Thumped the 20 miler manifestation to a marathon distance at Thump Bangalore 2023

The finish line..

The 20 miler Race route at a glance
At first, this doesn’t look pretty to me at all. The obvious reasons are running in loops like a hamster to meet the category distance. I presume that is a drawback of not having exclusive roads that define a marathon. As a result, the route ended up doing itself multiple times as the only way out was to delve into longer distance running in cities. The organizers do a good job of meeting the requirements of runners who choose to undergo a time trial before any category A event that they may have targeted.
Post the Ultra events, the end of the year had to be a little sober. The pace gradually catches up when you know the time-on-feet will be limited when compared to the running events completed in the past. Call it getting done with once and for all or just that running has gotten on your nerves and makes you push yourself to finish the distance in the least possible time, leading to the acronym PB (Personal Best). Guess it’s easy to fall prey to it when you are out there wanting to stand out of the crowd in the limited distance category. Has its pros and cons at the same time. 

So this happened post a 10k dash on the treadmill in my new Saucony Axon shoes which I chose for long distance running. The feedback from the shoe sole pushes you to do your best is my first impression and seems it has worked well so far. 
That 30k did lead to some soreness in the muscle and I owed it a recovery for the next couple of days. Some aerobic stretching and a massage gun did wonders. It instantly relieved the stiffness, ensuring the regulated blood flow after a few rounds of vibration on the affected area.
In comes the weekend in no time. The week was spent with some carb loading and adequate hydration topped by moderate strength workouts at the gym. 
The 5:30 am start time was apt for the miler. It just made sure the run could end before the sun got harsh on you. 

As you can see, I was already breaking into a sweat during the initial kilometers of the race. And as the Nice road is known for its inclines and rolling hills, the story that will unfold wasn’t expected to be less than a stressful one. The initial 10 km were known by far due to the participation in the last events on the same route. 
The loop after is something to take heed of. The next 10kms had to be completed in loop format. Each loop was of approximately 3kms that added to your kitty in the entire 32km stretch. 
So now, the important part. When you enter the loop arena, don’t forget to pick your bands for each loop. The black, followed by white, and then with a red that signifies the last loop. 
This stretch had a mix of both, ups and downs, and doing it not once but thrice could be felt as a challenge. This stretch again had you socialize with all the 20 miler runners and see the know-how’s of each runner unveiling their strategy to the finish lines. It was indeed motivational and helped you keep up with your zeal to perform your best. 
That’s the elevation profile representing the rolling terrain of the route. The onward journey definitely helps you strategize your return, hence one needs to be mindful of the same rather than having to suffer infrequent burnouts.
So, the first 2kms is a gradual incline and can be done easily as your legs at still fresh. The humidity quotient does come into play too and you tend to sweat in response to the pace you try to generate.
The rolling hills continue to help you recover and also help you make up the time tend to spend on the uphill. Hence, a balanced nature of race could be attained here. The question that only remains is how much longer can you last with the same intensity. This is where your strength training does the talking. The pace would be directly proportional to the strength in your legs you use to push you on the inclines while trying to maintain the same pace or be at par pace while running on flat terrains. Nevertheless, you could always pretend to be training rather than repent for pushing yourself too hard leading to unfortunate instances. 
So the initial 10 km is also the same route that is covered by the HM runners. The start time is 15 mins after the miler category start time and is at 5:45am. So the traffic you are going to chase is mostly in the 3 loops after 10k and on the way back from the 10k checkpoint. The aid stations were adequately stationed with volunteers, electrolytes, chips, oranges, salt, bananas, biscuits, etc. But I still intended to carry a 250ml of electral to be on the safer side as the need may arise anytime during the run and between the aid stations. 
This distance category was new to me. The 32km is mostly run to train your marathon distance and can often be taken up as training runs. A 2:45 finish is what I aimed at and setting time targets often helps you judge the pace, distance, and the most important part is the heart rate along with nutrition intake. Consuming a lot of water can also have adverse effects and can lead to stomach aches. Hence sips of water and electrolytes can give you the optimum mileage till the next aid station and subsequently be planned for the rest of the route. 
By the 25th kilometer, I did feel the fatigue and hunger in me and needed some immediate nourishment. Orange and salt is always make the best combo for me. Stuffed my mouth with it and slowly chewed along the route. Avoid gulping down a lot of food when your body is bound to be in motion. Short portions just to keep yourself steady till the next equipped station should be the go-to strategy. 
Now, the inclines were getting slower. Hence milestones were shortened to ensure the motivation thrives than having to look at the entire distance as a major goal. So every incline became a short goal and whatever pace lost was recovered during the down hills. I couldn’t wait for the run to get over. You will often find yourself dodging among the shorter category runners of 5 and 10km. You can choose to shout out loud – give way to the fellow runners if unable to get past the crowd. 
At last, the finish line was in sight and yet another dash of 1.5 km was required. The music to your ears being played at the finish often gushes you down with that adrenaline rush and you tend to give all that you have got to cross the line in style and head held high for yet another injury free finish.

And that’s a wrap!!
Tried the Saucony Axon 3 at this event. The feedback from the sole kept me pumped everytime I landed on the route. Also, this being a concrete or cemented road, life does get difficult and you feel the slowness under your feet. The cement road definitely increases your efforts marginally when compared to tar roads.
Some tech stats from Strava:

Quote for thought:
Running isn’t about being the best, it’s about pursuing your personal best.