.
  • Health Check: If the health indicators are going the wrong way, a timely decision to skip the event is only human or you don’t race and simply run off your mark without any guilt.
  • Effect of some medicines on race performance is well known. One of them is Cetrizine. We just gulp it to get race fit, not realizing it’s other side effects.
  • A good nutrition on daily basis is very very important. Sometimes, it’s a good wake up call to see how much we are really eating by recording in a food diary. Whenever, I have done that, I have realized the lack of quality and quantity in my food choices. It’s a great learning always to analyse your food.
  • Learn the carbo-loading in your long runs. I have been doing that but I am yet to perfect the art. It’s a work in progress.
  • Choose your race(s) wisely. Plan the climate, elevation, stay and food etc in advance to be comfortable. Have alternate plans in place for everything. Peaking well for a race is important; else it is just another long run.
  • Strike a balance between the plan and call of your body. Make changes enroute. Don’t overdo, there will be another race! As my coach says – You need to run faster without working harder! It will take time to get there!
  • Avoid a medical sickness at all costs post-race. I have gone through it and I haven’t been through such a sickness for good over a decade now. It ruins your recovery process. While your body is in dire need of good food and rest, a sickness takes you back by many days. Post-race, for three days I couldn’t eat anything and was totally on IV fluids. One can only imagine the state I must have been!

Concluding Remarks

Having done SCMM is a different feeling! It's great race to be at. The city adequately portrays how a race is so much welcome there! Right from administration, citizens, race organisers - overall interest and indulgence in conducting it could be seen. I think the best part I personally liked was kids out there on the roads to cheer you. It was such a pleasant sight! It is pretty obvious when you see the people of Mumbai standing enroute to cheer runners that nobody coaxed them to stand there. They were there because they wanted to make runners comfortable in their city. A lot to learn for every other city marathon. Despite whatever setback I had, SCMM will remain etched in my memory lanes for better reasons and will remain a race to look forward, if all goes well.
Closing credits to my family and Coach Mike for being with me all along!

Till then, happy running folks, enjoy your fitness activities and continue to spread the virus of running!