Learning to Run Past My LimitsDecember 19, 2018
How it all started
I used to read a lot about people finishing half/full marathons. When I got to know its 21/42 kms., the distance seemed just too much. I used to wonder what this running madness is about! I seriously started thinking about it when I heard from my uncle, Ravi Joshi, about how he finished a full marathon. And as he always challenged me to outdo him, I decided to take up running which wasn’t my cup of tea. I got associated with Manipal Runner’sClub (MRC) and running becamefun! The folks from MRC played a major role in prepping me up for this HM. The first edition of Manipal Marathon went on floors in late January and the race date was March 5th. With only a month left, we started training and we had to wake up at 5:30 on Sunday mornings to do long runs.
If it was easy, everyone would do it.
“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
With all that being said, leading up to the marathon, I was a bit apprehensive and nervous. I had spent a lot of time researching proper pre-marathon tips, reading peoples’ stories about their hardcore marathon training routines, and trying to block out peoples’ accounts of marathon injuries and pain.
Training for the run and journey with MRC:
Initial days were never easy. Not having any technical knowledge, I used to run till endpoint in the mornings and come back. A month passed by and I wasn’t able to see any results. I then came across the Facebook page of Manipal Runner’s club where I read about Dhaval’s HM experience and about their weekend runs.
One day or day one. You decide
My first run with MRC was on 2nd November, 2016. They organized a 4k run on the eve of sadbhavna divas. That day was one of the milestones in my running career.
I then did a 5k run from manipal to Udupi the very next week and the happiness I got once I finished it was something which I had never experienced before. We then did a 16k beach run and that is when I thought of doing a half marathon.
After coming back from vacations, the bond with MRC grew stronger and it became a part of my life. The training was not at all a cake walk. I very well knew I had to put some extra effort to finish it under 2:15. Yes! That was my goal. My weekly training schedule was simple
⦁ 5-7kms runs thrice a week
⦁ 10+ kms run on Sunday morning.
The best thing about running in Manipal is you never get bored of the routes. There is ZERO pollution and traffic. It’s a runner’s paradise. You can run in solitude. I would suggest beginners, not to start with TAPMI or Railway Bridge as they are the most challenging routes. These, along with runs to beach were reserved for weekends. So on weekdays I used to take up the endpoint road or the Manipal lake.
The best way to do something is to fall in love with it. I had Kamesh with me while training. Our paces used to match. We had that understanding and used to motivate each other to take that extra step when we felt like stopping. I still remember our first run with MRC. Coincidentally it was kamesh’s birthday on that day. In this journey of training for manipal marathon, we somehow made our other peers to take up running and they started running with us too. And in this way our bond with running and with MRC got bigger and better and unknowingly our lives changed for good within 2 months.
Bigger the dream, more important is your team.
On the race day
I woke up too excited that morning. The day of my first half marathon was finally upon me. No more talking about how one day I want to do something like that. I must have checked a dozen times to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. Lined up at the start with my running buddy soyab, who has done few HMs and looking at all the fellow runners around me gearing up for the start I was asking myself if I’d be able to finish it. As the race started, I told myself to finish the race no matter how hard it is. The volunteers did a great job by cheering for us and so did the people at hydration stations. With the fear of getting dehydrated, I drank excess water at 4thand 7th kilometer and by 9th kilometer I started getting stomach cramps I slowed down but didn’t stop and I had a banana at 11th kilometer only to worsen the pain. I slowed down wanting to stop but soyab made sure I didn’t. By 13th kilometer, I was all good. The 13th-18th km phase was the most challenging one. I was thinking about how this distance used to send chills down my spine few months ago and how running changed my life.
If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough
It was the 20th kilometer uphill and the toughest part of this half-marathon. I couldn’t believe how I managed to push myself hard on uphill and still had energy left for the last 800-meter sprint. And I finished it!!! I can now tell you that a runners high is nothing short of an ecstacy! And that post run glow is a one of a kind thing. My happiness increased 10x when I got to know my race time. Guess how much!! 2:14:21!!!!
Yes! You heard me right. For the first time in my life I felt truly victorious. After all the ups and downs in life, this was my time. Whatever else happens in my life, I had one brief moment where I was living up to the person I always meant to be. I wanted to laugh for no reason at all, and cry tears of joy. I hugged and thanked Siddharth and Kamesh, two folks whose role isn’t to be forgotten. Post marathon pain was something which I’d love to experience often
It will hurt. It will take time
It will require dedication and willpower
It requires sacrifice and there will be temptation
But, I promise you, when you reach your goal, its
The miracle isn’t that I finished. It’s that I had the courage to start. The thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone in minutes after the race is over, the pain in your legs within days, but the glory of your finish will last forever. If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience life, run a half marathon. It teaches you that you are capable of achieving much more than you’ve ever imagined.
It’s been a year and a half since then. I am in my final year now and my Manipal experience is almost at its end. I did a couple more half-marathons and even recently completed a full marathon. MRC has become even bigger and has given me the opportunity to lead and coach the next generation of runners as its leader. We have pulled off 2 amazing Manipal Marathons and are looking forward to the 3rd and the biggest one.
Looking back if someone asks if I’d have done anything differently, I’d smile because there’s nothing I would change!
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