This past year, I have really gotten enthu about running, as the blog possibly reflects. The monster is also a bit older and a *lot* more independent of me. The move to Chennai added to the encouragement as there is a larger group nucleating over here; although I still miss my Mumbai running friends (and the campus) even after so many miles here. Anyway, so far, I only ran races in Mumbai, that too only the Mumbai Half Marathon, and whatever race they organised on my campus (which were not that many). This year was the first time I travelled some place where I was not living and ran in a race. This was the Mumbai Half; which I ran in January, after a chaotic Friday/Saturday. I did not think I did as well I could have, somehow, ran out of juice. I blamed the new route, I blamed the lack of sleep on Friday night (which is critical for a Sunday long run, of course). I was, of course thankful for the company and the dolphin's awesome homemade pasta dinner. But still, I was dissatisfied with my Mumbai performance, even if my husband and ludwig had not totally made fun of me and called the event 'an epic fail.' (Meanies, psssh I diss them both).
I bravely signed up for the Auroville half marathon, fully cognisant of the fact that it was just a month after the Mumbai. Usually after the Mumbai half, I lay off running for several months and do my other things, kick boxing and basketball and so on. I get back to running only after the monsoons are done and gone. Except this year, when everything has been turned upside down in my life and in my head! I am enjoying running more than ever, I don't have access to a half-way decent gym for any gymming activity, no kick boxing (actually I don't think any old kick boxing class will do; the one I had in Mumbai just rocked). So anyway, I was sure I could give it a shot. It was to be a grand family event. SuperT & Guns & I with our families. The kids would play on the beach. The spouses would catch up on rest and hang out with the kids. The three of us would run. Then we would hang out some more in Pondy, drink a few beers, and head back to Chennai. Such was the plan.
Plan-wise, if I may borrow a ludwig-ism, Epic Fail. Everyone pulled out of the deal. I was last (wo)man standing. The sensible thing would have been for me to ditch it. But hey, even Mumbai, I should have ditched, considering the last minute googly from husband. Sensible, I am not, I suppose. So I hung on, and decided to go give it a shot anyway. It was absolute chaos. But some roses bloomed in the midst of all the cowdung that was our plan.
1. One of my young friends, and a most favourite person, was enthusiastic to go, give a shot at the 10K. He is a new runner (sort of), and picking up so fucking awesomely that the experience would be perfect for him.
2. We had already paid up for hotel .
3. I had to redeem my Mumbai race performance at least partially.
4. I just wanted to run, really.
So set off yesterday after a very long bout of cooking (the cook having absented herself in the meantime & MIL being a bit sick). The day was boiling hot. The bus was late. A guy at the bus-stop was trying to convince us to take a ride in some shady car. I refused. A bus showed up. It went up to Mahabalipuram. We got off at the Mahabs bypass and started our wait for the Puducherry bus. It was boiling, and smelling of urine at the bus-stop. The bus showed up some forty minutes later. There were so many people waiting that I was sure we wouldn't get in. Managed to, however, only to find it crawling with people, including underfoot! What the hell! We had to stand nearly the ENTIRE way to Puducherry, and although its not really that long, the ride seemed interminable. Dude, why do I do these things? (Masochism and a random stab at controlling carbon footprint, girl).
Anyway, finally reached there, it was all dark, and the auto ride through the Auroville forest was pretty scary. I admit that despite my posturing and macho-ness, I was sure glad I did not end up going alone all the way and I had (such enjoyable) company. Although I was pretty bummed out because once we reached the registration place we found that they were not inclined to give him a running bib due to a registration glitch (my reg. was all fine, mercifully). I mean, I totally understand their view-point, and though its unlikely that I would have made the same call as them, in a similar situation, I agree that it was the safe and sensible thing for them to do. But I was super bummed out (as was he, probably more so, though he never admitted it, thankfully, I would have felt worse otherwise!).
Anyway, putting that behind us, back to hotel. Long interminable auto ride. Brr. It was cold in the forest. And a bit irritated that the auto guys were fleecing royally. My usual argument for auto fares that make no kind of sense, that one day if they live on my expense, its cool with me, did not somehow bite in my head in Puducherry. So hotel room, water all over bathroom, another room provided, room no. 7, which is awesome, because you know its my favourite number of all.
Dinner, and another crazy set of auto rides since the restaurant in the hotel did not invoke confidence. At least, went to the promenade & saw the sea and beach for having trekked all the way there. But by that time I was - Super Starving and Still Bummed Out about the running bib funda. Anyway the dinner was fun, and apt (Spaghetti Pesto) though not great tasting. And I made a new pre-long run food prescription for myself: 1 Beer + Veggie Pasta (Try it, let the nay-sayers say what they want, a good cold one is always good, and its a nice carbohydrate).
This morning, waking up at 4 am, I was hungry though I had eaten an entire plate of pasta (which is completely abnormal for me). I had no: Bananas, Bread or Coffee with me. Thanks to the plans falling all awry all over me, I totally did not plan for my early morning pre-run food. Got ready anyway, hoping some of the others that I was riding the bus with would have carried some extra food and I could get some from them. We walked to the bus-stop (the organisers had arranged a shuttle bus to take everyone to the starting point) and crawled in. I was not sleepy, though I had very little sleep on Friday night & last night. I was hungry though, man, I was hungry. Maybe I should add some bread to the above prescription. Yes, it now reads: 1 beer, veggie pasta, and hearty wheat/whole grain bread (yum).
We reached well in time. I found the loo (hole in ground baby!). I found bananas! I totally loved the organisers then, for having bananas for me! They also had water and electrolyte, which I avoided, because I hate the gluggy feeling inside when I run. Slight dehydration is good. The race was just awesome (but then I say that about all the races, don't I?). We ran all through Auroville, the forest, past some signposts that said windmill and sawmill and stable and I think I saw some cows somewhere as well. Of course, I was focussed. I had music in my ears. I could not sing along too much, felt like I was running a bit faster than usual (which was good, my target was to beat my own Mumbai time!). The arrangements were real good, the people offering the oranges and water and electrolyte so very sweet that it made me feel nice. And, as promised, water stations every 4km or so, which I mainly used to time myself and push to the next one.
I finished in something like 2:00 - 2:02. Which, ladies and gentlemen, is personal best, so real happy. My friend was allowed to run the 5km race finally, given a bib and everything, and he totally killed that race and came in something like fourth and wound it up in 22 mins (hats off, eh, I don't think I could run 5 k in 22 mins, even if I trained for years). I guess it would have been much more fun if he could run the 10k, but, hey, life is not always all like that, and you live and learn. One super enthu lady that I met there gave us a ride back so it was very peaceful getting back to Chennai in time for lunch with my family (cooked by husband and sis-in-law). Tried to sleep but still too charged up, just caught maybe ten minutes of shut-eye.
It was a wonderful experience, and I think this will count as my favourite running weekend in all. Thank you:
Enthu Lady & family for your infectious enthusiasm (and the ride)
Uncle from Bangalore for inspiring me to grow older but never give up running
Young friend for being there and putting up with me &
My homies, as always, for your encouragement, and pandering to my whims