Having looked forward to Sunday to snooze until 9am is something that everybody looks forward to, to put it mildly. I would have also expected the same, if not for my friend notifying me a week ago about the Terry Fox Marathon for cancer awareness. He was a volunteer and I really admired his surmise that I’ll happily agree. I saw the message and mentally laughed at myself (and him). Running and me? He’s kidding, right? And I casually happened to mention this message to my fitness-maniac sister who couldn’t wait to go register for it. I said, “sure sure go”. She said, “uh-huh lazy bones. I’m going only if you come”. Such sadists exist in this world I tell you. I said “Sure, don’t go. Couldn’t care less. I’m not running or doing crazy fitness thingies on a Sunday morning”. Following some crocodile tears (I really hope my sister doesn’t find this blog :P) and more begging (Ah what the hell, she isn’t going to read it anyway :P), I relented.
The date was set. 23rd August 2015. I had injured my back for real on 22nd. It almost healed by the end of the day but I still tried faking it to get out of this. Nada, nothing worked. So I woke up, groggy and we headed over to the IIT Madras campus, my asthma inhaler in hand, all set for my first marathon experience. We were told that the track was a 1.5 kilometre distance from the front gate. So basically that’s where the marathon actually began in my terms. The weather was pleasant and IIT-M was a beautiful campus, complete with fauna (spotted deer) and wonderful flora all around, it made for a leisure nature trek, if you will. Having reached the amphitheatre where we were to be flagged off, we saw thousands of other people dressed in their best all waiting to just give it a go. There were complete novices (like me),running pros who came with a coach, jersey, et al, enthusiastic aunties and uncles, children with roller blades accompanied by their supportive parents and also a 65 year old steadfast grandma, with a chant on her lips. I initially felt insignificant, out of place and my gut told me ‘Yeah? Really? 6kms?’. However, having seen everything around me, a certain fervour and appetite for this physical relaxation filled me and it didn’t seem bad at that moment. As soon as we were flagged off, we initiated our mild jog where my sister and I were jogging together. Five minutes down, my sister being in better shape than I was, wanted to take it forward and I didn’t want to be in the way. I trudged along, occasionally running and then panting like a dog, using my inhaler and then taking off again. I went on with this cycle for more than a couple of times.
To be extremely honest, I couldn’t believe I was saying this but I did enjoy it! I felt muscles in my legs I hadn’t felt in a long time. The splash of cool water on my face that was hot and taut was exactly what I needed after a kilometre’s jog. I realised I had 5 more to go and it just wouldn’t get easier. However, my premonition turned to be wrong. I seemed to savour the burning in my feet and it fired me to propel further. As the insanely tall basketball dudes towered over me and overtook me at 12km/hr, I found a little more enthusiasm in my otherwise lost demeanour because I couldn’t spot my sister anymore. She was way ahead of me, but that didn’t bother me in the slight. As I said, I felt completely different. Good different. That is until I noticed a sudden numbness in my fingers (not legs! the hands!) which turned out to be the pulsating blood coursing through them leading to them getting swollen! I had to stop to catch my breath wondering what I had gotten myself into. I was sweaty, dizzy and had severely aching limbs. So, I stretched my calf muscles and shoulder blades, to relieve a little tension in my confused body which was really active in a brand new avatar! After a good stretch, I attempted to move forward further with a different set of people. Soon enough (an hour later, which seemed like an eternity!), I reached the 5 kilometre mark where the volunteers encouraged and pushed us to just go for it in the final kilometre. And 15 minutes later, I reached a familiar territory where the finish line was in view and so was the sound of a welcoming band. I ambled across to the water station, my legs finally learning to adjust to the intense activity, and practically inhaled 3 glasses of water into my parched throat.
Having been working out 3 days a week and doing yoga for the other days, it still was hard for me to consistently push myself but at the end of the journey, I surprisingly wanted to do more of this! My lungs seemed to have expanded and I was able to suck in air into it better than I could have! After a good gulp of water, I walked over to collect my certificate and a feeling of pride and gratification charged through me. After compensating for the loss of electrolytes in our bodies with tender coconut water, we trudged our way back to the main gate to head home (rather than wait endlessly for an empty shuttle bus to arrive- sister dearest’s idea obviously). Home! Home! I felt like E.T. Obliging to my sister’s wish of photographing her with her certificate (having taken a couple of selfies myself) and after stretching my hamstrings, I passed out for what seemed like an eternity. I woke up to a notification from the fitness app on my phone and the very mention of a few numbers casually thrown at my face, made my day. I couldn’t stop grinning and gloating to my parents about the whole episode, who were clearly bemused and insanely proud at the same time. A hot water shower and food was all I needed, after which I dozed off like a baby, dreaming intently about the next marathon 🙂