Tuesday, February 12, 2013

AUROVILLE MARATHON : February 10, 2013

Distance: 10 km

Time : 1hr : 24mins : 53 secs

It all comes down to that moment in time when it  it does not matter who you are, what you have done or where you have come from or where you are going. You are just in the purity of the moment and just being there. It comes down to experiencing that joy, which I feel is the best form of gratitude and appreciation, at just being there for no rhyme or reason.

On Sunday it was all down to that for me. The training period was so full of ups and downs that the run day was actually quite, calm, relaxed, blissful and  peaceful and quite an anti climax  as compared to all the drama and happenings in the past three months.

I has started the season with a severe pain in my knees and right shin. For several weeks during my training period, I ran with the pain and came back to pain at home. The coaches and the physios (thank and bless both of them) helped me with exercises and tips on how to manage the pain.

We had a set back in my family due to my husband's aunt's demise. After that  I had to rush to Mysore due to my father's hospitalisation and subsequently had to stay back after his unfortunate demise. I missed many training sessions and runs during this period.  But getting back into training helped me to regain focus and also to come back on track. It helped me to not get swept off by emotions but gain some semblance of normalcy over myself. It helped me cope with everything that was going on around me.

I came back to Bangalore and started training and amazingly most of my pain in the knee just vanished. I was feeling better and running stronger with almost no pain at all. It was no short of a miracle and in the famous words of Paulo Coelho it was as if the whole universe was conspiring to help me to run. I felt very positive and said the same to Santhosh and he just shook my hands. I felt on top of this world.

On Thursday, two days before we were supposed to leave for Pondi, I came down with a severe bout of food poisoning caused by the late night dinner the previous night at my favorite north Indian restaurant. All the paneer thikhas masala and roti subjis came out both ways in full watery style again and again. But somehow, I was confident that this will pass and I will be fit the next day. I remembered Samantha Fox's old song "Nothings gonna stop me now".

It was a herculean task to organise a road trip for 100 absolutely insane runners and two very brave hearts took up this daunting task courageously and accomplished it with clock work precision and absolute finesse. The trip to Pondicherry itself was one big party. The bus ride was full of singing, dancing, laughter and enjoyment. After we landed at Pondicherry, we did a little bit of sight seing after lunch and then set out to have the pre race night pasta dinner. It was very tasty and we returned back and crashed early to be up and awake early the next day. 

On the race day, when the whole world was fast asleep, it was a glorious sight to see 100 odd very excited people at 4.30 in the morning very chatty and chirpy.  We all went to the Marathon starting area where the full marathoners had already started running. The half marathoners started their run to loud sheering. We had a wonderful warm up session with music and it was great to shake our hands and legs to 'I gotta feeling, tonight's gonna be a good night'. We were joined by Chief himself which filled us all with a sense of well being and a warm feeling.  

The run was just normal and just like any other training day. I did not actually do or feel anything extraordinary or new. The trail was beautiful and the weather was cloudy and a bit humid. I met a few runners from Bangalore whom I had met on the Bangalore Ultra run and we caught up with each other and exchanged tit bits about our training and other sundry topics. We drank a lot of water and electrolyte and ate a few chikkis. I finished strong and did my personal best time of 1 hr and 24 mins 53 secs. 

I immediately joined Padma who was cheering the runners and started yelling, screaming and shouting and cheering all the runners. We were joined by more runners and we formed a cheering squad and danced to the drum beats. We continued cheering for the next two hours non stop and shouted ourselves hoarse. We cheered almost all the RH runners except Karthik and Sharath. We had to go to have our breakfast as we were told the buses might leave. The return journey in the bus to Bangalore was even more riotous with a lot of games, leg pulling and friendly banter. 

What running has helped me achieve is that sense of freedom being on the trail and running as best as I can or as best as I want to on that given day. That sense of letting myself go and that feeling of lightness that comes with it is what I have discovered. I finally feel that I have arrived and that I have found something. I never knew that I was looking for this or that I was in need of this till I realised that this is what I always wanted to do but did not know about it. So running for me has begun to go way deeper. 

So here's to many many more years of running and improving every day and taking great joy and pleasure in each small victory and each new discovery. here's to many many more moments of euphoria and delirium and pure vivacity and pure bliss.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Week 11 - Jan 28 to Feb 3

The 11th week of our training was supposed to be the week of tapering runs. As we approach and come nearer to the Auroville Run, we train lesser in terms of mileage and intensity and rest more. Santhosh even recommends afternoon naps which I cannot savour due to my office work. He even recommends bunking office :) and has given hints that he can send us a list of excuses that can be used.

The week began with the day of rest on Monday and I did my Tuesday run for 30 mins around the storm water drain. Meena joined me and we ran together and did the stretches together. The Wednesday warm up was also good. I ran with fellow runner Aishwarya the entire 1 km distance and did not take any walk break. I really felt good about it. The form exercises were also very good. 

The Wednesday run was the Train workout. Its the best event of the whole program and I look forward to it the most. We are all divided into groups according to our paces of about 9 or 10 runners in each group. We start running one behind the other and the last runner sprints and takes the place of the first runner and then the subsequent last runner sprints and takes the place of the first runner and it continues in this way. I ran as fast as I could and gave it my all. I enjoyed the whole exercise. Once I run fast, it takes me some time to catch my breath and recover. I have to walk a few paces and then catch up with the group. The lungs feel like they are going to burst any moment. We had to run 4 laps. When we were running the 3rd lap, I thought that this is the last one and ran as fast as I could only to be told that there was one more lap. At the end of the last lap I just could not run. But Santhosh ran the last leg with me. He kept telling me 'Just run, don't think, breath, deep breaths, you still have energy in you, long strides, just put one leg in front of the other'. These words really helped me to run and I hope to carry them with me on Sunday during the Auroville run.

Saturday run was the 5 km run at Cubbon park. I had decided to take walk breaks only at the end of each km. I stuck to the plan at the 1st km and the 2nd km. After that it became a bit difficult to continue for one whole kilometre without stopping. But the duration of the walk was lesser and this way I was able to complete the run much quicker than the time that I take. After the run was the breakfast session organised by Runner's High at Lady Jehangir Kothari Hall. It commenced with the award's ceremony where a few runner's who represent the values represented by Runner's High community were recognised and then the coaches were thanked. It was a very exhilarating experience to witness the wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie and bonhomie among the runners of the community and the whole experience was very uplifting and enriching.

On Sunday, the coaches had all gone for a retreat and we were supervised by temporary coaches or junior coaches. I was very surprised to see so many runners turn up as I thought the absence of the coaches would deter some to come and some might think that its not very important. But many turned up and the junior coaches handled the runs and the drills at IIMB very well.

We are all geared up and raring to go to Pondicherry next Sunday for the Auroville Marathon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Week 9 - Jan 14 to Jan 20

By this Monday, it was a week since the demise of my father and due to the passage of time it was easier to cope. Since we were crowded around with relatives and well wishers who were more than willing to share the burden with us, offer us encouragement and advice on how to proceed with the ceremonies and what needed to be done, it became that much more easier. Those who had already made the journey gave us solid comfort and were a great source of support and strength. It was a very refining and enriching experience to see that we mattered to so many people and that so many people really cared. I will be forever indebted and thankful to each and everyone and this period of my life will be deeply entrenched into the recesses of my memories. 

My sister and I continued to run together this week also. We did a 30 minute run on both Tuesday and Wednesday at the Jayalakshmipuram Park followed by the stretches and foot drills. This week I had severe pain in my knees, especially the left knee and also my foot. Both the days, I ran less and walked more and felt very tired. I do not know whether it was due to the mental state I was in or whether the fatigue was real. But I did keep up the stretches and the drills. Maybe I was experiencing more pain due to the fact that I was not icing my legs.

That week's Saturday run was planned to be the longest run of the season of 12 km. I missed running that run as I got deterred by the pain in my legs. But on Sunday I thought that I must not give up now. I have come this far into the training and I have run in the past two weeks through the most difficult periods. I must not stop now. Keeping aside all gloomy thoughts I just wore my running shoes and set out to run with my sister. We ran around the Lake 'Kukkanahalli Kere'. Its about 0.6 km from our house to the lake and its a   4 km route around the lake. So we covered 5.6 km that day. We sprinted the last 400 mts for good measure  and walked back home to gulp some yummy tender coconut 
and do our stretches, foot drills and Yoga. 

Week 10 - Jan 21 to Jan 27

By this week all the ceremonies were over. My sister left to the US. I could not run on Tuesday and Wednesday as I had some official work to complete for my mother's pension. I got back to Bangalore on Thursday. It felt good to be back to routine and normal life. I was all set to get back to running and was eagerly waiting for the Saturday run.
Santosh had formed buddy groups at the beginning of the training season  of runners with similar goals to finish strong. Eighteen of us who were put together called our Buddy Group 'Awesome Finishers'. During the past weeks we had all planned to get a T shirt made for our group. Mandhar took the lead to find a Printer, Bipra gave a cool design to the T shirt and the entire group chose a beautiful blue colour. The T shirt was delivered on Saturday.
The Saturday run was planned by the Ananya kids in aid of the children of Snehadaan Children's Home called 'Run Along Friend'. We had to run 6 km. It was a very chilly and foggy typically Bangalore winter morning and I felt exhilarated to be back. The Ananya kids had done a great job in organising the run and we had a very good run. After the run there was some music going on and a few of the boys were dancing beautifully. I joined them along with Rashmi and others and we went wild dancing with the boys. It felt really good to dance with young boys after a long time. As it was the Republic day, we had flag hoisting after the run and a wonderful cultural program by the children. The children had arranged breakfast for us and we distributed our buddy group T shirts decided to wear it the next day and show off in front of the whole community. 

The Sunday run was at IIMB and our entire buddy group turned up with our T shirts. We were the envy of the whole community and everyone admired our t shirt. We all felt really awesome and unique and special. We had a short warm up and form exercises. After which we did a 3 km run. I had a little difficulty in running and walked half the distance. I was among the last few to finish to great cheering and clapping from the entire group. It felt really nice and to be back and running and I felt that I am ready to run the distance of 10km. It does not matter if I have to walk or crawl, but I can do it.