December 14, 2008

My First Marathon - The Singapore Marathon (Part 3)

I'm splitting my First Marathon experiences to three different parts for the sake of readability. Should you want to download the full article in a PDF format, please click here. This is Part 3 of the three part series. You can read Part 2 here. Would love to hear from you!

Family Support…
Now my mind was looking forward for something – My parents, sister and my uncle’s family. I was closing towards the 30K point. I saw the drink station on my left and badly wanted some water. That was when I heard someone call out my name – Ah! That was my dad and my uncle with their camera flashing! Couldn’t have asked for a better fuel! I almost forgot to drink water. I told them that I cannot run anymore as my right knee was aching and I didn’t want to lose it completely! I was then told that the rest of them were waiting at a point some 300meters down the course. Not being able to wait seeing them, I started to run faster (as opposed to my earlier decision of walking the rest of the 12.195kms).

I saw my sister, mom, aunt and her kids and felt good to hear them cheer me. Wait, I saw someone else too. Was it Meera? Yes, it was indeed her! The feeling of guilt now went off. I was now sure that Meera was in safe hands. What better could happen? I had a burden taken off my mind and a lot of fuel added by seeing all of them. It was from this point that I started to steadily pace up.

The Ferrari Confidence…
I really don’t remember how I ran the next 5-6kms. It just went by so smoothly that it felt like I was teleported. It was about 3kilometers before the finish point that I saw this huge showroom of Ferrari cars. Ah, that was just in time. Ferrari is my favorite car brand! Thanks to my super fast imagination, I started to feel a hundred Ferrari’s rev up and rush out of me. This truly helped me to increase my pace once again.

There was no looking back from this point on. I kept running at a steady 8-9kmph and it was not long before I could sense and smell the finish line somewhere close by. Thanks to my Garmin Forerunner 305, the sensing became easier. It was just about 500meters to the finish line! The mixed feelings that spun through me felt really different. It was like smelling your favorite food being served hot somewhere close by after days of starvation. It was like seeing your long lost love after a long spell of loneliness. It truly felt great!

The Last Mile…
The final 500meters was the most memorable part of the run. It was like getting closer to the brighter side of a dark tunnel. It was like a big ball of highly positive energy pulling us towards it. It was like a thousand magnets pulling a hairpin. I could feel tremendous energy fill my body from all sides. I could feel the strength of a thousand horses in me. I started to pound the asphalt at an average of 13-14kmph. Before I actually embarked on such a speed, I wanted to get rid of the small mineral water bottle in my hand. I kept it in one cornerstone and started off on my final lap.

I could see the finish line at a distance not greater than 200meters. The crowd was cheering and I could see the timer on the finish line from afar. As I got closer I felt like an eagle effortlessly gliding down towards its prey. As I neared the finish line I could hear my name being called out and my completion time being announced. As I crossed the finish line, I felt like a dart flawlessly hitting the center of a dartboard.

Finish Line and after…
My eyes were searching. I was turning around to find no one near the finish line. I was a bit unhappy here as I would’ve liked too see people I know soon after I crossed the finish line. I slowly walked down and sat on one of the benches near the medal and tee collection area. I untied my left shoe lace to remove my chip and then walked towards the tent to collect my Finisher Medal. Then I walked down to the tee counter to collect my Finisher Tee. Walking out of the tent I still saw no familiar face there. Where are my parents and sister? Where are my uncle, aunt and the kids? Where are my Chennai Runners friends? I saw no one!

Overwhelming pleasure…
In just about 5minutes I saw my sister out of no where and then slowly the rest of my family. It was only then that I realized that my uncle was waiting at the turning (soon after I kept my bottle on the cornerstone and started to pace up) with his Nikon D40 to take some final lap snaps. My dad and sister were apparently one of the spectators who gleefully cheered me when I crossed the finish line. I felt so bad and sad for having thought what I thought earlier – They were all more eager to be with me than I was. I was overwhelmed! I saw Shahid just then, only to realize that he also had a bad day with a 6:40 finish.

I changed my running tee and wore my running jerkin from the kit bag my sister was carrying. Slipped out of my running shoe into a pair of sandals from my kit bag and walked towards the foot massage tent. After just about 4-5minutes of wait, I was called in for leg massage. For over 10 minutes my feet and legs enjoyed the most relieving massage they ever had.

The Spirit of a Marathoner…
Though I completed the marathon in 6:47, this has been by far the best run I’ve ever had as I finished really strong (I could’ve run another 10Kms if someone gave me company), had my family by my side and of course completed a full-marathon! I finally did bring my dreams of doing my first marathon in 2008 to fruition. I have proved to myself and the world that NOTHING CAN STOP ME from doing something! I’ve always believed that marathoners have unmatched grit and determination with a NEVER SAY DIE attitude. I’m happy to me a marathoner! God Bless!

Attitude of Gratitude…
I could not have got here without any support. There is someone who started it in me, there is someone who has constantly driven me and motivated me, there is someone who has constantly endured all my demands and funniness and above all there are many who have wished well for me. I would like to specially thank a few people here –

Ram Viswanathan – He is a man who can make rocks dance. He can possibly motivate even snails to do ultra-marathons. To me, he has been more than a mentor. He was the one who brought me into the world of long distance running, and I could never have dared to dream of a marathon without him. Thanks Ram!

Harishankar – This is a man who comes with a great level of patience and enthusiasm. He can run a marathon and give a TV interview in parallel. There were days when he used to give me tips on running during our runs. He was the one who made me run my first long distance run of 28kilometers at a pace of 9kmph (this was close to two years ago). Thanks Hari!

My Parents and Sister – I still cannot understand how they are able to put up with my craziness! They have never questioned my craziness (especially when I get out of home in the early morning hours at 2-3am for a run). Their support during the Singapore Marathon just goes beyond words. Thanks Dad, Mom and Sis - You support was really great!

My Uncle, Aunt and the kids – They did get up early in the morning and come to the starting point. I still cannot understand – I would’ve slept! More so, they stayed on till I finished the marathon! Amazing support…couldn’t have asked for more! Thanks uncle, aunty, Shashank and Sudarshan (my kid cousins)…you made my day!

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