All hail the new marathoner!

Disclaimer.

    1.  This post is almost a week late.  My bad.
    2. This post is 99.99% written by the shiny new marathoner in question, so my input is minimal.

Having said that, it is now with HUGE affection that I hand over the reins of this blog post to my Delhi girlfriend and BRAND NEW MARATHONER, Reeti Sahai.

Reeti is a well-known & much-loved member of the Delhi-NCR running community.  Tall, willowy, with an infectious booming laugh and a personality to match, Reeti just run a sub 4 in her first ever marathon in Berlin – where running records were broken.

Fabulous achievement, girlfriend 🙂  And having seen you out running all through the summer, you totally deserve this outstanding result 🙂

Let’s here it for Reeti:

Marathoner – this word gives me immense JOY !

I had been running half marathons for 6 years now and I somehow always said, “ Nah not a full marathon. It’s too much.” And while I said so, I respected every person who ran a full. I turned 40 this January and one fine day (just about four months before I ran the Berlin marathon on 16th Sept 2018) I just sprung out of bed and said, “I’ve got to run a full marathon in my 40th year”. And that was IT. There was no looking back once the mind had conceived it. Thankfully, like most decisions in my life, this came from my gut too and I was convinced that this had to be done.
I called up my running coach Ian Dexter Ladbrook and broke the news. I was apprehensive he’d say, “you’re not ready. You’re too old to start running one. “ etc etc However, to my surprise and delight, he said, “that’s amazing and you can do a sub 4 hour marathon Reeti”. While I loved his confidence in me, I wasn’t sure what that meant in terms of training and hard work. And yes, it certainly didn’t mean that cause I can run a half in sub 2 hours (my PR being 1.44.03) I could run a full in sub 4. Those of you, marathoners, who’re reading this know exactly what I mean. To cut a long story short, I started receiving my weekly training plans and I started off with running four days a week and strength-training once a week. Gradually the mileage, intensity and days of training increased. And so did the heat and humidity in Delhi. I trained in the brutal summer of Delhi. There were mornings I’d question my decision. There were days I didn’t feel like running. I had hell training days. I went through emotions I hadn’t experienced. Training in the Summer wasn’t easy. I chafed and HOW. Discovered aches and pains in new parts of my body. I slept for 10hours a couple of days a week. I tried to eat as healthy. I had a bare-minimum social life (my friends almost dis-owned me and will vouch for this). They thought I’d hit mid life crises. I visited my sports physician for every minor niggle I had. I didn’t want to jeopardize my training. I got regular massages done. I almost slept at 9pm if not earlier for these four months. I barely drank alcohol.
I had the most amazing set of running friends who are family now. I couldn’t have done this without them. They say sport has the power to change lives – I can vouch for this.
Subhash, Jyoti, Hritik, Vipul, Vinay, Harveen, Amit, Nivi. Subhash ChauhanNivi Samanta Hrithik Prakash Vipul Manocha Vinay Bhardwaj Harveen Singh Johar DrAmit Ballani
I don’t know what to say, except GRATITUDE from the bottom of my heart. You guys have been beyond amazing ! To run with me every Sunday morning. Crazy hours. Crazy distance. And the runs only got longer and tougher but you ran with me throughout. I’m blessed. I owe you !
Preet Singh Thankyou for being there. Thankyou for constantly pushing me, encouraging me and telling me I could do this. For bearing with my rants and for also being selfish at times to achieve my goal.

Amna Ahmed Divya Vaish Aggarwal Hamid Ahmed Bharat Sharma Nitin Bhardwaj Deepak Bhardwaj Arvind Kumar TheKhati Amit Bhavya Sharma
Amna Divya Hamid Amit Bharat Nitin to name a few – who saw me train every morning and always encouraged me. This gave me so much strength guys. Wouldn’t have been possible without you guys rooting for me.
I know I’m missing a lot of names. Each one of you know who YOU are. And I can’t thank YOU enough. This has been one hellva journey and it has changed my life!
My entire family who always supported and encouraged me. They love to see me follow my heart. I’m blessed to have the family I have. I know I may have compromised on family time, trips. I promise to make up for it now. Love you all.
Arjun and Ruushil Arjun Saraswat Ruushill Bhaskar – Thankyou for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity. A shout out to the adidas Runners Delhi – for all the training and running mornings with all you fabulous aR people.
Thankyou Ian Dexter Ladbrooke for everything. Yes, let’s discuss marathon No 2. I’m hooked.
I landed in Berlin on the 13th of Sept and settled in. We went to the marathon expo on the same day and it was an overwhelming experience. I loved it. But I also wanted to move out of there as quickly as possible. It was HUGE – the word also doesn’t do justice to how BIG a world major marathon expo is ! Picked my bib number and it all seemed REAL. I was almost there. Nervous and excited. I kept trying to stay positive. Visualize the finish line. How elated I would be once I’ve crossed the finish line etc. it wasn’t easy but I was doing all this. Walked around the city a little for the next two days and these two days seemed never ending. I couldn’t even do much on my feet. You need a pair of fresh legs to run strong kept echoing in my mind. Saturday morning and I went for the shake-out run with adidas Runners Berlin. As always, it was a brilliant morning and we ran from the Berlin City palace to the Olympic stadium – where Usain Bolt created history. It was a beautiful 6km shake-out run chatting away with aR runners from across the globe – this running community is incredible ! I’ve met and made some friends for life. Soon I was back in my hotel room and it was a few hours to the start of my maiden marathon. Butterflies in my stomach as I started pulling out my race gear. Everything was out and ready to be worn the next morning. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to calm.
Ate some pasta for dinner and went to bed early and before I knew it my alarm rang. And it was RACE day.
Off I went to the Start point and almost got lost. It was so huge. 45000 runners from across the world. We kept trying to find the adidas Runners enclosure but couldn’t. It was one hour fifteen minutes to start time. I panicked a little since I had to drop off my bag that had my phone, post race change, some snacks etc. We decided to drop-off at the official baggage counter instead of the aR counter. And then we stood in a 30 minute line to pee. It was crazy. While you could see portapotties all over, the queues were never ending too. I heard the gun and the elites took off.
This was going to be a super special maiden for me. It is a world major marathon. A very saught after marathon. And It was rumored that Kipchoge will break the world record too. And as luck would have it, Yes, he did and I ran on the same track as him. History was created. This will stay for a while now. It was an incredible morning.

Soon, I was at the start line for my maiden marathon to begin and before I could stress more about it, we were flagged off. We were tonnes and tonnes of us who started together from my line up. It was hard to navigate through the crowds but that’s how it was going to be. It took me 15kms to kind of find a little space of my own to run. My pictures will be a witness to what I’m saying. While it was hard to navigate, the crowd also gave me energy. It was contagious. The streets of Berlin will never be the same. It was amazing to see the sheer numbers running and supporting and cheering throughout the 42.195kms. It was one BIG party on the streets of Berlin.
I kept an eye on my watch and tried not to go faster (which is what I usually do and then crash towards the end) than my race pace. I was on track at the 5km mark. I felt great. Soon I had reached the 8th km. I popped a gel and took a couple of sips of water and by the time I settled it was 10km. I felt good. I felt strong. And I said to myself, “let’s do this Reeti. 3 more 10kms to go with the same pace”. I kept talking to myself to run strong and not drop pace. I went into a zone and before I realised it was 16kms done. I had finished the water I was carrying. Thankfully, I was holding on to the bottle. Picking up a glass and drinking while running wasn’t the easiest thing to do. You could neither drink the entire glass nor run with it. And I didn’t want to stop at all cause I would loose momentum then. This was painful. And the water stations had traffic jams – if you know what I mean. It was the hardest to navigate through a sea of people to pick that glass of water while running. I popped my second gel at the 16km mark. Downed a couple of sips of water and threw the glass away. To my delight, I saw a water re-filling station. Atleast, I wouldn’t need to stop as often. I quickly stopped for a few seconds to fill my bottle and continued. And as I looked I had reached the half way mark. The first half-marathon was done. And it was done on point. Pace and time – even splits. I was smiling and said, “let’s crush the second half too”. I was focused. I saw a couple of cameras clicking, I was smiling. Visualising the finish line. Bands playing. People offering energy drinks. Rooting. Encouraging. Shouting along the way. The energy was incomparable. I looked at my Garmin and I had reached the 25km mark. I said, “15 more to go” Come on Reeti. I popped another gel and felt as good as the start. Had a few sips of water. Sprinkled some on myself as well and I was good to push for another few kms. I zoned out again. Was just enjoying the energy around me. Smiling and grateful thinking that I’m actually living my dream of running a world major as my maiden marathon. I notice around and the crowd got slightly lesser. I’m at the 34th kilometer. I do feel a little tired. I was almost on track even now (fingers crossed). I had heard of THE wall from most of my marathon friends. I was well versed with the term NOT the feeling yet. Was hoping I don’t hit the wall. I quickly popped my fourth gel. I realise I’m out of water and just then I see another water re-filling station. I stopped for a few seconds and filled my bottle hoping it will last me till the finish now. By now I was thirsty, I wanted to drink a couple of litres of water. I had almost half the bottle and my fourth gel and felt better and continued running. And YaY, I did NOT hit the so called wall.
Before I could realise I was crossing the adidas Runners cheering station at the 37th km and I see familiar faces and hear louder cheers ! I got a bout of fresh energy. And it was a matter of the last 5kms now. I knew I had no choice but to push. Giving up is easy. I was a bit tired now. My legs were screaming. Pain is temporary. Glory will be permanent – is what I told myself. 37done Reeti. The last 5km to go.What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is an absolute favourite of mine and it actually works. I was smiling too thinking I’ll soon be a marathoner.
As I got closer to the finish line, the cheering got louder. I could see the Brandenburg gate and I knew I had done this. I crossed the timing mat on the Brandenburg gate and realised I have another 400 meters to run. The finish line was finally in sight and I crossed it with a huge sense of pride and couldn’t stop but tear up. Yes, tears of joy ! I had done it. Done it strong. I was smiling. I was at peace. It seemed like a dream. It’s still sinking in. I’m still basking in the glory of a sub 4 marathoner ! Yes, I’m flaunting my time. I’ve earned it.
This will always be special – so close to my heart.
My maiden marathon
At 40
A world major
Berlin marathon 2018
Where Kipchoge broke his own world record
And a sub 4 marathon for me.
3.57.32
Does it get any better ?

Counting my blessings.
Grateful.

Now, isn’t that THE most fabulous sharing of a super moment in time?  This young woman has described every emotion so perfectly, and reading it brought back so many memories and feelings of my own maiden marathon…though I trained alone and trotted over the finish line w-a-y slower than my rockstar friend :P.

Reeti, fabulous achievement.  Fully deserved.  And here’s to many more wonderful achievements.

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