Suresh Patil writes about his tryst with sports at an advanced age when most people would be skeptical about getting into any kind of activities. Very inspiring indeed.
In 2013 I turned 53. That was the year when I started cycling. Things are never easy for a late bloomer. Definitely not in an intense sport like cycling.
I started off with small 2 km cycle rides. That required significant effort. But then, consistency is the name of the game. I was relentless in my pursuit of cycling. Soon I got better and better. My capacity increased and so did my enthusiasm for cycling.
I went from strength to strength and went cycling all the way to Sinhagad fort and other scenic places around Pune. I completed a 200km cycling race. Subsequently, I did a few more 200km+ races.
In July 2015 I went on a cycling expedition from Manali to Leh and Khardungla. Khardunglais the highest motorable place on earth. It was an experience of a lifetime.
After I returned to Pune, one fine evening I was showing the trip pictures to my niece Asmita Jagtap.
Asmita had recently joined PUNE RUNNING’s training program for beginners to run a half marathon in PRBM 2015. She asked me to join too.
I said, no way. Some time back I had hurt my knee running on the treadmill and didn’t want to take chances at this age.
Asmita persisted and asked me join the group just once in Pune University and continue only if I felt like it. I relented.
My first time with the group was baptism by fire. I could barely run 3km and that too with ample walk breaks. My knees ached.
PRBM 2015 registrations opened. I announced to my wife and son that I will be registering for the half marathon (21km). They were very annoyed with my over exuberance and worried about my health. I assured them that I would be fine as my training would be in a structured manner.
A few weeks later I wasn’t improving much. I considered changing my PRBM registration to 10km. Mahesh advised me to hold back and wait until close to PRBM date.
The practice routine continued and I did two 10km runs. That boosted my confidence and I decided to stay with the 21km goal.
My preparations closer to PRBM day went well. I did an 18km run in 2hr 20min. The session with Michael Francis gave me valuable inputs.
Sunday, 11th October , 2015 morning I reached BMCC college ground all set for the big day. This was going to be my first half marathon and I was naturally anxious.
The route, as is expected from any route in Pune, had many uphills and downhills. I ran my first 5km at a blistering pace in 32min.
After Pashan Circle and towards Chandni Chowk, things became challenging. The weather was humid and the road, uphill. I still managed to pull through and reached the turn-off point (10.5km) in 1hr and 10min. So far so good.
After the 12km mark, I began to tire and had to take walk breaks. As the kilometers passed by the brutal October heat began taking its toll. It has a huge struggle as I battled knee pain and cramps in the thigh muscles. I battled on.
The steep Symbiosis climb was tough to negotiate but the destination was very close. That navigated I ran all the way to BMCC gate, the finish point.
My joy at the finish was boundless. I can never explain in words the sense of achievement that I felt at that moment. I was now a marathoner!
I finished in 2hrs 39min. PRBM 2015 half marathon run will remain a glorious achievement in my life.
In November I met with a cycling accident and damaged my shoulder joint. That meant no cycling, running or swimming for some time.
Big problem, right? No way.
I did the next best thing, walking! I went on a 100km walking expedition from Pune to Panchgani. It was a tough 24hour walk which I completed successfully.
In December, I was back to running. I ran 10km in OUR MARATHON.
Soon I plan to cycle from Pune to Goa in 2 days.
I have no regrets about starting so late. Running, cycling and swimming have taken me to amazing places and given me new friends for life.
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