Wednesday, 28 December 2016

It was (not) just a Marathon !!

It’s just a marathon! I mean one day, you put on a sports outfit, plug in your headphones, run for few kilometres, cross the finish line and voila… hour, back to the routine!
Hmm…It wasn’t exactly this way for me. ‘To run a marathon’ was a square box in my check-list! It is a shame that feeling unfit, being unavailable or my agreement with perception of others that I can’t do it, had kept that box un-ticked for quite long!

Well, it was only last month when my brother ran a night marathon; and just then I told myself ‘Had you wanted it so bad, you would have done it too! It’s high time you act, do what you need to do and be where you need to be!”
At 1st December 2016 when I got to know about Pink City Marathon to be held on 18th December, I knew I had to take the shot. It was less about the run and more about shutting off my inner demon whose job profile was to make excuses and pull me back! So, I got myself registered, came to terms with my non-athletic stamina and started to practice fifteen days prior to the marathon. I guess I was doing fine with 4kms in 45 min to start with, followed up by 8 km in 80 min in three days and 10kms in 90 min after another three days. I know the speed wasn’t good enough but I was happy with the improvement. It was the 8th day of practice, that is, a week before the marathon, and my legs froze. I hadn’t climb Mount Everest, but I could feel such pain in my thighs, calves and in every possible nerve of my right leg.

I didn’t even intend to win the marathon, but I definitely needed that completion medal to satiate the yearning to liberate myself. However, given my last timing and two days of rest because of the pain, it seemed little difficult to complete ten kilometres in less than ninety minutes. With three days to the marathon, I walked four kms in fifty minutes, my worst ever timing. Next morning I woke up, stretched my arms a bit, heard a click and felt a jerk in my neck. As I tried to exercise my neck through the day, the pain spread to the shoulder and the arms. I had never had such issues with my body….like never ever. So, all that drama at that time was so disappointing!!
As it happened, another day passed without practice. There could always be another marathon few months later but as I said, it wasn’t just about the marathon anymore! It was about pushing my boundaries of comfort. So, I popped in a painkiller and set myself for another, although slow walk of six kms.
Evening jog at Jawahar Circle

With just a day for the big day and another painkiller inside my system, I set myself to Jawahar Circle and did what I had to do….ten kms in eighty three minutes; which definitely made me feel little calm. I know that with all this preparation and body ache, it reads to be like a full marathon of 42kms, but  honestly that time it meant that much to me….

18th December….It was D-Day. I reached the starting point at 6:30am and it was still dark. The weather was cold and the air felt magically fresh. The sight of hundreds of people jumping, stretching and prepping up for the run felt like birds chirping while awaiting the sunrise. It was then I realised the serenity that every morning brings with itself.
The song “Chal daud… chal daud” was being played at the start point. As I lined up with other runners with just a few minutes to the flag off, the question by the announcer “Are you reaaaaaady, Jaipurrrrr!!” enthralled me with excitement. The bouncers held hands and made sort of a fence as the announcer started the count-down of 10-9-8------.And as he said one, the hands left loose and people ran as if unleashed from their cages.

I like all others crossed the starting point; all excited and energetic; tuned in to my Wynk music playlist.  And the first song Ilahi mera jee ayaye aaye, Ilahi mera jee ayaye aaye” had me. As I ran listening to the song, its video flashed in front of my eyes and I was transported to the world of Bunny from “Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani”! It was a surprise how that song shouted in my ears….. “Set yourself free… travel…. be your own companion…. do what you love….”
By when the song finished, my hands were cold as the body was still warming up. I could see me smile as I inhaled the morning bloom and exhaled the cold smoke out of my mouth; which by the way is my favourite part about winters. As I jogged listening to Ilahi song on a loop at the JLN Marg which I actually drive through daily, I happened to observe little things like a small temple at the side of the road, a closed chai ki thadi and so much more that I hadn’t seen before in all these years.

Well, coming to the run!! For the first five kms with dhol walas playing at the side of the road and people cheering “Halla Bol, Halla Bol”; running felt like a celebration. Being cheered and handed out water by volunteers throughout the way was quite helpful too. But alas, then with only half the battle done, I started to lose speed. I walked twenty five steps, then ran again for a kilometre and did this on repeat. I didn’t care about how many people were ahead of me or behind me. All that mattered was giving my best and reaching my target at the earliest. While all my energy was drained, I spotted the big waving cloth “FINISH” and yelled at myself "Run". It might sound overly dramatic, but with few metres to the finish point, I experienced a ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ moment; smiling hard while approaching the target in slow-motion except I was no Hrithik Roshan.
And voila, I was past the threshold. People were applauding…. Woohoo….. 10kms!! Although my time wasn’t great as per marathon standards but I had outdone my personal best… 72 min for 10kms.  As I took my completion medal, I felt elated and liberated.

I did it!!

I tell myself that babe it was just a 10km run, why make such a big deal of it….. But then my heart says that it wasn’t just a couple of hours of my life…. It was a toast to the possibility of overcoming challenges and setting even higher ones. It was about the preparation, it was about the experience and it is about the after!

This was a time that I really needed to be reminded that life is much more than an office desk, a comfortable bed, some dinners and functions. This marathon whispered in my ear that life is about small experiences, observing the tiny little details and being grateful for what we have. We are not just another human being; and you my friend, matter to yourself, your friends, your family and it really doesn’t matter anymore than that.

PS - Feeling motivated…. 21kms… We will meet soon.

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