We woke up at 4 am to the sounds of thunder, lightening and rains. “Fuck”; I thought. There goes my run. I woke KC at 4.30 am. It was pitch dark outside since we were staying in the middle of the jungle. And then the lights went off. Thankfully, the hotel had a generator which was switched on only for us. I tried contacting Rahul Verghese (organizer) on mail and fb to check if the run is on but there was no reply. We decided to head to the starting point of run and check. It was 5.30 am, the run started at 6.30 so we had to rush. KC and I burst out laughing. This was the worst trip ever. He was relieved because both of us were responsible for this trip while he alone had to carry the blame for the Karjat trip (the worst trip before Corbett took that award). Ok, I found the link to the Karjat trip- here.
We reached the resort parking at 6.22 am. I had 8 mins to walk 1.5 km to the resort in the rains. The narrow road was blocked for vehicles because full and half marathon had started at 5.45 am. “Wow. These guys are running in the rain”; I thought to myself. MIL asked me- Are you going to run in the rain? Isn’t it cold?
“Am I?”; I thought. A part of me didn’t want to. My clothes and shoes would get wet. What if I slip and fall? Isn’t it risky running in Corbett in the rains? KC and MIL waited in the car while I rushed to the resort to request them to let them drive till there. I was halfway to the resort when a herd of nilgai crossed my path. They were running away from something and if I had been in the way, my death was confirmed. Now I was excited. I wanted to see more animals- rain or no rain. I requested Rahul to let KC drive till the resort playing MIL card- she is too old to walk in the rain. He agreed reluctantly.
I started my run 10 mins after everyone else. This is always a bummer because am not a fast runner and don’t like being left behind. Thankfully, the half and full marathoners would be running loops so I would have company. On the way, I handed KC the phone since I’ve already lost one phone to rains and cannot afford losing another.
This was my first time running without music… all I could hear was my breath and the birds. The road was empty except for a few gypsies heading to the National Park. For me the hardest part about running a loop is reaching the U turn. That’s all I focus on because it’s so annoying coming across people on their way back. And then they will cheer for you while you have to put up a happy face and smile.
When I had 275 meters to go for the U turn I slowed to a walk. Right then, an uncle (a volunteer) drove in the Innova and asked me to keep running. He was so loud that I had no option but to run.
The way back was easier… I knew the terrain- mostly flat… then slopes… then 1.5 km of trail through puddles of water. It had stopped raining by then and the weather was pleasant. There were trees on both sides and I could feel my mind emptying.
Everything I had been thinking… all the stress, the worry, the thoughts- which can be shared and that cannot be shared, the confusion, anger, resentment, feelings…. everything… seemed trivial and un-necessary. Nothing mattered then…. except me and the open sky.
We get so caught in our day to day issues that we forget we are just a tiny speck in the universe. None of it really matters… at the end of the day. I felt relieved… lighter… like I had just meditated.
The uncle in Innova had stopped at the water station when I passed him. Few minutes later, he crossed me and said “Wow. You are fast, huh? You overtook me”. I gave him a smile because the only reason he was cracking that PJ was because am a woman. I don’t think he would bother with other guys.
Now that I was running back I kept cheering for the runners. Below are the new cheers I learned:
– Keep going… Keep going
– C’mon… C’mon… C’mon
– Good show… Good show
– Good job
At the 2.5 km mark I came across a kid who had slowed down because of monkeys. Monkeys scare the shit out of me. I have to deal with them every morning in summers during my runs in the complex. I have learned to manage the dogs and they recognize me now so don’t really bother. But monkeys are unpredictable. I crossed them without drawing attention to myself.
At 1.5 km, the kid had slowed down. I asked him to run with me because that always helps. We kept going till the 20 km board. 550 meters more- I told him. He was thinking the same thing. 500 meters later we came across the 10 km board. Damn… the 20 km was the half marathoners. We had another 500 m to go. We slowed down slightly but kept going.
At the finish line, many people came upto to me and said “You covered the distance well. Good job”.
I was pissed and told KC “Don’t they know am a half marathoner? I mean, I ran 10 km today but I could have run the half marathon”
He told me: “Shakal pe nahi likha hota na ki half marathon kiya hai. Chill”
I will search for pics of the route and put them up. It was one in a lifetime experience and now am going to plan more such running holidays.
Btw, timing was 1 hour 21 mins and 40 seconds. My best time for 10 km was at F1 track last year- 1 hour 15 mins. Need to reach that time before I increase the distance.