Not quite Ultramarathon Man!

Sadly, running seems to have taken a lesser priority in my life these days. That’s not to say I don’t run. 3-4 times a week, leisure runs, with no bearing on pace or the type of running(intervals, tempo…blah blah) is not classified as serious training. The only marathons I’m running are the ones involving my books. Even that like running, seems largely a mental game. Both require a certain discipline and endurance and repeated questions to oneself “why are you doing this?”. With the studying I can safely say “this will fill your bank accounts for all the destination marathons you have planned in the future”. Score! That’s motivation enough to ace this exam.

This exam hasn’t been the only reason my mileage has dropped. The God dam sun is to blame too. See the Mumbai heat is killing me. It’s hard enough to get by the day in this weather, can you imagine the internal protests my body has when i’m moving with a heart rate close to 150 bpm.

When you start getting good at something you start getting a little cocky. Not the wisest thing to do. But running seems to bring me crashing down every time I get carried away. Humbling experience, if you may.

In the marathon world, I’m still a novice. Having taken up running late last year, my focus has largely been on distance. I mean speed or different terrains, hardly cross your mind when your still learning to run long distance.  So when I completed my 3rd half marathon I was feeling pretty confident. 21km!!! pffft I could run that any given day. I’ll do it today, i’d boast. Then came the Kundalika river marathon. BAM!!! This race shattered all the overconfidence I seemed to have gathered. See previously all the training and races I’ve done were pretty much flat tracks. Who knew inclines could take the wind out of you. Lesson learnt I said. I still have improving to do.

But take away the inclines and I was still pretty proud of my progress. With all the weight loss and endurance I’d gathered in the last few months, who wouldn’t be right! So what, I’ll conquer them hills eventually. Little did I know there were other challenges waiting. That’s when there was another BAM!!! The Sun seemed to smile sadistically. See quietly, I was already dreaming of the Badwater Ultramarathon. How tough could it be? Tough, sure, but give it a couple of years and I should be ready. It being summer and the heat killing me, it seemed like a nice place to start. So I set out for a run. I felt like a 15 km run that particular day, something I had grown very confident of in the comfortable so called ‘winter’ months of Mumbai.   4 kms in and I was begging to stop. I carried on till 6. Bad day. We all have them. 2 days later, same result. After a week of practice I’m getting to 10 kms. One more hill to climb. That reminds me of what Mandela said:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

The Ladakh marathon is what I plan to attempt next. With my exam finishing in early June. It should give me just enough time to build up some endurance to have a fighting chance. With plans to go the United States later this year to pursue the excruciatingly long training required to be Surgeon, I know if I don’t attempt Ladakh now, I wont for a few years. What’s the worst that could happen, a DNF (Alright, alright, I know for most of you runners that’s as good as a death sentence). But then again, I’ll still have an exciting trip to tell the grandkids about.

With my ego firmly crushed and any thoughts of venturing to Death Valley hidden in a dark corner of my brain, I realize how much I still have to gain. That’s not to say I’ve given up on Badwater or being an ultramarathoner, I’ve just realized how much hard work is left to do. Maybe, just maybe I’ll run on the Sun. (click on the link if you’ve never heard about the Badwater ultramarathon)