03:30 hrs - The alarm goes off. I toss and turn, I haven't had a very good night's sleep considering I slept at midnight. So let me sleep.
03:45 hrs - The alarm goes off again. Oh well, I don't need to do this. It's not my race, so take it easy.
04:00 hrs - The alarm goes off yet again. I look at the time and suddenly spring up, got to pick up a few friends and rush.
04:00-04:45 hrs - It's all over in 5 minutes. Imagine 45 minutes went by in 5 minutes. I grab my keys and rush down, drive, pick up and we are on our way.
The Occasion : Michelle Kakade - India's Endurance Queen in Long Distance running is finishing her Great Indian Quadrilateral Run - 6000 kms (appx) across India in 6 months. And as members of the running fraternity we want to be a part of the final lap. Well so we thought, more on that later.
The starting point was the Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi, surely the best place and time to start, just as dawn broke. The aura within the vicinity is such that it invigorates so much into the soul that one feels ready to take on anything (in my own menial circumstances run from there to the Gateway... sigh... what a run err... walk... we will see)
A hush draws up amongst the modest crowd that has gathered for the final lap. I crane my neck to see surely, that must be the arrival of Michelle (I had befriended her on Facebook when she started the run but was yet to meet her, although we followed her journey with great enthusiasm). Alas it was Mrs Nita Ambani and her son in the new avtar. As the self conscious security hushed anyone who had any thoughts of a selfie and the unperturbed Ambanis walked away... sorry drive away, we settled down again for the powers who be, to sound the bugle for the start. Our patience survived and soon Michelle arrived, a short formality done, she immediately got down to what she does best... Run... Oh well there I stood still wondering... the run had started... Our mentors Kaushik and Bindu Panchal looked at us as they started to run, I stood there waiting for the familiar sound of Kaushik's whistle and suddenly it dawned... run
So there we were a group of about 50 or what 70 who tried to follow Michelle on her last lap. But she was like the wind, running ahead, surely she must know there will be slow, amateur runners like us, but there she goes. Oh well never mind, she has a record to set and me I just have to run.
Soon the traffic begins to thin, the road looms large, I begin to hear my breathe. I look at the GPS on my watch, what? I have just done 2k and nobody I know is there except Bindu who has reduced her pace to accompany me. I panic - has my pace always been this slow? Then I hear a familiar voice in my mind easy... easy... I'm here to enjoy the run, this is not a race, this me talking to myself, this is my time.
The mind calms down a bit and I ask myself the same question - why am I running, why do people run long distance. Is it for health, is it for fun or is it for competition? Too complicated, it surely must be something simple. A gust of wind blows away the rose petals that are strewn every couple of kilometres, reminding us that Michelle had passed a good 20 minutes earlier. Chalo, at least we are on the right track.
The sea smells great as we cross the Nehru Centre and head into the Haji Ali stretch, we converse about the SCMM route, the humid weather - funny we are only reminded about the humidity when we are running ourselves and as soon as the mind says slow down or stop, we look at each other and say - Yaar the weather is so humid, I'm not able to run. Probably yes if not for the weather we would be like Milkha Singh, or rather Michelle and do this with the snap of our fingers. Oh well, the vagaries of trying to behave like a runner.
In the meantime... Shit... No way... the Peddar Road incline... Time to conjure up more terminology that one has learnt recently. Is this hill run? What my mentors look at me strangely and say shut up and run. Well I was just trying to strike a conversation. A few furlongs and I give up running and start walking. An inadvertent look at the GPS tells me we just did 10k, what we managed 10k? I'm shocked and suddenly in awe of myself until the runners passing us mention that Michelle would have reached by now... there so much for doing the final lap
We turn towards Babulnath, the feet are now starting to slow, the will is starting to wilt, we grab a few bottles of water offered. Replenish our carry ons. The glorious sun turns the route a resplendent gold. The slow pace, a slight breeze as we cross over for the necklace, the body is now in auto mode. A heady feeling starts to creep in, I panic a bit, have I lost too much water, am I doing this right, I look around... everything is in slow motion, the only sound I hear is of the wind and my breath. The slow thump of the feet on the ground barely audible. For a few brief moments I experience the bliss of being a runner - alone, content with myself, no competition, no timing, no hurry, its just me running infinitely. And the suddenly a jerk, I am back to the real world, the pain in the feet s creeping in, shit - there is soreness, Oh God, I forgot to vaseline, suddenly I hear a shout - Ambani
Ouch, now where did that come from. We are greeted by the sight of now the younger Ambani sibling working out in full glory just past the gymkhana. The guards again more selfie conscious than the camera holders. Well I have had enough of celebrities for the day, we move on - slowly Marine drive done. Fifteen minutes later in what seems like eternity the last mile beckons past the Rajabai Tower - a walk, a crawl and a few strutted steps later, we cross Regal, suddenly the Gateway looms ahead. Kaushik looks at me and beckons come on, open your stride at least now, run... And we run, he and Bindu like the athletes they are and me as if a dog is behind me. We reach the finish point as I rush to stop me GPS. 1:59:57 secs. Did I just run that - BLANK
A few minutes later we are here for what we came for to laud Michelle complete her record feat. I photo bomb a picture being taken with her. Chalo so what if didn't get to meet her, I got a pic and thanks to Kaushik and Bindu managed to huff and puff my way.
Thank you Michelle, it was memorable run - Your 6000k and our tiny 15k.
Thank you Kaushik and Bindu - 3 Cheers to you and to several more runs (hopefully I last that long)
Oh before I forget - the trainer in Kaushik doesn't stop - he makes us walk all the way back to Churchgate