Yearly Archives: 2017

KRANTI SALVI- SECOND INNINGS

Born in a Regular Middle class family in Dhule, Maharashtra, Kranti grew up in a safe, secure, protected environment. Along with being a bright Scholarship student, she was also good in Sports and participated in Athletics in school at Sanjivan Vidyalaya, Panchgani.

Invariably; Sports took a back seat, once she enrolled into her Engineering Degree Course. She completed B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunications followed by Masters in Computer Science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and now is a Director at the Alfa Group of Companies.

Chirag, her 6-year-old boisterous son was advised to enroll in some Physical Activity by School in 2011. Kranti took him to Priyadarshini Park (PDP) for training in Athletics. Obviously, like most mothers, she would wait there itself till he was done. Approaching his Coach, she asked if she too could start track training under him instead of just killing time. He readily agreed and the inborn Athlete rose once more 🤗.

In 2011, Kranti ran her first 5-Kilometer Race at PDP and won the Silver medal completing in less than 25 minutes. Next, she participated for the 6K Valentine Run from Police Gymkhana to NCPA organized by Nike Run Club when she got a Nike T-shirt as a prize and set the ball well and truly rolling.

In 2012, Kranti participated in her first Half Marathon at SCMM. Unexpectedly, she stood 5th in her Age Category finishing in 2:01 despite running Easy and even taking a Loo break 😯. Till then her only real training had been running on the PDP Track as per Chirag’s practice sessions whilst juggling Household Chores, Office and diligently climbing 15 floors to her home daily.

In 2013, Kranti was to do her very first Full Marathon, again at SCMM. Chirag, her son, was selected to participate in the State Level Long Jump Event at Aurangabad on the very same day. Chirag left along with some other friends and their parents on Friday Evening. That Sunday turned out to be super eventful for Kranti as she stood Second in Women and 1st in Indian Women in her Age Category finishing in a brilliant 4:12 🤗. They ended up rushing straight to the Airport after the race to pick up Chirag.

Thereafter, Kranti has gone on to win podiums at practically every Race that she has participated in India. She manages to balance her family, work and training with Elan. The Athletic Salvi family enjoys participating in running events together. They even plan a yearly Runcation abroad every July and have run in Mauritius, Philippines and the Gold Coast Marathons. In fact, Kranti stood 4th in Mauritius. Besides Olympian Lalitha Babar, she is the only other Indian woman in top 10 overall rankers of an AIMS certified Marathon. She got her PB of 3:47 at Gold Coast and went on to complete the prestigious Boston Marathon in 3:51 in 2017 and plans to do it again in 2018 😎.

Kranti has a Holistic approach to Fitness thanks to learning Yoga. She tries to make sure her Core is engaged even whilst doing chores- be it making Chappatis, mopping the floor or scrubbing clothes 😎. Consuming self-cooked home food helps her ensure fixing the Menu as per the Workout plans. Fresh vegetables, fruits, poultry and sea food are all part of the regular diet. On Long Run Days; Carbohydrates are increased while on Strength Training Days; the Protein is boosted. She trains from Monday to Saturday in the evening at PDP along with her son, Chirag. Workouts consist of Strength, Core, Circuit, Plyometrics, Speed and Easy long runs so as to avoid Monotony.

Essentially training on the Synthetic tracks, Kranti looks forward to her Long runs on the Road. Though Interaction with MRR is mostly restricted to Facebook, she joins in the Monthly MRR runs enroute at Marine Drive every chance she gets. The whole atmosphere of high spirits, harmony and joy as well as post Run gathering and meeting Runner buddies whilst exchanging ideas and thoughts at NCPA is something that she enjoys thoroughly 😊.

Kranti advises Beginners to take it easy, gradually increase time and intensity of load while seeking Expert guidance for specific goals. She states that Patience is required for long term benefits of Running or any kind of sport. Rest and Recovery are equally important; Sleep especially cannot be ignored since that’s when our Body Recovers. Kranti says desired performance can be achieved only when the body, mind, soul and external forces all work harmoniously towards it. Furthermore, keeping log of Runs helps in monitoring progress and staying motivated. Last but not the least, never compare your performance with others as each one is different.

Kranti has been a Brand Ambassador for TomTom, Puma as well as the Face of several Running Events. Now, she regularly endorses and promotes Running in Schools, Institutes and various Organizations in different Cities in Maharashtra. From that quiet, petite, young girl she has blossomed into one Powerhouse Inspiring so many 😃.

MRR Race Ranking 1st December, 2017

The MRR Race Ranking as on 1st December, 2017 is out, which means the races in November are included in the list. And we have a new race leader i.e.

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is the new Race Leader.

IDBI Federal Life Insurance Spice Coast Marathon, Kochi enters the list at a super creditable no. 7 ranking while Aurangabad Heritage Half Marathon debuts at no. 9 in the list. Both Kochi and Aurangabad have performed admirably to come in the top 10. It helps that both have Runners as main organisers.

WNC Navy Half Marathon, Mumbai comes in at no. 15, IL&FS I Run for Fun, Mumbai at no. 22, Adidas Uprising 10K, Mumbai at no. 24, IIT Bombay Half Marathon at no. 36, Pune Running Beyond Myself Marathon at no. 39. WNC Navy Half scored well on all parameters but lost out on the timeliness aspect i.e. starting the race on time. They probably need to work on that aspect next time around. The ranking list is given here.

Lots of races lose points in the “During the Race” element. That is the absolute core for any race, the most key element in organising a good race vs an average race. Organisers need to pay attention to this factor the most – frequency of water/ energy drinks/ refreshments, medical facilities en route, km markers, traffic arrangements etc.

We have created another list this time, that of races which did not garner adequate responses, but we have done the rating for them, but not included in the ranking list. For races to enter into the ranking list, we need at least 10 responses, which itself is inadequate but since this is a first year, we thought of keeping a low threshold. This list is given here.

Here also from the limited responses, if you see, Jalna has done well and so has Surat and Gurgaon. The situation will obviously change if there are more responses. We hope that more and more runners take part in this rating exercise so that a good database could be built which will be helpful to the runners in future. This is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

A total of 68 races have been rated so far this year, which exercise started in February, 2017.

My first attempt at Trail Running – A DNF!!!

I was scheduled to visit France on a business trip from 11th to 13th Dec 2017. Being a Runner I got tempted to find some race in France which I can participate before or after my business commitments. I googled and found out that there were more than 4 races in different parts of France on 10th Dec 2017.

Unfortunately all the websites and facebook pages of the events were in French and difficult to undersand and register inspite of using Google Translate. Finally, I zeroed down on 4 events and managed to send a message through their FB pages. Only one organiser, Trail la conquete de Super Besse responded quickly and provided me the link to register with the translation in English. There were 3 categories; 5K, 15k AND 25k.Having done one 42 K, one 25K (BNP) and about six 21K, I opted for the 25K Run. Later on I realised that it was not a normal Road Run which I have been doing until now for the past 4 years but a Trail Run. HaviNg done Satara HM and BNP 25K (4 hills) I assumed it must be somewhat similar but a more gruelling course. I tried to get much information about the course and elevation from the organisers but could not succeed. Further scrutiny of their website and FB page did not help much. Having already registered I mustered courage and decided to participate any how.

The start point of Trail la conquete de Super Besse was in a Town called Besse and Finish Point at Super Besse, about 470 Kms from Paris. I reached Paris on 8th Dec evening and decided to rest for one night in Paris. I realised that the temperatures were in the range of 6 to 8 deg C in Paris. On 9th morning I started from Paris and reached Chambon Sur Lac (15 Kms from Besse) where I had booked my accommodation,in the evening. Here the weather was too cold with temperatures dipping to 2 deg C in the night. Chambon Sur Lac is a small village where no public transport is available, except taxis provided you book in advance. The organisers were kind enough to arrange to pick me up on 10th morning at 7:00 am from the hotel to go to the venue. To my shock, it was raining in the morning and the temperature was 4 deg. C. I collected my bib and put up a brave face. I understood that thee were about 800 registrations but due to bad weather only about 400 turned up. I noticed that most of the participants were wearing rain-proof jackets, skiing sticks and mountaineering footwear. I had my normal road running shoes and winter jacket with hood. With the help of the organisers I managed to get a trash polythene converted to a rain coat to protect myself from the rains.

The race started at 09:00 am sharp on normal tar road and I joined the crowd in the cold windy weather still determined to participate. After 500 m or so the route joined a muddy trail and the runners slowed down. After 1 km the route was full of snow and slippery. With caution I managed to walk through and avoided slipping, After 1.5 km I realised that I was the last runner and the girl and man behind me were Support Volunteers. The girl noticed that I was wearing normal road running shoes and asked me if I will continue till the end with these shoes. Still determined; I told her I shall continue and asked her if the route was similar throughout. She told me it will be tougher further. There were no KM markings but only ribbons. After about 2 kms of slippery snowy and muddy route with ups and downs I started feeling warm and wanted to remove my jacket and was feeling thirsty. Unfortunately I had carried none assuming there would be aid stations every 2.5 or 3 Kms like our road runs but there were none so far. I realised that the trail was slippery and my shoes were not meant for trail runs. After 40 mins or so I managed to cover only 3 Kms and the volunteer asked me if I would like to quit. I told her I would continue after taking a 3 to 5 minute break. But she said that it would take me a long time to complete the balance 22 Km. Though there was no cut-off time specified by the organisers I realised that the locals would complete the distance in maximum 4 hours or so. With the pace that I was going I realised that I would need anywhere between 4-1/2 to 5 hours. I continued for another 1 km without break. The wind was blowing at 40 km/h speed, it was raining continuously, the path was full of snow and the temperature was still 4 deg C. By now I had cramps in my legs, my jacket was wet, hands cold and backache. It was time to call quits now rather than continuing and probably breaking your bones or falling sick. I told the girl tha I would quit and she informed me that after 1 km we will reach the road and she will call for the support vehicle to take me back to the Finish Point. I managed to cover about 5 kms in the windy, snowy, rainy and cold weather.

My first attempt at Trail Runnng was a DNF but I am happy that I did not get a DNS. I had the courage to start even after seeing the weather conditions and without proper gear.

As the adage goes; You do not Lose, You either WIN or LEARN!

Every failure teaches you and makes you strong.

The learnings for me from this experience are:

  1. Do not assume that all races are similar.
  2. Find out more information about the course and weather conditions before you register.
  3. Ensure you have proper running gear suitable to the environment.
  4. Find out more details of the location and weather conditions.
  5. It is better to quit than take risk and endanger yourself, especially in a foreign country.
  6. Learn from your mistakes, take corrective actions and attempt again after good preparation.

Regards

Subhash Putty

10 Dec 2017

Camp: France

Survival at its fittest-The trail run experience

The Bay area was known for its bountiful trails and hills. There was no dearth of them as I browsed through the California marathon Calendar. The runner and nature lover in me was spoilt for choices as I looked at the images of some of the trail runs. I visualized myself running through the cascading brown meadows spread over acres which was enough incentive to click on the registration link.

It was a 25 km run that I had signed up for, probably due to realization that my legs were now ready to carry me further than 21 km which they were used to by now and probably bored. “Give us a little bit of challenge”, they seemed to say.  So here I was driving down to Calero Park at San Jose which was about 40 minutes from Stanford, where I resided. The race was scheduled at 8:00 am and the bib collection for these runs took place one hour prior to the run, on the same day. It was rather chilly and I huddled up in one of the tents after collecting my bib. I got talking to the race director, Troy who had been conducting trail events since 2009. “I am glad it’s not raining,” he said. “Otherwise I would have had to cancel it.” I further learnt it was more or less managed by him solely and he was looking for more volunteers.  As the runners began to line up at the venue, we were briefed about the course that we had to take.

There were only 2 aid stations and we were to follow the different colored ribbons and in some places, these would be absent. “Have faith in yourself and follow that one single road, it will get you through.” the race director mentioned. Nervousness began to creep in hoping that I wouldn’t get lost in these woods. There was no signal on my mobile phone and I offered a silent prayer to the almighty.

From the word go, dirt roads greeted us gently leading us to some never-ending inclines which forced even the strongest looking runners to walk up these dreadful slopes.  Muddy, rustic looking, interspersed with shrubs and grass, it was as pristine as it could get. I heard some of runners muttering “Didn’t know it was going to be so tough”, as they staggered up the hilly terrain. One couldn’t run on it for too long and walk breaks were involuntarily infused.  Deciding to treat it as a picnic, I prodded along the muddy pathway, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I remembered mentioning to my husband that morning saying that I would finish in 3 hours and be back home by 12 noon. It appeared that this was going to take longer than 3 hours considering the daunting route which had pebbles strewn about like bread crumbs.  No sane person would want to consider sprinting downhill unless they were ready to see their knees look like fried sausages tossed in ketchup.

At the end of the 5th km, I was almost ready to call it quits, rush back home and snuggle on the couch with a book. Just then I was greeted by a spectacular sight of the mountains glistening in the sun’s rays. I inhaled sharply, taking in the view as the sportsman spirit in me egged me to go on. ‘You are not here to quit’, a voice told me.

 

I noticed dried tufts of grass on either side as I ran along the narrow winding pathways. I caught a glimpse of a couple of runners at the distance and knew I was on the right track.  Following the ribbons, I soon found myself running down some of the slopes albeit with great caution as I wasn’t too fond of sausages.  Reaching the aid station, I refilled my bottle with water, grabbed some freshly cut fruits and set off on this jungle expedition after taking cues from the race director present there.

The pebbles on the ground reminded me of the Hansel and Gretel story wherein Hansel left a trail of them to find his way back home from the woods. At one point, it was just me and the sound of gentle rustle of the leaves, making me jump many a time half expecting to see a bear or a fox come out of its hiding and smacking my head later on for giving in to irrational fears and fantasies.  Soon I heard voices floating in the air and looked up to see a couple of horse riders galloping into the woods after giving me a smile that depicted partly sympathy and partly admiration.

This run was one of its kind unlike the ones in the city where you would feel the presence of volunteers with placards carrying quirky messages. This one was a test of your endurance and patient levels. I finally reached the start point, completing 21 km and was asked to do the 5 km loop to complete my distance. Survival instincts kicked in and I finally reached the finish line. “You are still running, right?” asked one of the volunteers asked line with a grin and I responded with a faint smile.

I tucked in some nuts and sandwiches that was displayed on the table as I was famished being on my feet for hours together. Nature has a way of humbling you, I thought as I grabbed my phone only to see there was no reception yet. By now my husband must have wondered if I had been attacked by wolves or something. I requested one of the volunteers to drop me off at a point where I could call an Uber.

Trail runs were as brutal and carnal as they could get. It’s about how you hold your nerve throughout and come out stronger yet humbled at the thought that nature always triumphs.

Diabetes Runners’ Thoughts

On World Diabetes Day on 14th November, 2017 we had asked our runners who were diabetes, to share their experience of how running has helped them in their fight against diabetes and what tips they would like to give to others. Here are a few runners who have shared their experiences and given their inputs.

Krish Captain I am a diabetic and also have BP. Have gone thru angioplasty also in my left leg. My diabetes was detected in 1998 when i was suffering from asthio arthrites. It was detected when i did not respond to medicines. Since then i have taken up running and cycling. I have run more than 35 marathons and i am still running. RUNNING has not only helped me control my sugar and salt levels in my body, but also helped me reduce my medicine quantum. Apart from this, having control on my sugar has also brought down my weight by 10-12 kgs. Now the whole process has become a routine and lifestyle. So giving up my running is totally ruled out.

Nikunj P Desai When detected, I lived with insulin to control my sugars and switched to pills later. I have a passion for sports and I initially started playing football and added cycling followed by running. With zero activities earlier, I was unable to run and found myself in the goal post.I decided to pick up running and would run 10 mins every day. I would run into my parking space to avoid the vehicles/rains/crowd. Which helped me get better and go the distance.


I am determined & focused to achieve my goal.If I started my day at 5 a.m. for work & returned back at 11:30 p.m., I would still make my 10 mins/ 2K run
Since then I have been running regularly, even on my work trips. This helped me finish some popular events – MumbaiUltra, JnMThane Marathon, NavRun, CustomsRun and much more.

When I met my Doc after all this, my weight had dropped 4+ Kgs, sugars & cholesterol much in control, HbA1c showed a great score. Running not only helped me achieve better sugar, cholesterol count but helped me get more fit, stronger and healthy.

Now running is part of my life & I am one of those maniacs who wakes up early for this madness call running & motivating young runners 🙂

Tips for Runners:
Pay attention to body signals;
Do not get too competitive or stretch beyond your limits;
Keep a sugar substance that is quickly absorbed;
A card with your name, contact details, phone number of family or friend.

Kavita Jhingan My dad Dr Ashok Jhingan is a Diabetologist in Delhi and he has a group of 50 plus cyclists and runners who have been juvenile diabetics taking insulin and run and cycle together and they have over years have reduced their HbAIc levels to 6 and leading happy healthy complication free lives !! 

They carry a identity tag with the emergency numbers and name and phone of their doctor and the fact they are diabetics and if found unconscious to give them sweets !!

Harish Pandit Just saying that, before started running, my blood sugar level was 350 (daily 12 tablets + 30ml bitter guard juice). After 1 year of running, it is fasting 90 and pp 105 (daily 2.5 tablets only). Till date I finished 10 events of 10kms and 4 events of half marathon including Satara hill half marathon. Till Feb 18, i am planning to do Navy, Vasai-Virar, TMM, Mahamarathon-Nashik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nagpur,  all half marathons. Running gives me confidence, stamina, discipline, dedication, determination. Running made my focus towards life positive. Keep watch on your health, do regular checkups, eat healthy, green. Avoid junk food. Do exercise regularly, These instructions applicable for runner as well as diabetes.
My doctor awarded me a certificate with a gift. After watching my running and trekking activities my friends & colleagues offer me fruits & juices instead of some vadapav or biryani.

Parvesh Verma My diabetes medicine power of 4 has come down to 0.5. Running surely is one of the lifestyle change one can undertake to control diabetes. Along with running comes discipline of food habits automatically, which further help cause. At start level of running, one must go to coach/ senior runner to understand do and don’ts for running. It is a serious cardio exercise and need respect.

 

The run by the Pacific Ocean: The Monterey bay/Big Surprise half marathon

I usually do not do back to back half marathons. However the course the Monterey Bay half marathon or the Big Sur half as it’s called, received such phenomenal reviews that I could not pass a chance to miss this one especially since I was in the Bay Area for only a year. It was scheduled on November 12th, right after the Golden Gate half marathon on November 5th.
Seeing the video of the course which was along the Pacific grove was too tempting to miss out. I signed up for it and drove to Monterey Bay which was about 1 hour and 49 mins from Stanford, with my husband and 3 year old daughter. Staying at Monterey Bay Marriott which was the host hotel of the event was convenient considering the start line was just 5 minutes away. The bib collection was right across the hotel and after collecting the bib, we headed off to explore the Monterey Bay aquarium which was both child and adult friendly.
There were several aquatic species and it was interesting to observe them in their domain. A large lake was present where kids were allowed to touch some of these salt water wonders.  After grabbing lunch of some grilled salmon at the local cafe, we headed to pebble beach and Carmel by the sea where we got a glimpse of the mighty waves in their splendor. We returned by 5 pm, grabbed an early dinner and hit the bed early as I always believed in a good sleep of 8-9 hours prior to the race morning.
The event was scheduled to begin the next morning at 6:50 am and the holding area was divided into several corals. Each coral was designated with a separate start time. The area was bustling with runners and warm ups. Slowly one by one, the corals started to move and I soon found myself crossing the start line.
I decided to adhere to the race manual where instructions to avoid headphones was stated clearly.  Despite this, I noticed a few people carrying music with them.  I also decided to avoid looking at my Garmin watch, bracing myself for one of the most scenic runs.
I ran through the streets of Monterey which were rather hilly. There were people playing music at different points as we cheered and clapped for them. I saw a couple of folks holding cut out posters of Jelly Fish and some interesting placards with motivational lines. After passing through a tunnel, I soon climbed up a steep incline leading to a street with an array of restaurants and pubs. After a few more climbs, I finally came face to face with the pristine Pacific Ocean.
 
Sparkling in the sunlight, this mass shade of blue made quite a pretty sight. It was delightful  to see the ocean merged with the sky and specks of white puffs floating above. On closer look, one could see these white puffs took the shape of seagulls as they flew above calling to one another in high shrills.
What a mesmerizing sight! I gazed in delight at nature’s wonders staring at the rock formations in the sea and the alluring waves crashing against them.  The sea of runners were no match for this sea of blue that was cascading in greater volumes.
The course was certainly hilly but with such a marvelous sight, any hint of fatigue was bound to evaporate.  The presence of volunteers added to the charm and it was a sheer delight to see drummers on the way, their arms moving in rhythmic action as they motivated the runners to go ahead with great fervour.
It was time to take a u-turn and move closer to the sea to bask in the glorious view once again.  Hearing the sound of the waves was so soothing that I was glad to have left my music behind.  The sun had now come out in full flow, as I continued running along the marine area, the fisherman’s wharf to the finish line where large number of volunteers stood cheering for us.
I was surprised to finish in a decent timing of 2:10, especially since I certainly wasn’t planning on racing this one.  Some runs need to be pure without adulterating it with technicalities of pace and time.  It’s important to run for yourself and in a place so invigorating that your joy knows no bounds.
 
After receiving the medal, I checked out the breakfast which was a fine spread of chocolate milk, peanut butter cookies, bananas, strawberries and bagels!  I just grabbed a chocolate milk and headed back to the hotel to gear up for a drive to a Big Sur.
It took about 39 minutes from the hotel as we took in the scenic course of the Big Sur marathon which was scheduled on the last Sunday of April every year. The route looked daunting with its winding slopes and heady winds. However its magnificent view of the ocean on one side made up for the grueling terrain which was probably the reason why it enticed several runners to run this one.
Beautiful courses are tough ones  yet the challenge seems worth it as one gets to bask in the bewitching and enchanting sights offered!
The Monterey Bay/Big Sur half is certainly one of the most scenic runs and one course which makes every participant proud of the fact that he/she is a runner!

MRR Race Ranking as on 1st November, 2017

MRR Race Ranking as on 1st November, 2017 is given beside here. There were 5 new races added to the billboard in October. Dehradun Half Marathon comes in at joint 2nd, followed by Shriram Properties Bengaluru Marathon at 4th spot, Vodafone Coimbatore Half Marathon at no. 12, Mumbai Customs Half Marathon at no. 16 and Yeour Hill Half Marathon at no. 25.

Coimbatore rankings were going good and they would have made it to the top, but their toilet rankings were not so good, so they slithered down the ladder only for that factor. Mumbai Customs suffered due to the route mismanagement where they did multiple loops inside Ballard Estate which led to a lot of confusion amongst the runners. Shriram Properties Bengaluru Marathon did extremely well in all parameters. This being a big city race, it was a commendable performance.

Of the other events that were considered for rating, HDFC Bank Millenium City Marathon, Gurgaon got only 1 vote, ICICI Bank Starry Night Half Marathon, Gurgaon got 2 votes, Pune FLO Half Marathon – 9 votes, Lokmat Nashik Half Marathon – 4 votes, Surat City Half Marathon – 6 votes, Veterun Half Marathon, Pune – 3 votes, so these events could not be considered due to the very low responses. Hope the responses from these cities go up in the near future, because these kind of ratings are never done before and considering the exponential increase in the number of races being held every year in India, it will in turn help the runners only in choosing which race to take part in.

Our role in this rating exercise is only to collect the results, collate it and present it in a tabular form for easy understanding. The raw data is not tampered with, by us.

The Mad Hatter Run-Dedicated to MRR

Random browsing on Facebook made me stumble upon this interesting event which was called the Zombie Halloween run hosted by Coastal trail runs.  It was apparently an event where one was supposed to wear Halloween costumes and run in the scenic Hellyer part at San Jose, a place which was less than an hour away from Stanford.  Runners are known to be a crazy lot and it was this little eccentric nature that takes us to the finish line even under the most trying circumstances. Wearing a costume only added to the fun element as my mind started racing through the several possibilities of what I could wear.

Fortunately, in the USA where Halloween was a big thing, I was spoilt for choices.  After a lot of deliberation, I decided upon the costume of the mad hatter-the character from Alice in wonderland.  I was somehow fascinated with most of the characters of this classic as they were a little weird and exhibited their tinge of madness that often evoked a smile. So here I was wearing a black and white outfit, matched with white gloves, a stick, a hat with rabbit ears which gave it an interesting tinge of the March hare, a horrendous long blond wig added and a walking stick.  Since the race began only at 9:15 am, my husband and daughter decided to accompany me to the event.

Reaching the venue, I was dismayed to see the other runners dressed in their ‘normal’ attire. Was I the only one to be dressed in this manner? What if I stuck out like a sore thumb? “Let’s go back” I told my hubby. “I am not getting out of the car like this.” “Oh, come on Swe, this is not India but USA. People just won’t care. Just come out and collect your bib. You have worn costumes run with our Mumbai road runners gang. What’s the issue?”  Reluctantly I stepped out and walked towards the start point where the bibs were being given. It was a beautiful park with a pond in the middle and ducks floating on it gaily.  It appeared to be a popular spot for running considering the number of runners doing their rounds and they hadn’t necessarily registered for this particular event.

I was greeted with smiles and comments like “great costume” as I collected my bib. I let out a sigh of relief as my daughter, myself and my husband basked in the beauty of the surroundings. We watched the runners come in and some of them had dressed up as bees and super heroes. It was gratifying to see children dressed up as little princes and princesses as they geared up for the 5k run. There was a full marathon, half marathon and a 10k run as well and I was participating in the latter. Running a half marathon in that fanciful costume seemed too daunting a task to complete.

At 9:15, we set off after the race director gave his go. It was a 1.5 km around the lake before we dashed off into the woods.  The course was a little muddy with a good number of inclines. I passed some shrubs and trees on the way, taking over a group of women dressed as nurses.  The course soon gave way to a trail with blades of grass as we approached the aid station serving energy drinks and water.  We had to go up that one more hill before we took a u-turn at a point.  So up I went and took a u turn and came gliding down the trail.  I passed some morning walkers with their dogs and was half afraid that my costume would agitate their pets. It didn’t thankfully and instead I was met with wide grins and compliments. The sun was up and about and I was more than halfway through the run.

The trail reminded me of the one that Alice runs through in the story while searching for the rabbit. She stumbles upon this tea party hosted by the march hare and the mad hatter which was me in this case. I looked around and chuckled at the thought of having a tea party in the middle of a trail and dismissed this thought away, focusing on reaching the finish line.  The muddy pathway soon gave way to the tufts of green grass towards the big arch where our medals were waiting for us. Crossing the finish line in 60 minutes, I was surprised both at the timing and for having finished 5th in my age category.

Considering that I wasn’t even in a proper running attire, I was quite pleased with the outcome. With my hubby and daughter, who had a ball watching the ducks, I sat down and took in the breakfast spread of bananas, bagels and cookies. We were told that the best costume prize would be announced and soon the race director asked us all to line up in one row. I was thrilled to be one of the prize winners and got to choose a gift which was a purple color water bottle-something that is always handy for runners during their long mileages.

Thanking the race director for the prize and a well-organized run, I went home happy, elated and a little mad -traits that personified the mad hatter.

 

I was a little wistful about having to miss the Halloween run of the Mumbai road runners this year, being in the USA. However this run more than made up for it as I proudly dedicate it to my family of runners back at home in India-the ever’green’ Mumbai Road runners! (pun intended)

A mighty mermaid officially: My olympic distance triathlon experience

 

The fall: Wheeeeeeeee!!! I suddenly found myself skid on the road and fall off my bike on the highway. It was a Tuesday evening and I was out for a short ride-my last practice before the Olympic distance (1.5 km swim, 40 k bike, 10 k run) triathlon which was that following Saturday.   I was shaken up for a moment when a car pulled up behind me. Two concerned men came out and asked if I was fine. I nodded and asked him to check if my bike was ok. He lifted my bike and answered in affirmative. “Do you want me to call an ambulance? You are bleeding. I can drop you off somewhere?” he asked. I got up and saw that my right knee and arm were badly bruised. Not the first time, as 6 months ago I had fallen in the middle of a race and still reached the finish line in a strong manner.  Fortunately, there was no sprain so I decided to finish my bike ride and go home. Looking appalled at my statement, the 2 men reluctantly went ahead.  I couldn’t seem to clean off the wound once I reached my apartment which made me go to Palo alto medical foundation emergency care. After checking me thoroughly to ensure there was no sign of a fracture, the doctor cleaned the wound and gave me a go ahead for my upcoming triathlon which was the mermaid series triathlon.  “As long as you are feeling fine.” she said.

 

 Rest before the race: I rested for the next few days, applying antibiotic cream on the wound and wrapping it up with a bandage.  Maybe God wanted me to rest before the D day I thought.  I was a little tensed as doing an Olympic distance triathlon had been on my bucket list since last year. No way was I giving this event a miss. What would hurt more than the actual wound was not doing this event after training for it for months, ever since I landed in the USA.  I collected by bib on Wednesday evening as I examined the ingredients inside. There was a timing chip to be worn around the ankle, a small bib on the helmet of the cycle, a bib around the cycle and a bib for the tee shirt.  A wristband was tied around my wrist which was my entry ticket inside the transition area on race morning. “If you lose this band, take your ID card with you and the volunteers will give you another one on race morning.” said the race director. “Got it,” I replied.

 

Pre-race prep: Wearing my tri suit and partly my wet suit, I set off to Capitola beach on Saturday morning. My hubby and daughter accompanied me and were to hang out at the beach until I was done with my event. My race started at 7:20 am and the transition area opened at 6:00 am. It was chilly in the morning but the weather was predicted to be warm later that day.  The transition area was situated up Depot hill which was at least 800 m from the beach.  I assembled my bike, laid down my towel on the left side of the bike with things that I would need post my swim which comprised of my helmet, goggles, GU gels, shoes and T shirt.  Zipping up my wet suit, putting on  my cap and goggles, I set off to the beach.

 

The mermaid feeling: The Olympic distance participants were already assembled on the beach and taking a dip in the ocean which was unexpectedly warm. The sand on the beach was colder than the water, we joked with one another.  At the count of go, we set off. Entering the water, we began swimming our strokes. There were paddle boats and jet skis hovering around us in the ocean-volunteers who were to come to our aid in case any of us faced any difficulty. We were allowed to hold on to the boats, in case we were out of breath.  The ocean was a little choppy as compared to the other day when I had attended a swim clinic. Considering it was a full moon day, I wasn’t surprised. The other women (this was an only women’s event) were faster swimmers and went ahead of me. Initially I began to panic wondering if I was doing something wrong only to remind myself that the others practically grew up near the ocean and were probably swimming in the sea since childhood while this was only my 4th time.  I decided to just go with the flow, savoring every stroke against the mighty waves. At one point, I was the only one left as others had finished their swim. Having the entire ocean to myself was an incredible feeling.  By the time I got out, I glanced at my watch to see I had taken lesser time to swim a mile in the ocean as compared to the pool.  My legs felt wobbly as I ran to the transition area. The volunteers clapped and cheered for me all the way.

Transition one: The hardest part was to get out of the wet suit which is why body gliders are highly recommended. These are to be applied before putting on the wet suit and it helps in getting off the suit for your next division.  Slipping my tee over my head, buckling my helmet and putting on my shoes, I steered my cycle to the blue line where I was to mount my bike and ride ahead.

 

A hilly ride:  It was a rather steep hill that greeted me in the beginning which compelled me to get off my bike and walk it up to a point when I could start pedaling. The route was a tough one comprising of rolling hills all the way. It took us through some beautiful woods. Other fellow bikers kept egging us and cheering on saying “you’ve got it, you are getting there.” That kept me going and while coming downhill, I was extra careful as I did not want another fall.  It was a two-loop course where volunteers were cheering us throughout. While coming back I got a glimpse of the pristine blue ocean on the left. It was unbelievably a hot day which made the biking part quite challenging as we had to battle both the hills and the heat.

Transition 2: Dismounting from the bike and placing it on the rack, I popped a GU gel and went off to complete the last leg-the 10 km run.

 

The heat run: Brick training becomes an essential aspect while training for a triathlon as running even a measly 10 km post a 40 km bike ride becomes an arduous task. Thankfully I had practiced some brick workouts as incorporated by my friend cum coach Viv Menon which came in handy on the D day. It was a hill that once again greeted me in the beginning of the run.  The sun was out in full flow, exuding heat in a fierce manner. I ran past the cliff which overlooked the ocean below. Spotting the high tide waves and surfers, I longed to jump inside to escape the heat. However I had to keep going. While running, I spotted some of the Olympic distance participants on the way and found myself overtaking them. We hi-fived each other. The last lap towards the finish line was right on the beach. Running on sand in the middle of noon was no easy feat. However, the locals hanging out at the beach kept egging me on and I soon found myself crossing the finish line in style. I felt goosebumps on hearing the emcee announce saying ‘she’s from India, currently at Stanford and this is her first Olympic distance.’

The moment of joy: I was officially the mighty mermaid as the Olympic distance participants were called. It was such a wonderful moment having completed something  on my bucket list. The medal was carved in a shape of a mermaid and the most beautiful one that I had ever seen. For some reason, I was always intrigued by these legendary aquatic creatures since childhood.  It’s an old folklore that mermaids are associated with ill fortunes but this one managed to bring me a sense of accomplishment and immense joy as I posed with my country’s flag near at the finish line!

Vote of thanks: Thank you Viv! Don’t think I could have achieved this without your guidance and training! Aditya Sahu-another person who always saw potential in me even when I didn’t. Ashok- for always being supportive. Amit and Samara-for being there for me always.

What makes us stronger: lessons from the movie

Watched the movie ‘Stronger’ today: a film based on the Boston marathon bombings in 2013 and how it affected the life of Jeff Bauman. While standing at the finish line, waiting for his girlfriend who was just a few minutes away, 2 bombs explode, shattering lives, faith and hope. With both his legs being amputated, the story goes on to showcase Jeff’s struggles in building both his physical and mental strength through rehabilitation, fit enough to wait at the finish line for his girlfriend 3 years later after the unfortunate incident.
The movie incorporates an important lesson that ever person especially a runner/cyclist/triathlete can learn :
The willingness to live and move on even when faced with adversity.
Life doesn’t always follow the course that we want it to yet we must learn to move on.  When you are running a particular race/trail, the conditions may not always adhere to your expectations. You may feel like giving up in exasperation many a time. However what is important is to not get bogged on and find your way to the finish line with a smile.
Similarly with life, things may not always work out the way we want them to.  It’s essential to hold our nerve, feel every breath of ours that makes us feel lucky to be alive and embrace the gift called life!
Do watch it whenever it releases in India! A movie that will instill hope,  faith and makes you realize that adversities can make you ‘stronger ‘ ( pun intended) than crumble you!