When I ran the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (scmm) in the year 2011, I was an amateur walker and used to run only the Scmm – and had done little by way of practice. I did the 21.09 km race in 2:50 – which was about 5 minutes MORE than my target time of 2.45. Even the target time was not scientific. However with whatever training I had, I did the race, and I think I did it better than my 2010 timing. Why do I say ‘I think’? Simple I did not bother measuring – either the timing chip was optional, or I did not measure – frankly I do not know.

How long have I been running Half Marathons (HM)? Well from 2008. When did I start measuring? Perhaps 2011 – it is the first one which I remember. However in 2011 when I ran the HM, I did not know the words like form of running, how to handle a hill, the average pace at which one should run, starting slow and finishing strong, carbo loading, hydration, need to eat or drink during the race, what clothes to wear, whether to wear a cap or glares, ……….or anything else connected to running.

In 2011 February I ran another Half Marathon called the ‘Thane Half Marathon’. At this race I took off 2 minutes – and now my PB (personal best) was 2hr:48 minutes.

I decided that my next target would have to be a sub 2:30. This was now a goal – when it is so simple it need not even be written down.

Suddenly many things started happening – I am going to call some of them “Acts of  God”(luck) and some of them my own acts (effort). Funnily you realise that in most cases, you have to cause the Act of God, by doing some Acts of your Own. My definition of serendipity is being smart enough to recognise the lucky opportunity.

At the Thane Half Marathon (THM) i met a bunch of fantastic runners who were part of a group called ‘Navi Mumbai Runners’ (who have a Face Book group by that name) and were brought together on a running platform called ‘Runners for Life’.

Suddenly I was hearing of words like ‘hill work out’, ‘Tempo Runs’, ‘Sunday Long Run’ – and there seemed to be a pattern to the training. It did not take IQ above 68 to realise that running at 75kg was easier than running at a weight of 83kg (my Scmm weight, 2011). It did not take too much time to realise that cycling and swimming were fantastic – but to improve running, you had to run more! Dammit cross training was for those who were training a lot, not for people running twice or at best thrice a week for 6 months in a year – at best!!

There were many websites, books, hydration belt, cap, and an autographed copy of ‘Chi Running’ by Danny Dreyer) being thrown at me (thank you S. Swaminathan), lots of disciplined runners to emulate (thank you Srivatsan, Pravin Gaikwad, Surya), people who said keep it simple, just keep running (thank you Mani, Mumtaz Qureshi), lots of research on techniques and its application (thank you Venkat krishnan). Sheer enthu for running (Kripa) and a nice session on running techniques (fresh from a Chi running session – Deepta Rangarajan). One day prior to the race, one of the racing gurus of Mumbai (Daniel Vaz, alias Zico) made a short presentation – picked up some race day tips!

All these I would put it as Act of God. However the fact that these people were around even before too, seems unbelievable. Even friends changed! Earlier I had friends who said ‘Vow! you actually finished the HM? Amazing’ – now I had a friend who said :”2.50 for a HM? did you walk?’ (I hope Vikram Narula is reading this post!!, Grrr..).

Goal setting creates a frame of mind for you to accept the Acts of God. Exactly how it took Issac Newton to understand gravity because of a falling apple!

Got myself a Garmin 310xt – which told me the pace at which I was running (the soft new Heart Rate Strap is inaccurate, so not really using it much).

About 12 weeks before the race, another Act of God happened – Venkatraman Pichumani another great runner created a Face book group – for ‘weight loosers’ – and I came down from 82kg to 76kg – and that would surely have helped.

On the race day – it is you vs. the elements, is it not?

What did I get right?

Well I hydrated on Friday, and Saturday – and my urine colour was almost white. I may have over hydrated, but surely not under.

I decided  – not to take a pee break (not tough in a 150 minute race).

– no stoppage for food (race guru Venkatraman said there is no physiological need for mid race eating)

– no stoppage to look for known faces (one classmate, one maths teacher,…etc. could have been in the crowds, just did not turn)

– walked up the hill and ran the down part at a neck break speed (thank you Chi running and Swaminathan for reminding me on the day before the race)

– my Garmin which was telling me that I was running at 8.6km/hr (i needed to run at 8.4 to do 2H:30min HM)

-my Asics shoe (no complaints about the Adidas shoe I used in 2011 either)

– the silence and sleep during the journey from home to the race ground (and people thought I was meditating?)

Well this is a first draft…may make some changes going forward…but WHY this note on a personal finance blog?

Simply because this is too close to Financial Planning.

– you need to set goals

– acquire knowledge, KNOW WHOM TO ASK

– Trust, but, Verify

– Remember there are many sources – BUT choose your advisor carefully.

-Media loves activity, Advisers love activity – You make money only if there is growth in your portfolio. Likewise there are food suppliers, shoe suppliers, etc. – you need practice, practice and more practice.

-there is no magic wand – wear this adidas shoes and you will run like Bolt or eat this food bar and you will do a full marathon – so you need to be careful.

Summary: Surrounded myself with good (great) runners who gave free advise (no bias, there were doctors, venture capitalists, technical analysts, chemical engineers, …but nobody was selling shoes, apparel or running supplements). I read, heard, …still did what suited me…

so long, farewell…


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  1. Subra,
    Just saw this blog post and good reading…and also thanks for the acknowledgement.


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