This was back in December 2016. The time when I didn’t know anything about Bicycling Clubs/Brevets.
After cycling 8-10 kilometers to my friend Vishu’s place a couple of times, I decided to up the distance and cycle 26 kilometers to Swathi Peddi’s place. A total of 52kms to and fro. This was a huge distance to me back at the time and a couple of friends were even worried about this and I didn’t let my parents know too. Huge deal back then!
( There’s been so much of change now. When I told my mom I was planning on running to my college she asked me on which day I was planning to? 😂😂)
So armed with a backpack with bottle and snacks, I started off to Swathi’s place on my Hero Razorback. It took me around 2 hours 10 minutes to complete and it wasn’t a piece of cake. As soon as I reached I had this victorious feeling. I was ecstatic and euphoric over my new achievement. None of my friends had done it before and it made me feel all the more special.
After some small talk, Swathi mentions that one of her colleagues had recently completed 600 kilometers on cycle.
My reaction back then
My inflated sense of achievement went for a toss. How can one cycle 600 kilometers??
That feeling was always at the back of my mind.
The next month I went to a Charminar Ride with Hyderabad Bicycling Club. My first ride with the HBC Folks. This followed with at least 2 rides with HBC every month. Most memorable was the Mango Ride. That was the first time I remember pushing my limits. This ride gave me the confidence to do my first 200km Brevet- one which I completed 7 minutes late after the deadline and gave a speech about it here.
By this time, I was already following Gautam’s exploits in the running world. The week before my first Half Marathon, I approached him for any suggestions he might have. He just said ” Eat well. Sleep well”. I approached him again for any pointers during my first Super Randonnuer (SR) – a series of 200, 300, 400, 600 kms on cycle.
In an year, one complete circle from wanting to do 600 kilometers to actually doing it; a journey filled with new friends and buddies, memories and pushing my limits, it was one of the best years I’ve had.
With the last day in my undergraduate nearing by, a thought of doing a run to college occurred. Exactly 42km- a full marathon. By this time I had an idea that one should not jump into any endurance activity without some pre-planned training regime. Again, I reached out to Gautam if he thought this idea might be feasible. Though skeptical and worried about injuries, he gave me the belief that it was definitely possible. He advised to take a final opinion from Gokul, the man behind The Bike Affair along with Krish Basu. Even Gokul said it was possible with the caveat being more focus on the race day tools and running form than on the physical preparation.
So this was when I asked Gautam if he could check my running form. And that following morning was the first time we met in person after months of online conversations.
Doing a 5km KBR loop with Pondi Express
Some takeaways from the Meet:
- I had an okay running form. Not much to worry about as of now. Should focus on it after the marathon.
- Race day clothing, hydration plan and route mapping are very important.
- I was having a stiff shoulder while running. A couple of drills would help me correct that.
- Apply vaseline to toes and sensitive areas to avoid blisters.
- Don’t gulp down water as it might hurt in the gut after a while. Sip it slow.
After the meet Gautam took the time to form a training plan customized just for me.
I followed this with a bit of slack in the last couple of days which led me to postpone my day of run by a week. But, finally on 6th April, 2018 I completed my run- My First Full Marathon. And most importantly, without any injuries (so far :p)
When starting off something, one might get a lot of doubts-silly at times(most of the times actually). And it truly feels good when the person you approach replies back to you. Gautam Pondi was that person for me. I kept asking him questions but he always replied back with the same enthusiasm with his trademark smiley 😬😬😬
Podcasts, Books, Running, Cycling – I share the same interests as his name(except the extra H). He’s epitome of perseverance and determination with a child-like smile.
Enough of the fan-boyism. I was completely gripped with his responses for the Blogcast. Hope you are too. Head over here to check it out!!!