Marathon musings. And a few tears.

So, here I sit in Mumbai airport, waiting for my delayed flight back to Delhi and the cold and smog. Yesterday I ran the Tata Mumbai Marathon, my 4th time here, and my 7th overall marathon.

“So how did yesterday go?” did I hear you ask?

Thank you for asking, and my race went well

Not brilliant, but well.

Actually, you know what, it went very well, in fact.

I managed to run my fastest time ever for Mumbai, which felt wonderful, but it was not my fastest marathon time overall. A whole 6 minutes faster than last year, but I didn’t crack 5 hours, which I’d hoped for, missing it by a measly 48 seconds.

Ouch. 48 seconds.

Now I’m kicking myself for slowing down to that walk that most definitely cost me a benchmark time.

But I didn’t injure myself, or feel sick, or any of the other things that bug we marathoners, especially on such a hot and humid day like yesterday. I saw in the papers this morning that there was a marked increase in runners needing medical treatment. According to the Times of India, over 3,200 runners needed medical treatment, so lucky old me.

For those of you who have run a marathon, and especially any of you who ran yesterday, you’ll know what I mean when I say that despite whatever the weather gods throw at you on race day, despite the exhaustion, crossing that finish line, after 42.195km, is one majorly fantastic experience.

Yesterday was hot and humid. Pedder Road doesn’t get any easier (but I’ve learned how to deal with it).

But the spirit of Mumbai was on such wonderful display, with fabulous crowd support all along the route, and that is something that eggs you on. The smiling, the cheering, the signs held aloft, people offering you food and water and salt or a spray for aching muscles…it is quite a spectacle. All along the route there are people cheering, smiling, just being there.

At one point, running through Mahim, which was about 25/26km into the race, I think (so on the homeward straight) I found myself close to tears.

A combo of the music playing on my playlist, and the smiling faces along the way, and the realisation that here I am, 65 years old, and able to run a marathon. And I got all choked up and tears came to my eyes – as they are now, actually, as I relive the moment. It was such an intense feeling of being alive and healthy and privileged enough to be able to run.

OK, I’ll stop right there, before this becomes embarrassingly emotional.

There was also a very different, very happy twist to this marathon, my first since being appointed an influencer by ASICS.

It was such a wildly unexpected compliment from ASICS, in this brave new digital world of young people, to be made an influencer, that I’m still slightly in thrilled denial.

On a more practical note, this honour also meant that several thousand marathoners were subjected to the sight of yours truly on stage at 4.30 in the morning, as part of the warm-up routine. Poor things 😛

But SUCH fun!

To every single Mumbaiker who was out there supporting the runners – thank you!

To every lovely runner who talked to me, or told me to speed up when I flagged, or who said they read my blog, or follow me on Insta – thank you!

I loved every single moment of yesterday…

…I lie, of course 😛

I hated the chafing from my arm-phone-holder-thingy. But that was small beer in the overall scheme of things.

I loved being back in the Maximum City, and I’m leaving (if my flight ever takes off ) with love and gratitude for such a fab place.

What did you see on your run today? #385 comes from sunny Spain

My Belgian cyber-friend Myriam kicks off 2019 for us with a happy, sunny photo from Spain. Seeing this, sitting shivering here in Delhi, also means that I start 2019 feeling envious, which is not good, I know 😛

This is what Myriam has to say:

“First run in 2019. we are in Spain for the holidays. Blue sky and sunshine. Love it.”

And she continues:

“Here is another idea for your blog : what are you thinking about while running? A penny for your thoughts. I was thinking about home. My son was celebrating New Year with friends at home, so I was wondering who’s cleaning the house?!”

Myriam, that is SUCH a good idea! I will launch a new section here called “A penny for your running thoughts” 🙂 Thanks SO much 🙂

There really is no such thing as a bad run

I’d planned to do a much-needed, pre-marathon long run today, but everything went pear-shaped.

I live in New Delhi, India currently one of the most polluted cities on the planet – if not THE most polluted.

On a cold, uber-polluted morning, it seemed foolish & totally counter-intuitive to head out early to do the scheduled 30k I’d promised myself I’d do.

So it would have to be later in the day, when the pollution would be less.

Which meant wheedling agreement from the family to advance lunch, so I’d have enough time to run – oh, you know what, I won’t bore you with the tedious internal disputes around my running schedule. That’s all part of my own, personal running drama 🙁

Anyway, off I trot after lunch, all set to do 30k, well perhaps 25k given the short winter afternoon, OK, I’ll be happy with 20k…it was fast developing into that kinda run. Hadn’t digested lunch, so felt borderline queasy and at 5km I made a decision. Stop running for today because it’ll end in tears otherwise.

Grumpily, I headed for the park gate, angry with myself, angry at the filthy pollution that blights this city, angry with…and then I met up with a delightful Korean couple I only ever see in this particular park. The lady hugged me with great glee, and promptly pulled a calendar out of her handbag and gave it to me.

I hoped she had had a good Christmas?

“My children came home to visit, the best Christmas present!” she smiled at me.

I told her my children had also come home for Christmas, too, at which point we hugged each other again.

And off I trotted back to my car, with a smile on my face plus a calendar richer. All because my run had gone the way it did.

Tomorrow I will brave the early morning cold & dark & pollution, since that long run has to be done.

But I bet I won’t get a friendly hug, and certainly not a calendar!

What’s meant to be is meant to be, even in running.

No Regrets Running

There are days when I’m out running, & feel so on top of the world & energised and oh-so-wonderfully alive, that I quietly regret only starting to run when I turned 60.

I catch myself thinking “Oh, if only I’d started running in my youth, or in my 20s/30s/40s/50s”…and then I imagine where I might be now, and what I might have achieved, and wonder how life might’ve been so very different…all those wasted years of running bliss 😛

I’m 65 now, and have debated this question back & forth over the 5 joyous years which took me from zero, as in z-e-r-o, to a full marathoner.  A slow full marathoner, admittedly, but a full marathoner, dammit!

But the fact of the matter is that I’ll obviously never know what it would’ve been like to run as a fit 25 year old, because I didn’t, so I must look at things differently.

As I get older, I find myself increasingly attracted to websites aimed at fellow senior citizens and you know what?  There are hundreds and hundreds of runners out there, my age and older, running amazingly fast and strong, or running slowly and happily, and all of us having an absolute blast as we do so.

There is one huge advantage to starting running so late in life – I have the “comfort” of not having to see a decline in achievements or speed or pace – because there’s nothing from my youth with which to compare myself 😛

But what is wonderful is that there are still so many role models of my own generation who I can look up to & hero-worship

I read with open-mouthed amazement of 70 year-old Jeannie Rice running the Chicago Marathon in 3:27:50 and fellow 70 year old Gene Dykes breaking the mens’ record in 2:54:23.  

Are these 2 super heroes or what?

One of the many things I’ve learned about myself since starting running is that I am competitive.

Never knew it before.

Seriously.

Having never been sporty or athletic-y, I never really had occasion to match myself physically against others.

But now with running…the problem is that I run with youngsters, many of them way younger than my children, and naturally I want to keep up with them, and feel as fit as them. So the advice in a very interesting article I read online makes sense (although I say this with great reluctance!):

“If you want to survive and keep running, you have to first accept that you’re not 35, 40 anymore…Your mind might want to run like that, but your running regimen has to be different.”

I accept the concept – your mind thinking it’s 35 years old – but I don’t want to aim lower than all the kids I run with 🙁

Deciding to aim as high as is possible in the marathon world, I checked the qualifying times for Boston, the gold standard in marathons.  I give you the qualifying times for 2019 :

And here’s 2020:

Hey! Guess what!  I can qualify in the 70-74 age bracket :P. 

Joking aside, it’s not too crazy ridiculous, is it, to think that were I to shave 20 minutes off my current PB I might j-u-s-t be able to qualify for Boston in a few years?!

Talk about SERIOUS old lady goals!

So, No Regrets Running it is for me!

I run.

I sometimes even win medals.

I have a great sports brand, ASICS, that backs me, which is super exciting.

I have tons of new friends.

No Regrets allowed here.

What did you see on your run today? #384 comes from snowy Vancouver

While we sit here in New Delhi, grumbling about the cold, and the fog, over in Vancouver, where they know the meaning of winter, the intrepid Namrata Joshipura is out running in the real McCoy.

Real cold.

Proper snow,

And how lovely it looks 😀


Makes our early morning 9C here in Delhi look positively wimpi-ish 😛
Thanks Namrata for the lovely photos, and, as you always do, #keeprunning #keepinspiring.  Also, crucially, girlfriend – #keepwarm!

My half marathon check list

Who else is running a race tomorrow?

Who else is spending Saturday night busy checking their gear and their playlists and their stash of gels?

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be running a half marathon in New Delhi, India, where I live, and with a 5.00am reporting time, it behoves me to get my ducks in a row tonight.

So here we go.

My pre-HM checklist.  Shout if I’ve forgotten something, please!

Main items

Shoes, socks, sports bra, underwear, trousers, top, bib, Garmin.

Extras

Waist pouch for phone, snacks, gels, kleenex. Headphones,

Extra extras

Sweater for journey to venue, beanie for journey to venue, water for car, bananas for car.

Still undecided about…

Gloves, head torch (5.30 start in deepest, darkest winter)

Need to do tonight before I sleep

Pin on bib, check playlist for the umpteenth time, charge Garmin for nth time, carbo-load, hydrate, calm down, remember I’m doing this for fun AND paying good money to do so!

Wish me luck, folks 🙂

And if I’ve forgotten anything, PLEASE tell me now!

Follow-up review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3

5 weeks ago, I posted my first review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3, and since we have now completed another 100km together, I thought a quick follow-up review might be in order.

As I stated in my first review, I am a recently appointed ASICS Running Influencer in India, where I live, but the company has put me under no obligation whatsoever to write reviews, favourable or otherwise.

Not once has anyone suggested I should even review their products.
Right, it’s now been 2 months & 215km that we’ve been together, and so how are we doing, my lovely turquoise shoes & I?

We are doing just fine and dandy, and I am every bit as impressed by these beauties as when I took them for their first run, exactly 2 months ago today 🙂 (So happy 2 months to us!).

The DynaFlyte 3 continues to impress me with its lightness.

You lace them up and then can almost forget about them, since they are so light and un-clunky.

In the last 100km we’ve run together, there has been some road work on Delhi’s hard, unforgiving roads, but mainly on paths and trails in my local park.

Like so:

My shoes have got dusty and muddy, and been washed a couple of times – they come up looking as good as new!

No chafing, no noticeable wear & tear.

No feeling that the wonderful cushioned soles are wearing down.

All round, I’m still delighted with them.

Since they are so sleek-looking (plus I LOVE the colour) I’ve worn them out and about a few times for non-running events.

Looking forward to many more miles in my DynaFlyte 3.

What did you see on your run today? #383 comes from wintery Canada

Namrata Joshipura is a woman of many talents.

She is one of India’s leading fashion designers, is a mother and business woman, splits her time between New Delhi & Vancouver, and is a seriously accomplished runner & climber.

Truly a woman to be admired.

Namrata was out running in Vancouver today and shared some stunning photos of the frosty winter wonderland she saw as she trained in University Endowment Land.

Just take a look at how pretty her world looks:

I love the contrast between the white frost and the colours of leaves and berries.

Stay nice and warm as you run, Namrata, and enjoy what must be lovely clean air 🙂

#keeprunning #keepinspiring

There’s running. And then there’s life

Or is it the other way round?

Which comes first, running or life?

Seriously, there are times when I marvel at just how complicated something as intrinsically uncomplicated as running can be.

It’s not the running itself that’s complicated.

Far from it.

Running is dead easy.

Lace up your shoes and head out.

End of story.

It’s the whole fitting your running into a busy schedule that includes so many moving parts. And other people.  And other people’s demands.  And work.  And everything else.

That’s the complicated part.

Let me state my own case, to get the ball rolling.

I have life pretty easy, I’m the first to admit.

I’m old, so don’t have young dependent children.

I work from home, so am more mistress of my time than many people.

And yet…

Getting the life-work-family-running balance sorted is not easy, and never more so than when I’m 6 weeks from a full marathon & totally under-trained.  Carving out blocks of 3 and 4 and 5 hours to run is not simple.

And, as I said, I have life very easy.

For those of you who don’t know me, I live in New Delhi, India, a city which is currently cursed with the reputation of being one of the most polluted cities on the planet.  It is therefore not a good idea to get up in the pre-dawn dark and try and get those miles in, because the early morning pollution levels are horrific.

One feels (whether it is true or not) that the sun “burns off” some of the pollution, so I tend to head out mid-morning to run in my local park.  That’s an advantage office-goers don’t have, I fully appreciate, and I do love my solo runs.

But…we have house guests.

As one does in India at this time of the year.

And so what am I supposed to do, as I must get my long runs in, other than abandon them for 4 1/2 hours, which is what I did yesterday?

Yes, I did abandon them and, for the record, felt mighty guilty about it.

Now what I’m about to tell you next is such a first world problem, but one of the hazards of trying to train hard in Delhi in the winters is that social life takes over.

Yeah, such a problem, right? 😛

Fellow Delhi runners will understand – actually I think all my fellow Indian runners will understand – but this is full-on wedding season.

For those of you unfamiliar with Indian weddings, they are not a half-day affair, like most western Christian weddings.  No sirree.

Your Big Fat Indian wedding lasts for days, has a cast of thousands, involves many different functions, is admittedly great fun, but is completely incompatible with pre-marathon early nights.

Totally impossible.

I have a dreadful reputation amongst my husband’s friends, whose children are all getting married and/or having babies (which involves equal amounts of partying).  I routinely skip functions, because I have a race the next day, and the all-round perception of me is (I’m sure) of someone who is totally wrapped up in her own interests over those of whoever is celebrating.

However lovely it is to be invited out, if there’s a race on the horizon, or a major training session, these have to be prioritised.

After 5 years of running, I still have NO idea how to manage my life-work-running balance.  Someone or something always seems to be offended.

I am bored witless by people telling me that I’m obsessive about my running.

Bored.  Witless.

Perhaps I am obsessed, but what of it?

Isn’t it better to be obsessed with trying to exercise and keep healthy in my dotage?

And since the “obsessive” monniker usually comes in the context of not wanting to party late/go out/have another drink, it’s always deeply ironic.

Yeah, perhaps I am obsessed, but at least it’s a healthy obsession, right?

Oh dear, I don’t want to sound grumpy, and I think that is how it sounds…

I run.  I love it.

But it’s unfortunate that for so many people in my immediate world, the need to run, and train, and train some more is perceived as being a selfish pursuit.

I see that I have shared similar thoughts on the Running vs Life debate twice before, and I’m clearly no closer to getting it sorted than I was 3 years ago when I first discussed it & in July this year

First impressions of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 20

Disclosure, before I even start my review

I am an ASICS Running Influencer, and, on the advice of my running coach & an excellent ASICS store manager, I chose the new Gel Nimbus 20, in which to run and train.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had bought the DynaFlyte3 & I alternate between these 2 pairs in my runs, as I prepare for a half marathon this week, a full in January and another full in February.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be putting in a lot of mileage together.

I must point out that ASICS has placed me under no obligation whatsoever to write a review, favourable or otherwise, of these shoes.

So, what do I think about these shoes so far?

I have run 119.5km in my Gel Nimbus 20 (shall we call it 120km for simplicity’s sake?!) and am totally and utterly in love with these shoes.

I have run in my Nimbus 20s on several different terrains in New Delhi, India, where I live – roads, parks, tracks, grass, & even some outdoor gym equipment, and the cushioning of these shoes, especially on the roads, is brilliant.  Absolutely fantastic.

Just take a look at the cushioning on the heel:)

The shoes felt totally comfortable from the word go, and I have had no teething problems.  They feel super light, despite the solid heel cushioning.

Here are some technical specs that I downloaded from a website called dickssportinggoods.com

I find the shoes light, as I said, and surprisingly sleek.

They offer great support and I love the look of them.  They are discreet, with the logo only hinted at on the sides.  Love the feel & look of the laces (if that doesn’t sound strange!)

Obviously I am totally in love with the colour 🙂

So, 120km together.

We have many more kilometres to go, many of them on the hard, unforgiving Indian roads, so I’ll report back after we’ve run together some more.

But so far, so good.

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