Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Return of the native

I had cut short my narrative of the Mumbai marathon run in my previous post at the point of reaching the rest house. I shall cover the rest of the day in Mumbai and the three days thereafter today to catch up with the backlog.
My wife’s reaction was quite down to earth; she had been following the elite runners on the Starplus channel. I didn’t look very tired or injured, that could have been one other way of getting a over the top reaction. We went back to Tamil channel belting out music maestro Illayaraja’s hits after briefly discussing the photo finish at the Men’s open section of SCMM. This time around we had planned unlimited Rajasthani Thali for lunch along with my colleague and his family. The hapless restaurant, who I am sure would exercise his right to admission after I am through with his restaurant today, was Hotel Chetana. I recommend it to health conscious marathon finishers instead of beer guzzling.
I was able to change my clothes and get myself a pail of hot water for immersing my tired feet on my own. I seemed to have finished the race with lots to spare. I reclined on the bed with feet in hot water munching the refreshment received to the last crumb. I had finished the water and Gatorade bottle on the way to the Rest house itself. I finished my bath and got ready for the lunch.
We planned to walk down to the restaurant on the Fort road, a distance of about 2 kilometers. Keeping my handicapped status in mind, we left with lots of time to spare. We left at 12:00 for the luncheon appointment fixed for 01:30 PM. I limped behind my wife; still we reached the restaurant by 12:45. There were lot of people wearing marathon colours, I itched to reveal my identity and speak to the runners. It was as if I did not want the experience to get over, the feeling to stay connected to SCMM runners was overwhelming.
We found that the restaurant has a spiritual books section within, a case of chicken soup for the soul while you wait for guests to arrive. I picked up a lot of religious volumes. Everytime the manager came to look at us, I picked up one more book to show him that we had not come to avoid the Sun. The last book was ‘Code Name God’ by one Mani Bhaumik. This was touted to be a book which would change one’s life by Sidney Sheldon. I am thankful for my friend for having got delayed, this book was worth every penny of its price of Rs. 199/-. The incident of author’s meeting my hero Mahatma Gandhi itself was worth the entire price and more. This is a book which made me cry after a long time, particularly the scenes of sacrifice by the author’s grandmother of starving herself to death to save him.
My guests arrived and we let ourselves loose on the food served. My treatment of the Gujarati food, would have gladdened the Gujarati pride of Narendra Modi and he would have presented me the keys to Gandhinagar for the effort. The bearers competed with one another to serve me, the scene must have been reminiscent of Bheem devouring cart load of food before going o to quell the demon. When the time came to remove the plate, the manager commented that it was rare that somebody polishes his plate so clean. I told him loftily that I never waste food. The other three at the table were like three dummies on the bridge table. The price of Rs. 275/- was fully stretched, I am sure there would be a revision when I see them after next Marathon, SCM 2013.
We walked back to the rest house, I was in a food induced stupor, I could have slept on the D.N. Road, it looked clean and neatly cobbled. I slept for two hours like a baby. Evening we visited some colleagues and after a light dinner we left for the station to catch our train to Hubli. I was able to carry the luggage myself over the stairs.
We reached home after a comfortable journey except for the loud snores of our co-passengers. I was dead to the world. We reached to an enthusiastic welcome by Biscuit. I cycled to the Balaji temple about 5K on a gradient to test my thighs and to offer thanks to the presiding deity. I checked my timing and was a little disappointed at having missed 4 hour mark so narrowly. The strong performance of Bangalore gang, Pani Sir, Suresh, Bobby and Sundar and Srini from Chennai and Gerald was heart-warming. It’s a privilege to know the best in business on a day to day and first name basis. Thanks, Dailymile.
I had a good darshan of Lord Venkateshwara and a good ride. I was looking forward to the morning run the next day.

Having retired early the previous night, I got up at 2 AM and was able to post my blog of the cycling trip of the day prior to leaving for the Marathon. Biscuit got his morning walk and he was very meticulous in inspecting the grounds after three days of absence. Despite the leisurely walk by Biscuit, I was able to start for the run at 05:30 AM.
My thighs and the calf were a bit tight and sore, but, my breathing was very effortless; maybe, the clean air of a small town as opposed to the big bad Mumbai. I planned to do the full course of 15K upto my sunflower patch.
Due to the early start, the severe cold by Hubli standards, the street was deserted and dark. I felt good about being able to run so soon after the Marathon. I was myself surprised at my quick recovery and the good speed of today. I did not meet any of the regulars, neither the carnatic singer, Anoop nor the Raghavendra-Shaheed duo. They couldn’t have been expecting me today. The Masjid was deserted. The eagle at KM 11 did a slow fly past over my head, maybe, supplementing my victory lap.
I reached the half way mark in one hour 30 minutes flat and my breathing was unusually calm today. The sunflower patch were as usual falling to their death, but, today they looked like presenting me a guard of honour. The return trip was steady and I was very early to reach the municipal limits at 3KM. Was I too early for my school friends also? I saw my friend of ‘Come on Uncle’ riding with his friends to school. He wanted to show off his acquaintance to me to his friends. He waved at me and asked me if we can talk. I was all too glad; I was anyway starving for any human contact today. He asked me how far I run and why do I run every day. I told him I practice for Marathon and Ultra marathons and I run 30K every day. He asked me if I ran the Mumbai marathon, Star Plus has done its bit to popularize long distance running in India. I told him I ran it in 4 hours and that my bib number was 217. He aked me my rank, I told him the rank does not matter, as in his school performance. At my age, I told him, one runs for enjoyment and that one competes against oneself. For a good measure I gave him a small pep talk on enjoying studies and not bothering too much about grades. My bit to de-stress school for kids. He asked me what my age was, I said I am going on 50 and my B’day is coming March. For the day I set them a puzzle after asking them if they liked science. I told them I shared my birthday with the great scientist Albert Einstein and asked them to find out my birthday and tell me by the next day same time.
I finished my stretch in 3 hours 5 minutes and 15 seconds. I was pleased as a punch.

If I was very early yesterday, today I got very late because of catching up with my blogging in the morning. I and Biscuit left for the morning walk at 06:00AM. Biscuit was considerate and did not disturb me. I set out for my run at 06:30 AM; the moon was looking like a hammock left swinging by an angel who has just got down for her morning sojourn among the earthlings.
Today I wanted to crystallize my thoughts on why I run long distances;
Initially I ran long distance to prove that I have restored my lung to its original capacity after almost 15 years of tobacco abuse. Later it started growing on me, maybe, it was my equivalent of mortification of flesh for ennobling of the soul. Much like my hero Gandhi’s fasting.
 As far, comparisons with Murakami go, he started running to stay in shape after taking on a sedentary life style of a writer. With me, I faced a crisis of retaining the running mojo after cracking the 100K last November, it was when I posted my first blog of sorts, the enthusiastic response of my friends was intoxicating and now I post every day. Now, I am not even sure if I run to get material for blog or blog because I run. So, I blogged to keep running while Murakami ran to keep physically fit for writing. So much for psychoanalysis.
I met Anoop at the petrol bunk at KM 5, and told him of the results of marathon and gleefully accepted his congratulations. No Raghavendra or Shaheed, maybe, too late for them. The eagle was conspicuous by absence, maybe, irked by not getting footage in my daily dispatches. The Reliance OFC marker which was bent backward due to information overload of New Year greetings, had finally breathed its last, the pollution along the highway compounding the stress of over work.
 I was too late on my return to catch the school kids today. They must have been disappointed if they had come with the answer to the puzzle of my birthday. Will carry lozenges I got with the marathon kit for them as prize tomorrow.
I completed the run in 3 hour 10 minutes and 15 seconds, the breaks have come down and breathing is more efficient. Hopefully the good form should continue till my Auroville marathon.
Tomorrow I need to visit the Yamanur temple. Look forward to my cycling expedition and the secrets of Yamanur!

No comments:

Post a Comment