I had written down my Plan for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015:
“I just want One Mind.
I just want One Plan.
I just want One Goal.
I just want to run a 4:00 hour Marathon!
Trust is the Supreme Daring!”
I had advertised it far and wide!
Namrata, my daughter, and I had discussed the blog and its possible consequences. Was it, she had asked, necessary to tell the whole world of my plans, so far in advance, especially when I was seeking a target that was so out of my reach?
The only danger with advertising ones target is the danger of failing to achieve it. I have never been worried about failing publicly. I’m a harder critique of myself than anyone else can be and so it does not bother me.
The advantages of advertising my target, on the other hand, surpass the dangers. There is a possibility that my friends may be inspired by my target and push themselves as well. Besides even if I fail, they will see me pick myself up and go at it again. And there is some good in that too.
I missed my 4:00 marathon target. I held One-mind, One-Goal and One-Plan throughout the race. I gave it my 100%. I tried my best. I did not make it.
The pace I held to make it in 4:00 was perhaps just too fast for my current ability. This perhaps, caused me to miss, not only the 4:00 target but also the 4:10 mark, which I thought I was capable of. But that is water under the bridge. One never knows what might have been. There is no advantage in speculating what might have been.
The 4:00 target was missed and that’s that.
Did I fail? Well, Yes and No.
Two issues are involved: Math and Emotion.
Mathematically there is no doubt that I missed 4:00. I ended up with 4:16:23.
But when I analyze it emotionally, I see it differently.
In my first SCMM, I did not get an official time because by the time I finished, they had removed the timing carpet and even the finish-line clock.
For a long time afterwards, I improved as a runner but I started the Pacing initiative in India and started pacing the sub 5:00 bus. Consequently I became a 4:58/59 runner. Year after year, I simply finished in either 4:58 or 4:59.
In 2014 I decided that I would not pace and simply try and run fast. I tried to push my time (without the requisite training). I ended up with a 4:50. I was very disappointed but from that day on, I decided that I would train for pace.
With this, larger frame of reference a 4:16:23 isn’t all that bad.
To go from 4:50 to 4:16:23, in one year, is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, GOOD!
It is my personal best and it does push me up on the 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon start-line seeding. Did I say, pretty Good?
Of course, I cannot deny that there is a part of me that feels sad at missing not only 4:00 but also 4:10.
The 4:00 target, in hindsight, was madness. A Bit Cuckoo!
By all logical reasoning, it is madness to aim 10 minutes faster than what one is capable of.
But since when has marathon running and logical reasoning gone hand in hand?
So what was I really thinking? Was 4:00 ever possible?
In the 1975 movie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Jack Nicholson is trying to escape from a mental institution. In one of the scenes he tries to pull out the drinking water trough and use it to smash one of the barred windows to escape.
One of the other patients says, “Don’t be stupid, you can’t do that.” Jack replied, “Yes I can, anything is possible.”
Jack gives it everything. He strains his hands, legs and back until the veins stick out of his neck. But he could not move the thing at all.
They all said, “We told you that you couldn’t do it.”
Nicholson looks at them and says, “But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did.”
Was 4:00 impossible?
Yes, Perhaps it was impossible. But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did.