Wednesday 1 June 2016

Sometimes we don't get soup. Comrades 2016

Comrades 2016 is done.  I finished it with just a few minutes to go,  in around 11:56

I last mentioned that I had this desire of finishing in a good time and going into the international tent and sharing some soup with my fellow Indian runners.   

At the finish, I had two bottles of IV instead. 

After finishing the race, I took my medal and walked towards the medical tent. 

I Threw up and doubled down on the lawn and was quickly transported into the medical tent. 

I've had IV's at comrades before but the next hour and half was one of the most painful I have ever experienced. 

They did some blood work and decided that I needed an iv.   The problem with the IV fluid was that it was slightly cold. 

At that point thousands of people were coming Into the medical tent and it was a complete crazy zone.  In fact, the comrades medical tent has often been described as the largest temporary medical set up In the world outside of a war zone or active disaster area. 

The cold iv went into my blood stream and I started to shiver. 

One may have seen those machines in the gym that people use to loose weight.  One stands on a platform and there is belt put around ones waist.  Then the platform vibrates and the belt also vibrates.  For about an hour and a half as the IV went into my system my upper body shivered with that intensity.  My legs however had gone into an excruciatingly painful spasm and were completely immobile. 

I pondered at the absurdity of my position. The upper half shivering out of control, the lower half completely immobile and in terrible pain. 

They had put one aluminum blanket and 3 woollen blankets on me to stop the shivering but it was completely useless .  

The suffering ended only when both the bottles of IV were done. 

So the dream of having soup got substituted with 2 bottles of IV. 

I lay In the tent for another half hour to recover. 
But Through the 2 hour ordeal, my one hand was clinching my finishers medal.   Bruce Fordyce has often said that at the finish-line, one way to check if the runner is dead is to simply try prying out the medal from his hands....A runner who isn't died won't let go of the medal. 

That little piece of metal is precious beyond words. 

As I lay vibrating at a high frequency and in intense pain,  I thought about my run. 

I had spent the last 4 hours  of the race on the road in intense pain and stress.  Every second is vital when one finishes a 89.205 km race with less than 3 minutes to go.   

For so many years I have been trying to improve my performance on comrades race day.  Every year has been the same. 
I felt bad for the millions of things my wife had done to help me. I felt bad for calling my friend ashok from pune to cycle next to me on my long runs.  I felt bad for all the times I've left my family and gone away to run.   To what end ? To keep finishing with such a slim margin ?? To what end ?  I've changed training strategies but the end result has always been the same. 

I finish the race with just a few minutes to spare.   
Only someone who run comrades and finishes in those closing moments will understand the level of stress one undergoes.  

People around you start walking towards the end and you have to fight the instinct to join them. It is very hard. 

The math is always clear.  One needs to run the Kms at a certain pace or one will get cut off.  But the road varies violently with the ups and the downs and it is hard for one to hold a particular pace. It is hard to plan ones pace. 
I battled with time from 38 km to go.  
Later, I had 10 km to go and 7 km to run.  My calf was continuously sending me signals that it was just waiting to go into spasm and my knees and quad muscles were screaming  for relief after being abused for the better part of 12 hours. 

I think my ability as a runner is hopeless.  

Bruce Fordyce always says that to be a runner one must choose ones parents well. 

I think in my entire family family tree spanning back many many generations, there isn't a single athlete. 

I didn't choose my parents wisely for this particular passion of mine. 

So what can I do ? 

Well for one , I thank my parents for all the other blessings they bestowed on me.  The love for reading and writing comes from my Father.  Courage, I inherit from my mother.

I have so many other blessings that it is ok if I can't run fast. 

Such is life. Nobody has everything.  The yin and the yang are always in balance. 

Such is life. 

Sometimes one has to do without the soup.  One can settle for the IV.

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