First ever official marathon I ran was Standard Chartered Mumbai Full Marathon on 16 Jan 2011. Though I participated, local level running events, but never ran any official Marathon events before this event. Surprisingly my registration for the full marathon event was accepted without having timing certificate for even any half marathon. I still remembered the day, on which I completed the run, with a damaged shoe and sole of both the leg were having many blisters. Now I am much more knowledgeable about the marathon, preparation for the D day, shoe and costumes to be worn.
Over the period of one year, I came to know many famous runners in India, made friendship with them through internet and closely followed their training schedule. Internet revolutionized the running in India, now most of the cities are having marathon events including smaller town. Websites like www.delhirunners.com www.ruunersforlife.com in India and www.dailymile.com in international level had great impact in runners psyche. Virtual friends (later on actual) in internet helped me go for some serious training in running by mutual admiration, help and constant motivation. I could find time for training and participation of few marathon events from busy professional schedule. Now I am more convinced than ever before that not finding time for physical fitness is mostly due to something to do in your mind or any reasons are mostly flimsy. I have also missed my running schedule due to night call also.
After completing Thane HM, Thane Varsha HM, Hyderabad FM, Bangalore ultra 50 km and Sabarmati FM; Mumbai FM was the most awaited event. This was the final or ultimate testing ground of endurance. From open category runner in last year which was my maiden full marathon, category changed to veteran, which was based upon my age.
My training was reasonably satisfactory with incident of pain in my left buttock since last three months. Pain in buttock is otherwise called piriformis running syndrome. This affected my training schedule, substantially decreased my mileage, avoided hill work and limited speed work also. Piriformis muscle starts from back side of Sacrum (left or right hip bone) passes through the sciatic notch (opening in the left or right hip bone) along with sciatic nerve and comes to the front side just above groin, attached to upper aspect of femur (thigh bone). This muscle works for outward movement of hip joint. Over pronation (inward movement) during the running is the main cause of piriformis syndrome. This puts continuous pressure on this muscle along with sciatic nerve giving rise to inflammation and injury.
Running in the rain for hours in the months of June, July, August and September in beautiful Lonavala will always remain in my pleasant memory. Being a medical professional many times questions are asked, including my patients about the rainy weather and increasing incident of sickness. My answer was always running in the rain outside will not increase chance of contacting virus. It is staying indoor helps spreading flu virus, because of increase in close contact among individuals. Though cold decreases the effectiveness in immune system, but running increases the effectiveness.
Mumbai Marathon is the ultimate and supposed to be one of the best organized marathons, which is recognized in the international level as Gold standard. Each and every runner of the country desires to participate in this marathon. Registration process is stringent so that only selected lot can participate. The spirit of Mumbaikers is always high; you will get not only huge cheer for completion, but many of them helping you with their heart out by providing biscuits, ladoos, bananas, ice, energy drinks and many other ways. The Full Marathon started from Mumbai CST station with much funfair. Though my training was affected some extent due to piriformis pain syndrome, but I had reasonably good amount of training. Only three weeks before I had participated Sabarmati Marathon. My starting was faster in comparison to my standard in other marathons, which I had participated. I was well oriented to the route from my last participation in 2011. Marine drive, Pedar road over bridge, Hazi Ali and beautiful Worli - Bandra sea link. Before sea link, there comes 15 km timing mat, which I have completed in 1 hrs 17 mins and 13 secs, at that point most of the runners loaded themselves with energy drinks and water. I postponed my drinks forgetting that on sea link, there will not be water or energy drink available. After covering the 3/4th of the sea link, I realized I am feeling tired and my pace is gradually coming down. After crossing sea link had my energy drinks and water and tried to pace again and completed 20 km mat in a time of 1hr 45 mins 11 secs. Continued running with reasonable pace till 29km mat which I completed in 2 hr 38 mins 05 ses. Around that time I was feeling very tired and some time difficulty in my movement; another 500 meters and so I felt dizziness and nausea. Now it is the time to listen to my body and stops running; forget about completion.
Now, what had gone wrong with me? Here comes the term called VO2max. This is the how much maximum possible amount of oxygen body is capable of delivering with maximum effort. This is the ultimate test of endurance of cardio pulmonary (heart and lung) system. The delivery of the oxygen to the tissues depends upon the delivery of blood per unit time (minutes) and heamoglobin concentration (oxygen binds to heamoglobin in the lung and the concentration doesn’t change with exercise). Heamoglobin concentration remaining constant, the maximum delivery of oxygen depends upon the maximum amount of delivery of blood to tissue; which depends upon maximum heart rate (in a minute) achievable and maximum amount blood ejected by each heart beat. Am I confusing you? Please ask I shall try to explain by calculation, if anybody interested. Due to inadequate training my VO2max could not meet my body requirement. Along with decreasing blood volume due to dehydration, heart is not delivering adequate oxygen and nutrient required for high metabolic demand. As brain was not getting adequate oxygen and nutrient, I was feeling dizzy and nausea. If I would have continued unconsciousness would have set in.
I stopped for a while, walked slowly for around 500 meters. Started running again in a slow pace. On the way energy drinks were not available adequately, where it was most needed during last few kilometers. Pedar road overbridge was the major hurdle, which I crossed in slow pace. Biscuits, ladoos and bananas were available, which met energy requirement. Neither energy drinks nor water was available on last 3-4 km of marine drive stretch. On the way several small stoppages and straightening of the leg due to cramps and pain helped me to arrive the finishing line in a time of 4hrs 06 mins and 46 secs. Anything sub 4 finish in my subconscious mind remain elusive and almost 50 seconds behind from my PB. Immediately upon finishing body was really need of something to hydrate myself, but nothing was available at that point. In a hopeless situation runners were required to stand for half an hour to get inside Azad Maidan to have refreshment; instead I entered inside the nearby medical camp for treatment of my cramped leg. Inside the camp after analgesic spray and ice treatment felt better.
Why muscle cramping happens? Mostly cramping of calf muscle is due to dehydration and depletion of very important electrolytes mainly sodium or in combination of any (Sodium, Potassium, magnesium and calcium). It was imperative energy drinks containing these electrolytes should have been available on the most important last 10 km of the route. Though they had introduced ice treatment for relief of pain and inflammation, but contact time for any relief to happen is more than the few seconds runners spend for analgesic spray, which also continues acting for some time after spray has been stopped. In the marathon race scenario where each second is important, they should have persisted with spray. In comparison to this year, in 2011 energy drinks and analgesic spray were readily available; also there was easy access to Azad maidan on completion of race.
My running life has come to full circle from Mumbai Marathon 2011 to 2012. In this one year of marathon running to which I am now addicted, life has changed so much which ranged from training run schedule to making new running friends through internet to participating various marathon events. Many of the friends are already established themselves in various age category as strong endurance runners; amazing to see some of other friends over a period of 6 months has put themselves in that big league by sheer determination. Most of the health issues related to running are similar, I believe most of the runners must be facing similar type of problems; though there will be many other endless issues also. At the end I express sincere thanks and gratitude to spirit of the Mumbaikers.