Sunday, December 09, 2012

My Maiden 10 km Marathon

Dec 2, 2012 is a red letter day in my life. I achieved what I thought was an insurmountable odd and I proved myself wrong on so many counts. I was one of the 6000 odd participants who participated in the Wipro Chennai Marathon in IIT campus. I had signed up for the 10 km run.

The challenge was not just to complete the distance, but to overcome my self-doubt which had strongly consumed me after I suffered a multiple-ankle fracture on my right leg, a decade ago in Delhi. It was a slow recovery and I cried many nights fearing that I will never be able to walk again. After being confined to a POP cast and hopping around with my crutches for months I had forgotten to walk. Physiotherapy was painful, but I had a wonderful team of physiotherapists who helped me heal.

My mom was my biggest strength and her prayers did not go in vain. I finally managed to take baby steps and start walking again. I had piled on the pounds and my body had changed with all the medication I had to endure. This was nothing short of a death sentence.

An athlete in my school days, I had won the Junior Championship in Athletics and was known for my short distance runs. I had been in and out of sports for most part of my life. I simply loved the outdoors. The accident debilitated my soul more than my physique. For years, I struggled with my weight going through periods of unhappiness to sudden unbridled enthusiasm in the hope of getting back to my idea of normalcy, which meant running without any pain. It was never meant to be that way. I could do slow jogs and go for practice tennis sessions, but I had no choice but to tolerate the throbbing pain in my right leg. My brother who is now a pro marathoner encourages me to dream about getting back on the track.

After so many years, I suddenly signed up for the 10km Wipro Chennai Marathon. I had not trained much, but I have cultivated the habit of walking as much as I can. So my stamina levels were not dismally bad, but neither was it up to the mark. A practice slow jog and walk helped me keep my faith. I was able to complete the distance of 5km in 50 minutes with interval training. I had given myself two hours to complete the 10 km stretch.

On the day before race day, I had gone to EA to collect my BIB, t-shirt and timing chip for the race. The impact of the event hit me when I saw the enthusiastic crowd from all age groups and walks of life gathered there. I had signed up with the ChennaiRunners group a while ago and it was my first brush with the group in person. I met Hari and Ridhima Suri; the former is one of the founders of the Group and the latter aka Rocket is a pro runner who stood second in the full marathon category in the Wipro Chennai marathon. I was visibly excited and confident about participating in the run. The idea was to take part and complete the distance, but I also decided to earn the elusive medal after a decade.

On the day of the run, both my mom and I were terribly pepped up. Off I went at 6.15 am in my Chennai Runners tshirt with my BIB 4290 pinned proudly and my timing chip looped to my shoe. Since the full marathon was already in full swing, the route diversions caused as considerable delay. When we reached the campus, the buses were full and so we decided to walk the distance. It was an excellent warm up. We reached the venue just 10 minutes before it was scheduled to flag off. The organizers did an excellent job pepping us up minutes before the race and with spirits soaring high, the race was flagged amidst cheers from the volunteers and the crowd that had gathered there. 

As I kept running and walking, I remember asking my friend Balaji the distance we have covered; but before I knew it, I saw the 8km mark and was shocked that I had managed to run and walk 80% of the set target - An unimaginable feat considering that I could not push myself to train beyond 3.5 kms. It gave me a sudden boost of energy and I started running again and when I saw the 500m to Finish, I was almost in tears of joy. 

As I entered the race track on IIT campus, it was dejavu. I was transformed into a school champ who ran for her TOPAZ team. It was the best feeling in the world. It was my moment and I savored every second on the field. I remembered how I ran for my Topaz Relay team, the last runner to carry her team baton to victory. I did it. I pressed my feet hard on the Finish line to mark my soul forever with that feeling of having conquered the odd.

My official race time was marked as 1:29:06, rank 181, considered a decent finish for a novice.

We also had participants who completed their run in their wheelchairs, one of whom was an Arjuna awardee. So many countless faces including an NSS volunteer cheered us to keep moving and running throughout the course. The medal that I earned is a reminder of the endurance of spirit and a strong lesson never to underestimate one’s self or any one you meet in your journey, most importantly, it was a huge lesson in humility.


Neeraja said...

Hats off .... to ur achievement and to ur spirit .... keep the faith ... :)

Anonymous said...
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AquaM said...

Thanks Neeraja! Just started training today.