Have you ever experienced that moment when the heart doesn’t beat anymore? It DRUMS. And so loud that it drowns all else, even the sound of your existence. The calf muscles ache such that you begin to wonder if the skin can hold it within, any longer. The Throat is so dry, you realise what it is to gulp down ‘sharpness’. The temples throb to the rhythm of the heart that spells sweet agony with every beat. Does it all sound bizarre? Welcome to the Runner's world , personifying grit, strength and positivity. If you are not a member of this multiplying tribe, you might wonder, ‘Why go through this?’ Simple! Because it is almost akin to meditation, a more fun way, in fact. That heady feeling that remains daylong and if followed with regularity, lifelong, enables one to wrest so much more joy from a day and add it to one’s life.
The scenario in my hometown, Guwahati has changed drastically over the past few years as far as women and fitness are concerned. The considerable number of hillocks and stretches of roads in and around the city give ample opportunity to the fitness squads to pursue their passion. The N number of Running and Cycling groups are a positive change with enthusiastic participation of the women, determined not only to see a fitter version of themselves in the mirror but also to attain some respite from the humdrum.
From neglecting to nurturing themselves, women are joining hands, boosting each other up as they opt for health and positivity and slowly but surely, step into a fitter world.
Now regarding my attempt at such ‘Sporting Glory’......Morning walks, jogs, runs are some words which have always had some peripheral existence in my life. The Husband is quite into it but never could deviate me towards that track.
A romantic proposal two decades ago and Marriage a decade later, sum up the two acts of bravado he ever attempted. He was on the verge of giving up on ever seeing a fitter me when the Forties struck.
I have never felt ‘fat’ but the Trial room experiences while shopping for a comfortable pair of jeans would gradually convince me otherwise. The final nail in the coffin of complacency was hit when the Husband came one day and rued that a friend of his (who had visited us after a long time) had queried, in my absence, whether I was ‘expecting’, that too, in all seriousness. This obviously had to do everything with the wild expansion of the ‘reinless girth’.
That however, hurt my womanly ego and once the myth of ‘slender existence’ was busted, I decided I had to get to work. Coincidently, the Husband, at that time, had decided to start, along with a partner, their new venture, an adventure tourism based initiative, Natventure, in Guwahati. Well their primary focus was Cycling which for me was like meeting and rediscovering an old flame and falling in love all over again. Fortunately, it didn’t evoke any jealousy and the Husband was more than glad to let me have my ride on this rollercoaster of an affair.
That was the beginning. And it didn’t take much effort thereafter to convince me to try my ‘feet’ at running. It turned out to be quite an addictive affair as promised by the adamant ‘Trainer’. Eventually, I had to agree with him (one of those extremely rare occasions I must say). In fact, after the initial couple of months, I also realised I could shoulder the colossal chaos of my day to day life, with relative ease.
Now I come to the few events that have further egged me on, on this ‘sweaty voyage’. I ran or rather walked my first 10km, in fact, my very first Event, in August this year. It was a Sunday and preparation time was from 9pm, the previous day. This helped as I had very little time to be hesitant or to be nervous.
It was indeed a ‘knee breaking’ affair, an amateur attempt of an overenthusiastic mind. Add ignorant to that. The aches started from the 2nd kilometre itself and I got cramps at the 11th. Yes even the event managers ‘conspired’. It was a 12 km run instead of 10. Somehow I ‘oooh aaahed’ my way to the Finishing Line little realising, that’s exactly how I’d walk the next few days as well.
I’ve had my share of 5 and 6 kms thereafter. I’ve met some great runners in this phase and have been inspired by their steely resolve. So when Pinkathon 2017 happened in October, I decided to give 10 km another try and this time was determined to make it a Run.
Pinkathon 2015, Guwahati does not register in my memory at all. Those were times when compliments and complacency about appearance comfortably overwhelmed any concern for fitness. Pinkathon 2016 remained in contemplative stage. The doubts had just started creeping in but had yet failed to completely dethrone ‘illusions’. Pinkathon 2017, however, came at a time when the dents into self-confidence were becoming like pot-holes. And hence the resulting ‘metamorphosis’.
I registered and when the due day arrived, excitement was at its peak slightly rattled by some nervous energy. I reached to find Mr. Milind Soman having a pre-race boost up session with the gushing women and I got time to catch up on my breath. Some guy he is! So inspiring and dedicated to the cause of Women Health. I think the women whose lives have been touched by his endeavours, have a lot to thank him for.
The Run was quite a satisfactory one for me. Though, being technologically challenged, I couldn’t manage to start my Garmin on time and hence do not know the exact ‘record’ I have set. Add to that my being technically challenged and you have an explanation for my ‘abominable’ timing of approximately one and a half hour to complete the Task.
The Husband was with me right throughout on his vehicle, amply supplying my dose of energy, both physical and mental. When he said at the end, ‘Good, Well done’, I believed him. From putting up with such an arrogant trainee to being there without being asked in every sporting tryst of mine, he inspires whatever is best in me. So, you see, I never doubt his words.
When I collected my Finisher’s Medal, I felt elated and, surprisingly, was already setting my eyes at the next big event I had registered for. Yes, such events do give a purpose in life beyond the mundane and give a boost to the self image. The electrifying atmosphere therein, rubs its spark onto the tribe, spurring them on to greater heights.
As I familiarise myself with this effervescent world, each day now ends with a new discovery as far as Running lore is concerned – Training schedules, Diet, Exercise, Technical aspects – so many things combine to make one a strong Runner. And the resultant strength of the Body, I’ve realised, finds a ready resonance with that of the Mind.
The bottom line remains that exciting times lie ahead as far as fitness is concerned for women, in particular, in my ‘not-so sleepy anymore’ hometown. This evolution of more and more women into fitter and more confident beings will invariably transcend to Healthier and Happier Homes.
Written bySangeeta Bhattacharjee
Sangeeta Bhattacharjee is an Educator, Media Professional, Sports & Adventure Enthusiast. Travelling is her Passion along with Writing. She is also associated with her Husband’s adventure tourism-based company Natventure www.facebook.com/natventureindia, Guwahati. With a perpetual positivism towards life, Sangeeta believes in discovering something new at every unexpected twist that Life has to offer.