In 2010, I was introduced to a running event called SCMM by my friends from college, Rajesh and Nitya. They would participate, and the rest of us friends would join them during weekend of the event to have a reunion.
One year, I got back to Pune after the event and went to my favourite bar, Jalsa. I had to share a table with another guy. I was enjoying my drink and talking to my friends about the run and their timing, when the stranger chimed in – “How was your run?” I replied, “Bhai, look at my weight…my tummy…do you think I can run?” And he said why not? I mentioned I was a smoker, but he kept on, encouraging me to run. Starting small is the key, he said.
All revved up, I came home and told my wife Trupti that I was planning to go for a run the next morning. She thought I was joking. The next morning, I was on a jogging track in Tathawade. I could hardly run 200 metres. I realized how unfit I was, but I didn’t want to quit. I decided to take up running as a challenge.
At that point of time, I didn’t know what to wear, what shoes to buy, how much time to spend training. My friend Rajesh became my guide and mentor, and I built up my stamine. From 3 kms, I moved to 5 kms. I gave up smoking. My friends and family were shocked at the change.
Finally, the 2013 edition of the SCMM arrived, and I was at the starting point in Bandra, Mumbai. I managed to finish my first half-marathon. I began to love the high I got from running. In March 2013 I attended my first LSOM with Pune Running. While running, I saw the stranger from the bar, the one who encouraged me to run in the first place.
He didn’t recognize me when I introduced myself, so I had to jog his memory. Once it clicked, he was amazed at my transformation. This man, Mr. Nikhil Shah, changed my life. One half marathon led to many more, then a full marathon, then an 89 km run, Comrades 2016.
Thanks to my coach Mr. Atul Godbole, I was able to finish my first Comrades successfully. 2017 Comrades was an uphill task, but I managed it. Now, I’m registered for the 2018 edition. All this, from a guy who could barely run 200 metres a few years back!
I've inspired my friends and family to take up running. The Pune running fraternity has given me a new lease of life. Weekends are spent running, not at the bar.
Self Belief is the key…accept the challenge, karo dil se!