There are two Vitamins absolutely essential for runners sustained interest in the sport. The first is the Vitamin ‘C’ or the crowd cheers. This is the ingredient which explains an improved performance in an event over the normal practice runs. This keeps the runner hopping from event to event. The other ingredient is what I call the Vitamin ‘E’ or the Endorphins, this is internal secretion and is produced after the runner has run for a bit. This explains the usual lethargy before a run and the high one gets once one starts running. The latter being produced internally is lasting and more satisfying. But, there is a catch in this, the Endorphin secretion per kilometer run goes down with time. As the addiction (passion if you please!) progresses, the runner requires to log more kilometers for achieving the same high (have I made it sound like an addiction?). It is not without reason that it is called the mother of all addictions.
All is well with the Hubli Passenger and even though it is nowhere near the dream run it had in Hubli, the last week has been truly satisfying! It logged 32+ K on weekdays and FM’s each on the weekend days. As to lack of reporting, the office has silenced the pen. Today’s write up shall summarise the highlights of the last three days;
Having met the senior IRAS (Indian Railway Accounts Service) officers, serving and retired, the day before, where my first DRM (Divisional Railway Manager) and FA&CAO (whom I met after a gap of 20 years) also came was very heartwarming. Most of the retired officers were sprightly and fit and made one feel good to plan a long second innings. The long list of obituaries for the colleagues who left us in the last year was as usual extremely saddening. Had a minor GI issue after the lunch which threatened to spoil the Sunday’s run party.
My nephew turned up in the night after his Inter-school badminton tournament and accompanied Biscuit and self for the morning walk. As a concession to the youngster and the lateness of the hour when we turned in yesterday night, the Hubli passenger was rescheduled by an hour. Shanmugham must have come at his usual hour (my nephew was suitably impressed with his routine!) and must be into his well earned weekly rest by the time Biscuit, my nephew and I walked out to a cloudy and breezy day for the morning walk at 4:15 AM. My nephew got a lot of unsolicited advice on pursuing his passion without being swayed by peer pressure. Sundar Purush had taken the day off as his daughter was having a cranky day after her vaccination. I am sure he must be green with envy at not being able to run in such a wonderful weather.
I started the run at 4:52 AM. As I turned into the Nungambakkam High Road, I remembered the incident with a bunch of workers (young boys) who were working there on the day before last. As I had passed them, one of them had called out saying, ‘mad man’. I had come back agitated and threw my age at them and informed them that digging muck at odd hours was as much a mad man’s activity as running half naked. Suitably chastised, one of them pointed out the boy who had commented and forced him to apologise. It all ended well as they all cheered me as they crossed me later, the offender was the loudest cheerer.
This incident had set me thinking, are we all runners not mad? It is a different matter that more so called civilized call us ‘amazing’, ‘inspirational’ etc., they all mean the same, we are out of the normal 3-sigma bell curve and to a evolved soul it should not matter which side of the bell curve we are out of!
Today I met the ladies, Sita Viswanathan and Harishankar Krishnaswami ‘s wife (I shall call them the Ladies special henceforth for brevity!)walking with their team on the flyover. We exchanged some Vitamin C! I have been meeting a couple on the flyover on some days, they come fully dressed in running gear and do their walk very early. In addition to them, I usually see a man (he is daily) walking down on the opposite side. He is still to warm up to the Hubli Passenger’s waves in the morning. Their company makes the lonely morning lively, otherwise, sometimes I get scared that the MRF man in the Ad holding the heavy tire in his hands could drop it on me! The HSBC bank was lighted up today, is the secret list of its who’s who being compiled!
Venky was waiting at the road outside the ATM for me. After enquiring about our wellbeing and my partner’s absence, he got down to business! It seemed his attendance was not tallying with only 29days being shown against him when he has never absented! I pleaded that I haven’t brought my spectacles and would not be able to read without them. I don’t know if my certificate (an FA&CAO’s count to 30 surely will not be disputed, even if the finances of the railway does not speak highly of our skills!) could bail him out. We shall have to wait till Monday morning!
There was plenty of activity around the tea stalls owing to the later hour, some more Vit. C! The guardians of the law who keep the drivers of the metropolis under check were barricading one side of the beach road. I was interested to know which event it could be! Reached Lighthouse at 5:36 AM. When I reached near Labour Statue, a group of runners were coming from the opposite direction. They all had a bib on, but, the event had no signboards or publicity, Hmm, the mystery deepens! When I get Vit. C, I don’t count trees, encouragements threw out and back thick and fast.
The loop around the river Cooum was nice, maybe, I am getting inured to its stench! The smartly turned out Guard and the army man who sweeps outside the Lt. Gen’s house acknowledged the Hubli Passenger. New incumbent had taken over and his name was shining in reflected glory. This loop has now given me lot of friends in the defence, the earlier race notwithstanding. Their way of greeting you is not the usual ‘over the top’ one of our civilian kind, and, they take longer to befriend you. There was this smartly dressed lady in white on a bike who crossed me in each of the three loops twice, which means, I maintained a good enough pace!
Warm smile from Srinivasan of the uniformed kind, guarding the War memorial, is always like greeting the Sun. I crossed the Ladies special walking back, on asking why the Ladies special is walking, I was informed that the day’s quota was done. I admire the discipline of these runners who neither do more or less than what the coach orders! When I was about a KM from reaching the Light house, I saw Balaji Subramanian running from the opposite direction, I got a war cry ‘Hubli Express!’ from him. Resisting the temptation to turn around and join him, I moved on. Next I saw Bib Bala coming down Beach road, now his path cannot be crossed. I turned around and joined him (for the cricketers in us, this loop will technically count as a short run!). I then saw Srikumar Rangarajan and Neville J Bilimoria (of the Dusk to Dawn fame!). I congratulated Neville on his successful conduct of the D2D event and told him that I have been telling my Boss that I know Neville. We had a hearty laugh and shared some time running together! The running stars had truly landed on Marina today. I came to know that they were recc’ing for the TWCM to be held next Sunday. I found this little over the top, to have so many people run for recc’ing and that too with Police bandobust (I remember the more subdued recc’ing done by Dharmendra Kumar and Nagaraj Adiga for the Bangalore Marathon!). Chennai does things in style and from the patience of the traffic, the Chennaites love their running and runners.
Well I don’t mind the company when it comes to running. I was having a heady cocktail of Vit. C and Vit. E today. Meanwhile, Met. Department was saved the blushes by the weather gods sending a few light rains (if you can call it that!). I hope the monsoons arrive and give us runners the joy of running in the rain soon. Sundar and I have planned a 50K run on next Sunday on the ECR road. Now, we want this to be a self supported run. We need to cross the TWCM route before Chennai wakes up to the mega event. I need to keep myself away from the party lest I gatecrash on the TWCM day!
On the way back, I had an interesting encounter with a traffic policeman just as I was climbing down the flyover. He summoned me with a beckoning of his finger. I controlled myself and went to him wearing my smile. He launched into a monologue reading me the riot act about running on roads. After he had vented himself, I asked him if could get in a word edgewise. Clearly, the officer did not believe in conversation on the ‘joys of running’ as the early morning diet with a day of heavy traffic. I must catch him on some other day when he is more receptive to my charms (I felt bad that i could not even get him to become my fb friend!). It pays to have friends in Traffic police.
Today’s run ended at 9 AM, a 4:08 FM (a little over 1K less than that counting for the short run!). For the record books, Hubli passenger ran 4:20 FM yesterday and 3:29 and 3:31 32K+ the previous two days. More than the timing, what is satisfying is that I have been able to run the full week even if the mileage can be improved. I may have successfully check mated the traffic chaos and the Sun. Let us see if the tempo can be sustained.