Last Sunday I participated in the StanChart marathon for the fourth time. I love running for two reasons. It ensures I tick the exercise box and secondly, I get to sort stuff out in my head as I run. I find it therapeutic. I was a bit apprehensive at the start, because I had done very little practice in the run up to this event. I try to run at least once a week at a minimum, but this time round I just woke up and it was Sunday the 26th of November. It was a cold, wet morning and I hoped we would not be rained on.
Due to lack of adequate preparation, I had no personal time to beat. My goal was just to finish 21 kilometres. As the crowd gathered at the starting point, folks were chatting away animatedly, jogging on the spot rearing to go. It usually is a team sport until we are flagged off, then it becomes personal. You run your race.
Once the crowd spread out and we each had some personal space, I settled into my jog and engaged my mind. That week was a bad one after some domestics in the business, so I needed the time alone to process stuff. 2017 feels like the year of domes – one after another.
Whenever I run, I try hard to engage my mind so that I can ignore my body. When I give my body attention then the run gets harder, I start aching and want to stop. The mind truly is a powerful thing. I also took time to take in our concrete jungle that is the CBD. Where does space appear from to build more skyscrapers yet tao has always looked maxed out on space? I hardly go into town, so this felt like those trips from a shags school to visit KICC and take photos leaning next to the statue of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. That’s the closest some of us will ever get to power. Remember those success cards for exams.
I love the human spirit that is exhibited at such an event where thousands of people come together for a noble cause. As I ran, I’d meet with guys shouting at their pals urging them to keep going. Others would stop running and walk for a while with a struggler encouraging them not to give up. The one that was even more special was runners helping the guys in wheelchairs climb up a hill. I remember around the 12-kilometre mark on forest road, I saw a guy pushing a participant on a wheel chair and I said to myself that I will help someone if the chance presents itself.
Be careful what you wish or ask for folks, because that’s exactly what happened. At 17 kilometres I had clocked exactly two hours, which was better than I expected. So I thought I could finish in two and a half hours and beat last years’ time. As I psyched up to achieve this at the NIC downhill slope, I notice a lady in a wheelchair struggling to descend. Soon after, she lost control and hit the kerb and fell over. I rushed to help with a few runners close by. We put her back on her seat and helped her down the slope up to the Bunyala roundabout. Once we got there she seemed okay but was rubbing her hand uncomfortably. As I was about to get on with my run, something told me to inquire whether she was fine. She was a pleasant lady so she didn’t say much. I offered to help her, which she accepted.
At this point I decided to give up my time deadline and accept the task at hand of helping my fellow runner to the finish line. It was the most fulfilling four kilometres of the run. Our insides jump with joy when we do a good deed. We chatted kidogo with this lady as we ran. I told her she’s a much better person than me. She registered for the half marathon on a wheel chair and did it. She told me that at the NIC slope she was ready to quit and wait for their vehicle to come pick her up as she didn’t believe she would finish the race. My silent thought had suddenly become an instruction that I had to follow through.
You see guys, when we are ready to lend a helping hand and our hearts are willing, then the opportunity to do just that appears before us. Imagine if we all actioned the chances we came across to do well. This world would be a much better place.
Not to mention the shocker that big brother is always watching. This time it was my pal Peter who recorded me and my fellow runner on the wheelchair. To my shock, I found it later on Twitter. Don’t know why he did it but if the message to be our brother’s keeper was spread around, then maybe Peter also had an assignment to be there at that time, phone in hand. God bless you Bro.
We have heard the saying that it’s darkest before dawn. The 17 to 19 kms mark is very hard and that’s when most want to give up. Your legs get as heavy as lead and your body feels like it’s about to go on strike and refuse to move on. That lady and myself were at that point. To me she was just what I needed to get my feet lighter again. The remaining four kilometres felt very short because my mind was fully engaged doing good and having a blast while at it. I felt nothing about what my body was saying. In fact, I walked another kilometre or so after the marathon to where my car was parked.
Maybe our 2018 theme song should be ” tenda wema nenda zako”. It was definitely a good Sunday. Felt like i had done church on the road and loved it.