Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The hardest, most satisfying thing I’ve ever done

Regular programming should hopefully resume now at Balancing Life. The past few weeks have been hectic, and quite eventful. I ran and completed my first marathon this Sunday, when I survived the Dallas White Rock Marathon.

Why did I do it? Well, I really wanted to run this marathon for a great charity, and wanted to raise ~2000$ for them. To do that, I had to do something challenging, and believe me, the marathon was more than that. But by doing this I’ve learnt so many lessons.

The marathon itself was an incredible experience. There were nearly 20000 runners of all ages, shapes and sizes who ran either the full, half or relay marathon. I thought the weather was good, since it had suddenly become warmer. But there were very strong head winds and a humidity of nearly 85%. At the start we felt fine running, but as the miles wore on, the conditions began to take their toll. I had trained hard over the past 2-3 months, and hoped to run at a 9 – 9:15 min/mile pace, which I kept up for the first 17 miles. But as we reached the lake, the wind became increasingly nasty, and though I kept hydrating at all water stations, I was beginning to feel the effect of the humidity. We had some hills to run at mile 19-20, and soon after I negotiated them, my left leg started cramping. A friend of mine (who wasn’t running the marathon) met me at mile 20 and decided to run the last 6 miles with me. As the cramps got worse, I had to slow down dramatically, but he kept talking to me, encouraging me to keep moving. I did, and finally we saw that finish line and the huge crowd that was there. Running across that finish line was amongst the most exhilarating moments of my life. I was so exhausted at the finish, and could barely walk up to where they were handing out the finisher medals, but boy, was I happy to grab that! Along the way, as I ran, I saw so many incredibly inspiring sights.

There was an old woman (in her eighties, the oldest runner in the race) running a half marathon. Her T-shirt read “a model in 1932, and still running”. There was another man who ran the half marathon. He had no legs, but ran with prosthetic limbs. There was a small group of 5 people, mom, dad and 3 teenaged kids, running the half marathon with T-shirts saying “A family tradition for 10 years”. Up to mile 19, a gentleman in his early 60s kept pace with me, and then, as he couldn’t keep up any more said “you’re not too bad, are you”. And I am a good thirty years younger than him! The crowds that came by to cheer the runners as we ran around Dallas were fantastic, and made every runner feel special. And of course there were those elite international runners from Kenya and various other African countries running up in front at blinding speed. One can only look at them in awe and wonderment.

All this running has also brought so much discipline in my life. Long runs take a lot of time out of the day, so one has to be more efficient and organized with all other work. Of course, I’m incredibly sore after the race, but overall this running has dramatically improved my health (and helped me get rid of that little paunch that was embarrassing me). My diet has subconsciously changed, and I can’t bear even the sight of fried food any more. There are lots of carbs and protein in my diet now, and lots of fruits and vegetables as well. While I still indulge in some sweets, my body now demands only good, wholesome food. The only occasionally acceptable alcohol any more is a rare glass of red wine. And the best part of it all is that after a long run I can pretty much eat whatever I want to (each mile run burns about 100 calories), but only want to eat healthy stuff.

Most important of all, thanks to incredible support from friends and family, I was (more or less) able to reach my charity fundraising goal, and know that it has made a small contribution in helping a bunch of kids read (and I know the money goes there, because I make it a point to visit and spend time in those projects ever time I visit India). If this doesn’t give a sense of satisfaction, nothing will.

8 comments:

Yayaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yayaver said...

i was waiting for your brilliant post from 1 month and u come up with running for charity.But if ur family and friends are in support of you than who am i to oppose..

Ashutosh said...

Kudos...that's quite an achievement. Definitely among the harder things to do in life.

Kevin said...

i ran that race as well and way to hang in there with those conditions.

Sunil said...

kevin......that was a hard race, wasn't it?

Thanks Ashutosh.

Yayaver....sorry to disappoint you, but keep reading, and I'm sure the subsequent posts will keep you engaged.

Anonymous said...

Sunil,

Most of us south indians must be running, if not for charity, at least for our health

Rora-hasso

workhard said...

Running a marathon is a big thing, good job...

BPO work from home

Aparna said...

Thanks for this nice post.