Jitendra Patel’s Sub-2 Half Marathon at the Vadadora Marathon
The number two (do`) has ruled the lives of us Indians for a long time.
Movie dialogues have used the number on a regular basis. Here are a few dialogues from the movie Sholay:
Kitne aadmi the? do? woh do` thei aur tum teen?
Do` rupaye mein bus itni si lakdi? Do` rupaiye mein jungle kharidne nikle the.
Sarkar ne do` hajjaar rupaiye ka enaam rakha hai.
This number has played a significant role in my life as well. Here’s what happened recently.
I decided to run the half marathon in Vadodara Marathon. Vadodara, the city of GSFC, is 174 kms away from my native village Navsari. The name Vadodara comes from the Vad tree or the Banyan tree. The weather forecast was awesome, the marathon route mostly flat, and a super super supportive audience. My target was a sub 2 marathon finish, which has evaded me for some time.
I packed my bags on Friday morning and left home. The plan was to work the day,and take the evening train directly after work. To my great joy, my wife and kids came to the railway station to see me off. The kids kept encouraging me by saying, “you have to give your best”. We also took a selfie at the train station :-). Though I was overwhelmed, I felt like my support team was expecting too much from me.
The next morning, Saturday, I met an old friend (Brahmanand Lamhse) in the town of Anand and my Aunt (Mausi) and cousins in Vadodara. I began my preday rest at 2:30pm. This time, I had been sipping enough water and gatorade for the day, to keep myself hydrated. I then made my strategy of how to go for the sub 2 timing.
I planned to cover the first 10 km in the first 1 hour and the remaining 11 km for the next hour. My best ever timing was a 10 km in 59 minutes. So I had to do more than hard work. My resources of luck would be a very important for all engines to fire in sync, to get this plan to work.
There would be three mind and body checks : first one at 11km , second one at 15kms and last one at 18kms.
The debacle at SCMM 2016 had shaken my confidence but I remembered Robin Sharma’s quote: “Failures bring success; Life is too short to play little” and realised that failures teach us to be better.
The theme for this run was “Swach Bharat”. Here are some pictures of the artwork which I did on the banner and my feet to show my support.
At the start line, I was accompanied by Arvind Bijwe and Kushal Shukla from Pune. Kushal is a young lad, half my age and started running 6 months ago. His radiating energy is what I would need in the last few kms. I just hoped, he would be with me till the end.
The run had a delayed start, because the chief minister was late in arriving for the flag off. Maybe, this helped my muscles warm up before flag off. Within the first km, I saw the 2:00 pacer, Rajesh Tiwari and I joined his bus for the first 11kms. Rajesh was an experienced runner, you could guess from his talk. Rajesh was an enthusiastic pacer, he showed places where I would get Vadodara’s best chewda and kept encouraging the audience to come join us for a distance. I said to myself “with an average of 5:30 minute per km, we would have an awesome buffer of 2 mins at the finish, if we continued at this pace”.
At the half way mark, I had attained my fastest 10k. I was happy, I could feel that success was closer. Now I had to just maintain this momentum.
This reminded me of a dialogue from Gabbar in Sholay “ Jab tak tere pair chalenge, tab tak iski saas chalengee“. But here I was both, Basanti and Veeru.
Around 14k, I was 10 steps behind the pacer. I was getting tired. My mind was playing tricks on me, urging me to slow down and that my breath was too shallow. I wanted to be positive, for such an opportunity wont come again. I remembered, all the positive things, I would do if I did achieve a sub 2 timing: call my kids, my parents and post pictures on Facebook. :-).
I became Mongerilal ( of Moongerilal ke hasin sapne) and started day dreaming. Then Rajesh called up, come join us, and I came out of day dream mode. Snap !!! I still had 6.6 gruelling km left. By 15km, I was consistently looking at my Garmin, not for the time left, but for the distance left. Every km felt as if it was coming slow, but our splits were always below 5:45 minutes per km. At 18 km, I told myself, I can hear the crowd at the finish line. I told Rajesh and team, that I would move ahead , knowing that Rajesh would go slower to reach the finish line at correct 2:00:00. (Read my previous blog on pacers). I wanted a comfortable timing well before 2, so even if there is a mismatch between my Garmin and the official clock, I won’t miss the target time.
As I got closer to the finish line, my pace got better, I finished the marathon at 1:58:09. At the finish line, still catching my breath, I called Hema and shared the news with her. “We did it, we did it in 1:58:09″. She also relayed the news to the kids, who were at the breakfast table. I was crying with happiness. I have seen many sports themed movies, like “Bhag Milkha Bhag“and “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander,”, but no film maker or actor was able to replicate the feeling of this fulfillment, of accomplishment that I was feeling at the finish line. There is nothing in the English vocabulary to share them here in words. It was special.
Now, I had joined that exclusive club , of overweight barefoot runners, above 45, completing a 13 miler in less than 2 hours. Kushal also did his first sub-2. He was the Frodo in today’s “Lord of the rings,” young and daring, to try to jump to the new level.
I have achieved something that was impossible two years ago. I am no guru, but I dared to dream and achieve it. While keying this blog, one quote from Ralph Emerson comes to my mind, “ Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen“ and YES IT DID.
Now its time to dream about parenting , bringing out the best in my team at home ,work and Big Data.
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