Home > Marathon, Running > SCMM 2015: A spectacular sunrise, coping with cramps, unforgettable memories

SCMM 2015: A spectacular sunrise, coping with cramps, unforgettable memories

Pic credit: Fellow SCMM runner Harshad Inarkar

Pic credit: Fellow SCMM runner Harshad Inarkar

The timing of that sunrise couldn’t be more perfect. You are almost halfway into your race, have settled into a steady rhythm, body nicely warmed up and cruising in auto-pilot mode. The darkness of the night slowly makes way for the break of dawn. Your senses are alive to the smells of the sea breeze and the crisp chill of a winter morning in Mumbai.

You find yourself running on the magnificent Bandra-Worli Sea-link, with its imposing architecture. On the one day in the year when the only sounds emanating from one of Mumbai’s most iconic structures, are the gentle tip-tap of running shoes on the tarmac, or of runners making small talk, exhorting each other to keep going. No braking, no screeching of tyres, no honking.

It’s all perfectly set up.

And then you see it on your right, an orange circle slowly rising above the skyline. As you traverse the length of the sea-link and head towards Mahim, it morphs into a golden yellow ball of fire, heralding a new day for a city which ironically prides itself as one which never sleeps.

With every year that I come back and run the marathon at SCMM, I’ve become more aware of and alive to savouring this majestic sight. 2015 was my fourth time at this event, my third marathon (I ran a half-marathon in 2012), and again fully lived up to its promise of memorable memories. Spectacular sunrises apart, it was, as always, a special feeling to run in the country’s biggest marathon event and my home city. Staying in Sion where I grew up, spending time with family & friends, forming new bonds. This has become a much looked-forward-to annual weekend ritual.

As I wrote in an earlier post, the 2015 edition was also my first real crack at a 4 hour marathon (I ran a 4:16:02 last year). A 4 hour marathon is a  kind of Holy Grail once you become a serious recreational runner (well, some would argue that qualifying for Boston is the Holy Grail, but that one is still in the realms of fantasy for me) . My training had gone reasonably well, and I was cautiously optimistic about race day. The only potential pitfall was exactly the same as last year – a work trip to Redmond the week before – which meant that I crossed 14000 kms over a 13 hour time-zone to land in Mumbai about 24 hours before the starting gun went off at Azad Maidan on the morning of 18th January.

Jet lag and the usual pre-race jitters kept me awake all night, but it didn’t seem to matter much. On race day morning, I was pacing myself to perfection. As it transpired, I ran the ideal race till 36 Km. Was tracking better than my pre-race plan on each and every 5K-split till that point. I felt really good, had a nice rhythm going.. had even crossed the dreaded Peddar road slopes without too much of a bother.

SCMM 2015 Plan vs Actual

But you know what they say about life happening to you while you are busy planning for it (also applies to running marathons in hot and humid mornings like the one at SCMM 2015). Just after turning past the corner at Wilson college and entering Marine drive, as I began to habour visions of breasting the finish line comfortably under 4 hours (chickens, counting, hatching…. yes, yes.. I know), my left quadricep, moody drama-queen that she is, felt like that was the point when she really needed some deep love and affection. So a case of bad cramps it was. Really bad. Grimacing, clutching back of left thigh and hobbling in pain kind of bad.

Now there are two ways that this could have gone from then on. One is what you see in those Youtube clips that folks keep posting all the time in running forums. The ones which end with Beethoven’s Fifth  playing in the background, as the heroic and courageous runner battles insurmountable pain and collapses in victory just after the finishing line, goal achieved.

The other way is what I did (which is why no one posts these kind of stories). True to type, I chose an icing+massage at the nearby aid station over pushing-through the pain (or trying to push through and end up not-finishing). This obviously cost me a few minutes, and while my leg felt better post-treatment, I still wasn’t confident enough to go for a final kick at the pace that I had originally planned. End result : 4:00:37.

So, the oft-heard cliché about the glass being half-full or half-empty, now had its perfect case-study. Quite a few of my runner buddies sent messages cheering me up, thinking that I would be crestfallen at having come so close to a sub-4. V, who had an awesome finish earlier – she smashed her previous HM best that she ran just 3 months ago at Bangalore, by a full 13 minutes – greeted me back at Sion cheerfully, but with a teeny-weeny hint of regret – it would have been the perfect day if I had finished 38 seconds faster, I guess.

All that empathy from everyone around felt nice, and also a bit amusing. I remember reading somewhere that race timings should be the last thing that determines one’s happiness, and I really couldn’t agree more. Got back to Bangalore  the next day and conversation with A1/A2 went something like this, hey appa.. heard you did some 4 hours at Mumbai, right? Cool. Btw, you need to fix the XboxLike, NOW.  

Keeps things in perspective.

Honestly, on that Sunday afternoon, I was just blissfully content in the afterglow of a special day. Running has filled my life with so much joy and happiness, and on days like SCMM, it truly feels like I am in paradise. You always carry back wonderful memories.. the banter and chatter at the start line, hi-fis with the  kids sporting their sunshine-smiles near Mahim church, the unending enthusiasm of the families (spanning multiple generations) handing out food and drink  on Peddar road, all the bands rousing your spirits along the way, treating complete strangers who are running alongside as kindred souls just because running a marathon together brings that special camaraderie… unforgettable. Above all, just the pure pleasure of running through the streets of Bombay in the kind of atmosphere that only SCMM offers.

And that sunrise. Man. Running on the sea-link and watching the sun come up like that. That moment alone will make every possible highlights reel of my life when I re-play that movie from my deathbed.

So here’s my take on the numbers. Ran my first 42 a couple of years ago, now this 4-hour marathon. 42 @ 42, 4 @ 44..  has a sort of a nice ring to it, no? Am  far, far fitter in my forties than I was in my twenties. More importantly, happier, healthier, and feeling more alive than ever before.  What more can one ask for from life?

Run joyously.

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  1. Vinod
    January 28, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Excellent narration of SCMM and kind of race you went through.. Many congratulations, really enjoyed reading the details meticulously the comparison of plan and actual. This shows the kind of preparation you had for this race, hats off to you and your determination. Great going, wish good luck and happy running. You are true inspiration to many of us…

    • February 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks, Vinod. Look forward to running with you at Auroville.

  2. January 29, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Great running and awesome writing Satish! Congratulations on a race valiantly run despite the brutal travel schedule (I am playing the symphony in my head for you), and thank you for the optimistic report for the rest of us on forties being fitter than twenties!

  3. February 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement, Vani.

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