Hitting my first half marathon podium
2 weeks after running 42 km at Tata Mumbai Marathon (January 2020), wasn't expecting to hit my PB (Personal Best) in Royal Diamonds Kutchi Marathon's half marathon category. I was aiming for a sub 2 which has now become a default pace after I finished my first sub 2 in December 2019 at Vasai Virar Mayor's Marathon.
After running my debut in marathon at TMM in January 2020, I was now looking for another debut of Tata Ultra Marathon of 50 km in February 2020. With 4 weeks between this two long distance running, I was aiming to participate at Kutchi Marathon as a practice 21 km run with a comfortable timing between 1:50 hrs to 1:55 hrs but changed the strategy after I was 1.5 km in the race.
My pace of 4:57 mins/km remained constant without much effort. From 3rd km to 8th km, I was maintaining steady pace of 4:50 mins/km and that's where I decided to keep up the same pace till 1st loop of 10.5 km was over.
There was only person ahead of me, Vishal Gada who is also my running colleague at RunIndiaRun and winner of last year's Kutchi half marathon with timing of 1:36 hrs. It would have been stupid of me to compete with him and run out of fuel by 15th km. Young lad of 19 yrs, Smit Sangoi was a constant company from 10 km to 20.5 km as we both matched same pace and ran in unison. Eventually he went full throttle in the last 600 meters to take a lead of 4 seconds over me in overall leader board. He was 2nd (1st in his age category) and I was 3rd (2nd in my age category). After running a bit faster (4:55 mins/km) then my usual pace of 5:15 mins/km in the first loop of 10.5 km, it became little difficult to keep the same pace for next 10.6 km. My default running style also rarely goes for negative splits so I gave my best shot in the 1st half. Having completed 1st 10 km in 49:40 mins, I was confident of a sub 1:50 and a PB. Was happy to finish half marathon in 1:47:30 which is 4 mins faster than my December's 1:51:28 at VVMM (Vasai Virar Mayor's Marathon)
In terms of the route, Kutchi Marathon which is always hosted in Chembur, is very different from Vasai Virar. Chembur has very limited straight and flat stretch of road. VN Purav Marg becomes busy post 7:00 AM with inter city and inter state buses plying around. Race flagged off at 6:00 AM with poorly lit roads and unexpected speed bumpers. Sun light made its way by 6:40 AM. Vasai Virar route is flat, straight and flags off little late at 6:30 AM without any loop and any vehicular or human traffic.
Do witness community spirit at its best at Kutchi Marathon where volunteers and runners spread good vibes.