Yesterday morning I ran my very first race.
Myself, two wonderful women from my IDEX cohort, and my boss Bhavna Toor all ran the Pinkathon, India’s largest women only race, on behalf of Shenomics.
I was nervous because I had changed my mind last minute and decided to run the 5K portion of the race (as opposed to the 3K portion I had originally intended.)
In the days prior to the Pinkathon, I had been trying to prepare by running at Ulsoor Lake near my house. All my attempts kept coming well short of 5K (that’s just over 3 miles, for my fellow Americans.) I had a mental roadblock that manifested in many excuses. The leggings I had worn were making me too hot or I had just eaten and was too full to finish my run. One time I pet a stray puppy and then got it into my head that I had to find a sink immediately to wash my hands, lest I risk get ringworm. Point is, in the week leading up to the Pinkathon, I hadn’t been able to complete 5K once. Yesterday morning I was just hoping the adrenaline might be enough to keep me running to the end.
The day began with the IDEX girls (Me, Esther, and Mikaela) waking up at the ungodly time of 3:30AM. After some burnt toast and scrambled eggs, we set off for the track to an area known as Whitfield. The normally 1+ hour drive was a short and sweet 30 minute commute; the first silver lining of running a 5:30AM race.
We arrived at the venue and were excited to learn that we would get to do some group Zumba before the run actually began. The music and the instructor were lit. Sameer Sachdeva is the zumba guy in India.
Long story short – after tiring of the intense but amazing Zumba session happening, we meandered towards the starting line. We noticed people were lined up to begin the race, and we joined the fray. It’s important to note, Esther, Bhavna, and I were running the 5K portion of the race and Mikaela, super woman that she is, was pushing herself to run the 10K portion. It was still dark out when we hit the road.
We watched the sunrise over the city as we ran, and it was breathtaking (literally.) Running in the dewy hours of the morning was cool and beautiful – the second silver lining of running a 5:30AM race. Throughout our run we had hordes of volunteers cheering us on and passing out water cups and bottles.
After running for some time I hit my stride, a while later I passed a sign that said 6K. There was no way I could have run 6K- so I wasn’t sure what the sign meant. After going back and forth, I finally asked a fellow runner. Turns out I was on the 10K track- and we were just shy of 7K deep.
Right at that moment Esther texted me “OMG I missed the turn for the 5KM, just saw a sign that says 6 KM!!!” I had to laugh out loud, at least I wasn’t the only one in for a surprise 10K that morning. I messaged her I had done the same, and we both decided to go for it.
With new zeal, I continued my run. Just a bit later I saw Bhavna – she too had realized our mistake. We had come for the 5K but we were all finishing the 10K.
As I crossed the finish line, I saw the women who were to run 5K que to begin. At some point it was revealed that it was a staggered start, and we had all begun the race with the 10K runners. Oops.
We finished the race, tired but triumphant; it was a beautiful life lesson.
ACCIDENTAL 10K – SOME TAKEAWAYS:
1. The limitations we impose on ourselves are our greatest roadblocks to success. I had just completed a 10K when originally I believed I was only capable of running 3K. Even when I thought I was being ambitious in attempting to run 5K – I was still only doing HALF of what I am able to. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I psyched myself out when I was running alone, and let the task intimidate and get the better of me. It was a mental game, and I was letting myself loose. If, yesterday morning, I had intentionally embarked on the 10K race, honestly, I think I might have given up. My ignorance saved me. I was out of my own head and able to focus on the task at hand. And once I was out of my head, my roadblocks ceased to exist.
In short, when I think I can’t, I don’t – but I believed I could, so I did.
2. Reading is important. The Pinkathon was incredibly well organized, and had I taken more time to prepare I probably wouldn’t have run an accidental 10K race at 5:30 in the morning.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I tell myself this often, but apparently, it’s a lesson that bears repeating. Had I stopped to ask any of the numerous volunteers about the race, I could have saved myself a shock later. ASK copious amounts of questions always – and if you don’t you just may end up running a surprise 10K.
4. Strength in numbers. If you’re doing something hard – do it with others. Whether it’s a race or a movement – we feed off the energy of people. Seeing the inspirational and mighty women of the Pinkathon gave me the support and push I needed to run the entire 10K. I know what power we as women have, I saw it pounding the earth yesterday morning before the sun was even up. I saw it in every face I passed, every cheer I heard. I know what we as humans can do when we band together and it’s any.damn.thing. we want.
5. Roll with the punches. Even after realizing our mistake – the three of us kept running. Every single one of us finished the race, and we could not be more proud of each other. Mikaela for intentionally and purposely tackling the behemoth that is the 10K. Esther, Bhavna, and Myself for sticking it through, for better or for worse.
Sometimes we think we know what we’re doing, but life has other ideas. When we roll with the punches, believe in ourselves, and have a support system – it doesn’t make a difference in achieving our goals. It took longer, but in the in the end, we were able to do so much more than we intended. We’re already planning our next race!
More on the Pinkathon:
The Pinkathon has several core values and in it’s own words: “It is the beginning of a movement carried forward by [those] who share a belief that a healthy family, a healthy nation and a healthy world begins with empowered women.” The Pinkathon endeavors to be socially responsible with several notable initiatives including reducing their carbon footprint, being disability inclusive, and championing several health organizations including the Women’s Cancer Initiative.
My personal favorite aspect of the Pinkathon – and there are several to choose from- is that the race provides every single participant with a free health check up and additional mammogram (for women 45 yrs and over.) Both are giftable. Infact, The Pinkathon encourages that all unused check ups and mammograms be gifted to those who normally cannot afford these services- for example a family maid. The Pinkathon not only encourages a healthy lifestyle – mind, body, and soul – but it does so for all women across economic and social strata. Read more about the Pinkathon and its work here.