The week leading up to the 3rd Sunday of January has been a tense and nervous one for several years - as it ends with the premier road marathon in India - Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. I have been making the annual pilgrimage to Mumbai since the first edition in 2004. After running the HM there in 2004 and 2005, it has been the full monty since 2006 making 2014 the 9th consecutive year. Despite familiarity with the course as well as the ambiance and organisation of the race the week leading up to the race has never been an easy one (not only for me but for other family members as well). This year should have been different as the key goal of qualifying for Boston marathon was accomplished in SCMM 2013 and I am fortunate enough to have successfully registered to run in Boston in April 2014. However, it is no different -. there is a (self-imposed) mental pressure to do well in this event. And try and continue the following sequence of year-on-year improvement.
- 2006 4:42:28
- 2007 4:37:16
- 2008 4:31:09
- 2009 4:13:16
- 2010 4:00:56
- 2011 3:52:46
- 2012 3:48:57
- 2013 3:37:20
Of course, I am well aware, that age will catch up sooner than later , the FM time will plateau and improving upon the 2013 timing will be challenging. Nevertheless, I started training for SCMM 2014 on 1st October 2013 with a target time of 3:35. Training went very well till 30th November including a good race at Bangalore ultra 2013 with a PB for a 50K inspite of a fall around 29K mark. I then got hit with injury woes in the 1st week of December and the training has been erratic ever since. Due to the strained left glutes/hamstring/calf I have not done any interval run since 4rth December. Have also missed or struggled through the long runs. The saving grace , hopefully, is that I have managed most of the tempo runs and the cycling cross training workouts. I am feeling reasonably positive after the 3 runs ( two tempo runs, a 16K run at MP) plus 2 cross training work outs done this week - the last time I had five satisfactory workouts in a week was 6 weeks ago. This has been possible thanks to the stretching advice from doc Gladson of AttitudePrime and soft tissue massage by sports physio Anitha Mathews. Things have been complicated by quite a bit of personal(rail) travel and eating out since mid November. Thankfully the weight has stayed in the 54-56 Kgs range since January 2013. My body fat% (as per the test at Snap fitness, Indiranager) has changed from 12% in Jan 2013 to 10.2% in Jan 2014 (it had dipped to 9.7% in August 2013 ).
Based on the recent injury woes, my coach Bill Pierce of FIRST has advised me to skip SCMM, take some time off from running and then focus on training for Boston marathon. Several other runner friends also feel that I should not risk running fast at SCMM and jeopardise the chance of doing well at Boston. However, personally for me it is more important to do well in Mumbai than in Boston. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to run Boston and will certainly try and do well there. However, since it is once in a life time thing I would rather enjoy and soak in the atmosphere and the crowds instead of going all out and focusing on a stringent time goal. Besides the course is new and the weather unpredictable - it could be either too hot or too cold on race day. The race itself starts at 10am. The last time I did a big race (London 2006) - it started at 9am and it was one of my slowest finishes. Mumbai on the other hand is familiar territory with more predictable and palatable weather and I have improved my timing each of the last 8 years I have done a full marathon there - I am keen on continuing that trend as long as possible.
My race strategy is going to be the same as last year's : 21.1K in about 1:46, 30K by 2:30, 35K in under 3 hours and then push as hard as possible in the last 7K based on physical and mental state. Of course, it all depends on how the left glutes and calf hold up. If I feel very stressed during the race and sense a risk of not making it to the start line in Boston in good shape then I plan to take it easy and not worry about the timing. I will be thrilled if I can go below last year's time of 3:37:20. A sub 3:40 would still be great. In the worst case I will take anything around 4 hours. Finally a lot depends on all the different variables falling into place and the motivation to dig deep physically and mentally on race day. Here's wishing all runner friends a fantastic enjoyable race on 19th Jan!!