Saturday, October 6, 2012

I almost died on an Indian road….but not in the way you think

I almost died on an Indian road the other day.  I know when you read this sentence it is not a surprise; Indian roads are notoriously crazy and people, elephants, buffaloes, cows, donkeys, monkeys, pigs, lizards, squirrels, etc… fall victim to road deaths every day.  I didn’t almost die while driving on the road, I actually almost died while running on an Indian road. Again, you may say that this doesn’t sound too crazy as everyone knows that it is stupid to run through the supposed “organized chaos” of Indian roads.  Actually, I almost died running on an Indian road when there wasn’t a single car in sight.

Ok, I’ll get to the point. I ran my 3rd Airtel Delhi Half Marathon this past weekend and literally almost passed out on the road. Anyone who has followed this blog would know that over the past 3 years I have run 2 half marathons and 1 full one which means that I shouldn’t have any issues with running one more half marathon; I thought the same as well until I did everything I could to handicap myself.

For some reason I didn’t really train consistently leading up to the race. I would run a couple of miles here or there, but never enough to feel comfortable. During the 9 months leading up to race, the longest I had run was 10km.  Then, a week before the race, I got really sick, like 102 fever sick. Coughing, sneezing, whining, etc… which meant I didn’t do anything physical prior to running the marathon except arm curling Kleenex from the box to my nose.    To make matters worse, I attended the official pre-race party hosted by Airtel the Friday night before the marathon, then traveled to Pune and back on the day before the marathon getting a cumulative total of 5 hours sleep during the 2 nights before running 21km.

On the 5:00am drive down to JLN Stadium, I had butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I was going to take a major test which I hadn’t prepared for.  My eyes were heavy, head pounding, nose stuffed with mucus and legs hurting.  I got to the stadium and saw thousands of runners looking fresh, happy and ready to take on the challenge.  I felt like I was the only person dreading the thing that I had personally signed up for.
Rather than stretching, meditating and hydrating prior to the race, I chose to just loiter around for awhile until the race started. I was so lost in my disempowering thoughts that didn’t even hear the MC tell all the half marathoners to start.  I finally collected myself and started running.

I spent the first 6km trying to untangle my headphones while I ran at a decent pace and the second 6km were spent enjoying the sounds of Karunesh. After I reached the 12km mark I started to feel the effects of the poor way in which I had treated my body during the week before.  I suffered to the 16km mark and then, while I was fighting off extreme nausea, I started to feel some deadly cramps in my legs.

I figured the pain would pass but it only got stronger on each stride.  I spent the entire time between km 16 and 17 looking around for auto rickshaws that I could take to the finish line as I was sure I was going to blackout at any moment. Fortunately or unfortunately I didn’t find any and was too proud to flag down one of the ambulances which were nearby.  Instead, I chose to fight it and trudged to the finish line which seemed to be moving farther away with each step.

My body gave out as soon as I crossed the finish line. While others slowly walked to pick up their medals and refreshments I was basically crawling. It was quite embarrassing actually, but I didn’t mind as I was so proud that I finished with a time of 2 hours and 10 minutes and, more importantly, that I didn’t die.

All in all my 3rd Delhi half marathon was not as positive as an experience as my 2nd one, however it had its own unique charm to it as I was just so happy to know that I could put my body through hell and actually complete the full 21kms.  As I write this, the soreness is gone and I’m already thinking about the Bombay full marathon in January which I’m registered for…

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