So the D day finally arrived. SCMM dawned nice and bright- the roads swarming with runners of different shapes, sizes and colours. The buzz, preparation and anxiety levels almost seemed like prepping up for our boards taking one back to our school days. Nervousness and excitement was certainly in the air, as we got down at Worli Naka and walked to our new start line and holding area-Worli Diary. Oh yes, this year the organizers had changed the route for the half marathoners, by commencing at Worli instead of the usual Bandra fire station which meant that it gave us half marathoners an opportunity to run on the famous Bandra-Worli sea link twice. This sure did raise a few eyebrows as many wondered about the logistics of getting to the venue and also the light elevation at the beginning of the sea link seemed to be a cause of concern for several runners.
As we reached the venue, we were pleasantly surprised to see the holding area for different sections well sorted and spacious as compared to the mad rush that one was accustomed to last year. This certainly meant we didn’t have to push or shove like wild animals let loose, to get past the start line. The area was lively with friendly chatter and a few jokes which managed to ease our pre-race nerves. As the clock struck 5:40 am, we began to focus on putting our best foot forward. Our hearts were hoping for a sub 2 finish so we dutifully decided to follow our bus called the’ 2 hours of peace’ which had 2 white balloons symbolizing the same lead by Ajit Singh
We soon set off and found ourselves on the sea link. For some reason the cool winter breeze eluded itself in the pretext of giving us a ‘warm’ welcome which made my husband Amit Sridharan and I drop our pace after the first few kilometers. However we ensured that we did not lose track of those white balloons. As long as they were within our sight, we comforted ourselves saying sub 2 wasn’t such a distant dream after all. Post the 5 km stretch, dehydration began to set in which made us turn to the water stations. Grabbing a water bottle from one of the aid stations, we thanked the volunteers. Bless these kind-hearted souls, without whom our runs will just be ‘mission impossible’!
We returned to our strides and after 8 km, we lost sight of those white balloons. There went our sub 2 dream! Determined not to lose heart, we decided to put in our soul into this race and be happy with whatever timing this run presented to us.
Like horses wearing blinkers, we focused on our run and soon touched the Mela restaurant at the 11 km mark. Now we had entered our familiar terrain-yes this point is one of the water stations of the monthly MRR runs, where our selfless volunteers promptly hand over water and enerzal bottles to the perspiring runners. We pictured Chetan Gusani or Indy Jadhv clicking pics of us as they normally do, during our practice runs and that managed to bring a smile on to our faces. We continued running with just 10 km to go.
Now there are days when you want to give it your best but your legs just refuse to listen to your command. This was one of the days when they seemed fatigued despite having given them adequate rest. I suppose it had to do something with the fact that I was close to my monthly cycle which lowers my energy levels. Thankfully there was no cramping as I ensured enough hydration during the course of the run.
The real battle was about to begin as I could see the Peddar road flyover from a distance looking back at me in a daunting manner. During our hill training sessions, I recollected my trainer instructing me to bend my body down while running uphill. I took his advice too seriously today as I literally bowed down to Peddar road pleading it to let me continue my strides smoothly. My head was bent so low that I could hardly acknowledge the crowd at this juncture who were clapping and cheering for us. Finally I found myself gliding downwards towards the Babulnath temple and lo behold! Marine drive had arrived. Just 5 kms to go before we reach home sweet home.
My legs pleaded me to stop but my heart urged me to go on. They say, when you can’t run with your legs, run with your heart and this is precisely what I did today. A good amount of encouragement by my husband cum running partner also worked wonders as we ran past Wilson college- another water point of our MRR runs, the marine drive flyover, Intercontinental hotel, the left turn at the ‘Pizza by the bay restaurant’ towards VT station. Before we knew it, we crossed the finish line clocking a good time of 2 hours 5 mins.
We staggered towards the medal counter and hungrily munched on the banana cake that the organizers were generous enough to provide along with a sandwich and a bar of chocolate. The fatigue began to wear off as we caught up with some runner friends, engaging in an animated chatter about our running experiences. We felt lighter, happier and the celebration mode had already set in.
Now when we open our champagne bottles, it’s important that we take a minute to raise a toast to the undeterred spirit of the crowd, volunteers, the MRR cheer squad and photographers to whom we are forever indebted. Their selflessness is instrumental in making our runs a great success. Without them we probably won’t be posing with our medals and smiles today. Cheers!