Acute pain in the left heel on Friday last brought nightmares of exotic injuries of runners. I did an ostrich and hoped that it would go away after a day’s bunk. Thankfully the weekend was low on mileage though not on excitement. The offending foot is better even if a bit tender!
Ginger walking around barefoot for Biscuit’s walk on Saturday morning confirmed that the heel was better, I was however, favouring my right foot and that could play up when the distance becomes more. I settled for a 32K to go it easy on my foot. As usual the only concession for any physical ailment is a cutting down on pace.
I left at 4:14 AM and kept a constant and mindful toe strike particularly on the left foot. That does have its drawback, the landing has to be softer as the toe portion is tender and even a small pebble has devastating pain potential when landing on the toe!
The weather was indeterminate with easy temperatures, but, made worse by humid and muggy conditions. I was feeling lighter in my pocket, but, heavier in my heart as I had no stock of banana peels to carry for my four legged friends.
I observed that I have been reporting timings from two different sources, start time and end time by my mobile and the Gandhi statue timing by its clock. It was 5 AM when I crossed the Gandhi statue and I felt guilty of my irregularity as I crossed the old man recovering from stroke who comes with a walker and a khaki clad assistant in tow. As if to mock my having come empty handed the cows seemed to be out in full strength.
It was nice to be running the Island ground loop after a long gap. A lady on the very heavy side was bravely running at an even tempo, her husband was following her on foot at a distance. The distance she ran could be only a few hundred meters, but, the stride was comfortable and I observed as I crossed her that her breathing was even. My sardar friend who has his mouth covered in having his moustache and beard in braid greeted me with an elaborate wave to be replied back in fauji perfect ‘Jai Hind’ from me.
Today must be the day of couples starting their run from the usual staid walks, another couple was attempting a short jog in tandem only to exchange smiles as we crossed. To start running is but a natural extension to regular walking and the twilight dawn does encourage one to experiment. Hope the spirit endures!
The thing with girls running from opposite direction is that in most cases I let the other person throw the first wave/smile (my idea of a no first use nuclear doctrine!). There is this girl who is a good runner and wish regularly every time she crosses, I mention her as she has a character role to play on my return journey.
It was 7 AM when I had completed my mandated two loops and was ready for the return journey. As I crossed the Mylapore junction, I crossed a big car parked by the side of the road, as I crossed it from the right hoping that no big vehicle comes from behind, I found this girl holding a full water bottle with the door open and flagging me down to have water. Now, I am not sure if this was the same girl who regularly crosses on our run.
I politely thanked her and told her that I don’t need water now and I would have some at AVM kalyana mantapam. As I was busy with this exchange Mr. Perumal (Auto driver whom I had introduced some episodes back!) stopped in the middle of the road and came out to talk to me. The exchange with him ranged from my job, salary, age and finally the purported ignorance of the girl in offering me water when I was on the run. He mentioned that he was 55 yrs and wants to run himself. He shared his place of stay (he had earlier mentioned as Auto borne, but, has since shifted to pavement outside Hotel Sangeeta). Finally, he reluctantly left after exchanging information on our star-signs, he seemed disappointed that I did not share his! It is amazing to see how much people share with you when you bare all and run! On my part I cannot imagine sharing so much of my personal information with even a friend/relative what to talk of an Auto driver. Running does strange things to you.
I finished the run at 7:41 AM, a little hobbled on my left leg and a bit stiff on both legs, but, reasonably better than what I had feared. My next day was to be attending the first anniversary celebration of Anna Nagar Tower Twisters. This was a promise to my dear friend Sathya Balan on which I could not renege. I was also a little relieved that this meant a shorter run (the longest event was 10K in their Anniversary celebration!).
Festive mood at Anna Nagar
I looked up Google maps and took directions from my daughter and collected the keys to the bicycle to make it in time for the morning event. On his part Sathya had confirmed my participation the previous evening itself.
When I came down at 4:30 AM after having sent Biscuit back after his walk for his second innings of sleep, I was comfortable with the time available as the reporting time was 5:45 AM and the distance was 7KM only. Bicycle and me have been a deadly combination in the past, today the villain was my eyesight (without the spectacle) and the darkness. Try as hard as I did, even in the light of my mobile, I could not open the number lock with which the bicycle was chained to the garage door. I even thought of seeking Shanmugam’s (our milkman!) help, but, decided otherwise.
Instead on waking up the household, I pocketed the keys and decided to run the distance. I thanked myself that I had started earlier. As a mark of caution with the strays on this new route, I kept my shirt top on even though it was getting very humid. I had to confirm the route with an ATM guard and morning walker at the Anna Nagar roundtana till which point I had a home run. I reached the start point at 5:06 AM much to the surprise of the organizers.
The place wore a festive look and the white markers were like the rangoli markings of an auspicious occasion. People had slowly started streaming in, the leg pulling and joking among the volunteers and participants was like what goes on among relatives in a big fat South Indian wedding. Soon I met Venugopalan Arunachalam sir and Sathya and I must have kept them from their work. Venu Sir was looking very happy much like the patriarch of the family proud of the size to which the family has grown and in the achievements of the members.
The age range of members present were from a three year old to 80+, it was more and more looking like the scene of a wedding. The picture was complete when a young boy brought his grandfather to be enrolled for the tenderfoot program (program for initiating people into running!) and a girl bringing her MIL for the same purpose. What better way to bury the MIL-DIL hatchet than both coming back tired and satisfied after a heavy running workout in the morning. Shahul Hameed, Bib Bala, Harishankar Krishnaswami and many stalwarts from other chapters of Chennai runners had come to join in the celebrations. I addressed the group and told them to enjoy their runs and not hurry through to full marathons and Ultras without savouring each run on the way.
I agree for flag off only if I am allowed to run also. I had a good run with Shahul and Hari and the most impressive runner was a young boy in red T shirt whom we could not catch till the end. The whole road was cordoned off and the place wore a festive look. People finished the run and lingered over the refreshments in groups in the park and outside. I did not want to leave ,but, the rising sun and the 7K back in increasing traffic was what made me get away. It was like a visit to family wedding for me. Here is wishing all the best to the Tower twisters and many more years of happy running! I returned home at 7:25 AM a little less than three hours after the start with only 24K to show ,but, with lots of fun and frolic!
Today’s run was again the usual 32K and I took 3:24 (4:14 AM to 7:38 AM)! Except for a run in with a morning walker near Gemini, who addressed me as 'Mappilai' and wanted to talk to me. I am usually talkative and don't mind a break, but, something in his tone put me off, the run was uneventful. I stopped, told him that i did not like the way he addressed me and that i would talk to him after a week if he is still interested and if he shows some politeness. I must control my temper!