Monday, September 15, 2008

Should you run?

For all the years I have known myself, I have wanted to do many things like being able to sing, dance etc.

But I never wanted to run. I hate running. I can't run. I had mixed feelings regarding people who run- pity plus indifference. ‘Tsk tsk, whatever dude’. Sane people run when chased by dogs.

‘Congrats!’ I effused to my friend who completed the Marathon.

‘You can do it too,’ obligatory punctuation followed.

‘Why should I run? No marathon shit for me! In the end what have I achieved? Breathlessness? Naah! ’ I tried to sound positive and sensitive to what he had achieved.

‘Try a half marathon,’ my friend would besiege assuring me that I could definitely do it considering my fitness level and so on. As pandering as it was to my ego, I couldn’t see myself indulging in such a mindless activity.

‘Half Marathon? Yikes! Why would I ever do half of something when I can very well do the full? I would rather run a 5K than something that is called ‘half’ of something. So demeaning!’

‘Call it a 13.1 mile race then.’ He was postively giving me a headache.

‘Bah! It doesn’t just sound cool. I would rather bump my head on a railroad track.’ I despised running.

Just a day (24 hours) after this conversation, I signed up for the half marathon on some whim proving that I can't stand up for what I stand for. I had discovered runners high. I couldn’t stop running and couldn’t explain my predicament to the other non-runners.

Between my training sessions, I had to make a two week trip to India. And I had to run.

The first day my mom was shocked to see me up at 5 am, tying my shoe lace. The last time I woke up at 5 am was when …ermm.. there was no such recorded incident. It was required as it gets too hot after 6 am. Before she could stop me, I was out of the door running in the community feeling on top of the world. This would be great. Being used to run in long stretches on a trail along a river (in my backyard) with squirrels and deer scrambling past, in Bangalore I was encountered with roads that led to other people’s gates. I would have to make an abrupt U-turn just to face another dead end. I was running in a freaking maze- in the dark, bumping into the same house again and again. Out of nowhere, seven neighborhood stray dogs congregated and ran after me. There suddenly seemed to be a point in my running...and running fast! I somehow found my way and bolted into my house, breathless, just after scaring the living daylights off an aunty walking with Nikes and a head scarf. I just barely managed 15 minutes and had enough for the day.

My mom was wringing her hands in fury, ‘What is wrong with you? Why are you running like a mad woman? What will people say? We have to live in this neighborhood you know. You didn’t even have breakfast. What if you fainted?’

Day 2- I decided to run outside the gated compounds of this colony to keep my sanity and my mom’s name intact. So I snuck out early and ran along Bhanerghatta road towards this Shiva temple I knew to have a long secluded road. As I ran, people stopped what they were doing and their eyes followed me till eternity or till the awkwardness stopped (whichever came faster). I almost got run over by a few autos. Avoiding running over some kids sleeping on the ground, I leapt into a garbage dump. If I was training for hurdle race, this would have been so worth it. The secluded road did give me a few jitters when strange people appeared out of nowhere. But I managed a good run that day inspite of the locals wondering what ‘Goddess’ got inside me. I got back home to a livid mom.

‘Where were you? Its 2 hours since you left! I sent your mama in search of you. Stop running. Or if you have to, you better not go before the sun rises! It’s not safe.’

Day 3. Out of despair, I called up a few elite runner friends in Bangalore and got their advice on options. ‘We usually drive to Turali (which is 1 hour away) and then run along this beautiful stretch uphill. Sounded good to me. Plus I would have human company.

‘Can you pick me up from my place?’

‘South Bangalore eh? Then we’d have to wake up at 3 am.’

‘Holy Bambolee! I don’t think I can get permission to leave home that early. You see my mom is more used to me staying out till 3 am. She is having a hard time dealing with this. Plus the watchman would think I am eloping. Too much drama. ’ I was bummed and thought about Pittsburgh fondly when I could run in abandon anytime I wanted.

Day 4. My mom piled on pooris and aalo subzi on my plate and insisted I eat before going off to the gym. The gym, we decided, would be ideal given the situation. I sauntered off whistling towards the community gym letting my mind wander over the feeling I was going to get after the workout. There were at least dozen men in the gym and the swimming pool just sitting around in their hunches staring at me, some brushing their teeth with neem twigs. I smiled and they all just froze mid activity. They were caretakers and not gym users. I walked into this empty gym with rusting equipment. I opened the windows to let some breeze in and walked over to the treadmill. Hmmm….no treadmill. I looked around in vain and went out to ask one of the guys about the mystery of the missing treadmill.

‘Woh andar hai memsaab’ (It is inside)

‘Accha, Dikhta hai kya?’ (Is it visible to naked eye?)

The guy (who is apparently the caretaker or manager of the gym) walked in and scratched his head.

‘Kya bola apne?’ (What did you say?)

‘Treadmill on which you run.’ I did some running action to drive the point.

‘Agar aap kehte hai, toh nahin hoga.’ (If you say so, it probably isn’t here) ‘Aap dumbbell kar sakte hain memsaab’ (You can do dumbbells)

‘What do I do now? Can’t run outside, can’t run inside.’ Crestfallen face met puzzled face of Bahadur Singh.

Bhagna zaroori hai? (Should you run?)

PS: In spite of the Universe trying to conspire against me, I finished the Pittsburgh IKEA Half Marathon on Sept 6th in 2 hours 34 min. I wasn’t the last person to finish. There was a 10 year old. Yippee! Now if I had dogs following me, I would have had much better timing for sure.


Rationale said...

I bet you'd have done better had there been stray dogs in Pittsburgh!

I just run with my dog these days. (Forced to more like ...)I can keep pace with her for a couple miles ... unless she spots a rabbit or gets a whiff of a smell she likes! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congratulations on finishing. I will use this as inspiration to up my distance on a treadmill to 3 miles.

Twilight Fairy said...


someone pls inspire me to get in shape and then get "fit" like this :P

Munimma said...

My goal was to do the half too (kinda still is). I started a few years back (from totally unfit to about 8k), then sprained a few parts of my body and slowed down. I tried to keep up during my vacation in India. same deal, dog (just one rabid animal whose attention I caught) chased and I ran into my neighbor's house. My problem is I can't (won't) do steep inclines and that is all I see here. oh, well, may be you have inspired me ;-)

Hehhhh said...

Hoo boy... a half marathon and all. Congratulations. Though you make it sound funny and all, I am sure it involved tons of very hard work and dedication to achieve that.

Perhaps I'm mixing a couple of songs, but I had this vision of Pi wearing white rexine leather trousers, singing "woh jaa rahi hai, meri heroine, hero ka dil karke chori" as you ran along.

shub said...

Woman, you inspire, big time. [And shaddup and accept the compliment gracefully now without any wisecracks. Dare you to.]
And OMG, the comment above - the song is 'sone ki cycle ho, chaandi ki ho seat' or something right? Govinda and Juhi. Aila! No wait, it's some other song.

AB said...

Nice! Congratulations... My first Marathon medal (finishers nevertheless ) is my most priced processions. I am sure u feel the same way. Now its time for u to set a time target on the second. ( I am running my second on oct 19th )

AB said...

correction first half marathon!

Leela A said...

Congratulations! That is great timing.

AmitL said...

ROFL...Twin,those were such nice experiences,especially when you're recounting them,right from running into the neighbour's house again and again..:)
But then,all said and done,the hard work paid off,huh? You finished the half marathon.:)Congrats.
ROFL also at the idea of your music prowess being equivalent to that of a donkey in labour..err,a suggestion-please put up one such singing video on youtube??:)

WA said...

Me too. I desperately want to run a marathon at some stage in my life and no point in leaving it any longer. Right now can't run more than half a km without stopping :( Can we be running partners please. Maybe we could do half a marathon before our next birthday

Alpha - Just so that you know, Munimma and I share birthday. Will email my address to you so that you can send me my pressie. And Yes yes congratulations, well done and all that

Alpha said...

thanks all! For the flurry of congrats and of course the approp songs. As the cliche goes for people who have done it and are basking in the glory of not doing a single physical activity ever since, IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!

munimma and Wa: dont you need top be in same neighborhood to be running partners and all? What is a pressie?..I thought it might be a present, but kinda dismissed it as a preposterous thought. I dont normally remember anyone's birthday except a rule.

colours said...

Inspiration Inspiration ... Inspiration...

WA said...

Me thinks perspiration perspiration perspiration ewww

Alpha - yep i meant present only. And dont worry about forgetting, i will keep sending you reminders. Before you say anything, no i dont want anti perspirant for my b'day present. Thanks

Rash said...

Ok everyone seems to be inspired. Mubarak ho :D

Me said...

...romba naala aala kaanam...sila posts kaanam....alpha-3??

Anonymous said...

hey alpha,

thought only bears hibernate in winter ??? where are you????

Anonymous said...

Pleaaase write something.. :)