Runner’s diary: Ritika Shah

I guess it had to happen and it did. The one thing I had feared the most and managed to avoid for so long. An injury. My knee is giving me trouble. With just three weeks to the race, oh the timing.

Sometime last week, I started to feel some tightness around my knee, and I was having some trouble bending it. It got to the point where it was swollen, and I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs without it hurting. Unwillingly, I made the hard decision to take a break for a while and rest my knee. So unfortunately, I have had to miss out on the long run of 12 miles on Sept. 3, but so be it.

For now, I am doing exercises and doing the RICE therapy to heal and strengthen it. It’s a setback that hit me in the raw, but I have come to terms with it and accepted it as part of my journey. As the saying goes, when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade. I am still quite optimistic about participating in the race though.

So as I live out this proverbial phrase quite literally till my knee is OK’d, I will take the time to reflect back on my journey so far that started with the MRM program. A journey that I have promised myself I will continue beyond the Sept. 24 race.

I cannot help but think how it’s so easy for life to just take over if you let it. Before, when I was in the big city, Toronto, an 8-to-5 job and a two-hour commute one way barely left me with any energy to do any activity as such. Then when I moved to Columbus, setting up my new life, exploring my surroundings and making new friends always took precedence. There was always an excuse ready to skip gym. I was active at the gym, yes, but never motivated. I lacked discipline and a routine.

Back in June, when I found out about the MRM program, I decided to test it out to just see if I can even handle a run around the block. The program seemed like such a great resource and so readily available that it would have been foolish of me to not even attend one class. At the time, although I wanted to aim for the half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I went in with a bag full of excuses ready to jump ship if need be. But even as I had doubts about myself, when I came back around the block after the first run in one piece, something in me made the decision to just do it and give it my 110 percent and just see how far it takes me. If not now, then when? I concluded.

Looking back, this experience is something I will cherish forever and ever. From getting up willingly early in the morning (even though I am notoriously known for not being a morning person) to sharing my thoughts honestly (even though I am a very private person), it has all been about stepping out of my comfort zone. But now that I have, it’s given me the confidence to try out new things without the fear of failure.

Time and again, I feel grateful and glad that I stuck with the MRM program. It provided a constant motivation and inspiration that only a group together can exude, and if it were not for the set classes, I know I wouldn’t have made it this far by myself.

Although I have yet to cross the actual finish line (yes, I am being hopeful, still), as Abhi puts it, I have already accomplished what I had set out to do initially — be more active and lead a healthier lifestyle. The results have started to show. Not only have I changed my daily eating habits but also incorporated exercising as part of my daily routine. Even the evil scale has had to concede and reflect the efforts I have put in.

Now, when the race day comes along, I will be excited to just to be standing there at the start line. I will remember the day not for the time it took me to complete the 13 miles that day but what I have discovered about me in these four months and what all I can do, in my quest to just do something I never thought I could do.

Ritika Shah is a first-time runner in an organized race. This is her fifth and final column leading up to the Sept. 24 Mill Race Marathon’s half marathon. She can be reached at [email protected].