I completed my second half-marathon this morning in Chennai, well organised by the Dream Runners in support of the Freedom Trust. The funds collected is used for amputees, so they can walk. I was happy to leave my footprint on the Finish line, but my timing was way off mark, almost 30 minutes more than my earlier run which was 3:20.
Amidst all the self-doubt because of lack of training for a month, I was pretty sure I will collapse somewhere during the run. I had briefly joined a running group to train, but within a short period had to travel on work. Nevertheless, I had found a warmth in my fellow runners united by a common love for running and reaching the miles.
VIji Swaminathan has been an excellent leader and motivator for the group and I learnt a lot of positive reinforcement under her guidance. Group members were encouraged to say I will and negative messages were strictly restricted among the group. The can-do attitude and belief in the group and each runner was pivotal in helping us reach our goal.
Infact, there was a suggestion to reconsider the half-marathon and instead join the 10 k run. I was reluctant and decided to put my best foot forward and finish the distance. I hit the sack at 9:00 pm the previous night and woke up at 3:30 am since I had to pick up a fellow runner and head to the ground. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was judgement day. After a few warm up sessions, the race was on. I met Venkat, a 70 year old (thats my guess) pacer from Mumbai, who had come to help us runners with the 3:00 hour pace run. He is also the owner of the you too can run site. It was his encouragement for the first couple of kilometers that helped my mental conditioning. While along the way, I felt dizzy, I continued to plough on and stopped water breaks at every station and kept my body hydrated. There were many moments during the run when I felt I could go no further, but the running with the group, commitment to myself and my support system from fellow runners was immense.
Thankfully the weather was also on our side, otherwise the humidity could have slowed us down further. Sports helps you with mental conditioning and pushing the boundaries, which you never thought you can achieve. A good trainer or a leader is key to ensuring the team realises the vision and that was evident among each of us who ran the distance with the sweat running down our faces, beet red, exhausted but with a permanent smile that said it all.
For someone who suffered a multiple ankle fracture and feared a permanent limp, and was only known to be a sprinter through school and college, running has been a salvation. I never dreamt I would run a marathon, never thought I could do long distance and never thought I could pick up on building my health.
Now I know I can. You just have to will it.