21kms along a river in Goa
2015 started on a high note for running. After completing the half marathon at SCMM in January, I reduced my timing by 6 minutes during the Thane Half Marathon in February. This was followed by a 10km trail run in Coorg in the month of May. I thought I would run more during the year; however, the next official run happened in December, the Goa River Half Marathon.
‘Running a marathon is a sport of endurance.’ I had heard veterans in the industry repeat this many times. I actually experienced this during the Goa river run. With increased focus on Yoga and Gym training, I was not able to give much time to practice running. This made running the 21kms extremely tough. It was the first half marathon where I experienced pain in the arms, the calves, the upper back and neck. What helped complete the run though was the awesome running community.
Before the run, Genevieve Coutinho guided us through a warm-up in Zumba style. The energy of her troupe and the runners took the Goa quotient up many notches!
A half marathon, especially in picturesque Goa is an opportunity to click some awesome pictures. This opportunity was enhanced because the city was decked up in all its Christmas finery. It will be a good idea to wear a head mounted camera the next time!
I crossed by homes which had Santa Claus hanging down from a parachute. One of the photographers was lying down on footpath to get a shot. It would be interesting to see the varied colours of shoes that runners wear or even the detailing on the soles since sport is getting more technical by the day.
There was a family running with pram with the child inside. I admire the spirit of human beings and the sheer will to do something you think of. I saw a couple, where the husband waited for his wife and encouraged her to run. Another lady was running wearing the hijab.
A very basic technique to increase your speed while running is to move your arms. It is amazing how much momentum it gives you to go forward.
Running 21kms is not easy. What makes it easy though is the charged vibe all around you. Smile at a fellow runner, it gives you energy for next kilometre!
I started the run pacing with Arjun Chowgule, one of the official pacers for the 2:15 Hr bus. I ran with the group for the first 3 kms of the marathon. After running at my own pace till the 6th km, I thought I would run the rest of the distance alone. The running community brings up some wonderful surprises though. A runner from Hyderabad came up and asked me if I want to pace with him. We ran the next 3kms together, amidst talks of the best timing, number of marathons completed and best routes to run!
In my experience, it is important to hydrate with electrolytes or oranges every 3 to 4 kms. A few sips or 2 slices of an orange keep me going. I avoid having too much water as it becomes difficult to run. I use the water stations to splash water on my face and cool it down.
It is good to run in correct form. This helps avoid injury, gives you momentum, regulates breathing, improves speed and ensures you run in rhythm. It is not good though to try a form learnt a week ago, on the day of the run. This is something I learnt during the Goa River Run. I will always practice my form and plan my future half marathons atleast 6 weeks in advance apart from training all year round.
A must do during all long distance runs is to stop and stare at the professional runners. An official timing vehicle leads the group from the Indian army, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria. It feels as if they are gliding in the air; the length of their stride, the grace in their movements makes me feel as if time has stopped and only they are moving.
The 21km route started at the SAG grounds on airport road, Chicalim. This is approximately 20 mins by road from Vasco in old Goa. For nearly 1/3rd the distance, we run along the Zuari river seeing scenes from the shipping and logistics industry that depend on the water body. There are churches and cottages along the route in classic Goan architecture. A band of musicians welcomes you along the route and also cheers you on your way back.
The highlight of the Goa River Run was the number of friends from across India that I met enroute. My batch mate from MBA days was running his first full marathon. The full marathon is a double loop of the half marathon. Our running paths crossed twice during the run. A friend whose homestay we stayed in, in Dehradoon had come down from the hills to run along the river. There were buddies from the running groups in Bombay and new friends were made along the way. The Shah family from Bombay did not cease to inspire.Mr.Shah ran the full marathon, hiswife completed 10km and both the son and daughter-in-law, Charmi Kagalwala Shah ran 21kms.
With sore muscles and solid lessons learnt during the run, I came back with one more medal to my credit.