Saturday, November 21, 2015

First Half Marathon!

This story began on my birthday this year when we were discussing about doing something different and out of our comfort zone before the two of us turn 30! Both of us came up with lots of crazy and wild ideas but then we settled on giving it a try for a half marathon. As soon as both of us agreed to this, I immediately registered for the Golden Gate Half marathon which was exactly in 12 weeks after my birthday and on the day of his birthday (Nov 8). We did not even have any idea about what it meant to run 13.1 miles. We just knew we want to do it! 

Ok, registration was done. Then we started looking for how to begin. We came across a lot of articles and figured out that it wasn't as easy as we thought. People on internet were talking about 6-8 months of training to do half marathon the right way and injury-free. There were other set of people/training-groups who were recommending 12 weeks of aggressive training. Well, we had exactly 12 weeks and we had registered so we had no second thoughts. So I picked one of the training plans available online and decided to follow it religiously. Here is a picture of our ideal 12 week training program :)

Aggressive 12 week training program!

We went on our first run on the morning of my birthday itself. All energetic, excited and full of enthusiasm. After a mile we realized what 'one' mile running meant. 13.1 miles felt impossible at the bottom of my heart but I never brought it to my lips. We just did 2 miles on that day and were dead tired. The whole day in office I felt too tired and felt too sleepy :P

Day 1 @ Guadalupe trail

After the first day, we decided to move our running schedule to evenings. As days passed we kept our discipline and went for running every day. It was not easy in the beginning. Each one of us would inspire the other and let the running spirit go on. Very soon our dinner time TV channels changed to youtube videos to learn tips and tricks for running half marathon. I used to browse a lot regarding stretching and strengthening exercises and all other good practices for beginner runners. Running became the spark in our life and both of us would come up with new ideas about various exercises, different products, diet, etc for runners. Our weekends used to be going for long-runs and relaxing on a couch and browsing/shopping for shoes, fitness tracker, waist belts, compression bands etc. 

All set for running with our new shoes and the trackers 
We did the Black Light 5k Run as a practice for the half marathon!

Our first-ever Race bibs :)

We also did the American Heart and Stroke Walk (5k) for creating
awareness about heart diseases.  
We had joined the 'Founder-Run' meet up group and used to go to shoreline lake for weekend 6 mile run. This meet-up was a group of engineers and founders who were also passionate about running. This group was very motivating and we met some really interesting people. The views of Shoreline lake were breath-taking. After running here is when we realized the energy coming from the people around you and the views make a lot of difference in how you feel after a long run. 

Beautiful Shoreline views

6 weeks before the half marathon, Manoj got injured after one of our 7 mile run. He sprained his ankle and could not even walk. It took him around 4-5 weeks to recover fully which means he couldn't come for running. But I was determined to go for practice at least 4 times a week if not daily. We were not sure if he should be running the marathon but we kept that decision for the last minute. 

3 weeks before the marathon, I did my first longest run of 10 miles at Shoreline lake with the  same Founder-run meet up group. They normally do a 6 mile run but I got two other enthusiasts who accompanied me and encouraged me to achieve my 10 mile goal. Whoa! What a feeling it was. I felt so energetic after the run. It was the best feeling :) I remembered our day 1 when things seem to be impossible and I had reached so far in about 9 weeks of time. I felt so proud of myself.  On that same day, I was thinking about what running has taught me. Running has really given me a new perspective in my life. Something that seemed to be impossible 2 months back seemed quite possible. Until now I had always been complaining that I don't have time to do this and do that but after I started running I felt more energetic. Even though running would take away 2 hours of my schedule, I would infact get more things done in a day than I would do otherwise. Running has also taught me a healthy way of living. I have decided to continue running or pursue any other form of exercise even after the half marathon. 

Few days before the Marathon, we loaded ourselves with lots of carbs. The day before the marathon we went to the expo and enjoyed the sun in the city. That night we relished a nice bowl of Pasta! On the day of the marathon, we got up at 4am in the morning and boosted our energy levels, packed our bags and headed to San Francisco in full form :) We were there to have fun and celebrate Manoj's 30th birthday :) Here are a few pics from the finale:

Marathon Madness!

Race Bibs!

Breath-taking views of Golden gate

Almost near the end :)

Hurray! At the finish line :)

Look who ran with us :) - Pankaj 


Stats from UP Move and Runkeeper!

Showing off our blings!

The course through the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge, past the Palace of Fine Arts out to Fort Mason was amazingly beautiful and a little drizzle while running over the Golden Gate Bridge was icing on the cake. The experience was breath-taking and worth having! In addition to the views, it was the energy in the crowd and the playlist that I had playing while running that made it possible. It was more about the journey than the finish line. But touching the finish line was in itself a very big moment of achievement! 

Our Medal - A piece of GOLD!

This story would be incomplete without my motivations who led me take this challenge up. Shrushti and Pooja and a colleague named Samatha were my inspiration throughout this journey. A brief conversation with any of them would recharge me as much to last for couple of weeks. Whenever I felt the spark going down I would simply talk to one of them and would get my excitement and energy back to its peak!

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