The Joy of Running thru the Mud, Water and Pebbles
– It was a rotation one period in army with lots of outfields and other combat training. The only days I could train were during the weekends at Macritchi with few of my friends and Sundays alone at the track. Running was at my minimal with weekly mileage of up to 25 km or less. Hence, I didn’t have any plans to race during this period. I was a little hesitant to race when my coach told me if I would be interested to take part in the Compress-sport Rail Corridor run. I said I would.. for experience and fun but with no podium expectation.
It was 31st January, the race day. I didn’t know that there would be a free baggage deposit so I didn’t bring anything with me beside the running gears. When I reached the gathering area, I realized there were many familiar faces of the fellow Gurkha friends and number of avid local road-race runners. There were also three Kenyans, two Caucasians and a Japanese runners for whom I was told that they were pretty good at road-races. At this point I knew it would be a tough race to get to even the top 10 position. But my plan was to relax, run slightly back and if my position at the 7km mark would allow, I would go for at least the top 10 positions or better. But I had no real expectations. I was there to have fun.
The race started. While everybody were sprinting to get to the lead, I stayed back kept a distance of approx 50 m from the leading back. There were probably around 12 or more people in the lead. I was relaxed and was at my easy pace for the first two kilometers. But as I continued, I realized that I was not efficient with my run. My feet were numb and I couldn’t move my legs even at the easy pace. There was no running feel. I was slowing down and around five more people overtook me. I was probably at 17 or 18th position now with the lead pack ahead by 150 meters or more. I was in trouble. It was the first time I wore socks and shoes for a run. (Usually I don’t wear socks for my training). I had to do something about it before I would come to the point of walking to the finish line. But No, I wouldn’t be walking. I could not afford to. There was my coach waiting for me at the finish line, hoping I would do well and have a strong finish at the end. I could not let him down, and I could not let myself down. I could get another shoe, but I could not get the same race, same moment again.
At three and half kilometers, I paused, took off the shoe, threw the socks, hold the shoe and continued with my run. Reaching 5 km, I thought, should I throw the shoe? It was a shoe from my coach coz I didn’t have any. I left it at the water point near five km mark after-all it was pretty small size for me and it was already wearing off with no good grip. Though I had only one more pair, this one was already damaged and performance was more important than the shoe that I could no longer wear.
The terrain was pretty bad (bad in a good sense coz I love this kind of trails) with so many pebbles, mud and water all over. There were some points where there was no escape from the pebbles for up to 50m. My poor feet was hurting and I had to as run as lightly as possible. However, I had advantage at the mud and water because my legs were as light as it could get. I was flying. Reaching the 6km mark, I overtook almost 6 people. At this point I was probably 12 position and on par with a fellow Gurkha runner. We were running side by side and occasionally I would talk to him and encourage him to speed up so that we could pace each other till the finish. With 500m to go, he was already gasping for air and was breathing very heavily. Relaxed, running tall and with some energy to spare, I sprinted to the finish line, just missing out of the top 10 position.
Overall I was 11th position but managed to clinch the 6th under individual open category. Running together with familiar friends at a terrain I would love to run was definitely a very memorable experience for me.
Till the next race, signing off,