Monday, October 7, 2013

Pune Running- Run beyond Myself 6 October 2013

I have always wanted my family to witness the positive energy in a marathon crowd. The Event in Pune was the right opportunity..more so, as it involved no travel and the ticket cost was just right. I usually would not pay for 21 km run, (I prefer to run this distance solo). This event was for a noble cause..to gather funds for KEM Hospital. It reminded me of my Grandmother who spent her last days at the same hospital and my old climbing friend Dr Shashank Shrotriya who was always there, when I needed help.

My close friend and colleague Nitin Pandya was deeply involved in organizing this run.It was good that I stayed away from Organisation as I should not inflict my negativity in a positively charged group that had enough troubles of their own. (I had enough of mine.)

After release of my book, I had not run for a month. I was engrossed with painting as a diversion from my recent success. I was watching my friends perform. Retd Cmdr (Indian Navy) Jeetendran Nair (Jeetu) finishes 100km in 14 hrs. Nitin ran with him for 40km. My new friend Sriram had joined this splendid night run.
(I was reading “The Long Walk” that I had downloaded on my Kindle. This guy and his mates did crazy marathon distances every day? What was wrong with me?)
I remembered Juzer..”It’s all in the mind” My mind needed a revamp. I was out of my favorite sport for too long.

I took my family to collect bibs. This was the time, when they would witness a real marathon scene.
I was surprised by the efficient management that my Pune Running friends had ensured. I met Jeetu and he mentioned the plan for a 50km run. I was interested. I thought, I should use the 21 km run as a warm up.
Neel cooked Pasta (Whole Wheat) for dinner and we slept early. Woke up at 4AM and we reached the BMCC ground at around 5.15AM. I left my slippers in the car.
I was wearing my old T shirt that I had used on my 1st run with Pune Running. This T had seen lot of runs and it was apt to wear it to “Run Beyond Myself”. Afterall, Pune Running had witnessed most of my PBs.

It was good to feel the earth under my feet again. I was pleased to see the crowd. The event shall succeed, I say to myself. What about the traffic control? Again bit of negativity!!
My son Neel and I were with the PTC gang. Purushottam comes and gives me the regular hug..just like our runs in different cities. He is a great runner and my pace (nor my age) is a match but we marathoners share a bond. (He achieved 1:40 PB)

The 21 km run had started and we wriggled our way to the start point. Disciplined crowd. . No rush. I had decided to use some music. The drum beats deafened my Lipps Inc oldie “All Night Dancing”. I was surprised. No stampede! I did not have to watch my barefeet from getting trampled underneath flashy Nikes/ Reeboks. As I crossed the line..No beep.. Was my Timer working at all?

The Slope to Symbiosis was easy. I made my way to front  using the liberty of my Barefeet. (Shoes restrict movement. Barefeet is the best way to climb an upward slope.) I weaved my way to thinner crowd at front. The Traffic control is excellent. A sob comes to my throat as I notice the flawless event unfold before me. I know the tremendous pains that my friends at Pune Running have gone through to make a flawless event.


I seem to have chosen music well this time. Turkish drum beats accompany me to Pune University. I am relieved to see Neel join me. For a while we run together along and then he increases his pace..I am alone in my world listening to Kraftwerk “Tour de France”. The repetitive music is apt for long runs or for cycling.

“Good going Parag. I thought it was you when I noticed the bare-feet.” My friend Aditya accompanies me for a while and then I slip into my silent world. 

At 10.5km U-turn, I meet Jeetu, who is managing a water station and we have a quick hug. Friends at water stations mean a lot to me.
It keeps me refreshed and helps maintain my pace. After all the route is well known to me. This is where I ran my first Half marathon. Home ground?

Another water spot and I shake hands with Nitin. (I have not skipped my cup of water and Electrolyte at any spot till now.)

I see You Too Can Run lead the 3 hr bus. He shouts to me, “ Good pace Barefoot!”  and I shout back.
I meet Sriram who is also going on at a terrific pace. Neel has slowed down and looking for a loo. He finds one..There goes his PB I thought. He was going at a much better pace  than me.  I carry on and see a new crowd of 10km runners.
My pace has increased; with the new faces around and I tread on. I am finally on the long slope to Symbiosis. I recollect past Pune Marathons where I often walked uphill. I am in a different mood today and I jog on. I see Raj Vadgama controlling traffic. Guys from Mumbai are out to Pune to help with this long run. I feel overwhelmed with the support for Pune Running marathon. It has been a great run. I rush down the slope overtaking quite a few. I have not looked at my watch after 10km.
With the last few strides I entered BMCC college ground and crossed the line. I look at my watch. It is a feeling of Joy.
And guess who timed one sec before me? The Elite Sahara Ultra runner Michelle Kakade!

I have Won my race. It’s my Personal best of 2:05 mins. Neel's PB is ~2:06 (plus time in Loo).

The feeling of elation cannot be expressed by words. I beat my old record by 10 minutes. Just by maintaining my pace and Running (a little) Beyond Myself. Another PB with Pune Running. It would not be possible without the tremendous support from Volunteers, Team managers and the Sponsors/ Police who helped towards a Marathon (that I always wanted in my City). I am glad to witness this energy from a runners perspective for my friends at Pune Running.

Thanks to  Pune for joining this event towards marathon for the common man. Thanks to people outside Pune for their support! It was great to see Shivaji Park Runners, Bhasker Desai, Raj, Milind Soman and You Too Can Run. Milind Soman ran his first Barefoot Half marathon. A historic event for many of us!

Back at Home , Neel surprises me. "I am sure that I could have done a Sub 2 easily."
He plans to go Barefoot soon.