It was the year 1997-98 and I was in my 10th. And as everyone who comes from a middle class family would know it was ‘supposed’ to be the defining moment of my academic career (or so everyone made me believe it by repeatedly saying ‘You just have to do well in your 10th board exam and your life is made’. How many times have we not heard that after 10th? :)). Anyway the point is, it was the year in which I was supposed to make sacrifices in other areas of interests so that I could get that coveted rank for the state. So that year, everything else was put on hold.
One fine day I get up in the morning and I realize that it was the school sports day and given the fact that I was supposed to be studiously studying to shape the defining moment of my life I thought I will bunk school that day. Under normal circumstances my mom would have been very happy to see me studying instead of playing, but like most moms my mom too has a tendency to surprise one and all. She said, I quote, “You better get out of the house and take part in that sports competition. You will never ever have another sports day in your life!” and I was like staring at her dumbfounded. Even though I was a sports freak playing most of my time during schooling, I hardly took part in any serious sports events. Don’t ask me why but I was totally indifferent then (One of the things I do regret now, is not to have taken more active interests in sports competitions involving events such as badminton and TT which I was very good at).
So coming back to that day, I was in a dilemma whether to go, but such opportunities of playing guilt free were hard to come by. So that fateful day I was in school taking part is activities I had never taken part before.
It was one of those defining moments of my life.
I was never a runner and the little bit of running that I had done was while ‘running between the wickets’ in cricket. So you can imagine! But that day was different and I took part in all the athletic events especially running. I was very thin and apparently looked fragile too, so when I said I would be taking part in the 1500mts running race people started advising me against it. Right from my principal and teachers to other batch mates, everyone was against the idea. Some gave friendly advice while others mocked.
But it was a different day and I felt like there was a Kenyan or an Ethiopian soul residing inside me and so I didn’t care. When the time came to actually run, I did really feel intimidated by others around me who towered 6 feet and looked all athletic in their outlook. But having enrolled I couldn’t have just quit especially in front of all my friends. So I started running and to my surprise I was among the people in the front most of the time. In the last 500mts I could feel myself getting tired but many things around me made me continue (Before I digress, more about the motivation behind running and actually completing these events in a different post). And so in the last 100mts I actually ran faster, sprinted, overtook atleast a dozen other competitors and finished 1st!! FIRST!! I couldn’t really believe what I had achieved. It was one of those moments when you are the happiest kid in the world. I was congratulated all around. The same people, who made fun of me, now were praising me big time. It was especially gratifying to beat the ‘professionals’ out there. After this I was inducted into the 4x100 relay team and won the first place there too. At the end of that day I had two other prizes to boast of and this was from a person who didn’t even want to go there in the first place and didn’t even know he had the ability to run!
But the euphoria was short lived and the day really didn’t end there…
PS: I didn’t realize it then, but now when I look back at this event, it was really one of those moments that change your confidence level, your outlook and your life in general. Thanks to my mom for this!
Few years down the line when I started running marathons, I was again told I was crazy and that it’s really difficult and a different ball game. But all I did was to look back at this incident and I just smiled. There are things in this world which even we wouldn’t know about ourselves until we actually go there and try. Now running marathons has become a passion and each one gives a different experience in itself. The thoughts, the will and the desire to succeed beyond your normal comfort zone is a thrill or a high that one can never explain. One just has to experience it! The euphoria is worth it and addiction to such moments is worth your time and effort.
PPS: The last weekend was the Sunfeast 10K run in Bangalore and I clocked my personal best of ~46 min (- according to the official timings, though I thought it was more like ~44 min..:)). It was the first time I had run complete 10K without stopping. Like I said it’s a kick that cannot be explained…Especially everytime you better yourself…And marathons/running is one extra avenue for me to achieve that feeling..:)