Swetha Amit- Snakes and Ladders

A chubby little girl who enjoyed good food, Swetha was more of a Bookworm in her School and College Days. Venturing out to play Hide and seek and Lock and key with her friends was as far as she went in Sports. Incessant teasing about being fat led her to find solace in food as she further retreated into books due to her confidence taking a severe beating. Being diagnosed with PCOD (polycystic ovarian disorder) with hormones playing havoc in her Teens didn’t help matters either. 😔

In 2008 post marriage, Swetha got hooked on to gymning courtesy her Marathoner husband, Amit. Weight training sessions alternated with Cardio and some diet changes brought a miraculous transformation in her physique giving her a new found Confidence. Despite Amit’s best efforts, Swetha was not inclined to Road Running. After all, that would mean giving up her enjoyable Saturday night parties and ushering in Early morning Sunday long runs 😕. Marathons were better left to Amit while she managed just fine with her convenient 20- minute Treadmill Run.

However, Fate had something else in Store. In December 2010, Swetha was hospitalized after severe bouts of vomiting and high fever having consumed something dodgy at a wedding. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, lost a lot of blood and was very weak. Hitting Rock bottom, she regained her strength and even overcame the loss of several friends who drifted apart during this phase.

The fighter in her rose as she decided to build back her strength through Running. Swetha decided to run 21k at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) in 2012. She also quit her job as Counselor to take a break and find her true calling. Hubby Amit as well as her Trainers provided her with the much needed support throughout. She went on to effortlessly finish her very first HM in 2:03 and the Runner was truly born. 2012 turned out to be truly special as she even found her calling as a journalist. 😎

Swetha went on to do many more running events that year. Eventually she even did her first Full Marathon, again at the SCMM in 2013 finishing in 4:59, realizing the FM was more mental game rather than physical strain.

Thereafter in 2013 Swetha and Amit decided to start a family. Once again, the tides turned when she was diagnosed with Ulcers yet again in her 8th month of pregnancy 😒. Fortunately; despite loss of blood and strength, due to timely medication she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Samara in April 2014 🤗. In fact, she even went back to running within a month and did a 10K in June 2014 😮.

It was another new beginning for the new mother as she struggled to juggle her responsibilities at home and work whilst trying to stay fit, what with a demanding newborn to take care of. After an unsuccessful stint trying to make things work with a couple of nannies, they finally asked their parents for support. Of course, this was a major shift from the Nuclear to Joint family Set up. There were obvious clashes at the beginning between the two generations though they did manage to resolve their differences eventually. Thankfully Amit, proved to be Swetha’s staunchest supporter yet again. 😊

From 2015 Swetha went on to do several events and even won podiums in a few of them. She was introduced to the Mumbai Road Runners (MRR) community by Ajit Singh in April 2015 when she did her first Bandra-NCPA Run with them. Here she met some like-minded people and the MRR monthly runs brought back some sanity into her otherwise chaotic life. 🙂 MRR got her to leave her cosy corner in Colaba and explore greener pastures in places like Aarey, BNP and salt pans of Mulund giving her a whole new perspective towards her beloved Mumbai City.

Bagging the role as one of the ambassadors for Puma and the IDBI Federal Life insurance Mumbai half marathon 2017 was the icing on her cake. With her daughter growing up and support from family, things finally became smoother until another challenge cropped up.

During this period, Amit was looking for a break in his career to realign his goals and gain more clarity in his career pathway. It came as a bolt from the blue when he got admission at the Stanford Business School. After discussing, they decided to take this opportunity and go to California for the year. Of course it was an exciting prospect but at the same time daunting, in terms of settling down in an alien country along with their 3-year-old with no help or support.

An Open mind helped Swetha take advantage of this golden opportunity. She decided to make the most of the time there and enrolled for some writing courses in Stanford in order to further sharpen her journalistic skills 😊.

Signing up for varied types of Races, exploring different terrains, indulging in outdoor Cycling, and even getting into Open water swimming; Swetha made sure she enjoyed all the things that she didn’t get to do in India. She even managed to do her very first open water sprint triathlon there in 2017. 😎

Initially being an avid gymner helped Swetha while training for Half Marathons. Her training schedule included thrice weekly Runs- Speed Intervals, Tempo and Long Runs alternated with Strength training and Cross training. As Running increased, Swetha neglected strength training and paid the price with her left ankle injury 😓. During Full Marathon training this was rectified as she focused on Boot camp training including plyometrics and loads of core strengthening.

Currently in the US her focus being Triathlons, her fitness regime is even more intense. It consists of 3 days of swimming, 3 days of cycling, 3 days running- speed intervals, tempo and long runs as well as upper and lower body strengthening. 😌

Swetha advises Newbies to make sure they enjoy their fitness regime be it Zumba, cross training, sports, running; whatever makes them feel good. She states Consistency is the Key for getting successful results. Increasing the intensity slowly is the key to avoid hitting that wall. Whilst training for Marathons, take it slow instead of going out too far too fast. She equates strength training to Karna’s kavach-kundal that helps prevent injury 😎.

Swetha also vouches for investing in a good shoe after getting gait analysis done as well as ensuring you replace worn out shoes which could cause injury. Lastly, she advises that one should always listen to your body. Rest is as important as workouts if not more. Avoid workouts during Ill-health instead of trying to be a Hero. Another lesson that she learnt the hard way when she landed up in Hospital due to self-neglect. 😫

Life seems to have come a full Circle as Swetha has once more learnt to run her Races purely for enjoyment with no time pressure whatsoever. Furthermore, some of her detractors have even come around to asking her for fitness tips 😁. Soon enough it will be time for them to fly back home to their beloved Mumbai. When life gives you lemons, Make Lemonade; after all it’s all in the attitude dontcha think? 😊

The Christmas double run: The 15k double road race experience

The double road race is an interesting concept introduced by Bob Anderson-the founder of the Runners’ world Magazine where the distance is split into 2 races. For instance, if it’s an 8 k double then participants would have to run a 5k race, take a break for 45 minutes and then run the 3k race. The total time of the 8k will be a sum of the 5k and 3k timings.

 

Sounds easy, right? Not quite as Bob said it was more of a mental thing than the physical distance. Imagine running your heart out however small the distance maybe. When you sit down and relax, the thought of having to run another distance sounds daunting as you are beginning to feel lethargic. Your senses tell you to just go back home and laze around on your sofa and catch your favorite movie on television.

 

Deciding to end 2017 in a challenging manner, I opted for the 15k double. It was split into 10k and 5k races and the sum of the timings of these 2 races would be the total time for a 15 k. It wasn’t a great start to the morning as I ended up getting my menstrual cycle.  I landed outside a church at San Juan Bautista which was basking in festive celebrations as it was just 10 days before Christmas. It was an hour away from Stanford where I resided.  Some runners had already assembled, adorning red Santa hats and some interesting looking costumes. I looked down at my black and grey outfit wondering what in the world prompted me to dress up in such dreary colors which stood out like a sore thumb amidst the resplendent reds and greens.

 

It was sunny and predicted to be a windy day, so much that some of the parks were shut in anticipation of a tree fall causing injuries to walkers or hikers. At that moment, a gale of wind blew across the area knocking down one of the stalls much to everyone’s aghast. It was soon restored to normalcy and we gathered near the start line.

Last time I did the double race in August, the weather aided my pace and I had achieved a PR.  I was hoping to run hard in this one and end the year with a bang.  I started off at a stupendous pace of 5:05 especially since there was a downhill at the very beginning. Big mistake! Whenever I started fast, it has considerable affected my long runs, a lesson I never seemed to learn.  By the 4th km, I was drained which prompted me to take a walk break. Just as I was finding my rhythm, I was greeted this heavy headwind that pushed me backwards.

 

I was running on this road with barren land on both sides which accentuated the headwinds to blow with all their might. Looks like I was not the only one hoping for a PR, I thought. Just then an old looking hefty runner ran past me. “Crazy, isn’t it”, she said referring to the wind. I nodded as I struggled to fight against the wind which in turn slowed my pace down. Around the 7th km, the sun had come out in full force and a few inclines greeted me.  I sighed and just kept my rhythm while the volunteers in Santa hats were egging us on. At the 8th km, I overtook the hefty runner and ran with all my might, eager to get out of the heat. Besides, wearing black certainly wasn’t helping my condition.  There was a huge incline leading up to the finish line which prevented me from doing my customary sprint. Nevertheless, I finished in 61 minutes and plonked myself on a chair feeling disappointed. “Hey, take it easy. You just got your chums. Give yourself a break.” My inner voice told me.

 

I sighed and looked around. Several people were complaining about the headwinds. So, they were affected by it too, I realized. I looked at the row of pacers and cursed myself for not starting out with the 1:30 pacer. I could have started with him and maybe gone ahead in the last 2 km which was my strength whenever I started a run at an easy pace. It was time for the second leg of the race and this time I stood near the 1:30 pacer at the start line.

 

The entire race felt like playing in a test match where if the first innings’ score didn’t live up to the mark, there was always a chance to make up in the second innings which was what I was hoping to do in the 5k run. It wasn’t going to be easy, considering it was 11:00 noon and the sun was up shining brightly. I noticed that half the runners were wearing either singlets or sports bras while I was wearing a full sleeved jacket. I started with the 1:30 pacer this time and ended up overtaking him in between. As I turned at the 2.5 km mark, he jokingly pointed to me saying he will catch up with me. Giving him a thumbs-up sign, I ran strong, praying that the GU gels would do their job. At the 4th km mark, I suddenly noticed the pacer catching up with me and I quickly increased my pace and ran as though I was running for my life, in this case to salvage my pride.

 

I could spot the finish line and prodded up the incline and crossed the finish line in 29 minutes. I heaved a sigh of relief as I received my medal and sat down on the grass. The 1:30 pacer came up to me and said, “good running”, giving me a hi-five.  After chatting with Bob, I rushed back home feeling a little down.  Dejected that I had messed up a good race and was almost in tears much to my husband’s surprise.

 

I sat on the couch the entire afternoon trying to cheer myself up with a good book. Santa must not have wanted any sullen faces before Christmas eve as I got a pleasant surprise that evening. Opening my mail, I checked my results on the page and was pleasantly surprised to see that I was 4th in my age category with my timing being 1:31.

I shared this with my husband who said “See! I told you that the conditions were not easy! Still you ran a good race!

 

It was a good end to 2017 and silently wowed to crack a sub 1:30 in my next 15k race which was in January 2018. Was Santa listening?

The Sweetest run-My experience at the Hot Chocolate run

Who would pass up at the chance to have hot chocolate and fondue post a race? The very thought enticed me into signing up for America’s sweetest run-the hot chocolate run. It was a 15k  which made it an ideal distance for a Sunday long run without necessarily having to do the grueling half marathon, which made me wonder why there weren’t more  15k races held.

The event was held at Golden Gate park in San Francisco, one of the most scenic parks in the city with some incorrigible inclines enough to challenge your lungs. I had run here earlier during the San Francisco half marathon in July and recollected huffing and puffing my way up these deadly slopes. Yet that didn’t deter me from aiming for a sub 1:30. I had kept up with my fitness regime even during my Christmas vacation at Hawaii, thanks to a 24-hour gym and a pool at the resort. Besides I made sure to stay away from those sumptuous Christmas goodies ensuring that my waist line remained intact which resorted to me munching on salads much to my husband’s aghast. I felt lighter and fitter as I left for the event on Sunday morning.

It was a 40-minute drive to San Francisco state parking from where the participants were to board the shuttle buses that would take them to the park. Shuttle tickets were to be bought in advance online.  Reaching the park at 6:40 am, I had 90 minutes to kill before my run commenced at 8:10 am. It was a huge area with stalls selling the hot chocolate merchandise. I sat down in one of them suddenly tired from the travel. I had woken up at 4:30 am to catch an uber from my home at Stanford at 5:15  and catch the shuttle at 6:00 am.

I could see a sea of purple streaming across the green grass, some of them being 5 k runners making their way to the start line as their race started at 7:15 am. I sat down observing people around me, a past time that I enjoyed if I wasn’t scrolling down my smart phone scanning for the latest news. Some of them were chatting gaily with their groups while some sat on the benches trying to relax themselves before the run.

It was soon time for my race as I slipped into my designated coral. Doing my warm ups, I braced up to give this run my best.  It was initially an uphill that greeted me followed by a number of downhills as I managed a steady 5:30 pace. I was going strong, passing by a pond with ducks swimming, some tufts of green grass and a windmill.  My watch showed 27 minutes once it touched the 5k mark. Not bad, I thought.

The next 5 km was at a gradual gradient and could not keep up the pace that I wished to. The pace kept flip flopping between 5:40 to 5:50. It was a beautiful route and we passed by the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The sun was not out that morning yet so the sea had a silvery appearance to it as it washed its foamy waves on the sandy shores. I turned and stared at the view before I crossed the 10k mark making my watch buzz as it displayed 57 minutes.

I was on track and all I had to do was keep a 6:00 pace for the next 5 km. I was going strong till 11km until fatigue overpowered my legs. To my dismay, it was a continuous uphill from thereon with only one small downhill.  I noticed other runners walking around me and decided to adopt the 10 seconds walk method. It worked and my legs no longer felt like jelly that was being heated to a pulp. Just 2.5 km I told myself, clenching my fists in determination and glancing at my watch fervently like that rabbit in Alice in wonderland which kept saying “I am late I am late’. The pace had slipped to 6:30 making my eyes pop in horror. No! I cried to myself. Not when I am so close to my target.  At that moment, I came across one of the aid stations which were serving marshmallows. I grabbed one greedily, popping it into my mouth and the sudden sugar rush upped the pace to 5:55.

Reaching the 14th km mark, I noticed 1:23 flashing on my watch and the uphill seemed to be never ending. The sub 1:30 was still within my grasp if I kept at a decent pace. The inclines were not going to make it easy but I will show them who is boss, I thought fiercely. After all I needed something to celebrate with that hot chocolate drink post the run. I wasn’t going to race at any more events for a while as the remaining events were trail runs where no person with a reasonably sane mind would want to take nature to task.

My legs were crying in pain reminding me of a similar feeling at the 36k mark during the standard chartered Mumbai marathon in 2013. I ignored them and kept going. It was one thing to run at a good pace on flat courses and another on grueling steady inclines that coiled like a snake, ready to raise its slimy head at any point. Fortunately, it was the caricature of the hot chocolate cup that greeted me as I neared towards the end of my run spotting the familiar arch to the finish line.

Hurrah! It was 1:29:49. Was expecting to finish in 1:27 but considering the terrain, I was thrilled at the outcome. Collecting the spectacular medal which was huge and shaped in the form of dark chocolate, I thought this was an ideal one for that famous runner’s bite post a race. Trudging long the park, I made my way towards the tents which were given out finisher mugs in blue color to the participants. Hot chocolate, fondue, marshmallows and cookies beamed out of the cup as I gulped the drink, saving the rest of the goodies for my 3-year-old daughter.

No doubt it had been a sweet start to the year but the course was far from being sweet. Probably that’s what made me relish the hot chocolate even more without worrying about the calories for once. I was glad of having run a good race as it would be a while before I put those legs of mine to torture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.