Yearly Archives: 2013

Chitra Nitin Nadkarni

If you are running in Bandra in the morning, chances are you will run into a woman who sports long hair and runs very hard. Chitra Nitin Nadkarni’s return to running – she was a sprinter in her youth days – has given her due rewards. She finished among the top three in her age category in Goa and Hyderabad half marathons. Encouraged by her husband and daughter, Chitra ran her first half marathon in her 50th year. She shares her journey with Mumbai Road Runners.
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I have always enjoyed running, as I was a highly energetic child. Playing, running or even swimming channelized my energy. I did sprints in schools and college and even as a swimmer I did the short distances. I even reached the inter-district levels in athletics and swimming.
As I graduated, took up a job and got married, athletics and swimming naturally took a back seat. Though I kept myself fairly active through aerobics, gym workouts, dancing, badminton and yoga, the runner in me had never died. As I watched live telecasts of the Mumbai Marathon, the idea of running a half marathon was given a fresh lease of life.My daughter was old enough to take care of herself and in 2005 I did run the dream run in Mumbai marathon.
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But it was a mere aberration as life’s duties and a few personal commitments kept me away from reconnecting with running. 

As I was closing in on my 50th birthday, I drew up a bucket list of 50 things to be done of which running was one of the top priorities. There are others like bungee jumping, skydiving, hot air ballooning etc….I hope I can achieve all this within the foreseeable future.

With encouragement from my husband and daughter, I started training for the 2013 Mumbai half marathon in August 2012. They knew that the boundless energy that I had needed to be expended somewhere. 

By that time, I had also quit my job and had plenty of time on hand. Having been a sprinter all my life, running for two hours at a stretch was a challenge initially. But running long distances has its advantages _ it liberates me and makes me happy. It is exhausting but satisfying too.


I ran my first long-distance run in December 2012 when I did the Mast run. I started too fast as the sprinter in me took over but the distance was obviously too long to be tackled with nervous energy. Though I was exhausted midway through the run and started cramping too, I had enough energy to finish the run and win the race among veterans. It was a strange feeling. I was revisiting the winning feeling after nearly three decades and I enjoyed it for sure. 

Next was the Goa Half marathon where I again bagged a podium. I cramped again but finished first in the women’s veteran category! Obviously I was doing something very wrong at the beginning of these races but getting it right at the end to bag podium finishes, I concluded.

Though I had trained hard enough and run two races, I had to give the Mumbai Marathon a miss in 2013 as an opportunity to travel to the United States cropped up and it was too good an offer to resist. A USA trip was also part of my bucket list, so I had to cancel one to fulfill another!

My next marathon was the Hyderabad half marathon in August 2013 and despite cramping from the 13 km mark, I again bagged a podium finish. It was agonizing to have missed a sub-two hour personal best timing by a minute or so.
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By now, I have completely taken in the joys of running. I love running in the mornings, as it is peaceful, quiet and pleasant. Morning runs help me sort out my thoughts and plan my day.  

Earlier when I ran, I always listened to music but was advised that it was a dangerous habit as I was not plugging in to the traffic noise and would put my life in danger.

Now with the Mumbai Marathon 2014 less than two months away, I hope I can strike off one more item from my bucket list _ running a half marathon in under two hours. Of course I have other ambitions like running a full marathon, running a half marathon abroad. 

Running long distances is not easy as it takes a heavy toll on the body. You also need to possess mental strength to finish what you have started despite physical pain. Hence, it’s a combination of physical and mental endurance that helps me complete the intended distance, which satisfies me and gives me a sense of achievement.

I also enjoy competitive running, as the encouragement from fellow runners is inspiring. I experienced this recently at the Vasai Virar Mayor’s marathon. I was amazed at the number of people cheering for us. The excitement and energy that they generated was contagious and that made it the most enjoyable run for me.
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I also marvel at all the runners I meet, young or old, slow or fast, people who have been running for so many years. I also feel I have the enthusiasm and energy to run even longer distances and hopefully plan to even run the Comrades in the not too distant future.

 

 

 

Ultra-Marathon Man

Just finished reading “Ultra Marathon Man – Confessions of an All-Night Runner” by Dean Karnazes – an absorbing and overwhelming story of his early athletic prowess, loss of his sister to accident, his subsequent forays away from running for 15 years and rediscovery of running to running ultra marathons to running crazy distances and impossible feats like running the south pole marathon, running 199 miles non stop etc. His heroic attempt at running the Western States 100 miler and succeeding first time and the Badwater Marathon and failing first time have been very poignantly told. A very nice inspirational story with dollops of quotable quotes for keeping in one’s mirror or desktop. The paperback edition has given details of his training plan, nutrition, strategy etc. at the end so that helps in people who are planning to run short distances like the marathon instead of crazy distances like ultra marathon and beyond. A must read for all running addicts.

Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty

Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty became the first Indian couple to run 100kms together and they achieved it with some style _ bagging a podium each.ssshetty 03Sunil, 51, finished second in the senior category while clocking 13 hours and 37 minutes, Sangeeta recorded 16 hours and 47 minutes to emerge top in her senior category. She, in fact, was the only woman to finish 100kms in all category.

Though Sangeeta took more hours on that glorious November day, she will hold bragging rights over her husband for she finished her first marathon 20 minutes faster than Sunil who clocked six hours.
Mumbai Road Runners caught up with the glorious couple as they ran us through their life story and the day when they achieved history.

 

We have to start by asking you how running came into your lives?

Sunil: I was a runner but I ran in my youth days only to keep fi which wasabout 5-7 kms. Somewhere along life’s journey I started gaining weight. I was in a 24×7 job and I ballooned to 88 kgs. I realised I had to restart running but in 15 months my weight came down to 64. Then somebody encouraged me to register for the SCMM and I did and ran the first half marathon in 2009. It was a struggle as I took three hours. I came home and promised to Sangeeta that I will never run a half marathon. I have not run another half marathon after that!

Sangeeta: I was a sportsperson. I played basketball, badminton and table tennis, but never took it to a serious level. I was good for college level. Then marriage came along and then our daughter. Like most woman after childbirth, I put on weight, like most women, I worried over my weight. I started the process of losing weight by walking while my daughter played in the park. I would walk for hours around the park, keeping an eye on her. Finally I started losing weight and started going with Sunil while he went on his long runs, I would, of course, walk. One day, he encouraged me to run.

How did you progress from then on?ssshetty 02

Sunil: I ran my first full marathon in 2010 and struggled through the journey over six hours. Thanks to the net I checked some running programmes and modified it to my needs and have since run only marathons.
Sangeeta: For two years I ran the half marathon, 2010 and 2011 and then finally graduated to the full in 2012. Since then I have run full marathon in Hyderabad.

For somebody who started running so late, your progress to ultra came fairly quickly

Sunil: It began with coincidence. We happened to meet a coach who had come home to deliver something. He later recognised us as the running couple and encouraged us to attempt longer distances. But running an ultra was serious business and we were not, at that point in time, doing much of core strengthening. We were just running. Again we dived into the internet and checked out how to go about training.
Sangeeta: I used to get shoulder pain and lower back pain, Thanks to the core strengthening. I was able to run the 2013 SCMM without any pain. We realised the value of strength training.

You have become the first couple to run 100kms.ssshetty 01

Sunil: When we ran the 75k at the Bangalore Ultra in 2012, we realised that there was another couple that had run longer distance together. This time, I am sure we are the first couple in India to run 100kms.

How did you prepare for the race

Sunil: After finishing the 75 kms, both of us felt strong enough to run more kms. We told ourselves that 100k is our next target. After running the Hyderabad marathon, we went into serious training mode.
Sangeeta: We ran one 50k and one 60k. For the really long runs, we start around 3.30 am and run around Shivaji Park. Sunil stays with me till daylight breaks then he sets his own pace. We head towards NCPA and thereby complete the 60k training run.

…And during the run:

Sunil: We had planned on an 8:2 strategy, run for eight minutes and walk for two minutes. It worked wonders for us because we were the only ones running in the final part of the journey. I had a target of 13 hours, 30 minutes. I missed it by only seven minutes!
Sangeeta: I had a fall in the 7th km mark and I started bleeding from my right knee. I had a cut. But, surprisingly, I felt a strong resolved rising through me and I did not think about the remaining 93 kms. My target time was 15 hours so I extended that by quiet a few extra minutes, finishing in 16.47. For the last leg of the 100k journey, I had Sunil pacing me which means that he ran 112 kms.

Why are you guys able to graduate to ultra distance so quickly and also do it so successfully.

Sunil: We are not bothered about the time we clock in races. Also, we like to run alone or in the company of each other. If you like the lonliness of a runner, I believe you are bound to become good at running ulra distances. If you are obsessed about time, you might as well do marathons.

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What is the mental strength that you need to conquer the distance over the normal marathon?

Sunil: Running ultra distance teaches you to be patient. You have to build a mental resolve to tackle such distances. If you break down the distance into smaller goals then it helps to tackle the big one fairly easily. For the 100k we took each 12.5k as a leg and worked on completing each one.

Do you follow any regimen?

Sangeeta: We are foodies. But a week before a race, we discipline ourselves. We eat home food, avoid fried stuff, add more brown rice to our meals. But once the race is over, we do not stress on what we eat. We basically what we like.

What is the next step?

Sunil: I want to attempt the 24 hours run. I feel I am ready to accept the challenge. But as far as Sangeeta is concerned, I think she should wait.

Venues for a 10k Tempo run

We would like to ask the runners where they would like to hold the 10K tempo runs that we have been organising every 3rd sunday of every month.

10Ks can be moved around so we would like to ask you to choose your venues for the next 6 months from the below list.

In case you want add venues, please do so, but you have to provide logistics support, route map etc. for that venue.

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MRR 2013 Tee Logo Polls

We  received four Tee Designs by members of the Mumbai Road Runners group. The designs received ranged from elegant to mind blowing.

After much discussions with amongst us, we decided that since this is an initiative for all the members, the only logical solution would be to ask the members of the group to vote for their choice.

Would request each and everyone of you to spend a few of your precious minutes going through the options below. The photos along with the designer’s name is displayed. At the end of the page is the option to click the choice of your preference.

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Valroy Miranda
 Barinder Singh
Michael Dsouza Design 2
Michael Dsouza Design 1
Ricardo Romell
Valroy Miranda
 Barinder Singh
Michael Dsouza Design 2
Michael Dsouza Design 1
Ricardo Romell
Valroy Miranda
 Barinder Singh
Michael Dsouza Design 2
Michael Dsouza Design 1
Ricardo Romell
Valroy Miranda
 Barinder Singh

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Pune Running

Very well organised event. If Satara had space limitations at the finish point – Here the ground was too big. One had actually look for – where do you get finisher’s Trophy. There should have been better arrangement to handover refreshments – to hold Banana/Sandwich/Frooti/Trophy – made one’s task difficult!! not complaining – just feed back. I wish next year Police give better support and traffic is stopped fully. Also please decide date – when no other events are there en-route. Chaturshringee Mela – made that small portion little crowded with other crowd and that much extra work for police and Volunteers

A run like no other !!!! Our first Satara Hill Marathon !!

The arrival into a dusty State Transport depot heralded our arrival. From Powai in Mumbai, we Go-Go Gators, a team of TCS employees, were in search of Powai Naka in the city of Satara.

A quick shower and bib collection, we went for the route inspection. The route started from the base of the hills of Satara and as we traveled higher and higher, and saw the distance markings on the road, our hearts sank deeper and deeper. Though we had known the gradient in advance, watching even the vehicles go down to the 2nd Gear while climbing the hill was an indication enough. We temporarily forgot our apprehensions in the beautiful plateau of Kaas, but then with 3 first time participants, who came solely on our recommendation, the drive back to the hotel got us into a contemplation and then a passionate strategy discussion. An early dinner, tips shared, kits readied and early to bed, the perfect formula for a long distance run.

Early to rise, morning ablutions done and we were ready to go. A short brisk walk to the starting point, and stretches were in order.A rousing welcome by the organizers, complete with vibrant music with a horse for a lead vehicle and we were raring to go.

With the last evening’s route in mind, strategies were in place, the run started off slowly but surely, the slopes gentle and with little declines too to assist the run. The run was just beginning, it was just 2 KM.

Then came the 3 KM mark and the hill started to show character, now we started realizing why it was called a Hill Marathon. The incline angle increased, gradually at first to a greater one till the 6 KM mark, a few respites were thrown in in the form of flat runs, but the joys were short lived, as short as 200 m at times.

Mouth drying up, salts getting exhausted, the super enthusiastic volunteers thrust water and energy drinks in our direction. The replenishment of the nutrients gave us a boost and the 10 KM mark was reached. But this was not the end, one look down, and we realized how high we had come. That moment was zen in all aspects, it proved we could do anything if we wished it. The light mist over the city, the multi-layered clouds with the sun peeking though, making the surroundings all seem emerald in color was all the encouragement we needed to go on.

The camaraderie was such that we all worried for each other throughout the way. The advancing members were cheered by the trailing members with claps, cheers and high-fives.

The cheers and encouragements also were generously extended to two physically challenged youth, who by the sheer will power and next to miraculous performance were carrying on the run undaunted.

The run down, may seem easy but was the hardest to navigate. We had to take care of not only the impact on the knees and ankles but the exhaustion quotient. The final stretch from the 18 KM mark seemed to stretch on and on and on without an end. The cheers of the people carried us on, kids reading our names from the bibs and cheering us, dhol music pushing us on. The final 500 m was the sprint, the run into the approach strip over the timing sensors was like flying, no-one could believe that one had completed 21 KM over a hill and was back.

Waiting for the trailing members to arrive was a pleasure and the bonhomie of the group was evident. We are not regular runners but always plan to become. But in such times, we bond together, and to get all of us safe and sound was an achievement nonetheless.

The walk back to the dusty bus stand the next day was interspersed with looks back towards the hill, we were up there, we reminded ourselves time and again, laughed at it, thought over it before flopping asleep in the bus.

Marathon Man by Bill Rodgers

It is a very enchanting and enthralling book with a throbbing narrative in collaboration with Mathew Shepatin. Basically it is an account of his early life and his Boston marathon experience of 1975. The narrative is very interesting in the sense that each chapter starts with his Boston 1975 progress during the race and the later part of the chapter devotes to flashback to his early life as a college student, running with Amby Burfoot who is his original inspiration, his “conscientious objector” status during the Vietnam war, his degree at special education, struggle at getting a job etc. He was a natural born runner with a great capacity for hard work and a body which could take any amount of hard work with very little injuries. The realisation that he could be a top notch marathon runner came to him only during a race with Amby Burfoot in which he raced alongside the great Amby for about 15 miles of a 20 mile race. The seeds of inspiration which Amby sowed in him made him take up competitive racing including marathons. Boston Billy alongwith Frank Shorter, Amby Burfoot and Jeff Galloway were the pioneers of long distance running first in America which then spread to other cities in the world which has since then grown exponentially. His latter attempts at Montreal Olympics of 1976 and thereafter founding a successful running business alongwith his college buddies makes for a good story. It is an excellent book, very inspirational, very nice story of an easygoing hardworking American who loves running dearly.

Eastern Express Highway Half Marathon – Clean & Smooth

When Mumbai Road Runners suggested an alternative half marathon route in the Mumbai suburbs, all i could think of was my regular running route in the Eastern Express Highway stretching from Mulund all the way to Ghatkopar. It was a lonely stretch of straight, flat route with greenery on one side.

I knew the Eastern Express Highway was the best track to hold a half marathon in an alternative to the Bandra-NCPA stretch, which was legendary for its temple, churches and masjid and the seashore. The stretch between Ghatkopar and Mulund was beautiful, peaceful and empty most of the time. I had run at even 9 am and not found any traffic.

I suggested to Sai Kiran Shetty and Rajesh Pillay, and received typically positive response from them. They did not flinch at the suggestion that we hold a half marathon between Ghatkopar and Mulund. Rajesh then came up with the suggestion that we turn into the salt pan section to stretch the route upto 10.5 kms.

We went on a recce one day and recorded the distances and checked out all the diversions. The salt pan stretch was out of this world. Runners would be treated to a section that hardly resembled the squaller. The sight of fields was to greet runners and I was excited just to ride on the small stretch.

We found another exotic 1.3km stretch at Ghatkopar which was out of this world, peaceful, calm and serene. That particular stretch also made us feel like we not in the middle of an urban jungle. We even saw a huge black snake slithering on the road and that raised the the excitement levels, at least in me. But permission was impossible. “No chance,” said the guard at the pumping station. “BMC will just not allow so many people.” said the guard.

A week later, I was doing my long run on a typically rainy day. I ventured along that stretch. I crossed a little bridge that was laid over a stream and saw two shy animals. They did not look like dogs but it sent a shiver down my wet back. I liked adventure, but felt it was not the right time be like Mad Mike and Max, the Nat Geo naturalists.

That one recce was enough for the three of us to determine the route, but I still felt a little uneasy. The logistics had to be planned but Sai Kiran and Rajesh were past masters and, since they were both together most of the time, had covered all the logistics themselves. The Thursday before the race day we did another recce and set out the route and practically discussed everything. Meanwhile the mails and joint chat sessions had cleared plenty of air.

Sai Kiran and Rajesh felt providing breakfast was important because we were in the middle of nothing and the runners were best left with little food in their stomach after their run. Meanwhile, Sai and Rajesh had already roped in Prasad Indulkar and his smiling wife Vishaka into the team and the ease with which things turned out was surprising.
Prasad was a photographer, breakfast provider, funny man all rolled into one while, Vishaka, the quiet smiling types, endured Prasad’s PJ’s and our suggestions with the calm demeanour that only doctors can have.

On Thursday, we even discussed where each of us would position ourselves. So when Sunday came along, I was excited with a hint of nervousness. It was always exciting to help organise an event and if this goes off well, it would feel good. But, we were anticipating last minute trouble.

On race day, Prasad picked me up at 5 am and we zipped along and reached the start point in world record pace, with Prasad keeping us in good humour.

When the first runners’ car arrived, we quietly directed them how to park. The second car came in and parked some distance away from the first and we had to gently remind how it was better to stack one car after another with minimum space. The rest of the morning went in a blur. Car after car rolled in. Some lost their way but most got it right and came directly.

I was bundled into Vikas Mysore’s car and sent to Vikhroli where we positioned to turn runners back from the little loop that we had added to complete the distance of 21.1kms. Luckily the rain kept away but a little cloud caused us to open our umbrellas at Vikhroli. The first runner to reach us was Andrea and she stumped me with a question for which I almost fumbled with an answer: “How many kms is this?” Gosh I had not thought about this but my rough calculation was it was around 4.5 kms. Andrea had apparently reached Mumbai just a few hours before the race hour. How she found the energy to reach the venue and run the distance will be a mystery.

Next 30-40 minutes were spent asking runners to turn back, most of whom did so smilingly. Then we saw a young man dash across in his track pant. We thought he was not part of our group and let him go but in a short while he came back with a smile and asked us whether he was supposed to turn from where we were standing. The last runner was a stout young man who smiled broadly as he came in. We left the post and headed towards the finish line after instructing Chhaya and Rama to take a call on when they should head to the finish line.

At the finish line, things were happening. Runners, who were targeting 10k, were finishing and we had to gently guide them to their respective duties towards food and water. A bag was laid out and runners were instructed to drop the trash into the bags. Aruna Rao was incharge of ensuring that runners were not only collecting their breakfast but also collecting money from those who had come in late and had not registered. She did all this standing up despite undergoing a spine operation recently.

Within the next one to two hours runners poured in. Surprisingly, everything was smooth till that point. Then came the news that a runner had suffered a fall and bruised his hand. Vishaka was quickly transported to attend to Nilendu. Luckily that was the only fall.

I went around curiously, asking runner whether they faced any problem. I wanted feedback on the route and the arrangements. Everybody had praise for the route and the arrangements and that warmed me up. Finally, Sai and Rajesh, the roving volunteers came along and settled down at the finish line. I somehow felt assured that things were going smoothly. Rajesh, usually a very calm person with an assuring smile, had looked busy in the morning. At the finish line, he again looked calm.

The runner count was growing. We had anticipated around 90-110 runners, prepared for 120 with twenty extra breakfast packets to boot, but the final numbers were close to 150. Resourceful that they are, Sai and Rajesh, had quietly ordered for some idlis to shore up for the remaining runners. Nobody should go hungry and they had ensured that.
The best moment came when we were winding up. We packed all our belongings into the two cars and as I turned my attention towards the trash bags, I was pleasantly surprised. One bag had been taken away by some runner to be dumped properly. We then picked up the remaining two bags and disposed it off properly.

It was an amazingly clean event and I should thank all the runners for their cooperation. Ram’s facebook post asking runners to bring their own water bottles had worked brilliantly. There was NO TRASH whatsoever, even along the route.

As we found our way back home, I was left with a strange feeling: I never felt as if I had done a great deal. I felt I had virtually nothing to do. But then Sai and Rajesh and later Prasad and Vishaka had ensured that things went off very smoothly. The volunteers had come and quietly done their bit and left. Some are nameless for me and others have become new friends.

I later called Sai and complained that that I had not done enough. His statement exemplified what organisation is all about: “We work out all the details and execute it so well that we feel that we have very little to do on D-Day.”