A clear day at the start and Sundar express arrived at 4:07 AM. It’s like the pilot and the co-pilot discussing weather before take-off at the start of the run. We set the run-meter (no gadget, just a target !) to 30+ today. Two loops of Lighthouse to RBI and back. Sundar’s concession to the old man since I am not sure how much I will run tomorrow with Raj at Sivan park in the 12 hour run. He repeated the direction to the venue from my place for the umpteenth time, am sure will again bother him for the final time and make a note of it on my mobile.
The initial stretch and similarly the final part of the run are harsh on my barefeet and I literally have to walk them on tiptoes! The air was cooler even if there was humidity. The taking off of the shirt was the excuse for the walk as we entered the Uttamar Gandhi Salai, I like this appellation for the father of the nation.
I asked Sundar what his speed for a HM was (that is the distance we do nearly, when we are RBI in the second loop!), he said 1:45, today we took 2:20, that’s what a Hubli Passenger does to Chennai Express. He assured me that I was not hindering his practice and he knows what he was doing. Anyway, I am still not confident of doing it alone, and running with a partner is a new experience which I am enjoying! Today, I was slower than my normal self, maybe, I was trying to turn my thoughts inwards, albeit unsuccessfully. I remember even on my very own NH-218, initially all my observations were on nature and then people and animals and finally it was myself. Doing that with a running mate would be an experience. Sundar is a quiet and contemplative person and our exchanges have come down to a minimum, mainly the weather or pointing out the cow of the day to receive the goodies I am carrying.
Reached Lighthouse at 4:48 AM (4:50 AM by his watch!), cow feeding happened smoothly, I called the chosen one today more gently and she responded, I met her across the fence as a guest meets a prisoner. She had the offering graciously and offered her forehead for petting, I like the way each cow does this after I feed them.
I will not banter about M S Amma any more, she has not taken to it kindly and maybe, shifted base. I will wait till Monday before confirming my worst fears. There was a good crowd of walkers and one runner crossed us from the opposite side of the road and waved. The footpath occupants were at their usual places, they were having a leisurely morning and sleeping late, today being a weekend.
Interestingly at the stroke of 5 AM (Sundar’s watch was 5 minutes ahead!) outside Presidency college, Thirukural about rain was being read out(something to the effect that rain is both food and used for making food!) and I had commented to Sundar that its ironical that they read out this passage after all the rain is over! As we crossed the War-memorial, just when we were reaching opposite the secretariat, large drops fell and a steady rain commenced, cooling the body and washing off the sweat. We reached the RBI at 5:22 AM (a little over 11K in 1:15 hrs). We ran on the pavement on the way back from RBI even though it was wet. We crossed a lot of runners during our run now. A group of runners were doing stretching exercises at the feet of Gandhi. We reached the Lighthouse at 5:50 AM (Sundar time!) A person followed us with very heavy footfall after the Gandhi statue and we made way thinking he wants to overtake us. He came alongside and said that this was his first day and that he wanted to run with us. Sundar explained the science of running patiently to him, he ran with us till the Kannagi statue. Sundar told him to persist with his daily run even if the body is sore for the first few days after the run.
Rain played hide and seek in its intensity and now had turned into a very mild drizzle, and slowly the Sun came from behind the clouds and mercilessly turned on the heat. Sundar had his usual drinks break while I said Hi to runners crossing me near the War memorial round about. We reached the Gandhi statue at 7 AM. The return journey was uneventful except a pillion rider with a sophisticated camera taking our photos when we were at the foot of the flyover. A tea stall regular was also commenting in the morning that we come to run daily. I am sure he will add embellishments and market us to fellow customers. Sundar, we are getting noticed! I reached outside the colony gates at 7:34 AM. I would be interested to see how long Sundar takes for his 30K planned for tomorrow while I find my way to Sivan Park for my meeting with the famed RAJ!