Until end of November 2015, I was not aware whether I will run in SCMM on 17th Jan 2016even though I had registered way back in Aug 2015. My registration was confirmed only in early December. I had only 6 weeks to prepare for my first SCMM half Marathon.
Just to give a background I had started my first run only this year on 17th Feb 2 days after India won 2 matches in Cricket world Cup in Australia one against Pakistan and next with SA. My first run was 6.6 km walk and run with my friend Terence Miranda to whom I give credit for starting my “running career”. We ran and walked on racecourse on a hot Feb afternoon at 4 pm to about 6 pm.
Through consistency very short runs of a few hundred meters extended into 1 km and stretched into 5 km and finally into 10 km. That’s when I heard about group training in Pune University and decided to join them.
In June I heard from another friend Abhishek Sharan that in October there is a half marathon called PRBM organised by a group called PUNE RUNNING. I joined the group run by two legends of PUNE RUNNING Sudhi and Vikas for all newbies intending to do their first half marathon in PRBM.
It was a structured program where every Saturday and Sunday we would run 3-5km followed by Strength Training. In the later weeks the Sunday run mileage was gradually increased from 5 km to 18 km
On 11th Oct (PRBM Half marathon). On 11th I completed my half marathon with a timing of 2 hours and 52 mins. In the meantime I had developed an injury called ITB which used to cause pain in my knee on the sideways which prevented me from running at least 3 weeks of my training.
Meanwhile during my run at NIO marathon for 10k I heard of SCMM for the first time and Terence told me it is the biggest marathon event in India. He mentioned the need for a timing certificate. I never knew later it would become most important document of my running life more than probably birth certificate or marriage certificate! My friend Mukund Ghatge helped me register for the Chembur Marathon in Aug.
I started my preparation for SCMM with 6 weeks remaining, on 6th Dec I ran 10k at the Pune International Marathon with Mamta Potdar. I ran another 10k at TCSfitforlife event where I achieved my best timing thanks mostly due to the Brookes Aldernine 16 Shoes I purchased in UK. These shoes help over-pronation in my flat foot. I was peaking well by running a total of 52 km in the week 27th Dec to 3rd Jan.
Meanwhile, I passed a very important milestone, 1000 kms of running in 2015!
One day before the Race:
And so on 16th Jan I was ready to go with my friends Piyush, Sangram of The Pune Marathoners Club to Mumbai via Deccan Queen. The CC coach of C3 and C4 were full of SCMM runners. We had a lot of fun enjoying DQ breakfast with chats, fun and moving from C3 to C4 and back. I met some strangers who recognized me thanks to my various runs on Pashan Road in 2015. I also met Suyog Raut a sub-4 marathoner who I knew but never had a face to face conversation.
We reached CSTM station and quickly went to Cuff Parade to pick up BIB and TCS kit. Met many friends there from Pune.
We had a good lunch with TPMC colleagues and then left for Worli to stay at our Tata Motors guest house.
We went for a short evening walk along the next day’s and then had an early dinner at 8 pm followed by a quick phone call to the family.
All was well and most unexpectedly my stomach began acting up! Frequent toilet visits went on until midnight.
Doubts began creeping into the head and simply decided to banish these thoughts by going off to sleep. Pre-race anxiety woke me up at 3:15 am and soon I was ready to go.
I reached the holding area well in time. It was crowded and buzzing with excitement.
I did some warm up exercise which Sudhi had taught us for 10 minutes and was ready to go.
The race was flagged off and we were on our way. I started at a steady pace and was thrilled to be running on the iconic Bandra-Worli sea link with the pleasant morning breeze in full flow.
Shortly thereafter, the sight of some fast half marathoners on the other side of the road already a few kms ahead of me made me feel a bit low for a moment but I moved on.
The 9 km running on the sea-link was a thrilling experience and I felt blessed to be experiencing it.
I met Krutika Shukla from PUNE RUNNING who was there as a volunteer doing a fabulous job – relentlessly smiling, encouraging all of us giving water bottles and cheering us all.
I was now running on the streets of Mumbai with a boisterous Mumbai crowd lined up all along to cheer us up. The crowd consisted of men and women of all ages and children too handing out water, bananas, oranges, biscuits and chocolates to the runners. I salute these people for their selfless service which is the very core of being a “Mumbaikar”
When I reached Haji Ali and Babhulnath temple, I saw the full marathoners on the other side of the road. I noticed Piyush from TPMC group loudly cheering for me. I cheered for him too.
On the 13th km, I felt a pain in my knees and my pace began to drop. At the aid station before the tough Peddar Road flyover, I used the Volini spray to reduce the pain.
The spray helped me get through the crucial Peddar road climb with relative ease.
In comparison I would still rate Pune’s Symbiosis climb much tougher than the Pedar road climb.
Soon after the pain reappeared and kept increasing to an unbearable level. I kept on reminding myself that I need to complete my run in spite of the pain. In the meantime Mumbaikars were now more on the street singing and cheering on the sides offering water, energisers, etc. To forget the pain I started singing with them too. Notable one being a song from the movie “Rock on”.
I began the countdown with just a few kms and a few minutes of running left to do as the pain increased. Despite the pain I decided to continue running at a slow pace without walking or stopping.
Soon I found myself only 1 km away from finish line and now the boards were placed every 100 m to tell the runner how close he/she is to the finish line. Meanwhile, on the side of the road, the senior citizen run and walk had been flagged off.
I finally crossed the finish line at 8:27am (in 2 hours and 43) in much physical pain but in relief and joy behind comprehension! It was over.
I called my wife to tell her I had completed my SCMM and to my great surprise she said to me that she has come to Mumbai to see me complete the race from Pune!
My joy knew no bounds as I went to Azad maidan to pick up my medal and breakfast.
My PUNE RUNNING friend Hitendra and I congratulated each other.
My wife had got me home made parathas and cake which were so sweet to eat as they were the fruits of completion of my first SCMM half marathon!
I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude fo the event organizers for the excellent arrangements throughout the race and to the people of Mumbai for their amazing support.
It was a memorable experience to run my first SCMM in “Mumbai Meri Jaan”! I know I could have done better without the knee pain.
I signed off from Mumbai off with a promise to overcome my knee issue and run again at my very best in SCMM 2017!
Suyog Panse is a regular runner in Aundh and Pune University campus
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