Rat Race is not the Real Race.

Sitting down on my revolving chair, with my legs crossed and hands folded, I was grumpy and I was staring at the ceiling. My wife, who walked passed me rocked my chair to push me out of my grumpiness because she doesn't like me when I'm like that.

She vividly asks me why, I was unusually silent. Recollecting why, I was truly immersed in a memory which is by now at least two months old.

This year has been great so far in terms of exceeding my running goals with at least 3 more months to go, but the terrain in which I did the 21.1 Kms as a part of the Hyderabad marathon was definitely the most challenging terrain.

It is not very unusual that runners will usually start talking to themselves once their mind and body begins to feel the grunt of the activity, and trust me - listening to that voice is definitely a great mental strength booster and out of the 1300 odd kms I've done in this year - this 21.1 kms was the time, my body and mind spoke a lot to me and questioned me on a lot. While I try to answer it all - the direction of the flow of thought process is towards one central plot which is about time and about which I'm going to write.

When I took the decision to run in that marathon, I thought of only one thing - do I have in my hand the time needed to train myself, and I had four weeks in my hand, and of which one week went in my wedding and one week in my honeymoon which both kept me completely away from training for the run.

Image Courtesy - Google Images
Next, I wanted to quickly read about the weather and the terrain to have a basic idea on how different the route will be in comparison to the one in Chennai.

I realized that I'll not be able to do a 20km run before the run because, first I was not confident as I had not run a long run in a while as a part of training and secondly did not want to injure myself and hence slightly made a few changes to my training style.

Having understood the elevated terrain and an intense need to be prepared for it physically after mentally accepting it - I started running on over bridges and on treadmill with an inclination. I never knew untill then the importance of specific training and these runs helped me control my breath and without realizing my endurance improved.

The Sunday morning on the race day was particularly serene. 3:45 AM was the time my alarm went off and my friend with whom I stayed got up to wake me up. For the scheduled 6:00 AM start, I had planned to reach the flag off point by at least 45 minutes prior, being unable to get a cab my friend braved the unknown route and near cold weather to drop me off on time.

When the race started, the atmosphere was as usual to any other marathon but the number of participants for a half marathon was more and the weather was amazingly pleasant. If I remember correctly, I had completed the first 10 KMS in about 42 minutes - my quickest ever.

Thinking back about it - I would say partially it was due to the particular elevation training that I did, really helped my case to control my breathing and be accustomed to the initial elevation, but that seemed to not be a great idea to give it all in for the first half of the race itself.

The real challenge was when I first noticed a real athletic looking girl sitting down on the side pavement, panting for air. Psychologically this gave me the first jitter and since the roads were uphill when I looked up - I could see a sea of blue running ahead and this gave the second mental jitter at about 11 kms mark and when I really wanted to stop for a quick break I could not find a pitstop.

The next 5 kms took me about 70 minutes- my slowest ever for a 5k. (Started off with my quickest 10k, and then immediately my slowest 5k).

In between all these I was seriously thinking off giving up when my ankles started hurting me badly and the pitstops that I went past did not have a stock for medical recovery kit.

Now, the atmosphere around me started to slowly disappear from being captured by my mind and all that seemed visible and doable was the only next step that my next stride could possibly reach to - if I tried to over stretch, then I will be down with cramps.

I could not hear the motivation from the curious on-lookers and I could not see the people dancing to encourage and boost our adrenaline. I could barely see the people with whom I was running along - the set of people hardly changed as we were either ahead or behind each other by 50m

I pushed.
I did not give up.

After initially contemplating about giving up the race when I could not find water from a pitstop, now I began to enjoy every step. My body got to a stage where it could take more, the muscles got hard and the mind -stronger. 

The focus shifted from the difficult uphill to the equal and easy downhill each uphill had. 

Suddenly I had this euphoria, when I realised that all along I was focusing only on the difficult uphill, cursing myself to have trained more on a flat terrain and didn't train enough on the elevated terrain, what I was missing was the fact that downhill running was easier than flat road running and each uphill came with a down hill, and I went past those who overtook me at some point of the race.

So folks, Imagine this race is very similar to our lives.

What is extremely imperative and of Paramount importance is to first be mentally prepared that the road ahead is not going to be easy, just like how I knew even though I had trained for 1300 odd kms the 21.1 kms will be difficult. Accepting that is the first task - and when we do that, we train ourselves for it.

Believe me - when you feel you are mentally ready and trained enough to face the challenges ahead, you will feel small when you come in terms with the reality with the magnitude of challenges in everyday life.
Catch here is that - you are successful the moment you "participate" and be "present" to face it.

Just as I saw people over taking me and after a stage getting behind me - this life is not about who comes first, but the undeniable fact is that each one of us are running with a different goal towards the same end and when our "time zone" comes we will go past others for sure, also every difficulty (uphill running) will have a soft corner (downhill running).

There will be no help from the outside world when you need the most and there will be it in abundance when you don't actually need it, but that's the way of life.

Amidst all the self motivation and inspiration from others and around we will definitely feel like giving up at some point in our lives and at that stage we have to remember why we had started and if there is clarity on the route we have taken so far - we can always slow ourselves, take a break and complete it when we are rejuvenated.

So, let us ultimately remember that participation in life is extremely important just as much as enjoying life it. We cannot enjoy without participating, in that case - we are assuming that enjoyment comes in the form of being a spectator but life is actually spectating at us.

Each one of us are in our own time zone - and if we don't give up and push hard, we will go past those who went past us in our ultimate journey towards our goal.

With an untampered zeal and focus darting towards the goal - we will realise that our focus on those going past us is actually not important at all. :)


Popular Posts