Running with the Legends – Newbies and Oldies

Ashok at Nairobi MarathonThe month before

Meeting Swara over the Saturday runs, everyone would discuss the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, after all it was home ground. They will ask me… Ashok are you doing the half? My proud self would say, “NO my dear, I am doing a Full”. (The inside me seriously commented to myself, he is not doing a Full, but…a fool in my mind. I asked my mind, what did the mind say? My mind replied nothing)  …if I realized what I was about to do, I would rather have done the half and not be a fool (do the full). But if you are like me… you have to be half mad to do the Full…

The week before

My week was spent just longing to get over with this plan of mine; plan to achieve the inevitable feat of running the Full.

The day before

I got up early on 24th and wanted to be early at Jeffery’s to do an extra lap, feel strong, do my stretch and wait for the next 24 hours to get on to the start line. I did a good run. The ones who were there must have said; “ahhh, this Ashok, he is prepared, he is strong, he is my inspiration, you feel more prepared?” …perception 🙂

While still at Jeffreys, Samy,  our very own elite…suggested we meet in the evening and inspire the ones who will be doing there first Half and Full Marathon runs. Marian being one of them immediately said yes (by the way, she did a super run, running the full in great time). So I sent a mail to encourage the new kids on the block. Little did I realize these new kids running tomorrow were going to the legends of today.

We had a decent turn out, we had our Patron who at that time was also one of the new kids on the block getting ready to join the big boys. When it comes to such things, looks are deceptive 😉

We had our Chairman advising the new kids on how to prepare for the finale. Can you imagine what these people were thinking while registering for a Full or Half for the first time? The evening and the night before the excitement, the nervousness, their expressions were blank. I wish we had captured the confused look on their faces the day before the race.

Am I seriously going to do the 42k?

Will I be able to run so much?

How will it be?

Have I done the right thing to sign up for this?

So how will I run?

Am I seriously going to run a Full tomorrow?

Then they ask me, “are you prepared?”

I make it worse ”I am never prepared”. My mind says nothing, imagine doing such serious business and the mind says nothing. It’s like when I was growing up and come home telling my mom about something she does not approve, and then…there is silence. All she would say, “I am not saying anything”. That say’s it all. Don’t do it. You are not up to it. I will still smile and the kid inside me will find determination (please don’t share this part with real kids, the parents might just arrest me for child misleading laws).

Then the Chairman’s advice, “listen kids, for the ones doing full, the run starts between 30k and 35k”.

“What? So we start running till 30k but we are still not running, and the race starts at 35K? The nervousness just doubles; if the doctor had taken the pulse rate, each one would have been admitted to Hospital.

The night of the race

Usually we are supposed to sleep at night … peacefully. This night sleep is also running…away. I am trying to catch it.

The morning of the race

I need to clear my stomach (bowels). This is more like serving food in a bowl and then emptying it, just like that….seriously, it seems so difficult…you want to feel light while running. You don’t want any disturbance inside you, specially with your … I do my thing a few times and I realize there is still more to clear up. Finally, I feel clean and light. Till the bladder fills up again…how?

The Run

The atmosphere is just magic, except your visit to the mobile…not the one you are carrying but the one you do stuff to ease yourself. You forget all your nervousness, you are the 1st to start, the 42s…people around you wishing you well.

“Are you ready?”.

Your lips say “yes”. Your expression says “no”, and your mind goes blank…again.

The race starts all happy, smiling faces, excited, feeling wonderful, the weather perfect, cloudy, cool pleasant.

While we run, we have our own personal paparazzi Abdi; you smile for the camera.

The route where you crisscross on the roads while running, meeting your fellow Swara, even if he is much ahead or faster than you is a nice feeling, else you will only see him or her on the finish line, this way you get to see them more often on the race. While you greet them and push each other the feeling and effect is just so wonderful.

I realized when we were running through town on a normal day, if you try and shout, your voice will be lost, but on the day of the Marathon run, the cheering by your fellow Swara echoed in town, and felt super. You met a Swara every few meters, and you keep going on. “Go, go, go”.

Ohh by the way, somewhere near Waiyaki Way, one of our fellow Naivasha Hash relay partner runners went past me. He was strong and felt good. Unfortunately, the fact that we won the relay was still not digested and bothered his tummy. He asked me, “where is your magic potion today?” I was my usually slow self. I felt happy, more like Getafix, and enjoyed it.

While I was screaming, I would smile on my fellow runners and encourage them. Put a smile on your face while you run. Some of them had an expression that said;  “Are you crazy? Don’t you see I’m suffering? How do you put a smile on ones face while you are suffering?” But they still kept running.

I felt strong till 21k, and realized my race had yet to start (the chairman’s words), while quite a few Swaras passed me …Zach, Ameet, Ajaa to name a few to finish their 21K. Then leaving the 21nners behind, I took the turn towards the race for the big boys and girls, feeling proud of myself. Suddenly I realize we were so few; the crowd just became thin like paper.

And we had our very own water point; Munyao had already finished his race and was standing there to support us 42ers; And ahead I saw Benjamin Phikaini and Dennis Lopua  doing the same; And again further down, James in his bike was also assisting us.These guys can run and run like professionals, yet they selflessly came back to support us newbies…Thank you.

I put on my music as this was getting boring running by yourself on Mombasa road. Cheering and shouting, I’m sure the bystanders must be thinking; this Mhindi is crazy. One, he cannot run. Two, he is cheering others. Instead of smiling, their expressions were blank…more so the cops, till I looked at them and they smiled. They had no choice but to change that serious look and smile back.

Slowly, my cramps started slowing me down…my mind, which was blank all this time, suddenly got up and was active, telling me I was blank all this time because I knew it. I knew it, I knew this would happen, but you still did not listen. You had to register for a Full. Have you seen your age and your health and your self? You are not a Kenyan. You are an Indian, just go and play cricket. I seriously felt my mind was my mother telling me the same thing, in the same way when I was a kid, when I would do something against her will. But just like my Mom, my mind was there with me, even with all the odds, to give me that support. I started walking. Marian, Loise Mbogo, and many more Swaras went past me.

Two Mzungu gave me a coke and an energy gel. They were a blessing in disguise; thanks so much. I got my energy back some how and started running again. From there it was run-walk-run-walk. Jame Waliaula gave me a drink which was so effective and good.

At 38k Benjamin and Dennis saw me walking and motivated me and started running with me. All of a sudden, the traffic opened and the cars started racing down the road. It seemed this became more of a car race with the cars racing fast towards us.

Swara 42k finishersAt 41k, I saw my fellow Swaras. Ohhh what a feeling; somehow it gave you extra strength to run on. Further down, more Swaras. I got my strength back. These Swaras inspire you so much, you have to say to yourself, “get on with it. Finish it”. And I did. I finished. And you know what? My mind was again behaving like my Mom. When you achieve, even if the mind (Mom) did not approve of your doing something you are not prepared for, it tells you or you tell yourself, “I am soo proud of you”.

I enjoyed my run and finished with a smile 🙂

The After Effects 

Am sure the feeling, the sense of achievement with the New Legends in the block takes time to settle in. You review, you dream, you look back and cherish every moment of pain and suffering, knowing the fact that you finished. There is nothing known as a weak finish. As long as you crossed that line, you are a Champ, and if you finish strong, oohh the effect of achievement magnifies in your mind. The ones who did not finish are also champs since they tried. The hangover am sure will stay alive for a while for each one. Live the moment and enjoy your own personal glory as long as it makes you happy and get’s a smile on your face, even if you look stupid 🙂 Even the moment of glory that you share together later is so amazing.

The moment you stop accepting challenges, is the moment you stop moving forward; that is what I felt when I got those cramps. I wanted to do a sub 5, I could only do a 5:20, which is now my other problem. I have to run another full (what a fool) 🙂

Thank you everyone 🙂

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