Cut to the present – and this fantasy is abruptly interrupted by the mundane daily anxieties of running. Too cold, too warm, too dry, too humid, rain or snow, extra layer – should it be warm or water proof? Fuel belt, phone holder, choice of music? And then constantly dealing with aches and pains, chafing and stretching. Why then, do so many people run?
For me it started with a little bit of the above delusion based upon a training effort with the team 13 years previously. This was only a vague memory at this point, which may have been a good thing as I started my first training run on a damp, cool day in early May. Running around the Charles river provided a great backdrop to the initial runs with plenty of opportunity to take a break and stare into the distance as traffic rolled on. Re-acquainting with team regulars was like finding an old shirt, the familiar but a little different, fits but not the same way as before. And then there are the new runners – some of them absolute beginners to running, just as I was in 2004. All hustle and bustle, arms flailing and minds whirring with questions for the coach.
Spring turns into summer and the runs become more challenging. It’s time to learn about hydration, a cup of electrolytes fluid can provide so much relief. The runner’s high when it arrives, is fleeting and can be elusive but the memory lingers long after. Stretching is now an ally, no longer viewed with suspicion but a partner to keep injury at bay. Shoes, fuel belts and running apparel is constantly on the runners’ minds as the promised date looms.
And the race day briefing it is hard to believe that training is almost complete. The camaraderie with fellow runners formed over months of arduous running days has endured has helped get through all concerns. As we prepare for race day, it is also time to remind ourselves about the great cause that is TeamAIDAsha – this being the 14th year that has now helped raise funds to benefit people who need it the most. Sangharsh, seva, nirmaan and the belief in providing education are lofty - and seemingly distant – goals, but the will and commitment of all runners over so many years combined with the dedicated team that has willed this effort into reality has been an inspirational and worthy effort. In our own small way if we can part of this great struggle, it is an entirely transformational experience.
To end, I bring myself to the earlier question of why do we run? Like all truisms the answer is probably a basic truth buried in oversimplification: it depends upon the individual. Or rather, if ever one does find out why they run they have probably stopped asking that question.