Post my knee injury that i picked up during Ecstasy Eight, here’s my first running post in two years. Few days back, Reggae Marathon was generous to post it on their official blog site.

When I missed running the 2012 edition, I knew I was missing out on another once-in-a-year moment of living joy in the act of running. I have been fortunate to return to the days of regular running in recent times. One of the things I had to do was plan to come back to Negril, for one of my favourite marathons.
7 days to go (as i write this on Friday, Nov 29th) to the best running celebration I can think of, reggae-fun style. Here are my reasons, one for each day in waiting, for looking forward to the first Saturday of December:

1. Reggae

Marathon #6

5:15 a.m., still dark outside, a touch of mist in the air. Drums play in unison to inaugurate the event. You might have witnessed numerous running events; but when you stand at the start line and start tapping to kick off with Bob Marley’s Jammin’, you’ll realize how unique this experience is gonna turn out to be. Reggae is all through the day here. Live bands on the course, blaring box speakers, in cars zooming by, I’ve heard some from a distance too, and at the finish line area. If you aren’t a Reggae fan yet, you soon will be one.

2. Warmth

Marathon #6

Some prefer a major event with all the glare, some a low-key setting (which many trail runs naturally offer). In the Reggae marathon, it comes together. You’ll see it’s proportion is gaining size (year-on-year) but still gives you the warmth of something personal. At some point, you can’t help feel that the event appreciates your presence and rewards you in compassion.

3. Absorb

Marathon #6

Whether you’re a reggaeturner (reggae-returner, wow, this could make the Reggae dictionary perhaps!), or a first-timer (you’ll get hooked, you watch!) or someone like me who’s spent memorable years in Jamaica, the time you spend in this country gives you an opportunity to absorb. A crescent rainbow on a sunrise run, the sound of the ocean aside, the local flavours during your stay, quiet long runs by yourself, or just spending countless hours getting a sun-tan; this is the time, to be a sponge.

4. Familiar faces

Diane with a smile and I post the race in the 2011 Reggae T Shirt

Diane with a smile and I post the race in the 2011 Reggae T Shirt

Burt Carlson and I

Burt Carlson and I

 

5k into the 2011 run, I thought I was going berserk for a moment. Many faces seemed too familiar. And then it dawned upon me – people can’t seem to get enough of it in a year that they keep coming back. while covering the remaining distance, I exchanged little talks, pleasantries, and even chatted with a couple of people about their run the previous year. And chances are good that you might end up building friendships with some, a priviledge I continue to enjoy today.

5. Complete package

While we were waiting for the Pasta Party to begin

While we were waiting for the Pasta Party to begin

This one’s an easy sell – the weekend treats you to a package you can’t refuse. Extravagant pasta party, post-run dip in the ocean, environment friendly efforts (no paper cups!), the heat (I know you might disagree here, but I just love it!), a superb race t-shirt (can’t get enough wears outta it!), the list goes on!

6. Reminiscent of a milestone

Marathon #6

Dec 1st 2010 – 8:55 a.m. I feared slowing down to a walk and not achieving a sub-4 hr marathon, a target I was running after. Bob’s mile then happened! All I did was read every quote, smile, and go over it in my head in all spheres (the song, it’s meaning, the time of composition, et al). No matter what your milestone was / is, you’ll find more than one chance to get reminiscent next weekend.

7. Celebration

Marathon #6

I’m not sure the organisers planned this one, but when you have a run in December, it gives you a chance to celebrate. The year gone by, good times, bad times, within running and beyond. While the miles get logged next Saturday, at some point I’m sure I’ll ponder all that has been bestowed upon me this year. Everybody joins you in celebration – the awesome organizers, the generous volunteers, people on the roads, runners on the course, etc. Like said in this part of the world, give thanks my brother. Not only for being blessed to enjoy a pure sport, but for enjoying the celebration called life.

If you think about it, the reasons aforementioned can be applied to any marathon in general. They are common and specific at the same time. What do you think?

Run On!

While I had intended to video the last lap on the final day, I clearly had nothing left in me to do so. Here is a little video post completion of my Ecstasy Eight!


The Idea

After running my first double in April/May 2011, i wanted to attempt to do the Quadzilla – four in four days. But since i was doing NYC, travelling in the same month for it did not seem plausible. So i then planned to do the Winter Triple in December end (3 in 3 days) but when i got to know that they had something like a 7 in 7 days, i couldn’t help to think about this instead.

Savage Seven Medals

Chuck Savage came up with this idea in 2010 when he was charting his plans to reach 300 marathons. Hence the name ‘Savage Seven’. Chuck went on to do his 300th marathon (as he was scheduled to complete) in West Palm Beach last month (4th December 2011).

I got in my entry during the last week of July 2011 and made all travel arrangement in advance too. 3 weeks before the event and i learn that Jim Simpson, in his attempt to finish 100 marathons in the year, has been behind the conceptualization of two “big butt” marathons. Since i was getting into Pensacola only tonight (24th), i decided to run the second of the two instead of resting it out tomorrow as initially planned for.

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Reggae Marathon 2011 and West Palm Beach Marathon 2011

After having already done a Weekend of Marathons (WoM), you might wonder why would somebody want to do it again? For one, like in a marathon, every WoM is an experience by itself.

Second, i wanted to take the challenge one notch higher. Here’s how:
1. Heat – My 1st WoM was in pleasant conditions (50′s to lower 60′s). This one was in the range of 74-84F. And the humidity of the Caribbean and South Florida!
2. Travel and Travel – The fact that i was doing two marathons between two countries meant that there was driving, flying, walking around airports, etc. involved. This after the previous one where i was in the back seat of the car and the only walking i did was one level up to my room in Cincinnati and to the start of the 2nd race next morning.
3. Target Time – I wanted to finish this WoM within 7:50 hrs bringing in a PR of at least 7 minutes than my previous.

Each one of them might not sound steep, but collectively i thought they would present a fair amount of challenge. The other reason to do this particular WoM was that this was in my mind when i first drafted plans of running through a weekend.

Reggae Marathon 2011

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Since it’s creation in 2006, the World Marathon Majors has found to be an aspiration for many marathoners. I too am in the midst of those who have this desire to run in these 5 events and after completing Chicago (being the 1st), i signed-up for the Berlin Marathon in it’s Wave 1 phase back in October 2010. Reasons being i’ve never been to Germany, it would be another country (and another first – continent) to run in, i’ll get to run the 2nd out of the 5th races in this series. And also that Boston needed a BQ (which i was nowhere close to) and i hope to cover London during one of my trips to India sometime in the future (provided i’m lucky in the lottery).

I’M IN!

I had no reason to defer the NYC Marathon. In fact, i had every reason to take a shot at it. Entry into the marathon was beyond my control because i had planned to apply through the lottery system. But I went ahead and put in my nomination in January with the idea that if i got through it, i would give-up my Berlin entry and do this instead. An added bonus was that i would get to meet my cousins in NJ after 3 years.

I met Tristan Miller – who in 2010 completed 52 marathons in 52 weeks between 47 countries – in December 2010 at Montego Bay (Jamaica) where he was en-route to Negril to attempt #49 at the Reggae Marathon in Negril. While talking to him over coffee on numerous facets of running and life beyond (is there a life beyond running for us?, anyways), i asked him to pick his favourite marathon out of all that he has done during his extravagant journey that took him around all the 7 continents in the calendar. Though he told me it’s a tough choice to make, but he didn’t take more than a few seconds to name the NYC Marathon for the sheer energy the city and it’s people brought out while 40000+ runners coursed through one of the best cities in the world.

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Age Category Award

I was travelling to Sacramento for a good friend’s wedding during the October 14-16th weekend. It was bound to be a fun-filled week of memories, celebration and good times. Nevertheless, i had to get my last long run (LSD) before i taper for NYC. Though i stick to 20 miles these days (and try to intensify it to get the best bang for the buck), i decided to search for a marathon during this weekend in & around Sacramento. Not only will i get my LSD without running around un-known roads for 20 miles (which could turn out painful and un-assuring at times), i would also get a marathon in the bag.

The only feasible marathon i found was the Wine Country Marathon since most of the wedding functions and celebrations would be done by late Saturday night spilling over into the early hours of Sunday at the most. There were only a few issues if i had to register for this one though:
a) A distance of approximately 280 miles would have to be travelled
b) I would have to be on the road by 3 a.m. to get there in time
c) In addition to having un-planned diets (read ‘carbo loading’), i would also have only a couple of hours of sleep before heading out on Sunday
d) And to stand the risk of cancelling making it to the marathon if something was to come up for Sunday morning

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Have you had an experience which was un-planned for, but turns out to be very pleasing and delivers more than you could have imagined? That’s what the SF Marathon turned out in my case. I learnt about my possibility to participate in this marathon only 4 weeks out when i got to know that i would have to travel during those days. And when i learnt that there was a Marathon in the Bay Area, i knew that this trip, though being un-foreseen, would be indeed interesting. The San Francisco Marathon is known to be very scenic all along the route. The day completely lived up to the expectations!

Bhargav & I at the Expo

I landed in the Bay Area late on Thursday and stayed with a good Chennai Runner (my running group back in India) friend Bharghav Bhikkaji who these days is in San Jose. Bharghav and Aparna were very hospitable and generous during my 4 day stay with them. Thanks guys, i could not have asked for more. Bharghav is fun in more ways that one. For instance, at the airport after claiming my baggage, i was trying to spot him for a ride. All he asked me to do is “look for a Honda CRV without a License Plate”. And this was only the beginning of my stay; the days ahead contained some good times and hearty laughs.

Expo and Pre-Race

Saturday saw us driving to the expo and we met up with other Indian Runners whom we had earlier connected with through email. Barring 2 friends that we missed to catch up with, the rest of us got a chance to get to know each other during the American Cuisine Lunch that we enjoyed around the block. Besides the variety of food we munched on, i think we also had a varied bunch of runners amongst us – 3 attempting their maiden marathons (Ramkrishna Reddy, Madhulika Goel & Eizel Mafnas), Neville Bilimoria closing in on his ’12 marathons in 12 months’ streak that he would complete in August 2011, Mala Honnatti who has been running for 20+ years having done her 1st marathon in 1994, amongst others. It all made for a afternoon of pleasant conversations and the infrequent planning of the task ahead the following morning.

(L to R) Ramkrishna Reddy, Madhulika Goel, Eizel Mafnas, Mala Honnatti, Neville Bilimoria, Bharghav and Aparna Bhikkaji, Navin Sadarangani

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