For Your failure teaches you how to succeed

It has been more than a month, since I ran Tata Mumbai marathon(TMM) 2020 on 19 Jan. It is one of the grandest events in India and it draws many runners across India and Globe. I was too drawn towards it due to the limelight and recommendation from my runner friends. I had in year 2019, run 10 Half Marathons and 1 Full Marathon, hence I thought I was prepared for my first TMM

The BIB collection centre for TMM was well organised and with good add-ons for those who prefer to buy them such as shoes, T-shirts, running socks and glasses etc. It had nice game activities and food stall too, I took my BIB in the last hour, so nearly missed it.

Although, they have started to give T-Shirts only for Full marathons, not sure the reason when people are willing to pay the amount. The registration fees charges are on a higher side, than most other marathons in the country.

TMM is always billed as the biggest marathon of the year which needs/boosts participation, more on the scenes of party atmosphere in which the entire Mumbai descends on the streets to either Run or Cheer.

For the record, I usually run in Pune, where the weather is colder and less humid than Mumbai, in short, a good running atmosphere. I am still an amateur runner, since I started my running journey in August 2018.

I eventually ran my first 10km race in College of Military Engineering (CME),Pune on Sep 2018. I have learned that every race teaches you something and TMM 2020 was a learning experience.

I realised that major thing that went wrong in this marathon was the discipline before the race which was not adhered too, in a full marathon one need to maintain it for 1 week before the race to start. I was taking things causally even 1 day before the race, doing things which might have affected muscle strength and stamina.

I thought after completing my first full marathon in CME in 5:20 hr (a very pedestrian time), I will be able to improve it to under 5 Hours easily to target 4:30 hrs in next full marathon.

However, before giving the exam if your preparation is not right and student is blithe, then the result will most likely be a disaster. Although last few months have not been that well (professional and personal), so I took this failure in my stride.

For when you embrace your failure, you empower yourself and focus on overcoming your shortfalls, in process allow yourself for thorough analysis of unwanted outcome. Hoping that this case study can be helpful to other fellow runners.

Few points I released went against me, as follows

  • Overconfidence
    • I ran Powai Half Marathon on 5 Jan 2020 on an easy pace with completion time of 2:12 hrs.
    • Ideally the full marathon time is supposed to be 2(half marathon time) + 30 mins.
    • Hence, in my case I thought 2(2:12) +30 mins nearly 4:55 hrs.
    • The catch being the temperature on 5 Jan 2020, was Pune type.

  • Discipline
    • Did not follow the tried and tested process of hydration with plain water, a day before race.
    • Protein loading for muscles was not done, day before the race.
    • Casual attitude entire week before the race

  • Electrolyte overloading
    • This I think became a major drawback, since in my zeal to improve my time and prevent cramps. I drank entire pouch of electrolyte in a 1 Litre copper bottle (still not sure if copper bottle played a negative role)
    • Post this intake, before bed time, I went for glass of Milk (for boost in energy).
    • Due to this misadventure, I had all the symptoms of electrolytes overloading which includes nausea, vomiting, stomach upset.

  • T-shirt for the race
    • When running a full, make sure your T-shirt is light and well ventilated.
    • Otherwise after 14-17 km, the body will start to heat up and a non-breathable T-Shirt will spike the heart-rate, which happened with me. I had to slow down and pause in the race multiple times due to this.

2 hours before race I was not sure if my body was race ready. I dreaded the situation since, I was running 42 km and not 10 km, additionally I did not want to wait for entire year to run TMM again (Who knows what shall happen then?)

I knew, it will be tough race and true test of my character and will. The night’s mishap had left me with no stored food to run on and little weaker. I took few medicines off the counter from 24×7 medical shop, along with 5-6 Snicker chocolates and 1 Litre water bottle to hydrate.

I took the cab from my residence and it arrived at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or CST as it is called around 4:50 am. The race started around 5:30 AM for us, post 15 mins scheduled time. I was clubbed with C group runners, based on my 21 km time submission for 42km application (it was 2:20 hr with target time of completion as 4:45 hr, and boy the target time was going for a toss).

For the initial section of the race, I ran with the comfortable pace, till we reached Bandra-Worli Sea Link, it was around 17 km from the start point that things start to become difficult for me. My heart rate spiked and T-shirt was not helpful, I took a pause and clicked few pics on the sea link as others were doing, got some hydration.

I was purposefully avoiding the electrolytes, the race supporting staff offered. However, I knew the writing on the wall, in spite of my spirited start, it will be a downhill now, I was not able to match my initial 17 km pace till end of the race.

I was trying to maintain a 6:30 min/km pace to finish it in 5 hours, it is a very comfortable pace for me, as I have completed 10km in 54 mins which amount to 5:30 min/km speed (trying to improve my time). In the case of 42 km we need to save energy for long and cannot sprint run in it.

I found the support system on the race day wanting, the nutrient support was not good, I got the first fruit post 27km and there were no dry fruits or Dates (which are highly recommended for such runs).

I was missing everything which was available in my first full marathon in college of Military Engineering, Army does take good care of you. I observed that most of the participants were in 21km run and they started their run from Bandra Worli SeaLink start point, it seems that due to the mismanagement of nutrition the marathon runners did not get fruits, dry fruits etc till 25-27km.

During the run, I had to stop at medical shops three times in entire duration of race, due to some or the other reason. There were ice packs provided post 30km, which were helpful since I started to have cramps on my right calf after it.

During the last stretch, post 34 km things went bad to worse and I stopped pushing (fearful of injury), but when 5-hour flag runners came I tried to match their pace. It became tough to even jog at their pace, they marched on leaving me behind.

The same pattern got repeated of 5:15 hour flag bearers and final death nail being me unable to keep up with 5:30 hour flag bearers.  

There were Mumbai residents providing last mile support, bringing water bottles and food items for the runners, covering up for the lack of items provided by the organizers.

I completed 36km in 4:55 hours but the last 6km became really tough and with no one to push or support the running, the motivation started to die down for timing.  In the last 3km, my right calf became worse and I started to limp, I had to stop and massage it for few minutes, apply spray kept with race volunteer staff.  

At the time I got call from my college friend who had completed 21km marathon earlier inquiring about my race status. He motivated me to finish this 42 km at all cost and not stop, some much needed pep talk.

I walked and limped the last 3km with nearly the speed of 11 min/km, in short finishing last 3kms in 33 mins.

It became more like a long walk picnic as most of the people near me were walking/limping last 2 km, with some attempting to jog. 

Going for the last km

When I reached the final point, it was 11:30 am, the sun was up and burning bright. I just took the medal, food pack and left for room. I had partially fulfilled my dream, by completing TMM full marathon.

I completed my first TMM 42km full marathon in 6:03 hours, an awful time and way below my targeted time of 4:45 hours, which I had planned few months back.

TMM was also full of elite runners, who ran at an awesome speed and clocked under 2:30 hours for both women and men section.

In Indian category too, the runners ran well and below 3 hours for both gender. Proper training and nutrition takes you to great heights.

Post the Run we took the famous Local trains to our respective residence, traveling in a local train to is an experience and fun (if you get the seat) .

Most importantly post the race, the charges of the Ola and Uber cabs were substantially high, which included sharing services.

Taking a 10-30 rupees Local train seemed more practical option from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

That is life, things we desire the most and with all our heart, tend to slip away and you cannot do anything but watch in despair, because you were not disciplined enough.

However, like every fighter/runner/athlete, one must take it on the chin and move forward, for every failure pushes you to succeed and offers you many more opportunities to change the narrative.

Looking forward to, many more TMMs in my life and improving my 42km timing in Mumbai. Cheers !!!