Race Report: CME Lake Marathon
20th October 2019.
If I have ever trained precisely for any event, with a dedicated plan, then it has to be the CME Lake Marathon. It felt like I was preparing for an exam. The excitement and the fear were exactly the same as I used to feel before a big exam.
I started preparing for this event from July, with a target of 3:20 hrs. Training went really well, I learned many new things, especially the importance of good sleep. I had set a few checkpoints to track my progress and at every checkpoint, I was on target. Every speed run, every strengthening session, and every long run made me more confident that I could achieve it. I had planned a long run of 38 km, exactly one month before the event and I was glad to run faster than my target pace. So, I decided to change my target to 3:15hrs. But little did I know that just before the race day I would get so pumped up that I would mess it all up. The night before the race day, I discussed my strategy with one of my friends, at the end of our discussion, we came up with a new plan, which did sound very promising.
The race day conditions were possibly the best. It was cloudy, with no sign of sun, low humidity, no headwinds. It was the perfect day. Everyone was getting warmed up, some were following the Zumba beats and others, being too arrogant to dance on someone else’s directions, like me, were doing their own drills. Soon the race time arrived, and after the flag-off, we were on our way. The route consisted of 4 laps of 10.5 km long path, with one, two-kilometer long beautiful lake.
As per my “new strategy”, I let go of my body and didn’t try to control my pace. Everything felt so nice, running with quick steps, no sign of any discomfort, normal breathing, I was happy. After 3.5 km, we found ourselves running alongside the beautiful lake, but because of the darkness, we could not see it properly. At the 8th km mark we had a huge building of academics (I think so), which looked so spectacular that even after running past it, I was turning back and looking at it. Soon I crossed the 10km mark in around 43 mins, which made me confident that that the strategy is working. Took a U-turn at 10.5 km mark and started running in the opposite direction.
While returning, I saw Manas near the building over-enthusiastic joy and gestures were exchanged and we moved on in our respective directions. At this point, the body was feeling light, I had got settled into the pace and was running strong. By now, half marathon people had also started their race, and before I could reach the lake again, I could notice the elite runners coming from the opposite direction. By the time I reached the lake again, the half marathon people had covered the road completely. Even after repeatedly told by the volunteers to run on the left side, people kept running as they wished. I had to shout and clap, grab their attention and ask to move aside. This shouting and dodging went on till the lake ended and yet again I could not see the lake properly. Anyways, I moved towards the 21.1 km mark and finished the first half of the race in around 1:35 hrs. I took a U-turn and started my 3rd lap.
Till now, I was confident that, if not 3:10, I’ll definitely get something near 3:12-3:13 hrs.
I was on my target pace, kept hydrating myself at regular intervals and continued running. This time when I reached the lake, I was too focused on my running to think about anything else. Saw Manas again but this time we just exchanged the bro-look and high five and moved on. I ran past the lake and continued with my set pace till 28th km. Now I started feeling a little fatigued. So, I quickly dropped my pace, took a small break at an aid station and started again. Crossed the building and at 30km mark, my watch showed 2:19:33. My mind instantly calculated that even if I run at a pace of 5, I could still make it in sub 3:20 hrs (which btw was part of “the plan”, that even if we fail to achieve something big, like 3:10, we’ll be satisfied by sub 3:20, at least we tried).
So I started running at the 5 pace. But, had it been this simple, I would have been boasting about my race and race plan all over, and it certainly wasn’t. As a result, at the 33rd km mark, I found myself searching for energy. It was like, something happened within 5-10 seconds. All the carbs I had loaded before the race or even during the race have magically vanished. It all changed in just 10 seconds and now the target was to just somehow finish before 3:30 hrs (you can laugh). Anyways, I continued slowly, at, I don’t know what pace. In the next 1 km, I started feeling a sensation in my thighs which moved to my calves. This sensation, which runners don’t like much, was, yes you guessed it right, the cramp, and I was like, yeah why will it spare me. Everything will have a toll on me today. I stopped at an aid station, stretched a bit, drank water and electrolyte, ate Banana and started again. Met Manas again who was in his third lap, I just conveyed him “mera kaam ho Gaya bhai” (I’m done bro) and in exchange, he could utter only two words “mera bhi” (same feeling). Although he didn’t need to say anything because I could see it on his face. This time we neither had the energy nor the interest to exchange high five or anything. It was getting more and more difficult with every step but the game was not over yet, I had a lake to cross. Yes, the so-called beautiful, never-ending, full of boredom lake. I challenged myself to cross it without stopping in between and somehow I did. After this I stopped at every 500 m, then the running distance started decreasing gradually and I started stopping at every 200m. Finally, I could see the last turn, from where the distance was only 250m. I gathered all of my leftover energy, which our body stores for an emergency like situations (well it was an emergency) and started running as fast as I could. I had to save my self-respect, or whatever had left in the name of it, by finishing before 3:30hrs (you can laugh again). So, I was running hard and a guy who was running in 10k category started racing against me. I was like, do you really have to do this, you really want to take my hardly left self-respect, away from me? Well, you know what, I won’t let that happen you 10k kid, and I finished ahead of him, which was not at all a proud moment. But I managed to finish at 3:29:44 hrs.
This was the first event where after finishing I had only one feeling, disappointment. Even while taking the medal I felt I don’t deserve it because I have failed in my exam. My friend, Deshmukh had finished his half marathon and he was happy with his performance, which made me feel good, seeing him all happy. We still had Manas and Sahil to finish their first Marathon. After a while, Manas finished and Sahil followed him. We took rest, had breakfast, cracked a few jokes on ourselves and our stupidity and started for our homes.
Later that day, I realized, maybe this whole experience wasn’t that bad, maybe if I had finished in between 3:10-3:15, I would have thought that running a marathon is nothing, maybe I would have underestimated the efforts that others put in their training. When Jagdish and I decided to go with this strategy in the event directly, we knew it was a risk, but we take risks only when we attempt something important. Had I tried it during my training it would have been a trial and error, not the risk. Also, I would have stopped at 33rd km. Risks are good, risks teach us, now I know that even if anything goes wrong during an event, I can still go on. It was a good learning experience.
Congratulations to Deshmukh for his debut HM, to Sahil for his debut FM and to Manas for his first seriously trained event