So here I am on the other side of 42.195km. I have two giant water filled welts on my toes. Two toe nails are threatening to fall off. And I am enveloped in a mist of Volini.

It took my 4.43 minutes to run 42.195. At one point I thought I’d finish it sub 4:30 but Peddar Road and the heat on Marine Drive had other plans for me. When I reached 39km I remembered her advice and said to hell with it and ran as fast as I fucking could.

So what was it like?

What I remember this time is the first three hours. I felt invincible. I’d done 20km in just under 2 hrs and 30km just over 3hrs.

I remember wanting to puke just before it started because all around me all I could hear was people who were talking about the 6 marathons they’d already run. People were kind wished me all the best when they found out it was my first time and told me it would be ok. And then there was the amazing salt and pepper haired senior veteran who said this was her 45th marathon. I bow to thee. She spoke of how hard it was getting as she got older and that her body wanted her to slow down but her mind wasn’t in agreement.

As I approached Babulnath there was another Sr. Veteran who was wearing a “Trichy Athletics” tshirt. My parents and sister lived there for a while before I was born and for some reason that made me shout out to him “Mama naan Madras Ponnu!” (Mama I’m a madras girl!) as we chugged along together for a bit he told me how he had been running for years but this was the first time he was coming to Bombay for the marathon. How it had been a long time dream of his.

Near Haji Ali there was a fantastic group of friends from our building holding posters and cheering us on. I have to say, whenever I feel myself wanting to slow down all it takes is a familiar face to get me going. And it felt amazing spotting my friends running the half marathon as we passed each other on Worli Sea Face. These are women I’ve trained with for the last 8 months and they were amazing today.

Its always surreal running on the Sea Link. So much so that many marathoners stop and take pictures en route 😀

The first hard stretch was between 32 and 35km. I knew my family and friends were waiting for me at Haji Ali and my prayer to keep myself going was “You’re going to see their faces you’re going to see their faces”

Can I backtrack here?

Just before the elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia pass you a motorcade of bikes pass you by asking you to keep to the extreme right. And then a badass beemer goes back with a camera on the end. And then there they are. I have to say I was so tempted to just stop and watch them go by. It was truly a beautiful sight. And strangely moving.

It always amazes me that people will wake up early on a Sunday morning to come and cheer strange nutters as they run the course. But there they are. Kids, grandparents, parents…shouting out “Women power” “Go Aunty Go!” and my favourite bit : an entire line of kids from the Worli slum we ran through sitting on the divider arms extended for a high five. I wish I had a camera to capture that.

I hit the wall on Peddar road a good two km before the flyover. The road is a seemingly innocuous gentle slop upwards but its a real bitch. And I just wanted to scream at the unfairness of it. But better to hit the wall at 36 km than sooner.

Marine Driver was my own personal hell. Heat. Sun in my eyes. No amount of water on my head could cool me down. I wanted to cry at this point. And then as I turned in to Churchgate I saw an amazing friend who had been there to cheer the half marathoners and then waited another 2 hours for me. And she ran along me till I hit the finish line. And she really really really made a difference. Thanks Priyaka.

This time when I passed the finish line my overriding emotion was regret. I knew I could have done better. But then there’s always next year.

The regret has worn off now. And I feel pretty good about myself. I can’t believe its over. I’m sad and I’m glad.

I read somewhere that half marathons are all about speed and legs. Full marathons are about endurance and your mind.

I couldn’t agree more. If my brain hadn’t gotten on board I think I might have collapsed from nerves before I even hit the 10 km mark.

Thanks to every single one of my friends and family who supported me and told me I could do it. Thanks for all the praise that made me feel so damn good about myself. Thanks for the donations to the charity I ran on behalf of. You’ve helped me raise over 81,000 INR. You guys are amazing. You’re the reason I thought I could do this. You’re the reason I did do it.

This is something I had written to a dear group of friends at the beginning of the year:

I’ve really enjoyed training for this marathon… and I keep thinking if I put this kind of dedication focus and effort in to other things… I wonder what I could achieve. And then I also wonder… is it that I need to find something that inspires me as much as running does to draw from those unknown depths of my body – mental and physical?

I think may be that’s it. Anand says it well – if you really want to do something you will find a way to make it happen. And I find a way to make my running happen. Rain, shine, visiting guests, periods, kids who have kept me up half the night… nothing stops me or gets in the way. And what I really want in 2014 is to find something else that inspires me like running does.

I hope you all find that something!

(apologies for typos…i just sat down and wrote this and I’m too tired to edit.)


8 thoughts on “42.195

  1. So wonderfully captures the atmosphere and your experience of the day. You know how you feel right now? Catch that quick, bottle it straightaway and leave it in the back of the cupboard and on days when you really wonder where this is all going, reach for it, take a quick whiff and be assured that wherever you’re headed it’s a good place to be. Bask in the glory, soak in the achievement. Beaming with pride, Abhi

  2. So very inspiring! It has been a long time since I made my mind take over the body – been basking in (in)glorious lethargy. You’ve given me another reason to test my mental muscle.

  3. Congrats Shoefie. So proud of you and my lil’ sis who also ran in the same marathon(who knows you might’ve passed her somewhere along the trail:-)) and beat out all of her corporate men(and women) colleagues who participated too!! And this from a gal who lost 60 pounds last year after battling severe weight issues for most of her life. I had tears in my eyes knowing she’d done it and joy in my heart reading your post today because you’ve described it all so well.

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