12 Half Marathons & 1 Full Marathon later, the quest goes on.
"What you seek is seeking you." - Rumi
"What you seek is seeking you." - Rumi
One cold Saturday morning, I set off from Atlanta towards Miami. Stranded at the airport for 2-3 hours due to stormy weather, I sipped some coffee & roamed about, excited & nervous.
Finally I was in Miami, the land of palm trees. I got a car from the rental center & the super friendly sales person wished me luck for my race.
I drove to the place where the BIBS were being handed out & after driving around in circles on the packed streets, I found an empty spot & after much swearing, I managed to parallel park the car. I collected my BIB & was surprised to find that the race organizers had arranged for bus services to take the runners to the famous South Beach. Since I was out of time, I had to skip & I drove straight to my hotel.
After much effort of googling nearby Indian restaurants, I gave up since there was none nearby & set off to a pretty good restaurant beside the hotel. It was dark when I stepped out. So I forced myself to pick pace to keep safe & as I sat by myself at this top notch, packed restaurant, I felt odd, sitting by myself, almost like a calm in the storm. I packed my food once they served it & returned to the hotel & ate in much peace. And in a couple of hours, I slept off.
I didn't sleep well, which was nothing new. I got up at 4 am & didn't know yet how I would get to the race venue. The previous night I had checked with the front desk if there were other runners in the hotel & how to best get to the race venue. The receptionist had said there were other runners who would leave by 5 am & the best way was to take the metro nearby. I asked her if it was safe & she said absolutely.
So, at 5 am, as I stepped into the lobby, I saw a runner heading out. We exchanged good morning & hello & I asked him if he was headed to the race venue & if I could join him. Soon, we were walking towards the metro station in darkness with no cars around. Everything was still & silent but it was freezing cold & the wind was going nuts. We both shivered & complained about the atrocious wind. 5 minutes later at the metro station, we found other runners & we changed two trains that were packed with runners. It was interesting & a pretty cool experience. Finally, at the race venue, as I stepped out, I saw an ocean of runners everywhere. I was overwhelmed & so happy but so cold.
After walking for a bit & trying hard to find a warm spot & finding none, I gave up & stood in awe, watching the beautiful buildings around. I was thrilled & psyched & excited as hell. Its almost as if every runner's energy rubs off on you, charging you up. We were off at 7 am & it was slowly beginning to dawn.
We passed through beautiful waterfronts & ports with ships that looked mindbogglingly surreal & breathtaking in the odd mix of light & dark at dawn. I wanted to stop & take pictures but I knew that would ruin my rhythm & pace. So I kept going.
I was strong & the weather was beautiful, cold but no wind. The sun was up, there were palm trees by the side of the road & waterfronts were everywhere. The race was going fine until mile 9 which is when I abruptly crashed as I was running up a particularly nasty bridge that curved upwards but also sideways. It was ridiculously tough on my legs & after that uphill, monstrous bridge, I could barely run at the same pace. I forced myself despite feeling tired & stopped once to take a picture, which was a big mistake. That was the final blow because after that it was sheer agony to keep running. It was almost as if my body had built up a resistance shield to running.
Somehow I completed the race and had to limp back to the metro station where waiting for the train was pure agony. I was unbelievably uncomfortable; my leg hurt & my body was going numb with cold. Finally the train arrived & I was back at the hotel few minutes later. I was surprised to run into Carlos, the guy that helped me find the Metro station earlier in the day. He was an elite runner & had completed the race in 1:30 & I couldn't help but wonder - what is he made of. We wished each other goodbye & I made it to my room, exhausted but running around to get to the airport in time. The flight was only 2-3 hours away & getting to the airport was a grand scrambling around adventure. I reached in time, returned the rental car & sat, waiting for my flight.
The story so far
I was born athletic and running called out to me as a young kid. So, being a runner, is my way of staying true to who I am and bringing meaning, love, joy, adventure and peace into my life.