2014 was one of the best years of my life. If you ask me why, the reasons are multiple! However, one of the biggest reasons why I feel giddy thinking about last year is that I got to participate in my very first organized run. A half marathon!
Not having even run a full mile with a smile made this challenge seem even more daunting in the beginning. But after attending the kick-off meeting and hearing other similar success stories of past runners made the goal seem somewhat more achievable. I came away super excited and motivated to train for the half marathon and before I could even realize it was happening, I was running double digits distances each week! The entire experience was so amazing to see myself slowly and steadily turn into a runner- that too a happy one 🙂
The day of the half-marathon was a sweet memory I will never ever forget. My friend Dhara and I enthusiastically woke up early in the morning to drive ourselves to the Golden Gate Park where the race started. It was empowering to see so many smiling faces, all ready to run! But the energy I found in myself that morning was unparalleled. Much like a student on the day of their exam, except here I already knew I would emerge as a winner no matter what. Both my friend and I motivated and cheered for each other during the course of the run. The music, the spectators and the entire environment brought upon an energy I had never experienced before. As I crossed the finish line, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks as I saw my husband and close friends loudly cheering for me. It was a proud day, indeed.
I now call myself a runner all because of my incredible training program with Team Asha. Not to mention, I also made some life-long relationships in just a few months, if that, of knowing some of my team mates. Try it out at least once, you cannot put a price on health and happiness – both of which Team Asha did for me!
I joined Team Asha in 2014, after a one-month lull that had been preceded by quite an intense and busy period in my life. After that, I decided I was ready for my life’s next new challenge, and training for a half-marathon sounded like a nice feat to take on. I’d heard about Asha before from a few friends who were involved with it and had trained in years prior. I remembered one of my friends who’d run the half-marathon telling me that she’d never seen herself as a runner, but getting involved with this group had actually gotten her into it.
So I registered…on the very last day that registration was still open. And I was in! Next…the training. I had no idea what to expect, not having trained for anything like this before. I found out there were a few different types of group runs scheduled throughout each week to get us trained for the big event (i.e. The San Francisco Half-Marathon).
My first run took me to the Aquatic Park area of SF, somewhere I’d never really spent any time. It was beautiful to be right by the water that early Sunday morning, before the city had woken up. I jogged two miles and was somewhat out-of-breath. I didn’t know how I’d make it to 13.1 miles by the end of the whole training, but I trusted the people and process would help see me through to it.
The day of the SF Half-Marathon lives on as a special memory for me. Before the sun had even risen, I taxi-ed over to the start line of the race with a few friends, where hundreds of other runners had gathered for the big event. I got in a group with the other runners in my Wave, put in my earphones, marched over to the start line…and then I was off! I ran the entire distance – down the Embarcadero, past the Aquatic Park and Crissy Field where we had trained, and then there in the distance the Golden Gate Bridge emerged – and then I was running on the Bridge itself! I ran and ran, amongst a mass of other runners, and my iPod played Beyonce and Britney and Florence and Pharrell, pumping me up through all of it. The music, the scenery, the thousands of other runners beside me, all motivated by the same goal – it was enthralling. In the last few seconds I ran as fast as I could towards the finish line, giving it my all, and then, it was over.
If you’ve never done anything like this before, I would say it’s definitely worth trying at least once in your life. If you’re considering it at all – I would say take the plunge and do it – you won’t regret the experience if it’s anything like mine. I should mention – I also fell in love with the people of Asha. The participants, mentors and the coaches; the impromptu uphill runs and post-run meals; the potluck dinners, and the care, love and laughter shared. For me, Asha emerged as the kind of community I felt I’d been yearning for ever since I moved to SF. And it’s continued to been so for me, even after our 2014 running season completed.
Life was all peaches and cream (or should I say Lassis and Samosas) till that trip to the doctor a few years ago. He pats my gut and goes – “This is the core of your problem“, and warns me of dire consequences if I don’t get my act together! A good friend of mine suggests that I join Team Asha – from zero to 26.2 miles in 6 months. I think to myself – who’s he kidding? Here I am, huffing and puffing to walk for 10 minutes. I show up at the Spring Run and try the 5K and much to my surprise, finish the whole thing without passing out! After attending the information session and listening to the knowledgeable coaches and inspiring stories of ex-runners, I am hooked! From a blubbery out-of-shape couch potato, the Team Asha program has transformed me into a lean (well relatively speaking J) mean running machine. The awesome coaches, co-ordination team, and training program helped me overcome the physical and mental demons and helped me successfully finish my first half and full-marathons! Since then, I have been hooked, and have continued running pretty much throughout the year (including training in the off-season with a bunch of dedicated Asha runners) and run several half and full marathons. Running is not a chore anymore – it’s a lifestyle choice, and I am proud to be a card-carrying member of this Marathoner’s club! And, the fact that I am where I am (being able to make the above statement) – I owe it all to the family called ‘Team Asha’! And for this, I keep coming back year after year to share new experiences and forge new bonds and friendships!