Sunday, November 11, 2012

Process Runner : Week 7 : Bangalore Ultra Finished

Nov 5 to Nov 11

This was the week that I had been training for. The Bangalore Ultra marathon was scheduled for Sunday, November 11. The Sunday afternoon mail of Santosh contained the weekly schedule and many inspirational videos. He wrote many useful tips about how our preparation should be, nutrition, hydration and rest. The best piece he wrote was that we were our own heroes as we had all trained against al odds, persevered with determination and said that we must go ahead and proudly call ourselves athletes. I found that to be the most motivating as I had never seen myself as an athlete up to this point in time.

The Wednesday workout was at cubbon park and consisted of the short train workout.  I was encouraged by Santosh and Chandra to run faster and I had to really push myself to sprint the fastest I could. Each sprint is very touch and the time I need to recover and for my heart and lungs to come back to normal is longer. As a result of which I am unable to continue with the rest of the group and have to take longer periods of walk to recover as compared to the rest of the group.

The rest of the days of the week was for rest so that we are fresh and raring to go on Sunday. Santosh warned us that this is not like the exam we give in college and school where we resort last minute cramming, memorising and preparation. Here, the preparation has happened in the last six weeks, and this week is to go and give our best shot.

The usual last minute advices, collecting of the bib took place. The d-day arrived on Sunday, November 11. We all assembled at the Hennur cross and went to the race location in the Ananya bus and the Shrishti bus. The 100 km runners and the 24 hr runners had completed their runs at 5 am to great success. The 25 km runners had already begun their run at 6 am. As, we, the 12.5 km runners collected at the starting line to last minute announcements, the enthusiasm and the excitement was palatable. There were last minute high fives and best of lucks going around  It was very exciting to see many of the 25 km runners come to the 12.5 point and turn back for their second lap. we cheered them all loudly. The race started as the clock struck 7 and all the eager fast runners rushed to the front and we all started at a very steady pace. We saw many more 25 km runners along the way who cheered us along. 
It was beautiful Bangalore weather and perfect for running. The trail has many open stretches and a bamboo forest on either side. The soil is soft and perfect for runnig even though there are a few rocky stretches and a few puddles that we had to watch out for. 

I found it very tough right from the beginning itself. There was an ominous feeling that today might not be my day. The slight gradient in the first 1 km itself did it to me. My lungs threatened to burst. I was already panting at the first aid station. I developed a slight ache in the lower abdomen and then my left leg started to stiffen and ache from the 4.5 to 5 km mark onwards. But seeing so many fellow RH runners on the opposite side egging me on and hearing 'come on Asha, you can do it!' kept me going.

All our fellow runners had raced ahead and Seema, Geethanjali and I formed a group and kept each other going. Seema wasn't feeling well and the heat was getting to Geethanjali. But each time one of us feel back the other would call out a word of encouragement. 
The cheering squad on the way with their whistles were great boosters and gave a rush to us both the times we passed them. The spoon and tumbler ringing was a great touch! and these guys rock!!!! and are better than the IPL cheering leading squad. Seeing so many volunteers hooting and whistling and many who had come on a beautiful Sunday just to cheer us kept me going. Each time I hear some one say Go Go, I increased my pace for the next 3 or 4 steps. We saw many of our elite long distance runners many of our coaches running.

Seeging Raghu sprawled on the floor with his camera trying to capture each one of us was another great sight which helped me to gain some more strength. Both the times we passed him we made sure that we gave a nice smile and a great pose.

Throughout the pain in my leg kept increasing, but Geethanjali saying each time, 'we are at the last 4 km', 'this is the home stretch' etc. kept me going and took my mind away from the pain. 

The scenery was beautiful and the bamboo groves and the many tunnels of greenery that we ran through were a sight to behold!
I experienced many emotional moments where the pain increased and the though that I might not be able to finish seemed to overwhelm me. I thought that I might burst into tears for no rhyme or reason. I kept thinking that I might just have to give up in the last 2.5 to 3 km stretch. But I continued on with the single thought that no matter what happens I have to cross the finish line even if I have to crawl. I was reminded of the motivational video Santosh had sent and also my sisters words, 'please finish the race, even if you have to crawl'. 

I saw many people walking the last 3 to 2 km stretch.  25 manykm runners had started walking. As I approached the last aid station I realised that I was only 1 km away from finishing. I decided to run as much as possible but could run only a few paces and had to walk again. Just when I was experiencing another emotional moment, I saw my daughter and niece shouting out my name. Seeing my family cheering me helped me to control and compose myself. They both ran a few paces with me as my husband took my video and my older daughter, mother in law and neighbour aunty cheered me on.

Ajay joined to pace me the last 300 mts. Sharath kept saying 'come on, just 200 mts more' Sheetal ran with me up to the finishing point. All of them and many others helped me to cover the last 1oo mts. 

Crossing the finishing line to great cheering and finally getting the medal was the high point of the day and soon all the pain and emotions of the last 2 hrs seemed all worth it. This run had made an indelible impression on my heart and not on my mind. With this experience, I feel it is now possible for me to do anything. I can now call myself a finisher !!!!!!

Starting from zero and a no-exercise background, I never ever imagined that I would be able to run/walk a 12.5 marathon in a short duration training program of 7 weeks. From October 25 to November 11, I have come a long way thanks to the those who inspired me to join, my family for being supportive, the coaches and the entire running community. The memory of today will be etched in my heart forever. 

Thanks a ton once again everyone for making this possible for me.!!!!!!

Next Sunday .... we start training for Auroville 10K on February 10, 2013


  1. yaar this stuff touched me... I know the feeling when u just have to go on and want to quit....its enriching when you know you did not quit. well written..very well.

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