Today was to be a solo run and I planned to run at a leisurely pace to savour the morning. I was asked by a Chukku coffee vendor who was riding by my side for some time if I was walking!
I don’t know if any other runner has had this experience or is it special to this part of the country. I have been asked by well meaning fans if I was doing walking. Initially I used to take it literally and take it as a reflection on the speed at which I run. Any long distance runner would know that Elite runners call the lesser us lesser mortals as joggers and being called walker should be downright insult! Now I have understood that historically long distance running has not been in vogue in our country, but, making long walks for pilgrimage has been part of our tradition. I now accept this comment as a compliment and not as a comment on my speed and smile back in affirmation!
I had started my run at 4:08 AM. The episode about Raj Vadgama 10000 Km run and sharp divide among runners has left me quite disturbed in the last few days. Since i am not very comfortable with the comment format on facebook to do justice to the issue and already so much had been written, i did not comment there. But, i need to say what i know and feel. I had run with Raj when he came to run in Chennai. I was with him for about two hours only even though i had promised to run 12 hours with him as the venue was not barefoot friendly. I noticed that he had reduced quite a bit physically since I had seen him in July last year when we had run together. I remember having asked him as to how his run is being monitored/verified by the Guinness book people. While the jury is out on the distance run, but, I am overwhelmed by the grit and commitment shown by him to be at it for the last five months. While the original idea of covering the entire country would have been a good motivation, but, to keep running day after day to just tot up a certain distance would have been numbing. The only instance I remember of counting my runs was during the year before last when I kept count of number of marathons run to get to the magic figure of a hundred marathons in a year. The attempt had given me lot of publicity and even though my claim was not questioned, one senior runner had commented that these were not monitored runs. I specifically remember the joy going out of the runs once it became a mechanical job of meeting a target number of runs.
I for one have taken to running as a hobby. Even though competitiveness is all pervasive and natural, but, for longevity of interest in the act and using running for a higher purpose of becoming a better person, I have found statistical records have to be kept at a distance. It is like the Gita advice of performing action without attachment to the fruits of the action.
Today in my second loop from Napier bridge to Lighthouse, I met Vijay B (since his name on facebook is in Russian/Bulgarian, I am not able to tag him!) at Labour statue and we chatted while we ran together. We regularly cross during our morning runs, he enquired about my foot and tooth and hence I knew he was a reader of my blogs! Interestingly the topic of discussion was once again on why I have decided to keep away from paid events/organized runs. Looking to the cut throat competition and the level of commercialization in the field of long distance running, I hope to hold on to my vow of staying away from the hurry-burry of competitive events. Despite the leisurely pace, I finished at 7:28 AM which means at yesterdays pace almost (in long runs it all evens out in the end)! Looking forward to long runs over the weekend!