The Mumbai half was scheduled just three weeks after the Sabarmati full. I was too fucked up after the Sabarmati to try running for the first week. And for the next two weeks, I was too busy working for an important event (associated with an ongoing assignment here in Gujarat) to find time to run. In the third week, every day that I could not go running, I wondered if I should drop the idea of flying to Mumbai to do the half. Because was it really possible to do a half with zero training? To be frank, I did do a 5k once in the span of three weeks. But that was all that I did.
Bunking the Mumbai half by the way, was not as easy as you may think. Let me tell you why. When I had first tried registering for it months ago, some crappy lottery system had rejected my request. But suddenly, one fine day when I was in some random city, Karnavati called me to ask my date of birth and stuff. He said that another office-mate had jugadoed entree in Mumbai half marathon for some of us from the firm, through some NGO. He also said that he could fill the form on my behalf if I was interested. Of course, I was interested. I was elated. I provided Karnavati with all the details that he needed.
So Karnavati filled the form for me. And others in the office filled the form for themselves. And then the bad news came – it was informed later that only one person could be accommodated. Eh.
I was touched when Karnavati informed me that the office guys had decided that if there was going to be just one person, it had to be me. And they went ahead and got me registered. So you see, bunking the Mumbai half was not easy because that would have meant letting down these wonderful folks.
After all my apprehensions, I finally did book a return ticket to Mumbai. It just didn’t feel alright to not even go to Mumbai. May be if I really didn’t feel great about trying a 21k after three weeks of slumber, I could just skip the run – and return to Ahmedabad just like that. So I thought. I could cook up some excuse may be. MRP joined me in this weekend trip and that was comforting.
The day we landed in Mumbai, MRP and I went to Lower Parel in the evening. To meet Tiwari. Together we chatted and ate something. And then MRP left for Bandra for a hair-cut while I dragged Tiwari to Churchgate where I would get my bib and timing-chip. Except that when we reached Churchgate, it was 0520 PM and the guy at the entrance of the expo-centre, told us they had shut shop by 0500. Wasn’t the closing time 0700 PM? No sir, five pm sharp – we have been here for three days, where had been you? Shit, shit, shit.
But truly speaking, I felt happy in a way. I didn’t have to run anymore! This was like a bloody God gifted excuse, wasn’t it? I could party in the evening, and then again the next evening. And then return to Ahmedabad on Monday morning and tell the wonderful guys at office how I messed up with the closing time and hence could not collect my bib and chip and hence could not run.
But before we could leave that place, Tiwari asked the guy at the entrance when could we collect the stuff next? Next year, the bastard replied. This really heated up Tiwari and the two of them started debating. Seeing Tiwari trying his best to ensure that his best friend get his bib, it felt wrong to walk away from that place. I pleaded with that bastard, explained to him how I had travelled all the way from Ahmedabad and how I was running for an NGO (even when I did not know the name of the NGO). The sadist relented and I did get my bib and chip finally.
When I got up on Sunday morning, I felt too sleepy and weak. I wondered if I should just go back to sleep. Wouldn’t that make you feel guilty – MRP asked me. Not a bit – I said. But I got up and got ready anyway. And then Subbu dropped me off at Bandra Fire station. Where I met Moli and KG and Anti – insti mates. Finally, I was going to run. For as long as I could. Finally I ran. For as long as I could. And that happened to be long enough to nail the 21k+ in 2 hours 3 minutes. Sometimes I seriously amaze myself.
Chutki joined MRP, Subbu, his flatmate and myself for our beer party that night and we danced like crazy. We celebrated my first Mumbai marathon.
PS: Mumbai half offered one of the most scenic routes as compared to the other marathons I have run. And it was very well organized in terms of availability of food and water and in terms of control over traffic. Wouldn’t say the same about the full marathon though. I am sure that the very fact that full for most started all the way at 0730 AM (I and others doing half had started an hour before), must have had fucked up the participants in the sun.