Running a half marathon is an experience that words can do no justice to. Yet, I shall try to put my feelings and emotions into a form which is tangible.
I woke up at 4:50 in the morning, much before my alarm went off. Such was my excitement. The first thing I did was peep out of the window to check if the rain gods were coming to spoil my party. Thankfully they chose to take a breather. I started off to Kanteerava stadium to join my fellow MRC folks. I was very excited, but there was also this fear that made my stomach do cartwheels. I was scared not just because this was my second half marathon but also because I hadn’t trained. Another reason I was very nervous was because the Banglore HM was something which I was looking forward to run since the time I took up long distance running.
I was at the start line with four thousand five hundred and forty six fellow runners. While it was a first half marathon for some folks, others wanted to clock their personal best. We were united by one common goal; the excitement of running a 21.097k. The energy was beyond palpable. If you ever want to experience runner’s high, sign up for The Banglore HM. The weather was great. I felt prepared and ready to run. I had three goals for this race.
1. No walk breaks till the 15th kilometer.
2.Not to overhydrate myself ( If you have read The story of my first 21k, you’ll know why)
3.Finish the race under 2 hours.
The race started right on time, and I could not have wished for a better start. The first few kilometers were incredible. As planned, I was running along with Kamesh and Deepak (fellow MRCians). The pack was tight. We were posing for pictures and making our way through the runners. The Bengaluru crowd was amazing. They waved at us, clapped for us and cheered us on as we put one foot ahead of the other. It was a simple gesture that meant so much. On a Sunday morning at 6 am there were people holding placards, playing Dhols, offering Parle G. No wonder Bengaluru is called the running capital of India.
Come the 5th KM Kamesh and Deepak were nowhere to be seen and there I faced one of my worst fears, something which I was never prepared for; running alone. One of the very few cons of running and training with MRC is, it never taught me how to run without it. I started pacing myself with the runners around me and continued till the 10th kilometer where I first felt like taking a walk break. The terrific crowd and the cool breeze at Cubbon road galvanized me as I headed towards Chinnaswamy stadium. It was at the 14th kilometer, I felt it was the right time I stop to grab some refreshments and hydrate myself; before I increased my pace for the last 5 kilometers. During the 15th kilometer, I felt a slight pain in my left knee which worsened with time. The lack of training was becoming evident. An injury would be the last thing one would think of while running a half marathon. I was not ready for this. My pace fell and all I could think of was crossing the finish line. By the 17th kilometer I was gassed out and stopped many times to stretch my legs. I was wailing in pain asking why I was doing this to myself, wondering if I would finish, whether I would have to quit. Before I could think of any answer, I met Mr. Vasudevan (a fellow MRCian) halfway through the 18thkilometer. He encouraged me, and told me to keep up with him, and at that moment I knew I was going to make it to the finish line, such is the camaraderie of MRC. The last two kilometers were the toughest and the most memorable. I felt like a champion as I sprinted the last 500 meters (I was limping after the race though) to the finish line. I gave it all I had. This journey of marathon was nothing less than life. It had its equal share of highs and lows, unprecedented problems and glory at the finish line.
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.
What I have learned from Bangalore half marathon is, Marathon running is a solitary experience. It does not matter if you are running a race with 5,000 other people, 2 of your best friends, or with your Runners’ club. Those things and others (like nice weather) are pleasant during early kilometers when you still feel the adrenaline of the starting line. But once you get into the belly of the beast, you are all alone. Your body can always take it, it’s just your mind that wants to give up, and if you can control your mind, your body shall follow. Sure, a friendly wave from a spectator, an awesome landmark, a pretty girl, will divert your attention and agony for an instant or two.
But ultimately, it’s what you are on the inside that gets you through a marathon. My constant motivation is the knowledge that “if it was easy everybody would’ve done it” This taught me what it was like to keep running when your body is telling you that you’re done. It’s truly a case of mind over matter.
What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger
A NOTE FOR BEGINNERS:
The lesson to be learnt here is that when you’re just starting out, running kind of sucks. It sucks enough to completely make you believe that there’s no way it could ever be enjoyable.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a total exercise enthusiast or a couch potato on a mission to get in shape; if you’re new to running, it’s probably going to beat you up a bit. All you need is persistence and a good company of runners to enjoy the journey of running. Good things come slow, especially in distance running.
I run because it is my meditation, my therapy and my precious me-time. It is also my biggest passion, a way for myself to see my own strengths (which I didn’t think I had), and a great way to explore my surroundings wherever I go in the world. Stop asking me why I run and start asking yourself why you don’t.
Note: This is a guest article penned by Rahul Konapur.