We, Lihas and I reached Keshavbaug at 5:40am to be greeted by Hardik. No one else was in sight. Hiren had said he wouldn't be there, but what about all the others? We waited for the clock to strike 5:45. In the meanwhile, Rohan turned up. No one else. We extended the waiting time to 5:50am. Still no one.
We thought, this was it. The enthisiasm of a Marathon was going to be as anticipated - fizzling out before it really picked up. Marathons are good to discuss. It's generally trendier to be a couchsurfing runner - get all the details about how to run a marathon - pepper conversations liberally with words like pronation (over-pronation and under-pronation), suppination, cadence, gait analysis and a few medical terms thrown in too for good measure - after all, a ligament tear does sound more technical and therefore, more intelligent than a simple muscle pull.
This run was going to be one with with a small group. So what? Usually, there are only two runners - Lihas and I. Here, we were four - double the number. We decided to press ahead anyways.
Lihas led, with Hardik. Rohan and I followed. It seemed to be going well with Rohan. His second day and the difference in the pace was phenomenal. We went till the flyover on Drive-in Road. Rohan chose not to climb the flyover. Given the pace we were doing, I guess the concession was called for. And in any case, there was another run for Thursday. And that would not allow any concessions.
At the end of the flyover, Rohan decided to turn back to Keshavbaug. It would be a distance of about 5kms. A good enough distance for Day 2. Hardik, for whom it was Day 1, turned back too.
After reminding both of them to not forget to cool down, to not forget to stretch. Lihas and I continued our run. We ran till Valinath Chowk BRTS Stop where we were going to be joined by Atharva and Dhruv - two boys who come all the way from Sardarnagar to join us and run.
We did not see either of them. We needed to stop running, which, frankly, was quite irritating. After a ten minute wait, Lihas (who carries his phone on the run) called them. They were at RTO Circle, waiting for BRTS to start its services for the day. We asked them to join us at Jai Mangal BRTS Bust Stop and we continued to run in that direction.
We reached the Jai Mangal BRTS Bus Stop. No sign of Atharva and Dhruv. We ran upto Naranpura 4 Rasta and came back. Still no sign. Very obviously, they were not coming. We had been stood up.
As anticipated, Lihas and I would be the only ones practicing seriously for the Marathons - Athens, Delhi and Mumbai. Most of the others were probably turning out to be temporary runners. We guessed in a few days, the others too would drop out - not that there were too many left now. This would explain why out of the 80 FIRM CONFIRMATIONS that we had, just about 25 had come for practice at least once. There were others who continue to be 'runners on email and sms'.
Lihas decided to give 'just one more try' before we concluded that we had been stood up.
I know. It takes a lot to do a Marathon. The capability to dream. The ability to believe in yourself. The commitment to achieve this. And the sheer guts to surpass what has been written in the three sentences before this and emerge out of your own shadows as a new person.
As he called, I turned to look back at the overbridge. And I turned back again. What I saw couldn't have been. I couldn't be hallucinating. But there they were - four figures running at almost breakneck speed towards us. I nudged lihas. He too saw. As they came closer, we saw Jagat accompanied by three others and Richa, doing a pace I believe even she did not know she was capable of.
Lihas had by now finished call to Atharva. They were on the bus, on their way to Jai Mangal. They would nopt disembark at Shastrinagar BRTS Bus Stop as we joined them there.
Yes. True and reinforced. It takes a lot to do a Marathon. The capability to dream. The ability to believe in yourself. The commitment to achieve this. And the sheer guts to surpass what has been written in the three sentences before this and emerge out of your own shadows as a new person.
As we began to run again, this time with the group, the introductions happened. Shailesh was a regular runner. So was Bhatia sa'ab (JS) a man older to us in age, but still very young who would give teenagers of the city a run for their money (pun unintended). They were Jagat's friends who were regular runners at Rajpath Club.
It was Day 1 for Ashim. He had run till Naranpura and was still going strong.
We continued to run. Atharva and Dhruv joined us at Shastrinagar. And the run continued uninterrupted.
At Akhbaarnagar Circle (after the underpass) Richa and Ashim were asked to turn back and head towards Keshavbaug. Seven of us continued ahead. Jagat, JS and Shailesh decided to take the BRTS back from Bhavsar Hostel BRTS Stop. Four of us continued ahead. At the first break in the BRTS corridor, Lihas and I turned back and did a fast paced run back towards Keshavbaug. We must have been doing ~0:05:00/km pace. Atharva and Dhruv continued ahead upto RTO Circle definitely. Hopefully beyond to
Catching up with Richa and Ashim just after the flyover at Naranpura, we nudged them into a higher pace. The run ended with a superb sprint - the way all good runs should end.