Half Knowing myself

0.5 Self Knowledge

The great thing about blogging is that you can always brag about yourself. I have often bragged about stuff on this blog over the past two years; this Sunday for the first time, I felt that I did something that was really worth bragging about. Sometimes, when you look back upon past achievements - even if you still are proud of them - they don't seem as wonderful as they did at that time.
This Sunday, I completed the annual Dexter-Ann Arbor Half-Marathon. Long ago, I read a tagline for a Boston Marathon poster that said:
"You will know everything about yourself in 26.1 miles"
It inspired me - the economy of it - imagine getting to know everything about yourself in just a little over 4 hours. So a logical step would be to try the distance with a 50% discount. The curious aspect of running marathons is that you never run the full distance while training. You go up and then down, slowly building stamina but never test yourself till D-Day.
On a bright sunny Sunday morning, I found myself at the starting line in Dexter. All I had to do was to run home to Ann Arbor. Unlike other runs, you get the specially designed Dexter-Ann Arbor Run T-shirt only if you complete the half-marathon. Only in homo sapiens would observe 2000 of its members running around and almost getting themselves killed just to get a T-shirt. This year's T-shirt was a panel of comics designed by a local artist which poked fun at some aspects of running (one panel below).
tshirtIt was definitely fun, but far from pointless. There were people recovering from cancer. People who gave up smoking. People who gave up drinking. A man on a wheelchair. A women running with a prosthetic leg. Like most other people, I was running for fun, but also to prove to myself that I could do it (and have something unique to brag about!). After the 21 km or 13.1 mile run, the tagline from Boston was right. Marathons teach you a lot about yourself. Running for 2+ hours with an elevated heart rate makes your body think it is in mortal danger. It's just your mind (whatever it is) that makes you keep going. You can't help but think about the obvious metaphors for Life - pacing, preventing burnout, saving up for the final burst of speed, sticking to the job, the uphills and downhills, the people you meet on the way and those that fall behind, and the importance of training. I ran ten miles at a great pace, but the last 3 miles were the real test. The sun felt hotter than ever before and my legs seemed to be as heavy as lead. Then you begin to get slightly delerious.

Arms (to each other): Is this torture worth it? Hell! Let's stop!
Legs: Next year, man!'
Brain: Banish those thoughts! It's not worth giving up when you have finished 75% of the race.
(A few minutes pass and then the body wants to revolt against the brain's dictates.)
Feet: I think I'm cramped. These feet are not rated for running more than 5 miles at a stretch and we are at 10 miles right now.
Lower Back: This is killing me. Can't we stop now?
Brain: No! You are a bunch of losers.
Legs: Brain, what do you do anyway? All you do is sit there and give orders!
Brain: Look, I am making a sacrifice too! I am ensuring that you guys get most of the blood. Can't you hang on for a few more minutes? I promise that you will get a lot of rest once we are done. Toughen up, guys!
Arms, Lower Back, Butt, Feet, Legs (in unison): Aw! Shut up!

Finally, you see the finish line loom in the distance and almost automatically you seem to be running faster and faster. Your legs hit the timing mat and you have FINISHED your first Half Marathon!

It has taken about 3 days to completely recover from the aches and pain from the 2 and a quarter hour run, but hell it was worth it! Perhaps, the only reason why people like to run is chemical. I have never felt such an endo-morphine induced 'high' as I did on Sunday. Can't wait to get started for Chicago.
***
One T-shirt caption read: More and more women are running the country.

1 comment:

Indira said...

Hirak,
Congrajulations ! Thats really awesome !
All the Best for the Chicago Marathon.