Friday, November 17, 2006

Running On Fumes

Most of us know what that phrase means.

I spent the days from Nov 9-Nov 15 in Mumbai where I had to go suddenly owing to my Mom's health problem. She is fine now. I spent 5 nights and 6 days with her in hospital and did not get much running done.

My 3 runs probably totaled 10-11 miles. The first run was about 3 miles, the second between 4 and 5 while the final one was about 3 miles again. Mumbai is one of the most polluted cities I have ever visited. Breathing was troublesome at best and running extremely hard.

My title "Running On Fumes" is a tongue-in-cheek comment about the fumes, i.e. pollution, in Mumbai.

The longest run I've ever done in Mumbai is 26.2 miles when I ran the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 0n January 15, 2006. That was a hard race made easier by the fact that I ran it at an extremely slow pace - I was running with 3 beautiful women and they pretty much gave up after 20 miles and walked the rest of the way back. We finished, almost last, in 6:50! The roads had opened up 4.5 hours into the race and the organizers had run out of water and had ceased to even bother to send more out for us slow runners. The heat, in mid-January, was oppressive and the pollution and the exhaust from the cars going past us was too much for the 4 of us.

A few pictures below. The first one show the Start area. The second one was taken right alonside the Marine Drive flyover. It shows the early miles (around mile 3). The right side of the road is how we returned to the Finish. The bridge, on the way back, was at about mile 24.5.

I had nothing but admiration for some of the locals who had signed up for the Full and were trying to keep pace with the 4 of us in the waning miles sans water and gels of any kind. It was apparent that the heat and lack of food had gotten to them - they would walk/run for a few hundred yards and then sit by the roadside to recover. They followed this pattern all the way to the finish. Testament to their fighting spirit!

Owing to my deviated septum (I'm having surgery for it in a few weeks) breathing these days, while running, is more or less hit or miss. Most days it gets hard to get a full breath in everytime. There are those days, few and far between (last evening was one such run!), when everything is in sync and I'm firing on all cylinders. That's when I feel like the old days are back - when I could maintain a 6:45 min/mile pace for a 10K (42:11 in June 2004)!!

The pollution in Mumbai seems to compound my problems tenfold. Each of those 3 runs was different. The first one, right after a 30-hour plane trip, felt OK. The breathing was off and the heat was palpable. The second one, a few days later, was better - breathing OK and heat not that bad. The last one though was simply horrible - the evening smog caused a pain in my chest and I felt uncomfortable all through.

People in India are not very exercise minded though that seems to be changing gradually in urban areas. There was this one person who, when seeing me approaching me on one of my runs, pointed at me and asked "Marathon?". So cute!! A person running on a crowded mid-day road (vehicles will not make way for pedestrians; that's how it is out there!) is weird and not a sight they are accustomed to.

I'm glad to be back and to be able to run long miles in air that's clean(ish) and pure. Blessed California!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Run safe out there.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Rajeev!

I usually spend two weeks in Taipei in hot summer every year. It is hot and humid, but looks like better than Mumbai. I just take bus (save my lung) to nearby mountains and start my daily run. Agree with you, CA (Nor CA) is a great place.

Glad to know your mother is fine now. Wish your family well.



AV said...


Where did you run in Mumbai? When I used to live there, weekends were spent outside Mumbai at places that are beautiful for running - places like Kasara ghats and even New Bombay (before it became super populated like rest of Mumbai).

But, Mumbai itself - places like Andheri or Bandra or even Marine Drive - have become too crowded for even the early morning runs.


Rajeev said...

I spent almost all my time in Lilavati Hospital (Bandra Reclamation) and that's where I ran.

How has your recovery been post-SV?

Rajeev said...


Thanks! How are you doing? Any more races lined up?

Anonymous said...

Rajeev, I thought there would be no race before 2007, but I just signed up Woodside 50K (12/2) :-) It was after reading Wendell's comments on ATY2006,
"In February 2006, he snowshoed the Western States course and swam across the icy Rucky Chucky river shown above." and his amazing report he sent me later. So I'd better enjoy the 50K :-)

How about you, and race plan for 2007?


Rajeev said...

I may yet do the same 50K you are running! I will probably get my operation done Dec 6 (no running for 2 weeks after that). Let's see. Good luck with that race anyways.