In 2023, I set my sights on completing the Procam Slam, kicking off with the TCS 10K. My marathon training was integrated into my regime from the start. Being a first-time marathoner, my coach structured my training in phases: base building followed by marathon-specific training.
During the base-building phase, my routine consisted of three strength sessions, two easy runs of 8-10 km, and a weekly long run. This period included half marathon distances bi-weekly, gradually transitioning to longer distances required for marathon. My participation in several events, such as the Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon, where I finished in 2:07, and races in Bengaluru and Mysore, solidified my comfort with the half marathon distance.
As I transitioned to marathon training, the intensity of my strength workouts increased. My long runs extended to 25 km, and eventually, I completed two 30 km runs followed by a couple of 35 km+ runs in December. My strength regimen was complemented by core and mobility workouts, and my nutrition plan included daily protein supplements and electrolytes + gels for long runs.
The trip to Mumbai is planned as a mix of family vacation and marathon participation, with fellow members from Runners 360 and the Mangalore Runners Club joining us in Mumbai. The pre-race days were filled with excitement and camaraderie. Upon our Friday afternoon arrival, we headed straight to the expo from the airport for bib collection, a process that was very efficient, taking no more than 5-7 minutes.
After securing our bibs, we took the opportunity to browse through the expo, immersing ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere and capturing photographs. Our accommodation was intentionally chosen for its proximity to the race start, a mere 5-8 minute walk away, allowing us easy access and the chance to familiarize ourselves with the South Mumbai through leisurely strolls on Friday and Saturday. This not only served as a distraction from the pre-race jitters but also allowed us to scout numerous dining options close to our hotel. We opted for wholesome and nutritious meals, consciously avoiding the local temptation of vada pav until the race was successfully behind us.
The proximity of our hotel to the starting point was a strategic advantage, gave me an extra 30-45 minutes of sleep. Woke up at 3 a.m., I adhered to my morning routine, followed by a brief 10-minute activation session in the hotel to warm up my muscles. Having prepared my race attire and gels the night before, I was ready to take the challenge, targeting a completion time of 4 hours and 45 minutes.
I started walking towards the start point, accompanied by a fellow hotel guest. The vibrant atmosphere was heightened by the chance reunion with a former colleague from Hyderabad and peers from the Mangalore Runners Club. This unexpected encounter, coupled with the camaraderie of familiar faces, alleviated any pre-race apprehensions. Having diligently executed 80-90% of my training regimen, both in running and strength conditioning, I was confident. That allowed me to spend the hour leading up to the race with engaging conversations and a positive outlook.
I dedicated my inaugural marathon to my dear friend from engineering, Mastan Babu, commemorating him with a custom-designed t-shirt that bore his image and the inscription “Running for Mastan.” For more on Mastan, you can follow this link: Mastan Babu.
Per my coach’s advice, I aimed to maintain a pace of 6:45 per kilometer for the majority of the race, up until the 35 km mark, before adapting to the race’s demands. My nutrition strategy included consuming one gel 15 minutes before the race and five more at strategic intervals throughout, specifically between 7-8 km, 14-15 km (with caffeine), 21-22 km, 27-28 km (with caffeine), and 35-36 km.
Starting from section C, I was greeted by cool weather and an energizing atmosphere at the start line. I consciously tempered my excitement, focusing on adhering to the pre-set pace strategy. The anticipation grew as I approached Peddar Road (at 9-10th km), which I managed to tackle with ease, even finding the energy to cheer friends running the half marathon.
Having successfully navigated Peddar Road, I felt a sense of accomplishment at overcoming the first major hurdle. Along the way, I chatted with fellow runner Nupoor and overtook Deepak from MRC. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link provided a picturesque backdrop as the sun began to ascend over Mumbai’s skyline. Had a short photo session with Royster, who had his iPhone handy.
However, post the 29 km mark, my pace unexpectedly dropped, the reason which I’m still trying to decipher. Despite this, I managed the Peddar Road climb once more, this time with a slight reduction in speed but without stopping. Here, I met my quizzing companion Ken and his family, pausing briefly to engage and capture the moment.
The remainder of the course, predominantly downhill or flat. Although fatigue set in, the anticipation of seeing my son Siddarth and wife Lakshmi waiting at the Marine Drive section prompted me to conserve for a strong finish at the end. A memorable moment occurred at the 39th km when I surpassed Milind Soman, a highlight of my run.
Upon reaching Marine Drive, my family joined me for a brief 100 meters, which helped me to strong finish. Crossing the finish line of my first marathon was a profoundly satisfying experience, further sweetened by the post-race meeting with Coach Shreyas, Deepa Nayak, and several friends.
After the race, I was overwhelmed with a sense of elation, having accomplished the goal I had set for myself the previous year. Physically, I felt surprisingly well.
I made my way to the Procam Slam counter, where I collected my certificate, the Procam Slam medal, and a commemorative photograph. Then, I proceeded to claim my TMM finisher’s medal, fortunate to receive it just in time before the stock was depleted.
Met my friend Krishna, who had completed his half marathon, and other companions from the MRC, we took a moment to share our race stories and capture these memories with photographs.
A significant takeaway from this experience is the importance of showing courage and trusting in the rigor of my training. Reflecting on the race, I believe a more assertive push in the final stretch could have potentially shaved 8-10 minutes off my time.
Overall, I’d assign a rating of 7 out of 10 to the race experience. The vibrant atmosphere of Mumbai, the enthusiastic crowd support, and the scenic Sea Link stretch were highlights for me. However, the event could benefit from enhanced hydration and medical facilities towards the end of the course.
Achieving my goal has only intensified my desire to improve and evolve as a runner. Motivated, I am eager to return to the TMM in 2025 with the aim of bettering my current performance.
Rameshbabu is member of Mangalore Runners Club, and is coached by Runners360. He has been running for 10 years, and has run half marathons across the world and TMM 2024 is his debut marathon.