When Wonder Woman Turns Long Distance Runner

A belated write-up of the Halloween Run I had participated in earlier this month. Every edition of the fear n’ fun themed event is held on the first Sunday of November – the weekend nearest to Halloween. While last year I had to orchestrate the event myself in the capacity of SPOC (Specific Point of Contact), free from organizational tasks this year, I could dress up and run. The run is organized on a 21 km route from the Otter’s Club in the Western suburbs to the NCPA in the South of Mumbai, on which participants can run varying distances either as a point to point run or in any desired loop pattern within these points. Being racing season, many runners did a half marathon or distances above 30 kms ( for those training for full marathons). I did a 15 km run – a little after the start point, and up to the end tip of the city. A large number of runners opted for distances of 10 km and below, on account of this being a costume event.

Runners were required to run in costume, in keeping with the Halloween theme. We had Two Face, Batman, Catwoman, Superman, giving company to the great many vampires, witches, zombies and devils.  I went as Wonder Woman! In consideration of the distance required to be run in costume, I settled for a handmade costume constructed out of readily available materials – comfort in long distance running being the priority. The Wonder Woman costume comprised a basic red racerback top, and blue skorts – both in dri-fit fabric. The ‘W’ logo, bracelets and tiara were crafted from glitter foam, and star stickers were used for the skirt, bracelets and tiara. I didn’t make the belt on account of the running pouch occupying space on the waist. Here’s what I ended up with:

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Protecting the bay!

Overall, it was a fun event, racing through the city dressed as Wonder Woman, and receiving peculiar glances from morning runners who were not part of the event and/or not in costume.

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At the early morning start point.

15 km was the longest distance I had attempted since the accident, and pleasantly received company from the halfway mark onward, with a runner attempting 32 km. Step by step we trotted along to the finish point.

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When you feel like you’re the only one racing around like a weirdo!

It was a joy to see volunteers at the various water stations dressed up in their spine-tingling best, hiding behind parked cars, jumping out and scaring runners, and capturing a cornucopia of expressions.

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When Wonder Woman meets the Devil.

A common sight on Sundays are the vintage car rallies that occur within South Mumbai. Clicking pictures and taking in the sights on the seafront, the never ending run finally came to an end.

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Appreciating beauty on the route.

The only disheartening feature of the event was that many runners didn’t really run, but only showed up at the end point to click pictures dressed in costume. The idea behind a Halloween Run was to run the distance in spooky or fun attire. Merely showing up in costume for the sake of pictures defeats the purpose of a running event. Ah! The flip-side of social media.

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The ghosts and ghouls at the finish point.
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With Captain America cum Wonder Woman cum Super Girl
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Come Back Stronger Than The Setback

“It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, and you’re never too old or sick to start from scratch once again.”

Post-accident racing mode on! 

The week took off with a spectacular start. I ran my first timed race on Sunday, since the accident last year. For those who are unfamiliar or have recently begun following this blog, I had an accident last August and suffered from nerve damage with subsequent paralysis of the right leg – from hip to foot. I had resumed running earlier but wasn’t yet racing. Sunday’s event marked a comeback to racing. A measly distance compared to the marathon distance I am usually accustomed to, but some start is better than no improvement at all.

The race was tricky, as expected. I had practiced the distance in training runs, but in events one needs to be aware of other racers as well. Some runners overtake you and suddenly stop right in front of you, others sway from one side of the road to the other when they spot photographers, not to forget those who throw disposable water bottles in the middle of the road. Racing throws its own set of challenges, besides the training the body and mind undergo. The weather on Sunday was 34°C, with a humidity of 59% – the monsoons began waning a few weeks ago with some abrupt showers in between, but overall the weather was hot and humid. I did take several walk breaks through the course – the race strategy being more of a walk-jog rather than high speed running. The goal here was to return to race mode and finish injury free. I’m working with distances at the moment instead of speed, having being warned of a possible nerve compression recurring.

Each medal comes with it’s own story, and means much more than merely the name of the place or date of the race. A medal is a reminder of how the run was, the people you met, the challenges you overcame, and your entire journey to get to that place and pace. Another cherished one added to the seven year old collection.

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And of course, one can’t fail to mention the support of the running community, where friends are almost like family. Long distance runners have their own training routes, and events bring everyone on the road together. I had met many people on practice runs, but had missed many others who would usually connect through races. It was great catching up with all. The official race pictures are not yet out – I’ll post some running ones when I get my hands on them. Just a few friendly ones for now.

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Breaking Barriers In Marathon Running

“I lack the words to describe how I feel. It was really hard, but I was truly prepared to run my own race.”

~Eliud Kipchoge

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Yesterday was a great day for the long-distance running community. For those unable to fathom our excitement, a new world record was set at the Berlin Marathon. Imagine stepping on a treadmill, setting it to 13 mph, and running at that pace for over two hours. Or let’s use the analogy given by BBC Sports – imagine running 100 mts in 17.2 seconds; or if that’s feels slow, try it and repeat for 420 times without a pause. That’s just what Eliud Kipchoge accomplished at Berlin yesterday – setting a new world record by completing the marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 kilometers) with a timing of 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds.

The first time a marathon was run as an official race, was at the London Olympics in 1908, where American Johnny Hayes emerged victorious with a timing of 2:55:18. Of course, a lot has changed since then in terms of training and technology. Four years ago, Dennis Kimetto from Kenya had created a new record of 2:02:57 in Berlin. Fellow Kenyan Kipchoge broke this record on Sunday by 78 seconds – recorded to be the largest single improvement in a world record marathon timing in over fifty years. Australian Derek Clayton had knocked down 2 minutes 37 seconds way back in 1967.

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Reductions in marathon timings over the years.

Kipchoge, 33, has competed in eleven marathons, out of which he has won ten and finished second in one. He has won both, the Berlin and London marathons three times each, and holds course records at both places. His split times astonished viewers and runners, both amateur and elite, the world over. Kipchoge’s average speed on Sunday was 13 mph, an average pace of 2.52 mins/km for each kilometer of the 42.195 km race, or every 400 mts in 68.8 seconds. He clocked the first 10 kms in world record pace, as led by three pacers from the start.

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With pacers, early on in the race.

Shortly after the halfway mark, all three pacers dropped out, leaving Kipchoge to run the remaining 21 kms alone. Rather than struggling or falling off the pace, he defied the odds and rather sped up, covering 30 kms of the race in 1:26:45, which is the fastest time ever recorded for that distance. He ran the first half of the race in 1 hour, 1 minute, 6 seconds, and went 30 seconds quicker in the second half. He ran from the 40k mark to the finish in 6 minutes, 8 seconds – the fastest known in any major marathon, without any obvious sprint. His overall pace was 4 minutes, 37 seconds per mile – for 26.2 miles. Jon Mulkeen from the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) pointed out, “imagine running 200m reps in 34.60 seconds, and repeating that for 211 times with no rest in between”. That’s what Eliud Kipchoge did in Berlin yesterday.

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His splits up to the halfway mark

Long-distance runners might remember the “Breaking 2 Project” of Nike last year – an unofficial race to break the sub-2 hour marathon, on a track at Monza. Kipchoge had created a world record of 2:00:25 at the time, guided by a team of pacers. The race did not qualify as an official time, and was seen as more of a project. Kipchoge, however, did show his frightening potential as a long-distance runner, which manifested itself as he obliterated the competition on Berlin’s streets on Sunday. “I believed he was capable of smashing the World Record. He delivered in outstanding fashion and rewrote history”, said Paula Radcliffe – former record holder of the women’s marathon. Roger Robinson from Runners’ World added, “I have watched great runners for seventy years, from Emil Zapotek to Haile Gebrselassie, and not since Abebe Bikila in 1964 have I witnessed a world marathon record set with such focused mastery”. “I felt very confident. I am grateful to those who worked with me”, Kipchoge said after the race. Impeccable pacing and the focus of a Zen master have sealed Eliud Kipchoge’s place as the greatest marathoner of all time.

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“The lesson of running is to train well, and then have full faith in your training and show the proof in the race.”

 

 

 

Sources:

~www.bbc.com

~www.edition.cnn.com

~www.runnersworld.com

Tribe Of Reader-Runners

As the book collection spirals out of control with frequent bookstore visits, buying new books, scouring second-hand shops for thrift sales, and keeping an eye out for books in general, book gifts by friends helpfully aid that spiral – a progressive spiral to add to one’s home library, and a downward spiral as far as space to accommodate, and time to read them all is concerned.

I was at a running event yesterday, and received this book by ultrarunner Dean Karnanzes from a fellow marathoner. The newest addition to the running shelf. A book for a runner, about a runner, from a runner. 🙂

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Touring The World Through Races

Running season resumed here last month, post the scorching summers, and the next couple of months are going to be busy with race strategies, nutrition regimes, schedules for running and cross training – all in preparation for the upcoming races. Our running events here cater to various distance categories – 10k races, half marathons, 25k races, full marathons, 12-hr ultrathons, 24-hr ultrathons. In keeping with the race mood of the season, I have been looking up race scenarios around the world, and the escapades of long distance runners who spend hours on the road, trail or hills. Nothing like a little fun read to tide over all the serious training. In yesterday’s blog-post I wrote about canines who unwittingly entered races in the US and Australia – making themselves at home on the route, running side-by-side with human participants. Today, I came across a parody on the Mumbai Marathon (scheduled for January 2019). Marathoner and author Cdr. (Retd.) Bijay Nair presented a novel take on the marathon race, the route of which covers prominent landmarks in the city of Mumbai, enabling runners from around the world to breathe in the city as they run the distance.

Now the full marathon distance in the Tata Mumbai Marathon begins in South Mumbai, reaches up to the Western Suburbs till the half way mark at Bandra, from where there is a turnaround to return back to South Mumbai – the start and finish points are the same, thereby taking runners on a tour of the city. To avoid overcrowding at the start line and ensure participants are spaced out, registered runners are allotted race categories. Amateur runners begin at 5:40 am, while the elite start the race at 7:20 am. Unsurprisingly, the elite runners overtake the amateurs at certain points on the route (in spite of starting after them.)

Cdr. Nair has composed a hilariously novel approach to estimate one’s timing in the full marathon category based on where the elite athletes overtake you on the route – usually the Kenyans and Ethiopians who win the race. Using prominent city landmarks as indicators, one can calculate what the finish time would be depending on where you were on the route when you got overtaken. Below is his esteemed analysis from years of racing at the same event, and having the elite overtake him at various points of the city landmarks as he edges closer to the finish line. Cdr. Nair has humorously added emojis to aid this “serious” analysis from years of racing experience on the same route. The race literally takes you around the city, as evident from each of the landmarks on the route.

“The Amateur Full Marathon kicks off at 5.40 am and the Elite begin at 7.20 am, thereby providing a difference of one hour and forty minutes.  

If the Kenyans cross you at Worli Seaface while they race towards Bandra, then you rather stop running and play kabaddi. 

If they cross you at the start of the Bandra Worli Sea Link, then your finish time will be 
6.40 hrs. 

If they cross you at the Bandra toll point, you will finish in 6.10. 

If they cross you at Mahim Junction, it will take you 5.45 hrs to complete. 

If they cross you at Hinduja Hospital, then your finish time will be around 5.20. 

If it’s at Shivaji Park, it will be 5.05. 

If it’s at Siddhi Vinayak Mandir, then it will be 4.50. 

If it’s at the Passport Office, it will be around 4.39. 

If it’s on the return of Worli Seaface near INS Trata, it will be a 4.37 finish. 

If it’s near Worli Dairy, it will be 4.33. 

If it’s at Mela restaurant, it will be 4.30. 

If it’s at Mahalaxmi Race Course, it’s 4.28. 

If it’s at the Haji Ali Seafront, then it’s 4.26. 

If it’s on the Peddar Road flyover, it’s 4.23. 

If it’s at the Antilia building, then it’s 4.21. 

If it’s at the Babulnath temple, it’s 4.18. 

If it’s on the Marine Drive Seafront near Wilson College, then it’s 4.12. 

If it’s near Taraporewala Aquarium, then it’s 4.06. 

If it’s near Jazz By The Bay, then it’s 4.00. 🍸🍷

If it’s near Flora Fountain, it’s 3.55. 

If you find yourself crossing the finish line before the elite runners, congratulations!!! You win two nights and three days at Nairobi or Addis Ababa. 

~Copyright@BijayNair-2ndAug2018

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The Full Marathon route map for a glimpse of the city.

*kabaddi – a team sport from South Asia, played on a field

*Bandra Worli Sea Link – a cable-stayed bridge which literally connects the city from South Mumbai to North Mumbai, and is only accessible to pedestrians on the day of this marathon.

*Antilia building – a twenty-seven storied skyscraper in South Mumbai which is a private home in it’s entirety.

Some pictures I found online of different sections of the route.

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Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018

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If you ever find yourself racing at the Bay, now you know how to pace yourself!