Friday July 1, the day before the run, I was a tad nervous. The last time I had run in any race, was in 1977, thirty fours ago. I had no idea how I was going to fare at the Pride run. The possibilities were endless. But on an inner level, I had to prove to myself, I could run without any ensuring drama. My mind was set. It is my competitive nature.
9 am. Saturday July 2. I arrived at the 519 Community Centre (Church Street, Toronto) to pick up my registration packet. The place was teeming with jocks. I picked up my kit, got my number, 1368, changed into my running shorts and walked out. I had an hour to waste before the race. I had raised $1,005!
I kept sipping my pomegranate juice and did some gentle stretches. It was early and people were slowly filtering into Church and Wellesley. At 9.30 I met my friend Kent and his camera. (All credits for the pictures accompanying this article go to Kent). It was a cloudy day and it seemed at any moment the clouds would open up and drench us. Wouldn’t that be awesome, to run in the rain?, How tropical! I reminisced about my growing years in Asia.
I walked about and went to pick up the chip or the “electronic time band” to keep track of our exact time. The chip keeps track of the time you pass the starting line and return to the finish line. I met up with friends from the AIDS Committee of York Region (ACYR). Around five of the staff and their family were running. Two of them were first timers like me. At 9.45 am. the loudspeakers announced for the runners to get ready behind the line. The ACYR team and I gathered. My mind just wanted the darnn race to start.
We got in line and the “Go” shot was fired at 10am. Off we go. I ran up Wellesley St., turned in to Queen’s Park, circled it and continued all around. I was doing just fine. Along the route is a little hill. But even a little hill means extra effort on the thigh muscle to go up. I got up to the little bump of a hill, volunteers were giving out water. I got a cup and sipped some water and splashed the rest on my face. l had glided down smoothly from the tiny bump and was turning the corner to face Wellesley again and then it hit me. Duh, it is two rounds around Queens Park, not one. Oh, well this is going to be fun. I checked my heart rate. It was 148 beats, functioning at 82 percent of it’s capacity. My lungs were on fire at 3K. I slowed down for 5 minutes to give my heart and lungs a rest until I hit the turn again to the small hill and the volunteers with water.
At 10.15 am. the sun peeked out and it was scorching. I was literally having a hot flash on my face and head. I picked up my pace and all I could think of was, “water below the little hill.” “Run! Run to the volunteers with the water.” I got there and grabbed two cups, drinking one and dowsing my head with the other.
Now I had to get to the finishing line. My legs were just stomping forward while my lungs were screaming stop. I knew if I stopped, that was it. I sensed I could make it to the finish line. By now I had no idea what the time was except I did not want to be the last one to finish. Finally, I see the turning into Wellesley St. and as I turn in, I see the finish line. It is three long blocks, far in the distance.
Breathe, breathe and I started chanting my guru’s name to stay focused and calm. I got to Bay St. and I heard my name being called, "Devan, a bit more, go Devan go." There was Kent cheering me on. I wanted to laugh but that meant I had to stop, so I just smiled at Kent and kept moving. Finally Church St. The finish line came into view. I heard the loud speaker read my chip time. As I ground to a halt, my lungs were so happy, but I was burning, panting and wished someone had hosed me down with cold water. I walked to the shade and leaned against a wall. Thank God it’s over. I did it. Yes. I am awesome! My chip time, 33 minutes and 10 seconds. The fastest runner was 15 minutes and slowest was around 54 minutes. I am so damn proud of myself!
I met up with the ACYR team as we all came back to our bodily senses. We went to partake of the delicious food served for the runners. As I reflect on the run, I could have made it in shorter time if I had not slowed down. That is my goal for next year. With 6 weeks of training this year, I did pretty decent at 51 years of age. I was so thankful for every cell and muscle for helping me through this and to all the celestial beings who kept me going.
My next challenge: The ACYR staff has taken on a 42K marathon walk to raise funds for the PHA (People Living with HIV/AIDS) Financial Assistance Fund. I have signed on. I have started my training by walking to work. It’s 10k each way. The 42K walk is on August 20.
I am also calling on readers, to ask if you can sponsor my walk, with any amount to assist the PHA fund at ACYR. I am counting on your compassion and empathy for people who are living with HIV/AIDS. The entire amount will go towards the Compassion Fund Program which is an emergency fund that supports PHA’s with food vouchers, paying rent, clothing, medication, and other basic necessities. Donations of $20 or more will be eligible to receive a tax receipt.
To contribute, please go to: www.runningroom.com.
Under “Pledge an athlete”, please type my name: Devan Nambiar
Click Event “ Walk n Roll to the Water”
Click “Sponsor me”
Thank you and take on a healthy challenge for your mind and body. Anything is possible. Many blessings.