I want to live life to the full, enjoy myself, be successful, set personal challenges, …… I am an ambitious person with lots of dreams, spoken silently but also with acknowledgment that I may not succeed every time.
I was talking to couple of my friends, Piyush Gudka and Kaushik Shah during our Coast-to-Coast Cycling and the Three Peaks challenge in August 2005. One evening, in a youth hostel, Piyush and Kaushik, who had just completed the London Marathon in April 2005, were comparing their run with the combined C2C and the 3 Peaks challenge. As they talked I raised the inevitable question if I was capable of doing the London Marathon next year. Both of them, being ever so positive, convinced me that they would get me ready for the 2006 London Marathon.
This was a dream come true and now that I am approaching 50 what better way to set the challenge of ultimate human endurance – 26.2 miles of huffing, puffing, sweating and an odd tear or two. I was hooked by their enthusiasm, especially Kaushik’s sub 3:30 run and Piyush’s fantastic achievement of running a major marathon on each of the 6 continents within 11 months, his experience of inspiring complete novices as well as sportsmen to participate in marathons, and to cap it all his funny stories from all over the world.
A personal training schedule was prepared for me and I joined The Stanmore Group for the endurance runs on Sunday mornings. This was one of the best ways to prepare as I had fantastic encouragement and superb support from the group. I have never come across so much camaraderie. We regularly exchanged our experiences on training techniques, physical and mental preparation, and encouraged each other to go the extra mile. Apart from these Sunday runs all of us trained from two to four other sessions during the week in the gym or on the road.
During one of my training runs I was accompanied by Rasik Shah, who gave me a few useful tips, but also reminded me that running is to be enjoyed at individual’s own pace and is good physical exercise.
Just like myself, Piyush also encouraged Dr Dharmesh Shah to run the London Marathon with us. Dr Dharmesh is probably the first Shah Doctor to run the Marathon. The Stanmore Group of runners also included other recent London Marathon and Dublin Marathon participants. What an achievement for all nine runners:
- Rahul Haria – 1st London Marathon
- Dr Dharmesh Shah – 1st London Marathon
- Pragna Shah – 1st London Marathon and Dublin Marathon
- Nishma Shah – 2nd London Marathon
- Andrea Malam – 2nd London Marathon and Dublin Marathon
- Shilan Dodhia – 3rd London Marathon
- Kaushik Shah – 4th London Marathon
- Romal Shah – 4th London Marathon and Dublin Marathon
- Piyush Gudka – 11th London Marathon and 9 others all over the world
Although I had never before trained for long distance running I was surprised how enjoyable the Sunday morning runs became and especially the friendships which grew over the weeks. During our long runs we even had friends and spouses supporting us with drinks, bananas, oranges, sweets, etc along the route to ensure we were sufficiently hydrated. I soon realised what is meant by “impossible is nothing” – as with all sports, physical limitations are overcome through determination and willpower. This in itself provides both the motivation and satisfaction.
My dream was nowhere near an amazing run by an Oshwal in the same race as mine. Just a year ago Romal ran his third London Marathon in 4:27. Many people would be happy to finish a marathon in this time, but not Romal. Six months after this, in October 2005, he participated in Dublin Marathon and finished in 3:30. You have guessed it, this was still not good enough for him. Romal has now completed this year’s London in 3:26, making him the fastest Oshwal marathoner. He was not the only one to make dramatic improvement. Nishma had completed the 2005 London in 4:55 and slashed this by over an hour to 3:47 in her only second marathon this year. Records are there to be broken, but boy-o-boy these two together with Kaushik could be competing for the best time in their next marathon.
I have never been so fit (and tired!) in my life and the sheer joy and sense of achievement at the finish was so overwhelming that I would, without any hesitation, urge and sincerely hope that more Oshwals and Indians participate in the greatest sporting event, the London Marathon.
Marathon running and sports in general is not only about winning. It is also about participating and experiencing the joys of a physical challenge. It should be thought of as a life long companion, just like reading. Through running I have gained a better understanding of how my body functions, its nutritional needs and how physical exercise can help balance the busy lives we live. One other benefit that I have also noticed in running is that “sportsmen” seem to be open-minded and strive to have balanced and fulfilling lives and I have met some very nice people doing just that.
We heard a lot of stories during our training and one of Piyush’s famous quotes is:
“The most important thing to remember about marathon running is the satisfaction of:
Participating in the race
Enjoying the fantastic atmosphere
Accomplishing “mission impossible”
Collecting lots of money for charities
Endurance achievement of a lifetime”
I now have enough confidence to shout out aloud:
I have (fulfilled) a dream …
Every year Piyush has guaranteed Golden Bond Charity Entries for the London Marathon, which we hope Oshwals will utilise. For further details to secure your place please contact him by phone on 44 (0)7958 553 101 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org