A couple of hours went by while the eight of us (boys) were merrily drinking – a few discussing football, a few watching live cricket and a couple of us talking about the art of running.
Now, the beauty of talking about sports all the time is that you are never too far away from the subject of fitness and athleticism. This specific band of boys was anyways meeting to celebrate a fitness milestone that was achieved during the lockdown.
“How about a half-marathon in a couple of month’s time, boys,” suggested a friend. And out came a vehement “yes” from the majority of the crowd. Date was swiftly agreed upon and shockingly everyone was looking forward to it.
Out of the lot, half of us had already dabbled with “21.1K” run before. Come to think of it, this is one form of a race, also known as “13.1 miles,” which doesn’t have a proper name for itself. (I mean half-marathon sounds like a step brotherly treatment Vs marathon).
For the time being, we were at least glad that it falls under “long distance” running!
2 MONTHS LATER
Starting time was scheduled at 6:15 in the morning. Route was meticulously planned and incorporated in everyone’s gadgets. Now, barring one or two, the rest of us fell in the same category w.r.t speed and stamina. A good-to-know fact for you!
I started my run solo as I reached ten minutes behind schedule. Just to give a brief glimpse of my running history, I only started running March 2020 onwards. I did run a considerable amount last year but most of them were short runs to the tune of 6-8 kms. My personal best had been 19.5 kms in September, 2020.
Personally speaking, running for me has been a love-hate relationship. There have been myriad instances where I have felt that I am on the right track. I find my optimal speed, close to the right amount of cadence, posture, nasal breathing and even running shoes. On the other hand, there have been times I have felt completely irritated and disgusted with my form, rhythm and even the bloody playlist. In-spite of these inconsistencies, running has been one of my go-to options for decluttering the mind.
The track or the route was straightforward for the day. It was next to the coast with minimal elevation and an ideal place for us runners. I managed to swallow the first 6 kms extremely comfortably. Looked at my watch for the first time at the 6.6 kms mark. One aspect which irked me, surprisingly, was the average speed till then. It was on the wrong side of 6 min/km mark.
Just to clarify – 6 min/km had become a psychological mark for me and I am not entirely sure why.
The thing with setting preconceived targets especially for a sporting event can be dicey. As Bruce Lee once said:
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
If someone goes into a battle with just one plan, it probably wouldn’t be the best strategy. Things don’t always go according to plan. So, when you don’t empty your mind off that one fixed plan of yours, when you don’t change your shape as per the new obstacle, situation tends to get better off you. Bruce Lee’s principle of being like water makes absolute sense but it’s an art which needs time to master.
I played all the above repeatedly in my mind for the next 3 odd kms. Glanced at my watch and it had just touched 11kms. Halfway there. Phew!
LEGS FELT SUPER HEAVY!
Torso and the pelvic region felt totally out of sync. Dehydration had started to creep in. I knew this was one of those precarious situations where the mind was truly being tested. At the back of my mind, I knew a tiny seed of doubt had managed to encroach the mental cognitive state.
I turned to my ever so reliable Pink Floyd playlist and switched on my “running-meditation” mode. Unsurprisingly, the next 4 kms went uninterrupted. 70% of the route was conquered. It was a huge fillip for me when the remaining distance was less than the “6km mark.”
Everything seemed back on track. Legs still felt heavy but were doing their job. I now seemed to be mentally stronger than what I had felt 30 minutes back. In my mind, I was scuttering along but in reality my average speed was gradually dropping to sub-6:30 min/km levels. I took a deep breath to egg myself on towards finishing this self-inflicted half marathon. But, within a few seconds, a new development took place.
MY BODY WENT INTO A COMPLETE SHUTDOWN!
My mind started diminishing at the speed of sound. Out of nowhere, I was in a state of mild shock!
It took me a few seconds to comprehend the situation. Started to tread along but kept stopping. Mind refused to restart. The thought of completely giving up crossed my mind as well. Funny part – I was a second or two away from calling it off. And at that very instant, a quick flashback of all the efforts each of the lads had put before this day started to play. Those exact moments, conversations and practice sessions helped me snap out of it – POWER OF A COMMUNITY, THE TRYBE!
After 2 hours and 33 minutes of run-walk-run-walk-run-walk, I crossed the finish line with a massive sense of relief than anything else.
And once again, like many times in the past, David Gilmour played his part to perfection.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?
Come on now
I hear you’re feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
I’ll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?
P.S. If you get time, do get this one home. I am currently reading it and it’s a must-have!