Here I chronicle my experiences of my training program with the Running group called 'Runner's High' in real time as I go through each week of the training sessions. Since the experience has been so enjoyable I though that I must share it with everyone so that many more non-runners and non-exercisers like me can take up the sport and become fit and healthy! Running is fun, running is magical, running is meditative, running is complete BLISS !!!
If anyone had asked me a year ago whether I would be running the TCS 10K in 2013 I would have laughed on their face. Infact that is what I had done to Pani and Rashmi last year when they had tried to persuade me to join their running group. It took all the persuasion and nagging skills of one 'Anupama Harish' to literally drag me into RH. (I cant thank her enough for this)
It was a glorious sight to see the Kenyan elite runners whizz past us and we cheered them on. At that moment I told Rashmi that today we are also Kenyans. As we followed Chandra into the 'C' hold up area we were treated to the sight of all the elite women runners warming up. I was amazed at their musles and abs and wowed to reach those fitness levels some day!. They were flagged off followed by the corporate challenge runners. The 'A', 'B' and 'C' gates were opened up and we all joined the hordes of runners amidst loud cheering. As we emerged out of the stadium we were greeted by the cheering squad and I high-fived all of them. It was great to see all of them together.
Organisers are demanding Rs.950 for the official photo
I soon lost sight of all the RHers and Rashmi and I stuck together up to about 2 km. After that we were trying to get to the right side of the road as we wanted to see all the runners who had turned around and were on their way back. I lost Rashmi at this point and was on my own from here on. It seemed to be quite smooth sailing and I was passing by 2km, 3km and 4 km board in good time. It was great to see Kanishka cheering loudly and I gave him a high five as I ran past him. The way back was a bit tough as it was a steady upward gradient and the going was getting tougher by the minute. Even though there was a good cloud cover and no sun at all, the weather was very sultry and the heat was getting to me.
I kept gulping water and Enerzal at regular intervals and kept trying to recollect Santhosh's race plan in my head for some inspiration. It was very disheartening to see that there were no dustbins throughout the route. I kept the water bottles and the tetra pack with me for sometime in search of a dustbin. But soon I realised that there were no dustbins and had to throw them by the road side. By this time I had to slow down and start walking. By now most of the runners were walking and the pace had slowed down quite considerable. It was getting to be very difficult to run and I had to keep a constant 'excuse me', 'side please' to get past people.
The St.Mark's road section was a downwards gradient and it was an easy stretch. The narrow section of MG road in front of Chinnaswamy stadium was most impossible to run and we just had to walk. The Queen's road section was again easy and we were cheered loudly by the cheering squad and we entered our home ground, Cubbon park. By now the water stops had run out of water and I was desperately looking at the empty tables for water as I walked past High court.All the runners were running silently and it was beautiful to listen to the rhythmic tap tap tap sound of the feet of the runners and the chirping sounds of the birds. It was a welcome change that there were no traffic sounds and I was overwhelmed by the serenity in the atmosphere.
When I enetered Cubbon I was greeted by Manju and then I passed Sharath and asked him if he had water.
I refuse to pay money to the organisers for my photo
Sharath replied in the negative and I was touched when a fellow runner thrust an Enerzal tetra pak, that he had not opened, into my hand and said 'here take this'. I thanked him profusely and even offered to share with him for which he gallantly declined. I did not even ask his name nor see his bib number and realised this only much later once I had run past him. By now I was looking out for our very own Raghu's camera and seem to have missed him. Some of the people were warning us to pose for the official camera.
The familiar oft beaten tracks of Cubbon Library section and our warm up route were like home coming and there were many people with very interesting plackards like 'You are looking strong', 'You are flying' which filled me with immence joy. One of the guys was yelling 'Remember the breakfast you are going to have' which evoked much laughter in all the runners and another guy was commanding us to run not walk.
I got out of Cubbon Park gate and was about to accidently enter the handicapped and elderly runners finish area because one of the volunteers was directing a wheel chair athlete to enter there. Thankfully I saw the board and carried on. Very soon I hear Jai's voice shouting loudly 'Asha, come on run' and I was filled with renewed energy. He paced me and made me sprint the last 100 mts. He asked me to swing my arms and I swung my arms and ran at top speed right into the finish line. Because of him, I was able to finish strong. The RH cheer leaders were in full force and were cheering on top of their lungs. They were at the exttreme left and I could not high five them as I ran to the finish line.
It was chaotic at the medal distribution area and I felt that I am surely going to pass out here due to the suffocation. But the crowd was well behaved and there was no jostling and pushing even though everyone was impatient about the whole situation. It was a waste of time standing there and I thought it would have been better if they had just handed over the medal to us at the finish line.
As I came out and hugged everyone, I looked back at all the friendships that I have stuck up, the laughter, the camaraderie, the jokes, the friendly ribbing and the elation of belonging to such a wonderful group of compassionate folks. Our success lies in our team of coaches and physios and of course in our training program. I salute our coach Santhosh for successfully converting this out of shape couch potato to a (relatively speaking) Mean Running Machine. (no harm in calling myself that :D, you can all snigger and laugh for all I care :P).
I am highly indebted to all the wonderful runners who care and take the time out to share and write about their running experiences and its has been a trully inspiring to have read their reports in the previous three seasons of Ultra, Mumbai and Auroville Marathons. I have benefitted a lot from reading those accounts. That has been the reason why I have been able to write this in my process of thanking everyone and acknowledging the role played by each and everyone in my journey.
Running for me has been life changing and I thank our Guru Runaananda for making me realise how awesome I can actually be and for making Marianne Williamson's words in the book "A return to love" come true so many times !!!!!!!!
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