Fun is the opposite of misery. Fun is the essence of life. Fun is a state of mind. Thinking of fun takes my fickle grey matter to think of only one thing i.e running. My interest of fun fluctuates with each passing year and season. Come winters, I want to go scuba diving in Andamans. Come summers, I want to go hiking in the mountains. Sometimes it is rock climbing or skateboarding. But always at the back of my chameleon brain is running.
Last year I dove into running ultra distances after participating in a few marathons. The sweat, pain and suffering of the long hours on tarmac or trail were the idea of fun to me. But, I wanted more. So, I trained to run a race of 100 km. 100 km is a daunting distance just to drive and it sounds like a demented idea of covering it on foot. But, thousands of men and women across the world are doing it. They are even doing races longer than 100 km. They just want more FUN!
I scoured hundreds of websites to look at training plans. I also read scores of ultra running books. People write about it too! Can you imagine? Satisfied from all the research, I started the training for the next 6 months.
As time went by, I became stronger and faster. But at the hindsight, I was not available to my family as I was constantly in a state of exhaustion. I have, though, sorted out this kink by fine tuning my training pattern now. The training sometimes entailed me to run at mid night on long run day i.e weekend. Then I used to go to office and finally at night, I hit the local pubs with a vengeance. What can be more fun than that?
Come race week, I had to travel to Delhi from Bagdogra(where I resided at that time). I came down with a soul crushing viral fever on the day of my travel. I reached my parent’s home at night with a burning temperature. My mother was admitted in a hospital for some treatment and my father was at home, battling the same kind of viral fever as mine.
It was devastating for me as I trained so hard for the race and the doctor told me that I can’t run in this condition especially 100 km. She gave me a look of annoyance and confusion while she declared this. Upon my arrival, three days later my mother passed away because of dengue. The loss was unspeakable. When the reality started sinking in on the day of cremation that she isn’t coming back anymore, I asked my father if I can run the race in her memory. With a lump in his throat, he hugged me and said she wanted you to run.
Night before the race, I prepared my running equipment and was heading to a good night’s sleep when my brother came and announced that father also has dengue. I couldn’t believe my ears. We rushed to the hospital and came back at midnight after they told us that he was not in danger. I slept for a couple of hours and headed out for the race. I ran the race with traces of viral fever and a heavy heart. I ran free of any sadness though. The best part about running is that it strips your soul of all the emotions and forces you to focus on only one thing i.e running. It is a deep meditative state as many call it. However, there were moments when I just couldn’t stop thinking about my mother; how loving she was, how she took care of us, how terribly unfortunate the whole reality of life is!
We started running before the sun came out; kept running when the sun was glowering at us; I ran when it went to rest and kept on going when the moon and stars took its place. After 60 km into the race, I was nauseating, my blood pressure started falling, I couldn’t see straight, the soles of my shoes gave away but it was still fun. I sometimes felt as if my mother was watching me from some corner of the trail and encouraging me to go on. We started the race at 5 in the morning and finished at 10 in the night. 17 hours of torture, pain, dehydration and sadness brought in a state of zen. I was calm and at peace.
I reached home all dirty with the finisher medal. My wife and father were waiting for me. They knew I have done them proud. I went to the portrait size photograph of my mother, smiling at me lovingly, kept in the living room for next day’s religious ceremonies and kept my medal in front of her. She was part of my fun all throughout and she deserved the medal. Its my 100km of tribute.
I had written the above article for an online magazine, but it didn’t get published. So, I reproduced it here. I also wrote a report on the above race last year. It’s a bit detailed one. You can read it here. Presently I am training for 100km race in Feb 2017 at Run of Kutch, organised by Globeracers.
I did a small video on the above written rambling, as an experiment. Hope you all like it.
Till then stay fit and keep running.