Dr. Nidhi Pasi, is an extra ordinary woman. She has done her PHD in Environment and Natural Resources Policy from State University of New York- College of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Currently she works in a consulting firm in the development sector and has done a lot of good work in the water and sanitation management in the interiors of the country. Below is the story in her own words about her running journey.
Beginning of the running journey
I began running in 2013, actually a couple of months before Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2013. My office colleague and gym partner suggested that we participate in Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2013 which was scheduled for mid-December that year. She made this suggestion in the end of September. And my first reaction was that I have never run outside a gym or a treadmill !!! Moreover, I had no idea what a half marathon meant. After researching on the distance and date of the event, I liked the challenge. I also saw that the cut off time for the event was 3 hours. So that became a target for me- if I can run for 3 hours or not. I was confident that if I can do 3 hours, 21 km to ho hi jaayegaa...
So the journey began...
I started running at Rajpath before going to office in the morning. I would take tips from the gym instructor at work. Since I was a regular at the gym then, it made the training a bit easier as I was doing lower body workouts as well. But I did training on the gut feeling. I would run for 4 km and after a few days if that distance became easy (meaning if I wasn’t that much out of breath), I would increase the distance to 6km and run that for the next few days and so on… I ran a max of 15 km before the run, just 4 days before ADHM and I was all set. During the run, I ran 18km on a go and then cramps hit me, so I stopped, did stretching and walked for almost a kilometer (had no idea that this would lower the heart rate), but I finished my run below the 3 hours cut off. I was ecstatic. It was an out of the world feeling. One funny incident during the run, which still brings smile on my face, was when I saw salt at the water stations. My first reaction to it was what the hell was it doing there. I had no idea of how loss of salt would effect the body and cramps would set in….
I did not run most part of the 2014 and could not participate in Airtel Delhi Half Marathon that year, as I had gone for trekking (Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal) and had kind of injured my left leg. I would limp after running a km or two, and was advised by the doctor not to run (his precise words being- see if you want to run in the event once or not walk for the rest of your life. It’s your choice). But gradually towards the end of the year I started practising with lots of knee, quadriceps and calf strengthening exercises and eventually ran the TCS 10K in Bengaluru in 2015. I ran slow, very slow, but there was no uneasiness in the leg. I was very happy and since then I have been running.
As of now, I have run in 8 half marathons(including Hyderabad and Ladakh), a couple fo 15kms, and many 10kms events. I have done a full in Hyderabad (Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2017). That one is special.
Full marathon... I wanted to run a full marathon the minute I did my first half. I was confident that I could do it. Maybe it was my ignorance (as they say ignorance is bliss) or my stupidity or my naivety, but I had registered for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in 2014. After just running one half in 2013!!!! But luckily or unluckily didn’t run in 2014 as mentioned above due to injury. But the feeling persisted in my mind consciously and sub-consciously.
Last year in February, I decided to run a full marathon as I wanted to complete a full before I turned 40 in August. So based on my preliminary research in terms of events and cognizance of the fact that I would need a few months to build endurance to run a full marathon, I finalized Hyderabad to do my full, just 3 days before my 40th birthday. I had a great experience doing a half there a year before as well. But as the months progressed, I didn’t get sufficient time to train (intensive work travel and ill health) and was advised not to run. But I persisted. I ran a max of 25km before I went for the event. I was confident and nervous before the event. I had told myself that I need to run for 6 hours. But I finished in 6 hours 34 minutes. During the run, when I reached my 28-29th km, I asked myself why the hell am I doing this. I could be happily sleeping in my bed.
However, the feeling on finishing was priceless….. my sister, her husband and my niece Tara were there to cheer me. Tara gave me a kiss at the finishing line…. And the feeling was out of the world.
How do you find time to fit in your schedule with job?
My work involves a lot of travel and field work. I work in the development sector that involves travelling to remotest area for research and field work. So most of the times it’s difficult to train during weekdays. I mostly train during the weekend. I have also changed jobs recently and my working hours have also increased, so that even makes it difficult to wake up early during weekdays and train. However, I do my best.
What sacrifices have you made for running?
The biggest one is no hanging out on Fridays and Saturday evenings, since I have to wake up early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday to train. Plus things like food restrictions especially sweet stuff. Although I don’t have a big sweet tooth but I miss my chocolates. And I restrict my alcohol consumption (I am a social drinker) when I am preparing for an event. For Hyderabad, I didn’t drink for 4 months before the race day.
Another sacrifice is hanging out with friends and listening to their snide but affectionate comments such as – koi run hoga, issliye abhi no daaru; who the hell meets on Sunday evening to party etc.
What do I get out of it?
For me running was not a fitness goal/ journey. I started it because I liked the challenge. The thought of running long distances excites me. Motivates me, challenges me. The aches and pains motivate me (a friend of mine used to call me a masochist).
Time is not something I am concerned about. The challenge for me is the distance.
Running calms me. Its gives me “my time”. I do a lot of conversations with me while running. Sometimes in my mind and sometimes even aloud. I have had people looking at me because there have been instances where I have been having a vocal conversation with me while running alone.
Goals in mind for future?
Many. I would love to do another full marathon soon. Although the first thought that came to my mind after finishing the Hyderabad full marathon was “I am never ever doing this in my life again”. And who know, I may do an Ultra.