There are no rules to be a runner. It doesn’t matter how long you run or how fast or how far… So long as the legs are on auto-pilot doing what nature intended them to, you are a runner. Whether you name yourself as one or feel like one is a whole different thing!
Let me not beat the dead horse on how i ended up identifying myself as one; it is a story I have retold many times in this space. Now that my energy levels have subsided a little and it has finally sunk in that I completed the less fathomed half-marathon, I wanted to pen down my experience, for I am sure, I wont attempt a bigger or greater challenge out there beyond this!
It began after I ran my first 5K race in may ’10. I was charged for more and decided to sign up for a 10K in Oct ’10. As it happens with most such whims and impulses of mine, I had given into an exercise lull in between, having been pampered to home cooking and not having to do any housework with amma around the house. As it turned out (surprise!), come october I was a piece of lard and of course didnt brave the 10K.
Well! I am glad I didn’t brush that moment of defeat away, like I would have otherwise done, but decided that I would give myself a year to do a bigger challenge and set a bigger goal! Goals are what has kept me going and will keep me going, I have come to realise 😐
So there; one year of no greater than a week of exercise hiatus and after, including three and half months of dedicated training, I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 23 minutes 🙂 It wasnt easy, far from it; I had second thoughts all the time, up until the moment I was waiting for the “ready set go” countdown. And when I finished, it was the same feeling I had walking out of the last exam of the 12th Std Boards. That – “I wouldn’t ever want to attempt it again and I couldn’t have felt more elated at the same time!”
So here is how my half-marathon run unfolded —
sideNote : Since I have got a lot of questions like “How long was your marathon?”; “How did you leave the marathon halfway and get back?” here is the wiki page for the curious and others — Lets just say, it is for the few insane ones like me, who want to suck it up and run 13.1 miles (21km) one fine day 😀
The weather was in late 40s and early 50s and happily sunny throughout the run. The track was by the Merrimack river and couple of its bridges.
Miles 1 to 2 : This one was probably the slowest. It meant, you let some of the “hare” people of the race to scoot past, wriggle away in the crowd that starts out like a gush of water. It was also tough, due to the cold, I dropped my ipod and my heart nearly stopped!! thankfully it was a few scratches only! And it took me 2 miles to warm up.
Miles 2 to 6: This one was a breeze. I would think it was because of the fairly flat course and the track I have practiced on around home is all hills. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn I was already on mile 7 and wasnt feeling suicidal. 🙂
Miles 6 to 8: This was where some heavy huffing and puffing set in. It was worse with the winds and two gentle up hills. At that point, I managed to overtake some of the “hare” people who had started to walk. It was also the time a lot many went past me as well. I couldn’t have cared less, for all I focussed on was complete the race from here on. I told myself, just 5 more miles from here on! 🙂
Miles 8 to 10: This went by like a rough dream. I felt a tinge in my feet and it was probably here that I broke my toe nail, but at that time all I felt was a numbness and feeling that “I can’t stop. I must keep going forever and ever” It could be the much debated “runner’s high” but it didn’t last long. At that point, what kept me going were the happy-volunteers cheering us haggard runners along and the children who were the best cheering squad ever.. 🙂
Miles 10 to 12: Here is where trouble began. It was a mind game. Didnt matter that my ipod was playing all the lovely songs I didn’t have enough of listening to off late. It didn’t matter that I was warm enough to pull up my sleeves and wipe my brows. It also didn’t matter that the sun was in full glow and the view of shimmering waters and the mighty dam were arresting! I observed all of this in contortion and kept telling my mind “1 more mile.. come ON!”
Miles 11 to 12: More cheering. And it was like the light at the end of the tunnel was coming. This was no time to have second thoughts or walk.! I came this far didn’t I, I could continue running. Felt like a horse being whipped and that’s when the thought fleeted past “I am never doing this again… erase that.. I may do this again.. But nothing bigger ever!”
Miles 12 to 13.1: Here was when I started to feel it. All the extra cheering. Support from the ones who completed the half and were walking back saying “Looking good..!!” (Makes a lot of difference at that moment) I forgot everything else, huffed on a phone call to N saying.. “half mile more” and his jubilant cheer on the other end. And then I saw the finish around the corner and smiled a happy satisfied smile… And after that it was all “JOLLY GOOD”
I got to hug N, smile a tired happy SMILE for the camera. Feed myself with minestrone soup, banana, peanut butter jelly sandwich, chips, bottles of water and all the built up energy.
Do What you love and Love what you do. And hopefully running is something I want to keep up for life. It does feel “GoalLess” at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I will jump to sign up for a marathon now. I am just going to bask in the happiness for the time being and reset the body when it feels better and resume the running in little steps in another day or two! 🙂