Well, I am back. I have done it. Third time. It went well, a bit of pain, a lot of joy, a few coincidences, and, at the end of it all, the usual feeling of achievement.
The story of the run is very simple this year. I had fun. Took it less seriously.
We managed to reach in good time, and make it to the special enclosure for chip holders. It was much better organised than the general junta enclosure. Mostly consisted of the serious runners. When we hit the start line it was just over 2 minutes from the start of the race (as compared to some 10 odd minutes last year). We did the usual obstacle race thing, avoiding walkers and other obstructive souls, up to Marine Drive. It cleared up real well after that, of course it helped a lot that we were somewhat at the head of the line. I was running with my friend V, who is also my training partner as it were. But we have discovered in the past three years that we have been running together that he is well ahead of me - in timing, leg strength, and discipline. I do well in terms of stamina, could match him, but he is definitely ahead. On saturday night I decided that I would do my best to stick to him, for however long I could, so that my time would improve. He did not seem to mind much so that was the plan.
Mentally, I was thinking I should stick to him up to the 11 km or halfway mark. But I could not. I lost track of him around 7 km itself, waving him on. I was doing a good pace anyway, when I hit the half-way mark, I must have been at my regular 6 min/km pace, as far as I could tell. Kilometers 13,14,15 were painful as usual. The slopes (I counted three this time!) were also painful but not as much as in earlier years. I could feel my strength on the slopes and also my breath was good. I did slow down somewhere here but not too too much, thankfully. The aches and pains set in, I fought them. While last year, it was mainly a cramp in the calves that was my downfall, this time, pretty much EVERYTHING was hurting. That point in the arches in my feet. My toe, which has been mysteriously injured for the past month, and which I had taped to its neighbour. My knees. Even what I consider my strongest part, my back, was complaining. Oh hell, I remember thinking, this race is going down. I had my excuses lined up. Lack of sleep (woke up at least five times for random things on Saturday night). Tough week (two trips to South Mumbai in my rickety Zen; waking up at 5 am everyday to catch up on work). The child having a cough and needing antibiotics and being all tantrum-y. Honestly of course, those things were irrelevant. The only excuse that would pass muster is that I had my period, raging, as it ever. My steady diet of extra calcium from milk, yogurt and supplements, should have helped, but only a bit.
Anyway I convinced myself that excuses are for pansies. I picturised my husband dissing the Indian cricket team, and Sania Mirza, and this and that person, for lacking the "Killer Instinct" and generally being Thayir Saadams. No way I was going to let go of the race then. I thought of the child, hopefully still asleep with its arms and legs all akimbo. I started reciting stuff. Anything I could lay my hands on. The Mukunda Maala (heres to Lord Krishna). The Vishnu Sahasranaamam (heres to Lord Vishnu). Multiplication Tables (which are more my usual fare). I thought of my dad, who claimed without fail that we only remembered god when the need was there. That brought a smile for sure. I convinced myself I was not remembering god. Like I would bother him (or her for that matter) with something as mundane as the running of 3 measly kilometers! Yes, lo and behold, I was at 18 km. That brought new strength and before I knew it I was at 20, and then I almost stopped again because there was this real loud helicopter hanging out and swirling the fallen leaves. But I did not.
The last 200 m (after the 200 meters left sign-board) were not 200 m really, thats my strong feeling, but maybe because I sprinted that part it felt like less. Don't know. Hit the finish at 2:17; which means I clipped 11 mins off of my last years timing to finish in 2:14. A little less than 6.5 minutes a kilometer. I allowed myself to pump my arms, I was happy!
I kept my eyes peeled on the Dream Runners, looking out for those giant shoulders. Somehow despite the rest of the gang being packed like sardines, they had given a wide berth to my husband. I bet they were scared of him! So anyway I picked him out relatively easily as he was walking to the start line but missed hitting his hand when he stretched it out saying Hey Kenny How much did you do? I sent him off to swim through the race and tried to penetrate the defenses to get my certificate.
The certificate thing was as messy as ever. Probably even worse than last year. But I found ludwig and one of these boys who work here. We lugged in line for a bit. I wolfed down this food packet they handed to me. Handed back transponder and they promised to mail the certificate later. Actually managed to meet a college junior. We exchanged batch dates and we found that our graduation years were: ludwig 1997 this guy 1996 me 1995. Total Auntie feeling but I recovered when this guy remembered me, and said OH You are Kenny the basketball player. OH YEAH.
On the outside, we found SrgntPepper, my husband and G. SrgntPepper and G were mouthing off at everything and everyone, I guess they were happy with their race! I was tempted to swear too but found that motherhood has mostly gotten that stuff out of me so I only got to bloody. Ah well. I had checked my bag, with my mobile, a banana, a photo of the child, and visiting cards of my husband and myself (for identity purposes) at the baggage thing. The token they gave me (of paper) had become naaassty thanks to putting it in my sock (I really do need clothes with pockets I guess) but they did not mind, they gave it back, that part was nicely handled.
We ate breakfast at Cafe Excelsior which is a small walk away. That rocked. I was thinking a bunch of eggs will hit the spot well. We all ate eggs. I asked for a tea without sugar, so harried waiter presented the tea with a flourish and called it too but then it had sugar. Oh well. It was still good.
On the way back, we thought we were so clever and all. The husband had bought return train tickets for all of us. We strutted into VT and climbed into a waiting train. Even found seats and admonished a boy (who was wearing the watch I wear these days, which belongs to husband) for throwing a bottle out of the window. But four stops before we were to get down we realised that we were sort of hemmed in. We started our movement to the door. Nice squeezing all around. One source of comfort was that in terms of smell we could take anyone on, all parts of body being equally capable of this feat. I tried to protect aherm delicate chest parts by having the bag in front of one of them and sticking the other one on to a sleeping baby. But then sleeping baby was carried by awake father and much wriggling of his hands later I was just glad to jump off at our station. I really should have gotten into the ladies compartment, idiotic move. Anyway we talked about how we had gotten that massage our bodies sorely needed. Haha.
At home, god bless them, my parents in law had a veritable feast with Aviyal and Sambar and Vadaam ready. I must have eaten about a kilo of rice. All of us passed out around 3 pm and the next thing that I could see was 6 pm. Thankfully the monster child had also woken up early and took this long nap just the same as us, did not wake up in the middle and scratch and wake me. Everything felt stiff and I felt enormously thirsty (not hungry any more). The arches of both feet hurt, and that was the extent of pain last night. Today that feels better too, and I hope that by Wednesday I will be ship-shape again, and back in my kick-boxing class...