I have 18 days to continue to gloat.
Until January 15, 2012, I will be one up on most of my fellow runners in NMR and elsewhere. Coz, most of them have never run a marathon in their lives, while I have. And I finished. Whereas the likes of Srivatsan, Venkat Krishnan, Surya and many others are yet to even attempt one. They are faster then me, but so what. They are better than me, but so what. They are stronger than me, but so what. fact is, they are still Marathon Virgins.
All these years, they have been fooling themselves, saying that they are running a half marathon, a term that makes me shudder. Being a half marathoner is like being a half virgin. No sire, that don't count. The marketing people conjured up that expression to make you feel happy and to fool you into thinking that if you are finding half the distance too easy, it is perhaps time for the full. If you have fallen for that, you will fall for anything. Like if i told you that self induced pleasure is enough to qualify not being a Virgin.
They told me last year that it is always painful the first time and was it indeed!! They tell me that it gets pleasurable then onwards, I certainly hope so. But i can tell you that I am worried stiff that it may end up being just s painful if not more. As someone said, you approach it a second time with greater fear after having experienced pain the first time around.
Considering that you are about to lose your virginity, I feel that it is my bounden duty to offer you some advice ahead of the big moment.
You must have only one objective, and that is to finish. it does not matter how long it takes, it does not matter how far ahead your friends are, simply forget any thoughts of a personal best. Considering that this is your first, it is automatically your personal best, but only if you finish.
Be mindful of your body at all times. I am told that the body has a stock of glycogen that will last only 2 hours. It does not matter whether you are a fast runner or a slow one, a fat one or a thin one, that's all you have. So, please take care of your nourishment along the way. Have that energy drink, have that orange, have that banana. Do not hesitate to take it even from strangers. Most of them wont even know to want to poison you. You will find kids lining the way along Worli sea face offering all this, say thank you and take it. if you are carrying GU gel or some other kind of energy stuff, that's good too. But do not forget to stay nourished.
Running 21 k is very different from running a marathon.however many 21 ks you may have done, however many long runs you have done, it does not mean that you will do well on race day. There are simply too many imponderables. The weather, your routine for the week leading to the race, your sleep, whether your excursion to the potty that morning relieved you, and so on. So, approach it with humility. If you follow cricket, you would know that every great batsman starts his innings on zero. his form gives him confidence, that's all. But he knows that he could be out on a duck. So, until he is settled in, he does not take chances. So, don't take chances. Running a marathon can be really boring, so stay with yourself.
As I discovered last year, there comes a time when you enter a zone, oblivious to things around you. Don't try to break out of it, don't try to shake yourself out of it. It will happen after you have seen enough hunks, enough PYTs, after you have run out of things to think about. It is a moment when you have no thoughts, you are blank. It is a moment of silence, a moment of ecstasy and i am not referring to the drug. Stay with it and you will finish before you can say SCMM. That for me is the moment to run for.
This year there is one big prize in store for you to grab if you are smart about it. It is the opportunity to finish with the athletes. Given the start for ordinary runners is at 540 and for elites at 7 40, if you are a 3 hour marathoner or even a 4 hour marathoner, you can finish with the elites. I know people who are planning to run with the elites, but I think if i were in their place, I would start at 5 40 and finish ahead of the elites. Just imagine a photograph of Vatsan racing to the finish with a Nigerian in hot pursuit. the photo will not say that Vatsan started earlier, it will simply capture a moment that can be the stuff to regale his grandchildren with: "I finished ahead of the Africans and here is the proof."
The toughest place to be is at the start when people are boasting about how fast they will finish. Don't stay anywhere near them. Let me tell you that we had a runner last year who finished 21 in 90 minutes but took thrice as much time to finish the next 21. As many as 3 of the 6 people who were bragging at the start did not finish. It can happen to the best of us at the worst of times. So if you need a massage at the medical tent, stop and ask for it. if you are cramping up, stop at the medical station and ask them to help you. The minute or two that you may lose here is nothing compared to the downside of not finishing.
It is a long race. Most of the people i know will be in the 4 hour category. That is a long time to be on the road for. So if you have to pee, go ahead and pee. Don't even think of worrying about losing time because of that. You will actually run faster once you have relieved yourself. As my friend Savio was explaining to one of his wards, the difference between a 6 min km and a 5 min km is just a minute. A minute is nothing in the duration of a 4 hour run. It is even less if you are going to be running for close to 6 hours like me.
So there, have a great run. It is a run, it is supposed to be fun. Leave it be and it will happen. Good luck and godspeed.
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