Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mumbai Marathon with the kids

I wanted to participate in the Mumbai Marathon ever since I heard about it. After many years of failing to register on time, I finally get my chance to run for Teach for India. I figured this would be a good way to motivate me to keep up my fitness levels which have plunged since joining the fellowship.

In class we have been bugging the students to work harder and set goals for themselves. Giving in to popular belief that modeling teaches best, I tried and modeled it to them. I told them what a marathon is. I told them that I am going to take part in the Mumbai Marathon. They have their goals, I have mine. Mine is to run 21km  in January. (Yeah, it's the half marathon. The 42km were too daunting.) Since I live close to the community, the park where I run is pretty accessible to the kids. They play cricket close by. I suggested that they could come to the ground on Sunday mornings and watch Bhaiya run. I thought it'll build their math skills as well. Sounds good so far.

What I haven't foreseen - calls on Saturday evening going like this -
"Bhaiyya, what time are you going to run tomorrow morning?"
(See how there's no question asking if I am running. That's assumed.)
(I was about to go and party with my friends and hence chances of me running in the morning are pretty slim.) 
"I'll be there at 7am kid. That's pretty early for you right?"
"No Bhaiyya. I'll come. You'll come no?"
Deepest of sighs. "Yes kid. I'll see you at 7am."
(Left party early to go home and sleep thinking I'll be lucky to have an actual social life between these 115 troublemakers)

Lack of social life aside, it's been fun. The first time, I thought that we should measure the ground to get an estimate of how much I am running. I got a skipping rope and we measured that with a measuring tape. Then we went around the park holding the skipping rope. 15 minutes, numerous strange looks (who cares?), few additions and multiplications later we decided that the running track was around 400m. One elderly gentleman actually asked us about the result at the end of this. Turns out he had overseen paving of the track. However, he claimed that it was around 650m. I didn't know what to say. We were pretty sure that our process had been correct. Also, I knew that I had not been running 10 rounds of a 650m long ground in 20 minutes. We left it at that.

Normally, kids see me running and they run with me. Being kids, they find it hard to understand why I am not running at full steam so they go up ahead. Then they run of breath and take a break. Not Abhishek. A hyperactive kid, he started running with me at the start of my run and went on to run more than 5km with me. I was amazed. I had been concerned if kids should be running that much but he managed to make it through. He told me that his legs ached afterward and I told him to take it slowly next time.

I have also been coaching kids kho-kho, dodgeball and running for the upcoming sports day. Apart from practice sessions after school, we also practice in the evenings at the park. Some people watch us play. One old gentlemen offered to speak to the park authorities and get proper markings done for kho-kho practice. Might even get a net for volleyball. If it does happen, it'll be great for the kids.

P.S - I am running the marathon for the selfish reason of increasing fitness but I am also running it for Teach for India and for my kids. Do support my fundraising for the same.