On your mark. Get set. Go.

The first time I participated in a competitive running event outside my school was the Athletics Regionals. I was in class 7th. I was selected for the 400 meter category. The Regionals meet was held at B.S.F. Chhavni camp. It was my first time running on a circular track. I was uncomfortable with the whole idea of all the participants starting from a different mark in their specific circles. The race began. Just few meters before the finish line, I stopped and walked away from the track. My school senior, Priya, who was one of the best athlete in the meet and whom I admired a lot, came to me and asked ‘why’. I told her that since I knew I was finishing 4th, it didn’t matter as I was not getting a rank. That’s when I learned my first lesson from running. She said “You always finish a race – no matter what.

I had a predisposition for short-distance running. I was a sprinter and less of an endurance athlete. That’s why when I first got the opportunity to run a 2.7 km race in first year of my college, I couldn’t sleep through the night. I kept wondering if I could do it or not. Next morning, two hours left for the race, I heard this voice from within ‘Agar aaj ye nahi karegi, to kabhi kuchh nahi karegi’ (If you won’t go for this today, you’ll never do anything ever). That was all I needed to get out of the bed. I went to the event. And I won. That’s how my love affair with long distance running began.

I started running long distances. We had a beautiful campus. I loved running on the road, the 3 km distance around the campus. The music from my favorite playlist bursting in my ears and the sun setting in – it was my idyllic track for running (Until last year when I visited Kashmir. In Srinagar, there was a road with Dal Lake on one side of it and the mountains on the other. I just couldn’t get the thought of running on that road out of my head. I experienced cycling on that road but not running. May be someday! 🙂 ). In my college third year, I participated in my first long distance event of 10 km run organized in Hyderabad city around Hussain Sagar lake. I finished in 59 minutes 45 seconds.

My energy and moods seem a lot like my dad’s. So when I came back home after the 10 km race in Hyderabad, I told my dad about the marathons being held in almost all metropolitan cities. I asked him to participate in such events since I wanted him to become more social by being part of such a community. And you bet that was the best thing I did. I ran my first half marathon (21 km), Delhi Heritage Half Marathon in 2014 with my dad and my brother. My brother and I finished in 2 hour 12 minutes while my dad finished in 2 hours and was waiting for us at the finish line. I must admit though; it was a little embarrassing. Since then, I didn’t participate much in running events though I continued running. But my dad ran almost all the half marathons and full marathons (42 km) held in Delhi N.C.R. in the last two years. In fact, he even participated in Duathlon events which involve a combination of running and cycling. Last year, he participated in Laddakh Half Marathon. He continues to inspire not only me but so many other youngsters he meets in these events.

IMG_20170223_115002.jpgDISCLAIMER: All these medals hanging in my home belong to my dad. My brother and I have made no contribution whatsoever to these 😉

So what did I learn from running so far?    

Running taught me many lessons. Running is a lot like life. It’s all about breathing. You just need to continue taking one step after another at your own pace. And whenever you feel tired, slow down a bit, take deep breaths and continue. Or may be smile at someone along the way or enjoy the beauty around you. Because it’s your race, just like life, its your journey to make sense of. 🙂

P.S.: My dad registered me for the Delhi Heritage Half Marathon scheduled on 12th March this year. Almost 2 years later, its the same event where I ran my first half marathon. I hope to resume participation in running events in 2017. 🙂