I was cycling past the University. I glanced at that favourite piece of gadgetry on my left hand. 7:45, it said. Its been 15 minutes fast since inception. I like that. Like I like the blue rim. And the fact that I still cannot successfully time my laps with it [seriously, that part is a bit clunky and non-obvious, but I don't mind]. I am reluctant to upgrade to a Garmin, when I know I should, because that will mean relegating my precious Timex Ironman to the sidelines. I might have to wear it to work then, with my matching Adidas flipflops, and that, my mum would object to seriously.
I saw two guys at a distance. Runners, obviously. I mean, although they were walking. When we started in the wee hours, when it was still dark outside, I had seen that the group was some 20 strong. I figured it was two people from the group, couldn't tell yet who it was. When I pulled up close & saw them, I had to stop. The brain was still in euphoria mode, after my own long run [16 ish km; 1:45; 'lost my mojo at IIT' but still continued to run]. One of them is a 55 year old person. He wears a camelbak. Last time I saw him, somewhere near Besant Nagar, I was at kilometer 12 and he was at .. uhh... kilometer 30? He had started running at 3:30 am. This was about a month ago. Yesterday, he was walking, after a 'well deserved tender coconut' he said, having finished his long run - a baby one, in his book.
"You, are such an inspiration" I blurted out.
"Anyone can run, just have to wake up early, thats all" he said.
There you go. He runs a marathon every month. He races too, improving his times every time he is there at the start line. Chennai is not the best place to run. Its super warm, and incredibly humid. People stare a little bit, at your legs, and your chest. He doesn't make excuses for himself. I have had long, winding conversations with him, as you often do when running. I hope to have more of them in the future.
Sure, I am aging. Sometimes, I feel it in my bones, sometimes, in my head. I do hit the snooze, once in a while. I do sleep in, every few days or so, unintentionally, and beat myself up for it. I don't run a marathon every month. I do my best to be diligent with my long runs for the weekend, but I find it easy to redefine things, to suit my convenience. But on Sunday, after a very difficult couple of days, and 4 hours of sleep, I did *not* snooze. I reached a few minutes after the gang (messed up the location of the start, in my hazy state of mind). Did a sprint to catch up with them. Met two new guys, and we suffered through our run together, trading stories. A discussion about gadgets, upcoming races, statistics, 'Born to Run'. When I ran into him near the library, I could hold my head high, and return his smile. Sure, thats the secret. To be able to smile on a Sunday morning after a long run, secure in the thought that you did not snooze....