Monday, November 19, 2007

A magical story : From the start line to the finish line

In a line - I successfully completed the Philadelphia half-marathon in 2hrs 24mins 31secs. And here's as the story rolls...

I drove to Philly the day before to attend the runners expo. I had to collect my Running Number - a sheet of paper that needs to be pinned to my tee-shirt and my Bib (not that one) - a tag used for timing the start and finish and which needs to be tied to the shoe lace. It was my first marathon and I was just surprised to see the festive atmosphere and the tons and tons of people around. Was also getting a bit nervous - I had never actually run 13.1 miles even in practice. Followed that up with a nice dinner at Penang Malaysian restaurant with Niki and her cousins and an early slip into bed.

Then came the big day. I had to wake up at 5:30AM to freshen up and rush to the start line. The official start time was 7AM and I happened to squeeze in there about 10 minutes before the kickoff. It was an amazing feeling - the atmosphere was electrifying - more than 16000 runners - more than 500,000 people in audience - it just cannot get better. It was similar to the New Year countdown with music, frolic and the actual countdown to the marathon. The temperature was just above the freezing point and I had my gloves and sweatshirt on, to keep myself warm. It was starting to drizzle a bit before the start and we were hoping that the rain doesnt come down hard on us.

And moments after 7:15AM came the real start. The 2007 Philadelphia Marathon was ON....
13.1 miles to go. There were markers and time boards at the completion of every mile. Also there were water/energy breaks at every 1-2 miles. Luckily the drizzle stopped in a couple of miles and I had to shed my gloves and sweatshirt as it was getting hot. For the first 4-5 miles, I was making a consistent timing of 10 minutes per mile. After an hour it was getting a bit tough to hold on to the speed. The most dreaded mile was the one from the 9th mile to the 10th. It was a very uphill path all the way and it came at a really bad time - I took about 15 minutes just to complete that mile. After the 10th, the rest seemed to be a pleasure. As I neared the end, the crowd was building up and people cheering everywhere. It was like a shot in the arm and all of us just started sprinting - for a second, all the 13 miles were left behind and it was the 0.1 mile to the finish line that motivated us. As I crossed the finish line, an unexplainable sense of happiness and satisfaction got over me. I have successfully completed the Philadelphia Marathon. All I could do was to turn back and look at my timing clock - it read 02:24:31 - a moment to capture forever - the magical moment!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A marathon story: From the start to the start line

It's been a long journey - one that's not yet reached its culmination point. I'm all set to run for the Philadelphia half-marathon this Sunday.
As I sat down to think about it, I realized that the only thing more arduous than reaching the finish line of the marathon was the very journey which led me to the start line. I still remember the first day - a crisp mid-June Sunday morning, the first mile - it seemed to last forever. Back then, I had never run more than a mile or two. The magic number 13.2 seemed to be a very distant target. And I had no clue what I was in for.
I started the whole journey motivated by two factors - first and foremost was the mere nature of the task and the fulfillment of achieving it. Next was the amazing feeling of participating in the intertwined fundraiser - an opputinity to give back to the world where it matters.
What goes unsaid are the long practice runs every Sunday, the short 3-4 mile runs two times a week (after the busy work day), those small things I had to give up for a short term - the Saturday late nights and the game of tennis (as it hinders with my running) to name a few. But what remains in the end is the satisfaction and the eagerness to march ahead as I approach the final frontier. I'm all set to run down my first half-marathon - hopefully the first of a long list yet to follow.
Will be back with the next half of the story, as soon as history is written...