Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From 13.1 to 40, From $0 to $1930, we're getting close!

 Last Sunday I ran the longest distance I've ever run, 40 miles! I'm now an ‘unofficial’ ultra marathoner! 

I woke up at 4 AM and felt a little nervous for this practice run – I was entering an unfamiliar zone. I wanted to train hard and prepare well for this race. But because of the problem in my feet, my training was really minimal – 7 miles at the most with the exception of one half marathon. I prepared for this run as I would for my regular cross country meets. That’s hardly enough to prepare for my goal of 50 miles. I needed this practice run to assure myself that I can do this!

The morning of, I quickly changed into my running shorts, grabbed 2 pieces of toast slathered in chunky peanut butter, and headed out of the door. My whole family (including my dog) got up at the crazy hour to send my mom and me off with enthusiasm! What I did not know was that I would be meeting some amazing people-strangers- who would believe in, energize, and inspire me on my quest.

When we arrived in San Martin I stretched for 10 minutes for one of the craziest runs in my life- Mistake #1. The course is a 2.01 m loop with a backdrop of golden brown hills. The cows lazily graze and gaze at the runners. I had started my run early in the morning. I had my ipod on and the first 10 miles had gone by in a breeze.  

I met a group of experienced runners who had come there for their practice runs. Some had entered for 100m, some 50m and some 50k. They all looked relaxed and were eagerly looking forward to their runs with their friends. They shared their wisdom, humor, and stories with me – the newbie.
 I had a down on mile 16, my legs were giving in, and my knees were starting to ache. This was when Sofie, an amazing runner and mom, paced with me. Without her guidance I would not have completed the run. She shared her favorite running stories and tricks with me. We even named the cows!  Sofie taught me an energy efficient way to run called chi running, which uses gravity to your benefit. She has completed dozens of half marathons, full marathons, participated in half iron mans and even a couple of ultra marathons. With all of her accomplishments, Sofie told me that she is officially a marathon maniac! I’m so glad I got the chance to meet her. Thank you Sofie Romero <3

At about 24 miles I heard Coach Rajeev’s voice. “Where’s your hat Divya?” -Mistake #2, “You are wearing black?! Change your shirt, Divya!” -Mistake #3, “Did you take salt tablets Divya?” -Mistake #4

Yes that’s Rajeev Patel, The amazing Coach with a BIG heart. He is one of the many wonderful people I was fortunate to meet and connect with along the way. Rajeev Patel coached my mom and many others for the Vibha half marathon. I had never heard about ultra marathons until then. As their coach, Rajeev was always available for the runners. He answered their questions and concerns, and guided them with proper stretches and a healthy diet (especially helpful for vegetarians).  

Before I continued my run, Coach Rajeev forced me to gulp down 3 salt tablets. Let me tell you now that they are three times the size of regular Tylenol capsules, so that in itself was a challenge for me. But it helped!  As I commenced my 3 laps with Rajeev, he explained to me 2 types of runners: time buffs that constantly think about the clock and beating PRs (personal records), and mindful runners- those that embrace the nature around them. Coach Rajeev taught me how to enjoy my surroundings, to forget about the time aspect of running, and the importance of listening to my body.

At the end of the day I had finished 3 half marathons, a marathon, and an ultra marathon! 3 in 1! 

I went WAY beyond my comfort zone during this practice run. This entire experience helped me realize how powerful a strong mindset can be- a fit body can only take you so far.

I’m thankful for all of the support and encouragement that I get from my family, coach Rajeev, Coach John, my Gummitown friends, my Chaiparty aunties, friends who wished me luck and cheered me on, and the amazing group of runners at Run-de-Vous. I’m so grateful for the generous donors who believe in and support my cause! Your encouragement is what drives me to go beyond my comfort zone! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I still have a long way to go.

I’m running my first Ultramarathon on August 17.  Run de Vous, 'A race with a heart'  encourages participants to celebrate a loved one or run for a cause. I'm running for Operation Smile, for the children. 

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 "A smile is a happiness you'll find right under your nose." -Tom Wilson

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