Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Real and long winded story of the Kaveri Trail Marathon

The reason why I am writing about the Kaveri Trail Marathon (KTM) before the Bombay Marathon is because of the recency effect. I also think I might have romanticized the Mumbai Marathon a little, in my head. And a romanticized version might make this 'real' thing so mundane that you might not even want to read about it.

It has been about 10 days since the KTM now. But it seems that it happened a long time back. It might be because I have been off running in a way since the marathon. Clock roughly 25Km since that Sunday when I drove down to Srirangapatnam. Yes, the same Srirangapatnam where the story of 'Sher-e-Mysore Tipu Sultan' took place. Do you remember the DD serial?

This was supposed to be a tough marathon. For me the toughest part would still be getting up at 3 in the morning and start the ~ 140Km drive at 4:00am. I think I would have cursed Shantanu atleast a few times for volunteering me as one of the drivers. I mean, I would have normally liked this kind of long drive, but at 4 in the morning it was a big struggle. Against the onslaught of the headlights and my own sleep. So after a few anxious moments, for the fellow runners in the car, we were at the starting point.

Somehow, the usual anxiety before an organized Race was missing. I guess it was because it was an RFL event. Another reason might be that this was supposed to be a ramp-up for the Ultra. I will post a detailed log on that in a couple of weeks.

The sky was clear. And that was scary. On a race day, I would always trade in a sunny day for an overcast sky. But as usual, the dice was loaded from the start! It was pleasantly muggy. And I thought to myself, this is close to Mysore so it should not be warm in the day. I did not have to wait for long to realize how wrong I was!

So there we were, almost unaware of what the course had in store for us. Off at the starting point. I chatted with Deepak for a while to realize that he is also trying for the 12-in-12 (Twelve marathons in twelve months) ala Bhaskar. This was his fourth marathon in as many months. And Bhaskar was trying for this 3-in-3. For me it was the 2-in-10 ;)

This was where I stopped a couple of weeks back. I started typing this piece and then I stopped because of the usual distractions. And then with the Ultra looming large over the coming weekend. I thought that I need to finish it.

The first 21Km were easy. They always are. You and your fellow runners are in a chatty mood. You keep talking to someone or the other depending on who is keeping pace with you (or with people that you are able to keep pace with). I think I was on my own after the fifteenth kilometer. The heat hit me around the 22nd Km mark when I started looking for the water station and it was still a good km away. But I think I was still in good shape till the 29th. The Sun was spewing fire by then and there were no trees in sight. It was very muggy, humid and completely unbearable. There were green fields but they were only to be good backgrounds for photographs. And at that point, I think few runners would have been able to muster a smile. So after struggling for the next 3 Km which was a small loop, I came back to the water station where I applied a lot of pain relieving spray.

And then it was just about getting one foot to go forward after the other for a long time. The water stations on the return leg seemed to have disappeared. I felt that the law of physics governing the time-distance continuum had failed. The number of runners on the return leg were fewer. I saw a lot of regulars stopping and taking a break. I was very tempted. Then I heard Amrita calling that there were just another 5 Km to go. I felt proud of myself. The last 7Km just flew by!! 'You rock!', I told myself. But a few minutes down the line, I saw the '6Km to go' mark. I cannot explain my disappointment.

'You suck!', I told myself.

I did not carry a timer with me. I never do. I like to depend on other runners for an indication of the timing. At times I hear, You are going strong' and at times, 'Are you all right?'

Today, I mean the day of the Kaveri Marathon, I was getting the strong comment most of the time. Especially on the return leg.

Yet, I was wondering if it were ever going to end. I was focussed but it was becoming incredibly difficult to keep the focus intact.

And then I saw Ashok. He had completed this marathon in a relatively inhuman time of 3hrs 20min and was sautnering on the track. I asked him, 'How much to go?' I got an answer that told me that the end was just another 100m away.

I did what I usually do when only 100m is left. Put the engine on full throttle and start sprinting. But it seems that the 100m expression was just figurative. The finishing line was atleast another 300m away. Those '100m' were the longest 100m ever. But I did finish the race with a flourish.

I hope I do that the will and the energy to do an encore in the 50Km run coming up this weekend!

PS: Do check out the photographs by Sudhir. Mind you, that the course looks beautiful only in photographs. Its extremely cruel otherwise!
Also check out the snap, timing etc at the Previous post on KTM

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