Right until the night before the half marathon, I was getting calls dissuading me from running the entire distance. `Walk more', I was told.
`Don't over do it' they repeated. `What were you thinking -- signing up for something like this and then not practising enough for it', I was asked.
`I reached 10 k,' I mumbled.
But here's the funny thing. Reaching 10 km while practising for the marathon was a whole lot tougher than actually running it in the marathon. The schedule I followed was watertight, with no room for slacking off. It's a different matter that five weeks into my practice the first break came in the form of a much-needed vacation in the mountains. From there on, it was all, pardon the pun, downhill.
It became tougher to run in the evenings, especially on the days I got back late from work. The few times I did run in the morning, I'd fall back into bed like a sack of potatoes, thoroughly exhausted on returning from the run.
By the time I could do a 13-km distance run, my energy levels had, it seemed, ironically hit an all-time low. This, despite an eyebrow-raising increase in carbohydrate consumption. Eventually, I realised, the only way I could help myself was to take it easy. I began to focus on interval runs and followed the schedule only when it seemed like I'd live through the practice.
On the day of the marathon, whether my friends and I believed it or not, my body was ready to run. Sure it hadn't covered 21 km before, but there's always a first time right? At 6.45 am, standing in the midst of a thousand other runners, waiting for the gun shot to start us off, I had no doubt that I'd cover the whole distance. All I needed was a strategy. This was mine: 1. Do not focus on the running -- something I'd learnt during my practice.
Distracting myself from the run made me capable of covering more distance.
2. Whatever happens, don't stop. This was something I promised myself -that unless absolutely necessary, I wouldn't take a break.
3. Walk on Peddar Road. I didn't want to risk injury by running on the slope, so I decided that every now and then, I would stop to quickly stretch the legs so that they don't turn into jelly, and walk for a few minutes. Except, I eventually found out, walking tired me far more than running did.
Once I began running, I realised it was simple. And running with a group certainly helped.