Ok.. let me begin with a slight apology if anyone got the impression from the ending of part 1 that this part was going to have all the thrills n spills of a Bollywood blockbuster... Nothing of the sort :).. Just that last time around, I was too bored to write the entire days proceedings at one go (not to mention the boredom incurred while reading a lonnng post).. Hence decide to break in between... Neways..
I was part of the half-marathon (21km). Tall order if you ask me, but still, I had decided to try it out and just walk off if it got too tough. The race started before 7 am from CST. Thankfully, early mornings in January in Mumbai are quite pleasant, so it was comfortable at the start. I started a light jog but after about 2kms (at the Pizzeria junction in Churchgate), I gave up jogging and settled into a nice n comfortable walk (which is what I had planned to do anyways). Along with me was a motley crowd about 6000+ participants, young n old, thin n not-so-thin, gents n ladies (and pretty girls as well :))... All of them having a great time. Marine Drive in the morning was awesome, with the sun just rising over the skyscrapers on the East and the Arabian Sea taking on a nice light shade of blue. The weather continued to stay nice and comfortable.
After about an hour, the effects of not practicing started telling on the legs. By this time, we were past Marine Drive and on Peddar Road. There, the best thing was many people coming down from their apartments and giving us water, biscuits etc and generally cheering us on. At about this time, there was a van from behind asking us to move to the left side of the road. What was that all about ?. The full marathon (42km) had started, and there was this group of 15-20 race leaders (needless to say, almost all East African) who had actually covered the distance of about 7kms till then in less than half the time as I had and had passed us on !!!!. Really admire those nations in which cross-country running is a way of life. How they can sustain stamina over 42km is simply beyond me. But nevertheless, that kind of egged me on and I continued, not withstanding the increasing pain in the soles.
From Peddar Road, we continued up to Haji Ali and then turned just before Worli Naka (on the road that goes to Worli Seaface), By this time, it was almost 8.30 am and about 11kms down, so it was a huge high to know that you had finished more than half the race. On the way back, things were getting slowly bad. Anyways, my companions were all scattered in different places and I was on my own (it helps to walk/run with a group, which is what most proffessional marathoners do). Again back to Peddar Road and I finally had to stop on the Kemps Corner flyover (abt 15kms done). After a short break, I continued. After the some time, again there was a van asking us to stay to the left. Those full-marathon race leaders had gone all the way to Bandra Reclamation, turned back and then caught up again on the return path (they must have done abt 34kms against my 16kms :).. As I walked back to Marine Drive, I could see the end in sight. Thereafter, it was only that thought which egged me on. With each step, I could see the ending point at the CST.
Finally, at around 10.45 am (almost 4 hrs since the start), I nearly limped my way across the finish line at the CST, delighted at the thought of completing (so what if it was walking) my first marathon. The marathon left me with aching legs for almost a week, but also with sweet memories and a feeling of actually achieving something worthwhile (and believe me, not many things give so much pleasure). Already, preparations for January 2008 are in order, with a new target.. Hopefully !!!!..