A friend told me recently that most of my posts are about my guitar or similar stupid things. As policy, I don’t blog about my workplace. And in my weekends when I blog, that’s where my quality time goes- into my guitar or my weekly Saturday run. The Raghuram Rajan book is taking forever to finish. I will think twice before I buy a book on International Financial Markets again. There are hardly any good movies running. There’s the Shabana Azmi- Javed Akhtar play but another friend forwarded a review of it, which has dissuaded me from investing 500 bucks and some petroleum into the effort. My idea of doing some meaningful social work on weekends is still just that. An idea. Which leaves me nothing else to blog about right now except my run yesterday.
For newcomers to this blog, I run 9.5 kms. every Saturday evening. That’s 11 semicircular rounds of the Krishna Kant Park which I take 62 minutes for- my best time till yesterday.
I have been trying to shave of 2 minutes of my best time for forever now. Which means a little over ten seconds per round. Doesn’t sound like much but take my word for it, not easy. This time, I thought I would target the first six rounds in half-hour and leave the second half-hour to finish the last five, an attack-the-course-from-the-outset strategy.
It is 6.27 P.M when I start. Conditions are kind of blustery with moderate to heavy winds and heavy cloud cover. I start at a steadier clip than usual and make an effort to maintain an uncomfortable breathing pattern till my stomach starts knotting up, when I ease up on the pace a bit. That was the third round.
It starts raining on the fourth. Not heavy, only a drizzle, but of course, it doesn’t help. I curse and debate on whether I should give up the run but decide to continue till it gets much worse. I am the only one left running on the course apart from a couple of other intrepid walkers as the rest scurry for cover under the various snacks counters inside the park. On my fifth, the drizzle gets a bit heavier but I imagine all those people huddled together under the cover looking at a tall lad in a bright green T-shirt running in the rain. The thought only makes me run harder.
Running in the rain is tough. First of all, it adds weight as water sticks to your clothes and hair and every gm of weight matters when you are running for time. Then, rain on my glasses. I try to wipe them off with the back of my hand and make it worse. Water in my eyebrows and eyelashes. Poke my forefinger behind my glasses and wipe them off. That’s better.
The rain eases off on the sixth and I haven’t dared to look at my time till now. Push harder till the end of the round and look at it as I make the turn. 23 minutes! This is beyond all expectations. I almost jump in between my run. I am now damn sure I will make my best time today. I suddenly doubt whether I have overcounted. But no, I trace back my rounds in my mind and am sure that I have completed six, not four. The exhilaration of it makes me able to continue at the same steady clip when I could so easily have relaxed a bit on my pace and attained the goal.
On my seventh and eighth rounds I start to wonder at the cause of my achievement. Was it the wind, the rain, or the fact that I had run only six fast-untimed rounds last week giving my legs some much-needed rest? Was it the new blood in my body after I had donated some blood last week? Was it the couple of Pranayam exercises that I had done during the week briefly, watching that Ramdev Baba on TV?
On the tenth, all the lights in the park go off. As I run harder than ever on the last round in pitch darkness, I am conscious of only myself and the sound of my heavy breathing. I touch the gate and look at the time. 7.03 PM! 36 minutes! Wow, what’s the Olympic time?
But that’s D&C thinking. I know that my watch has conked off.
I am too tired and frustrated to find someone and get the time. Not reliable anyway. As I walk my usual half round to cool down, I notice the park is almost empty what with the rain and the pitch darkness. I trudge back to the gate walking on the footpaths through the lovely gardens which are within the running track. I pay the parking fee and as I am backing out Jenny, I can’t help asking the parking attendant for the time.
It’s 7.35 PM. I am sure it was my best run. Though I will never know by how much.