Just then I noticed that Haji ali never looked that beautiful. I was eagerly waiting to reach Worli Sea face as Shreeya (my better half) was amongst the volunteers at a water station. As soon as I entered Sea Link, I heard my name and there she was. Waooo nothing is more encouraging than getting a kiss from your loved one while running. As if my battery was refueled.
I was feeling privileged while running on Sea Link. How many times you get a chance to cross the sea link without paying any toll. And the timing was perfect with the rising sun on my right across the sea at the horizon. It seemed as if God of light and Vitamin D was greeting us. Rising Sun is always inspiring for runners.
I haven’t taken any stop yet. Not even on water stations. In my opinion first stop starts the chain of frequent stops or after your first stop it becomes difficult to resist the urge to stop again and again. That’s why I say; running is a mental sport. You have to overcome the state of mind where your body wants to rest. This is the kind of task that separates the men from the boys. So far I was among the men. I wanted to finish atleast 21K without any break and I was able to stretch it till 23K. In Mahim my calf muscles started to sore. I decided to slow down a bit and took my first stop to apply some ice.
I started my journey again and near Dadar, saw my running buddy Mufi next to me. I was happy to catch him for two reasons: first he is a better runner than me and secondly I knew if I am running at par with Mufi then my timing is just right enough to crack the goal. Suddenly elite runners passed through. They run like horses. Pata nahin kya kha k daudte hain.
Mumbaikars are good hosts. I saw people with everything to cheer us- chocolates, watermelons, oranges and even pastries. You eat these items regularly but here they feel even tastier. But one should not eat much to avoid cramps in stomach.
I was able to finish 30K in 3:25 hrs and now fatigue started to affect me. I knew the difficult road ahead since my longest practice run was just 32K. I was at Worli sea face again and there she was: Shreeya to cheer me up again.
Post 32K, I was taking frequent stops. It was more of walking and running. Mufi developed some cramps and he took some rest. I kept doing stretching to avoid muscle spasm. I could see that many runners were slowly running and seeking help. Happy to see that I was not alone who was tired.
This was turning out to be the most difficult phase. I was looking at my watch frequently and counting kms to run. I couldn’t climb up Pedder road running. Instead I glanced Antilia (Mukesh Bhai and Neeta Bhabhi’s home) leisurely. They are the only people whom I know in that locality but sadly they were not there to cheer up for me ! or they were tired of waiting for me and left. No worries.
Sun was no more pleasant. Slowly I came upto Chaupati. I was almost crawling now. Very few people on the road to cheer us. I guess their enthusiasm lasted only till 10 o’clock.
I was in the final phase of last 3 kms. It was becoming like a hell to finish that tiny distance. I had finished 39K and crying for the last 3K. My legs were sore and old injury was hurting me. This is what a marathon is. No matter how much distance you have covered last 10% always feels longer than the rest.
I walked, ran, walked, ran and walked. Now timing was not important. Only finishing was important. There was a board indicating last 300 m and I ran with full capacity. I wanted to finish this race on running feet and I did that. It was 05:09:32 on my watch.
I am not a great runner. I am also not a lazy runner. I was happy that I could finish it in respectable time. This race was very important for me for personal reasons.