The Run up to the Marathon

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I am sure a lot of you have run Marathons. I know a lot of friends have, thanks to pictures on Fb and Instagram. I for one have harbored the idea of doing it since the last 4 years but have never actually got to doing it. Am I a sporty person? I’m not sure if going for a brisk walk, enjoying playing badminton or doing aerobics for 30 minutes regularly counts.

How it started

October 3rd 2017…The Boss comes up with the idea of running the 10 kms Standard Chartered  Marathon at the weekly Sunday meeting and “two of us” jump up to the idea like kids being offered an ice-cream. The Marathon sounded like the perfect proposition to spruce up our “8 to 5 and home” lives. Soon after the meeting, we were registering ourselves and then sharing the confirmations we received on what’s app. Now that the registration was done, all we had to do was practice. We have a professional runner in our office who does 42 kms and has run 9 such marathons until now in 4 different countries and he became our official guide. The first thing we got was a 3 month plan on how to practice for 10 kms. One look at it and I knew I wasn’t going to follow it. I’m not too good at sticking to such regiments. Then came advise on eating. I liked how he believed in us probably more than we believed in ourselves.

The “two of us” also happen to be living in the same neighborhood so we decide to begin practice the very next day. The agreement was followed by apprehension like post-purchase dissonance. “I had never worked with her before. I hated being pushed and I loved my freedom”.

Just a little bit about the two of us:

We’ve been colleagues since the last 4 years, managing our own departments as different in our styles as chalk and cheese. We started out as silent competitors minding our own business and over time moved on to a position where we did not get into each other’s way but totally respected the other for their abilities in their respective fields. From there, we had further progressed to actually enjoying each other’s company at meetings, office get-together s’ and catching up when The Boss is away . For the sake of this post, let’s give her a name and call her Gayathri

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The Run up to the Marathon

October 4th: The day we are to begin the practice is also the first time that we will actually be working together on a project.

I get a message, “Let’s start tomorrow”.

“O.K. let’s meet tomorrow”, I typed back and went for my morning walk on my own.

Later on that day, Gayathri met me in the cabin to explain that Tuesday wasn’t a good day to start and that’s why she hadn’t come. The tall, smart, “don’t care” extrovert Gayathri actually believed in good days and bad days! Well, that was news to me. She continued, ” I just want to say a few things so there are no misunderstandings”.

“OK, I’m all ears”.

“We can start together but we don’t need to end together. You can run or walk faster. You don’t need to bother. Also, if any of us don’t come on a day for practice, we don’t need to offer an explanation….”. The list of do’s and don’t went on for a while and then she stopped waiting for a reaction.

“Wow! Suits me perfectly”. “These are rules for walking together. Sounded like we were going to take marriage vows”.

October 5th: We finally start at 5.15 a.m. and manage to do 5 kms in 50 minutes. Felt great. Gayathri is full of life even at that unearthly hour. I needed a little getting used to that as I kind of enjoy the silence of the mornings. It was a different change for me and it was fine.

October 6th : We meet again and go for a walk. We also stretch a little mid-way. I tell her I will not be able to make it during the weekend. And we agree to keep the weekends free.

October 7th : I do aerobics at home for 30 minutes. I’m already feeling lighter and so much better.

October 8th :  Is a day of rest.

October 9th : Gayathri messages me that we don’t meet on Sundays, the day after the weekends. I jog for a kilometer (km) and manage to 4.85 km in 37 minutes.

October 10 to 13th– We don’t go for a walk  and I don’t exercise  Have been having too many late nights. Gayathri has been having it too because we have both been busy with team projects and then celebrations after the project.

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October 14th– Rest after all the late nights

October 15 to 19th– Gayathri is away on holiday.Had a hectic week at office, short staffed and could not make it for a walk or a jog.  Also, was busy with Diwali festivities, eating and partying and no walking.

October 20th: Go for my first real jog. Jogged 4.85 kms in 39 minutes. Little steps just above  a walk.  How I did it?

Well, a friend of mine Sharmistha (a.k.a Binny) who ran the marathon last year and has been training ever since told me the golden words that I needed to hear, “The first 5 kms are always tough. You just have to carry on knowing that everybody finds it tough”. Binny is running 14 kms these days but she still finds the first 5 tough. So, I kept this in mind while I jogged, telling myself it would be fine after the first 5kms.

And the truth is once the first 5 kms are done, you know there are just 5 more!

October 24th : I do 6.16 km in 36 minutes. For the first time I understood the meaning of “Slow and Steady”. I kept telling myself “Slow. You can do it”.

October 25th: My legs felt sore after all the running so I did Jillian Michael’s aerobics and I felt better.

October 26th : I did stretching and yoga for 30 minutes.

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October 27th: I do 9 kms in 57 minutes ! I am oh so proud of myself. The Boss who has been constantly messaging us on his achievements now receives a message from me. The official guide in our office is informed of the progress too and so is Gayathri who has returned from her holidays and has not been walking. She has a pain in the shoulder and has been going for physiotherapy.

October 28th : I’m all excited so I decide to look at the plan, the official guide sent to us on day 1. The plan had said to do exercises on some days, weight training, lunges etc. So I headed to the gym and the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes and did some cycling for 15 minutes. That was the first big mistake I made. For the next 2 days I couldn’t move. My thighs hurt like crazy. The plan hadn’t said elliptical training but it hadn’t said not to do it either. I guess the plan expected people reading it to have a little more sense. I decided to give my legs a break for the next few days.

1/11: I went for a 5 km jog and took 40 minutes. I walked more than I jogged. I felt terrible.

3/11: I did aerobics to strengthen my legs.

4/11: I did 10 kms in 1 hour 35 mins. I had walked most of the way. My body wasn’t willing to budge.

6/11: I did 5 kms again. Walked most of the way. My knees hurt. My feet hurt. My legs hurt.

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12/11 : Went to the doctor and did a blood test. Found out I had Vitamin D deficiency. I was asked not to jog. No sooner had I got the report, I became more aware of every ache and pain in my body.

15/11: I went for a walk with the girls. Real slow. It was like I was scared my joints would give away or my bones would crumble if I tried walking a little faster. It’s so true when they say “It’s all in the mind”.

16/11 onward: My practice has seen a steady decline. It’s cold and dark in the mornings until 7.30 a.m. and then I have to get ready for work. I’m really not an evening person so basically I haven’t really walked since 27/10. Then came Christmas. With parties and late nights again, I decided to start fresh from Jan 2018.

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Jan 2018 : God seemed to have his own plan. I fell ill with a flu on Jan 7th that left me totally weak and disinterested in anything that requires some amount of physical effort on my side. So, all practice or even the thought of it came to a halt until Jan 18th.

With a week to go for the Marathon, the boss asked me if I would take part. Apparently, we have received an email to collect the bibs for the Marathon. (My email must have got lost in all the WordPress emails of the blogs I follow).

“I’ll crawl if I have to but I will cross the Finish line”, I tell The Boss. I had never left anything incomplete before. I wasn’t sure how I’d do it but I just knew I would until the dawn of Jan 19th.

Jan 19th 4.00 a.m. : I woke up with a catch in my feet. And for the first time I realized that I needed God to help me. I’ve always known it but knowing something is not the same as experiencing it and understanding it . I have always been confident of my ability to work hard and make things happen.  That morning I learnt that however hard I worked, I wouldn’t be able to move a finger if He did not wish it. It was the most humbling, beautiful experience. As I prayed for my foot to heal, I head the dawn prayers from the mosque in answer. I woke up, wore my tracks and hit the road. I walked 5 kms in 50 minutes, praying all the way. I felt a catch come up in my hip but I went on.

Jan 21st :I walked 3 kms in 40 minutes

Jan 21st and again on Jan 23rd. I walked 3 kms again with no improvement in time.

I hadn’t asked Gayathri if she had got her bib and if she was coming. Now, I couldn’t imagine going without her. I just needed to know someone was there with me for moral support.

The Boss and Binny have been an inspiration throughout the journey. Their dedication and sincerity actually made me want to push myself but I just couldn’t because my body refused to relent.At times their constant messages on whats app on their practice and the time taken by them were overwhelming. However, since I know both these people pretty well, I know they were doing it only so I could push myself but since I couldn’t, I just replied back each time with a “Wow, Good Job!” and I so meant it. I’m sure they wanted to hear a little more about my progress but they did not say. That of-course was sweet of both of them.

Now, for the actual run,  I needed Gayathri because I knew she was in the same boat as me. We hadn’t been practicing for our own personal reasons and we had avoided talking about the Marathon as well. I got to know that Gayathri hadn’t got her email from Standard Chartered. I told her she had to come and she said she would make the call and check. Little did I know then that Gayathri too had been waiting for a little push from me. Somehow, we had ended up relying on each other.

Jan 25th : Tomorrow is the Marathon. Gayathri and I are going for it. We have promised to drag each other to the finishing line. Binny will be there too, the girl who gave me the Mantra I needed to actually complete the run. I have decided to meet Binny only at the Finish Line if she is ready to wait for me, which she said she would; so that we could take selfies together :). Just pray that there are no other hiccups and God conspires in every way to make it happen.

Even as some of you are reading this, Gayathri and me will probably be standing at the start point or be somewhere in between trying our best to get to the Finish line or we would have reached there and we are probably taking selfies with our medals :). All I can say is it’s been a journey like all others and in my next post you’ll get to know how we fared and the lessons we learnt.

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