“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
– Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and marathon finisher
Crossing the finish line with my arms held out wide….. am I flying… I was! I was sprinting the last 50m of my 42.0196 km…. in 4 hours and 35 minutes!What a high! It was a dream finish.
The best feeling in the world!!!!
I have spent one long year training for this run……not sure if I’ve ever prepared for anything for so long. Had my good days and the bad…..and learnt so much. As my friend Sushant once told me…..once you run a marathon, you will look at life differently. I have learnt so much and probably grown in ways I can never really fathom right now.
As I sit back and reflect…
Into the darkness, we ran towards the start point and before we knew it, we were off! My heart did a flip flop, as I realised I was running for my life. It was an extremely emotional moment as we passed by the VT station and then fell into step with the rest. Within the first 800m my laces came off! As I retied them-feeling like a fool, I had to speed to rejoin our little coterie( with Nimisha, Vishal, Santa, Rohan, Ashish and Chaya).
After the first few kilometres I took a big decision of running slower than the others as I was not comfortable at their pace. So it was just chaya and me- chugging along – we could see the others for a while, in the distance….but then they were gone. Kilometres flew past and we ran over the sea link at dawn. Looking eastward we saw the sunrise over the mumbai skyline. It was a spiritual moment.
“Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes his mind to do. We are capable of greater than we realize.”
We chatted through the distance….finding others along the way to keep us company for a bit…but Chaya and I stayed together for a long time.
As we rounded the corner at mahim , my parents surprised me ! I had a huge smile – it was really encouraging to see them there! All went well as we approached Worli and both of us plugged in our ipods to step the pace….we had crossed the halfway mark well on schedule- 2.17 for the first 21km! All we had to do was continue at this pace- and if we could push it just a little bit –we were headed for a sub 4.30 finish – which was a dream finish!
At kilometre 28 came Nikita with my gel- I was in great spirit by then….
As I waved out to my parents again, and then I was on home stretch. There was only worli, peddar road , chowpatty and churchgate left!
So we flew…….the plan was to walk up on peddar road because of the uphill…..and we walked a bit and ran a bit. We passed by peddar road- with much cheer and pomp and the high pointcame at my building, where all my friends and family, as well as Arnav and Sanjana were out in full force! After getting refreshed with a cool spray on my face, by Sanjana I was handed a chilled can of coke by Arnav- opened and ready for me to down! After taking 4 sips I was rejuvenated!
The euphoria was short lived as Sushant’s word rang in my ears…..after the 32km mark the 42km starts! As I ran down towards chowpatty and took the turn onto the main road the sun shone on me- in its full glory! Oh my! I was ready to give up……
The sun- the heat and the fatigue…all caught up with me.
My legs were complaining and my brain was revolting!
Chaya was gone and I was all by myself. I trotted along- looking for any excuse to stop…..painkiller spray on my non existent pain, a water break and last of all boredom! Had to kick myself to keep it going. As the 4.30 finish was within striking range, I kept calculating in my head- last 5 km at 6 minutes…and after a few minutes I had mixed up pace for time and it was all a jumble. That’s when I decided to just leave it all, and run. At the marine drive flyover from I met enough friends who helped me reach the finish.
The strength that I found within me, as I kept pace with my friend Harish’s 9 year old daughter , Raina- I met them at kilometre 41…she was so excited to see me- as she ran a good 50m at her fastest speed….and I struggled to keep up with her- but did it.
In my practice runs I would sprint to the finish after struggling through the last few kilometres…and sure enough- the race day was the same. I ran for 5 minutes and walked for a minute for last 7-8 kilometers, but dashed in the end! It was an amazing realisation to know that I could pick up my feet and sprint and forget all my pain.
Suvir, Savio and Sukhpreet were all waiting for me in the last 200 m. That is a moment I’ll never forget ! The whole scene was surreal!
And the rest is history.
All of us- first timers clocked admirable times- ranging from 4.20 to 4.40.
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”
So, many people ask me- why do I run, and I have no answer. I run because it makes me happy. The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon.
All dreams come true if we have the power to pursue them.