Day before: August 28th, 2010
That Saturday, had to mentally be prepared after the shuttle-travels of the week. Also had errands to run. Little sleep, as reached only late Friday night.
Already, the chatter on the 'google groups' channel was going on. Logistics, car pooling, assembly points, bib numbers, decisions to run et al.. flooded the channel. And more...
Also during the first half, was debating whether to run or not - as we had our Mom's cataract operation scheduled at 10:30 am on race day.
Errands were run in the first half and post lunch - THE ACTUAL DECISION TO RUN WAS MADE. I took my registration form printed out in a Internet Cafe.
On the way, called and pushed my half-hearted brother to run for company. He is my initiator into running ( Ref - Baptised in Bangalore !!! my first 10k ...). So together we went to pick up the bib.
It was Presidency college ( or not sure). The crowd was less, but chaotic. At the entrance, T-shirts were on sale. Little further, a set of girls and boys were standing and looked busy. My brother got his registration done- Rs 100.
For me, on inquiry, we were sent to another set of girls, one of who took a glance at the form, and then gave another to full - it was self declaration of my medical history.
Met Anand ( who would turn out to be the fastest Chennai runner in this marathon), Senthil, KP Suresh and friends and Vilva at various stages.
Step 1: Height and Weight - my height was higher, and weight was same. The doc made a wrong entry( he added 10kg by mistake) and with a laughter, corrected it when I pointed out. Looked like the doc- testers were from some med college, wet behind the ears.
Step 2: Another group with Steth's asked questions about my experience about running - like ' how long have you been running?'. Next second, a stamp saying FIT was put on the med-sheet. I understood that was a ECG/ Cardio test!!!
Once outside, bought a Marg T-shirt for 100 bucks. The blokes did not have the desired color for my size. Anyways, the cotton outfit would be reduced to my kid's size after a wash. So we moved on.
That night, got a facebook entry from Sudha with the laundry list of gadgets for prep. Chennai runners T-shirt, a matching blue shorts, and my newer of the two pairs of my running shoes- Red !! Went by my wife's suggestion, as it would look good and bright !!! So, I went by that list -except for the headband, but added vaseline and gatorade, into my backpack.
And logistically, I was to pickup Sudha at 430, Akila and VT at 5:00, and bro at 5:05 on the race day morning. Wondered if I should put a ' TRANSPORTER' sticker to my car - waggy would have liked it.
That night, I dreamed of finishing-the tape at the finishing point, with lot of people cheering and the waves from the east, agreeing to the people's wish. This dream came at least 4 times, if I can recall. And so I went to sleep.
Raceday awaited on the other side.
Race day: August 29, 2010 - Morning :
Was up by 345. The alarm was tuned to 400, but somehow was widely awake earlier. Butterflies in the dawn: Location- my stomach. After the ablutions, was preparing the backpack when all of my passengers called / texted me. I was out by 420 - outside the sky was dark, no moon and the air was filled with humidity.
Sudha was geared up, and seemed fresh and fit. Akila and VT, her husband walked right out of the bed, and after 10 minutes of wait, we proceeded to pick up Rajesh- my bro. Rajesh was sitting in front of his portigo, and dressed to run. I know his mental makeup- and I could tell he was going to finish easy.
About couple of us wanted coffee, and we discussed about some restaurants. We went across the war memorial, the last year's starting point, and finally parked our car in Island Grounds. Once out of the car, we checked the eastern sky. A couple of drops fell, confirming that the sky would have some cloud cover at least till the start.
Sudha complained of a minor niggle in her leg. I said ' pain is mental' and she challenged me.
Met with some official friends, and Chennai runners - who were all pepped up and prepared. We missed out on the parking lot group photos. On the way to the start point, we found about 100 soldiers, with their rifles across their shoulders running for practice. We waved at them. The coffee was quickly forgotten.
Once the starting point was visible, we were asked to show our bibs by over-eager cops, and asked if we were running 7k or 21k. Anyways, the checks were only superficial, as VT and Akila, without bibs passed at least 3 of the check points.
We could hear the loud speaker blaring in Tamil - exhorting the runners to give up (!!!) if it is not possible to finish; then came a barrage of drum-beats from our own and famous 'Chennai Sivamani'.
Meanwhile the Chennai runners did their three cheers - such a enthusiastic bunch are we, that we were a small blue sea in the midst of myriads colors. Could see some Caucasians and Far-Easterners; Akila, VT, Rajesh, KK and I planned to run together. Sudha decided to run with Soundarya and her husband.
Suddenly, as if somebody remembered, a 10 minute filler of effusive praises on the organisers and the sponsors happened;
Post this, a weird oath, which talked about the spirit of marathon and abiding of rules and regulations followed. That was a verbal signature of a declaration form.
The usual Chennai Marathon beginning - same delays! But the difference - I was behind the start line... I could not believe that this was real and happening... and was waiting for the starting whistle...
And the moment did come !!!
( To be continued)