Jan 15, 2012

I... huff... did... puff... it!!!

Once upon a time, about 5+ years ago, I noticed something for the first time... lots of people were putting a somethingrandom dot blogspot dot com under their signature. And me being the type who reads stuff if there is nothing else to do, I clicked on some of those links. Some I liked, a lot was pretty ordinary, but something inside me told me, "maybe you should try this too..."

Once upon a time, about 5+ years ago, I noticed something for the first time... lots of people were getting up on a perfectly sleep-worthy Sunday morning with nothing better to do than run from one end of the town (ok, technically middle of the town) to the other end. What got me interested was the goody-bag which at that time contained goodies worth more than the cost of registering for the thing.  And me being the type who would  never pass up a free lunch, I found this very satisfying. I decided to register from the next year, but something inside me told me "I am never doing this..."

And so, since you are reading this, you know that I did start a blog. And soon filled it with all sorts of crap. Lots and lots of it. I wrote if I was happy, I wrote if I was sad, I wrote what sounded like good humour to me even if others wrinkled their noses at the inanity of it all, I wrote verse and worse, I wrote if I had something to say, I even wrote because all I wanted to do was say something. I started marking blog birthdays, and made new online friends through this. The writing was erratic in both its frequency and its quality, but I wrote because I loved it.

I registered for the half marathon for the first time in 2010. The marathon guys had grown smarter and the goody-bag had stuff worth much lesser than the fee. WTF, I thought, I have already overpaid, and I am not going to make this worse by actually running in the event. Cheats, damn it! And so, the bib was handed over to a friend who did the honours. Don't tell the marathon folks though, I hear they don't approve of it. I did not register in 2011, since the arbitrage was lost and I was not going to throw good money after a bunch of revital tablets and random hair gels. I mean, whatever happenned to the cute water bottles man? I registered again in 2012, egged on by friends who showed way more enthu than me. Damn them too. 

Writing is essentially a lonely habit. People may form a like-minded circle online, become part of cliques to scratch each other's backs and plug each other's stupid posts, but you don't get together in groups and decide to write on some topic (at least I don't). For an asocial person like me with few friends, who doesn't meet people unless forced by either the opportunity of having some good food or imbibing some spirits or by the general attractiveness quotient of the members in attendance, writing was a natural hobby. I loved the way I could sit in a corner of my room and pontificate on the random stuff, poking fun at the world at large. I loved it even more when some people (few but more than enough) were as lacking in a social life as me and decided to read and comment on the stuff. The point of this rambling paragraph is to somehow connect the declining frequency of posts here to the fact that now I stay with my parents, and get enough entertainment from pulling my mom's leg on all matters divine.

Running is a lonely sport. People do form running groups, they get together to motivate one another to go the extra mile, but at the end of it all, it is just you and the road, and maybe some music (which doesn't interest me much). But strangely, it never appealed in spite of me being asocial. That's because I was also extremely lazy. To the point of ordering in lunch and dinner instead of stepping out when I was staying alone. So, on the rare occasion that I did engage in any physical activity, I liked to do it in a large group. But my idea of having a good game meant carrom board and lately, poker (without the money, I am a conservative Tam-Brahm when it comes to gambling). The point of this rambling paragraph is to somehow get the idea across that in spite of running being a sport made for loners like me, I didn't quite get the hang of what joy could there be in putting one foot in front of another for hours on end.

Life is not to be measured by milestones crossed, it is about the fun you are having that you don't even notice the milestones you whiz past. I have firmly subscribed to this pop-psychology in recent years, and went from a 'I-have-to-get-first-rank' grades obsessed person to 'Sab-kuch-maya-hai' guy. I even wrote a post about the secret of happiness being about the ability to reduce the gap between what you want and what you have, and it being easier to reduce what you want than putting in effort to increase what you have. But some milestones I do like to mark, like birthdays and blog post numbers. And I am glad to announce that THIS IS THE TWO-HUNDRED-FIFTIETH POST in this space. *Bows and waits for applause*

Running is all about milestones. Their very presence helps you push yourself to jog those extra few steps. And a guy like me, who has a very high opinion of his physical prowess in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, needs milestones to remind him about the gap between reality and wishful thinking. I tried practising for this event, very sincerely sometime in October-November last. The very first few mini-runs resulted in shooting pain through the shins (apparently they are called shin-splints or something) and I happily retired hurt thinking "who wants to run anyways?" I tried to practise in December, but a combination of long working hours, an oddly dipping temperature in Mumbai mornings and my legacy laziness ensured that the snooze button became the most used feature of my phone. And then, I promised myself "I'll get to the start line. Walk through the sealink, enjoy the view, turn around and catch a cab." So much for positive thinking and visualizing about the finish line. 

And so it started. I jog, I lose my breath, I slow down and walk. I jog again, runs and repeat. I look for short milestones. At least jog from this advertising board to the next. And so on. And walk. And walk. And walk. First, the fit guys race past me and I happily give them way. Then the attractive girls race past me and I feel mildly voyeuristic. Focus. Focus. Not on the babe dammit, on the next step. Then even old uncles and aunties waddle past me and I give up.

I reach 6 km in the first hour, and I calculate like a typical accountant, 10 minutes per km means I can do this in three and a half hours. Then, miraculously I pick up pace, and do 7.5 km in the next hour. And suddenly I think, hey maybe I can do this within 3 hours. I race past 15 km in 2:15 and that's when Murphy laughs his patented evil laugh and I get cramps. All of a sudden, toes curl up involuntarily and putting a step ahead gives me the shivers. The sun is up, people from the sidelines are shouting out cheers and I am telling myself "Can't give up now. Earlier, it made sense to quit. Not now. Not after 15 km. Walk, crawl if need be, but finish the damn thing." 

I get some ice pack from a helpful volunteer and pause to soothe my calf muscles. My legs start to behave like Manmohan's cabinet and refuse to listen to their head. At 18 km, I hardly feel my feet. At 19, no sensation below my knees. And then, I buck down and keep walking. Till the magical board "1 km to go" appears. That gives my legs a new lease of life. I walk faster, and when it says 500 metres to go, I attempt a jog. A slow jog. And before I know it, I have completed something that I didn't think was possible for me. *Bows and waits for applause again*

And now, next year, aiming for a sub-3 hour show! And reaching 300 blog posts.

Move over, make way, here comes SRK! :D


  1. 250..?? Really..?? Thats Awesome..
    Ok here comes the applause.
    *Claps*Claps* n *More Claps*

  2. Anonymous4:51 AM

    good post.
    keep walking and keep writing.
    my request--on a 'book list' post--still pending:(

  3. @ Kanthu:
    Yes, 250... took me long enough!
    Thanks :)

    @ Anon:
    Thanks. A book-list post is unlikely since I can't comment on the books and just listing them down doesn't justify a whole post. Plus, I am hardly qualified to recommend books given that I read whatever I can get my hands on. Recently, I have read the George RR Martin (5-6 books epic fantasy series), John Grisham (The Client), Wilbur Smith (Where the Lion feeds), Bill Bryson (The short history of nearly everything), and am currently juggling Jaya by Devdutt Patnaik and Makers of Modern India by Ramachandra Guha. Don't know if this is of any help, but this is the only book-list post that I am going to put up for now :)

  4. Anonymous2:01 PM

    wait a min...you staying with parents?
    that's enough fodder i suppose.
    why did it not deserve a post in itself.

  5. @ Anon:
    No fodder... Lots of home food though :)