Running... a new life, a new perspective : by Anand Vinekar

| Tuesday, February 5, 2019 | |

I got into running after I turned 40. Quite accidentally actually! But they say in life there are no accidents. Yet, no one would have imagined that what started as a ‘run’ to spread awareness about diabetic eye disease at a conference, would soon became an integral part of my life. Coincidentally, the second time I ran, was a ‘Majja run’ in May 2016. The 6km back then seemed like an insurmountable ordeal. I distinctly remember walking some parts before the race ended. That day’s finish was the start line of my running journey. As the months went on, I looked forward to waking up in the morning to run, enjoying every aspect of it – the training, the strategizing, the wind in my face, the racing heartbeat, the endorphin release kicking in the ‘runner’s high’, the sweat, the grit, the pain, the effort and the euphoria of completing what was set out. I never thought I could be so passionate about anything other than my work. But then, I was smitten. Running had become a part of my life.

My debut half marathon was an ambitious project. I thought I had trained well when I signed up for it in October 2017. I ran strong until 18km and then things went downhill. Poorly managed hydration, the resulting cramps, not having read the signs of early hypokalemia, resulted in a “DNF”. I distinctly remember having crossed the finish line at 2.10 but supported by two paramedics. I was disqualified. Worse, I was carried off to the medical tent as my family looked on helplessly. They say that in life there are no failures, there are only teachers. So I learnt, I read, and I practiced better. Three months later in Mumbai, I ran a sub 2 hour HM. The feeling at that finish line cannot be described. It was a feeling not just of vindication or accomplishment, but one of gratitude. Every race after that seemed like a little prayer, taking me closer to discovering the potential we all have undiscovered inside.

I find that running is a perfect metaphor for life itself. We start with optimism and energy, and then face challenges, both mental and physical; of self-doubt, of exhaustion and of failure. I feel as a runner I have better coping skills, more patience and greater respect for the power of the mind. Like life, no matter how good the past season, every race is a new start, bringing new challenges and new opportunities. Like life, running is no fun when you do it alone. I am blessed to have some of the most like-minded friends who share my madness and the passion.

Metaphorically, like in life, in running too we need a ‘guru’, and you have to be lucky to find the right one. I have been blessed professionally to be trained by the best. My luck continues at running too. A chance meeting with two outstanding runners at a race, got me and my friends introduced to the PaceMakers family and with that, “Pani sir”, our guru and confidante. That’s when the worry ended. Now all I had to do is to believe in what he believed in me. Initially, with all naivety I did try and experiment and ‘do my own thing’, only to be proven wrong. I realized that Sir knew me better than me knew me! I believe I ran my first full marathon in October 2018 only because he told me, ‘you owe it to yourself, your family and in those who believe you can do it’ A good teacher teaches, the best teacher inspires. Pani Sir is that inspiration.

Dealing with the visually impaired and the blind, I know the limitations that a disability carries. It is when I see differently-abled runners push their limits that I am reminded of the very first lesson we learnt in medical school, “I cried that I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet”. When I slow down in a race, when I am exhausted, when I feel like giving up, I think of that line and how grateful I must be for receiving this opportunity to run, to compete and to celebrate the body and the mind that we are blessed to have.

As Nike says, “Runs end, running doesn’t”. Here is hoping that I have many, many more miles before I sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Design thanks to Be KreaTief and santm · © Content PaceMakers