Running does that to you – My First 1/2 Marathon

The ambience was great – a mild drizzle, chill enough to lift the spirits of a nervous first time 1/2 marathoner. As I saw the throng of people waiting to go at the start line, I got a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold drizzle or the temperature – this shiver was triggered entirely by adrenalin.

I jostled at the start line smiling nervously at the head of my cheering crew(my husband – who else?!) and the announcer’s voice cracked into the air

“Do you know why you are here?”
Crowd: NOOOOOOOO
“Do you like to torture yourselves?”
Crowd: NOOOOOOOO”
But you still want to do this?”
Crowd: YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!
“Well, then here you go………….”

That pretty much summarized my running experience. This was the longest I had attempted so far. I had no idea why I was doing it. The weeks of training prior to the marathon had achieved one thing. It had awakened in me a long dormant self discipline, I had almost forgotten existed. I felt good about setting a task and overcoming hurdles to achieve what I set my eyes on.

I am a firm believer of the theory that the right things will happen at the right time. Two years ago when I attempted a half marathon, I had to limp out of training around the 6th mile – I wasn’t ready. For an erstwhile short distance track athlete, endurance running was a different ballgame and I found my competitive spirit raising it’s ugly head at the most inconvenient of times, like when I saw runners with biceps the size of my thighs run faster than me. I would throw caution to the winds as to the consequences of overtaking such runners, and thump behind them. (what if the biceps lunged out at me because Mr Biceps does not like to be overtaken? – BRR)

I also realised that though I was fast enough (in my cocky mind of course!), I wasn’t exactly a teenager competing in the Inter School Athetic Meet in Wellington, and spotty training was clearly not enough. The dreaded ITB surfaced and my shoes retired to a quiet corner.

I read about running injuries and all the websites said it was hard to not run. I disagree. Not running is very easy – just curl up in bed! I went back to poking fun at the husband for his running socks and running t-shirts.

Somehow, this time felt different from the word ‘Go’. This time, I was ready. For one, I trained steadily. I religiously maintained my mid week runs followed by my long week-end runs. I gulped down the encouragement streaming from my husband and kept going. I learnt to
repeatedly tell myself that my goal was to finish, and beating others was not my priority. I found that I enjoyed running – my thoughts and myself in tune with the early morning birdsong was one I learned to cherish.

So, on the marathon day, all I had to do was keep telling myself my mantra
“Just run slowly Just run slowly”

What amazed me was the number of people who had turned out on race day. And I don’t just mean the runners. I had already joined the nutter category and revelled in the runner-nutter-camaraderie. I mean the number of people who are not running who had turned out to help. I felt the goodwill rivers flowing freely towards random strangers. People took time off from their lives to shout out encouragement, volunteer at aid stations, hold placards to bring a smile. There was one place where after a killer uphill run, people were huffing and puffing only to come up the slope and see an old lady leaning on a walking stick holding a placard – “Yeah downhill!!!”

Who does that? These people don’t get anything more than a smile from the tired runners, and yet stood on street corners, straining to read your name and shouting encouragement. I felt selfish – I had never done anything like that before. I suddenly felt like my life had been lived in a cocoon of me, myself and mine.

I ran on, slowing down near water stops and gulping the horrible tasting cytomax, but never stopping. Despite the hilly terrains, I found myself running non-stop and for that I credit all the selfless volunteers who cheered. Here is a tribute to all you people who devoted some hours of your life to enable me to achieve my goal (See?!)

Just like that, I had breezed through to 8 miles when I saw a peek of my support group at a signal and then pounded the remaining miles. As I neared the end point, I was slowing down, maybe subsconsciously sorry for the event to end. I saw a little ahead of me that people automatically started running faster. I soon found out: there was a person with a placard reading
“Almost there! Run like you stole those sneakers!”

I laughed out loud and found myself running faster too! I finished strongly in 2 hours and 21 minutes. I got the finisher’s medal and almost kissed it. I saw the pride in my family’s eyes and suddenly felt overwhelmed.

I reached home and lost all my rights to crib about my husband’s clothes again. Said husband always wears these strapping running t-shirts and I was sick of seeing him in them. Yet, this time after a shower, I found myself proudly wearing the San Francisco Marathon T-shirt.

Running does that to you.

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27 thoughts on “Running does that to you – My First 1/2 Marathon”

  1. Congrats!

    I am still at awe. Having watched you train like a clock work and delivering your stretch goal without breaking too much sweat..

    Hats off to you!

  2. Obelix: I trained for 8 weeks after the 5 mile point. I could do 5 miles before starting the training without a problem. So, the past few 8 weeks, I used it to increase my mileage.

  3. I am still awestruck by your performance… I am glad that you got to enjoy the "spirit" of running. I think, you should continue ur training to attempt a full marathon… You can easily nail it…

    Now, I should keep tab of my pace before you breeze past me in a race…

  4. Congratulations again on your first half marathon. It was awesome to see you thoroughly enjoy the run and continue beaming way after finishing.
    I hope you continue to enjoy running and racing in the many years to come.

  5. Thanks to all of you.

    Vasishtar vaayyal Brahma Rishi!

    Mindframes, I already told Sriks – don't even go there!

    Obelix: the training program I followed was devised by Shree. Two mid week runs averaging 4 miles each, followed by long week-end runs.

    Week-end runs I did the following: 5, 6, 8, 6, 10, *goofed off for long week-end*, 6 (hill run), 10, 13.1

  6. Saumya: You may run fine.. but your proverb skills needs some improvement (I know.. I know you asked us to enlighten Mano)

    Mano: Shame on you for not knowing the proverb πŸ™‚

    Here is the close translation found in web. This is better than my version
    =====
    Translated as Sage Vashishta bestowing the title of 'Brahma Rishi' to some junior rishi. Sage Vashishta was a strict sage and very parsimonious in giving appreciation. If he calls someone 'Brahma Rishi', it is a huge honor
    =====

    Saumya, you used it fine in one context. (that it is an honor)
    But, since Suresh doesn't hesitate to give credit were it is due, he can't be equated to vashistar. (not that he will complain. Any publicity is good publicity :))

    Ex: Marumagal getting accolades from Mamiyar can be equated to this proverb.

    But again, proverbs do morph.. so may be I am nitpicking (covering my ass) πŸ™‚

  7. actually for a change, i know what the saying means (though I doubt its a proverb). In this case my question was specific in that.. who in that statement is vashishtar and who is brahmarishi… πŸ™‚

    And the reason is only because every comment by everyone was praising sauymya … so i thot the saying was for something/someone else in a context i'm probably missing

  8. from sriks' comments, its obvious that saumya didn't know the meaning of the saying. but then why was i surprised… madame oxford's non-native tongue is tamizh.

  9. "A proverb (from the Latin proverbium), also called a byword or nayword, is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity."

    By this wikipedia update, it matches the proverb definition

    Overall (after reading few related pages in web) I think it is widely used in the way Saumya said. But I still stand by my comment that it is not accurate. (Kupura vizhinthalum meesai-le mannu otalai – another proverb πŸ™‚ )

  10. Just because some random page on the web stated that it means the compliment is not given easily by Vasishtar doesn't authenticate it.

    The usage is: It is an honour to be included in the Brahma Rishi category by a great Brahma Rishi. So, all you stalwart runners complimenting me and calling me a good runner is like being included in the elite group by the stalwarts themselves.

  11. Brainwaves: We can take that offline. But a proverb as mentioned in wiki must be something which expresses a truth. The reason I insist that its a saying is that there is no commonsense or truth about it. Some dude called vashishtar would not give praise and did so to brahmarishi… its just a story. I could make a saying about 'ayush cars paakkara mode' and apply it to any kid that watches t.v too long. Doesn't make it a proverb even if it becomes popular.

    but anyways, we do agree that the saying is used in the context of somebody who doesn't dish out complements often.

    So lets join hands and trump sauyma πŸ™‚

  12. Awesome Job Saumya !! ..well, what else can one expect from P.T.U of ….. πŸ˜‰

    You need to hand it to Mano, for diverting the topic . This blog was meant for your 1/2 marathon and he is arguing about some mundane stuff, though you need to thank him for increasing the number of comments.. πŸ˜‰

    Once again, Congrats and a big hug..

  13. OK! First, let me do the proper thing and congratulate you. I'm proud of your achievement, however, I have some tips and suggestions to offer you and other prospective marathon runners that I felt would be more at home in a post of its own.

    Please head on over to http://my-unused-mind.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-not-to-run-marathon.html to get your value added tips, free of charge πŸ™‚

    PS: this is not a cheap attempt to publicise my blog

    PPS: by using the word publicise, I suppose that's exactly what I have done, entirely unintended πŸ™‚

  14. Unused-mind: you seem to think eylids are unused too! You asked us to keep our eyes peeled last week for this comment. My eyes are hurting dude!

    And when it comes to cheapskates, I am cheaper than you. I did not post another blog till I saw your comment!

    Actually, it's nice to see 22 comments blinking at me – so, I don't want to upset the comment count by putting in another post that will struggle at 1 or 2 comments πŸ™‚

  15. Keep your eyes peeled = wait a nimit for one nimit = in a couple of ticks. So I cannot be held liable for peeled eyes!

  16. I am bowing to you right now! I myself am a humble 1 mile-with-difficulty runner :-(. From now on you are my role model! πŸ™‚

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