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Running my first full marathon has led me to believe that having a goal, and working towards it with a plan, makes everything achievable.
The signpost read 200m to the finish line. It felt like the sweetest message ever! Charged by that message, I ran a little faster than I was running, to cross the finish line of my first full marathon.
I was overwhelmed, even though it was not among the good finish times or what I had dreamt of as a target. But it was a successful end to the marathon journey I undertook 3.5 months back! A journey of running, training and eating right to make myself ready to run my first marathon.
I am not a runner per se. So I started with 20-30 minute runs. I gradually extended the time to 60 minutes and then 90 minutes. The training became rigorous with runs of 2 hours, 2.5 hours to 3 hours. The longest I ran was for 3 hours 30 minutes. The runs were a combination of running and walking.
Though I did pay attention to the distance I was covering, the more significant aspect was to see if I can endure the long runs and be up and ready for another one in the next 2-3 days. It was as much a mental preparation as a physical one.
When I finished my hourly runs during the early days of training, I would be thrilled. At the same time, I discovered that my pace would be really slow when the sun is up.
A Friday/Saturday late-night dinner would get rescheduled or cancelled so that the next morning run is not affected. I would be in good spirits when my runs were strong and would be upset if I could not run as per my plan. My mood would be upbeat if I did not have any aches or niggles the day after a run. I even managed to complete scheduled runs when I was on my annual vacation.
The marathon that I ran was an exclusive one for first-time and second-time marathoners. The organizer held fitness sessions, arranged for group practice runs and brought in experts to talk about running, hydration and nutrition. They even threw a party for the runners just before the race.
Apart from the gruelling schedule, some other incidents brought in some drama around the run. The run was to be held in Manila, Philippines. But the Taal volcano phreatic eruption led to ashfall as far as Manila which is 60-70 km away. It was considered dangerous to go outside without a mask. How do you run with a mask?!
The coronavirus outbreak threatened the postponement and cancellation of the race till the last minute. But luckily, only the venue got changed to Clark, Philippines which of course meant preparations for reaching there, finding accommodation, etc.
Another interesting chapter in this journey was the week before D-day. The gun time was Sunday, at 2 a.m. Runners were advised to change the body clock such that they were ready to rise and shine at 2 a.m on race day.
A week before the D-day, I started to alter my body clock. On Monday and Tuesday, I slept at 9 p.m. Bedtime was at 8 o’clock in the evening on Wednesday and Thursday. I went to bed at 7 p.m on Friday. This was to ensure that I could get up in the morning between 2 a.m – 4 a.m. I completed some of my practice runs at 3 o’clock in the morning. The city of Manila is beautiful and peaceful at that time. The silence at 3 o’clock in the morning also brought some calm to the mind and body.
On the penultimate day, I had dinner at 4 p.m and switched off the lights at 5 p.m to wake up around 11 p.m so that I could be at the venue at the given assembly time. I have never had such an interesting body clock.
On Sunday, the race began at 2 a.m after a pep talk and a prayer by the organizers. About 600-800 runners were aiming for the finish line. The course extended for 4 loops of about 9-11 km each. The air was crisp and the atmosphere was charged with excitement. I was strong for the first 15 kilometres. But I slowed down quite a bit between 28 km -37 km.
The organizers had set up plenty of hydration and energy stations. There were people cheering the runners, shouting out their names and waving banners and placards with entertaining and motivating messages. I pushed myself to do better in the last few kilometers and then finally crossed the finish line with the kind emcee calling out my name and congratulating me for being a ‘marathoner’. I got a medal and a finisher T-shirt that I will cherish forever.
Czech Olympian Emil Zátopek said that if you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. The marathon has truly changed my life. It has inspired me to run more. It also has led me to believe that if you have a goal that you deeply believe in, and work towards it with a plan, you will definitely achieve it.
Image via Unsplash
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Vidya is a freelance content developer and technical writer. She loves to write on personal
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