Another year, another November, another Spice Coast marathon. Last year (i.e., 2014; I wrote this piece last month, in December 2015) I successfully completed my maiden half-marathon. This year (2015) I hoped to build on that experience. Last year, I kept my head down, focused on running nonstop (which I did, except for a camera break in between on the Venduruthy bridge), aiming for three goals: finish, finish, and finish. In fact, it was such an intense mind game that I didn’t even notice that I’d injured my left toenail until after the race. I was told by the medicos that the nail had got displaced from its bed, it couldn’t be salvaged, and it would eventually drop off. For a week afterward, I hobbled around in agony, walking on my left heel. In that time, I’d figured out that I needed to run with shoes a size larger, which I lost no time in ordering. The nail dropped off after three months, and the new nail took another six months to blossom into its pristine glory.
So this year I ran with new shoes and a new nail. I hoped I wouldn’t injure myself this time, and I also hoped to improve my time. Modest goals, I thought, but you know what they say about best-laid plans …
This year, I kept my head up and looked around. This year, I playfully overtook runners in short bursts, resisting a strong temptation to look back and stick my tongue out as I passed them. This year, I smiled at the cameras. In sum, this year, I had fun. However, within striking distance of the halfway mark, my left knee began to hurt. At the 10 km mark, I had to stop running and start walking. I thought of abandoning the race. But by judiciously mixing running and walking, I managed to finish. And I was surprised when I found out I’d achieved the same time as last year, 2 hr 33 min (just 20 seconds slower), despite having to practically limp through the second half. That must have been the D. P. Singh Effect. Who is D. P. Singh, you ask?
The highlight of this year’s run was the presence of a team of blade runners led by the first Indian blade runner, Kargil War hero D. P. Singh. He was so badly injured during the Kargil War that when he was brought to the hospital, he was declared dead. Before the run commenced, he spoke about how his life changed — for the better — after he lost a leg. His bold and inspiring words uplifted my spirits, so I can imagine what a tonic effect he must have on the amputees whose welfare he has dedicated himself to. I’ve posted a couple of photos of blade runners I met after the race, who came from Darjeeling, Nagaland, and Pune.
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