Monday, August 31, 2009

First Long Distance Run

“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.” - Jack London

Perhaps these lines best describe how I was feeling on crossing the finish line of my first half-marathon. I certainly wasn't conscious of much except for a vaguely ecstatic feeling of respect for myself and the fellow runners.

The run (competently organized by Hyderabad 10K Run Foundation) started from KBR Park at 5:30 AM towards Gachibowli stadium covering a total distance of about 21 Km. for half marathon. It was still dark when the race started and this combined with an almost palpable sense of excitement and enthusiasm all round made the whole scene a bit surrealistic. But a few minutes into the run, the day started to break and everyone got down to business.

During the run, the first thing I noticed was the camaraderie amongst the runners and for someone like me, who has been mostly training alone, this was a very pleasant discovery. There was this sense of common purpose amongst the participants that made everyone cheer each other along. I remember that whenever I felt low and started to think of walking, I would hear a "Come on!" from someone and that would keep me going.

The other good thing I observed about the long distance running (and endurance sports in general) is that it continuously affords you an opportunity to re-iterate your value-system to yourself. For instance, during the last 400 m. or so of the race, there was this final turn which could also be covered through a shorter diagonal path. The difference between the two paths wasn't more than 20 m. but having run almost 21 Km. the temptation to take the shorter path was very strong and specially so when you have seen some other runners taking that path and you knew that your own reputation was protected by anonymity. It is one thing to talk and write about values like 'integrity' and quite another to actually show them in the face of temptations. As a person who believes that the first and foremost virtue that one must possess is integrity of character, I am glad that I did not disappoint myself.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable and highly satisfying experience. So much so that I have already registered for my second half-marathon in Delhi.

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