I started training for the Chicago marathon in June. It started off with a few of us talking about running a Fall marathon and one of the big ones. I also thought I would be able to train better in summer, with no school deadlines. I knew it would not be easy to train through a Texas summer and it wasn't! Our long runs on Saturdays initially started at 6 AM, then they got moved to 5:30, then 5 and I vaguely remember one attempt to start earlier than that. It was quite an interesting experience running in the dark, a little spooky actually! Thankfully I had company.
On one such run, a dog adopted Santhosh and me near the Longhorn dam. Santhosh promptly named it Pebbles. And why Pebbles? A long story and maybe in another entry! Thanks to Pebbles, I ran much faster than usual while Santhosh was busily thinking about how to take Pebbles home etc. He got quite attached to it and was quite hurt when Pebbles got tired of us at a waterstop and started running behind someone else!
And then came Anurag! He was also training for the marathon, so after much grumbling about the super early run, he accompanied us to Town Lake. It started off with a few runners passing us on the trail, then some others and so on. Finally he got super bugged with my speed and decided that at my pace, the only targets we could pass were trees! Sigghhh...and this was just the beginning of the run! The rest of it was a joy for my running buddies. Siblings can be so dangerous!
One Wednesday morning Gaurav and I were at the tracks for our quality workout. And we bumped into Steve, the head coach for Team Asha. However, for the Chicago marathon, we were not training with him. Steve asked us how we were doing and how our training was going etc. I was quite kicked with how I was training and I gave him a happy nod and looked at Gaurav for a similar reaction. But he looked rather guilty and told Steve we were just doing some running now and then, nothing regular and such! Here I thought I was being very good about the training - I mean, how often does one show up on the tracks around 5:30 am and run - but apparently not! He is not called A+ for no reason :)
And I will never forget our first 20 mile run. Coachji (Vinod) chalked out the route. A 9-10 mile look including the Enfield hills and then the 10-11 mile St. Edwards loop. Oh it was crazy hilly! I had not run the St. Edwards loop before, so was mentally prepared for a run that was initially hilly but it just stayed that way. The Antakshari we started around mile 14 was a lot of fun and kept me distracted for a few miles. And Santhosh's discovery that he lost his car keys, house keys and the spare keys for the house called for some animated discussion of the possibilities. Vinod talked with relish about how one could find this person in East Austin who was such a super whiz, he could unlock your car in minutes. Here poor Santhosh was looking positively miserable and Vinod would just not stop about the keymaker! Despite all this entertainment, I threw such a tantrum when the promised road, Robert Lee, took forever to materialize! Not sure why everyone put up with me but I was glad for it :) We finally found Santhosh's keys and all was good.
The next 20 plus mile run was a lot better but far less eventful. For one, Santhosh and Vinod were missing. They had started training for their Sunmart 50 miler a couple of weeks back and had run the previous day. Anurag reached Austin half day later than he had planned and after an interesting detour. Gaurav, our coach-in-training (literally!) decided we would run the Runtex to Runtex route. We started out quite early and after a few miles of hill complaints, Anurag warmed up and looked comfortable in the Austin weather. Luckily, the weather that day was decent. We ran about 10 miles before we met Sanjeev to refill and replenish our fuel. We took a 10 minute break before continuing with the rest of the run. 4 miles later, we were at Town Lake and were pleasantly surprised to find Santhosh and Ganesh waiting for us. Despite my IT Band pain, the rest of the run was a nice big party.
Oh, all those evenings! It was quite challenging to be disciplined about food and sleep, especially since it was holiday time for me. Sanjeev made sure I went to bed early and sometimes even woke me up at 4:30 after an all nighter watching TV! I would return the favor by waking him up after my run and breakfast.
And that brings us to food! This account would be so incomplete without a mention of the foodplaces that made the last 2-3 miles good. Two eggs cooked overhard with wheat toast and fresh squeezed orange juice were my staple meal at Magnolia's which is right by Town lake. The freshly squeezed orange juice is just amazing. It is locally made by Goodflow and is sweet and refreshing. Then the veggies-and-pesto-on-focaccia bread was discovered in Whole Foods and I stuck to it until the spinach fiasco resulted in no pesto!
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad for all the wonderful discussions, friendly banter, support and team spirit.
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