Yet another scooping rise from underneath – The water around blinds me out completely, the leg craves for rest, but the mind defies succumbing to pain and the body just goes on in a sinusoidal motion towards a non descriptive goal. I turn around by instinct and damn the mind takes over; fear creeps in and I get back to the shores twice as deftly as I swam in to the ocean. As I sit on the shore staring out into the expanse ahead, the throbbing calf muscles stand testimony to what Running can get one to do! I’d just completed my second Half marathon earlier in the day and even before I could come out of the excitement, I’d already swum the farthest I’ve ever been into an ocean till date..Couldn’t ask for a better reward!
Feb 13th ’10 -19:15hrs. As I walk off from the 20 member group to pick to rick to head to the Pondicherry bus stand, I’m still in second thoughts. Four folks who were supposed to join me for the Auroville run decide to back off. I’m down with a sore throat and the flu only aggravates it. As I’m almost about to drop the flag, a message from ‘Chottu’ pops in my mobile wishing me a good run. I lurch into an auto and head to the Bus depot. A half an hour search for the right bus to Auroville and finally at about 20:30hrs I manage to hop off on the ECR beach road-Auroville stop. I remember seeing in the map that the organisers had provided, that the reporting point was about 4kms from the main road. Not able to find any ricks, I decide to walk down the stretch. About twenty minutes of walk down the winding narrow roads and dimly lit streets, I finally get to stop a rick coming in the opposite direction. I strike a deal of 150bucks for him to drop me at the Visitors center [another 4kms from that spot] and finally at about 21:30hrs I hop off the rick only to see the last set of folks boarding the last bus to the Dorm. I rush in and have a word with the organisers to keep the bus on hold for sometime. I’m registered as Runner#2101 and dash for the pasta dinner. In five minutes I gobble a full plate of lasagnes and pasta and head back to the bus. And from nowhere, this lad pops up! A quick catch-up and even before we realise we’re in the dormitory. Ankur was still on his was from Chennai. I send one last message from my power starved mobile and crash.
Feb 14th ’10 – 04:30hrs. There’s a sudden surge of activity in the room with runners decking themselves for the run. I kinda feel out of place seeing these pro’s gearing up for the run. At about 05:15hrs, We realise we’ve narrowly missed the shuttle bus that was supposed to take us to the start point. As we head to the main road to hitch a ride, a refreshments vehicle stops over. In about five minutes, the streaming voice of one of the organisers at the start point gets the blood to boil with energy. Runners from various places warming up, people swarming into the startpoint and registering their presence and yet another group cheers up as they meet a long seen friend. For me, this is the best part of any event – excitement, thrill, anxiety , emotion – It’s all in the air! Ankur eventually realises he would not be given a bib as he did not have a photo identity. Nevertheless, He decides to run.
Sharp at 06:00 the half marathon folks are given a go and even before I take my first step, I have a smile on my face – My second HM was just two hours away! People overtake you, you overtake people. The crowd isn’t talking much as they run. Probably it was just Ankur and me in the whole group who were out there babbling and catching up on the latest happenings in the cycling arena. Five kilometres into the run and the mind gets into a trance.The heart beats faster, the breath gets deeper and the best part of running sets in – the circuitous thought process. As dawn sets in, so does the beauty of the woods. We’d already left the asphalt roads about a couple of kilometres back and the trail starts winding through the mystic auroville village. The sun beams in onto the trails through the thick foliage of trees and the smell of moist sand takes you to an altogether different high!
Even before I realise, I cover the 12kms mark. This was the first time ever that I’ve run continuously for such a distance without stopping! The ever courteous volunteers and bicyclists make the run all the more pleasant. Quick dashes of electrolyte, water and bananas keeps the feet chiming on to the ground. The last few kilometers as expected turn out to be a bit demanding. The sun’s already up and the humidity makes it all the more tough reminding yet again that I should have trained better! At about 08:15hrs, as I take a turn round the corner, the beats from the drums gets the pulse up. I summon my spirits and sprint to the finish point. The last 50mts I blindly close my eyes and run to where my feet take me to. As a volunteer gives me royal welcome with a ‘completion’ medal, I gaze at my watch. My second HM is written out at 2h20m – About fifteen minutes off my target but I’m more than elated. This was THE best ever long run till date and as I walk out of the premises I promise to get back to Auroville for a Full marathon next year!
I head back to Pondicherry and catch up with the remaining folks. An amazing evening in the beach and we head back to Mullodai calling it a day. Only at dinner does the body start complaining and the mind goes off balance. The run, the swim and the travel seem to be take a toll and a seething headache compliments the cold. I ravenously hog like a wild animal and head back to the Youth hostel as the remaining folks enjoy their dinner.
Despite being irregular during the training, If there was something that got me on my feet on weekends – it was the thought of running through the woods. Auroville amazingly lived to that dream and I simply cannot stop short of praises for the amazing set of folks and volunteers out there who’d made the run so easy.
And I just realised, I need to set a new target for my Dailymile tracker!