Team Motiv8 athlete Kavitha Reddy clocked a mind-blowing 3:14 at the Chicago Marathon 2019, having the race of her life, far surpassing her own and everybody else’s expectation.
Motiv8 Coaching founder and her coach Atul Godbole talks to her about her training in the lead-up to the race and race day itself…
Atul Godbole (AG): 3:23 at London a few months back, and now 3:14 at Chicago – that’s a big jump! Did you expect that you would clock 3:14?
Kavitha Reddy (KR): Definitely not! I totally surprised myself 🙂.
AG: The initial few weeks of training were not that good. Quite a few of the workouts were hit and miss. What were some of the reasons?
KR: Yes, the initial weeks didn’t go too well with training. There was some fatigue. Other reasons could be that my thyroid levels were a bit high and my menstrual cycle was very irregular and more frequent.
AG: How did you handle that period?
KR: I got a full body check-up and started with the required changes in medication. I remember I also had a talk with you, which I do whenever I am low with my confidence levels, or things in general are going wrong in training. Your advise and motivation helped me to boost my confidence.
I also started doing workouts with Vishwas, Krishna and you which helped me push myself. Slowly, things started falling in place and I got my confidence back.
AG: The last half of the training cycle went superb. How did things change?
KR: Yes, the peak training weeks eventually went very good. I kept hitting better and better paces than my targeted paces.
AG: At that time, we discussed about going for an aggressive target of 3:15. What were your thoughts about this?
KR: After the last long workout, we did discuss about going for 3:15, but I felt it was a bit of an aggressive target, a big leap from my earlier best time of 3:23. So it was decided to attempt 3:18 and see how the last few kms go on race day.
AG: Were you confident going into the race about achieving that target?
KR: Yes, after settling for 3:18, and after all the weeks of training, physically I was confident but the Berlin marathon results just two weeks before Chicago of some athletes put some doubt in my mind: what if the race day situations are not favorable?
AG: The Chicago marathon route presents a unique challenge in the sense that the tall skyscrapers prevents the GPS watch from working properly and often give an incorrect pace reading. How did you handle it?
KR: I had been told by many runners who had run Chicago earlier about the GPS issues because of high rise buildings. However that caused me to run mostly by feel and it bagged me a new PB and that too a massive one 🙃.
I started in coral C and crossed the start line 5 minutes after the gun went off. I saw the clock at start showing 0:05:xx and this was the only thing which helped me calculate my race time at the various timing clocked which were placed about every 5K.
AG: Do you think the the fact that you ran by feel helped you?
KR: The Garmin gave up with the GPS signal from the very first km. The whole race was a blind run and by feel. I had a feeling at about 10k that maybe I am faster than my target pace but was not sure about my calculations so I simply continued.
I decided to continue by feel and see how long I can handle the blind pacing. The 5K splits which I wrote on my palm didn’t help me too, as I wore gloves and couldn’t dare to take them off in that freezing cold.
So yes, running by feel helped that day; the final results certainly says so :). But it’s a big risk running a full marathon totally by feel, but that was the only choice I had; though my mind kept saying, will I last till the end.
AG: Rain and wind and cold seems to follow you everywhere! Conditions at last year’s Boston marathon were infamously bad, the same for your Berlin and London races; now Chicago too had similar cold and windy conditions. What gives?
KR: Weather at the World Marathon Majors have become very unpredictable. Till you start your race, you don’t know what’s in store for you on that day. Like the other majors, the weather kept throwing fits with rain, wind and cold temperatures in the days leading into race day.
I have learnt that we cannot prepare in advance for the race day situations. Just experience what the race brings you and deal in the best way you can on that day.
AG: How did you tackle the cold and windy conditions on race day?
KR: I was happy to see the weather updates that there is no rain on the race day. The cold and wind can be managed if there is no rain. The temperatures were low during the start. I wore two sets of gloves, hand warmers, a fleece and a track pant right till I enter my coral.
Just before entering the coral, I took off the track pant but kept the rest on till the start. One set of gloves had to forcefully come off to start my Garmin as I couldn’t feel my fingers ( toes were frozen too🙄). I ran with the fleece on till 16-17km and decided to let it go as it was getting heavy on the body, though I was unsure of the winds.
AG: How did the race unfold?
KR: The race started by feel and I got comfortable to the pace (inspite of being faster). The cold weather made my fingers freeze and I couldn’t feel them. I could not get to the salt tablets I had in the waist pouch.
I ate three gels, one before the start and the other two which were kept on the outside of the hydration belt at 9k and 18k. All the while I was sipping Gatorade and water from water stations (but they were freezing cold).
The other two gels were inside the hydration belt along with salt tablets which I couldn’t open. I took a gel at one of the aid stations and the rest of the race with small sips of water and Gatorade (first time I had water and Gatorade from the cups.. need some practice to drink from the cups). I was good and strong almost till the end and was surprised by myself 😄.
AG: Did you use any mental tricks during the race?
KR: Mental tricks yes, how ever strong physically you are, your mind is a biggest challenge to deal. Till 30-35k, it’s a physical challenge and the last 7k is total mind game. I could keep strong till 35k, after that I kept telling myself .. just keep at it and push till the end and then I can brag for life 😅😆.
AG: What were your thoughts immediately after crossing the finish line?
I just couldn’t believe the Garmin, the clock at the finish line and myself. It was a dream which I never dreamt!
AG: How was this race different than Indian races like TMM
KR: Races outside India are known for their energy, crowd support and the cold weather which helps you to perform better. They are different in many ways.
AG Having done 5 World Marathon Majors, which one do you like the most so far?
KR: London is by far the best for me in terms of organization. Everything went so smooth and quick, post race also. And of course that is where I had my best race time, till Chicago of course.
AG: Whats the single most important thing that you feel helped during a) training b) race day
KR: In training, I think doing the workouts with Krishna, Vishwas and you helped a lot to push myself and keep myself motivated. On race day, what helped the most was believing in whatever you have trained, that its gotten you prepared for tackling the race.
AG: What’s next on the plate for you? Which race?
KR: Next hmm, it’s the much awaited and the last of the sixth World Marathon Majors for me, The Tokyo Marathon in March 2020.
AG: Well, best of luck to you for Tokyo. Knowing you, I am sure you will surprise us there too :). See you on the roads soon!