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Monday, December 7, 2015

When I ran my first half marathon

#keeping fit! Day 165!

If one could only experience the rush of feelings inside me today....
When I crossed the start line at 6:30 this morning, amidst the crowd frenzy, the very first of the many thoughts was about why I was doing this. Do I really need to run 21 km to prove my worth? Who am I proving that to? Will I be able to make it through to the finish line?
As I gained momentum and completed 2 km, I was beginning to believe that it wasn't going to be as challenging as I had imagined it would be. With my other half, my running buddy running right beside me, I never had any doubt. It was a comfortable pace we had set. With the completion of 3 km, my run buddy started getting impatient with my pace and started edging me to push myself harder. I knew I wasn't in the run for any competition. I just had to cross the finish line and any impulsive power runs at a mad pace right at the beginning would ensure that I would never be able to make it through. One thing that I have learnt from my running in these past few months is how crucial it is for you to listen to your own body. After a persistent 4th attempt at pushing me, I lost my nerve. I snapped back at my partner to go ahead with his pace and not pressurize me. I wasn't ready for the mad dash. At 3+ km we started running solo. Minutes after he raced ahead, I regretted what I did. More than the physical effort, a marathon is a completely mental game and sending my partner off meant I was in it alone for the excruciatingly challenging stretch of the run.

With all the multiple up and down hill stretches along the track, I comfortably completed the first 10 km. About 10.5 km into the run, the running trail took us out on a highway. At just after 8 am, it was a blazing hot morning and I had forgotten to carry my shades to make matters worse. Eleven km into the run, I started experiencing a stinging pain in my left buttock, a muscle pull from playing squash two days ago. I stopped at the nearest hydration station for a quick break. The blazing heat and the continuous running had my throat begging for the cool relief. Just as I started running again, Shripad met me coming from the opposite side. At this point the sun was still behind me but his flushed face was indicative of the tougher  part ahead. A quick exchange told me I was already lagging behind him by 2 plus km. I  knew I had to finish this on my own.  At about 12 km into the run, I was on an overhead bridge with the sun hitting me head on. Runners were slowly losing their pace as the heat got the better of us. Just after 13 km, I  saw people struggling to keep going with a few writhing on the concrete road trying to overcome the muscle cramps. I started losing my resolve. Questions about the futility of the mindless suffering I was putting my own body into started plaguing me. I knew my mind was playing with my resolve. I just had to silence the skeptical thoughts. At this point I pulled out my hand towel, threw it over my head and simply started walking. The pain in the left buttock with every step made me walk with my weight going on the right leg. By 15 km, my right calf muscles gave up and I started feeling the first pangs of the cramp. I stopped to stretch my legs yet again but the heat only made my resolve stronger. I wanted to get it done with. The heat, the pain, the anguish, the feeling of frustration at thoughts of giving up something I was so badly looking forward to completing , everything coupled together with the excruciating pain gave vent to the first of the tears that came....and how they shed. With sweat pouring out from all over, the tears and sweat kept coming at regular intervals. The hand towel was my saving grace as I allowed myself to succumb to the feelings that overtook my mental resolve. Just as I completed 18 km, my phone buzzed. The run application alerted me that my partner had crossed the finish line. close to 19 km into the run,  the running track gave me the first respite as we were now walking on Robinson Road with all its high rise buildings shielding us from the sun. This was the best part of the whole stretch for me. By this time the pain had killed my legs completely. I willed myself to keep placing one foot ahead of the other, inching myself slowly towards the goal I had set for myself. Pain, cramps, fatigue, no matter what but I had to cross the finish line today and I did finally at 3h 52 minutes into the run!

Did I learn anything from this? I need to train harder to ensure I have no "giving up" thoughts on my next run. 😊

And at the completion of my last registered run for this year, I resolve next year's goal will be 42 at 40!