Having abstained from running since the previous Saturday and having an opportunity to run with my brother, Muthukrishnan, I invited Sundar Purush for a 50K run on Christmas day. It’s a different matter that we two had conspired about this in the preceding weeks (no we had not consulted our better halves!). The plan was to run 50 kilometers and take the bus back home. My brother was to join us enroute and run back in time for his onward trip to Pondicherry later in the day.
We planned to start at 4 AM and run towards ECR road where my brother was to wait for us and join us for the onward run. My tooth and the toe being what they were, I was feeling like an Indian batsman hiding my fitness (or lack of it!) status. I was going for my morning walks in my slippers and was still not sure how the barefoot would feel on the road. Biscuit’s walk at 3 AM was with my slippers on. The Divas outside the Diva shop opposite the colony had decided to be in darkness and go easy on the controversial Christmas and wait quietly for the more secular New Years day.
Promptly at 4:02 AM, Sundar and I started on our run. We started at a slow pace mindful of the longer run planned. I was landing softly on my left leg and the toe was not flat and full in meeting the road. I did not know that this would have repercussions later in the run. The stretch upto Lighthouse being our home run meant we were doing it unconsciously. We spent the initial part of the run in discussing my injuries, Biscuit’s appetite and his trip to Bangalore.
We met Venky with his friend on the road outside his ATM, we did not tell him our audacious plan of the longer run (he would have clucked like the mother hen!). Vipul Kumar joined us soon after and he accompanied us till the Lighthouse. His plan was to run 25K and we had interesting exchange about our earlier run together in the Redhills in Peter’s event where we had first met.
We say well illuminated churches and excited devout thronging the streets. There were many youngsters on the road who gave me the now familiar cat calls seeing my unfamiliar attire. I am reminded here of what Ezhumalai my young barefoot partner of the TeraMerahRRRun on the previous Saturday told me today. He asked why I am not affected by people making fun of me when I run in my unfamiliar attire. I just told him that I only see it as way of engaging with me and that such introduction usually leads to friendship and mutual appreciation of position for people with whom I have repeated interactions. For the one off interaction, I find the pleasure that the other person gets as a way of my making his life happier. We reached Light house at 4:44 AM.
My tooth was holding and my foot was not too bad (I seem to be landing more evenly now!). Now we were on the route I had run the previous Saturday and this I was informed by Sundar was his usual route for many years. We did meet a few stray runners and cyclists on our way. We bypassed the Besant Nagar diversion and proceeded towards the OMR road. We crossed lots of runners who enthusiastically exchanged greetings. My brother meanwhile had reached the OMR road intersection from Madipakkam and started to run towards us on the OMR road. We met after the TIDEL park and after a brief introduction started to run together.
The last we two had run together was in the 50 K run in Pune and we had lot to exchange, but, the Doctor in him got the better of him when he inquired about the foot and the tooth. Thankfully, he took my word that All was Well! We ran non-stop till the Sholinganallur cross where we decided to take a water break and a little selfie session for the facebook. The shopkeeper obliged to be our cameraman and agreed to keep the unfinished bottle for my brother to pick up on his way back. The time was 6:46 AM. Refreshed after a break and drink of water we started towards the ECR road, the plan for my brother was to turn back at 7:30 AM so as reach his parked vehicle before 9 AM, his curfew time for his planned start to Pondy!
After a few minutes his top came off, and Sundar outnumbered two to one, promised more to himself than us that he would consider going topless when he gets fitter! We topless brothers surely must have been a sight to the onlookers.
In all this activity, my limp in my left leg had not been missed by the Doctor brother and the concerned foster son. They kept asking me if I am good to go on. Sundar took another drinks break after a KM on the ECR road (it was 7:10 AM). My limp was pronounced after the start after this break. The riot act was read out and I was shown the red card when we reached the Toll gate. Here again we had a photograph taken, 7:28 AM!
I appealed the sentence and it was suspended for half an hour, the revised plan was for us to return from the Toll gate. I bargained for running back upto the intersection where my brother was to turn back to reach his vehicle. I ran well or so I thought, I was also called Arnold Schwarzenneger by one of the kids working at a Tea stall (my trophy for the day!). We reached the intersection at 7:58 AM. We had run for close to 4 hours and the consensus was we must have done 35 KM’s. My brother cantered off to reach back to his vehicle and home and we waited for a bus to take us back. I came back with a dissatisfied feeling and the thought that I may have spoiled Sundar’s plan.
The ride back on bus was very comfortable as we got good seats and had ringside view of the fights in the bus and got to relive our past memories of the places we crossed. We ended the trip sharing the dates I had carried for the run and parted promising runs over the weekend to be gradually increased. Merry Christmas friends!