After the Midnight marathon on 18th December , where I ran a 'Half Marathon' , the focus now shifts to the Mumbai Marathon on 16th January 2011. I had a reasonably good run at the MM completing the 22Km Half marathon in 1:52 at an average pace of 5:07 per Km (vis-a-vis an average pace of 5:02 per Km in 2009 and my target pace of 4:58). Yes, the race organisers goofed up badly in calibrating the run loop as a result of which HM runners ended up doing 22Km instead of 21.1Km and the FM runners 44Km instead of 42.2Km! It is ridiculous for such an error to happen in a professionally organised event specially as it was a straightforward road route that could have been easily measured using a Garmin. What made it worse was when the race director from Crossover (Neeraj Varma) initially refused to accept that there was any issue with the distance calibration. When pressed and told that it was more than it should be he dismissed it casually saying as long as it is not short there was no issue - shows complete lack of appreciation of the training and effort required to run these distances.
The incorrect distance was not the only issue with the event this year which was poorly organised compared to last year. When we reached the bib collection counter around 10:30 PM after leaving our car in the parking lot of Ramagondanahalli School a few hundred meters away we were shocked to find that all HM Bibs were over. It looks like the organisers did not keep asid bibs for runners who had resgistered online in advance. After a long wait and lot of confusion runners were given bibs of other events such as the relay with HM scribbled on the bib. Soon even these bibs were over. And several HM runners ran without bibs - they were apparently given the timing chip free of charge. Collection of the timing chip was another big chaos with a long, slow moving line. Apparently these got over as well and several runners were left to run without one. I, like many othe runner friends, had decided not to take the chip - given that the timings were anyway not accurate last year. I collected my finishers medal and certificate(with time inserted as per my wish) soon after completing the run. Thirty minutes later there was a huge queue for this as well. And (what a surprise!) the organisers ran out of these well and have promised that they would be couriered to the runners. I understand non of the FM finsihers received either the medal or the certificate. With such a pathetically organised event I need to think hard whether to do this again next year. The only positive is the race itself cannot be easily screwed up since the run route is very short and this serves as a good tempo run towards my training fro Mumbai which follows a few weeks later.
The HM and FM were flagged off at about 12:14am after some announcements and speeches from the organisers and a local politician. I managed to pull myself away from the crowds after a few minutes and keep an average pace of 5:03 minutes per Km for the first two and half laps(11Km). The route was on one side of the divided road so there was complete traffic control. There were frequent water stations and thankfully the volunteers wanting to ink the bib at the turnaround point were missing. It was nice to see many familiar runners on the course multiple times - many doing the HM and several the FM. Chandra, Athreya and Manoj were running quite a blistering pace. My pace dropped to 5:11 in the second half and I finished in 1:52:53. Though I missed my target by 3+ minutes(assuming about 1:48 for 21.1Km) I am satisfied. I was not feeling great either physically or mentally throughout the Saturday before the run and started the run lacking confidence that I would be able to hit my target. In any case I find it difficult to push hard in shorter distance runs compared to maintaining a reasonably steady pace in a longer run. Congratulations to fellow runners Meher and Amrita for finishing 1st and 2nd in women's FM and Arundhati and Neera for the 2nd and 3rd positions in women's HM - all of them have won decent prize money which is great!
My training has been below par the first two weeks of December - due to travel to Chennai in the 1st week of December for a wedding and short holiday(during which I ran only once) followed by travel to Tirunelveli where I had an upset stomach. However, with the 32.2Km run in 3:22 at GKVK this morning my training for Mumbai is back on track. The next two weeks are extremely critical in order to be in shape for a sub 3:59 on 16th January. I plan to do a tempo 10K run this week and next week with a fastish 20-25K in the weekend. And finally a 36Km run on the 1st of January after which the tapering will start. Also need to ensure that one stays away from sickness and injury which ofcourse is never under one's control.