My Marathon History
Last Updated on: 21st January 2015
If I remember correctly it was early 2007 when the audacious thought of one day running a marathon entered my 43 year old head.
I was never thin – on the contrary I was quite fat, even as a kid. But around 1996-97 things got seriously out of hand. Without ever really realizing it I had reached a milestone – OBESITY at 94 kilos.
So how did a once 94 kilo, couch potato graduate to even thinking of running, let alone running a marathon?
Well, first the realisation that there was a problem! I was attending a cousin’s wedding, and of course as is customary “shaadi (marriage)” videos were being shot. A few days past the marriage everyone sat down to watch the videos. While everyone was laughing and shouting and generally having a good time – I was in a state of shock…..I could see this huge lump of human fat on the screen which unbelievably looked like me, I tried to convince myself that it was someone else, maybe an evil twin … But no such luck!
Then started my arduous journey of dieting, exercise and even “magic” cures, a few kilos lost here and a few there, which always crept back. Started some serious gym work in 2003 – running on a treadmill; weights; aerobics – basically the works. Also pushed back on the food front in earnest. About 10 months into this the results started showing I was down to a more manageable 78 kilos. Then one fine day I turn up at my gym (which was on the way to my office) and there is a notice on the board that the gym is closing down! And it did close about a month later, and in about 3 months I was back to a heavier 82 kilos!
What next? While I was doing my treadmill runs I had always thought – can I transition from the soft treadmill to a “real” road? I dreaded the thought and the doubts kept me back. I don’t exactly remember when I first ventured out on the road, I do remember buying a fancy pair of Adidas shoes (went totally by the looks, had no idea of foot type, gait or anything else). Ventured on to the road – I could barely run a kilometer to begin with but what an accomplishment it felt like – that first kilometre!
Over the next several weeks and months it soon became the first 2, 3 and 4km. I still remember the exact run I did to cross 5km – I bragged about it to family and friends for days! Then 6, 7, 8km… Could I ever run further – a marathon or at least a Half!? When this thought first came to me I had to actually look up what all this full and half marathon meant! When I saw what it did the first thought was no way was I going to be able to ever do anything even close to this! But the thought kept gnawing on my brain through the monsoons of 2007.
Finally decided to give it a shot. I needed a program for this – so now research started in earnest. Zeroed in on Hal Higdon’s website (http://www.halhigdon.com) and “gyan”. Training sheets were made; routes measured in the car (GoogleEarth was still a few years away for me). Finally achieved the unthinkable ran my first half marathon, the Vodafone Delhi HM in October 2007 in 2:27:28. In great excitement and keen to better my time I then signed up for Mumbai Half 2008 (2:22:30). I was truly a running junkie by then, addicted to the sport that we all love.
Oh, did I mention that by then I was back to being a lighter 75 kilos!
But the real leap came sometime in the summer of 2009 – “I’ve done the 21km can I ever do a 42km?” Running was till then very very painful for me – when I used to read about how people enjoyed runs and had endorphin spikes I would think – “fibbers” – wasn’t it just about managing pain and more pain? The motivation being that at the end was such a great accomplishment that you gritted your teeth every time and just kept going!
Bit the bullet and signed up for the Mumbai 2010 Full – and to cut the story short completed the run in great pain in 5:26:12 as I hobbled back home to my in-laws in Mumbai and for the rest of that day the only thought through my pain numbed mind was “I’ll never ever do this again in my life !” (You can read about some of my experiences of the Mumbai Marathon in my main blog https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/re-living-my-first-marathon/).
Got up the next day feeling much better and the first thing I did was open my laptop, connect the dial-up modem and start searching for the next marathon event! I was truly beyond any help or therapy by now!
By this time I weighed in at 72 kilos.
2010 and later have been great running years – the pain is gone from running. Well it’s still there for the real long runs (25 km and more) but it’s a nice pain, not the “I can’t get up for three days” sort of pain. Multiple half marathons, full marathons, 10ks, trail runs, overseas marathons, long runs, short runs have all just jammed up my calendar since then. Personal bests have kept tumbling in almost each race. For the record the PBs as they stand now are FM- 4:19:12 and a 3rd place in age group at Airtel Hyderabad Marathon; 1st place finish in 50k two person relay at Bhatti Lakes; HM in 1:53:14 at RNL F1 HM; 10k – 0:49:50 at RNL Noida 10k; 5k – 0:24:13 at Supertech Noida 10k.
Now I am back to being 73 kilos but this is a much thinner and fitter weight than the earlier years. I turned 50 this September and did the Airtel Delhi HM in 1:54:33 just a week back. Every year my motivation to try to train better and smarter than before and to improve on my running and timing gets stronger and stronger.
To remain strong and fresh I have reduced the number of races I do every year but on the other hand I have actually increased my overall training with a blend of running, cross and strength training. To keep my training interesting I love to experiment & mix-up things year to year. I started with a couple of programs from Hal Higdon; graduated to Jeff Galloway’s walk-run program; then moved to very high mileage programs from Pete Pfitzinger (up to 90kms a week) during 2012 & 13. This year I am training using the FIRST – Run Less Run Faster program with weekly running mileage of up to 50kms a week. The miles are less but the intensity is way beyond what I have ever done before! Looking forward to putting my training to the test at the Mumbai Marathon in January 2015.
People complain of not having time for running because of work, travel, family, injury, sickness, etc. In 2007 I was CEO of a 400 people engineering services division of an $8 Billion British company and I still found time to train and run my first HM later that year.
Finding time to run definitely got easier when I lost my job in December 2007 (another corporate thriller and story to tell) and I decided to never ever work for anyone else again. Being my own boss has definitely made it easier. But if you want to follow a passion you must & will find time for it.
A supportive spouse is definitely a huge motivation and help. But your running doesn’t mean you’re “non-running” family has to sacrifice and suffer. Some adjustments are indeed made by the family, like an early night the day before a long weekend run. But then I am usually done with my long run before the family is even awake on the weekend and I make sure that I still have the energy left to be able to go for a long outing with them later. Balance is everything.
I have beta thallasimia trait which means I have chronic low haemoglobin levels (10-11). I have also had my fair share of running injuries and falls. These things have sometimes paused but never stopped my running and I have always come back with a vengeance.
People ask me why I run. I don’t have a convincing answer for them. And I have stopped asking myself this question. The night before a run I visualise my next day’s training and when the alarm goes off in the morning I don’t think but just get on the road in my running gear and then there is no looking back.
About a year back I wrote this and put it up on my FB cover photo which says it all for me:
“I run because at first I couldn’t and now I can. I run to feel the achievement from each run. I can and therefore I run. I run therefore I can do and aspire to do many things I couldn’t do before!”
Not bad for that fat guy who used to sit on a couch all day till a few years back!
Run India Run!
Personal Bests (PBs):
5km at Noida 10k August 2012: 24min 13sec
10km at R&L Noida 10k 2013: 49min 50sec
21.097km at R&L F1 Half Marathon 2013: 1hr 53min 14sec (previous best at ADHM 2012: 1hr 55min 06sec)
42.195km at Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2012: 4hr 19min 12sec
Most recent 42.195km at Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015: 4hr 20min 59sec
Most recent 21.1km at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2014: 1hr 54min 33sec
Check-out some Photos: