Monthly Archives: March 2016

Run on the Race course- A tribute to running and Shaktimaan the horse.

 

The nip was still in the air,

But that didn’t make me turn a hair,

Darkness sill made its presence

Before sunlight could feature its essence.

 

I was all set to conquer the race course,

With my feet on the ground and with great force.

Starting with a warm up round,

I slowly began to canter on the ground.

 

Initial fatigue had begun to appear,

But that didn’t deter my spirits or my fear,

Round and round I went on the green patch,

As though I were playing a do or die match.

 

As I began to enjoy my high knee,

I caught sight of those delightful ponies,

Sturdy, strong and lashing their manes,

They were merrily galloping in their lanes.

 

I gaped in wonder at these magnificent creatures,

Admiring God’s ability to create his miniatures,

A sad thought instantly crossed my mind,

About a certain horse that was recently deprived of its hind.

 

Could humans be that merciless?

To thrash an animal and be so heartless?

As these thoughts in my mind began to race,

I swung my arms furiously and increased my pace.

 

Cool breeze and the sun’s rays immediately touched the soil,

As a gesture to calm my mind which was in turmoil,

I slowly looked up at the radiant orange ball,

And the neighbouring buildings that stood so tall.

 

As I reached a particular bend,

I knew my run had come to an end.

I left the ground with a backward glance,

At these racing horses which left me in a trance,

I muttered a silent apology, watching them prance,

Hoping that they give us humans another chance.

 

 

 

 

 

My Maiden Half Marathon!

My 1st half of life’s story goes like this – Coming from a Brahmin family with lot of emphasis on studies to make it big in itself was quite daunting leaving very little room for any other sports / extracurricular activities. One day as a kid, I accompanied my best friend for a Table Tennis practice session and was instantly smitten by Table Tennis. The passion grew multiple folds acquiring prestigious titles at the District / State / National level championships.

Thus started my journey of being a sport person and training hard which gradually became the way of life. Little did I know board exams meant a yearlong break into sports!!! Then there was graduation / post graduation and finally corporate life that killed it all. There have been very few happy moments when I have held the racquet in my hand and played some challenging opponents in the corporate world (which I do look back and cherish).

 

Coming to the 2nd half of the story of my life – ‘Marathon Running’ sounded so elite and only the chosen few could achieve long distance running is what I always thought!!!

I was so wrong….

I started training for as small as 5 km distance back in 2012. Successfully completed my first 10km in 69 min in 2013 and receiving the medal was ‘Out of the World’ experience. Did 2 -3 more 10 km / 11 km only since Half & Full marathon was never meant for me (I thought!!).

I then gave a good break of around 2 years where all the calories had accumulated and time had come for me to change my wardrobe (can’t be more depressing for a Lady..)

 

How I managed to get back into action!

I realized our company (IDBI Federal Life Insurance Company Ltd) swore by fitness! I came across some spectacular achievements in the world of running by few colleagues and was floored.

What next? Registered myself for a marathon (10km) in Dec 2015 and started training for a few weeks. My colleagues at work asked me to pen a few lines around running, however told them I am awaiting ‘The Moment’ when I’d run a Half Marathon. I completed 2 successful 10km marathons and that surely boosted my confidence.

During training, I would constantly seek the experiences of Karthik and Manish who were absolutely the ‘Go to’ persons and I can’t thank them enough (small, big, silly, funny queries – they answered it all with a smile). Small tips yet such profound benefits, I could see them all as I trained.

So finally, I mustered the courage and gave in my timing for our very own company sponsored New Delhi and Kolkata Half Marathon 2016. The list was out and the feelings were mixed. Firstly, I was elated since I made it to the Delhi list secondly, nervous on how to accomplish my very first half marathon.

I gave in my best to train hard for that special day with never ending words of encouragement and tips from our company’s kitty of strong runners.

 

‘The Day’ arrived –IDBI Federal NDM2016, Feb 28th

Excitement started to build at the holding area as I saw the countdown began for the flag off. Karthik had been more than kind to be my pacer (couldn’t have asked for more). I took off well until 2 km, and then there was a dip only to up my pace until 7km. I was quite comfortable and managed pretty well to the mark of 14km. The next leg was harrowing since I didn’t know how to stay on my feet beyond 2hrs over 14km and to me it was entering into a No Man’s Land.

 

It dawned on me at one point, ‘Will I be able to finish what I started’??? I kept those tiny voices from within at bay as they would do no good if I strayed. I saw the 19km mark and said to myself they have fooled us with the KM marking since the course seemed endless (such were my thoughts!!!).

I was doing everything I could, math calculation, anticipating no water stations ahead, will I do it sub 3hrs…

Karthik said we are doing good to be able to complete at 2:50, which silently brought a smile to me.

At 19.5km my feet almost gave way. At 20km, I put my head down and said I shall run for my life’s greatest moment. As I turned left, I saw the grand ‘Finish Line’ and there was sudden dip in my energy levels. It was as that point I thought so close yet so far.

Karthik clutched my hand and dragged until a few meters before the finish line and said it’s your moment, so finish it in style with both your hands in the air with a victory sign!

On a lighter note I felt like the movie scene from DDLJ – ‘Jaa Simran jee le apni Zindagi’  JJ

‘I DIT IT’ I said! I clocked my very first half marathon in 3:02. I realized the ‘Pleasure in Pain’ is beyond imagination as I ‘ENJOYED’ staying firm on my feet for 3hrs. That was my moment of euphoria!

 

I discovered a lot of people run for fame, peer pressure, social status, catching up with the Fad, selfies. We need to have a clear sense of purpose of ‘Why we are running’ navigate here.

My purpose of Running is sheer JOY, what’s YOURS?

 

‘….I chose to pursue a fulfilling life rather than an impressive lifestyle’

What’s your choice?

 

Inspiring stories from women runners of MRR – on International Women’s Day!!

This International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2016 we asked the women runners of MRR to pen their thoughts on how running has helped them and what influence running has had on their lives and that of their families. Never expected there would be a wealth of real, inspiring, courageous stories from the women runners. These are some really fantastic stories We have collated and compiled their stories below:

The history of all times and of today especially, teaches that —women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves. Happy Women’s Day.
Debanjana Bakshi

Running for me has been finding myself.. And the few lines that I have penned down below just followed as the good after effects.

By experience I vouch..
You will no longer be a grouch..
Remember, spending time on yourself is no sin..
Run or walk with that lovely grin..
Distances & timings are but numbers mere..
Watch how it brings to your own self a cheer..

Happy Women’s Day to all the lovely women
Aparna Bhingarkar D’souza

As a working woman…if I can run a gujju house with crazy stuff,…I can run on streets too…Running is balancing my life…..regaining energy…to be a superwoman…fighting all odds that come along….Thank you to the group i am motivated every day.
Kiiran Patel

Running has given me a new life. It’s actually given me wings to let me fly & be myself & live for me. I was pretty happy before I got into running….I was happy doing the usual chores through the day looking after my family and house and trying to help out my husband in business, but once I started running I realised that this is actually what I’m doing for only myself. Running is my ‘my time’. The best part is my family is very supportive and happy that now I’ve got something that makes me happy. I’ve got into a better and healthier lifestyle and live a more satisfied life now! Happy Running.
Poonam Dahiya Bhatia

Running has taken top priority after my daughter in my life now…What started out as a short term goal has pretty much defined my life now…Enjoy this Me Time tremendously. Has given me back my Childhood- those Free Spirited Fun Days all over again…
Manasi Samudra

I started running to gain back my strength after my ulcer attack and ran my first HM at SCMM 2012. The entire experience left me with such euphoria that I felt I wanted to continue this forever. Long distance running became an integral part of my life, even during pregnancy and post that. Running gives me that tranquillity and the space to get away from the mundane routine that we are accustomed to. It has been my magic pill to deal with stress, woes and not to mention given me a new sense of purpose and an entire family of runners. It has humbled me and definitely made me a better person.
Swetha Amit

2 years back my son left for USA to pursue higher studies and life became difficult. The emptiness was killing me and I was on the verge of nervous breakdown.. But whoa I found running…or running found me…the running child in me was born and now I can proudly say that running is my lifeline. Have made so many friends, they keep me busy all the time. So its not only running but reading MRR post, learning from them, commenting…in short my life revolves around running .Today the most happiest is my son.

My family is most supportive and happy that I am actually living for myself now.

And yes I did the times women’s drive this weekend with my new runner friends.
Prerna Parwani

Running opened me up to the universe. It helped me transform not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. It got me in touch with the real me. It helped me give and receive. It helped me shed my inhibitions and accept myself for who I am. I have learnt to push myself beyond. I have found immense calm and peace. It keeps me going. Most importantly it has given me Pinkathon and all of you.
Sonia Kulkarni

I have been running since I was probably 14-15 years old. Though running had been a huge part of my life, but it was never the sole way of staying fit. I tried my hands on long distance running out of sheer boredom while I was working oversees and had nothing better to do on a quiet Christmas morning, and I realized that I could run for 2 hours without breaking much of a sweat (Weather helped). Since then there has been no looking back. Running became my main form of fitness right after I had my kids, because I found that it was the quickest and easiest way to regain my fitness levels. There was a part of me trying to prove it to myself that not only I could go back to where I was before, but I could do better. That belief in me came true when I ran my first HM post delivery and even though I barely managed to slash off 5 mins from the same event pre-pregnancy, it instilled a confidence in me that is not easy to shatter. It’s true what they say – women do become stronger after childbirth!
Today I would probably have an identity crisis if I stopped seeing myself as a runner.
Divya Prabhakar Gupta

Being asthmatic since early childhood, running for me was sprinting few meters to the school bus to get the best seat. It’s astonishing how I have stuck through this gruelling sport and survived initial days of hopelessness when I started 4 1/2 years back. What started as a pure unapologetic, unabashed and selfish ‘me’ time has now transitioned to a ‘together’ time as my man joined this addictive running bandwagon. I would credit running to keep my sanity intact else I would have been clinically a very dangerous woman. swear!!!
Neetul Mohanty

This is the first time ever that I am sharing my story with you all.

Running came to while i was fighting my biggest enemy- Fear.

Fear of returning to normal life post my kidney transplant in March 2010.Running was the response to my fears gift wrapped by the universe in the form of Pinkathon in December 2012.I ran my first 3km.First I didn’t think about my transplant much when I ran, other than how I hoped I was inspiring people with debilitating illnesses to get up and move. I wanted to be an example. Most of what I remember about my time in the hospital is a mish-mash of intense pain, discomfort, and fear, and at first I let those feelings dominate my recovery. I was always afraid that I would get sick again, or my new kidney would fail, so I proceeded cautiously into the world of physical fitness. I used running as a way to distract me from those memories.

This year I ran my second half marathon at the SCMM and preparing for many upcoming events during the year. I use running to help me de-stress and cope with life, but I don’t feel like I’m fighting so hard anymore. I used to feel like everything, even running, was a matter of life and death. Now, if I’m running, I know it’s because I’m alive, at least for the moment. Life doesn’t come with guarantees, so I trust my body and its signals, and I’ve learned that while getting outside my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable, it is also necessary to move forward.
Every year when this early part of March comes around, I try to spend a bit more time paying attention to the things that I often take for granted. On this day in 2010, I was praying for a successful transplant and fighting alongside my Donor, my younger brother and knew I had months of a gruelling recovery ahead of me. I try to remember that time at Hinduja hospital, instead of forgetting, and I allow myself to accept the experience as a part of my story. It may be behind me, but it is still part of the path I am taking to move forward. Whatever way that path ends up going, I hope to do it running.
Shibani Gulati

Amongst all d FM n HM women runners I want to share my story.. Story of a beginner..I was very active in sports from childhood. Karate n athletics was daily thing.. As I grew up n started working I started gyming.. Lowest weight at 60kgs.. Post 2deliveries (both c section + gestational diabetes + hypothyroidism) I’m struggling to lose weight.. Started re-running since last Nov… I still struggle to complete my 10k.. I am experiencing new energy… Feel so positive and full of life.. Thanks to the amazing motivators who have turned friends.. I am increasing my mileage slowly… Hope to complete a few good races … My goal is to have overall fitness … ! Salute to so many people here who say such kind words… I want to pass my positive energy to them … ! God bless.. In no way particular order.. I want to thank a few good souls…Umedkumar Sinai Bijay Nair Samuel Chettiar Viv Menon Swetha Amit Sayuri Dalvi Deepak Oberoi Sarabjit Singh Jassal Jayraman Rankawat Mufaddal Hararwala Sharmila Munj Inderpal Khalsa Pradeep Yadav Sunil Shetty Giles Drego Yvette Saldanha Amrita Saraf Rai Amalesh KarleChitu Shetty
Kiran John

Running to me has been a very recent encounter… But sometimes u don’t have to do something for too long to fall in love with it.. Sometimes a couple of runs are more than enough. I prefer running at 5.30 am as the roads are empty and it’s still dark and it’s a great feeling to be running when the sun comes up.

Running is like meditation, actually better, because it helps you stay fit! A big thank you to all of you for the inspiring posts and messages everyday. A big thank you to Sonia Kulkarni Aparna Bhingarkar D’souza and Sharmila Munj. Pinkathon gave me the motivation I needed :))

My health, happiness and state of mind are totally blissful. Thank you again
Swati Mukund

Like Kiran said I was also an athlete in college as I was actively into NCC and mountaineering. Mountaineering was my passion but after getting law degree and marriage everything changed n I was involved into looking after my household chores plus my practise as a lawyer. But after my second delivery I put on weight due to which I started having health problems like spondylitis, slip disc which is quite major as one of my disc is compressed. Last year my husband started running but it was not possible for me coz my daughter was in 12th .I started running since November 15.My main reason was to overcome my health problems and to build more stamina. Now running has again taken place in my life. At the time of running I am wholly with myself. That is the time when I can have conversation with the person in me and at that time I decide what I want to do and how. I have taken up running to find the person in me and it gives me happiness that now I am living my life as I wanted. Plus my friends in MRR group motivates all of us new comers also by giving positive vibes.
Manjiri Joglekar Joshi

Thank you Ram for tagging. Yes Running has changed my life forever. It has brought lot of calmness, peace and focus in me. Earlier my priorities were only Sunil and Rhea but now it is Sunil, Rhea and Running. My salute to men like Sunil who support and encourage their spouse into running. To me the day I run it’s a happy women’s day and this is possible only with the support of your spouse. Running for me is my “me time” .It’s been now 13 years of Running and it has helped me to gain a confidence to challenge myself every time. Your life is set when your children call you as role models. So hope to continue to inspire many more women runners and make them believe this YOU CAN DO IT.
Sangeeta Shetty

Thanks Manasi for tagging me. Running has started a new chapter in our lives! Feel super young with so many wonderful young new friends like you!
Vaijayanti Ingawale

I started running 7 years back because I had piled on lots of weight leaving me feeling not so good about myself, since I was pretty active in my college days. I was Miss MCC. And then life took such turns. I just forgot who I am, but no looking back since I started running …six years without training… Just rushing out after my kids left for school…doing some practice in the nearby park..but very very happy today that my hubby ran his first half marathon. This year, my son who is 14 also runs with us, so all happy happy.The energy at my home is electric, vibrant, it has touched not only me but my whole family feels WOW… Love you all
Preeti Shah

Running has created wonders in my life. I always had passion for running since my childhood but had a long list of priorities so actually couldn’t take any proper training or go ahead.
Year 2013 was the worst nightmare of my life. I had given up living. Deep depression as I was unwell for one entire year. I was not in position to walk 100 metres alone. I need help support to even walk. I used to tell my husband please don’t waste money over my sickness save these money for kids it will help them in future. That one year gave me lots of time to think and i thought of taking up running.
Year 2014 I did SCMM 6 kms dream run.
Year 2015 I did SCMM 21k
Year 2016 I did my first ever FULL MARATHON.

Since past two years I have taken up gyming twice a week.
RUNNING HAS GIVEN ME NEW LIFE, I HAVE CALMED DOWN AND GAINED GOOD STRENGTH. A big thank you to all who have supported me n helped me n advised me and of course my running partner Pawan Agarwal.

Love to be part of MRR. Special thanks to Punit Chandiwala who trained me for FM.
Falguni Vora

It’s made me more controlled over my emotions. I appreciate and embrace the chance of really becoming mindless and mindful at the same time by putting one foot in front of another. And i feel i write better after I have finished a run, because it gives my ideas and thoughts a chance to churn in my head… Happy Womens Day..!
Alka Kedia

Running has given me back my identity …. It’s now a way of life…gives me a high and clears my unwanted thoughts. Basically am happiest when I run!
Kiran Malani

Hai apna dil toh awara,
na jaane running sai kaab haara!

Honestly I’d just started out to collect money for ‘Run with Roshni’ but ego pushed me into SCMM 2015!

Had participated in Powai Run, 10Km, 2014 just to see ‘if I could, and managed it, with running sandwiched between longish walking bouts. Satisfied! End of running story… At least that’s what I thought.

But later that year, in November, when I was told that it’s dicey for someone my age, i bristled. Then experts cautioned that it was rather late to be even thinking about running a HM since the D day was barely 45 days to go and I’d not even started training.

Now, I have a problem, have had it since teenage- if I’m warned about some place being dangerous, I’ve just gotta go there, Myself, and find out, Myself, how dangerous!

That’s exactly what I did.

And as if that was not enough, went for the, Thane HM next month.

Here I must admit that an article in TOI and a chance meeting with the hero-couple of the write up, Sangeeta Shetty & Sunil Shetty strengthened my belief and off course inputs for moving beyond walking.

So I managed to complete two HM courses, sans injury.
But I wasn’t running, I was labouring, lumbering, and vacillating… To Run or not to Run.

By this time, I’d got to know Running buddy Manasi Samudra and the Mumbai Ultra had become the New ‘Impossible’

And true to self, I plunged again, Headlong!

Where on earth does this fountain of confidence emanate from?
Do you think Running does it to all of us?

Throws new challenges at us, then sits back and watches us strive…

Watch us burn, melt and mould ourselves into something/someone New…

Well it did so for me, I now fit into a lot of my Old clothes
Anupama Diddi

I started running in June 2013 as I wanted to take part in at least 1 half marathon (part of my bucket list you see). I finished one in October 2013 and I fell for running, hook line and sinker. There was no looking back. Running streamlined my life. I became more disciplined in my personal and professional life. Healthy eating was a habit but now it became more like a religion. Humbleness, camaraderie, vigor which became part of life due to running. Now I see my life much more richer and complete.. all thanks to running and my fellow runner friends.
Shilpa Bhansali

Running to me was an extension of my love for trekking & rock climbing & having been into sprinting & sports throughout school & college, this time around I got into running due to my daughter who was a sprinter & I used to take her 6 days a week every morning for her training.
Collectively trekking, rock climbing & running have given me the kind of fitness I never had earlier, running since 2011 by the end of 2014 & early 2015 I was fitter than ever before & achieved PB’s, when the turning point came…

…a week before SCMM came the blow, a severe almost crippling back pain struck (my lower back has always been my weak point having had earlier surgeries for fibroids), going back to my doc I was handed the news that I need to have a hysterectomy as the fibroid which was present since 3 years cannot be ignored any more as it had calcified & grown too large, I managed to do a slow run walk at SCMM.

I had to wait till April for my surgery & those 3 months I moved around with a constant back pain & a heat pad , every hour at some point I had to stop all movement like someone was holding back in a vice grip while I could feel the pumping in my back.

Come April & I finally went into surgery by which time I was pretty much mentally comfortable with the idea of this surgery & looking forward to being pain free. Unfortunately during the surgery the doc found complications with my large intestine & an additional tissue growth (thankfully benign) which had spread onto my lowest vertebrae, I came out pretty much strong but the next 5-6 days till I could eat & move around comfortably, my doc was on the edge worried that my intestine & backbone should not have been effected, my recovery was amazingly strong & smooth & the doc himself attributed it to my running & other physical activities due to which I could take the impact far better.

By the end of 2015 I had done 3 10km & 2 HM’s by January 2016, of course with very slow timings but who cares, reaching the finish line still brought tears to my eyes, to me it was like re-starting running.

I still have my weak days when my back troubles & I feel drained for no reason… I still can’t do a lot of core exercises, but running keeps me motivated & confident that I can get stronger slowly & surely. It was fantastic to hear my doc say ‘thank god for your running & trekking, I wish more of my female patients were into fitness’.
My 17 year old daughter was my biggest strength & am blessed with a loving family & awesome fantastic friends, thanks to all these people who stood by me & egged me on, on my low days
Happy running to all of you ! Apologies for this long post.
Rupal Shah

Running makes me unleash my inner champion and smash my limits. It makes me a better person. It’s my meditation and my Prayer. It’s my expression of self love. It’s made me a calmer person, more patient and loving and a better listener. It’s also made me Happier and given me so many new friends. Also- I would like to share this that I have been battling PCOD since a couple of years now. Apart from a lot of physical discomfort, it also gives me unwanted weight. But it’s only after I started running that I finally felt in control of my body instead of it being the other way round. I can manage my weight better, even when am not able to work out. And Yes- Running has helped me inspire my Family members and friends as well. I have a lot of friends who took up running or any form of physical activity after I did. Thank you to each one of you. And a bigger thanks to the Women runners, you all inspire me
Amrita Saraf Rai

Running keeps me sane since 6 years now….am told I smile a lot more when I run regularly. And most importantly I can eat what I want, my kids love the medals and I see people at work bowled over when I talk about 21kms. All of the above make me smile even more…even the crying after I ran the SCMM 2015 HM with ankle implants post a triple fracture.. I wake up at 5 am….everyday, even when I don’t run and love it. Guess this relationship with running is for keeps
Seema Wazir

Running has changed my life, and surely for good. I gain so much weight after pregnancy, so started small walks and then easy jogs with my hubby. The child born, I came to know was a special child. It was very difficult to accept that. “Why me?” I used question. All my energy was consumed by her, and desperately needed a space. And running gave me that space. By running, I could be more attentive to the child and could feel calmness.
When I was not a runner, I was just a housewife. But now, I got an identity. Relatives, friends know me as a runner.

The satisfaction, I get by finding my own time is immense. I feel very fortunate that my family always encourage me to run, especially my husband.
Deepa Katrodia

Seven years into running…. and running has helped me in so many ways ! Earlier it was work work work ! Now it’s work run family! I have learned to live for myself…. enjoy the me time I get and have got an extended running family too! Though I’m yet to run with MRR, which will surely happen in few months! Also every time a non- runner asks a question what pleasure do you get when you run? And I say I don’t think I can express in words you feel the experience and probably not question this again! Running has given me a different identity besides being an educator!
Hetal Thakkar

Though I do not have any inspirational story to share but over an year into running and I feel like an upgraded version of myself. Running has made me calmer, healthier, happier….I feel I am better equipped to deal with the challenges life throws at me.

Now it’s a friend for life…a friend for keeps
Pankhuri Warange

No story yet Ram… just a series of incidents which brought me to running out my frustrations……. my story is a masterpiece in the making and i am thankful for the strong friends in my life (most of them runners) who are not allowing me to give up… and masterpieces do take time ..sometimes a lifetime

There are such amazing women around who are strong and totally inspiring…they have beaten all odds and are just not giving up …and i draw inspiration from everybody…happy to have met this group…. and am really happy to be running towards and not away from things now a days
Jenifer Dwivedi

Running is my me time..I am happier, healthier (better haemoglobin counts, better immunity against seasonal asthma), more energetic, look younger( icing on the cake ) etc. etc….. So no complaints. I look forward to my next run. So no stories just a way of life and AM LOVING IT.

Also I realised because I had no expectations from running that I am happy doing it. I have got many small tangible results…It’s like life.
Kalika Batra

Daud Ke Chal – Running and Fauji – A Love Hate Relationship

Cadet Daud ke Chal ….. Shouted the PTI (Physical Training Instructor) . This phrase was good enough to give us a spine chilling moment. Naval Academy days were one of the toughest yet one of the most memorable part of my life. Ask any Fauji and Academy days would be his best days . The camaraderie, the course mates, the ragdas, the restrictions, the drill , the parades, the patti  parades , the list go endless …..

Read it somewhere  “My Sports is the punishment for your sports/activity “.  How true this phrase is , most of our punishments use to be running  round the parade ground with or without  rifles,  initially it use to be horrible but things started changing and running became part of our life albeit the enjoyment and the happiness it beholds now .

“Restrictions”  were running around the parade ground during the afternoon hours , so one restriction means 5 rounds  of the parade ground  which use to be more than 600 Mtrs , so restrictions use to add up and the punishments started to be in the number of restrictions …… 1, 2 …… 20….. 25 restrictions.

The most awaited event of the academy was the cross country were in the squadrons use to pitch against each other for points and the championship , there were many sports and the points earned by squadron  used to get added up as a cumulative score  generic for celebrex. When the cross country were announced, entire academy use to  go in to preparatory mode, entire squadron has to run. On the race day it was  like entire academy runs as if there is no tomorrow. More than anything it was the pride to ensure that your respective squadron flag is hoisted in the academy for the academic year.

Today in contrast, running has become a passionate sports to me  , I love every moment of it , every stride I run , every km I run , every breathe I inhale , back then in academy everything use to work on a reverse clock , it was like running 12kms in an hour time or  so we were more worried about the timings and we knew if we are not able to make in the cut off time ,  what awaits at the academy gate was more worrying , the frog jump  from the base of the academy gate to the main gate (it was like the first climb of the yeoor hills) ….. we were always worried about the timings then …..

Today when I hear about the cut off timings at various events it reminds me of the academy days , where cut off was the most dreaded word ……

All our activities in academy was on DAUD KE CHAL Mode and when any seniors or Adjudant use to notice us on the academy roads it use to be in  DOUBLE UP mode and when any seniors use to be in punishment mode , there was a particular word “SPRINT  BASTARDS”, during this announcement we were not even allowed to look back and have to sprint as I do today during my last 100 mtrs of the run ….

The annual passing out camp was the most dreaded one ….. in the running parlance it is called Ultra Running ….. we had to undergo a compulsory 2 days camp where running use to start in groups or division, the beauty and the uniqueness was all the 8 cadets in the group had to run together covering more than 100kms in 2 days , throughout the night using GPS and with limited ration , we had to run through the tar road, the trails , the jungle ………and have to reach the base camp at the predecided time……..

We never had the luxury of  Carboloading, hydration , sports shoes , post run stretches etc…..

Canvas sports shoe was the most prized possession , the morning tea and the glucose biscuits and the occasional cold coffees were the elixir of life , punishments were our warm ups and stretches…….

Running was an integral part of growing up in Fauj , from cadet to an officer ….. Running made Faujis out of Men and Women…..Long distance running was not a passion then…. it was compulsion …… wish it had been a passion then……..

Once a Fauji , always a Fauji…….Jai Hind.

My first ‘Half’

Almost a year ago, I took up running. I am an avid follower of sports with my top 3 being football, premier class racing (Formula 1 & Moto GP) and now, athletics. In 2007, I had a car accident and broke my left leg, which always made me wonder, will I ever be the same? I couldn’t play football with full spirit since a possible injury always haunted my steps. Once I left Bangalore in 2014, I knew that my days as a ‘sports-person’ was over – I was growing fat, getting slower and panting at every stride.
And then I came to SPJIMR for my MBA. I looked at it as an opportunity to rediscover myself and this note highlights a very significant part of my journey in the last 2 years.
When I woke up last Sunday morning, I was nervous. I performed the rituals, I wore my MRR T-shirt (already having the BIB pinned), a couple of bananas and rasagullas served as my ‘carb-loading’. As I boarded the cab with my father, all the preparation, the taper, the 10k runs, the last Sunday long run, the stretching -everything came back to my mind. But I was at the same time happy – I was at home, in Kolkata, running my first ever half-marathon.
In the last 1 year, I learnt some truth about running (or to some extent truth about myself) – it helps you to focus and resharpen your thoughts. Long distance running at some point of time questions your ability, your toughness, your determination & your resolution to achieve your goals. It mimics your life. Running also exposes your true-self. There is a famous quotation – “Everything you need to know about yourself, you will know in the 26.2 miles.” When you are on the road, you are alone, by yourself, with your thoughts and your demons.
Running also teaches you about a simple truth – “It’s a finite distance, taking finite time.” The self-doubts, fears, anxieties that we so often face in life, eventually pass. The 26.2 miles is a finite distance – if you move even at a very slow pace, you ‘will’ cross the line – hence it is never a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.
The IDBI Kolkata Half Marathon served the perfect stage. I was born here but always felt alienated since I never explored the city on my own. Running around the city was certainly the best way! The number of participants in the HM as well as FM category were hugely disappointing – a mere 100~200 people lined up as the sun peeped through the eastern horizon. The HM started at 6:00 am sharp. As I took off, heading towards Victoria, a new chapter in my life was inked – the chapter of running my first ‘half’.
And then the heaven’s cheer greeted us in the form of rain. I was quick to cover my mobile armband with my all-time favorite MRR T but the rain wasn’t there to stay. The Gods probably showered us with their blessings as we took on the 13.1 miles route, one step at a time.
The race started from red road and headed south, took a 180 turn at Victoria before turning right at Lenin Street. The long sweeping route was surprisingly devoid of any water booth. Thankfully all my previous long distance runs without water helped me as I scooped up 2 water bottles at the 5 km mark, not sure if and where the next water booths were placed. There was no traffic control, so we were on our own, wary of the early morning unpredictable Kolkata traffic. The HM route was however manned by a few volunteers at the key turns. I gave them a thumbs up, while marching down the AJC Bose Rd towards the Science City.
I was more or less running on momentum. The pace was comfortable, the weather was okayish and I didn’t forget to gulp down water at every 2 km or so. The Kolkata weather is quite different from Mumbai and I didn’t want to be caught off-guard by the demon of dehydration. As Nike informed me of the 10km mark, I was pretty happy to observe the timing – it was 63 minutes or so. My maths told me, at this pace, I should be able to finish by 2 hour 14 minutes or so, which was like a dream come true. I had always heard about half marathons being gruesome at the first attempt – me here was cruising along the Porsche showroom at Park Circus!
I was in for a surprise.
As we took the U-turn at Science City, I noted the 11.5 km announcement on Nike. I felt good. I, in fact, felt great. My feeling however turned sour within the next 30 minutes or so.
My pace was decreasing, my breathing was getting heavier, I was sipping water more frequently, my calves were messing up and most importantly I didn’t feel like running.
Was it the ‘Wall’ – the point where you run out of energy and body refuses to move? I wasn’t sure. I had traffic to negotiate as a couple of buses crossed the road. I stopped for a brief while.
When I started running initially, I made it a rule. If I stop running, I go back home! I didn’t like walking, I didn’t like to move around in a sloppy manner. I always thought my legs to have enough strength to move 24×7.
I was wrong. I had to walk. I couldn’t run for 2 hours straight.
I decided to walk for about 30-40 seconds after every km check over here. Soon I started walking after every 500 m. I was tired, my heart was pumping blood with all its might to my sore limbs, my hands wiped the sweat of my forehead. I was still tired. There was nothing I could do. I was so tired.
I literally felt helpless. I didn’t want to run my first HM in this manner. I wanted to finish strong, pounding on the road like a pony! As I approached Rabindra Sadan and veered left, it was 5 km to go. On any other day, I would had taken not more than 30-32 minutes to cover the distance. Today I was not so sure – maybe 35, maybe 40 minutes? What if I walked the whole distance? 45 ~ 50 minutes? What will be my timing then? Will it look too bad if I finished at 2 hour 30 minutes? Does that make me a bad runner? Where are the other people? Am I the only one struggling here?
I was in a state of mind which weaved negative thoughts one after the other. I soon caught up with the 5 km fun run group who were laughing, jumping and playing around the road. I was finding it difficult to even move my feet. I dragged my tired body down the road, begging for the finish line to appear like a divine intervention and end this misery.
And then I thought of something.
As I had dreamt of this day over the last year or so, it was finally here. In a few minutes, it will be all over. I was not here to win. I am here to test my physical and mental limits. I was almost there – I was almost home – home to the belief that it wasn’t over, I still had something left within me and I will carry myself till I reach my goal. The finite time was finite indeed. Eventually, it was over!
As I crossed the finish line, I stopped my Nike. I didn’t feel anything but tiredness. My legs were numb. I moved out of the crowd and tried to find some water. There was utter chaos as I struggled to find the medals distribution area (I hoped there were a few left!). I located my dad after getting hold of the medal and I sat on the grass with my bottle of Gatorade.
2:24:52
The finite time between me and my first ‘Half’.

A grueling sun downer-The Kundalika river marathon experience

“It’s an evening marathon which means we don’t have to get up at wee hours in the morning feeling half droopy or sleep deprived” I said in all earnestness to convince my hubby Amit Sridharan to run the Kundalika River marathon. “Besides, it will be a novel experience and isn’t running all about the experience?” I persisted. It worked and we happily signed up for the event little realising what we will have in store during the race.
 
This event was held at Kolad which is about 110 km from Mumbai, famous for river rafting and water sports. We decided to go and come back the same day since we were volunteering for the MRR run the next morning. We woke up at leisure on Saturday morning and after having an early lunch, we set off to pick up couple of our runner friends-Muffy Mufaddal Hararwala and Amit Kumar– on the way, who were also taking part in the race. The entire drive down was a fun filled one as we imagined the race to be like a war zone where Pakistan had occupied the advantageous position and we had to conquer it back. “It’s a khatarnak (dangerous) route”, Muffy said as he had run the previous year’s edition. We had already made up our minds to take it easy, being the last race of the season. After a 3 and a half hour journey, we finally reached Nature Trails Resort, just in time to collect our bibs, acknowledge some familiar faces and gear up for the race.
 
The half marathon flagged off sharp at 4:30 pm as scheduled. We were greeted with a steep slope in the very first kilometre itself and by the time we reached the 2 km mark, my energy levels were drained which left me wondering if signing up for this run was a good idea after all. Fortunately there were aid stations every kilometre mark comprising of water, oranges, biscuits and volunteers spraying water on us which was a huge blessing, considering the wrath of the summer heat that afternoon.
 
The tsunami of the steep ascents continued throughout the run, making me feel that the grueling Satara Hill marathon was a piece of cake in comparison to this one. Some of the slopes were so intimidating that one had no choice but to walk on them. At one point I wondered if I would end up with a DNF (did not finish) but Muffy’s words in the car about the Indian army winning our territory back from the enemy flashed in my mind at that moment. “I am not a quitter”, I fiercely thought, determined to get to the finish line at any cost. My energy levels returned as I continued running and reached the 9 km mark. As I glanced at some of the runners returning to complete the second loop, I saw Sayuri Dalvi who encouraged me saying “Come on Swetha” which acted as a confidence booster. I turned around the 10.5 km mark, and crossed many runners who were still in their first loop. “Good going” they said as I nodded with a faint smile. The evening breeze had set in, easing the conditions as I found myself running amidst the villagers and the cattle who were grazing peacefully on the sides. Seeing the latter brought in pangs of envy as I longed for their relaxed lifestyle. I caught a glimpse of the sunset and basked in the beauty of the surroundings for a moment. At the 18th km mark, I was thankful to find the downhill descent and literally flew down till the 20th km mark where the gigantic slope had emerged again. I imagined this face of an ugly ogre grinning at me in a pompous manner, challenging me to get past him. Suddenly my legs became weak as I stopped and bent down, trying to catch my breath.
 
“Swetha are you ok?” I heard a voice as I looked up to see Bhavana Diyora-another fellow runner looking concerned. I nodded as I began to walk. “Just the last km”, I said to myself, wishing for a divine intervention. Just I looked up, I saw Amit Kumar running towards me, prodding me to keep going. He held my hand as he guided me uphill, along with some words of encouragement. As I conquered this steep terrain, something snapped inside me as I sprinted the last 500 metres like a person possessed and crossed the finish line, greeted by the medal garlanded by a smiling volunteer. Amit Kumar was clearly impressed as he said I reminded him of a Milkha Singh. Thanking him profusely I collapsed on the lawn where I was joined by my hubby.
 
I could barely get up as I looked around at the carnival like atmosphere. The prize distribution commenced and I cheered for the winners. However I was in for a surprise, when the organisers announced my name as the second runners up in the open women’s category. “Did I just come third?” I was in a daze as I collected my trophy and muttered a surprise thanks to the congratulatory messages. From a point where I almost thought I wouldn’t complete the race to a podium finish was a pleasant feeling.
 
“What makes life interesting are the challenges we face” says Paulo Coelho. Mental toughness is built by braving such challenges and the image of Indian army battling such adversity to safeguard our borders, instantly flashed through my mind. I certainly had come out as a stronger person post this race.
 
A big thanks to Amit Kumar without whom I won’t be holding this beautiful trophy in my hands, to run buddies, the volunteers, photographers and fellow runners who aided us through this cumbersome journey.