The fitness guru

Back in November, 2015, a spontaneous urge to start running sprang in my mind. As far as I can recall, this was not a conscious thought or a pre-planned course of action. I was working away on my desk, and suddenly I tweeted “I’mma Run the Marathon”. Since then, I have ran two half marathons, numerous 8 ks, 5 k, and other shorter runs. The 41 km full marathon has so far eluded me, but I will definitely run that one – Someday…

My urge to run, back then, has seen me transform myself from a non-runner to a runner. Over the course of these one and a half years, I have started paying great deal of attention to physical health and fitness. I make sure to run, go to the gym and work out on a daily basis. I also make sure to sit down and be mindful on a day to day basis.  I have also started paying a great deal of attention to the food I eat. And this has helped me develop the habit of making my own meals. In-addition to all of these changes, I have started to enjoy the household chores that need to be done. I feel that doing all these household chores combine to make a great calorie burner on a daily basis.

As I was returning home from one of my runs, a question popped inside my cerebral cortex. Who is my inspiration, my fitness guru- someone I look up to? Since I had started running very spontaneously, I really did not have any inspiration as such. Neither had I put any thought regarding fitness guru prior to today. I had no answer.

In my early days as a child and in my teens, I had always been very athletic. I used to play cricket, football, and basketball when I was back in school, and really admired Mark Waugh as a cricketer. Had I been a cricketer, the answer would have been very simple. Had I been a footballer, maybe I would have an answer too. But here I was- neither a footballer nor a cricketer. I had become a running enthusiast by sheer spontaneity, and over the years, the enthusiasm of running had spilled into other aspects of my life. I tried to reason with my head- maybe I did not have a fitness guru in particular. Maybe I was just driven more by the situation and my need to change things around me. I won’t disagree the environment around me was definitely a catalyst behind that unconscious decision to suddenly start running. But this answer did not suffice, and so I continued to ponder.

Then I found my answer. I had been unaware of it, until now-

My mom wakes up early every morning and starts her day by taking a walk with Happy (Our pet dog). She then recedes to the living room and with hot water by her side- she starts her daily yoga sessions. Mom has been doing yoga for god knows how many years now, and she is really good at it. This one time I approached my mom and asked her if she could sit in the lotus posture. Now back then I had only recently started my mindfulness sessions and I was struggling to sit in the lotus posture. Not only did my mom sit in the posture but she actually lifted herself up in the air with the support of her two hands whilst still in the lotus posture. For a women in her late 60’s, that was impressive (at least I thought so).

You should see my mom during her walks. She is super nimble, and fast off her feet. I remember how this one time, she shared her story about how she fell down while walking. And with excitement, she tells me “In a flash, I was up on my feet and walking again.” She further went on to add how one of the onlookers was awed by her energy. I think I, my family, relatives, the not so close relatives and friends have always been awed by her energy.

My mom has been doing household chores way before she started doing her yoga. In her own words she recalls “Pahiley tah hamilay pani sinka bachenam”. She was referring to times before she was married. Furthermore she added it was only after getting married that she started tending to household chores. And that is how she learned the art of cooking and home management. I’d be the first to testify that she’s an amazing professional in both of these. She has a simple philosophy that allows her to do all of this, and it is “I will do it until I can.” This attitude has led her to always be fit and healthy despite her age. She is very active and seldom procrastinates when it comes to doing the chores. This does not mean she tends to all the household chores. My sisters have always been around to help and it is with deep regret that I say that I haven’t. But things have changed over the past year and a half- I have made an active attempt to do all the chores. I apologize to both my mother and sisters for not having started earlier. But now that I have gotten used to doing the chores and have reaped the health benefits – I would happily continue to do it for as long as I can.

Finally, her diet is something that really amazes me. There would be days in the past when I often complained that she was eating too little, especially for dinner. Her dinner looked like a dinner fit for a bird and I would ask her to eat more. Her response would be “I eat as much as my body needs.” She has a larger meal (fit enough for a human) for lunch, and has a fulfilling breakfast. Also during the day, she takes refreshments and finally after dinner, just before retiring for bed, a glass of milk. Her philosophy for eating is simple – “regardless of the taste of the food, I eat as much as I should”. My meals aren’t quite as small as hers, but they are definitely now as per my body requirements.

Unknowingly, I had just been doing what my mom has been doing all along for all these years. I know I have a long way to go and I am just starting out. But the ideal scenario would be to continue and keep on striving to get better.

I am really glad that I was able to ponder upon this question regarding fitness guru. The response made perfect sense to me and now I know who my Fitness Guru is – My MOM.

Happy Mumma Day!!!!!!!!!

 

Advertisements

The number that finally ran

As soon as I saw the ad for the Kantipur half marathon in the papers one morning, I knew I was going to participate. Quickly, I recalled my unfortunate incident from last year – “The number that never ran”;  however, I had already learned from that silly mistake, and I was certain that this time, I would run and finish the race.

At two hours and fourteen minutes, I crossed the finishing line. I had done it. Completed the entire half marathon. Ideally, I would have liked to crossed the finishing line around the  2 hours mark, but anything under 2 hours 30, I was taking it. After crossing the finishing line, and once the initial excitement of crossing the finish line had subsided, my thoughts went back to how far along I had come. A year ago on this day – I was fumbling through the dates, and was realizing what a blunder I had made. I had unfortunately not been able to run the half-marathon as I had planned on February 2016. Since then, I had kept running and had completed a half-marathon on November 2016 – my first ever. I had taken three hours and twenty nine minutes to complete that one. However, that was on a different terrain and was more of a trail run, but the Kantipur marathon had been my first proper street half-marathon.

My mind goes back to the day when I missed what was supposed to be my first race and was livid with myself. Now that that I have completed the race one year later, I realize that this event how different the outcome had been from last time. Now looking prospectively into the future, this accomplishment gives me further encouragement to continue running.

 

 

Conquering a different demon

After almost a year of planning, preparation, and training the day I had been waiting for finally came. In between there had been two injury layoffs, but on the day of the run I had no injury concerns. I was ready for the long distance running session albeit only for the “half marathon”. I had originally wanted this run to be a marathon but instead chose to enroll only for half-marathon as I did not feel quite ready for marathon. Nevertheless, I was excited and rearing to go.

The date 26th of November, the venue- the hills of Kakani and I was running 21 kilometers. Days before as I was enrolling I had asked the organizers if the run would be on flat land or would we encounter hills and trails? They laughed at me and said you do realize we are in Nepal, right. I did know this but I was only hoping for the terrain to be a bit merciful. However, regardless of the terrain I was ready to go conquer the 21k.

On race day I felt ready and my gut instinct told me I would be able to see the finish line. I did not know what was in store for me during the race, that, I would have to find out as I ran. Before the start of the race I got the chance to meet a champion runner Mira Rai, which in itself was quite a moment and she even wished me luck. J  And then the race began at 10:00 in the morning –

 

The Start

I got off to a fairly decent start, I knew I had to manage my pace and race management was the key. This was my first ever half marathon, but my months of preparation had at least given me an idea that I needed to plan this race. It would only get tougher as the race progressed that I constantly told myself. Also, I kept on telling myself that if I start to compete with others then I might as well throw the towel in. I mean I really wanted to get to the finish line in about three hours that was my primary target. In other words I was telling myself to run my own race and not be concerned about what others did. I managed to stick to this idea and though I felt I was getting overtaken left, right and center, I stuck to what I had to do. I got through the first check point at 1.3K without any concerns and forged on.

Then the race took a turn a different turn as the track converged into a narrow trail. Surrounded by trees the trail was a great place to run and it provided cover from the sun, but since the trail was narrow and slippery. Honestly, I did not like running on such a trail especially because they were slippery, also I was weary of the narrow trail because I was concerned for my ankles. I have twisted both my left and the right ankle in the past year. The left ankle suffering a ligament tear back in December 2015 had kept me bed ridden for almost a month. So, I treaded very carefully, watching my steps and not trying to run very fast. The steep climb and declines also made the trail even tougher and it was best to go slow. I did try to keep a decent pace and had to constantly tell myself that I would not do a leisurely walk. Even, when I did walk on the trails, I tried to make sure that I was walking a decent pace. Then came checkpoint two at 6.2K and it was time for some refueling – biscuits and water.

 

The middle

The legs were feeling it now and slowly they were beginning to hurt. I had gone past 7kms and during my practice runs the most I have gone is around 10. I was getting to a point after which I did not know how my legs or my body parts would deal it. Then came check point three at 9.3K, I remember volunteers clapping and encouraging the runners, this and the biscuits were really helpful. I made sure to also hydrate myself and set forth again. I was beginning to believe now and I felt I would be able to finish the race and in a good time, maybe even in less than three hours. And, then again the track changed and this time for worse. The volunteers pointed to the left and as I made a left turn I could see a climb but I had no idea how long the climb would be. It seemed to go on and on and there was no way I would be able to run. I could see other runners also struggling on this climb and they were walking. I started walking too but made sure I kept a decent pace even when walking. I did not want to walk gingerly and look like I was struggling although my legs and back was hurting by now. I had practiced in the streets of Kathmandu and this terrain was different and tough. But, at least I had trained and that counted for something. So, I pushed on and climbed, expecting the climb to end soon but it did not. It felt like it was never going to end. Just when I thought I saw an opening to a wider track and downhill, the climb on the trail continued. Then the sign showed up – 15k. I was elated at this sight, just 6 more kilometers to go I thought but I had no idea what was to come.

 

The Conclusion

I was past the 15k mark now but I felt as if my legs were giving up now. I could feel the pain on my left knee on my every step and my right thighs were hurting just as much. Every time my feet landed I felt as If I would twist my ankles. I started getting more concerned about my ankles now. The more I thought of it the more close calls I got. Couple of times I did get those narrow shaves. Whew!! I would then say that was close and I walked on. I was not able to push myself to run now and inside my head a demon was growing, constantly telling me what if I am not able to finish this? I had planned my race right, I had not overworked myself and it was not as if I was exhausted but it was more a case of my legs giving up and even more, my head was buying into the idea that my legs had run their course.

I was now really struggling and so I made sure that I was looking behind me and that I gave way to the runners behind me when they got close. And then a group of three running in a line came close, and as I gave way, this one guy in the middle just says “Come hop in the running train. We will do this slow and steady.” So, I got aboard and hopped on the running the train and behold I was able to run again. It was not brisk running but more joggers pace but at least I was back to running and suddenly I was not concerned about my ankles. I just tried to stick with the running pack and matched their pace and surprisingly I was able to keep it up. In the way we also made others hop on the running train and this formula worked. It felt good to motivate one another and running like this helped. At the end of the day for all of us it was more about being able to finish the race. We got to the 18k mark and then it was time for some granola bars, biscuits and water. We got going on and now I knew we were close. I did feel I was tiring out now and so I backed up a little bit, but now I knew I would finish this race, thanks to the running train that got me through the little mini rut I had been in after the 15k mark. I forged on slowly and though the running train went on without me, it had served its purpose for me. I would surely be finishing the race.

There was one final climb which again was long and tough. Once, this was done it was running to the finish. The 21k had been done and the demon conquered. It took me 3 hours and 29 minutes to finish the race, a bit longer than what I had expected but I did not care. I was happy to finish the race, under really tough running terrain.

 

My first ever half-marathon.