After laying to rest the ghosts of the injured foot and the infected tooth, I was looking forward to a full marathon to feel complete again. Sundar Purush had sworn in a text message that he would join me. Was at the gates at 4:02 AM, the usually punctual Chennai express was not to be seen. I know he does not carry a mobile and I did not want to wake up his wife by messaging on his mobile. I gathered courage and walked up to the police guarding the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission opposite our colony. I asked him to look out for a tall and handsome runner and if he waits outside the colony gates, he was to be given the message, ‘Hubli Passenger has left’. The policeman about a month back used to look at me suspiciously due to my strange attire and ungodly timings had grown to trust me and gave me a conspiring look signaling acquiescence to our plan! I left at 4:05AM.
Prospect of a solo run due to the absent Chennai express and Kakinada express (who had informed of his plans to go cycling on Sunday!) was staring me in the face. In fact I seemed to welcome it, some me time after a long time. Have never been able to switch off completely into self even if the partner is very silent and there is virtually no traffic. How I miss my NH-218 runs of Hubli!
I maintained a slightly lesser effort level to keep some reserves to go the full distance. As if to help me get rid of the extra baggage of the banana peels, I found a cow standing under the usually busy Gemini flyover. She must have heard about the Hubli Passenger and his treats from her friends, as she accepted the offering gratefully and proceeded to look confused in the busy junction. I could understand her confusion, as I have only just now mastered one route of the busy metro. These city bred cows and buffaloes are however smart as I have seen them comfortably negotiate the traffic on Beach road with the owner sometimes only a small boy following them at a safe distance.
I reached Lighthouse at 4:45 AM. I wanted to be back after completing the first loop by 5:45 AM in case Chennai Express decides to show up then. First loop was done in darkness and I took it easy particularly the stretch near the speed breaker where some speeding truck with jelly had strewn lot of pebbles. Some patch work of filling up small patches of damaged road on the Flag Staff road with carelessly dropped jelly with tar was a deadly combination for the feet. I hoped it would all be better in the next loop with daylight. It cuts both way, Sun will bring light, but, can the heat be far behind!
When I was finishing my first loop, I saw @sriku with two of his friends running in the opposite direction near the Gandhi statue. No Chennai express meant I was on my own. I decided to do both the loops of the island ground together so that it can be completed before the traffic picks up. Met Srikumar and company on both the loops. After completing the two rounds around the island ground, I reached Light house by 7:11 AM. Three hours and nine minutes for 30K, not bad!
The last stretch to Napier bridge and back was sapping with the Sun taking its toll and the monotony of same length being done made me mentally tired. The return trip home had two incidents worth mentioning, first was an Auto drawing by my side and as I was bracing for advice to run on the side of the road, I was pleasantly surprised to see the driver telling his passenger that I run 20K every day. I think I must update my current daily mileage to the Auto drivers association, but, it felt good! The next was a scooterist who passed me by mumbling something and as he crossed, he raised his hand over his hand making gestures. Again fearing the worst, I flagged him to have a discussion on which side of the road is barefoot friendly. He gave me a wide smile and said ‘Seven Pack Surya’.
I deserved a treat after this, it is then I spied the water spout outside AVM hall. In taking a water break I let go off another young runner who I have been tailing from Gandhi statue. I could barely catch him when he turned on Gopalapuram cross after the flyover. He did turn back to see me passing him and his smile of respect made my day. Reached home at 8:26 AM, hobbling on my left leg, the thigh seems to have taken the brunt. But, a 4:25 marathon was worth all the pain and anyway a full day of rest and wife’s delicious cooking awaited the warrior!