A Red Mud Run – A Remembrance Run for my Brother

February 14th has arrived… it’s no longer a Valentine’s Day for me…

It has been one year since he had passed away… My younger brother, I miss him so much.

None is immortal in this world. We have to leave this beautiful world one day. I can’t make him immortal. But I can make him remembered by everyone around me by doing something worth and memorable in his name.

We have constituted a scholarship in his name in our local school where my brother and I did our schooling till matriculation. It will really help his name be remembered by every kid studying in our school and the teachers who are mentoring them.

Like that, I thought of running a marathon in his remembrance every year and the Auroville Marathon suits the purpose best. It’s in the month of February and also happens every year on the day which is somewhat near to the date of his demise. So I’m going to run this marathon every year till the day I can run.

Honestly speaking, I have never prepared or trained like this before for any other marathons in my life. Auroville Marathon 2013 is very special…

This marathon was really a good challenge to me. In fact, I never participated in any marathons for past three years. Three years of my sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism and smoking habits had made me obese. So, to reach my old running performance, I had to struggle a lot. The first goal was to reduce my weight which was around 84.6 Kilograms.

With that heavy-weight body, when I resumed running few months ago, my legs couldn’t handle the strain. My knees got injured severely and finally, the physiotherapist advised rest for a fortnight and resume running only after reducing weight.

So from September 2012, I started weight/strength training as well as dieting to reduce my weight. Within 5 months, I have shed more than 14 kilos. It was really amazing to see that my hard work starts working out the way I want it to be. I’m really thankful to the people who have stood by my side through my obese, struggling days.

Jerin Raj

So the first mission has been accomplished: the weight reduction. Then for past one and a half months, since my BMI (Body Mass Index) has become normal, I have started running. Knee pain has gone away and since my muscles got strengthened, I could run very easily and effortlessly.

More than running in a marathon after a hiatus of three years, I still think reducing my weight and getting back on track was my greatest challenge as well as accomplishment.

In the morning of 9th February, I reached Chennai. As usual, one of my best friends, Ram Kumar came along with me to Auroville, Puducherry. His company really helped to strike off my boredom and loneliness throughout a tiresome journey. Moreover, he is really a good, understanding and understandable friend.

We also got some likeminded friends as soon as we arrived at Pondicherry. It was real fun talking to them, spending time with them and travelling with them.

Unlike my previous marathons which were full marathons, this time, I was running a half marathon (21 kilometers). Suddenly, after a long break of three years why should I take a risk of running a full marathon? I don’t want to do that. Slow and steady wins the race. I believe in that proverb. More than that, I need time to improve myself.

Half marathon started at 0615hours on February 10th with regular hoots, cries, screams, enthusiastic shouting from the participants as well as from people who were cheering for us. The route was same through which I had run three years ago. (You can read about my Auroville 2010 experience @ http://bit.ly/Z6Pr0a )

Full marathon and half marathon routes were slightly different and I think I have missed lot of good sceneries which I enjoyed last time while I was running a full marathon.

This marathon can also be termed as a run to rejuvenate my passion and love for amateur long distance running. And doing it for someone special brings to it more passion and purpose.

The run went so good and effortless till 18 kilometers. After that point, my calf muscles started aching. I said to myself, if I could reach this far, the remaining 3 kilometers would be like a breeze. But the pain started mounting on every step.

“No pain… no pain…!” I started telling repeatedly in my mind. Only just three kilometers to the finish line, why should I resort to walking? I have trained so hard, reduced more that 14 kilos for taking me back to track. Why should I turn back at the last moment?

One European lady on the sides of the running track was waving at me; I waved back with a smile. She cheered and told: “oh, please don’t give up that smile, you look awesome. Keep going!” those words struck my ears like pearls of inspiration. Drummers on the sides of the trail did beat drums to the rhythm of my heart. I could do nothing more than just smile and run.

Finally, just 200 meters away from the finish line, I still could hear the cheering, hooting and screaming of crowd and in my imagination I could see the sweaty, tired, smiling faces of the runners who were hitting the finish line.

Suddenly a guy from the crowd yelled at me: “just 200 meters more! Sprint it!” “Oh yeah, let’s screw this!” I told myself and started dashing towards the finish line. People started cheering for me, waving at me and smiling at me.

In reality, my body and mind were blending with that moment – the moment of absolute joy, moment of accomplishment, a short moment in which six months of my struggle and hard work came to fruition.

The most amazing thing happened to me was my timing. I completed the half marathon at 2 hours and 10 minutes. Not so bad after a long break of three years. I never expected this timing for my run, especially at Auroville. Unlike during other marathons I have participated, I never took rest or walked in this marathon. I was just running and of course, smiling! Thanks to the strength/ weight training.

This time, I have realized the value and importance of strength training in running. I never took to strength training before in my life. It was for reducing my weight, I have started going to gym but it helped both to reduce weight and to strengthen my muscles.

Now I’m going to stick to my plan of running more marathons every year and improving my timing as well. Next time, I will try completing the half marathon below two hours. In fact, running marathons can keep us in the track of fitness with a good purpose. It gives us a mission to accomplish, something worth and great to look upon in future.

After a break of three years, today, I have realized the need to run more to keep myself alive and active. I regret that I have wasted three good years of my life without running.

Today, I can tell to myself and to the world very confidently that, “I’AM BACK!”


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