Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dream of Running a Marathon in SCMM 2017

Dream and Preparations for SCMM 2017

At some point in life we're all faced with a decision of whether to take a risk.  Whether we succeed or fail, the act of taking a risk will stretch us and give us faith in ourselves and the confidence to do even more. Maybe we're meant to do things that scare us so we can build greatness in ourselves.

I had been facing such a dilemma right through 2015. I wanted to move from half marathon to marathon but did not have the faith and confidence in myself that I would be able to do it and also lacked the courage to take the leap. I had been discussing about this with my rowdy gang and none of them were ready to make the transition due to injuries and various reasons and compulsions. Finally I decided to do it on my own.  I thought that I would risk trying to go that far so that I can see for myself how far I can go. I just decided to not stop myself but just let myself try. Once that decision was made miraculously I had new running buddies and a new group to run with!! It just goes to show that we have to just keep walking and it’s only when we continue to walk that we meet new travelers. Life is like a flowing river, each new bank brings in newer people and newer experiences.

Nandi Hills Run 2015
NOVEMBER 2015: In November 2015, during the Bangalore Ultra, when Jyothi was going for her second loop of her 25K run, having completed 12.5K by then, I ran/walked about 600mts with her and she told me about the run/walk strategy that the Jeff Galloway of Runner’s High, Coach Vinay had taught her and we both made a pact that we would attempt to run the SCMM 2017 together with this method. With this began our great journey of Dream Marathon SCMM 2017. We have read and heard about the great expeditions of the world like Edmund Hillary’s to Mount Everest or Vasco Da Gama’s or Christopher Columbus’s expeditions or the great race to the North and South Pole etc. I think of our journey is no less than these as we were about to discover new strengths and resources within ourselves and also it required enormous amount of preparation in terms of physical and mental abilities, clothing, equipment, nutrition, hydration, recovery etc.

What was our HM finish time then? 3hrs or more!!!! 
Were we very strong runners? NO!!!!! Did we have a strong finish for our HMs?? NO!!! 
Were we struggling in our HMs? YES!!!! 
Did we have a negative split in our HM? NO!!!!!! 
Then what were we thinking, dreaming of doing a Marathon? I really don’t know. Maybe we were not thinking at all. We were just dreaming!!! :)

What was our reason or motivation to want to run a Marathon? I, for one, was sure that I just needed to put a tick against my ‘run a marathon’ entry in my ‘101 things to do before I die’ list. Also I had a timeline for it. I wanted to run my first marathon before turning 42 as at least for once in life I wanted my age to be lesser than the distance I ran. Bit due to various reasons I could not achieve it when I was 41. Hence I was determined to do it at 42 so that my age would at least be equal to the distance. I called it 42@42 and I was about to turn 42 in June 2016. So, for the first time in my life I had a dream and clear time frame for it. I finally had a goal for which I was ready to work hard towards achieving.

NOV ‘15 to Feb ‘16: Jyothi and I signed up for the Winter 2015 and Summer 2016 seasons with the
Byalakere April 2016
sole aim to reduce our half marathon finish times and getting stronger for SCMM2017. To run the marathon in Mumbai it must be noted that not only do we have to get a confirmation from SCMM organizers for our marathon registration but also we have to get the qualification from Runner’s High to train for marathon. I think the Runner’s High criteria for qualification is very strict and it is more about commitment and dedication than abilities and capabilities. This is what I have understood and inferred so far. SCMM confirmation comes in October or November and Runner’s High confirmation comes in September. And, of course, there are no prizes for guessing which is the more difficult confirmation to get!!!!

Jyothi and me started our winter 2015 training with a 6 min run and 2 min walk plan and increased our run times by 5 or 10 seconds every 2 or 3 weeks. Later we started reducing our walk time by 5 seconds as well, while simultaneously increasing the run time by 5 seconds. We were so engrossed with our time and pace that we were questioned by Srini P as to why we are obsessing so much. By Jan ’16 our run time had come to 8 min and walk time had come to 1.5 min and with  this Jyothi ran her half in SCMM ‘16 and I ran it here in Bangalore at Decathlon as a part of our training run and we both finished in 3 hrs. After having achieved our first milestone we started thinking big and believing that 42K can be done.

Mar ‘16 – May ‘16: Before registering for the Summer 2016 training of RH, Jyothi and me spoke to Santhosh about wanting to do full in SCMM 2017 and he asked us to speak to the Marathon Guru
TCS 10K  May 2016
Srini V. It was such a big relief to get Santhosh’s approval. Not once did Santhosh doubt our ability to finish 42K even though we might have had several doubts within ourselves. We had a long and lengthy discussion with Srini V at Cubbon Park in February 2016 and he gave us a complete go ahead to do it and assured us that we will be able to do it. He told us about what were the expectations he would have of us and gave us a list of targets we had to achieve. We had to improve our 10k timing in TCS 10K and our 21K timing in KTM. We had to give 100% attendance and nothing less including our Tuesday run on our own and Friday strength training on our own apart from our group runs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We had to maintain an excel sheet of our training including our sleep times and food intake. We maintained our logs and Srini V examined it each week and gave us his feedback without fail. This continuous monitoring kept us on our toes. He is so precise that he would ask us why we had failed to make our entries even if we missed making one. Srini V’s belief in us inspired and motivated us to dream bigger and go for it! Pay the price and our rewards will be bigger!! Thus our TCS 10K timing improved and we had successfully crossed the second milestone.

June ‘16 – Aug ‘16: Jyothi and my first HM together was in Runner’s High’s very own annual event Ananda Yana’s pre-Ananda-Yana-run at Decathlon. We both ran the run very strong and improved our HM timings considerably. Jyothi did it in 2.48 and I did it in 2.52. For my SCMM 2017 dream I
Stonehill - 1st May 2016
had the additional challenge of not having the timing of any timed race in 2015 which is required to sign up for SCMM. Ashok was keen to run in the Hyderabad HM as he had till then not done a single organized race ever, even though he had been running for over a year and a half by then. We both signed up for Hyderabad HM 2016. There was a lot of debate and bargaining with Srini V about whether I could do both Hyderabad and KTM back-to-back with a gap of just 3 weeks. Srini was concerned that I might get injured as post KTM our running mileage would increase considerably from November ’16 onwards. Post SPBM in October we would be running 21ks and more every Saturday for 8 to 9 weeks. But I assured Srini that if I achieve my timing in Hyderabad to sign up for SCMM, I would run KTM at training pace and not push at KTM and he gave me his ‘go ahead’. Ashok and I both traveled to Hyderabad in Aug ’16 and had
great runs in AHM-HM. I got 2.44 hrs, my PB for HM in AHM and ran my strongest ever HM and came back very delighted feeling a lot more confident to embark upon our marathon training. I thank my stars that I ran in AHM and completed my registration for SCMM with that timing as KTM was postponed due to the Cauvery riots. Of course I would have had the opportunity to do HM in SPBM and register with that timing link, but it would have been another 2 months of uncertainty and anxiety as to whether I would be able to get the SCMM registration confirmation or not.

Sep ‘16 – Oct ‘16: We continued our training and we did our 21K at Stonehill to compensate for the postponement of KTM. We had our info session for Marathon training at Cubbon Park and it was the best day of my life because our running Guru Sri Sri Sri Swami Runaananda Maharaj Santhosh and Marathon Guru Srini V praised both Jyothi and me and applauded our commitment and efforts and we were on cloud nine for at least a week and walking on air. When someone shows this kind of belief in us, it helps in building our self-confidence and self assurance. I think I must have boasted and raved about this for at least a week and told everyone from RH and everyone into running about this that I now had the qualification from Runner’s High

I will continue with my Marathon training in this blog as I do not want to make this too long. 

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