My left knee throbs as I write this. It reminds me of its existence, a sudden flare-up of a pain I have been managing for 1.5 months now. Pointed stars of pain. I am used to it, but the thing about pain is that it always hurts.
In 3 days, I will run my first full marathon (42k) of the year. Normally, I would run that in Chennai. But I tired of Chennai after last year. The atmosphere was stale. The run torturous, as always. Mumbai beckoned.
For one of the world’s largest marathons. Asia’s largest.
Mumbai, whose citizens are known to turn out with the famous spirit that characterizes the city, and cheer 50,000 runners. Ardently. Fervently. I have heard stories that are stuff of legend. Of strangers who line the streets with sweets. Holding placards. Thumping drummers. A marathon runner feeds off this energy. And Mumbai is supposed to be a runner’s dream. Never mind the humidity. The abysmal air quality. The heat.
This is a run I have been dreaming of for a year now. But when last month, the doctor told me to make this my last marathon, my heart sank. “Run if you want to. Make this your last marathon.” I have never heeded doctors and their advice. I won’t this time, either. But for the first, reaching the start line is an achievement for me. I take inhalers before each run. And painkillers. Spray my knee liberally. Wear a brace. Pause when the pain gets intense. Massage the knee. And set off again.
On Sunday, I have to do this for nearly 5 hours. Will my knees take the pounding of 50,000 steps?
But that’s the thing. I won’t know until I start. I don’t know if I will be able to start. But I will try.
Because the start matters. Just as much as the finish. I hope you will always start.