I have fallen back on my blogging for more than a week now. Now I realize how difficult it is to stage a comeback after a layoff, or, is it the writer’s block? I decided to start again on the auspicious occasion of Republic Day and try and catch up on old runs if time permits. As I could see from all fellow addicts of long runs, I also tried to work backward from the time of the function and time required for the run and Biscuit’s walk. The wake up time required was 02:00 AM; I quietly set the alarm and went off to sleep early after declining to attend a function the previous day evening. I quietly woke up at the appointed hour, completed hydration by 03:00 AM and looked at Biku for the walk, he obliged enthusiastically, a patriotic dog! Without realizing the pressure of time we were operating in, he decided to have his full quota of his stroll in the Golf course. The moonless night was daunting and a little scary, but, Biku with his keen sense of smell did not need any guidance in his familiar territory. It was 04:00 AM when we returned home. Hurried change of clothes and a little delay in waking up the guard at the colony gate later, I was on the highway at 04:21 AM. I had to return at 07:30AM at the latest to make it to the RD function. It was going to be like a tight one-day match today.
The majesty of the star spangled sky on a very clear morning was on show once I crossed the HDMC (Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation) limits (KM 3). It was as if the school kids had deserted their morning assembly to come out and cheer me on my die-hard attempt at the run come what may. The Head-master’s (read Moon’s) absence let them have it their way. Maybe, the view was exaggerated because of no other sights, except a few stray city-lights at a distance, to distract.
A vehicle pulled up next to me on the other side of the road after persistently honking for me to stop. The driver and the gentlemen were very arrogant and brash in their enquiry; they were trying to find the way to the Police station. The arrogance probably stemmed from their coming from a big city and their riding on a plush car. I was tempted to ask them to take a walk, but the atmosphere and the occasion of RD got the better of me and I guided them. They took it as their due and pushed off without even bothering to thank. I only wished them ‘Get Well Soon’ in the true munnabhai style and continued on my run.
I had to strain to catch the kilometer stones as I crossed them. I took my usual biological break at KM 4 after the climb. I decided to request the approaching truck drivers to move a bit to their right to let me maintain my course, luckily, most drivers obliged today. I was required to come back to the edge of the road only after I saw the danger mark of the white stripe of the middle of the road. I needed all my concentration to maintain my course. The persistent barking of our friend Kalappa’s (the shepherd of organic manuring fame for the uninitiated) dog told me that I had crossed KM 7 and Anup point. I couldn’t make out in the dark if the dog had been deserted, the barking sound got louder and closer. Without even the false security of the city lights, I jettisoned my Gandhian leanings in the face of grave personal threats and armed myself with a stone for defense. Luckily my faith was not tested and the dog gave up on me as having crossed his territorial boundary.
Due to the early hour of my run today, I had planned to call Raghavendra (my constable aspirant running mate of KM 9 for the novices) to join me on my way back. I didn’t want to add his parent’s curse to my wife’s on my morning run of today. Lights were on at the masjid at Kusugal in anticipation of the faithfuls arrival later. A few plastic pots had already taken their place at the culvert like reservation seekers outside PRS offices. To keep my motivation going for the run without the luxury of my friends of Kusugal village I set my mind on things people have been persistently asking of me on my motivation for my daily 30K runs.
I quit my smoking addiction on 10th August, 2000 at 08:00 PM, to cope with the emptiness and associated sleep disorder, I took to running. It was a struggle to reach the first 3K mark, thereafter, as in my smoking career, I needed a bigger fix every passing day (read longer run) to get my kick. I don’t know at what point this habit initially started to fill in my emptiness on quitting smoking became an end in itself. Subsequent interest in Gandhian way of life and attempt at spiritualism (I read somewhere that long distance running is like meditation), the addiction kept growing. Today I am at 30K per day. I have set my sights on 42K a day by end of this year and try and graduate to bare foot running. The recent affliction of the writers bug has also fed on the running in a mutually positively reinforcing way. Engrossed in these thoughts I had crossed the sunrise point (culvert at 11K, my Worli Sea Link). I took a few snaps to match Brojen’s night run pictures, not sure if my mobile camera is good enough to capture the images. I rang up Raghavendra sensing that I have 6 KM to go before I reach his house on the way back. I told him that I will meet him in another 35-40 minutes and that he could accompany me from KM9 to KM7 and a little beyond.
Nothing was visible of the desolate Sunflower patch. I was spared the agony of reliving the cruelty of the farmer (the knowledgeable agriculturists in the readers must excuse me if this is the normal method of extracting oil-seeds from sunflowers). It brings back painful memories of scenes of pig-rearers taking hair from the pigs napes by pulling them one by one off the squealing pig’s neck after few men have pinned it down. I was reminded also to quickly plant the seeds I had collected and bury the flower in the patch at home. I had reached the half-way mark at 06:51 AM, a satisfying time of one and half hour and not much sweat today.
I kept my eyes skinned at the road ahead to stay on the side of the road without veering off the road. I could make out the form of the cat which had died just after KM 13 (It seemed to lost all its nine lives just when it was about to cross over the unlucky KM 13). I hope it got another 9 lives in the next level like in a video game to march further in its progress to salvation. Suddenly, as I approached the culvert at KM 11, I could hear heavy breathing and loud thudding of feet. I was pleasantly surprised to see my ward who had reached KM 11 after starting at KM9. I congratulated him and gave him corrective tips on breathing style and landing lightly on the toes. He was enthusiastic and wanted to accompany me back upto his house, Will he do his 5K for the first time today. He struggled but in his absorption in the persistent chatter by me, we reached KM 9 and his house. We had done the distance in 18 minutes, very creditable considering the distance run by him in total. We met Shaheed dressed in his prayer gear going to the mosque, he was disappointed in having missed out on the run. Shaheed was mighty pleased at my greeting of ‘Salaam Valaikum’, to which I got a lesson in correct diction in his reply of ‘Valaikum Salaam’. My revised timings of earlier run after re-joining office have been clashing with his Morning Prayer time. I don’t know how we would be able to run together again. I must find out from Raghavendra if they have a break day for prayers!
I was having a good run today with having got company for the dreary stretch from KM 11 to KM9. With only my second water break at KM 8 I was within sights of Anup point. I saw Kalappa and his herd of Sheep still trying to nurture back the barren plot to health (the plot must be severely undernourished to require such prolonged treatment). There was no sight of the belligerent dog of the morning. I saw Anup running steadily from the opposite side towards KM 7. I called out to him to join me on the way back if he had done the distance and if I was not too slow for him. We ran from KM7 and I loved the company. I gave him my complete bio-data from place of origin to my career to date. He had lots of questions starting from the obvious one of whether we should breathe from nose or mouth. This must be the single most important concern for newbie runners. I don’t the final say of the pundits on this, I however, told him that I inhale from my nose and exhale from my mouth. I told him to take looong breaths and for effect repeated the story of human life being ordained in number of breaths allotted at birth. Shorter breathing leading to earlier demise (I have Baba Ramdev’s sanction on this). I also told him to go for toe strike and landing softly on his feet. I pulled off at KM 5 after I found him pulling me back from my 07:30 AM finish. We parted after exchanging our facebook names. So I have one more friend!
I met some school kids in NCC uniform rushing to be in time for the RD function. I wished them
Happy RD and was enthusiastically responded to. I made it a point to greet all kids on the way. Such was my mood today that I stopped to take a picture of a Traffic policeman standing in front of the Flag hoisted on his station and wished him. Was I tring to insure against future traffic violation?
I finished strongly and reached my colony gate at 07:29 AM, a time of 3 hour 8 minutes, sure Pani Sir would be proud of me!