I started running during PUNE RUNNING‘s LSoM events followed by Pune Triathlon and Ruggedian. Some good practice sessions followed and it gave me the confidence to consider doing my first full marathon at SCMM 2016.
The first challenge was to get a qualification certificate. I missed the Bharat FC run but, thanks to PUNE RUNNING’s Arvind Bijwe, managed to get registered for NIO VISION Marathon.
With my limited training, I should have known better than to make an overambitious attempt to do a Sub-2 hour half marathon. The over speeding comfortably got me an SCMM qualifying certificate but left behind a bad knee pain leaving me out of action for two months.
When I resumed training in October, there was still enough time for me to practice well and build up mileage and speed in a gradual manner. The training was going perfectly as per plan. And then tragedy struck.
On 26th Dec 2015, Three weeks before SCMM, I lost my father leaving me completely shattered. SCMM was the last thing on my mind as I was recovering from the shock of such a huge loss.
I joined back work on 11th Jan unsure of my SCMM participation. The tipping point was a discussion with my colleague Priyanka Shah. Her advice was clear, “you have to run SCMM for your father”.
Decision made and I informed my friends. Aparna Prabhudesai helpfully collected my bib.
My pre-race day routine was anything but ideal.
I reached Mumbai the night before race day at 11pm. It was a hectic travel from Ahmednagar to Pune to Mumbai keeping me on the road for a good 8 hours.
I stayed over at a friend’s place. There was a lot of catching up chat to do and we went to sleep only at 1:30am.
Anxiety ensured that I wake up at 3:30 am and reach the venue at 4:45am.
It was relaxing to meet my running seniors Aparna and Mahesh who assured me that I would complete the run successfully even if I was out of practice for three weeks.
A quick call to my mother and her best wishes later the race was flagged off and off I went.
I started fine at my target pace of 5:30min per km. By the 3rd km I felt a slight pain in the knee. It was quite an effort to maintain a slower pace and remain calm.
I ran with a lady who had an inspiring “GARIMA-I AM BUSY GETTING STRONGER” message on the back of her t-shirt for the next 13-14kms.
The beautiful sea link view also brought back the knee pain further reducing my pace. I then tailed a runner named Murthy (Bib # 696) up to 25th km.
The knee felt better so I upped the pace and was on my own for the next 5 kms.
I crossed the 30km mark and the knee pain was back. This time it was intense.
I slowed down considerably but kept moving. I made a call to my mother and said “Maa, I have completed 33 kms only 9 kms are left. Papa and you have got me up to here and I am sure, with your blessings, I will get through the remaining part as well”
The last 9 kms was an emotional roller-coaster ride. Peddar Road climb was dealt with at a very slow pace. However, the Marine drive run was at a good pace. With 1600 metres to go, I decided to give it everything and went full blast to complete my first ever full marathon at SCMM 2016 in 4 hours and 10 minutes!
I was overcome with emotion and my eyes welled up. I thanked God and my father. I made phone calls to my mother, sister and my best friend Anubhav Singh Rathore. Priyanka was waiting for me at the finish, I thanked her profusely for instilling the self-belief in me.
Incidentally, the knee pain seemed to vanish completely as I crossed the finish line!
There are many people who have guided me in my journey – Bhagwan Singh Sir, Mahadev Sir, Vijay Sir, Aparna Mam, Kishore Sir, Mahesh Sir, Prasad, and the entire PUNE RUNNING community. I can’t thank them enough.
Anupam Khanduja is a running enthusiast.
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