Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023

The city and runners were excited that TMM is back after a gap of two years. While I had done a few 50Ks and ultras in the pandemic years, a marathon distance was missing. Besides, this is the only occasion when I have bothered with finishing time. Signed up and began a recover and rebuild process from December’s 100K. TMM’s route generally strikes a comforting thought, laden with a fondness for it. It is the whole experience of traveling to the city to just run, be there a couple of days early, go around doing the usual walks and then wake up on Sunday morning and show up at the starting line in front of CST railway station.

Another reason has been to keep playing the catch-up game with physical fitness as marked by finishing time on this course. I was expecting a better run this year. I had a slower run in 2020 in spite of feeling prepared. If I could be in a 3:30 finishing zone this year, I promised myself that I will show better discipline in the future. While I struggle with the notion of competitiveness and time-headed behaviour, city marathons are all about timings. I wanted to enjoy a clear-headed, peaceful, free-spirited run. But I was also falling for time-orientation shamelessly.

For a plan, it was the same as earlier – keep a steady pace. I did a slow run for two kilometers from D’Mello road to the starting point, after leaving the taxi. Standing in the corral I reviewed the plan and did some last minute recheck on what paces could help hit 3:30 finish time. I needed to do first half in sub-5 pace and then allow myself to fall upto a 5:10 or 5:15 pace. A part of me was LOLing all of this. I was thinking of previous editions where I noted the city’s skyline, the people, fellow runners, wrote of observations from the route, the litter, ragpickers, festive spirit etc. This morning, I am busy with trying to prove myself that I haven’t had a slide down from the previous recorded fitness level.

The bunch of runners in this year’s lineup felt a bit aggressive. They lurched and pushed forward even before the countdown to start began. Soon we were off. Coastal road construction is on. It led to a few tight spaces from where the surge of runners ran past. I was careful to not trip on the barricades and their protrusions. The morning felt cool and amenable to a faster pace. This made the first half of the run enjoyable. Even as I ran, I felt as though I was in a waiting room anticipating the arrival of the Sea Link. The bridge was my personal marker for a quick check on how the run felt. I could hear a faint sound of sea waves lapping far below. The soundtrack was of shoes hitting the road at the end of big strides. Fresh legs have a different song. There was Indian Navy’s band that started the morning with ‘pehla nasha’ track. Strange but adorable. Had a few sips of electrolyte served from the aid station and continued onward.

Next wait was for Worli Dairy and Peddar Road. At Peddar Road climb I have bonked consistently. Learnt it the hard way that one got to arrive hydrated here to expect a respectable finish. I was feeling better here. But on pace, I was on rubber legs. They were not moving as fast as my calculation wanted them to. I had the 100K to pin the blame on. But that 100 was a long time back. Mental chatter taking over again – shaming me for slow recovery, suggesting that this is how it happens as years add up, maybe you should have had that training plan that you dissed, etc.

But in the last 5K TMM’s festive spirit leads to chaos on the roads. Navigating through runners and walkers, dodging litter and discarded plastic bottles and to keep a consistent pace is a tough call. That takes all the energy away from the mental chatter.

I could manage to pick up pace only in the last two kilometers. I spent the previous two kilometers trying to find some residual energy. 3:30 was within shot. And then, in the last two it wasn’t. I stepped over the finish line bettering the previous run’s time by a few seconds. I looked up, the race clock didn’t make sense. Walked over to the water station. Washed up, drank some and stood there watching a few finishes.

TMM ended with the usual – a walk around the block, a ride on the TMM special local train service and a late evening flight out of Mumbai.

Note: Geeks On Feet did some number crunching on TMM 2023, in tune with the massive analytics potential that timed runs throw up. The one on finishing times is interesting.

One thought on “Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023

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