I wanted to write this down before I forget how I felt today.
Today I ran my first half marathon. It was, as Barney Stinson would say “Legen…wait for it… dary”
After a sleepless night spent checking my watch obsessively every five minutes to see whether it was four am yet…I got up anything but refreshed and raring to go. I was sleepy, cranky and had phantom aches running up and down my legs.
But getting to the holding area for the half marathon runners in Bandra soon woke me up. It was amazing to see so many runners in one place, pulling up in taxis, walking there, getting dropped off in swish cars by their mums and pint sized dogs.
When I signed up for the half marathon, and in the months that followed I read about how this was the biggest SCMM yet in terms of number of participants, how amazing the atmosphere of a Bombay Marathon is… but that’s all an abstraction… you’re reading it and nodding your head … but when you get there. And you see that many people and you feel that pulsing anticipation… that is something else.
To run on the Bandra-Worli Sea link at 5.50 in the morning on a cold (by Bombay standards) Sunday morning and hear nothing but the steady ‘thudthudthud’ of thousands of sneakers, punctuated ever so often by the rousing cry of ‘Ganpati Bappa Moraya’ (this is Bombay after all) …that is something else.
To see strangers give up their sunday morning snooze in to line the roads and offer you water, biscuits, chocolates and oranges and to have their kids wave posters they’ve made telling you that ‘It’s your day in the sun’… that’s something else.
To be able to run down Marine Drive to the beat of ‘Faaavical se’ and the ‘Summer of 69’ and then ‘Take it Easy’ all in the stretch of a kilometer … that is something else.
Like almost every one else in this city I complain often and bitterly about what is wrong with it. But today…Bombay showed exactly what’s right with it. It’s people, it’s spirit and generosity overwhelmed and touched me. And it made me realise that I do love living here. The next time I’m in a traffic snarl, running down this city I will try to remember the Aunty in her saree and sweater standing outside her apartment in Worli at 6:15am offering us a platter of jaggery and the runner carrying the tiranga and running with a prosthetic limb and the kids who jogged a little ways beside us and told us not to give up…and I will remember this is a good city at heart.
This last year training has taught me a lot about myself. I always thought I was someone who got bored of things easily. I thought I was someone who couldn’t always see something through to the end. Running proved me wrong. People ask me all the time.. why do you run? How do you run? Don’t you get bored? And I struggle to answer the question. But today I found my answer. As I crossed the finish line and looked up at my time and let out a whoop… I felt there was nothing I could not do. Nothing that was out of reach if I desired it enough and put in the time and effort to get it. That’s why I love running. it makes me feel like anything is possible.
Thanks to the organizers, the volunteers, the pacers and the crowds that turned up. Thanks to my family and friends who always made me feel like this was something I could do. Thanks to family for being so ridiculously proud of me. Thanks to Anand who called me from work (sometimes four times a day) to check if I’d gone for a run yet. Thanks to Abhi, who got me running in the first place. Thanks to every one who ‘liked’ and commented on the running updates I’ve been putting up on facebook this year. Thanks to Educo who got me the half marathon bib. And finally, thanks to everyone who made a donation to Educo and supported run. I haven’t spoken to some of you in YEARS and you still reached out and supported my run. I cannot say how amazing that is and how much your gesture helped me get up and run every day.
What more can I say? I can’t wait for next year!