Sunday 25 August 2013

My first attempt at a Full Marathon

“Some Goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail” an adage that has inspired me to complete a full marathon before I complete the first innings my life. To live that madness I stood at the start line of the Hyderabad Marathon at 5 am, today on 25th August (I turned 50 the following week in 2013). Without much preparation, not even as much as I had for my half marathons, battling a viral ten days ago, and with the last four days spent at a training in Bangalore, I was aware that mentally I was all set to go, but physically not so sure.  What should I do? Do I display the faith in positive psychology (that I advocate) & just run or take lessons from so many athletes who had irreparable injuries attempting feats such as this? 

I had resolved the mind and body conflict two days ago when I actually spent an exclusive hour in shavaasana wherein my mind honored every part of my body and assured the body that at every stage each of body-part’s need will be honored.  I resolved that my first goal was to be there at the start line and thereafter live in the moment.  I was absolutely clear that I was not going to regret when I quit the race mid-way through.  As the race started, I surged ahead tentatively along with 160 others each one of whom was confident & prepared.  In the first 30 seconds 4:30 pacer group was well ahead of me, after two minutes every pacer group was ahead.  By the time I completed two kilometres, I was one of the last few. I found two other friends joined and cheered me.  After 5 kms, people who had commenced relay race 15 minutes later were breezing past me.  I resolved just to enjoy as long as I could and then surrender.

90 minutes and 25% distance later I realized that my mind and body both were in strong shape.  The insight of the moment was when mind honors body, the body reciprocates – gleefully.  Buoyed at having covered 25% I became greedy on the day wishing to at least complete the half marathon before giving up. A text from my friend Pragati  that read “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible – Arthur C Clarke”, I continued happily

However, this joy was short-lived; by now not just the ankle but the right knee had started complaining loudly.  Running on the steep slope thereafter actually made sweat from my forehead find its way into my eyes; I felt my eyes were burning – with joy; ‘coz I decided not to take the numbing Volini spray that might make mind less sensitive to the body. The terrain that I hit at this stage was Somajiguda/ Panjagutta  flyover, that followed by the Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills inclines.  The nudge from Pragati’s text was all that I needed now.  190 minutes up and I had completed the 50% marathon.  My insight of the moment was It’s blissful to surrender to the conspiracy between the mind and the body.   I recalled at that moment an executive coaching exercise from the day before and thought to myself the soul had assumed a coach position and was nudging Harish to embrace & expand the polarities of mind and body.

This time my groin had joined ankles and knees, along with the heels and toes.  I recalled the last half marathon, when I had developed blisters underneath my feet.  To top it all the bladder needed a break but the promised mobile loos were nowhere in sight.  I gave up running began walking.  I found a Hotel with lobby close to the road and dashed in to honor bladder’s need.  Walked and walked.  At the 27th km from my aching sole to expanding soul every pore was ready to tell a story. I gave up the earlier resolve of not using Volini, my back had vehemently protested; I used it for the first time, but soon thereafter, in the next 3 km I had nursed the most of the aches with that numbing spray. 

There were hardly 4-5 runners visible past the 30 km mark.  Most of them had gone much ahead. A banana to nourish and few glucose biscuits later, I was feeling well fed, but with every passing km my pace of walking was slowing down, the feeling of pride was writ over my face despite being a laggard.  I knew that now the recovery buses would come and pick up struggling wobbling runners and pack them in.  Perhaps my time would be up and I’d be on one of those buses.  My legs kept steady, slowly but surely I was inching ahead on a path that never seemed to end.  By 34th km I was famished (again) the previous two aid stations had run out of bananas and biscuits.  Only salt water and Gatorade provided the required hydration.  Luckily, an aid station did provide one more round of cookies and one more application of Volini.

At 38th km the pick-up bus arrived, offering the last opportunity.  By now the aid stations had been wound up, they said most people at the finish point had left and no further aid would be available… at 90% target it didn’t make sense to give up my two year old dream, with not-so-firm steps I refused to take the bait and continued.  Each small step appeared like a giant leap and I was at least 14500 steps away from my goal; At the 40th km my steps were wobbly, I was making very slow progress but making sure that there’s no undue risk.  During the last km I truly understood the length of a meter.

7 hours and 10 minutes and 42.2 kms later --- “I had done it” and there was Rajesh with a smile and chide at my irresponsible attempt; quickly Jayaram, one of the Hyderabad Runners spotted me and honoured by running the last 50 meters with me; there were few other lovely souls of Hyderabad Runners who encouraged and congratulated me, took my pictures with their phone cameras and soon thereafter put the medal around my neck.


Couldn’t resist sharing all my tribulations and triumph on my blog… perhaps the last foolish attempt at a Marathon


I dedicate this run to the spirit of team Potentia; I thank each one of them for being there all the time with me during past seven years… 




1 comment:

  1. Excellent. Congratulations Harish. This is undoutedly a great achievement and an inspiration to a lot of people. You participated and achieved a really tough milestone. It surely is an inspiration to me and strengthens my belief that what is possible in mind can be a reality if we push ourselves beyond the possibility into what looks impossible. Really proud of your achievement.

    Best wishes