By the time it was Friday, boredom over the monotony of the daily run had caught up with me and it was out of force of habit and Biscuit’s routine which saw me at the gates for the daily fix. The run was largely uneventful except for an invite for a morning cuppa of coffee by my good friend Jesudas when I crossed him near Saravana Bhawan, I managed to wriggle out without offending the good host pleading being on Vegan diet.
On my way back, a policeman in mufti (you can make them out by their khaki trousers and ample middle!) wished me when I was waiting for my turn at the water point outside AVM kalyana mantapam. He came back after going some distance and told me ‘one advice’. I thought here goes, one more guardian of law advising Hubli passenger to run off the road for personal safety! Seeing my disinterested face, he elaborated that he wanted an advice if I were not in a hurry. Now that’s more up my alley! He said, he had diabetes and asked what he should do about it. I explained to him that a diabetic is like a person without a fridge/bank account. They have no provision to save food/money. They are therefore to delicately balance the calorie intake and expenditure. I also prefaced my advice with a request to go vegetarian if possible as Non-Veg food was calorie intense. I patted his well to do middle (my white hair and six-pack permits me this luxury!) and said that he must slowly burn it up by going slow on the intake and increasing walks. He could graduate to a trot/run after the weight becomes manageable. He went away all smiles, well, all the best to him!
Weekend saw two organized runs, the Marina Runnerz first anniversary run on Saturday and some other event on Sunday where one side of the busy Beach road was cordoned off. I was there at both the events, the former with a formal invitation and the latter by accident!
Now, the Beach road has become like the AVM kalyana mantapam, an event every weekend, only the wedding parties at the latter and the sponsors/runners at the former change. Some of the runners are a fixture in these events.
The first event first, the Marina runnerz first birthday was well publicized with a daily countdown on the facebook. I had committed to the run to my good friend Gerald Martin Joseph and planned to keep it, even if it clashed with my having to receive my wife at the station (she was coming after a week’s absence and was lugging lot of goodies for me!). My wife understands which is my first love and does not compete for affection!
The scheduled time of the run was advertised as 5 AM and when I left the colony gates at 4:31 AM (after locking Biscuit in after his walk, he asserted his weekend right of a longer walk!). I was afraid that I would be late for the event. I met another runner on the Cathedral road and felt relaxed after he told me that I have half an hour’s cushion as they would be having warm up after 5 AM assembly. I reached in time and nicely warmed up to see a big group of runners from 6 to 60 enthusiastically stretching on the road behind Light house. Luckily for the runners, they did not let me address them and before I ran cold, the start was announced. I had the opportunity to meet ’88 batch IIT Bombay’ite Dinesh Victor, who also accompanied me in the initial part of the run before I stopped to feed a cow. I got out of the flagging off as I feel it should be by the oldest member of the running group which is being celebrated.
The inner road was a Marina torture on my soles which are used to running on the smoother walkway. Met Kanchan Ravi who was enthusiastically offering drinks as a volunteer, felt bad to refuse the smiling lady! Another lady on a bike asked for a photo which could not happen because of the missing photographer, a case of, runners raajee and no kaaji! The route was from Lighthouse to RBI and back. I was given a memento (it looks like the traditional sweet lime and coconut tambulam one gets after attending a south Indian wedding!).
I did not wait for the cake cutting and the celebrations to follow and excused myself to go for my second loop. I was flattered by her (the lady on the bike!) persistence when I found her on the route on my second loop. We did almost two kilometers from Napier bridge to Fort St. George ( must have made an interesting pair, a bare-foot/ bare-chested old man with a young lady in a full cyclist gear!), she finally gave up and my attention was caught by two old men who accosted me with the now familiar questions of age, kilometers run. They said with certainty that I would not have Sugar, salt, BP and cholesterol, to which I remember replying that I have all of them, but, hopefully in the right measure (watch out for them as these new found friends had a role in mediating in my brush with the over-enthusiastic custodian of the law the next day!). I had the company of few runners from Anna Nagar Tower twisters on Cathedral road who had come running to the event and were going back running!
I finished the run at 7:40 AM, a 3 hour 9 minute for 32K with decent breaks between the two loops, I must have overdone myself!
Came back to gorge everything in sight and started for my quarterly appointment at Railway Hospital for blood donation (it is actually due on the 14th and now I know 14th June was World Blood donor day!). I love coming to the Railway hospital for donation as they treat you as royalty every time. I have a confession to make, I am scared of the needle prick and use my influence to avoid the one prick before on the forefinger by the nurse to check the Hb% to see if I qualify to donate. To be really honest, more than the prick, the fear of rejection (I have once been sent back with Iron tablets a few years back!) is the reason for the trepidation. This time also I had fixed up with the Medical Director, to allow me to donate with checking before taking the donation. I got my long term doubt about the reason for refusing donor with Hb% below 13 clarified. Much to my relief, I am given to understand that, it is for the safety of the donor and not the donee! I did get my Hb% checked from my donated sample, it was a PB, a whopping 14.9% (I have been on Iron pills for the last few months, finishing wife’s supplies as they did not suit her!). I remember coming back and joking to my wife that with so much iron in me, I am in the pink of health and must keep away from magnetic personalities! I also learnt one more important fact, that the Hb% goes down by 100 basis points after donation. I have always felt good after a blood donation and make it a point to do so as soon as I become due (once in 3 months is what Doctors recommend!). The feel good factor is I am told due to the release of the hormone Oxytocin, the same which a mother has after childbirth. It finally gives the men a chance to play ‘Mother’. Theoretically, a person can donate once every quarter from the age of attaining 18 till one becomes 60, that means a maximum of 168 donations! I must have missed a few in the initial years, but, now knowing that retirement from this good deed is also not far, I go like a devout religiously every quarter.
The heady mix of Endorphins and Oxytocin made my day and I spent rest of the day eating and cosying up with my favourite author P G Wodehouse. Biscuit’s overdue bath was rescheduled to Sunday!
Organised runs have a knack of stretching me, more than the bad surface of the inner Marina road, I think it was the showing off to the youngsters which did me in. My left hamstring was sore when I woke up on Sunday. I dragged myself to the gate promising myself a slow and leisurely run. I left at 4:42 AM.
Imagine my surprise when I found Marina taken over by traffic policemen and one half of the road quarantined for the ‘Elite’. I stuck to my inner pavement even if it was crowded by morning walkers and the regular beggars dotting the sidelines.
By the time I reached Labour statue, I could see runners with Bibs and T-shirt with ‘Hindustan University’ emblazoned running alongside. The competitive animal in me woke up and without a care for the distressed left hamstring, I started to pull ahead promising myself that I would relax after beating the next person in front. Competition is addictive, after getting down on the road near Anna square Police station and having tasted the freedom of the empty road, I continued to run on the road right up to RBI and back. To be fair to myself, I refused the proferred water bottle and the shooting photographers informing them that I was not part of the paid seats, but, a part of free seat! I built up the race as of the Eklavya versus the Arjuna.
Though I was accepted and cheered for most part of the run ( I did recognize some Chennai runners!), a policeman (I later got his name as P Mani, not to be confused with ’Money’!) caught me by hand and wanted to offload me to the sidewalk. I would have gladly gone over at the next gap in the road as the road, though free, was hurting my soles, but, the manner of his confrontation got me into fighting him. I told him that he has been posted to keep the cordoned lane free of vehicular traffic and guide pedestrians crossing the road and he has no business to touch runners. I would get off in any organizer has a problem with sharing the public road which was largely sparsely populated compared to the sidewalk. The two gentlemen who I had met the day before were behind me on a bicycle and intervened on my behalf with the policeman. He let me go reluctantly. Having let many runners cross me during this scuffle, I ran quite fast after extricating myself from the arms of the outlaw. The traffic policemen on my running route are generally friendly to me and on that day also I got my fair share of admiring glances and clapping from the brothers of ‘P Mani’.
For my second loop, I kept on the walking pavement and while coming back confronted Shri Mani, who was suitably chastened. But, started on the wrong note saying that he did not know who I was and hence he stopped me. I told them that he has no business stopping any runner and I claim no special treatment. I told him that we will get to know each other better in subsequent interactions as I was too full of anger for him that day.
My left leg was revolting and could go on a Dharna any time, but, thankfully I made it to home safely even if limping. This aspect of organized run, which brings out the competitive beast in me makes me sad. No wonder when good friend Mathew from Soles of Cochin asked me later in the day if I would join their annual run in Kochi later in the year, I refused with conviction. To me it is now not only the commercialization, but, what it provokes me to do to my body. A violent act if there was one and definitely not acceptable from a Wannabe Gandhian!
Today’s missing the run and limping around is just desserts for my reckless behavior over the weekend. Hope its nothing serious and the Hubli passenger would chug along from tomorrow!