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
This race was epic and unique in a way that it was an all-consuming whirlpool of last minute decisions and actions. I had been training for about four weeks, and my inner voice was screaming that it was time to run a half marathon. I knew I was ready, so literally for a week I searched the internet in frantic bursts of energy for a race close to where I live. The closest destination was a 9 hour drive to Florida, and I was not sold on the idea, so I quit making a commitment. At the end of the week, Friday night, at about 2 am, completely wiped out and in a semi-awake state, yawning and squinting, I saw a race that looked promising. It was only a 2.5 hours drive away in Birmingham, Alabama. I told myself I would sleep over it, and decide first thing in the morning.
As is the norm that I am desperate to break, I woke up at 11:30 am, though sharp and resurrected. Also, as is the invincible compulsion, I grabbed some tea, and lounged about for a few minutes, this despicable tradition of frittering away time the first thing in the morning just about drives me mad, but I cant seem to shake off the habit. So, finally, I embarked upon my convoluted, voluminous research into the logistics of the trip, which mainly in this case was looking for an overnight hotel in close proximity to the race venue. In a few minutes, I found a hotel, but then began the insufferable "rationalizing and thinking", and procrastinating from taking a leap, again my most annoying, disturbing and neurotic trait. Finally, I realized I was running out of time, and I had to make a decision because the BIBs were being handed out only until 5 pm, and it was already 2 pm. Spurred by the lack of time, I finally jumped, clicked, booked the hotel, moved frenetically, showered and in a madman's rush began to throw clothes, jacket, water bottles into my car.
And, finally I was on the road at 2:30 pm, sunlight and clouds locked in an intermittent hide and seek, and the cars slowly fading away as I hit the Interstate. I hoped no accidents or freak weather delayed me, or worst frightened me senseless. One of the first songs that came on the radio was: Nobody can drag me down by One Direction, and it put a smile on my face. I thought it was a message from the universe that I am indeed on the karmic course of fulfilling my destiny because I do consider this song as "my song". Pretty lame? Either ways, I drove off feeling excited and exhilarated. The road lunged sideways and leaped up and down, and all along, the trees were breathtakingly beautiful in their diverse palette of striking red, orange, yellow and green, and quite a few trees were a merely a carcass, shriveled and brooding. It was beautiful, poetic and stirring.
Turns out, Alabama was an hour behind Georgia, so I gained an hour, and made it without any glitches to the famous regions field, which is where the race organizers were handing out the BIBS. In the parking lot, I scrambled back and forth, wondering where to head, before finally walking down a road which did lead me to the stadium. I signed up for the race, got my BIB, and drove to the hotel, heeding the directions from google maps. The hotel room was wonderful, almost like a one bedroom furnished apartment. There was a kitchen, wood paneled dining table, a couch, TV, a cozy bed, and the furniture and the walls were in a blazing red color, it was fiery and pretty.
I hadn't eaten anything since morning, and was starved. After searching online for a while, I was happy to find a good Indian restaurant nearby, so I ordered a feast on phone, and to kill time, plugged in my IPAD, and started writing. Thirty minutes later, I got out the car, followed google maps and realized that the restaurant was just down the street, and there was no parking. So I drove back, not before getting lost and reprogramming google maps to drive me back to my hotel. I parked the car, got out in the dark, and was startled and spooked by a whirlpool of leaves dancing in the ferocious, whooshing wind, it seemed like an omen of some kind, and I had the delirious notion of being swept away by a sudden freak storm. Nevertheless, I ran through the swirling leaves and soon stumbled upon the Indian restaurant.
The food was great. I took a shower, and began reading my library copy of Quiet by Susan Cain on the luscious bed. I was supposed to stop reading, and sleep off by 8 pm, which obviously meant I ended up going to sleep at 12 am. And, as is customary before most races, I tossed and turned in the bed, and had a fitful sleep. I got up at 5:30 am, and left by 7:15 am. The race was to start at 8 am, and parking seemed to be full everywhere. I was close to despair with the parking situation, and I blindly followed the cars around, and was fortunate to find a parking spot soon enough.
It was a freezing 32 Fahrenheit, and the wind was slamming hard against my body. I wore gloves, a jacket, a head-cap and shorts. The race venue was a couple of minutes away, and there was this overwhelming, stark sense of embarking upon a great adventure. At the regions field, thousands of runners were bustling about, the energy was incredible, and the enthusiasm was intoxicating. Everyone was geared up in warm clothes: full length running tights, layered t-shirts, jackets, head gear. I only saw three runners including me that wore shorts on this chilly day.
In an effort to warm myself, I stood in the sun for a while, and a few minutes later made a beeline for the restroom. "Aren't you cold", a fellow runner asked me. I said, "No" and smiled. I didn't elaborate that I get all itchy and uncomfortable in running tights, and that I rather be cold in shorts than endure skin irritation and chafing in warm leggings.
Finally, it was time to assemble at the start-point. My first favorite part of the race is the actual running, and my second favorite part is this epic moment at the start with all these other runners. Its such a pristine, monumental moment where people get ready to give their all to their passion. I always feel like I am about to do the greatest thing I have ever done so far in my life.
A gust of cold air tore through us, and many of us shuddered and jumped and laughed it off. The American national anthem was played, the countdown began and off we went. I was smiling like the six year old me would. Barely five minutes into the race, and we came upon a hill. I was stumped, and aghast. Nevertheless, I kept running, and my thighs and calves burnt from the effort. When the road was flat, the running was easy, but I soon realized this wasn't going to be a flat race. Soon, I was running up another hill, gasping and wheezing, but I soon learnt if I ran up the hill, the downhill running barely required any effort, and I could leverage my momentum to propel myself at a faster pace for longer distances. So, I ran through most of the hills even though it was strenuous and painful.
Each mile seemed longer than usual because of the hills, but it was still every bit enjoyable and I felt brilliant. I stay away from water as long as I can because I run best on an utterly empty stomach, and plus I do not want to take a restroom break, but I make sure I don't get dehydrated. At mile 6, I grabbed my first glass of water, and as always, the water felt like an elixir, and the most wonderful thing in a way that it never ever seems otherwise. There were cops with cop cars patrolling the roads, making sure the runners had the right of way, and the traffic was either turned back or held back until the runners had cleared. I remember, on many occasions, slowing down or speeding up, so that I wouldn't be impeding traffic.
By mile 7, we had crossed about 10 hills, and my ankles started to hurt a bit. When in pain, slow down a bit, shake off the legs as if you are trying to bring them back to life, and carry on, that is pretty much my policy. I never completely stop or walk for more than a few seconds because that is detrimental to the pace, the momentum, the rhythm and the psyche. So we keep running, jogging no matter what, that really is the secret to running a race.
At this point, from the other side, we see elite runners streaking past us. These were the athletes who would stand first, second and so on. Every-time I look at such extreme runners, I begin to wonder with awe about their running journey, their training, their commitment, their level of effort, their sacrifices, and I am blown away. I cant seem to tear my eyes off them. If I could, I would totally ask them for an autograph and would love to hear of their success story, their secrets and tips. So much for wishful thinking.
Mile 9 was the turnaround point, and strangely I felt good and strong. And, of course, the song that was playing at that very moment was: "One Direction, Nobody can drag me down." That instantly put a smile on my face and my inner child was hollering, "that's our song, we are so going to nail this race." I continued running, and slowed down to a walk for a few seconds, a couple of times. At mile 12, I thought of getting my jacket off, but the moment I unzipped it, a cold wind made me shiver, and I quickly zipped up the jacket and continued running. This was one of the smaller races with only 1000 to 2000 runners, and as is the case with smaller races, you will be hard pressed to find anyone walking. Almost, everyone is jogging or running, its amazing.
The race finale was inside the much hyped regions field stadium, home to minor league baseball matches. I ran through the finish arch, huffed and puffed, grabbed my finisher medal and traced my way through scores of people, and looked around dreamily for a moment, comprehending the significance and epicness of the moment. I was surprised that everything had gone so smoothly and that I had finished strong. I had finished the race in 2 hours 22 mins 35 secs, and I had loved every second of it.
I looked at other runners crossing the finish mark, and erupting into a jubilant celebration, it was a comforting sight. And, finally, warily and reluctantly, I compelled myself to do what was without a doubt the most hardest part of this race: I was looking to ask someone to take a picture, but everyone seemed so euphoric, and so busy that I couldn't muster the courage. So, I waited, and walked around, and finally a few minutes later, asked a lady who obviously obliged. And, that was the end. I walked back to the car, shivering and hobbling in the relentless cold. For a moment, I couldn't see the car, and I panicked, but sure enough, it was right where I had left it, and I got in and turned on the heater on full blast, and drove off to the hotel.
I took a long hot shower, checked out of the hotel, and was unusually cheerful, cold and happy. Over two hours later, I was back in Atlanta, exhausted to the core and sleepy. I ate my leftover dinner from the day before and slept off early. A week later, I realized I had forgotten to grab the finisher t-shirt at the end of the race, and I told myself: "what the hell, how could you, better not repeat it ever again, sigh."
I would recommend this half-marathon to anyone looking to run a well-organized small race. Just be prepared for the hills, though. The post-race celebration includes bagels, and chocolate milk, and the race is generally held in November of every year, a week before thanksgiving.
All I can say is that I am a perfect embodiment of my six year old when I am at a half-marathon. And, that is why I must run as many as I can.
Q: How did it all begin?
A: I am not sure if it’s in my blood, or if I am genetically configured to run long distances, or if it’s sheer willpower, and temperament, or life experiences. Essentially, I am not certain if its nature or nurture that crafted a runner out of me, but I am positive it all began when I was a kid. From the time I was five, I have always loved playing exhilarating, adrenaline charged, fast paced or endurance requiring sports. I was always up for tennis, badminton, running, and several other sports that needed a holistic body movement. The surge of energy, the frenzied breathing, the sweat streaked clothes, a parched throat, a body gasping for breath and desperately trying to find its pace and rhythm, the intense focus of the mind in surviving the present moment, it’s always been an adventure that I was up for. Too bad, I never seeked it out, and interestingly, life did not offer much bandwidth to go embrace a sport for life.
To summarize: I was good at sports as a kid. And, then I got sucked into an alternate dimension of reality where playing sports was a thing of past. Over the years, I suppose my mind never forgot, and never got over the thrill, and the sublime consciousness uplifting experience. Maybe, it was only bidding its time until it was time to live in flesh and blood, that which was my first love in life.
Q: When did it really begin?
A: Once, I was walking with my cousin, and out of nowhere I tell her I would love to run marathons. I was probably seventeen back then. Then there was this other time when I was visiting my cousin, and we ended up seeing a live marathon in her city. I looked at the runners with a sense of awe like they were a special kind of breed, and felt wistful and tons of respect for these adventurous souls. Seven years later, I found my lost playground, and rekindled my long dead love affair with sports, and running at the rec center at Texas A&M University, where I was to get a Master's degree. Ironical, but then life is full of surprises.
To Summarize: I think it all began in my mind, and it continued to simmer, and grow. That which the mind never outgrows is a thing that the mind will find a way to manifest.
Q: How has it evolved, and come to be?
A: 2009 at the hallowed grounds of my University running tracks; I began to run - after two decades of zero activity. I went there as often as I could, 5-6 days a week, 4-5 miles each time, and kept at the tracks like a monk to his monastery. Running is the most consistent thing I did at the university, more consistent than academics, and thrusting myself at prospective employers. After I graduated in May 2010 from the university, I paid extra dollars without any qualms to continue running at the rec center. Finally, I had to move away in 2010, October to Houston to begin my first job, and I parted from my much beloved running tracks. For a year and half, I ran on and off, here and there, and did too little and went too slow. Finally, in 2012, I began training for my first half-marathon, which I did complete successfully, but in the process, it turns out, I ended up with IT band injury, and a sensitive ankle that ached and cracked, and I could not run anymore. Couple of physiotherapists, a thousand or so dollars, X-rays, and MRIs, and a miserable, despicable two whole years later, I finally could run again in 2015. But this time, I took an approach that was radical, and out of my comfort zone. Instead of training alone, I joined HoustonFit, an elite running group open to runners of all levels. This was an epic experience with incredible people, and I learned a lot about running techniques, methods and tricks. My whole outlook and approach to running changed. I was a different runner, I loved this group to pieces, and it was just the kind of adventure that my mind and body craved. I trained with them for my first full marathon for three blissful months.
Unfortunately, life goes on and I had to bid farewell to this wonderful group, and move to Georgia for my job. I haven’t been able to find any running groups I can train with out here, and it breaks my heart. I run by myself, and I am waiting to find kindred spirits, adventurous souls to whom running is a way of life.
Here’s some milestones along my running trajectory:
January 2013: Houston Aramco Half Marathon, 2 hours 8 mins 36 secs
April 26, 2015: Oklahoma Memorial City Marathon, 5 hours 23 mins 36 secs
May 31, 2015: Rockford Half Marathon, 2 hours 13 mins
July 19, 2015: Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon, 2 hours 33 mins 32 secs
August 22, 2015: Area 13.1 Half Marathon, 2 hours 32 mins 15 secs
November 22, 2015: Magic City Half Marathon, 2 hours 22 mins 35 secs
Conclusion: I have a long way to go. I have only gotten started with my running adventure, and I am daring to dream big. I don't know what the future holds, but I will try my best to stay true to a childhood dream.
I have tried to meditate a number of times, and each time it has been an uncomfortable, unnerving experience. An esoteric activity to dodge - that is how my mind seems to have categorized meditation. When invited to meditate, typical response of the mind goes like this: procrastinate, cringe, grimace, flinch, wince, hesitate, and finally, reluctantly agree. After much resistance, when it finally enters the uncharted ocean of meditation, instead of rejuvenating in the clear and calm water, it gets all unsettled, and spooked. Our mind has been conditioned to swim in an ocean of thoughts, and not in an ocean of silence, an obvious epiphany.
In my opinion, it is an adventure of a lifetime to find a way to meditate, and to find the stillness, and the calm within. Why? Because, the more the mind can detangle from the intricate web of inherited thoughts, the more clarity and truth will settle in. Simply put, the crazy whirlpool of thoughts from the non-stop inputs and outputs of our modern day life are the equivalent of junk food, and meditation is the much needed - healthy, clean diet of vegetables, and fruits.
The closest I have come to emptying my mind of all thoughts is running. When I run, the only thing that I am aware of is my heartbeat, the discomfort, and the uncanny silence. The effort of running as hard as I can consumes every bit of energy that I have, and even when I am taking a breather while running, the body and the mind are so busy recovering from the constant, high profile effort, that there is no bandwidth for the juggernaut of thoughts. Its not about running faster than someone else, or descending into a quagmire of comparisons, or complexes, but simply concentrating on getting through the run as fast as possible.
Running puts the body and the mind in a survival mode, a primal mode - it cuts off our umbilical cord to modern human existence where distractions, delusions, trivia, self-inflicted stress, and paranoia rule the day, and pummel our existence into a meaningless void. Its a way to evolve to a higher level of consciousness, to an elite level of fitness and to experience an extraordinary life.
After a hard run, a subtle mix of exhaustion, achievement, fulfillment and peace radiates from my core. A perfect elixir to calm the mind, and to feel light and clearheaded. Care for a sip?
The walk leading me to my solitary run is one of the nuttiest and hardest walks. Why? Because every time, I am about to run by myself, the brain constructs this elaborate mirage, a pseudo reality, a whirlpool of fiction that zaps all sense of perspective, and a subtle form of anxiety throbs like a steady heartbeat. And running feels like the condemned reality of a doomed person. Why should the mind get all hyper neurotic about a simple run?
To the mind, a run is anything but simple. When an otherwise vacuous, meaningless life seeks meaning, peace and fulfillment in running, there is so much to overcome, so much to accomplish, and so much to fulfill with each run. The challenge, the discomfort, and the anticipations - the mind is busy screaming this all-consuming symphony. Somehow, the mind and the body have mastered the notorious tendency to avoid any kind of struggle. It’s almost as if its second nature for the mind to harp on the difficulties, to avoid any "failures" and disappointments, and to cling to a perverse idea of an easy, comfortable success. Which is why, the walk to a run is an exercise in willpower; it's about being comfortably uncomfortable, overriding the mind's neurosis and going out there and performing to the best of my abilities. It’s not easy, not pleasant, but, in the end, it’s worth it.
Interestingly, the situation is so jarringly different when it comes to running with a group. Somehow, the mind finds comfort in numbers. The knowledge that there will be other runners out there, striving to beat the edge and push beyond their limit, breathless and uncomfortable, soothes the mind. The walk to run, in this case, is a mad, excited and a happy rush to begin running with kindred spirits. Maybe, the way to inspire the mind is to find a community that shares your passion, and commitment, and to let the energy of this combined movement sweep you off your feet and propel you to new heights.
I was running one day - trying to stay alive and scrambling to get my body into a good running rhythm, while contemplating how viciously hard it was to keep running - when it struck me that running is the perfect metaphor for life. Here's how:
You can run with someone, but nobody can run for you. You have to do your own running.
You can’t start big. You can only start small, and with persistent effort and training, you achieve big goals.
No sweat, no achievement.
You decide how fast or slow - you can or you want to run.
Running is a science. Running is an art. Running is a philosophy. Running is a mystery. You decide what you think running is.
Different people run for different reasons. Some are looking to lose weight and stay fit, some do it because someone else is doing it, some are looking for a sense of achievement, and some are looking to fulfill themselves. Only you know why you signed up to be a runner.
You keep running - day in, day out for long enough, and your body and mind will adapt, and running will become a part of your identity.
If you stop running for a while, you don’t get to pick up where you left off. You have to start ground up, and crawl or sprint your way to your earlier form.
Running can seem overwhelming, challenging and scary, at times. The only way to beat that is to go out there and run.
Sometimes, you just want to lie in bed and be comfortable. You don’t want to go out there and be uncomfortable. Choose this attitude long enough and you will never know your potential to be a runner.
Running is an exercise. Running is an experience. Your psyche and personality decides what running means to you.
Running has different forms. You can choose to sprint or you can run long distance endurance runs.
Sometimes, running is easy, feels like magic and wonderful; sometimes, it’s so hard that you just want to stop, stomp out in fury and scream obscenities.
More often than not, we compare ourselves to other runners, wishing dreamily, gaping wide-eyed and wondering in awe and shock – just what the hell is that super runner made of.
Running will challenge you, will defeat you at times, and will let you win at other times.
Running can be a sweet victory only after it’s thoroughly exhausted, tested and challenged you.
Running can bring out the beast in us; the primordial beast that we inherited from the earliest man and woman on earth, the beast that is prowling for adventure, adrenaline, challenge, and thrill, this beast that is otherwise snoring, deep in slumber.
Running makes you competitive, it makes you want to give your best and expand your frontiers.
You can make running about achieving a goal in the future - running a half marathon/full marathon, losing weight, or you can make it about the present – about the unparalleled experience that it is.
Running is a medium to experience the extraordinary, but running can only be as extraordinary as extraordinary a runner you can be.
The exact equilibrium, dynamics, or relationship between the art of running, the body and the mind is a mysterious, intriguing process.
Nothing is guaranteed, you can only bank on your own effort.
If you run long enough and hard enough, or wrong enough - you will get injured.
Running can be the enemy, running can be a friend, or running can be a lifelong companion.
Running can be about success and failure, strengths and weakness, or it can be about – just running for the experience of running.
Many times, you will feel like you cant run anymore because your legs are throbbing, your body seems to have turned into lead, your ribs and stomach sting a little, and your lungs and heart are dying for oxygen, but if you just slow down for a while, you will realize you can once again run fast.
Running is all about mind over matter.
You can be as good a runner as willing as you are to sweat, bleed and make sacrifices for it.
I want to tear my hair out (metaphorically, of course) and scream like a madman until I can scream no more (literally). Running does that to me, sometimes. Here's why and how:
I was at the gym, pounding away on the treadmill, my lungs and heart ready to explode, my legs crying out in agony while my mind mocked the mediocrity of my effort, and laughed at the futility of my struggle.
It’s a funny story and a quirky paradox. It all started - when - one day, my mind said, "Let’s run". Soon, it said, "let’s be a runner for life". To seal the deal, it built a neural pathway to kick off my running spree. And finally it hooked this neural pathway to my sanity circuits and identity circuits. And, then it said, "My work here is done. Good luck, sucker. And the next thing I know, it builds a movie eliciting the billion and one ways in which running is hard, and in excruciating detail harps upon the aches, the discomfort, and the breathing issues, and then as a final blow, adds in images and memories of being comfortable, of sipping a cold drink, of sleeping, of eating delicious food, of walking leisurely – and every time I run, this movie will play – loud and clear.
What’s with getting me all excited about running, and then flinging physical and mental curve-balls to stop me dead in my tracks? Left to their own device, the body and the mind will whine, grumble, threaten to stop my heart and make me dizzy, create imaginary aches, and make me so self-aware of the discomfort in my limbs and my heart that I want to do nothing but stop. And, I do end up stopping. And slowing down. A whole lot. Again and Again. So heartbreaking it is to pen this monologue, sounds like a biography of a wanna-be runner.
Not too long ago, I ran very differently. Maybe it was the young blood of a raging 27 year old as opposed to a zapped 31 year old. But seriously, I could run for an hour or more - non-stop, and I ran hard. I have kept my body running and jogging for 13.1 miles without stopping for a breather. I was able to surpass this need to stop, this impulse to slow down and go easy. I was riding high on the sentiment of this thought: This is my destiny; I am born to do this. It’s like my mind and body didn't know how to make a wimp out of me - back then. And now, I am the epitome of a semi-slacker.
How is it possible, I wonder? I mean I could do it once, so why is it different this time around. Why am I not running as hard? Also, how can the body and the mind lose that kind of conditioning? That's the thing that makes me want to go - gahhhhhh. That I have to start all over again – from scratch – every time, and that every time it’s going to be different. Nothing is guaranteed; the path isn’t linear. If you must know, it’s a – grab onto your seats, buckle your seat belt, and try not to puke – kind of rollercoaster tearing through the stratosphere. So, if life happens and running falls off the grid for a while, be prepared to start from scratch. The glory - all gone, but the struggle waiting so patiently for your breath and blood. Gaaaaaah.
After 3 months of training to run a 26.2 mile marathon with an elite running group, I was off to Oklahoma, one early Saturday morning for my marathon race. Bleary eyed and yawning, at 5:30 am, I sat at the airport, waiting for my flight departure time. Soon, I learnt that my flight was delayed because of bad weather & that I wouldn't reach in time to collect my BIB. Following that sinking realization, I spent an elaborate amount of time, flipping the hell out, and after I, finally, managed to calm down, I left a facebook message for my running group to pick up my BIB for me. They were already at the race destination and not only did they pick up my race BIB but also dropped it off at my hotel when they realized I was stranded at the airport for 10 hours. At the airport, I switched between reading a wonderful book and embarking on a futile quest to hunt down nutritious food. Anxious and uncomfortable, I sighed and did not give in to the impulse of screaming and tearing my hair out in frustration and throwing a tantrum like a 6 year old. Finally, I was on the plane and at the Oklahoma airport, where I rented a car and drove myself to my hotel. It was 8 pm and I was drained out. So, I ate some pasta for dinner and crashed.
The next morning at 4:30 am, I was at the hotel lobby, waiting for the bus that the race organizers had arranged to pick up runners from various hotels. A sea of runners loomed before me: some sipping coffee, some munching on fruits and protein bars while I smiled & wondered: how on earth can they eat and drink and digest all of that before the long race. I can only run on an empty stomach, so I kept myself away from food and coffee. Soon, I was on the bus, out of the bus and at the race venue.
It was freezing cold and the wind made me shiver and curl up my body and jump and run around to find a warm place, which there was none. It was dark but the place was packed with runners and their billion dollar enthusiasm. The atmosphere was sheer magic: runners discussing strategies, runners stretching and jumping, runners shivering, runners joking around and runners at the long lines to the restrooms.
Finally at 6 am, we were off in waves in our respective corrals. I was smiling and beyond happy to get started with the race. We ran through neighborhoods and I was strong as hell until mile 15. And then everything sort of crashed. My right leg began to throb and hurt and my body was exhausted. So I ended up eating half a protein bar, which ended up being a big mistake. My digestive system broke down and my stomach churned from mile 19 in such a painful manner that I was part of an extensive sufferfest that lasted all the way until the end of the race. It was kind of my fault that I did not stick with my training plan; instead of doing 5 min run and 1 min walk, which is how I had trained for the race, I ran all the way until mile 12, which was not smart at all. The rule of thumb is to not try anything new on race day and to simply execute the training plan with a madman's precision. I have learnt a valuable lesson for all of eternity after this race.
Finally, when the race was done, I found a restroom and relieved myself. I kept walking in circles, asking anyone and everyone where the shuttle service was. After a while, somehow, I reached the shuttle transportation station and waited for 20 minutes to get on board. Back to the hotel, back on a flight and back home, my stomach was broken and I limped around, so exhausted that I couldn't be bothered to get excited about the fact that I had just completed my first full marathon. All I wanted to do was sleep and for my stomach to stop churning.
I want to be a runner for life because I AM a runner. We all have things that call out to us and that are wired in our DNA. Life is about Energy and Experience: we carry this stardust, this cosmic energy within us and for each of us, this energy is seeking certain life experiences to give itself to.
Running is one of those life experiences that my energy seeks.
Over the years, what I have come to love about running is the uncertainty, the challenge, and the opportunity to experience the extra-ordinary, and expand the frontiers of what the body and mind can do - one run at a time. Every run is different; sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard but rest assured every run counts. I look forward to the pristine moments when all that remains with me is my pounding heartbeat, rising body temperature, and the preternaturally calm mind. Everything else fades into oblivion. Nothing matters but giving my all and getting through the run. The hardest part of the run though is not the physical exertion but fighting off the mind, shutting it off and compelling it to execute your willpower.
It’s all too common for the mind to start exaggerating the pain, the discomfort, the breathlessness, the exhaustion, the feeling that you are going to die. 90% of the time, after you have crossed the threshold of your body and mind's comfort zone, the brain will start to retaliate. It screams at lightning speed - every second - just one thing - STOP!! You have to beat that voice, resist the strong impulse to take a breather, and motivate and inspire yourself to keep running regardless of what your mind says. As you battle your mind, and continue to pound the pavement, another threshold is crossed and a milestone is reached - this rare window in time is when your mind relents and you feel strong and in your element, you feel energetic, light, rejuvenated, you feel like you were born to do this, this is the best thing you could do for yourself, this is that missing piece in your life, the holy grail of your soul, you feel alive, you feel like this is the only meaningful, soulful thing you are doing for yourself in your life. And, suddenly, sometime later, the window shuts, and the mind starts hollering once again - STOP!!!
Surpassing what is uncomfortable has its rewards. After every half marathon and marathon, I am in a beatific, calm, recharged state. I am never hungry, never tired or sleepy but experiencing this inexplicable dimension of reality where I don't need or I don't want anything; where I am not searching for something to fulfill me. I am fulfilled and at peace. Too bad, this feeling does not last beyond that day. That's why I must continue running.
Finally, as much as I need running as a psychological anchor keeping me sane, I have also always been an athlete kind of girl, aching to let loose my limbs in a feat that calls upon endurance, adrenaline, and exhilaration.
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.