A journey that needs to be told. I am not shy with words, but this time,
finding the right words seems a bit tough. I guess some experiences are such and so are
2012 was when I did my first Half marathon and I never
thought I’d continue. 7 years later, and here I am, speechless indeed.
Time – 12hr 30 mins (that’s the cut off)
Distance – 75K
Temperature – Says 45 feels 55 degrees
Location – Thar desert (Pokhran)
How does that sound for a weekend activity…..I guess even I
couldn’t imagine it few months ago.
When I set out to register for this, I was excited and thrilled. During the course of time, excitement turned
to curiosity, and then butterflies and fear of the unknown. Charting and prepping for my unimaginable run,
while carrying a bit of injury was mentally tough. How does one prepare for this one – no recce
run, no idea of support, no crew – all you have is a perceived notion of the
journey that was to be. At this point I wasn’t
sure that this being my first long run was a good or a bad thing.
Carrying with me wishes from friends and family, a lot of
uncertainty, some butterflies, some positive vibes, some excitement and a calm
mind strategizing to the unknown.
I got to meet fellow runners during the train journey to
Pokhran, gathering useful insights on how to tame this Beast. The mind was racing
faster than the race pace, for all I wanted was to finish in time. Having most everything
played out in my mind, the D day finally arrived. A normal race day morning
takes about 10 to 15 mins to get dressed, but this one took 45 mins. My friend joked that it looks like you are
going to a war. New words got added to my running vocabulary – gaiters, gamcha,
sleeves – and then finally it was the moment of truth. We started 35 minutes
late adding more butterflies, but what choice did we have.
The next 11.30 hrs redefined me, not just as a runner, but
as an individual too. Getting lost as a group, doing a 5k extra loop in
excruciating heat taught me that planning and reality are two different facets.
Knowing it will be 45 degrees is part of the planning, but
the experience of running the rocky ruins of Pokhran, hilly mountains terrain,
acres of barren land (as the locals say the “Rann”), mirage that shows you water
all around, parched throat, seeing cold water when none was around, the fierce sun
showing its might was all reality, that no amount of planning helps.
For Kms, there was no sign of habitation or humans only carcasses
every now, and then, fear of falling down without any help around, are all
visuals and challenges that I had not anticipated. How could I have trained for
that. And even if you train your body, how do you train your mind.
So what got me going is tough to answer. Was it all the wishes I carried, my focus on
finishing what I set out to do, proving to myself on how much I could challenge
myself physically and mentally, is probably all that mattered. I had to earn the
medal for myself. My mind did stay
strong, never thought about quitting and all I cared for was to win this one. I
had to do it for myself and I guess when you set up YOU against yourself, you excel
in ways even you can’t imagine.
I am my only competition and this one was for me. Till next
time This is Who I am. Doing the inhuman as my coach says!