Friday, July 31, 2009

Ze End!

After 4 months of actively maintaining this blog, the time has come to retire this one. To date, except for keeping my job and completing my school, I have not done anything in such discipline. But for the team (TNT), I wouldn't have done this as well. I can't thank the coaches, the honorees and my sponsors enough on their help. So, I will keep quiet and be humbled by the personal attention given by the coaches and the generosity and kindness exercised by my sponsors. As far as the honorees' spirit to fight through what life threw at them, I want to tell a couple of words before I keep quiet and feel humbled by their audacity to brave through the storm.

We had a constant stream of honorees (Cancer survivors) boosting our spirit and keeping things (especially the pains of running compared to what they have to go through) in perspective all through the training session. At the pasta dinner, the night before the marathon, the narration by one of the honoree's mom (Will call her Luke's mom) touched everyone's heart. Luke was 3 when he was diagnosed with cancer. I could only imagine what the parents would have gone through when they heard this from the doctor.

Luke has to go through Chemo, has to take steroids to withstand the intensity of chemo and hence was non-stop hungry. He has to be fed all through the day. The mom showed a one-before/one-after photo. The kid, though barely one year apart, was unrecognizable. In addition to the physical changes, when the mom described the mental effects of all this (since the kid reacts to pain with yelling, shouting and with other adverse behavior), there was a deafening silence in the room to commiserate with the family. In the moments when sanity prevailed with Luke, he would ask questions like any other child but with a twist. For instance when he saw a kid with no hair on the street, he asked, "Mom, does he go to the same Chemo center as I do"? (instead of day-care or after school music class or whatever a normal kid would associate with). When the mom narrated about how Luke asked if he had to die and go to heaven alone (or) would anyone accompany him, there was not one dry eye in the room.

These are the questions a parent can only pray that they don't have to hear from their kids. And in fact a majority of the parents don't have to. But from the stories of the few, could one draw inspirations from - about the tenacity of the human mind, about the power of faith and about the support derived from family. As the sociologists have figured out, human mind cannot predict how it would react to an extremely good news (winning a lottery) or an extremely bad news (your child declared as having cancer) when it has not yet happened. But we have in our genes the courage to work through and fight against the challenging situations.

A couple of lessons I derived for myself are,
  1. Do not brood about what-if this happens (or) what-if that happens; (a) there is no way to figure out what my state of mind would be when it hasn't happened yet and (b) I will fight through if and when 'it' happens
  2. Live in and cherish the present, count my blessings and stop bitching and moaning about things that could be better.
Well, I didn't have to run a marathon to find these out, one may say. But, for me, the constant reinforcement of these stories about 'audacity of hope' went a long way in internalizing these messages. BTW, Luke is nearing the end of his Chemo routine and our thoughts and prayers are with him to lead the rest of his life without the burden of cancer.

That said, my mind did not contemplate any of these things while I ran my marathon. It was all about living in the moment. Since it was warm and since the last 8.2 miles were a big unknown, I took it very easy from the start. I took constant hydration (and hence frequent potty breaks) and finished the run with full of energy. The 6 hours 12 minutes time mean that when (and IF) I do another marathon, there is no stress of beating my personal best :-)

Where do I go from here? It would be a shame if after running a marathon I go back to my couch life style. I would strive hard to avoid that. At the same time, I don't think I have the will or motive to run another full marathon. May be I will stick with running half marathons for rest of my life since it is much easier on the schedule and on my body.. and I will still be a marathoner, won't I ?

All right, I have said what I wanted to say through this blog. I kept my end of the promise for all my sponsors in maintaining this blog and completing my marathon. Now, it is time I shut up and log off :-)


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