It began as a bit of a personal dare, then became a challenge and finally it came down to sheer cussedness. Being a former competitive tennis player, I knew that physical milestones first mushroom on the horizon — looking ominous and daunting — before they draw near and blacken out your world with all they portend. After the heavy rain is done, clouds do have a tendency to lift while leaving behind a far more fertile ground. That's what running regularly eventually translated into for me.
The 'regular' bit became a bit of a chimera in the humdrum of corporate life but I knew I could not live with myself if I was to back off from doing the 21-km challenge. It was an extremely optimistic undertaking, people, for I had never ever managed the distance before! Okay, that's not ideal going into an event but then perhaps that's regular for regular folk who have had a dream and would like to hold on to whatever shreds of it have survived the long ordeal of preparing for the event.
Bib number 5645 was my identity for the race. Felt real good to have that across the chest even though I was not too sure if I deserved it. The first three kms went in 17 minutes. By the time I had completed five, the leaders had crossed 15. The next three took 19 and the last three 30! Total time: two hours forty-two (blush, blush). At the end, it almost became more walk than run but I claim a healthy 70/30 run-is-to-walk ratio overall. The innocent query of a kid standing by the wayside who enquired, “Bhaisaab, aap bhag kyon nahi rahe (Sir, why are you not running)?” did add significantly to that number towards the end.
Ever since I quit playing tennis I have had trouble sticking to a training programme. There has just been no goal worth embracing. If you are also a 37-year-old whose basic worries centre around meeting targets and EMIs, I would urge you to plan for a future race.
It is kind of liberating as you sweat off not just your worries, but, for at least that time, you no longer feel like a rat.