Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In the long run


The first time I encountered the term was in standard IV when it featured in a question in the General Knowledge exam.

”State the distance of a marathon.”

"42.195 km". I wrote laboriously with my wooden pencil, muttering to myself, "Who are these insane people who run this distance??"

Over the years, I came across the terms several times, but never in its true sense. More like "Sinha Uncle's dog was chasing me and I just kept running --- like I was in the marathon or something." or "Let's have a Shah Rukh movie marathon!" kind of instances.

So the first time I heard about marathon in the 'marathon' sense was after I came to Singapore. I was amazed to know that thousands of people signed up, paid money and almost killed themselves to run the 42 kilometres. Why did they do that? "Insane people..." I muttered again to myself. Of course, I had no idea that this friend of mine would, in a decade, first marry me and then declare, "I will run the marathon." (I think the order of events was pre-planned in his mind.)

"You will what??" I asked.

"I will run the marathon."

Initially, I was shocked.

“The marathon? As in THE marathon?”


"You want to run 42 km for no reason?"


"It's 42 km, you know?"

"Haha! I know."

"42 km!!!!!!!!!"

"I know. I can do it."

"Are you very very sure?"

"I am."

"Okay then, do it!"

And he did it. Last saturday, exactly at midnight, he joined thousands of other "insane people" (yes, I'll never stop calling them that) as they embarked on the Adidas sundown marathon.

While he was training, I was freaking out. People had been telling me of marathoners who didn't train hard enough, pushed themselves too hard and collapsed during the race. I checked with colleagues who had run the marathon. Asked them for the optimum training distance before one could do well in the marathon. 35 km, they said. So I yelled at Viv. His maximum training distance was 10 km.

"It's four times the distance you're used to running, you know!"

"I know."

"You have to train harder."

"I know."

He trained harder. Woke up at 5 in the morning once and did a 21.

That was still only half of what he'd have to eventually run, but I was feeling slightly calmer now. On many levels, I was still freaking out though. We had just come back from India and the marathon was in two weeks. If he were to keep himself in good shape, he couldn't do any more dry runs before the actual one.

As I created his marathon playlist of upbeat, peppy, inspirational numbers on the ipod, I told him I'd stay up all night and look out for his sms updates of how much distance he had covered. He told me I was mad and asked me to go to sleep. "I'll know I did well if I am home before you wake up." Viv had said. I had laughed and said, "Sure!"

However, the closer we got to the event, the more interested I got. He was targeting 5-6 hours to complete the run. I told him I could go to specific points in the running track and watch him run by. That was the plan. Until these three wonderful folks decided to turn up at the venue and stay up to support Viv. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to stay there all night and watch him cross the finish line.

The organisers had an open-air superhero movie marathon screening (Iron Man, Transformers and The Incredible Hulk) for supporters at the start/finish line so we put a bedsheet on the grass, sat down and watched. Viv kept sending sms messages at specific milestones.

12:18 am - "At 3 km"

12:59 am - "10 km"

1:28 am - "15. How's the movie?"

(How's the movie?? Sheesh.)

1:56 am - "20"

2:35 am - "26"

That was it! I lost it. I messaged back to ask him not to just send me the numbers, but also whether he was ok.

3.00 am - "30... cramps but ok"

3:42 am - "35"

3:58 am - "37"

4:14 am - "39"

4:30 am - "41"

1 km to go! We wrapped up the bedsheet and stationed ourselves with our cameras at the best spot at the finish line.

And there he was, our hero, running towards us, utterly exhausted but grinning away.

I took a video of him as he crossed the finish line and then pointed the camera up to end the video with a snapshot of the timer: 4:41.

The funniest part is that after finishing the marathon, as he queued up for the massage that the good organisers had arranged, he turns to us and asks, "Do you guys want to sit down?" Yeah, dude, it's us who need to sit down. After all the hard work of sitting on our asses, munching on snacks and watching back-to-back movies, WE should take a break and sit down. :P

A few years ago, if you had asked me whether I knew any marathoners, I'd have laughed in your face. Today, I live with one and I know two who are waiting in the wings, to phodo the Stanchart Marathon in December.

I am not a runner, and my knee will never let me be one, but that night, being a part (in whatever inconsequential way) of Viv’s marathon was quite something else.

When I think of the distance he ran, I still reel with disbelief.


According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. But to a whole lot of people, it is the answer to the ultimate test of their abilities, endurance and willpower.

There must be something to pushing your mind and your body to beyond their limits. Resolving to do something-- something difficult --- and going ahead and doing it.

Yup, there's certainly something to what these "insane people" do. Why else would I, one who has never run a marathon and will never run one, feel such a sense of insane elation, just to be a part of that atmosphere, that experience?


Prats said...

GolD!!! Yay I got gold!!!

Prats said...

Wow Congrats to Viv and 42 Kms Phew!!! That is huge!!!!

On a funny side, Do you see the TV series How I met your mother, there is a episode where Barney explains how easy it is to run a marathon.
His Description-
Step 1 - Start Running

and then there is no Step 2.

Cherish said...

There was something similar in Bangalore too Sunfeast marathon. Didn't run though. Not much energy to do so. Anyway congrats Viv on finishing the marathon.

Sri said...

Congrats to Viv for managing to complete the marathon the first time itself! :)

I seriously didnt know a marathon involved running for 42 kms..i guess im used to hearing about the mini marathons like the 10K run at Hyderabad..

My cousin's hubby who stays in the US suddenly got fascinated with the marathon concept and he even won a medal recently..he used to train for months..when he was in India he was overweight and now he has become a fitness freak...

PS: I guess i should claim "Silver!!"(even if never in a marathon!)

shweta said...

Wow!! congrats on the conquest of 42km to Viv.
Way to go!!
Nd even though I am just another reader it sure made a connect somewhere, an elated feeling of "Never, giving up"!!


Unknown said...

congrats viv for completed marathon...

but i m totally agree with u for they really are "insane peoples"...

just check out this blog....


santasizing...Fantasizing said...

im such a fan of Viv...my gosh....hes a fab fab guy!!!!goodness im still in a state of shock and pleasant surprise

Serendipity said...

Congrats to Viv :) and heres to many many more successful marathons for the both of u :)

shub said...


~ Lopa said...

Amazing... bravo... congrats... i can imagine how he felt and how u feel about it...
I cannot think even to run 5 kms at a stretch.... hee hee hee

iyer-the-gr8 said...

You have a unique of putting emotion in writing. I could almost feel the way you were feeling and Viv was feeling by the time I finished reading the post.

Anonymous said...

phew, vv -- well done!!! and well done sayesha for superlative supportiveness!

Jass said...

Way to go VIV! Reading this post inspires me to run a marathon, but well i guess i ll stick to doing sleeping and other strenuous activities for now :D

Bhai aap marathon kab daudenge ? Appun cheer karega ! :P

Blue Bike said...

Congrats Viv !!
And bhai .. the writing was so inspiring ...


Tanuj Lakhina said...

Congrats to Viv for completing the whole 42 kms!!
I've been part of marathons twice.Once I did the "Great Delhi Run" which was 8kms and I did it without even stopping and the next time I did the "Half Marathon" so 21kms.My god,21kms is a tragedy! I had blisters and cramps for 3-4days and had to work in them.On that day I took an oath,next marathon am doing only 8kms!

Worst part about the event here,the organisers don't give out proper snacks/cool down ingredients after the marathon. A banana + water is all that's given.Am sure I could have used a massage when I completed my 21kms! lol.

mythalez said...

quite an apt title for the post!

i always tried to understand the "insanity" which drives the people to run so far for no reason .. but i guess in the end its basically that feeling of achievement that 'drives' them :)

Anonymous said...

Oh-My-God! Congrats to viv! Good going! 42 kms is soooooo much! Loved the title! :-)

Anonymous said...

"There must be something to pushing your mind and your body to beyond their limits"
I watched the movie "Gattaca" yesterday and yes, I second your thought.

Shraddha said...

Wow! Running 42 kms!!!
I was trying to visualize people running 42 kms at a stretch... tats quite a feat... Congratulations to Viv... I am sure he has inspired quite a few of your readers already...

Unknown said...

Wowww.... I mean running in marathon is my dream.. I cant even run 5 km at a stretch!!! Kudos to Viv!!!

Sanchit said...

dude... u rock... !!!

??! said...

Well, technically (which means this is going to be mind-numbingly and astoundingly pedantic), that's the answer according to Deep Thought. Or, if you will, Douglas Adams. The actual Hitchhiker's Guide (as in, the guide featured in the books) makes no reference to it.

And kudos to the man. Where would we be without a little insanity?

Anonymous said...

That's an achievement, completing a marathon only with 2 weeks training.
Your hubby must have been in good shape.
Inspiring post.

Stupidosaur said...


Maybe Viv should blog about it. Just to match Sayesha on the Rocks, his blog must be called

Viv Will Viv Will Rock You!

Manchus said...

Congrats Viv on this achievement. You rock.

Actually, after reading this post I got all inspired and am back on track on my fitness routine. My long term plan is to take part in the half-marathon next May. Baby steps indeed!!

Thousif Raza said...

A BIG hug a Bunch of congrats to Viv, great job dude,

and sayesha wonderful writing as always, inspirational

you are really a very lucky person yaar, and i wish that it stays that way for you,

take care and keep writing.......

Butterfly Thoughts said...

T"here must be something to pushing your mind and your body to beyond their limits. Resolving to do something-- something difficult --- and going ahead and doing it"
Hi Sayesha.. I have been reading your posts for sometime but was not following it regularly. Today I was in a very bad and depressed mood. But your last two paras really gave me some optimism and positivity to move on. As usual yu write very well. keep it up:-)

Stone said...

This was inspirational.

Add one more to his fan list!!

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Bhai I am so so proud of Viv and you. Lage raho!

On a related note, don't know if you've seen this movie "Run Fat-boy Run".. do watch it - bahut achha hai!

VIDYA said...

My comment isn't related to this post,but to the interview!I loved it!
And the answer to the phorenVsIndia question was beeyootiful :)
I ambled by this blog for the first time in 2006.It's been three years and I'm definitely hooked!!!

Arz karte hain..*clears throat*

"bar bar dekho,hazaar bar dekho,
par sabse mast hai hamesha sayeshaz bar,
talli ho!talli ho!talli ho! "

Sayesha said...

Thanks, yaar! :)

Yes, I totally remember that episode. Barney was rocking! :D

Thanks! :)

I know what you mean! Even I was so shocked when I first realised that people still run 42 km. I thought it was an ancient Greek thing! :P

Thanks! :D

Hehehe... thanks! :)

#santa fanta,
Me too! :P :P :P

Thank you! :D

:D back at ya! Thanks, >:D<

//I cannot think even to run 5 kms at a stretch.... hee hee hee

Same pinch! :P

Thank you. :)

Thanks!! See you in a week!!!! :D

Hahahahaha! Sudhaar ja yaar! :D

#Blue Bike,
Thank you and all the best! :)

Oh yeah, Viv also had cramps after 30 km and a big fat blister under his foot! :(

Banana + water??? Shux! That's terrible! Here they don't give food, but they have drinks station every few km where they hand out isotonic drinks.

Thanks. :)

//42 kms is soooooo much!

Hehe! Yeah, I still can't believe it! :P


Thank you! :)

Haha! One more! Let's start a club of 'can't even run 5 km' people! :P

Thanks! :D

Thank you. :)

Thanks! :)

ROTFLMAO at the blog name!!!! :D Dude, you rock!!! :D :D :D I have half a mind to change the 'Viv-acious' labels to that! :P

Ooh awesome! All the best for the half-marathon! Am glad you're training early!!!

Thank you! :)

#Butterfly Thoughts,
Thank you very much! :)

Thank you. :)

Thank you!! :) Will try and catch that movie.
PS: Are you calling Viv fat??? :/ :P

Thank you! :) 3 years at the bar... wow! Mehfil ki puraani bewdi huh? The mehfil is still here because of people like you. :)

ROFL at 'Talli ho'!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

Tejal said...

its because of stuff like this that i've been calling myself a die-hard Viv-fan since the past two(or is it 3?)years!
Viv, u're the bestesttttttt!
(P.S. I hope i'm still the president of Viv's fan club)

Anusha said...

AWESOME. I don't think I could do it if someone paid me a million dollars. "Insane people" is right!

(And what about that lady who ran 80+, huh? You'd have to coin a whole new word for people like her!)

Chriz said...

came here thru blogadda interview.. straight from heart talk.. liked it

Chriz said...

hey.. i just saw many common blog maytess... and i remember hopping here a year ago..

Shanks_P said...

kudoss to Viv .....
hae run a small one of 10 km in under a scrotching yd sun belive me, i know how one feels after running for an hour .....
Nice going on the run ....

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Angelsera said...

I know the feeling..ppl's jaws drop when I tell them that my brother used to run 60km a day whn he was training for the marathon..and I used to feel soooo proud. My mom was freaking out cos of the news tt there was an NS man who died while running due to cardiac arrest or soemthing..
hope to do it myself someday soon