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My first ever Full Marathon

#WHATELSE Travel Sparsh Kataria • January 23, 2017
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As I write this, every body part of mine is sore…including my toes. That fact does not in any way make my thrill and joy any less. I ran 42.2 km and am still alive!! I’ve run about a dozen half marathons before this but THIS was something else. It’s like you finish a half and someone tells you, “come on baby, one more time!!”

The training for the Full Marathon began with my coach’s vote of confidence about 5 months ago. I trained without giving up partying, binge eating and holidaying (almost everyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE to travel), but I also managed to do my prescribed long runs and training runs too, which sometimes meant running 10-40 km in the morning and then coming to work, because I was travelling or partying over the weekend. It was tough but not impossible. I had read somewhere that “people know their limits, marathoners know how to push them”, and for me, this was absolutely true.

All was going just fine, and then one week before the run I had an unfortunate fall on Carter Road during my last training run. I scraped my knee but still kept my spirits high. Finally, the countdown to Race Day began, and the tips, advice and suggestions from fellow runners began. These tips can make you more prepared, but they can also increase your nerves. “Sleep early … eat this … eat good carbs … hydrate well… stay off your feet” … and so on. Keeping all this in mind I waited in anticipation for race day.

Finally, the day arrived, and I woke up at 2:45 am in order to get ready and catch the 4:04 am local with the entire gang. Meeting all of them on the train cheered me up and eased my nervousness. On reaching Azad Maidan we all lined up at the start line, waiting for the gunshot. We were off!. Since this was my first full marathon, I didn’t know the entire route and just followed the crowd ahead of me. We crossed Flora Fountain and reached Marine Drive. The Queen’s Necklace looked really pretty as it was still dark, and I realized that I’d be in this exact same spot in another 5 hours time! That was a pretty sobering thought, so early in the day.

We ran along Pedder road, past Haji Ali and up to Worli Sea Face, before reaching the Worli Sea Link. This is the only time in the year that you can experience the thrill of running on the Sea Link. Once I got off the Sea Link my timing watch told me that I’d completed 21 km, half the battle won. Thankfully I wasn’t completely exhausted at this stage and was keeping up with my target speed.

Another huge thrill, when you run this race, are the bystanders. Young and old, kids, adults, Indians and foreigners – they all make you feel like a superstar! They cheer you at every step and at every turn. They give you high fives, and they give you food and water – including everything from oranges to glucose biscuits, to chocolate eclairs, salt and even jaggery. The salt and jaggery were a big big help when I started to cramp 8 km short of the finish line. The minute I felt the cramp, a fellow runner who was incidentally a doctor, stopped me and gave me a muscle relaxant, which I took not just in good faith but in desperation as the last thing I wanted to do was pull out of the race at that point. He advised me to consume salt throughout the remainder of the run which helped me get my mojo back, as I half ran, half walked the remaining distance.

When I was just 500 meters short of the finishing line, I forgot all my pain, cramps and began to sprint with sheer joy. I had done it! I finished the marathon with huge strides and in great style (as you can see in the photo). The joy of reaching the other side is something else.

I would urge everyone to try running a timed race even if its a 5 or a 10km distance. Running not just keeps your heart healthy and happy hormones flowing, but it’s also a very inexpensive way to keep yourself fit. All you need is a good pair of shoes!

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