I want an Angel…a strong angel with big, beautiful ,white, strong wings, waiting for me at the HSBC bank ( the point when the last 6 km of the marathon and half marathon are left). This angel will carry me through the hardest kilometres of the race, gliding, all the way to the finish. (the Angel is a.k.a. as a pacer- who will be waiting only for me, and will help me finish the race at my target marathon pace with motivational words and rhythmic feet) . Where, oh where, is this elusive spirit?
I am allowed to wish for anything right? 🙂
The last 6 km is our maximum effort. For some this proverbial wall (god forbid) can show up even earlier at 30-32 km. As the famous saying goes- the marathon begins at 32km. However the Bombay route is such that for me, the toughest kilometres have usually been the last 6km- post the climb at the Peddar Road hill. These are the last few but significant kilometres which most of us dread. The body is glycogen depleted, the legs are complaining and the brain is going into shutdown mode.
To run from here to the finish requires a plan, I feel. Some of us have been lucky to find pacers for the last 1-2 km but some serious strategy to power through the hot Chowpatty until Churchgate. We should think about this in advance, and see which is most suited for each of us.
Some angels who have helped me over the years are listed below…
1. Go slow at the start, warm up nicely and ease into race pace after a couple of kilometres. The more conservatively we begin, we can hope for more power at the end. Resist the temptation to fly out early in the race, as you will feel fresh due to the morning chill and the taper.
2. Know your ability as a runner- are you strong on hills? Do you want to take Peddar Road aggressively? Or just crest it slowly and conserve energy. Tackle it such. Listen to your body.
3. If you find a runner running at a similar pace latch onto her/him. Fellow runners are the best source to draw strength from.
4. If you are alone and feeling weak, gather your thoughts and push yourself. Then look around and see how many runners you are overtaking…that will goad you to keep at it! Count the number you beat till the finish! 🙂
5. Have a slogan- a mantra ready to be chanted in your head. I have repeated quotes by Haruki Murakami…”Pain is inevitable, suffering isoptional”. Another one, also his…”I have not come here to walk, I need to keep running!”. And this one is my favourite…by the Tour de France cyclist Jens Voit- “Shut up legs”. Prepare and find one that you relate to, else it will never come to you on raceday when you need it.
6. Identify a person about 50m ahead of you- and make sure that the distance between you and them remains constant, or if you are feeling particularly strong then try to beat them. As your target is met immediately set another.
7. Plug in your ipod only in the slog kilometres and take your mind off the running, blast the music.
Guys I am not a coach. These are some of my tricks learnt over the years, with other runners’ advice, Savio’s lectures and my own runs.
So feel free to comment and introduce us to your angels as well. We need all teh help we can get…
We are now ready to race the 42.2km monster – we run 32 km with hope, but the last 10km will show us our truth.