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
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.
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.