“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
On October 16th thousands of people started running and everyone ran for a different reason. Some ran because they felt they needed to earn that slice of cake; others to feel alive. At that finish line on the 16th of October 2016, I saw 4135 different reasons.
At the starting point for my first half marathon, I was nervous. Nervous about whether I would finish or not, whether I would quit half way through. But seeing my team mates by my side, the thousands of excited marathoners waiting in tow for the buzzer to go off quickly made me remember why I started this madness. Why I started running at all. Then as the marathon began and everyone started running and I just set into the rhythm all these thoughts started clearing out. I got that feeling of ecstasy that only a run can provide. Sure, I was running with thousands of people around me, some ahead, some behind and some right next to me but in that moment, and during the entire 21.1 km I felt like I was all that mattered, it was just my thoughts and I. I felt like this time was completely mine, I was in complete control. I was in my own world, my special place, where no one could bother me, where I broke barriers I never knew existed. I felt the adrenaline flowing through me.
The crowd was just phenomenal, NCC cadets along the way egging us on, people in the streets cheering for us, giving us high fives and shouting out that “you’re doing a wonderful job”, “don’t stop now”. To see the light dancing on the vidhan soudha as the sun rose was a sight to behold. The atmosphere was like a complete carnival, DJs playing music every couple of kilometers, bandwaala’s doing Bhangra to cheer you on. The energy was so contagious that a man who moves his shoulders like Sunny Deol (yours truly) also felt obliged to shake a shoulder or two while running. To find such support at 6 am was overwhelming. It showed me the camaraderie that the runners’ community possesses.
Don’t get me wrong though, the race was no walk in the park, at some point my mind did hit a wall, I did think why on earth I started this madness, why did I sign up for this? I remembered how I started running because I was upset at the loss of my father, and how this entire running journey began. I pushed through to proudly say that I set my sights to a target, worked for it and achieved it. I ran for that voice that kept saying “you can do it”. I just thought of how proud he’d be and pushed through. I ran for my dad. Not only did I finish but somehow found the gas in the tank to put an all-out sprint for the final 300m (The things adrenaline and a supportive crowd can do).
At that finish line I thought I would crumble and spontaneously combust – but I couldn’t help but smile – because even though I may not have beaten anyone else, I knew that I’d given absolutely everything and overcome a distance that a few months ago would have scared me out of my skin. I endured the pain, and misery. Found a certain pleasure in the sore feet, the rush of adrenaline and endorphins. I truly had a runners high and I learned a lot more about myself; and that 1 hour 47 minute and 39 seconds is simply the best time I’ve ever had, worth each and every one of those numerous hours spent in training.
WHAT’s more? After all that running you don’t even feel guilty about having a donut (you know that means two).
That’s why I run, and that’s why I shall continue running long distances. @thatrunningfoodie (follow me on Instagram :P) has only just began his journey.
This piece is written by Dhaval Patel. Dhaval is an amazing runner. He talks a lot while running, and his talks are what makes us go the distance. He has the speed of a Kenyan. Dhaval has played for the Uganda under 19 cricket team. He is a constant motivator to his team.