It was on 12th July 2019 that my friends told me they’d registered for a full marathon in Bengaluru and I thought “Ok, let me also give it a try”. With 51 Half-marathons under my belt, I thought I should give it a shot. The only reason I’d been avoiding a full marathon was that I did not know how my sugar levels would behave when I ran for over 4 hours.
I was diagnosed as a Type-1 Diabetic (T1D) on 30th October, 1999. I was 11 years old and have been on insulin since. I was always active during my school and college days playing football and running track events like 800m and 1500m. I signed up for the Auroville Run in 2012, my first Half Marathon and completed it in 2:42. My second HM was in Hyderabad in August 2012 and till date, it remains my slowest race timing of 3:08 . I joined Chennai Runners Mogappair Fitness Circle (MFC) in July 2015 and have been training with my team ever since.
It was in my 20th HM (Coimbatore, 2016) that I did my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon. Not only was my timing a hugely satisfying 1:49, it was also an improvement by a whole 12 minutes over my previous personal best of 2:01 at the 2016 Hyderabad Marathon. From 2016, I’ve been successful in meeting my target of completing 10 Half Marathons every year.
The Training—Planned vs Actual
I registered for my first marathon on 14th July 2019 – that was the last day for registering at a discounted price for the Bengaluru Marathon. The event was scheduled to be held on 13th October 2019. I thought of continuing my training for the FM after running my 50th Half Marathon event at Hyderabad on 26th August 2019. The plan was to do three 32Km runs on 1st September, 8th September and 15th September. Against which, I could only manage a 22k on 1st September–stopping with a bad plantar pain due to my new shoes not supporting me well, then a 30k on 7th September with 8×1.6k interval followed by 8x1k intervals in the same workout and finally another 22k on 16th September–thus successfully failing to meet my target of 32 km in every one of those training runs!
Then came my Sprint Duathlon (5k Run-20k Ride-2.5k Run) event at Chennai Duathlon. They say failures are the stepping stones of success and all the training that I had undergone till then helped me finish the Sprint Category in First Place. After finishing the event, I did a 10k run to put in some more training mileage. Then my taper plan was to do a 18k Run in Ahmedabad where I was attending a Diabetic Conference as part of Young Leaders of Diabetes in India (YLDI) initiative. And finally, to finish it off with a HM – my 51st at Coimbatore Marathon, one week before the first FM. At Coimbatore, the plan was to exactly replicate the first half of my debut FM but owing to the wonderful climate and flat roads in Coimbatore, I couldn’t control my pace and went on to do a 1:50 HM.
Finally, the race day arrived! My sugars were in good control when I woke up, so I had a banana and set off for Kanteerava stadium. As planned, I had worn my usual race costume of blue CR MFC tee and orange shorts. My phone pouch was strapped to my arm. My Intrepid ID was on and I carried 5 gels to have after every seven kms.
Just before the start of race:
The gray area in the above picture was my target sugar range (80mg/dl – 160mg/dl). I found to my distress that just before the start of the race, I was slowly going into a mild hypoglycemia. I had to react immediately, so I took half a gel, leaving me with only 4.5 gels remaining. I was already on the back-foot even before the start of the race. The situation calling for a quick improvisation of plan, I decided at once that I will go faster than my planned pace for the first 5 km so that I get my Heart Rate up and adrenaline pumping, and my sugar levels would automatically start to climb up. With this I shifted the intake of the remaining half gel to the 8th km and then one every 7Kms to get my plan back on track.
But because I did the first 5k at 5:05 pace average, I couldn’t run my first half fully and started to take walk breaks in my 19th km itself. This meant that my plan of doing the first half in 1:55 was slightly delayed and I finished the first half in 1:57 and then I was able to continue my run-walk till the 27th km. I had to take a toilet-break at the 28th km, at which point I checked my sugar levels on my phone. I immediately noticed the glucose trend going low and took half the gel which I was supposed to take in the 29th km and thereafter, around 34th and 35th km. It was a slow phase from the 28th km to the 35th km, but I was able to pick up my pace after that. With 5 more kilometers to go, I took my phone out one last time to see if my glucose trend was in the zone and it was. So I thought I would text in two of my WhatsApp groups – my family group and MFC Beasts group – that I was doing alright and that I had just 5 km more to complete, so that they wouldn’t be worried. Then I set off at consistent 7:15 pace towards the finish line and crossed it successfully.
I collected my medal and waited for my friends to complete too. In the meantime, checked my glucose- it was in the range. And that’s that – I completed my first Full Marathon. Woohoo! The stats of my first FM are here for those who may be interested in the numbers and the pattern.
While submitting this write up, I requested the editors to add “Maane, Thaene, Ponmaane” as required. The terse reply I got from the editorial team was that while they were okay to add “Maane” and “Ponmaane”, they would not add “Thaene” as I was diabetic. Oh well…..