The miracle is NOT that I finished the course of 80k Malnad ultra but it’s that I had the courage to start…..!
Phew…!! The pain I experienced after the exhilarating ultra is quite pleasurable. Craved deeply for that sensational feeling from the day I registered myself to this blissful course of 80 k. My first longest and continuous run ever… Before this was few full marathon (42k) and that too on a normal road. Unlike this terrain which majorly had ONLY ascends and descends however when registered for the Malnad ultra run I had nothing else in mind other than completing the course strong and fit, in health.
The more I sweat in the practice, the less I bleed in the battle was the only classic thought during the last few months of my training for this course.
Well, this memorable journey was only possible owing to the religious discipline and rigorous training at my end. I very well remember those days of my practice runs, all I just needed was a road to feel and there I was enjoying every bit of my every run.
Best of all was the day when there was a Bengaluru bandh and had to reach office for an official meeting… This was the time I experimented to experience the feeling of running post lunch and in the shining sun..(Always avoided owing to the fear of being tanned ) There you go, took the laptop in one hand and had a shoulder bag (which had my white formal shirt )- I ran from home to office non stop – completed the meeting and then ran back experiencing joyfully all the flyovers( which gave me the 1st experience of ascends and descends)
Apart from the regular routine endurance run to build my mileage and stamina, doing the 10 floors of the office 10 times, taking the count of 100 floors at one stretch will always be registered quite firmly in my mind.
This 80 K run could not have been better for me if not of my 3 months of rigorous training without a schedule. This was supported by Vij (close friend + coach ) who chalked a plan of training. The plan, most of the times was missed owing to my weekly busy outstation travel. However Vij ensured a vigorous alternate day run of 15km was followed which ver part of the country I was. This will go a long way for the success of this esteemed course..
At times it used to be the run from Saket (Delhi) to Inida gate and the other week it used to be at the Juhu beach(Mumbai) and the following week used to be at the busy roads of kolkatta… Must mention about my run on the steep hills of katra shrine where i took the the blessings from Ma Durga that made me strong mentally and physically. Training on different locations was exciting to explore and an amazing learning experience.
My routine, lalbagh run and cubbon park run in the early hours of the day (despite late night arrivals from outstations) will also go a strong way strengthening my practices.
Well, all these training run was limited to less than 20 to 25km and never ventured more than that until sep midweek where I gathered some courage to experiment a longer run.. Saji (my close friend + my running partner) and I decided to run from home till Bengaluru airport. After a breath taking run of ascends and descends the next day I fell ill with a 101 degree temp. (dry cough and running nose added to the misery..) This Shook my confidence completely but decided to fight this my way. Had some rum+honey+pepper with hot water and slept under the blanket with just one ray of hope to wake up as fresh and lively as possible the next day. Hmmmm…., this home remedy indeed worked and I was complete ready to step into the battle field the very next morning. Most times its worked for me, when I do NOT let my hardship affect my mind. Positive thinking always took me a step ahead towards my goal.
In fact, when it comes to achieving a goal, wish to share a secret of mine.. I cultivated the habit of telling the entire world about the milestone I wish to achieve.. In this case, never missed an opportunity to mention about my venture of running the 80 km mark to every person I met the whole of the last 3 months. I remember one such mention of mine, in a school gathering at Jammu with almost 100+ kids. I challenged them and stated that if ever I would try to give up the run during the 80k, I will remember each of their face and that challenge would never let me succumb to failure. Every such mention was firm in my mind through out the race on THE day…
The day – my run started at 6am – with complete excitement and anxiety – kissed the ground and started the glory run.
Made some great friends En-route, who were all set to help the fellow runners at any given time.. Remembering (Soles of Cochin) Kumar Sir as I write this, who I accompanied in the beginning of the course. His journey of marathon was inspiring. Will never forget his advice on ensuring to always maintain one’s own pace along with the co-runner.. If one slows down then the other should follow his own pace rather than slowing down. This would help the other runner behind to catch up with his co-partner as he will never let the runner ahead of him go out of sight. Well my run was memorable as I got myself tagged along with the gang of Goa runners.. After a stretch of almost 20+ km, Nagesh who was running along with me tumbled and injured his shoulder and hurt his knee badly owing to the uneven terrain. This injury of Nagesh shook me all over, made me think twice if I should continue and will I be able to complete this course but albeit Nagesh’s passion and courage to fight this odd was inspiring, bagged some confidence with that and continued my run. Ensuring to refuel myself, with a sip of electoral and water. Kept the rhythm in the most spirited action till I hit the 30 km mark at Lalbagh estate around 10 am. Was expecting my folks to be there as I had given the 30k kit which contained some dry fruits and my favorite chikki and a pair of socks. Disappointed not to see my friends and folks at this junction, gobbled an egg and sipped mouthful of energy drink and started the run again in few minutes… The trail after this was quite adventurous and punitive owing to the rough terrain. After the 4 hrs of continuous run, body at times gives up if confidence is stumpy. Fought this thought and kept my pace constant..
The most exciting part was the journey after 44th km uptill 48th km which was the show stopper of OUR course..
The path way to this highest elevation of a mountain was barely 2 feet in width and shaky barricades made it worse as these barricades fades off as you reach the tip of the mountain.
Battling my fear of heights, climbed the highest peak to witness the most awesome picturesque view of the entire Malnad which was almost equivalent to the feeling of being in a paradise.
Requested Kuber, who was a race volunteer from the estates on the tip of the mountain asking him to assist me the descend. My sincere thanks to him if not him I would not have won over my biggest fear of heights.
With the fullest of enthusiasm started the run back into the deep estates – One of the technique I practiced thrugh out the run was to say THANK YOU to every person, who were all out to cheer the runners of the course. The estate workers, the villagers, the kids, the passerby, everyone I met en-route was greeted with a HI-FI and a THANK YOU. This act of mine brought a positive smile on my face and this smile let me forget all the pain and the cramps during my run.
Continuing my run and gathering a bunch of positive energy in me clocked the 58 km mark approx. around 5:30 pm.
After few steps further, the sun vanished in a jiffy and alas there was complete darkness..
Till here, ran with absolute no distress or pain but the darkness hit my nerve and there I was dumb struck to witness this silent moment within me. Could not have imagined myself in this situation of being alone in the lap of dusk. I turned back for the 1st time in the entire race just to see my fellow runner who was nowhere around.
With the intention of not taking the step back decided to move ahead, making friends with darkness, walked the next 30 minutes stretch experiencing the scary sirens of birds, the buzzing sound of cicada and the cobwebs gave me the creepiest experience of encountering the biggest fears of my life. One small rattle of leaves was enough to stop my breath for few seconds. I must have prayed every God I knew, for that 30 minutes of being alone in that trail.
After almost 3-4 kms of slow walking, I gazed the flare of a fire in the far stretch of my sight. This bonfire spirited me and with that, ran the fastest to reach that aid station. Wiping my tears and sweat, thanked God for helping me reach safe and fit till this point. Had to stop over to wait for few other runners to join-in to continue the rest of the journey. Completely tired and scared jogged slow along with my fellow runners on the dark rough terrain up-till I found the 70th KM mark.
Looked at the watch and had done almost 14 hrs, wanted to complete the next 10 km in less than 1 hr is when I heard Biju (friend of mine) shouting my name who had come in search of me inside the dark estates. This was a great relief to win the last stretch of this battle..
With my friend around ran as fast as possible to see Lakshmy(wify) and Vipasha(daughter) waiting for me at the 79th km who ran the last km along with me…
It was bad of me to leave my fellow runners but at that moment of excitement did not realize anything.. Just wanted to complete the course.
Reaching the finish line strong after the 80th km was a bliss and the adrenaline rush at that point of time is worth millions for me..
That 15hrs will always bring tears of joy whenever I will remember these moments…
The unforgettable course of mine…
Next year, I shall the kiss the finish line at 110 kms….
With this experience, I wish to mention that running is my sport which has transformed me completely. Any sport in fact can transform any if that becomes an habit..
Once you are in – I bet you will enjoy the every moment.
BELIEVE ME, HIDDEN POTENTIAL CAN BE EXPLORED EVEN TODAY, EVEN NOW..
No one can stop any one of us from our esteemed success, except self…