By Dnyanesh Chitnis on 8 February 2013
Dnyanesh Chitnis from KPIT, writes about how he went about achieving the impossible: Becoming a Marathoner.
Courtesy: Josiah Mackenzie
This is my story about how a common man turned his uncommon dream of becoming a marathoner into reality.
Running a marathon challenges the limits of physical and mental strength. I wanted to put these limits to test. I started my training by doing 3 km runs. After 6 months of practice, I could run 21 kms without a break. The journey from this point onwards was more than just tough.
My practice was consistent but I needed some direction. There were road blocks like running injuries, improper running form and gears, insufficient rest, no training partner or group. But the biggest problem was not having an instructor.
Yet, I did not give up. I continued my training. In July-2012, I came across a runners group based in Pune," That’s where I found my distance running instructor, who kindly agreed to mentor me.
Thereafter, my practice became more disciplined. During the first 2 months of practice with the group, I got some priceless advice. With the help of my instructor and appropriate running gear my running related injuries went down and my running form improved. My training involved running every day. Soon I was participating in every running event.
My first full marathon was the Mumbai Marathon 2013. Being my maiden attempt, I targeted 4 hours 15 minutes within which to finish my run. This required me to increase the intensity of my training. However, things didn’t go as planned. In the 3rd week of Sep-2012 I fell ill. It drained out all my energy, stamina and strength. And there were only three and a half months left for the marathon.
From Oct-2012, I started my training again. I included uphill runs in my program to build up stamina and endurance. I followed a strict diet that included adequate supply of proteins and carbohydrates along with mineral and vitamins. My cross training included cycling. I also practiced yoga to increase my concentration, breathing capacity and body flexibility.
Having a positive attitude helped me tremendously in improving my performance. During the Dec-2012 Pune Running event, I clocked an impressive 2 hours, 57 minutes to finish my longest run of 32 kilometers. Thereafter, a tapering period of 3 weeks helped me recover from the intense physical and mental stress caused during the program.
The D-day: 20-JAN-2013, Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.
This full marathon event for amateurs was flagged off at 5.40 am. I quickly prayed for a successful run at the starting line up and took off. I was monitoring my performance and body condition at every kilometer. At 11 kms, I had timed exact an hour. This was the desired pace till the half way mark. I kept myself well hydrated with fluid supplement at regular intervals. This mitigated the risk of cramps and injuries. My running form was under control too. I maintained a good pace till the 31 kilometer mark. The cheerful Mumbai crowd kept the runners motivated. My target of finishing the run in 4 hours15 minutes started looking quite comfortable.
That's when I thought, “Why not try and finish the challenge in less than 4 hours?” The months of hard work was not to just finish the race comfortably. Instead, I wanted to test the limits of my body and my mind. Having decided to do that, I touched 32 kilometers in 2 hours 56 minutes. And my goal seemed achievable.
But then, the course got tougher. I had to navigate 2 hills of Pedar Road, due to which my body began to ache. Breathing was laborious too. Just as I turned after running down the second hill, I faced the most challenging phase of the run. I entered the Marine Drive road and suddenly the hot sun caught me unaware. I hadn’t anticipated this. The shady route was gone. There was a big lesson for me there. I realized I should have checked out the route before the race. Running conditions had turned from bad to worse. I developed severe muscle-ache. I ran this stretch of 4.5 kms under the most adverse conditions. My pace had gone down. For a moment, I even doubted myself – “Will I be able to achieve my target?”
As I left the Marine Drive behind, the 39 kilometer mark showed up. The stop watch showed another 18.5 minutes to finish 3.195 kilometers. By then, my right leg had turned numb, and breathing had become even more difficult. I was barely able to keep my running form, while most of the other runners had started to walk/jog. I felt like giving up.
But I didn’t. I was 2 kilometers and 12 minutes away from my target, when magic happened. First, I saw my instructor running, just before 41 kilometers mark. This was unexpected. He had targeted to finish the run in 3 hours, 50 minutes. But he was nowhere near his target. I went up to him and said, “Let’s finish the race together.” But he refused. He told me to keep up with my target and finish the run within 4 hours. It charged me up. I increased my pace. Now I had six minutes to finish the last kilometer. The task looked impossible with my right leg having lost all sensation. It seemed my body was saying, "Stop, you can't run anymore". Just then, at the 41.2 kilometer mark, the marker said, "ONLY 1000 METERS TO FINISH". This was my biggest stimulus thus far. My mind took over and told me, "Yes, you can do it."
I ended up running the last kilometer in 5 minutes flat. I finished the race in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 3 seconds.
We keep discussing or reading about things like goals, targets, strategy, planning, execution etc. in our personal and professional life. I lived them in those 3 hours, 59 minutes of my journey towards this achievement. Now I feel they have become a part of my system, a way of life. I apply them seamlessly in every task I perform.
I attribute my achievement to three things, which I call my 3D mantra:
You too can achieve the impossible.
All you need to do is never give up.
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