This is the beginning of my diary of experiences about how and why I began running long distance and how I (hopefully) ended up being successfully able to complete an ultra marathon (yea, I know I have high hopes!)
I am 38 years of age (39 in April) so I’m no spring chicken but thankfully I am reasonably fit thanks to playing squash regularly. I’m 176 cms and weigh between 66 to 67 kilos (the weight changes daily dependent on the exercise/effort put in)
I dislike doing weights at the gym or at home (which means I do NOT do any lifting at all) but I love playing squash and have at least an hour long session thrice a week.
IN THE BEGINNING
I have always been in awe of the great Himalayas and have always dreamt of getting as close to them as they would allow. One of the treks I loved and had always wanted to do was the Goecha-la trek (Khangchendzonga base on the Indian side) From reading up on various trek reports, it was quite obvious this would not be easy. So, in order to build endurance, me and a couple of friends (who formed our group heading to Goechala – Tapan Naubagh and Digvijay Singh) decided to run at least 5-6 kms.
Thus began our passion for long distance running (that we had always felt was beyond us!) Digvijay unfortunately has since then backed out, but me and Tapan are still at it, looking to improve every week.
Since we aren’t exactly serious athletes (and have work commitments) we had to look at setting up a program for ourselves that would not be time consuming and would also be flexible (dependent on us) Finding a coach and doing proper training was ruled out since I personally have family commitments which I prioritise over all else and Tapan has a strong commitment with his beauty sleep. 🙂
So, we began reading through various blogs and looking at tips that other experienced runners had posted. A lot of motivational stuff and in the end of October, 10 days before our trek, we were ready to throw the gauntlet and accept the challenge.
We had one major advantage, the National Park of Mumbai is not very far from where we are, which meant that we had a lovely, natural, pollution and traffic free environment to help our baby steps into the world of marathons.
I remember the very first time we aimed for 6 kms and huffed and puffed our way to 5 kms with me and Tapan clocking 39 minutes, and Digvijay doing a jog, walk till he reached the end.
Whatever the case we were chuffed, cos we had actually done it! After patting ourselves on the back, we decided to come back in 3 days time and run again.
The next couple of days were a bit of an agony on the knee and calves (especially my left knee which has had a history of swelling up thanks to a ligament injury I had 22 years back) However after 2 days of the muscles tightening and then easing in, we were back on the 3rd day, determined to take on the challenge.
This time, Digvijay was determined and he shot off like a bullet, clomping away with his big feet. Tapan and me stayed together for 2-3 kms after which he sped off while I kept running at my pace panting along. At around the 4 km mark, Tapan overtook Digvijay and completed the distance. I gasped my away across till the end – my time being the slowest by far among the three of us. I clocked 5 kms in 38 minutes! while Digvijay put in 36 minutes and Tapan did it in 35.
Again we were all still very proud, I was very happy that I had done it yet again, whatever the time and that I might just be ready for the trek 🙂 There is of course always the easy way out for the ‘senior’ members like me – always blame it on the age 😉 Tapan is 28 while Digvijay is 24 so its easier to console and pep yourself (although Im aware that age has NOTHING to do with how well you run)
We did another run before the trek in which I set a time of 35 minutes and came in second behind Tapan and just before Digvijay and I was sure then that I could do the trek. To Tapan and Digvijay’s credit, they managed to go all the way up the steep incline of Kanheri, while I just could not manage that non stop.
The trek was successfully completed by the three of us and we were back to Mumbai in November. As expected we had the usual cooling period of about a week but then we decided that we should continue our distance running form and should try to run in a 6k marathon. So, me and Tapan went ahead and registered for the biggest marathon in Mumbai and the biggest in Asia as well – The Standard Chartered Marathon… but in the littlest category – the 6KM (Dream) run. We wanted to participate in the 21 k run but they demanded a previous timing certificate that meant we were effectively nixed.
As we began running more often, our times started to show quite an improvement. We were also now able to run 5-6 kms with reasonable ease and that meant we were looking at increasing our distance. While we were pondering this, the Mumbai Daud came up as a Godsend 😀 It had a 10K run… a distance which seemed achievable and both of us discussed long and hard and then finally decided to go for it.
The problem was, it was the second week of December and the run was on XMas day! which left us with only a week to prepare without us ever having done anything beyond 6 km! (even that had been done just once)
It was then that we started becoming serious and began preparing in right earnest with mixed stamins and endurance runs.
Finally in the Mumbai Daud on 25th December 2013, we finished with a reasonably creditable time of 1 hr 09 seconds (Tapan) and 1 hr 19 seconds (me)
Tapan stood 95th while I stood 101st 🙂 – out of a total of 330 odd runners. For rank beginners with barely a month’s running experience, this was a terrific start and boosted us up massively.
After the Mumbai Daud, just as the New Year came across, we did our 2nd mini marathon – Run Powai Run. Me or Tapan will be writing up a detailed report about it very shortly and I will post the link here. In short, the Powai route was quite undulating and had a lot of slopes up and down, which meant it tested our leg muscles much more than the Mumbai Daud. We were not really expecting a great time… this is what happened.
Tapan had a spectacular run and finished with a time of 56 mins 44 seconds while I had a conservative run (I had a squash tournament in 3 hours post run) … still I managed to beat my previous best, albeit by only 4 seconds! 🙂 My time was 1 hr 15 seconds
As I close this chapter, its the night of 7th Jan and our next 10K run beckons – the Mathe-Run to be held at Matheran (a beautiful hill station close to Mumbai) on the 12th of Jan.
We are trying to prepare for it to run better than before, hope this time I can post a 57 minute run which will make me very very happy indeed! 🙂
So this brings you upto scratch with who we are and our experience level (or rather lack of it!) We are experimenting and learning things our way and are keeping track of what has helped us and what is improving or spoiling our runs.
From the next chapter onwards, I will talk less about the races but will focus more on the technical aspects and what difficulties we faced, how we overcame them, and what plan we followed.
wish us luck, our aim is to do an ultra marathon in a year’s time (among other milestones of course!) 😀
Till next time!!! cheers!