My Centurion Run

Whatever the mind can conceive; the body can achieve

I have heard and always thought that I understood the meaning of this quote since my childhood days. Contrary to my belief, I understood the meaning last month when I successfully completed my dream run on my golden birthday.

It was in December 2017, I desired to accomplish a centurion run in November 2022. The visual of myself running one hundred kilometers on my 50th birthday was goosebumps giving thought and I decided to go all out for this seemingly impossible and crazy feat.

For some athletes, this might have been a moderate effort. However, for someone who suffered all his childhood with allergic bronchitis (asthma in simple terms), thereafter lived a completely unhealthy life for the next two decades, and contracted diabetes in his early forties; this would prove to be a herculean effort. But should you be afraid of pestles after putting your head in a mortar?

There are a hundred ways to accomplish things and a hundred excuses not to do them. The choice always remains with us. Many people tried advising me to avoid such craziness and allow some sanity to seep into my thoughts. I was adamant; not because I wanted the world to notice my feat, but instead I wanted to prove to myself that I was fitter and better than most in my age. This thought kept me motivated and I started finding resources to accomplish my dream run.

Fortunately, I found the best person to help in my journey – Coach Manish Jaiswal. A grounded, humble person who took up the responsibility to train me for this landmark run. Five years, a hundred kilometers, a rock-solid determination, a great group and a wonderful coach – The dream had finally taken shape.

The first two years went completely as planned. Run plans, strength training, and workouts ensured remarkable transformation both physically and mentally. I kept on increasing my running mileage. Just like SIP (systematic investment plan), the periodic disciplined investment was slowly and steadily compounding and yielding the desired result. As we face risk in investing world, I faced a larger risk in my planning (and this was unplanned and unanticipated). The risk of losing focus for whatsoever reason in multi-year planning is the biggest risk that can drive you away from your stated goals. The covid induced shutdown and the resulting restrictions on venturing out of home in early 2020 made me lethargic enough to become irregular.

The role of a coach is not only to train you but to keep you focused. When the adverse impact of lazing around started driving me away from the goal, and consequently I started skipping the training schedules resulting in weight gain and loss of pace; Manish came up with an idea of a fifty-kilometers ultra-run in December 2020 and insisted that I at least attempt this. Surprisingly, I completed this run successfully and this success anchored as a lighthouse in my mind and showed me the right direction. Thereafter, I ran a second fifty-kilometers run in November 2021 and one more in December 2021 ensuring I was back in the game.

As a young student the last couple of weeks before any exam, I had to deal with anxieties resulting in lost focus, and this time it was no different (although I am now a 50-year-old man however some things never change). A couple of months prior to the race day; I lost my focus and resultantly my preparations went haywire. I had mentally given up. Then came the divine intervention that helped in reviving my focus but by then it was too late. And I was swinging like a pendulum between attempting or aborting. Somehow, I was convinced to attempt this dream run.

I started my dream run on Saturday 19th November evening and ran around 33 kilometers in a 2.2 kilometers loop. Thereafter, I changed the route and ran for another five kilometers before taking a scheduled long break, (I was taking smaller breaks every 7-8 kilometers) had a small portion of home-made food and some filter coffee while my run buddies enjoyed a tasty home-made Sheera topped with dry fruits (well this is another story which will always bring smile on everyone’s face present there). This was one of the two longest breaks during the whole run.

Renewed and refreshed, I restarted; this time choosing to go for long distances instead of running in loops. By the time I reached Gorai Cross, I had completed forty-nine kilometers and I was still feeling fresh as a daisy. From here onwards, I ran on an eight kilometers loop covering twenty-one kilometers with a breathtaking view of the fully lit Golden Pagoda. Running on this loop was mesmerizing me and all the support runners alike.

The shining moon and the twinkling stars looked much brighter over the blanket of dark yet clear sky. It seemed they all were there to bless and witness my run just like all my fellow S2bians (members of my running group – Snails2Bolt). I wished I could have frozen that moment there itself. However, the morning retreated and so did I with some delightful visuals etched in my mind.

Wait! The run is still not over. The beating retreat started with approx. thirty kilometers away from the target. Another eleven kilometers went smoothly, and we were approaching the last loop of our planned loop. Till now everything was going as per plan, but destiny had a different design in mind.

A beehive in the area, I was approaching, was destroyed by someone leading to honeybees attacking the walkers in the area. Immediately my team decided to change the route and as per instructions I had no alternative but to change the course. Change of plans in the last hour is never easy to implement. But there was no other option.

This last-minute change did bring in some fatigue and after another four kilometers, I found myself struggling. It took two kilometers of walk-jog strategy before I realized that the struggle is because I need to relieve myself of the pressure building up in my stomach. A small discussion with my coach and I took a second break to relieve myself.

And the final countdown begins. This time my run buddies ensured that from hereon I am not stopping anywhere; whatsoever. There were seven to eight runners running alongside for the last 10 kilometers and upon completion of every kilometer there was cheering, shouting, and dancing. Seemingly my coach and my co-runners were more excited about what I was going to achieve.

Every kilometer completed was giving me more energy. Yes, I was on the verge of completing my first centurion run, achieving my dream, and proving to myself that I can still do the unimaginable. Finally, we were in the last lap and my legs were racing faster than my thoughts. I crossed the finishing line, and a thumping heart told me yes you have done it.

Paulo Coelho said in his book The Alchemist – “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

How could I fail when there were more than thirty run buddies from my running group Snails2Bolt were all out for this crazy old human being – running, motivating, and supporting?
How could I fail when the weather was just perfect for an ultra-run?
How could I fail when my coach was beside me all the time?
How could I fail when my family ensured to be present at the start and finish line the first time for any of my runs?
How could I fail when my support team ensured timely nutrition and hydration?
How could I fail when divine blessings ensured I ran steadily at the same pace all throughout?

Yes… How could I fail?

A sense of deep gratitude prevailed for this was my dream and my run, however, there was a support team ready to provide water, hydration, and nutrition ensuring I remain completely nourished and energized. There were runners sacrificing their sleep and running with me to keep me motivated throughout my run. There was my coach available all the time to guide and inspire his trainee. Would this feat be possible without all these friends and their support and blessings? Possibly no. A salute to the spirit of all S2Bians who ensured that I achieve what I envisioned. Asides, a special thanks to my family including Nitin who stood firm with me, accepted all my tantrums hurled at them, and kept smiling all along. What more should I ask the Almighty when I have his blessings in the form of all these beautiful people around me?

There were many life lessons learned and the prominent ones were as follows:

  • Slow and steady still completes the race
  • If you dream of achieving long distances in life, take like-minded people together
  • A positive group of unselfish people around you is the biggest blessing you can receive from the Almighty.
  • Compounding works in every sphere of life, provided you know how to invest your bit.

All I can say is a couplet from a popular hindi song:

तुम साथ हो जब अपने, दुनिया तो दिखा देंगे, हम मौत को जीने के अंदाज़ सीखा देंगे||

Watch a small video of my centurion run by clicking on the link below:

Published by Vivek Damani

Vivek is a personal finance expert with 27 years plus experience in the field of personal finance. He is also a passionate long-distance runner and loves to have a balanced approach thereby leading a joyful life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: