Just Do It!

Posted: October 28, 2007 in Personal

Just Do It!

I am not an athlete. I had never raced before. I signed up for the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run in June. I had begun to realize that I truly enjoyed running. It is not just a sport for me. I run away, primarily from calories, but also from anxiety and sadness and anger. I run to excitement and elation of the endorphins. I decided to seriously train for this 5K for the experience – for the high. I just wanted to complete a five km run in a decent time.

I bought myself a pair of new Nike Air Pegasus 2007+. I scourged through a plethora of websites and articles and finally settled on a training schedule chalked out by Runner’s World. I had a even bigger 5K that day. A mid-term, a class assignment, another midterm, the real 5K, another assignment deadline, all within 41 hours. There was a conflict of time between the race and my mid-term. I had already preponed my exam. By Sunday, I was overwhelmed. I did not know how I could do it and almost compromised on my goal. I will just try to complete the 5K. My lecture on Monday ended early. I was in a dilemma. Should I just take the midterm on schedule and give up the race? (I had a valid excuse!). My troubled mind sought shelter on the treadmill. I went to the CRC and I ran. I ran 4.01 mi in 35 min. I was soaked by the time I was done. I also had my answer. ‘What the heck was I thinking!’ I thought. ‘I will not just complete the 5K, I WILL race.’ I could not let three months of hard work go down the drain.

I decided to stay in the study room. Home would make me cozy and complacent and I had to study for 2 exams and keep up with my training. I had very little time. The day of the race had finally dawned. I had not slept for more than five hours for the past four days and was caffeinated for most of the time. Today, I did not want the caffeine. I put on my Head Sport Tee, my sweat band and took my shoes and shorts with me.

First, I had to attend class, then take my exam and then run. I would wear my shoes just before we leave for Turner Field. The assignment was done, the test was fortunately not so difficult. I arrived at the CRC. Liz gave me my bib. And my Mizuno Tee! We had a team T-shirt. I was to run with my team T-shirt on. I felt the soft silk white garment Liz had put in my hands. I ran my fingers over the cloth and walked off to the changing room in a daze. I changed into my white Mizuno which read – ‘On the move, with Georgia Tech.’ I stared at myself in the mirror. It was too big for me. You could barely see my shorts. But I did not seem to care. I just kept feeling the shirt. I felt like I was an athlete. I had a mission. I had to run, run as fast as my motor units could take me. Strangely enough for that moment, I could imagine a caricature of me, my upper body straight and stream-lined to propel ahead and my lower body; a pair of wheels rotating at full speed – like when you see Asterix when he has had his potion or when Tom is on a hot pursuit after Jerry. I knew as I walked out of the CRC, my gait had changed. I was determined and ready.

The race started at 7pm with the Elite runners at the forefront. I left the start line at 1:38 past the actual start time. I began slow and steady as we climbed the gradual hill on Hank Aaron. I continued at a steady pace till my muscles felt warm and I could sense the heightened blood flow through my lower body. Then, I picked up speed. I had crossed the first water stop at the first mile. We were on Piedmont and turned onto Harris and then on to Courtland Avenue. I could see the descent on Memorial Drive. While other racers were gaining speed on the slope, I was trying to maintain a steady pace, I knew a few wrong strides on the slope and my knee would hurt. I waited for level ground and sped ahead as fast as I could, trying to put behind as many as had gained over me on the slope.

As we turned right on Hank Aaron to complete the last fraction of the mile, I saw the five Olympic rings in gold, glimmering over the finish line. I stared at the rings as I ran towards them. The timer read 25:39. It was dark by now but I think I glowed. I had completed my first 5K in 24:01 minutes.

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