This time Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, has Sriks marathon achievement to thank for 24 modak entrees. The pot bellied Indian God is my mother’s favourite, and everytime she is concerned about something she has little control over – she feeds him tasty modaks! (How can this poor God ever reduce?!)
As the marathoner’s wife, I had well-fed butterflies in my stomach. Citing the sole participant in the car, the entire pack of us tucked in liberally on the carbs! So far Sriks had managed to train without any major injuries, and I was desperately hoping that he would not injure himself at the marathon.
The plan was for Manu/Meera (these sweet folks shall henceforth be referred to as M&M) and self to go and drop Sriks at the start line, and then meet him at the 5th and 10th mile points before heading back to the hotel to pick the rest of the support team, comprising Kittens and my parents. Thanks to M’s persistence, we spent the previous evening poring over maps, drawing up checklists and the like. Strategic plans are made to go awry. That night Kittens did not sleep a wink. Four hours and eight minutes after continuously singing “Old McDonald had a farm…” in the night, I felt like I had run a marathon, and I was in no position to accompany Sriks to the startline.
So M&M and my father braved the biting cold to wish him victory. The start was nothing like they had expected – men and women on the riper side of 70 mingled enthusiastically with teens and middle-aged. My father took it upon himself to encourage all the senior citizens, and was cheerleading them with gusto! He was screaming himself hoarse – “Go Sir”, “Excellent Job Madam!” Since then, he has vowed to walk at least 2.6 miles regularly!!!
After the first few miles (which according to Sriks is a little difficult considering the body yearns for the warmer comforts of a bed!), he settled into a smooth pace! With M&M’s encouragement and presence, he sailed through till the 10th mile. His half run timing was very good and showed he was keeping a good pace.
At the 20th mile, the whole gang was waiting with placards and our little one cheering – “Up Up Appa!”. The air was vibrant with music, lots of people cheering the competitors on, and a band playing nearby. The road was done up like a wall, to symbolize the runner’s wall (the approximate distance at which the body begins to run out of Glycogen, and the mind works against the runner).
We scoured the crowd waiting for Sriks. Running socks or no, every marathoner has to endure a rough patch: an unexpected blister had considerably slowed him down. We finally spotted Sriks – in spite of the blister his spirits seemed high, as we ran towards him! Keerthana was tremendously pleased to see him, and started clapping hands and saying “Up, up appa” once again.
The atmosphere was almost festive, and we were thrilled to see the aged and the young compete in a true spirit of sportsmanship. As we cheered people on, I could not help admiring the sportsman behind each of these people. What made them tick? Where did they get the motivation and drive to accomplish so great a feat? I will never know – all I know is that my respect for these tenacious people increased exponentially. Ardous hours of training, sore muscles, bad weather, and yet they smiled and acknowledged our encouragement. Go Marathoners!!!
The 24th mile was yet another rendezvous, and by now several runners recognized us, as we waited for Sriks. The mascot for the Senior citizen i.e my father, and the youngest cheerleader present, must have made their marks! Now, a visibly tired Sriks came prodding on. He said he finally knew what it was to experience the runner’s wall. As a person watching him train for this feat, I have never seen him low during or after runs. Though I encouraged him that he was almost there – the worry that his spirits were dipping crept into my mind. (I know a problem cannot be solved by worrying, but what else can one do? ) As a spectator, I could make a half-baked attempt at explaining the runners wall phenomenon, but I shall leave that to people who have actually experienced this(Http://srikris.blogspot.com)
We promised to see him at the finish line, and took leave. M&M did a remarkable job of tirelessly getting us from Spot A to Spot B, in spite of all the road blocks and one-way streets. Words cannot quite quantify how much their presence and help meant – so, I shall not even try! We managed to park around half a mile away, and dashed just in time to catch our man sprinting toward the finish line.
The head held high, firm, long strides and the sudden burst of speed as he neared the finish line echoed his achievement to the world. The man who had shied away from any distance more than a mile less than 3 months ago, had just finished a 26 miler, and proved that the mind is truly the greatest power in the world. With the right attitude, nothing seems like an unachievable altitude!
As we were admiring his medal – the air crackled with the news of an 83 year old woman, making it to the Guiness book of World Records, by completing the marathon on 5 hours and 10 minutes! And that, is the beauty of the human spirit. Just when you think, it can’t be done – somebody does it!!!