Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"

A quote taken from one of the bravest US middle distance runners ever, Steve Prefontaine! A man who was never scared to take lead in any race, and in fact was quoted on saying what is the point of winning if I'm not out there giving it my all every single time! How do you "win" a race if you're second the entire race and then at the last second sprint out in front and take it?!

It's been over a year now since I've written a post, but these past 8 months have been the most physical and emotional in the 8 years I've been running half and full marathons, and figured it was time to write again!! A quick thank you to Pritam who is my inspiration for writing this post, who told me I was his inspiration to get into running, so thank you Pritam for pushing me to write once again!!:):):):) It has been too long!!!!

Listen to this while reading, it makes it way more powerful!!!:):)

8 months ago last March I suffered my most fierce and scariest running injury: patellofemoral femoral pain syndrome (commonly known as runner's knee)!!  It was devastating to my running confidence!! Every time I tried to push through the pain while running it shot up through me like someone was driving a nail through my knee!! Walking down the stairs was agonizing during the 2 most intense weeks!! I decided to quit running for the first time in 7 years, and quit I did for 2 solid months!!! It was the most important 2 months of my entire running career!! I've heard WAY too many stories about runners who get runner's knee and can never be without pain again while running, BECAUSE they didn't heal properly!! So I hit the bicycle and rowing machine hard, along with light, rehabilitating strength training with resistance bands, focusing mainly on the hip flexors, IT band, quads, and hamstrings (with of course full body exercises as well)!!

By the end of May I decided it was time to try running once again, and fingers were crossed!!! I started my running again inside on the treadmill, instead of the hills of Mussoorie!! Ran a solid 2 miles at a nice easy pace and was fretting "that pain" coming back every second!! That run went as good as it could have for coming off runner's knee!! There was pain but nothing that I knew I couldn't push through (nothing close to the pain I felt back in March)!! My confidence was shaken still, but this one run boosted it ever so slightly!! Slightly enough to set a new goal, run a 1:24:00 at the New Delhi Half Marathon in November!! They say if you can run a half in 1:24 you can run a sub-3:00, and that is EXACTLY what I need for Boston!!:):):)

The next couple of months were physically and emotionally draining!! Every run I would do my confidence boosted a little bit more, but in the back of my head there was still doubt and fear building up that once again there will be extreme pain!! I didn't even touch Mussoorie outside with my running shoes until end of July!! My first outside run was completely pain free minus running downhill, those parts freaked me out the most!!! It wasn't until mid-August that I was running pain free on the treadmill finally!! Confidence was even higher now and I could feel things were finally going in the right direction!!! My 1 run outside still had some pain going downhills but it was noticeably less than it was in July!! 

September came along and I am running faster and stronger now than I have ever before!! Adding 2 days a week strength training this go around made the WORLD of difference!! Not only were my legs stronger, but my entire body!! Confidence and determination to dominate the New Delhi Half Marathon were at an all-time high!!! I was feeling like this goal could actually be doable in 2 months!!!! By the end of September I added my 2nd run outside and found it completely pain free!!! Now I was feeling confident and ready for the Mussoorie Half Marathon 1st November in the hills!! Not even touching the hills until mid-September, I felt I was ready to push it while running through the rolling hills!!!

Mussoorie Half Marathon came and it felt PERFECT!!!! Absolutely no pain what-so-ever, enjoyed every minute of the run!!!!! Having a hundred plus other runners, running along side of you definitely helps as well, and keeps your mind off the run!!!!  Finishing the Mussoorie Half 5 minutes faster than what I was expecting was the FINAL confidence boost I needed to prepare for New Delhi Half!!! The final couple of weeks were my tapering to give my legs the final rest they needed to be 100% ready for 23rd November!!!

The week leading up to NDHM 2014 was a scary one!! Developed a little bit of a head cold on Tuesday and it carried all the way up through the weekend!!! I was certain the cold would take me out of the race on Sunday!!! However, with my confidence being at an all time high and knowing I needed to run this race, I kept thinking the cold will have to wait until Sunday after the race is done!!! 

After only 3-4 hours of sleep (normal before a major race) I woke up with a sharp headache, which later went away after moving around, getting ready, and having a light breakfast!! Even though the congestion was still there, I knew I just had to be mentally tough for this one and literally pushed the cold out of my thoughts!!! Got to the race starting point (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium) around 6:15am and had about 45 minutest to get ready!! Was so thankful Aleksia and Shubhra were with me the entire time!!! That also took my mind off the cold!!

7am came and we're 5 minutes away now from starting the race!! Met some familiar faces, had some laughs, but it was game time!! Got into the "zone" and blocked everything else out!! It was now or never, no pain, no cold, nothing but my shoes and the cement of Delhi!!! Starting gate opened and we were off!! The first 3km went beautifully!! My goal average per km was 4:00 (6:26 mi) in the first 10km, and didn't want to start off TOO fast and ruin my pace like I did 3 years ago in Delhi!! Finished the first 3km in 11:57, a little faster than planned but still felt strong!! The next couple of km I knew would be a piece of cake, but it was the 10km-16km points of the race that would test me!! I got half way and still feeling magical, everything was going to plan, my body was in beautiful harmony with each other, I thought I was dreaming!!! No knee pain what-so-ever, cold was non-existent, holy crap this was the perfect running feeling!!!:):):) Once I finished 17km and was almost EXACTLY on the pace I needed to be at I KNEW I had this race!! Any long distance runner knows once you get within a couple of miles of the finish it's all heart and determination from there, any training you've done goes out the window, for it is your heart and the finish line that is battling now!!! Your muscles stay quiet, brain goes into coast mode, for it's your heart that you listen to will guide you the rest of the way!! Finished 17-20km as fast as I could have hoped!! It was the last kilometer now and I KNEW MY LEGS WERE READY TO PUSH IT TO THE MAX!!! I KICKED UP MY PACE, MY ADRENALINE WAS FLYING, I WAS GOING TO DO IT!!!!! I SAW THE 500M SIGN!! I WAS WITHIN 2 MINUTES OF THE FINISH LINE!! 400M SIGN CAME AND GONE!!! 300M SIGN FLEW BY!!!! 200M SIGN (saw Shubhra and Aleksia and knew I couldn't fail now)!!!! TEARS WERE COMING OUT OF MY FACE!!! 100M TO GO!!! TURNED THE FINAL CORNER AND SAW THE FINISH LINE!!!! I FELT LIKE I WAS FLOATING TO IT AS I WAS SPRINTING MY GUTS OUT!!!! I CAME TO THE FINISH LINE.........CROSSED IT......STOPPED MY WATCH...........

1 HOUR 24 MINUTES AND 7 SECONDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):) I felt freakin ECSTATIC!!!!!!!!!! Those 7 seconds were like a cherry on top, yes it would have been nice to finish just under 1 hour 24 minutes, but right now I was so incredibly pumped to finish with this time!!!! My previous PB was 1 hour 26 minutes and 40 seconds, so this alone kicked the crap out of that time!!! I just bent over in complete exhaustion and was thinking did I really just go from nothing to a personal best in 8 months?!?! Tears were continuing and I just couldn't do anything except live in this single moment of joy!!!! I dried myself up, walked through the medal distribution, and saw a familiar face!!!!:):):):) Pritam, who was also running, was extremely pumped with his "effort" as well, can't say time at this point since his watch stopped half way through!! But we were two extremely pleased men right now!!! We had some laughs, met some other runners, than said our goodbyes!!! I walked out of JLN Stadium to meet Shubhra and Aleksia!! On the walk I was still in disbelief of what just happened and couldn't wait to tell Shubhra!!!:):):) I found her and of course Aleksia was fast asleep!! Can't blame her for waking up at 5am!!! I hugged the life out of Shubhra and we walked back to the metro, and from there back to Mussoorie!!!!!!!!!

I finally had some time these past couple of days to reflect on everything that has happened the last 8 months!!! There is no greater ability in life than to come back from failure or an injury!! It is what makes us human and great humans at that!!! To learn from our failures and eventually succeed has no better feeling!!! Yes it would be easy to give up, try something else, and move on, but what are you telling yourself?!? To never try?! To never go for it?! To never feel that over sensational feeling of accomplishment, that you actually did something hard in your life and you FEEL AMAZING!!!! There is not a day I would trade to eliminate that knee injury back in March!!! For if it wasn't for that injury I don't know if I could have ran a 1:24 like I did on Sunday!! My whole outlook on running wouldn't have changed that day for the positive!!! I am truly blessed for having these moments of adversity, and I only hope all of you at one time in your life can face such adversity and find the courage and strength to fight through!!! I know this is nothing compared to some of the adverse situations others face on a daily basis, but I can only deal with what is dealt to me!!! Find your passion in life, don't let fear over take you from accomplishing your dreams, and my God if you fail don't sulk and feel sorry for yourself, you STAND UP!! YOU LEARN FROM THAT FAILURE!! AND YOU GO OUT AND YOU DOMINATE!!!! Always try and eventually you will succeed!!!!!!!

HAPPY SMILING AND DOMINATING LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" - Steve Prefontaine (1951-1975)

1 comment:

  1. "The best pace is a suicide pace .. and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine .... This was the quote I had in my mind when I ran on Sunday - not to die literally of course but to not be scared to give it my all. It was an all out effort for me and it was thoroughly satisfying tonhave you there with me on the course. A great day. Welcome back Mussoorie Steve.... You continue to inspire