Race Report: Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) 2020

Race Report: Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) 2020
Date: 19 Jan 2020
Start time: 5:15 AM
Goal(s): Realistic time: 3h:25m (pace – 4.49/km) & Delight time: sub 3h:20m (pace – 4.42/km)


I would divide my training into two parts, Pre TSK25 and Post.

Pre TSK25:

After ADHM I had a groin strain due to bad form especially the way the right foot landed. I worked with Somya (Stairs Physio) extensively to address this issue. As a result of this injury, I was conservative in the training phase leading to TSK25. I followed the plan to the T, however I could not meet the targets in the faster variants of the short and long tempo runs. I did one build up race in this period, Thump! 30km on NICE road and that was a good confidence building race given the inclines and headwinds on the course but more importantly given the fact that I was able to hold a steady pace despite the groin strain.

Post TSK25:

TSK25 was a good outing, I found my mojo there and took that into the training for TMM. I had to work out of Chennai for about three weeks in this period from about second week of December to early January. Running 5 days a week and then doing a second workout in the form of a strength or conditioning workout was challenging in this period as work load had increased at a time when people usually go on vacation 😊 however training in humid conditions has its own advantages, especially for people like us who are spoilt rotten by the lovely weather that Bangalore has to offer.

What I did differently this time around:

I would like to dwell into three key aspects that I have tweaked in this training cycle (Pre and PostTSK25). Mileage, Strength & Conditioning, and Nutrition.

  • Mileage – For the first time in 5 years of structured training, the training plan enabled me to look at larger weekly mileages. I did one week of 100km mileage but by and large my weekly mileage was in the range of 80-90KM. The other thing that I experimented with was the distance of the longest run in the week. I have tried – 25, 28, 30, 32(SPCM), 34, 36 and 38(GKVK) kms as my long Sunday runs. Now, I must add that a 5-day running week means a lot of easy HR and RPE driven runs and that extends to these Sunday long runs as well. In any case the groin strain ensured that I do not push myself too much in any of these long runs except the 20 miler that I ran in Chennai two weeks before TMM (I ran that at race pace) and a 38KM that I ran in GKVK (where I maintained a steady pace 20 seconds slower than race pace).
  • Strength & Conditioning – I have been doing CrossFit for about 2 years now and love lifting weights. This time around and due to the injury, I got introduced to functional running specific strength training thanks to Somya. I think this has been the biggest takeaway for me from this training cycle as it has enabled me to address my injury in a relatively short period of time and has facilitated my larger volume of weekly mileage. In fact, due to travel I could not renew my CrossFit membership and my second workout during the day would be a mix of functional strength training and unilateral strength training in the weeks that led up to TMM.
  • Nutrition – I have been working with a runner friend Sonali on my nutritional needs and realized that both my intake and more specifically protein intake was low. I am addressing these nutritional shortcomings in a multitude of ways. I can see the difference and the impact that these changes have on my training and recovery respectively.

State of mind coming into the race

Mumbai has historically been a challenging race for me. I have unravelled at various stages of the course in previous editions. My last 5 Mumbai timings read thus – 4:17 (2015), 4:00 (2016), 4:01 (2017), 3:40 (2018), 3:49 (2019). I have been consistently inconsistent. All this had built up cobwebs of self-doubt in my mind vis-Γ -vis TMM execution on race day.

Having said that a string of consistent performances in the previous year, a lot of positive auto suggestion and a solid block of training instilled in me a sense of belief that the devil is not on the course at Mumbai but in my own mind. I shifted the focus away from the past and committed myself to starting with a clean slate. More importantly the emphasis was on enjoying myself out there rather than worrying on the outcome at the end of the race.

I reached on Friday, got my bib collection done and checked into a hotel close to the start point. Unlike previous editions I went for a walk on Marine drive on Saturday morning. Familiar faces and excellent weather gave me the hope that this edition of TMM will be different.

Lunch with Ash and the team and then a long conversation that carried into coffee made up for a relaxed Saturday afternoon that was spiked up by a small pep talk that Ash gave towards the end. My pre-race ritual comprises a visit to the ISKCON temple in Girguam, Chowpatty an evening before the race. Things were no different this time. An early dinner – kichadi – and I was in bed by 9:00 PM.

I had set the alarm for 2:10 AM as I take time with my pre-race rituals that include a conditioning session and 3-4 visits to the restroom. The moment I wake up I put on my headphones and my rituals start with music in the background. Staying 500m away from Azad Maidan meant that I could leave by 4:10 AM for the venue. On reaching Azad Maidan and after checking in my bag a quick warm-up followed and I was all set to race.

Hydration and Fueling

  • Sips of Steadfast Synergy + FUP BCAA + Nutra nitrate+(beetroot) in 750ml of water through the day on Saturday.
  • Sips of Steadfast Carborance reconstituted in 750ml of water through the evening on Saturday.
  • 1 cup of coffee + 4 dates + 1 dried fig + 1 walnut shell + 1 tablespoon peanut butter + 1 small banana taken in 2 portions from the time I woke up until 100 minutes before the race start time.
  • Sips of FUP BCAA + Nutra nitrate+ + FUP Activate in 500ml of water from about 120 minutes before the race
  • Carried a 250ml bottle of FUP BCAA + FUP Reload with me to avoid the crowded aid stations initially.
  • 4 gels (FUP/UNIVED). 1 gel every 40 minutes during the race.
  • UNIVED Salt Cap (caffeinated) 1 before the race and then 1 every hour during the race.
  • Water or FUP Reload once in 20 minutes (on an average) at aid station(s).
  • Oranges spiked in salt during the latter part of the race.
  • UNIVED 4:1 recovery mix 25 minutes after finishing the race.

Pacing strategy


Andy and I had the same target and had formed an alliance to run together as long as we could hold the target pace into the race. Started carefully given the crowd and constricted lanes owing to the metro construction work. The objective across this stretch was to find the rhythm and settle down into a steady pace. Crossed several familiar faces and after exchanging pleasantries with a few of them settled down into a steady pace around the Oval Maidan stretch.

Timing Mat split @2km – 09m:44s, 4:52 mins/km
Ask @3km – 14m:30s, @4:49 mins/km
Actual @3km – 14m:31s, @4:50 mins/km

4-8 km

The Marine drive stretch is where I found my rhythm. There was a nice nip in the air and this time around Mumbai was benevolent in terms of the weather. Again, crossed a few familiar faces in this section. Started focusing on the objective of minimizing any extra distance that we may run from hereon. To that end stayed within the Blue arc that PROCAM had marked at the end of this section as we got off Marine drive. We were slightly faster than the target for this stretch so both of us kept pulling each other back whenever we felt we were pushing on the pedal.

Ask @8km – 38m:15s, @4:46 mins/km
Actual @8km – 37m:51s, @4:43 mins/km

9-15 km

After the turn I slowed down a bit on the first of the Peddar road hills to consume my first gel of the race. Caught up with Andy on the second hill and we coasted down the steady downhill that leads onto Mahalaxmi. Crossed Siddesha on the downhill and wished him well as we prepared for the long Worli stretch. The legs were moving well in this section and with the HM crowd on the opposite side cheering us on I found some momentum. But as we approach Sea link something weird happened. My stomach was queasy for a brief while in between and I contemplated taking a small walk to address this situation.

Timing Mat split @9km – 42m:46s, @4:46 mins/km
Ask @15km – 1h:11m:00s, @4:49 mins/km
Actual @15km – 1h:10m:58s, @4:43 mins/km

16-21.1 km

Fortunately, the situation did not last for long as I regained my composure as we hit the Sea link. I reminded Andy to draft behind a tall runner so that we stay insulated from the headwinds. Sea link was a surreal experience this time around as we covered it in the dark. Consumed my second gel in the early stretch of Sea link. We picked up pace as we neared the toll booth on the downhill the halfway mark beckoned us, and we wanted to hit it on target. I walked 10 steps after crossing the halfway mark, washed my face and resumed running for the second leg of TMM-2020.

Timing Mat split @21.1km – 1h:40m:07s, 4:45 mins/km
Ask @21.1km – 1h:40m:30s, @4:45 mins/km
Actual @21.1km – 1h:40m:10s, @4:45 mins/km


This β€œno-man’s land” section of the race is where I have lost the plot in previous editions of TMM. Though that was playing in the back of my mind things were different this morning. This IMO was the best part of the race for me. We maintained a steady pace and crossed several runners in this section. Something that used to happen to me in previous editions. This section is a bit testing after Siddi-Vinayak temple. But the cheering crowd and Mumbai police support ensured that you don’t let the dreariness get to you. Samir Joshi (pacemakers) gave me a smile from the other side and then Ash (who gave us a reassuring look to maintain this steady rhythm) crossed us on the other side. We took the Worli naval turnaround on strong legs. The difficult part of the race was behind us now it was just a matter of hanging in there. Took my third gel after the Worli Naval U turn.

Timing Mat split @27.8km – 2h:11m:00s, 4:43 mins/km
Ask @30km – 2h:25m:00s, @4:50 mins/km
Actual @30km – 2h:22m:30s, @4:45 mins/km


Shouted a cheer to Shreya Deepak on the other side as we made our way back to Worli Sea face. I don’t remember crossing a 32kms in such a positive frame of mind as we did at TMM. Andy reminded me that we were on target and I told him it’s all about counting down the KMs from here. Somewhere on this stretch Suresh Seshadri shouted out a cheer. As we crossed Atria mall fatigue started catching up slowly. Crossed Anjali towards the end of this stretch as she was struggling exchanged a few words of encouragement. I keep mentioning all these names because at times of self- doubt and when fatigue raises it head it’s these small human gestures that egg you on.

Timing Mat split @32.1km – 2h:32m:47s, 4:46 mins/km
Ask @35km – 2:50:00 minutes, @4:51 mins/km
Actual @35km – 2:47:13 minutes, @4:46 mins/km


As we crossed Jaslok Hospital. I started visualizing 27th Main at HSR where I do my hill training. Put my head down as I made my way up Peddar. I was feeling strong in this stretch and so pushed on ahead. Coasted on the downhill all the way to Marine drive. Stayed behind Simta and another runner on this stretch. Had my fourth and final gel at the top of Peddar road.

Timing Mat split @36.1km – 2h:53m:36s, 4:49 mins/km
Ask @38km – 3h:05m:00s, @4:52 mins/km
Actual @38km – 3h:01m:55s, @4:47 mins/km


This is where I lost the plot after a well-executed 38kms ☹. Fatigue finally had its say. It was more about putting one foot in front of another from here until the finish line. Kept Simta and that other runner as a target but they drifted away once we took that final turn after Ambassador hotel. At NDM I had cramped with barely 200m to go to the finish line things were reaching that point yet again but I was determined to cross the finish line on two feet and not on all 4s. A cheering Bobby and Somya and one final push saw me through the finish line.

Timing Mat split @42.195km – 3:24:31 minutes, 4:51 mins/km
Ask @42.195km – 3:25:xx minutes
Actual @42.35km – 3:24:36 minutes, @4:50 mins/km

What worked

  • Training – 5 days of running a week ensured that I built a good base alongside good mileage.
  • Sport specific strength and conditioning done mindfully.
  • A string of tune-up races like Thump 30km, GKVK 38km and SPCM 20 miler. I understood the value of choosing my battles and playing it conservatively in these tune-up races as they were confidence builders and not key races.
  • Focus on nutrition and enhancing my protein intake.

What didn’t work

  • Vis-Γ -vis my training I could not do any incline (uphill/ downhill/ both) repeat drills. Initially owing to the groin strain and later because I could not find a traffic free flyover in Chennai.
  • 39 to 42.195 kms in TMM took 22.26 minutes at an average pace of 5:20 mins/km. I slowed down considerably in this section. Need to address this aspect in future races.


  • It felt good running with Andy. This was teamwork at its best that worked with clockwork precision. We complemented each other very well. It was a pity that our alliance had to end at 36kms. While chasing a target it helps to run with someone who is aligned to the same target.
  • Having gels + energy drinks during the first half of the race and shifting the focus to gels + water in the second half is something that I did in this race. This is work in progress.
  • Having the first gel 40 minutes into the race rather than 10 minutes before the start is also something that I tried for the first time in this race. This is work in progress.
  • Knowledge sharing sessions on a variety of topics organized by Ash have helped immensely in understanding the science that surrounds and supports running as a sport.
  • Focus on the process and not the outcome. The outcome will happen if we adhere to the process.

Running Dynamics

Average Cadence 184 spm
Average Stride Length 1.13 m
Average Vertical Oscillation 11.3 cm
Average GCT Balance 51.0% L / 49.0% R
Average Ground Contact Time 180 ms

Heart Rate

Average HR 173 bpm
Max HR 192 bpm
Z5 1% (3.19 mins)
Z4 78% (2:40.37 mins)
Z3 18% (37.30 mins)
Z2 1% (3.30 mins)

Races Ahead

  • NDM (Marathon) – 23/02/2020
  • TCS World 10k
  • Berlin Marathon – 27/09/2020


Kartik Iyer is a conversationalist, running geek, techie, marathoner, miles to go CrossFit junkie and bathroom Carnatic vocalist. He loves striking random conversations with people just about anywhere, music and anyting to do with tech and fitness, in no particular order. He can be reached at @kartikiyer2007 on Insta and on Strava

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