Monthly Archives: July 2016

The old man and the dog

I recently started running on the hills of this little jungle which is tucked away in a remote corner of the big bustling city. It is a bountiful spread of lush greenery with steep inclines. Residing in the vicinity, the access to this retreat for my morning runs became relatively easy.

It was a pleasure running amidst the hills, trees and the shrubs as I could bask in the fresh clean air and the beauty of its surroundings.  During my runs, I often spotted an old man on his morning walks.  He always wore a cheerful smile on his round face and would be accompanied by his faithful dog-a dear little cocker spaniel trotting merrily at his feet. As a runner, I often found solace in greeting fellow beings/runners with a smile or a chirpy hello. It sort of gave me the energy boost whenever a slight wave of fatigue would threaten to slow my pace down.

Every morning when I would be panting up these hilly terrains, I would religiously spot him walking briskly, always dressed in a grey t shirt, black tracks and white shoes. I often wondered where he lived and yearned to know more about him. However my interaction with him never went beyond a friendly ‘hello’ which was always returned with a warm smile. Every time I had the inclination to stop and have a word with him, inertia would clasp its firm grip around me and I would keep striding away with a sharp eye on my Garmin.

It was the monsoon season and the pelting rains seemed to add charm to the woods. Little puddles engulfed the pathway, droplets of water would trickle down the leaves and the trees swayed as though they were dancing to some enchanting music. My strides began to soar with the breezy weather and I began to enjoy my hill runs even more.

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However there was something conspicuous by its absence that one rainy morning-my walker friend’s sunny smile.

I did not spot him that day for some reason, though his little dog was there, trotting as merrily as ever. A week went by and there was no sign of my ‘old friend’.

For some inexplicable reason, I began to feel restless about his whereabouts. One fine day, I decided to follow the little dog, hoping that it would lead me to him. The weather seemed to have cleared and there was an eerie stillness about the jungle.  I found myself going up the muddy pathway, following my furry friend up to a cosy little cottage surrounded by bushes. I saw the cocker spaniel paw at the door. I peered curiously to see if I could get a glimpse of the old man, but the door shut as quickly as it opened.

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I stood there transfixed wondering whether to knock on the door or not. “Would the old man recognize me? What would I tell him when I see him? Hope he doesn’t think I am intrusive.” Thoughts rummaged through my head, matching the pace of the winds that suddenly seem to blow cold in the air.

“Hey there, looking for Kumar uncle?”

I jumped, startled at the voice behind me. It was the milkman doing his rounds.

I nodded.

Well he is no more”.

My heart skipped a beat and I opened my mouth in astonishment to ask more questions.

Well he has been dead for a year now.  He has left that old cottage of his, under the care of Lucky.”

“Lucky?” I persisted, the confused expression apparent on my face.

The milkman sighed. “Kumar uncle was a cheerful man, not a scowl on his face, always smiling and whistling a friendly tune. His dog-Lucky was his faithful companion. Off they would go together on their morning walks. Last year during the monsoons, he didn’t see a milk van, which came speeding down these slopes and well… he was gone forever. We all miss him and Lucky still goes for his walks thinking that his master is there with him.

Well I got to deliver my milk or I will be sacked. Have a good day mam.”

The monsoon winds howled, sending a shiver down my spine and I noticed that the clouds had suddenly begun to darken.  I turned and went towards the cottage, curious to get one last look inside, through the windows. I peeped in to see Lucky whimpering and moving about restlessly. As I looked up at the mantle, I saw a garlanded photograph of my ‘friend’ smiling back at me with that same smile that greeted me during my morning runs.

I turned around and sprinted fast downhill. Drops of rain began to pelt down furiously. I quickened my pace and reached home fast. I rushed in through the door, sat down on my sofa to gather my breath. I was certainly shaken by what I had heard and seen. As I began to gather my thoughts slowly, I looked outside my window.

The rain was pouring incessantly accompanied by a rumbling sound of thunder and lightning.  Yet all I could see was the face of Kumar uncle smiling back at me through the clouds.

 

BNP Endurathon ….. My fight against My Inner Demon.

BNP 2015 :-BNP 2015
I am leaving the race ; I made a desperate last attempt at requesting Babu and Krunal at around 7kms …… chup kar said babu and you can do it buddy said krunal . Murali was like no you will not leave the race.
This was the race where I was wasted totally , I hit the wall at around 3kms , can you believe this ,I have a decent experience in running , have been running from few years with enough mileages under my shoes .
But this day in 2015 was something different, I was not moving ; my mind had lost the battle with roads and the tar .
In 2015 , April , life had suddenly taken a U turn on professional front . Was going through pressure cooker situation . My survival was becoming a big task, the mounting EMIs etc etc .
I had stopped training , taken to binge eating and yes boozing too , I would get up for my training , then wear my running attire and after getting ready would again sink back to bed . Life continued this way . Mala and parents would encourage me . My brothers and my friends would buck me up and what a support they gave me during the most difficult time of my life .
Every one at home would urge me to Run…. “Go Run, you look so happy when you are in your spirits “. Many a time I went for a 10kms run and would come back after 10 mins .
A big lesson learnt “when you are not mentally in this world , nothing can keep you happy ; even running “ .
This is when I took up to writing and creative writing . Ideas would flow . My humor sharpened after seeing my struggle .
I was having a solace that I am a fauji and should fight back . Life started looking up , stages of life is like stages in Running , some times on even surface , some times a hill run , sometimes a tempo and some time a LSD. Life is a mix of 42kms ..
I landed straight from Surat the race day morning and then inspite of half mood to run , I ventured out to participate and completed the race in 3hrs 41 mins , totally wasted and depressed . Only and only because of Babu , Krunal and Murali . Babu and Krunal , didn’t leave me and walked run with me to complete along with me .Murali needed to be at home soon and I requested him to run the second loop fast .
As Jesse Owen Says “Awards become corroded , friends gather no dust “ – so true . (Viv copied from your status).

SCMM neared and before I could know I was royally f…….d . But my writing flourished and yes I penned a epic SCMM experience which went viral . As they say God is great , my life started to get back on track . I started running again .
This was also the time when I had to leave the club with whom I was training with . It was a heart breaking moment but life has to move on . I started visualing my Navy days and my initial days of marathon running , when I would train solo and my dear friend babu for company many a times . Slowly and steadily I was back on track , as if I got a new lease of life . I started gymming , loosing some weight . I started preparing for my first competitive run after the hiatus , puma urban stampede a 5kms relay event . I would train solo and with my besties of mulund . I did it in 26.53 and yes I was happy . Training continued , paced few events too and was super happy when I did endurathon 27kms.

I am Back BNP 2016 :-BNP 2016

My real wait was to Run BNP ; since this was the place I failed miserably last year ; I lost my battle to inner self ; I was almost over in 2015 . I never wanted to take any chance and wanted to prove that I am what I am . I trained along with Bobby, Murali , Krunal , PC , Reji , Rahul . Would turn on to advise from Babu and satish sir . My D3 gang , my super 7 gang and MRR kept my spirits high .
As I stood on the start line of BNP emotions were flowing high ; I have been here every year right from 2011 when the first race happened in BNP under erst while MRR . My Bib had not arrived and all the scenes of 2015 was repeating and I was knowing that there is no babu , krunal and murali this time around . But I had my super friend Bobby along to motivate.
At the start line , saw many of the known faces and many dear friends. I started slow along with Bobby , I was knowing this route in and out and hence wanted to conserve for second loop . When 7kms passed the demon of 2015 was beaten , the volunteers and the hill motivators cheered me up till the first hill , then descended decently and was there on Gandhi tekdi soon , I took it easy and was on my way back to second loop . Now was the real challenge , will I be able to sustain and do well , yes I knew I have trained hard . Hari sir came as an angel and the next 4kms I ran with him from 13kms to 17kms and it ensured that I am on track for a negative split . I requested him to move on , since he had to pace his many students . I was running good ; I continued my run walk on the kanheri tekdi and then ran back down , at 21 kms the mental barrier was overcome , I was cramping a bit . I took it easy , vivek soni joined for 2kms and then Gaurav joined there after , he kept me pushing and I too kept my run intact ran strong infact the last kms down hill I was flying . I crossed the 25kms at 3.16 and the race distance which was 400 mtrs more at 3.18.52 along with Gaurav and Nadeem . Bobby too followed.

I improved almost by 20 to 25 mins . I was feeling strong and emotionally high . Though not a great time for many , but for a 85kg mallu nair , the timing was good given the terrain and given the battle I fought . Conquered the demon in me. Life is back on track , my first book is to be released soon and yes the curvaceous roads and trails of BNP I will be back in 2017.

Run, endurance and the record!

Of course, the organisers had given a fair degree of warning as to what’s in store for me by sending those route maps and the related information. This was apart from giving the nomenclature, ‘BNP Endurance 25’ to the run on last Saturday (July 16, 2016) at Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Being a ‘veteran’ of more than two years’ of long-distance running experience in my bibs, I had dismissed all such warning signs with the cockiness of any right thinking old man of such ‘vast’ experience would have! And I had done and dusted, to use the cliché, some difficult trail runs as well. Needless to say that I was quite sure of covering myself with glory (and raindrops) when I set out for the run. Oh, let me clarify that when I talk about glory, I did not have any illusion of a podium finish, let alone more ambitious targets like a national record or Rio (Olympic) qualification though I was pretty confident about achieving a good personal best (PB) timing!
Despite such haughty thoughts, at the beginning of the run, when Chitu Shetty enquired what my target was, I very humbly (mind you, only outwardly for inside I was quite smug) announced that my target was only to finish the run and had not thought about the targets! He appreciated that thought and explained to me how much he struggled last year to avoid a DNF (did not finish) tag during this run. To that I made some agreeable noises such as like in Olympics, participation was more important than winning such races.
Well, humility was for public consumption. Since I had done a few half marathons in close to two hours (though I have never achieved my long cherished dream of sub 2), I knew I could complete an additional 4 kilometers in another 25 + minutes to complete the 25 kilometers in two and half hours. Unfortunately, the shelf-life of such ‘supreme knowledge/confidence’ is very short! As I moved towards starting line-up and saw many young and athletic runners who were raring to go, converging towards 2.30 bus, I got a nagging feeling that there was something amiss. Nevertheless, I did not give up and as the run started, I trundled along slowly but surely. Soon, runners following the 2.45 hour flag bearers went past me. And in quick succession, 3 hour, 3.15 hour and even 3.30 buses trudged past with disdain (reading of a thoroughly hurt ego) unmindful of this ambitious runner. I thought such minor incidents should not upset me for I knew, from my ‘long’ years of experience, that it was the slow and steady who had always won the races. After all, yours truly, a ‘veteran’ of many a run, had seen the exuberance of quite a few green horns who would sprint like a hare at the beginning, only to be seen huffing and puffing and struggling to drag their uninterested body n ‘sole’ soon after. There was no doubt that I should not take such foolish (quick) steps. I decided to steadfastly stick to my very ‘professional style’!
Soon, to my relief, the route showed a downward tilt and I knew that my moment had arrived. I shrugged off my ‘negative split’ thoughts and started running as fast as I could and noted with satisfaction that I left Chitu Shetty, among others, behind. And in the process, I could overtake the 3.30 hour runners and could even spot the 3.15 hour flag only slightly ahead though 3 hour bus had gone far ahead. But all good things come to an end and so too this downward course. First it plateaued and then the road start climbing up in its bid to reach upto the famous Kanheri caves. I didn’t want to make a big issue about such minor things and hence decided to negotiate the steep upward journey at a very slow pace. One by one, all those whom I overtook, went past me but I wasn’t deterred. As the route once again sloped downward and as I measured that rather longish descend, swiftly, I managed to get closer to even those runners pursuing the target of three hour to finish the race. But even that was short lived and the road continued to wind upward unmindful of the travails of the runners. I was quite irritated by this uncaring attitude of the route but then I knew I need to be calm. As I assessed the task ahead, I realised it was time for me to think on my feet like a true professional (what else could I do- after all, one cannot sit and think while participating in a running race!). Only ‘professionals’ know that a mission of this import require continuous monitoring and revision of strategies. It became clear that mid-course correction was the need of the hour. As I could not revise the course of the run, the only course correction I could do was to forget my thoughts of finishing the run in three hours (I had abandoned the thought of finishing any time before that long ago). The revised estimates indicated that three and half hours would be a more realistic target.
Once the target was revised downward (when the running course always seemed to be going upward, this was the only possible balancing act!), life, nay, run became so easy. From now onwards, I started enjoying the hospitality of very friendly volunteers who were waiting for me (may be for others too) at almost every one kilometer, calling out the runners by name and offering water and enerzal, chikkies and bananas (cut to half helping runners to gobble down fast without losing much time). Then when I saw the quick runners including Girish Bindra on the return course of the first loop crossing me in a flash when I still required to cover another 2 kilometers to reach the U turn , it did not dishearten me! Soon Chitu Shetty, whom I was commiserating with for the struggle he had last year in finishing this run, also waved at me on his return leg of the first loop! Saw Vaijayanti Ingawale also striding back effortlessly, on her return leg, with a smile on her face as if she was in rushing to embrace her grandson who was keen to join them in the morning. She was also secure in the belief that even if she missed any of those lovely scenes of the national park, Deepak Ingawale who was behind her would capture all those moments in his camera before completing the run, so that later in the afternoon they both could share that all with their grandson. The happiness on her face was quite a contrast to the struggle on the faces of many other runners (at least, the smirk on my face had turned into an almost melancholic look). Then I spotted runners like Amalesh Karle who was celebrating the run with all the joy of a school boy.
There was a steady stream of runners overtaking me or were already returning after the U turn but who cares now! But it may not be factually accurate to say that I did not care about all those runners who were overtaking me or were already running far ahead of me. The sexist inside me was revolted by the thought that so many girls could overtake me! I had made some vain attempts to catch up with and possibly overtake some of them during the initial part of the journey but soon realised that they were all too young and strong for me to reach anywhere near them and that I should respect my ageing limps. And then when the likes of Dr.Vijayanti Ingwale and Pervin Batliwala ran past, I reasoned that after all they were all elite runners and it would not be proper for me to think of competing with them!
I also climbed up the hill, completing a quarter of the total distance, drank enough water and soaked in some as well, thanks to the water spray by the volunteers as rains played truant and humidity levels rose to unbearable levels. Then I started bumbling down and made some weak attempts to run fast when gradient was friendly. I was thinking that I was making satisfactory progress, often catching up with the 3 hour bus for brief periods, till I reached the 11 kilometer mark or so. There, we were diverted to right from the straight road going towards the entrance to the park. Oh boy, how would I know that what was in store for me was a killer climb which I found that even regulars in the park were finding it tough to scale. Well, I was not the one to give up. During this conquest of Gandhi Hill (Gandhi tekdi), though I often debated about the strategy of crawling on all four instead of leaning awkwardly to walk, decided against it thinking that it might be an unfair practice, giving me an edge over others. While the ascend was cruelly going on and on, suddenly Himanshu Vinchhi appeared from nowhere and screamed that I was supposed to run and not crawl when participating in running races. I protested that I was not crawling but he would take none of it. With a vicious smile (so I thought) he made me run up (or a run like motion of hands more than legs) that most excruciating 200 meters or so and deposited me at the summit and ran back to get some other ‘hapless victims’! At the top, I tried to smile at the camera which Chetan Gusani was focusing on the runners but was too tired to even look at the lense. By now I had a sense of achievement as I had completed half the distance of the run. So gulped down water and enerzal copiously and ran back with gusto.
The second leg was much more comfortable as there were no more nasty surprises on the way. I knew where exactly the inclines were and how long they were. This helped me to slow down happily without any feeling of guilt and where the route was runner friendly, could put up semblance of a run. Everything was fine till I saw at a distance, a fellow runner lying on the middle of the road and none of the runners caring for him. I’m sure you would understand me when I say that I was appalled by the extremely callous, inhuman attitude of those heartless runners. I moved further and I realised that the poor fellow who was lying down there (though I saw many posts on this run, strangely none had reported about this) was a runner friend. Only when I reached him, I realised that Gaurav Bhardwaj was just lying down there with his camera to get a better angle for capturing the running feet – I think only a professional cameraman could attempt such stunts and as I went past him, he assured me that he had captured me as well! Then I ran into Amit Prabhu who always run miles ahead of me and had seen him running way ahead of me during the first leg that day, walking down the road slowly, admiring the trees and birds around and searching for that elusive tiger. He got a bad injury after completing the first loop, which prevented him from moving faster.
The final part of the run was getting over much more comfortably than I had anticipated and to my utter surprise I realised that I took only about 2.40 hours to complete 22 kilometers. Suddenly, I woke up to the possibility of completing the full 25 kilometers in 3 hours which gave a new spring to my steps. Soon, the volunteers, with sadistic pleasure, once again diverted me to the Gandhi tekdi…oh no…I had completely forgotten that I had to conquer this punishing summit once again before I reached my hall of fame. All my new found enthusiasm vanished into the thin air and I once again resigned to my fate and moved slowly and clumsily up the hill. But then that dreaded war cry was heard…’chodunga nahi’. I didn’t know from where that ever enthusiastic, Himanshu Vinchhi appeared. I wished he didn’t. But it was impossible to say no to his pleasant persuasions. So once again I yielded and pretended that I was running which was essentially a slow walk in the style of running. Fortunately for me, he soon spotted another runner who was even slower than me and moved towards him and in my bid to escape the attention of Himanshu, I actually ran for a while and got away. I, still, am not sure from where he was getting that energy to constantly run up and down that steep climb and helping almost every struggling runner. Himanshu, have you passed the doping test?!
As I reached the top I heard Smile Singh, K Haridasan Nair and all were saying that there were still a few minutes left to complete the run in 3 hours. Since it was a very helpful downward slope from then onwards, I decided to give it a try. Mustering all my strength (whatever was remaining), attempted a sprint down. And as I crossed the finishing line, my watch assured me that I completed the 25K within 3 hours but that joy was quite short lived. The organisers were so efficient that within 2-3 minutes, I got the text message that I completed the run in 3:01:45 hours. Was I disappointed? Yes but then still I had a glimmer of hope when I read that it was just a provisional timing. Well, fortunately by the time the official certificate came confirming the provisional time, I had already reconciled to the thought that even that timing was not that bad! And since I was running beyond a half marathon distance for the first time, it indeed, is my personal best (PB) as well!

The unexpected birthday gift- KOR 10 K Race event

I first heard about the KOR 10 k race from my runner friend Mihir who was organising this one along with his partner Rajendra Tembe. When I enquired about the date of the event, he categorically told me that it was going to be held on June 26th 2016. On hearing this, I smiled as it was on the eve of my birthday which was on June 27th.  ‘What better way to bring in my birthday than run a race conducted by a friend”, I thought. Besides it was his first event and my husband and I wanted to show our solidarity, which made us sign up for this race immediately in the month of April.

The summer months of April and May went by with the weather showing no mercy as the mercury levels soared, making it difficult to clock my mileage. I was barely able to go beyond 14 km. Added to which I was to participate in a stadium run on June 19th that required me to run for 2 hours around the 400 m track, as a part of a relay team consisting of 6 members. It certainly didn’t help that I was following something called the ‘Keto’ diet which strictly deluded carbs from my intake and I had to survive only on proteins and fat.

My senses soon instructed me to patch up my estranged relationship with carbs which turned the tide in my favour.  It worked like magic as my depleted energy levels came bouncing back and so did my strides. The stadium run comfortably saw me through a decent 17.5 km in those 2 hours, considering the humidity levels in my slot between 8 am -10 am.  Confidence returned as I geared up for the KOR 10 k race.

Monsoons had paved its way into the city by then, bringing down the temperature, however the humidity levels refused to budge. Updates of the KOR race began to occupy my Facebook event page as I grasped the information about the route being a flat one and conducted at Vile Parle. As I got a glimpse of the pacers, most of them were known to me through the running circuit and I was glad that I would be running with friends.

As my husband cum running partner- Amit scanned through the pacers page, he saw that the 55 minute bus was being paced by Girish Bindra. I knew Girish through the MRR community and regarded highly of him as a fantastic runner. I had also read about his journey of running which intrigued me further. ‘Let’s run along with Girish’, Amit suggested. My eyes popped out as I remarked saying “Are you serious? No way can I keep up pace with him. Besides I had just pushed myself last week and 55 minutes will be a tough target.”

The D day finally arrived and the butterflies in my stomach showcased the anxiety pangs as we left towards the venue. It was drizzling as we got out of the car and went to meet our runner friends. We ran into Bijay- MRR admin, spirited runner friend and a pacer for that day. “Do aim for the podium”, he told me as I had a good chance according to him. I shook my head and replied saying that no way I could push myself that day and was planning to take it easy.

We soon bumped into Girish Bindra. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked us to run with his bus. Nervousness showed on my face as I expressed my concerns stating how exhausted I normally get, every time I tried to push myself. He reassured me saying that we could run till whatever distance we were comfortable with and take it forward.

Something in his words seemed to work like a magic pill as I started my strides. I ran ahead to keep up with him. It was a pleasure running along with him and another runner friend Chitu Shetty. I had kept pace with them until my shoelace decided to play hooky. I unfortunately lost a minute there along with my momentum but somehow managed to pick up pace. I could spot Girish and his bus at a distance. I kept going, determined not to stop. The rains decided to make their appearance and it was a wonderful feeling running with the raindrops pelting on our faces. We soon neared the finish line and I sprinted the last 500 m to finish in 56 minutes. I was exhausted by then and sat down, trying to catch my breath. “Not bad”, I thought, considering that this was the off season and I had never achieved this timing for a 10 k distance in the monsoon months.

After the race, it was the usual custom of posing for selfies, photographs and basking in the lively chatter. It was a well organised one with sufficient volunteers and photographers. Breakfast was provided in the Sathaye college canteen, where the event was being conducted.   After relishing the spread, we got out to listen to the announcements being made.

Chitu Shetty had won a podium in his age category and we all cheered and clapped for him. As they announced the open category results for women which was the 18-40 age group, I was surprised to hear my name being called out as the second runners up. I collected my cup in disbelief and profusely thanked Girish for his pep talk and amazing pacing. I remembered Bijay’s words earlier that morning and immediately messaged him celebrex 100 mg.

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What a lovely surprise before my birthday! It certainly set the tone for celebration and brought back some of my confidence which had depleted along with my energy levels. I resolved to work harder than ever and put my best foot forward. I went back home to bring in the new year with new resolutions.

Thank you Mihir and Rajender for a wonderful event, Girish for the great pacing, Bijay for the wonderful words of encouragement, the volunteers and photographers for making this event a memorable one.

Back to school with those strides


It’s been more than year since I got acquainted with this family of runners. Nevertheless it feels like returning back to school, considering the amount of learning that has happened in that one year, changing my perspective towards not only running but life as well.

Every runner certainly has a story behind them-be it battling post pregnancy weight issues, recuperating from several illnesses of varying degrees, coping up with a loss of a loved one or just being inspired by other runner friends.

Over time, opportunity presented itself to interact with these inspiring souls. Hearing about their experiences left me intrigued even further. Whether it was reading one of MRR admin and veteran runner-Bijay Nair’s inspire series, first account narratives or several books/blogs such as ‘Dare to Run’, ‘The Running Soul’, ‘Unstoppable’, the learning curve only continued to move upwards.

Despite their struggles, runners would always display a positive demeanour on the race track. Little does one realise that ‘there’s more it than meets the eye’ for these folks. As I reflected and dwelled on these various stories, I learnt the following:

  • – I was probably not the only one fighting my demons and that there were millions who were traversing this journey of overcoming the odds, which I wasn’t aware of.
  • -I learnt that the pain one goes through, eventually makes them stronger than ever.
  • – I learnt never to be bogged down by the age factor which was gnawing my nerves, as the years rolled by.
  • – I learnt that it was never too late to begin a journey considering how several runners began their own during their 40s.
  • -Most importantly, I learnt the art of expressing gratitude towards those unsung souls, whom otherwise I would end up taking for granted, such as the volunteers and photographers.
  • -I learnt the art of appreciating the finer things in life, to empathise and appreciate others while they were progressing towards their goal.
  • -Lastly, I learnt to be humble irrespective of my achievements as I realised that I was just a small drop in the ocean of runners.

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The journalist in me often seeks to learn about stories behind the lives of other people which is an enriching and transformational experience. As I reflect back, I realise that the learnings incorporated from every runner in the MRR community left me awe struck, gratified and humbled.

On the occasion of Guru Purnima today, no doubt you thank your teachers who have made a difference to your lives. I would like to take this opportunity and thank each one of you.  All of you are teachers in your own way, from whom I have learnt and imbibed a lot. So thank you guys and Happy Guru Purnima to all of you

Running with rains

Running in rains is fun, even at this old age! So last Sunday (July 3, 2016)when I got ready in the small hours to get off to the long run, the din outside, of rains rushing in and out only added to the excitement. But then, there was also the excitement of wearing the new green monogrammed tee shirt of Mumbai Road Runners and what made it special was that it was the sixth anniversary run of MRR. Reluctance to get my brand new MRR greens soaked in rain drops (before it gets drenched in sweat) made me wait for a while and as soon as it became silent outside, I jumped out and started jogging. Soon rains came back to accompany me in the long lonely run. Run was a lonely one as while the rest of the MRR gang (well, most of them) started from the other end of the town, it was a solitary journey for me till the half way mark.
As I gathered momentum and gained speed, my sole companion also reciprocated with equal enthusiasm. And as the rain drops started falling more frequently, heavily and ferociously on my face, it became increasingly difficult for me to see through the glasses– alas, it did not have wipers. So I decided to tuck away the spectacles in the waist pouch. Now at least, I could wipe of the water from my eyes, without the hassle of taking it off every time I needed a clear vision. Running without glasses was almost like running during my younger days when my vision was not limited by such long and short sights. Unfortunately, after those distant childhood days, when one run with gay abandon, by the time I rediscovered the joy of run, I have had already became a (not-so) wise old man and the glasses had become indispensable part of my face.
Soon, I realised that running without glasses was like driving with GPS. With GPS, one gets a broad idea of the route but until one reaches a place, won’t know how good or bad the road and the roadside look. With my power vision off and heavy rains unleashing on my eyes, it was often a struggle to recognise the run buddies, until they came very close by and by the time I gathered my faculties, recognised them through my blurred vision and wished/reciprocated, they would have already covered another kilometer behind me. The easy way to recognise one’s pals, I soon figured out, was to focus on the green colour, for MR Runners were all expected to be in the new MRR greens that day. So, whenever I spotted anyone in green (or what I thought was green), I started waiving enthusiastically at them and ignored all the non-greens. It was while I was excitedly greeting one of those greens (could not even recognize who it was) and moving on, I heard a greeting, apparently from two runners coming against me but were not in greens and hence I had not cared to notice. And only after they went past, I realised that it was Swetha Amit and Amit Sridharan who were in those red and blue tees!

Going by the large number of friends/known faces whom I saw at the finishing point at the end of the 21 odd kilometres, I am sure, I would have missed quite a lot in the din and the blurred vision during the first half of my run, when I was running against them! In fact, even when one’s vision is not limited by the pounding rains and a defective retina, seeing friends coming from the opposite direction while running upstream was more like going through a power point presentation, fast forward – as you gasp and blink each time, a couple of runners would have already crossed you, acknowledging your struggle with a friendly smile or wave or a ‘hi’ scream, which you fail to notice.
As I reached the halfway mark at Worli, the major relief was that I did not have to struggle to identify the runners coming against me. But then, most of them had already gone far ahead and only a few stragglers like me remained on that stretch of the run. The sweetened gooseberries and the energy ‘solution’ provided by the volunteers at Worli (Mela) made life a lot easier. By the time I finished another bottle of water provided by volunteers at Wilson College and reached the far end of Marine Drive, the final ceremonies of MRR monthly run were well in progress. I could hear the crowd cheering at the prize winners. The familiar sight of Samuel Chettiar,Bijay Nair et al entertaining the runners with their wise cracks, the tempting breakfast spread smiling at you and the bubbly runners were all quite reassuring though I missed the winding down session led by Giles. Well, such is the way of the long distance run…

MRR hits a sixer


July 3rd 2016

It was a cold rainy morning when we landed at Otters club, Bandra, Not the ideal weather to be celebrating something as gregarious as the 6th anniversary of the Mumbai Road Runners.  Nevertheless the humongous numbers and the contagious spirits more than made up for the morbid weather.

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After the initial round of customary poses and smiles, we set off on the moisture laden roads, unsure of what to expect in terms of the weather. Just then, a cool breeze blew by as a sort of reassuring gesture as we ran along the lanes of Bandra and Mahim.  When we crossed Shivaji Park, the warm smiles of the volunteers who were usually stationed there as the first water break point were conspicuous by their absence.

We continued our journey which saw us through the Tamnak Thai restaurant to our right indicating that we were in Prabhadevi, not too far from the holy abode of the Siddhi Vinayak temple.  Just as we reached the magnificent temple, the clouds decided to shower us with our blessings and we faced the first bout of rains during our run.

Words fail to describe this wonderful feeling of running in the pelting rain with the wind howling like a banshee. We ran along unaffected by the brewing storm as we reached the scenic Worli Sea face. The coastline appeared in shades of grey with the dark clouds hovering around the insipid yet restless waves as the droplets of rain continued to tease us in their incessant manner. Amidst the shades of grey, it was the sea of green (runners wearing the green colour MRR tees) that dominated the city of Mumbai that day.

We were drenched to the hilt and our shoes made a squish squash noise, yet nothing would make us stop until we reached our first water station where our volunteers stationed with water and Fast&Up were ready to pamper us with a sweet word or two. Capturing our images was our photographer Chetan who was usually present during our monthly runs to ensure that our social media newsfeed had plenty on their hands to keep our friends engaged with some whacky images of us.

As we continued along our journey, we spotted some of our runner buddies, who had commenced their runs from NCPA. Pleasantries, hugs and hi fives saw us through those inclines on Peddar road which made the uphill task seem like a breeze. By the time we reached the Marine drive stretch, images of the sumptuous breakfast, which we were promised, began to form in front of our eyes. It was enough incentive to keep our strides going which was further enhanced by our volunteers stationed at Wilson College. A thumbs up and words like ‘good running’ made us feel like champions as we sped towards NCPA.

Greetings, smiles and laughter filled the air and the usual camaraderie of “how was your run”, was followed by jokes and idle chatter. We eagerly looked at the lavish spread which consisted of Batata wadas, chutney, katchoris, upma, gulab jamuns, chunks of water melons and papayas. This was  indeed a treat to the famished runners. The marvelous chocolate cake in honour of the sixth anniversary proved to an icing on the cake, literally. The numerous photographs that were taken almost resembled that of a wedding celebration and the MRR anniversary event equaled the grandeur of a wedding party .

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Elation and jubilation filled our minds along with a sense of gratitude as we realized the enormity of the ‘behind the scenes’ task. What an effort must have gone into making this event a grand success and ensuring that our runners went home a satisfied lot. The heroes behind this memorable day certainly deserved all the accolades who are none other than our beloved MRR Admin- Ram, Bijay, Sam, Austin, Viv, Jack, Shasin, Rupal and Deepa.

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Thank you guys for making this day as special as you all are and most importantly for retaining the fabulous spirit which is what makes MRR one big happy family of runners.

Thank you volunteers, without whom this run wouldn’t have been possible, Coach Giles for always ensuring that our muscles are relaxed post the arduous run, our photographers, the caterers- Mr. Jain and Fast&Up!!

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Now that MRR has hit a sixer, wishing you many more such celebrations of grandeur and over time a golden jubilee and century as well. Cheers!