This is a second post on one of my runs. The first one was published, a couple of years back, in a literary magazine.
My wife says that I was crazy before and have become crazier since the time I registered for Bhatti Lakes 100k. And that’s a relief that she is still putting up with my craziness.
Anyways, as per my training plan, I was supposed to run a 35k as a weekly long run on Week 11. Actually it was on the Wednesday, but I couldn’t find time and I postponed it on Friday but it was too warm and humid in the afternoon and I had to catch up on a movie which was being screened in the theatre near our place. If you read the last week’s account, I did a 30k on Friday, when my wife had to go alone for the movie. The same proposition was given on Friday too when I was given the “you-did-it-last-time” look. I, then, canceled my run and planned it on Saturday morning at 0300 hours. EYE OF THE TIGER!
The movie was a complete waste of time. It had a nice retro touch to it with excellent visuals but the story sucked. It was BOMBAY VELVET. Anyways, after the movie we came back home and I fed myself and my son. Simultaneously, I laid out my clothes on the bed and cleaned my new hydration pack from WildCraft. My son, when he saw me toying with it, he insisted that he takes it to the school to drink water. I gave it to him for a while and then put it away after filling it with drinking water. I slept off at 2230 hours after putting alarms for 0200, 0215 and 0230 hours. Enough of my post on How to wake up early!
I got up at 0200 hours with little difficulty. After morning ablutions, where I kept a track of time on my mobile so that I don’t take too much time on the potty, I made myself a little breakfast of a slice of brown bread with Nutella. I, then, prepared my hydration pack and put in a energy bar and a 250 ml bottle of coconut water and some tissue paper, in case my stomach becomes my enemy enroute.
I did some warm up and then applied band aids on my nipples and Body Glide at required places. One thing I learned from last week’s long run was that shave your chest if you want your band aid to stay on your nipples till the end of your run.
Before moving out, I remembered it’s not exactly bright and sunny at 3 in the morning. So, I need a torch. I picked one of my son’s from his toy carton. He is fond of torches somehow and has one too many.
The place where I ran through was especially scary at night because there are no street lights enroute alongwith a danger of wild elephants. I kept the torch on while in this Wild Animal Corridor. I was flashing it nervously on both sides of the road which was a thick jungle of trees and bushes. Once in a while I flashed it behind me to check if somebody was stalking me.
I had so many thoughts while I was crossing this area like –
1. I can outrun the elephants, I guess.
2. What if anyone from cat family comes and makes me its breakfast? They will have a feast. There is so much meat on me.
3. Is he going to catch my neck on first blow? I guess I will have to protect it till the end to avoid sudden death.
4. I will definitely give it a bloody nose. I should be aggressive and not let it sense fear.
5. I can outrun the elephant.
6. Is that an animal in the bushes?
7. I should have written a ‘if-I-don’t-come-back’ note for my wife.
8. What a stupidity to put my life at risk like this? I will come on this route only when there is day light.
9. I hope the battery of the torch doesn’t die before I cross this area.
With all these thoughts in my mind the route went by fast. It was scary like hell to be running in dark and all alone. My colleague told me last night that it was only 4-5 days back that a guy has been mauled by a wild elephant in the area you ran. I was shitting my pants on hearing this but I put up a cool face and said that I can outrun it. He replied back, ‘you can’t’.
I took a sip of water, when I crossed this corridor, from my brand new hydration pack and just spit it out the next moment. It was sour like hell. I guess the bladder needed some more deliberate washing. So, I will have to literally suck it up to survive the run comfortably. Hope it doesn’t cause any stomach issues.
After this animal corridor, I entered the tea gardens and the widely spread pockets of little villages where life was stirring up slowly. I saw men sitting on the road smoking or rubbing on their morning oral tobacco. I also saw few going with a bottle of water to the nearby fields.
After about 0415 hours I switched off the torch. I could make out the clouds getting angry black and the sky was grumbling a bit. I thought that rains was the last thing I need. The run was going event less with me crunching the miles steadily. I looked at my watch and found that I was running bit slower than usual. I thought it’s okay and consoled myself. I will keep getting stronger and faster over a period of time.
As the sky grew lighter, it was a relief to find a cloud cover which meant the sun won’t be breathing down my neck but it also meant it might rain. And more often than not, it rains cats and dogs here in Bagdogra.
The street dogs became active now. I now had to shift my worry from wild elephants and rain to these damn street dogs. Some of the dogs had gangs who were particularly more aggressive than the dogs who were alone or in pairs. While I was crossing this particular village, a man was milking his cow on the side of the road. I became engrossed in watching him while running for few metres, when suddenly a group of dogs from across the narrow road nearly pounced on me. They were, I guess the guard dogs of the cattle and they must have thought I am going to steal their cow or the milk. Come on dogs, I am a runner and not a thief! I had a narrow escape. I just shrugged the jitters and continued running.
While running the long runs, there are always two sides which forms in the mind after a some period of time. Satan and Angel!
There are, always, periods of weakness and strength while running for 3 hours plus. One side says you can call your friend to pick you up mid way and other side says to bash on regardless. I also had these moments when I thought these kinds of stuff like –
1. I can ask my friend to pick me up from here. I will only be left with 8k of my 35k run. I will cover it up next week.
2. Don’t be a wimp!
3. My feet are killing me. I will sit for a while and rest.
4. Don’t be a wimp!
5. I can walk the last 5k. Atleast I am doing the distance.
6. Don’t be a wimp! You signed up for Bhatti Lakes 100k.
7. There are shared taxis plying on the road. Maybe I could hitch a ride.
8. Fuck it. I am finishing this run to the best of my abilities. I sacrified my time with my wife and kid for this. It’s payback time by putting in all my efforts.
I finished the run in 3 hours 45 minutes. I felt a tad better than my last week’s 27-28k run because I carried 2 litres of SOUR water, 250 ml of coconut water and an energy bar, which I couldn’t eat willingly after some time. It was disgusting and repelling after I ate half of it. And I felt nauseated towards the end of the run because I had hardly any salt and I grew disgusted with the water I drank. Thankfully I found a Gurudwara on my way back where the morning cleaners were kind enough to offer me a cool glass of water.
After I reached back home, I drank lots of plain water and some coke. Then I made myself a cold glass of chocolate milk. I put my legs up against the wall to drain out blood from my feet and did some stretches in slow motion. It started raining heavily when I was making a single fry in the kitchen after half an hour of stretching. I didn’t have the energy to make something else. I thought of having a bowl of fruits in the office later.
I did not feel very sore throughout the day. I just felt happy and contended after having put such an effort early in the morning. My colleague, after I came to the office, asked me about my run. After listening to my story he said it takes a special one and a high motivation to run an ultra. EYE OF THE TIGER!