Participants before the start of the marathon

Ordeal of my first half marathon

My first half marathon was in 2015. I ran in the Run Powai Run in Powai, Mumbai. This was the inaugural Half marathon. The run Powai run is held every first Sunday of a new year. My first half marathon taught me a lot of lessons in running. I had trained hard the month before the D day. I was getting excited as the day drew closer. However, I was very circumspect as to whether I can complete a 21 kms course as I had never done that before. During my practice run’s I had run up to 15-16 kms course’s a couple of times. Not having run a full course of 21 kms I was desperate to check out if I was good enough to run a half marathon. In my eagerness I ran a full 21 kms two days before the run and was very happy that I could finish it under two and half hours.

On the race day I was fully confident. Early morning during the race day I went through the stretching along with other hundreds of participants eagerly awaiting the flag off. It seemed the time was moving slowly. The DJ played music with the hosting asking the runners to do certain dance moves which will help the runners to stretch and warm up. I did not care. I was getting impatient for the race to begin. Then Mr. Hiranandani who was going to flag off the race spoke about the benefits of running. He congratulated all the runners for taking part in the event and turning up so early in the morning to run. He motivated everyone to stay healthy and exercise. This motivation speech inspired me and made me proud to have decided to participate in the half marathon. The event was finally flagged off at the official time of 5.30am. I had never experienced running with thousands of people where runners were jostling for space during the first couple of kilometres. It was kind of irritating. I started running rapidly broke free from the bunch of slow runners.  In less than 30 minutes I had crossed 6 kms. After crossing IIT main gate everyone had to run up a steep fly over towards the eastern express highway. As I was running on the steep incline I suddenly felt a snap on in my right leg calf muscles. I had to hop to the side to check what happened. It was paining horribly. Walking was difficult. Somehow, I walked over the flyover and sat down on the side of the road watching other runners who were way behind me crossing me and the thought that crossed my mind was may be running a marathon was not for me. I sat there for some time and then slowly started walking ahead. I was thinking of finding an organizers vehicle or an autorickshaw to take me back to the start point in Hiranandani gardens.   In the early morning hours I did not expect any autorickshaws or other vehicles. Moreover, the roads were blocked on one side for the marathon making it a real challenge to find a transport back. I had to just keep walking. Slowly I noticed I was able to walk & I thought of walking the remaining course & finish the marathon no matter what time it takes. Slowly I completed 15 kms. I realised I could walk faster almost like running on my raised heels and I could walk run faster. My calf muscle was not hurting that bad and finally huffing & puffing I went past the finish line.   I completed the half marathon in 2.44 hours. I was not concerned about the time, I was just happy to have completed the marathon which at one point I almost quit. If I had quit maybe I would not have run a marathon again. Maybe it would have been difficult for me to motivate myself the next time to run a marathon event. I was limping and my fingers on both the legs had blisters but i was very happy.

Running and walking for almost 15 kms with my sprained calf aggravated the injury. After the race I went to see a sports therapist.  Luckily there were no ligament tears. The therapist advised me to rest and suggested exercises to strengthen my calf muscle.  I had to regularly to RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress & Elevate) therapy too. I will talk about RICE in detail in another article.

The learning here is that never to run and complete a race if you get any injuries. You may end up incurring bigger injury. Luckily, I had no muscle tears and I started to run again after 8-10 weeks. However, to continue with any exercise or running after a muscle pull, sprain etc is not advisable especially for a beginner. One need to immediately stop and attend to the injury otherwise it can be a potential hazard to the future of a beginner athlete.

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