You know those times when you want to do something crazy, but end up doing something a tad bit TOO crazy? Hmmmm, I can sense some nods there. I am with you buddy!! One fine evening in May, when either I had too much work to do with no motivation or nothing to do at all (that’s not possible); It was either of them. it’s hard to remember. Age is catching up! What I do remember is that, I signed up for a 11K race on a whim. I mean 11 kilometers. That doesn’t sound too bad. It’s only 6.8 miles. In spite of mathematically being aware that both are the same, it sounded less freaky when you mention it in miles.
After this craziness sunk in, the mind began to think of ways to take it all in a positive light. Hey, there’s 4 months left. 6.8 miles is nothing. You have done 3x 5Ks before. This is JUST like all three of them put together on the same day. Clearly math was taking a huge hit here! Until August, I was fairly consistent in training for it. Ran a couple of times a week, etc etc.
As always, life happens! A couple of setbacks in my personal life and all that running and working out came to a standstill. For 4 straight weeks until the race, I hadn’t run at all. To add to it was traveling all the way back home and back to Baltimore twice in a significantly short period, being heavily jet lagged the entire week of the race, being sick the entire week of the race, etc. etc. (let me not bore you with any further details). However, there was no guilt internally because being there for my family physically and emotionally at that time, was way way way higher in my priorities than anything else.
But, I don’t tend to give up very easily either. So, no matter what, I decided to stay positive throughout and give the race a chance! I mean, why not? Being the cautious optimist that I am, I knew I was fit enough to walk the entire 11K, if not run. My two best friends were in town and were doing the race with me. So, just in case, I collapse mid-race, they would be able to identify my body for the Police and I was guaranteed two guests at my funeral. All my ducks are in a row! No worries at all Madhuri. Just go for the race.
Dear Readers, in case you are already bored of my above narration, let me help you a bit and skip to the end. The race went off really really really well……in my eyes! You may wonder, how is that even possible? I felt so good internally after the race and that’s what mattered the most to me.
1. Being Alive
This fact cannot be underscored enough! Charm City Run put up this race titled ‘Run to Remember‘ to pay our respects and spread love to the families who lost their beloved and special ones on 09.11.2011. Such an occasion makes us all reflect on the unpredictability of life and be even more grateful for every breath of air we take in.
I had this date marked down in my bullet journal a long time ago! The morning of the race, I picked up my favorite colored blue pen and wrote down my little inspiration for the day. How often do we get inspired from within, in a day and age, when we’re always looking for inspiration from around?
Did anyone tell you that parents are super wise?!?! On the morning of the race, my dad, being quite the prolific writer that he is, sent me a text. I knew my family thought I was crazy or I was bluffing when I said I was going to run 11 kilometers. Growing up, they haven’t seen me move more than 1 meter at once. Yet, it’s always nice to receive words of support and encouragement from the people who believe in you the most! Here were my dad’s wise words:
4. Physical Strength
This had to be way up on the list! You know how people have before and after pics of their fitness journey. Well, I have a before anecdote as part of mine (one of those I use all the time when I am bragging to others). In the fall of 2014, after
years lifetimes of not working out, I decided to go for a walk with my friend. It was one of those light-bulb-turning-on moments. But, in my case, it was more like a red light turning on. We had barely gone less than a mile and here I was, already huffing and puffing and drinking up all the water! To compare that day, to this race day, when I was happily cruising along until 5.5 miles showed me so much of what I am capable of.
5. Mental Strength
Did anyone tell you that this is harder to achieve than physical stamina? While physical strength is build by running up, mental strength is derived from running down your gibberish thoughts. In other words, learning to just live in the moment and not think of the outcome of your actions. Be in the present and do what you need to do that very second!
I think I was so much more freaked out about how the weather would befriend me on that day, rather than anything else. Most of the above, were in some sense under my control. But, it wasn’t like I could dim down the sun for few hours. I guess, the sun was having its Sunday too. It was definitely a humid cum windy day, but not sunny at all. During the middle of the race, the sun came out for a short 2 minute peep and quickly went back into slumber. I felt serene during the whole time, taking in every ounce of good weather!
How could I have this list of thoughtfulness without food being mentioned?!?! Random googling of ‘tips and tricks for your race’ led me to the picture below. I mean, you got to listen to the running experts. If they say carb load on pre-race night, that’s what you got to do. No questions asked!
8. Actually Finishing
9. Ability To Smile
Being the type-A person that I am and always being academically in the coveted top three placements for most of my life, I knew this wasn’t my piece of cake in any way. For almost 75% of the race, I was deadly alone! The people in front of me and behind me were minutes away. Yet, I didn’t allow my usual competitive attitude to bog me down. When all those police officers and traffic cops were still working, mainly because of ‘running late’ folks like me, I decided to just smile and acknowledge each cop as I passed them. Unless I become the queen overnight, how rare are days in my life when the streets are cordoned off just for me (I know! I know! Arrogance! Arrogance! I am working on it).
10. A Humbling Lesson
Speaking of working on my arrogance from above, I knew that there was SO much work to do! Many many more sweat to let out. It was not going to be an easy journey ahead. I might fail at times, I might triumph at times. Forget the world, what mattered and still matters is that I never give up on myself ever!
11. A Great Support Group
I am too exhausted with all this typing. Let’s skip this last point and wrap up this post. Just kidding. I dare not not mention them here. I couldn’t have done it all without these two clowns by my side – one from Philly and the other from New Jersey. All that laughs and giggles that weekend, was just what I needed to get back to my normal self after tough times. All that texting support during the race, motivating me to keep pushing and not giving up, believing in me that I didn’t catch an Uber home, waiting for me at the finish line, making sure they snuck in extra post-race snacks for me before it was all over – it wouldn’t have been possible without them!! Needless to say, they crushed their race!!!
It was indeed a day well spent and well felt!
Linking up with Amanda’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ series.
Do check out her cute blog at http://www.runningwithspoons.com