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The ultimate musings of a Frisbee

I weigh only 175 grams and that was apparently the reason why folks found it easy to throw me around. Sometimes they would fail to catch me and I would end up in a heap of sand, a pile of grass or a barren ground. Nevertheless it was only a short moment of euphoria when I would get to fly in the air.

I resigned and accepted this as a part of my life. A bane for being made out of plastic I suppose. A bunch of 14 individuals were constantly after me, waiting to grasp me in their tight grip so that they could score a point and jump with joy. And what did I get in return? Just a grand pose with me as the centre of attention after which I would be placed in the darkness of a grubby bag along with the pointed cones until someone decided they wanted another game. They called it Ultimate!

This morning I was at Juhu beach. I caught the glimpse of the waves and the rising sun which was just at the horizon. A group of runners were still learning the nuances of throwing and the game.  I soon found myself as a guinea pig among these newbies who were struggling to get a firm grip on me.

I was partly amused and partly bored. I wanted to soar high up in the air, be amidst the clouds and kiss the sun. On the contrary, here I was, being dropped constantly on the dirt laden sand scaring away the tiny crabs hidden beneath. After what seemed like ages, the game commenced. I soon heard the familiar stalling counts, people trying to grab me and tap me. Boy! I seemed to be the star attraction here but didn’t feel like it one bit.

I looked longingly at the birds who were stationed on the sand for a brief period before they took off on their flight. They darted partly curious partly sympathetic glances towards me-a circular looking white object oscillating between the sand and air.

Finally after what seemed like hours, I was put to rest and the photo session began. After being in the ‘spotlight’ for some time, I was tucked away with the stone-cold cones in a bag. I could hear the merry chatter and chirpy laughs outside.

A few words caught my attention as I listened intently. “I had a blast playing today. There was a lot of team spirit and enthusiasm.”  said a voice.  I  agree. It was super fun today. Made me forget everything”, said another voice. True”, remarked another voice. “Been having a bad time at home with a lot illnesses in the family. Today was a real breather from the stress induced atmosphere back home.”

The conversation turned animated after a while and it was apparent that these newbies had bonded well in just their first session.

Having overheard this talk, I was amazed to hear about such turnovers (pun intended) and felt that there was more to humans than what meets the eye. I also realised that there was probably more to my plastic self than I gave credit for.  Apparently I was some sort of an icebreaker, a tool to tap the inner child in adults and relive the fond memories of those carefree days. Maybe a stress buster for a short period to disengage grownups from the web of woes.

I often wondered what it was like to be human and longed to be one amongst the clan- possess the ability to talk, cry and laugh out loud like those voices. Just being regarded as a circular plastic object led to feelings of exasperation many a time until today when I realised I was more than that.

I may be thrown, passed around, hurled high in the air but that was probably what held people together-at least the ones playing the game. I may be tucked away in a bag, but at least I wasn’t trapped by the several demons, complexities and troubles that humans were always running away from.

I realised that being made of plastic had its own power-that of being a stress buster tool which instilled a sense of joy, team spirit and togetherness. And that’s what ultimately mattered. No wonder- that’s probably the reason why I am called the Ultimate Frisbee!!

 

The Grand opening- on inaugural promo run of the IDBI Federal life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon

Thronging crowds and happy feet,

The mood was certainly upbeat.

All roads led to Bandra fort,

As a certain event held forth.

A Sunday much awaited by many,

Besides being Easter, the festive spirit was uncanny.

 

Zumba music filled the air,

As runners swayed without any care.

Being a year since it was born,

It was the inaugural promo run of the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon.

 

This was one such run,

Which was bordered on fun.

No stress, no fees

Only smiles and free tees.

 

Strides dominated the roads,

As the runner folks were in hoards.

Patter Patter they went in rhythm,

With a friendly shout or a song they would hymn.

 

Not being a race,

There was no pressure of pace.

One could pose in ease

An opportunity photographers could seize.

 

With adequate volunteers and water,

Humidity was ignored by bouts of laughter.

Reaching the venue as a happy thread,

They looked forward to breakfast which was a bountiful spread.

 

Wada Pav, poha and sheera,

A sweet considered by runners so dear.

Followed by cups of coffee and tea,

It was a morning filled with joy and glee.

 

What more could one ask for?

To make the spirits further soar?

This is just the start,

So runners needn’t lose heart.

 

Being just the beginning,

Folks can continue grinning.

As there will be many such promos which are a must

As a line up to the D day on 20th August!

 

Friday the thirteenth

After finishing 10 km on Worli sea face, I kept going strong and soon found myself near Haji Ali, just before the ascent at Peddar road. I almost tripped over something only to find that my shoe laces were out of place again. I sighed as I bent down to tie them. As I geared up to run on those slopes, I found my feet frozen to the ground refusing to move an inch further. It felt like some unseen godforsaken force had chained me to its grip refusing to let me progress ahead in the race. Hoping that a prayer to the almighty would help, I glanced towards Haji Ali only to find a shapeless looming black shadow in its place. I gasped in fright as I looked around. Everyone seemed to be running at their own pace oblivious to what was happening to me. ApparentIy none noticed anything absurd. I looked at the dark shadow which was edging closer. All on a sudden my throat was clasped by an invisible hand. I let out a blood curdling scream as I felt a hand patting me hard.

Mamma get up’ said a voice. I woke up in a fright. It was my daughter Samara nudging me with great fervour.

It was morning already. Sweating profusely, I went to splash my face with cold water. As I glanced into the mirror, a dishevelled face with dark circles under the eyes looked back at me. It was the perfect look if someone had to cast me as an evil spirit in a horror flick. Probably conjuring part 3 ..

As I walked into the hall, my hubby glanced at me in a sympathetic manner. “You look tired”, he exclaimed. I sighed and grabbed the newspaper, hoping to calm my jittery nerves.

As I glanced at the front page, it said January 13th, Friday.

It was Friday the thirteenth. I gave a faint smile and shook my head.

That explained the weird nightmare!

Head over heart- An unexpected learning

Are you crazy? Do you want to run in this condition? What’s wrong with you?” my head remarked in a scornful manner.

My heart hung its head down. “Yes I know.” it said feebly

It was the eve of the most awaited event of the year –the Standard chartered Mumbai marathon (SCMM). Several months of hard work, sweat and blood went into preparing for this one. I was no exception and had given it all in my training be it running, strength or cross training.

Unfortunately things took a different turn as a sudden bout of viral invaded my body on Friday the 13th, leading me to feel nauseous, feverish and giddy. A strong dose of medication made me feel better by Saturday evening. However my doctor’s voice echoed in my head, “I don’t want you doing a Dr. Rakesh Sinha on me.(a doctor marathoner who collapsed recently while training) Only if you feel absolutely fine you run but run slow and do NOT race.

On Saturday midnight, I threw up twice much to my aghast. I leaned back on my bed exhausted looking at my bib, pinned on my black puma T shirt. It was the right choice albeit a tough one. I had to summon my courage to let me stick to this one firmly while my head and my heart were engaged in a fierce tussle.

“You are defying 3 rules of running here.” my head continued pompously. “1. Hydration: Your droopy face looks like you need an entire ocean to restore life back into it. 2. Energy: At the moment you look so malnourished that you can barely walk a km leave alone running one. 3. Rest and sleep: You have been up since midnight and there is no way you can run with a sleep deprived body. Do you plan on sleep walking the entire 21 km and fainting later on?

My heart opened its mouth to protest but my head continued to speak,”

Trust me. It’s not advisable to run. You run for health and fitness. Your livelihood is not dependent on the same. Why stress? It’s ok to miss one event and it’s not the end of the world. You keep saying health is wealth. You will be defying your own philosophy putting your health in jeopardy. You may think you can run but who knows, what will happen out there. What if you faint or collapse? It will be an absolute nightmare. “

My heart nodded and looked down in silence.

My head said gently, “I know what you are thinking.” You have trained hard, taken extra precautions with your diet by eating only home cooked meals, avoided weight training, swimming, rested well and why should this viral attack you now, right? Your friends are running this one, you will miss meeting them, the mandatory clicks, post-race breakfast, etc etc.. Yes I completely understand and empathise. It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. You have been as sincere as ever but sometimes things are not in our control. Some things happen for a good reason but we don’t realize it at that time.

My heart listened intently as my head kept talking.

“Look, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. It requires immense courage to take this decision probably more than what is required while you indulged in all those adventure sports in the past. But it’s all for the good. Yes it will hurt initially but it will benefit you in the long run (pun intended). You want to keep running strong, injury free and lifelong don’t you?

My heart nodded meekly.

“Then this is for the best. You will have plenty of opportunities to run, race and meet your friends. By letting go of this one event, you are blessing yourself with years of running. Think about it. You don’t want to land up in the hospital do you and have people reprimand you saying you should not have run. You know that was the wrong choice. You know your body well enough. You have always listened to it. If your body says no, then it means you are not ready to run forget racing.

My heart sighed and said, “You are right. I have to take this call and it’s for my own good.”

“You are doing the right thing. Trust me, by next week, you will be back to your form. Just keep listening to me. I will guide you in the right direction. You need to be strong. One day when those legs whine and sulk, it’s up to you to take us to the finish line in style. Remember the runners keep saying, if your legs fail you, run with your heart. So brace up my friend.” my head replied.

The choice was made and I decided to skip the event of the year. Sometimes it helps to step back and make a tough decision as it tends to bring a lot of things into perspective. It enabled me to see that every person is different with regards to body type, speed, strengths, and drawbacks and possess their own approach to running a race, including that of my running partner. It may not be advisable to emulate anybody but to dwell on your own strengths and work on your weaknesses. It also made me reflect and redefine my goals while speaking to my mentor/coach on the same as I gear up towards a good year ahead.

I have considered every run as a learning experience. For the first time, I learnt a lot by not running a race. However there are many more races in the offing and as a famous poet has said there is miles to go before you sleep!!

 

Run on Home turf- the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai half marathon experience

Being residents of Colaba/Cuffe parade for the last ten years, the iconic landmarks such as the Gateway of India, Taj Mahal Hotel, Oval Maidan and Marine drive always caught our fancy whenever we would go cycling or do our long runs. It made us wonder why a marathon could not be organised in this part of town. Of course the famous Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon did take us through the route of Marine Drive. However besides that there wasn’t any other race conducted around this area. Little did we realize that our wish would be granted soon.

In April 2016, we got to hear that a marathon was being held in South Mumbai by Nagaraj Adiga along with an accomplished and well known couple in the running circuit- Sunil Shetty and Sangeeta Shetty. The several promo runs organised in different parts of the city gave us a preview of what runners could expect from the main event which was to be held on August 21st. We signed up for it instantly.

The IDBI Federal Life insurance Mumbai half marathon as it is called, commenced at 5:45 am from Oval Maidan. For once we had the luxury of waking up at leisure, instead of the usual 3:00 am routine that we were normally accustomed to while doing other events. It was not more than a couple of km away from our residence and we were excited at the prospect of running in our own backyard.

It was the usual camaraderie of cheerful greetings and chirpy chatter with our fellow runners as we assembled near the start line. All on a sudden, shouts of “Sachin Sachin” filled the air, taking us back to the Wankhede stadium during the IPL and other matches. As we looked up, we were thrilled to see the renowned Indian Cricketer wave to us from the side stage. It sort of gave us that initial boost in our strides as we geared up to conquer the lanes of SOBO (South Bombay).   Now at the start of the race, my running partner cum husband-Amit had suggested that we follow the 2 hour bus to which I raised my eyebrows doubtfully but finally relented to keep pace as long as I could.

The route took us through the lanes of Colaba where we were sandwiched between the intimidating Gateway of India & the alluring Taj Mahal Palace hotel. A wave of nostalgia took over as our previous residence was very close to the Gateway of India. We soon ventured into Colaba causeway-a place where the famous Cafe Mondegar and Leopold were located.  We proceeded towards Cuffe Parade-my current neighbourhood where we crossed the Taj President Hotel generic celebrex.

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As the minutes ticked by, the humidity levels soared with the rains doing their disappearing act. It was clear that the weather Gods were in no mood to relent. The pacer was well within my sight till about 8 km after which the heat took a toll on my body which was just recovering from the gruelling Durshet Forest half marathon which I had run just 2 weeks ago. Fortunately the aid stations at every kilometre mark came to our rescue as the volunteers fervently handed over water and enerzals, boosting the runners’ energy levels along with the much needed morale. “Bless them” I thought to myself. “If we achieve our goals and target in a race, it’s all because of these selfless souls who aid us through the entire journey.”

As we turned at a particular juncture, I caught sight of a few fellow runners and greeted them with a smile and a wave. Somehow it gave me a sense of comfort that I wasn’t alone in this arduous journey to the finish line which made me stronger. I decided to focus on my strides, determined not to be bogged down by the warm weather and turned up the volume of my ipod speakers a notch higher.

We soon reached NCPA to run along Marine drive- reminding me of all my practice runs here, ever since I took up running. Surprisingly the usually cool sea breeze decided to elude us as well and the oppressive climate was showing no signs of mercy.  As far as I was concerned, it was war. My strides were strong and I wasn’t about to let Mr. Sun play spoilsport to my rhythmic strides. “Now look” I told myself.  “You have run this route before-be it peak summers, humid conditions and chill winters. You own this road and nothing can stop you unless you want it to.”

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I swung my arms furiously, ran along Marine drive and turned at Wilson College. This stretch reminded me of the last 4 km of the SCMM route. “Alright, I can do this”. I said to myself. Every time I crossed a kilometre mark, I would silently cheer. I soon reached the Intercontinental Hotel which was to my right and it was just a km to go from there on.

Something snapped inside me at that point as I suddenly recollected the words of my coach- Samir Singh. “When you see that finish line, give it all you have and finish strong.” I increased my pace and started sprinting, oblivious to everything else but the finish line. “The final leg of the war”, I thought. The timing mat was visible and with just a few strides, I finally embraced the finish line in a strong manner.

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I sat down, suddenly feeling drained of all my resources, managing to finish in a decent time of 2:11. I must have looked dazed and zonked as a few of my runner friends Manasi, Rupal and Rodman asked me if I was fine. I nodded my head. Spotting Ashok Sir with his camera, I smiled and posed weakly. I vaguely remember Sunil Shetty-the organiser tapping me on the shoulder as I turned to congratulate him on a well conducted event.

After regaining my energy levels, I collected my medal, met my runner friends, clicked the customary photographs and headed towards breakfast which was a lavish buffet spread of Poha, Upma, Sheera and wada Pav.

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As I left the ground, I realised that being on home turf, this race had ended up being a psychological battle more than anything, considering the tough conditions we were subjected to and despite being given a beautiful and most importantly a flat track.

Thank you Nagaraj Adiga, Sunil Shetty and Sangeeta Shetty for a well organised event, the breakfast which catered to our famished appetites, volunteers for their unconditional support and the photographers for making every race memorable.

 

 

The Green carpet welcome- the Durshet Forest marathon experience

    Beauty always comes at a price. Little did we realise that this exorbitant price would involve steep slopes and slushy mud paths where every step had to be watched with a hawk’s eye.

This was our second time at the Durshet Forest marathon. Situated at Khopoli, about 8.6 km from Adlabs imagica, it was just an hour and a half hour drive from Mumbai in the wee hours of the morning. Accompanied by our two runner buddies Rodman and Sunil Talwar, we headed towards the Durshet Forest lodge, indulging in animated chatter throughout the journey.

It was a carnival like atmosphere when we reached there. Meeting our runner buddies felt a tad more special, considering it was friendship day which was followed by warm hugs and cheerful hi fives. Some of our pals were doing a relaxed 10 km while my hubby and I, along a few others opted for the 21 km. The 32 km race had already commenced an hour back.  We assembled near the start line, waiting for the flag off.

At 7:00 am sharp we set off, the initial 200 metres being a downhill start, before setting foot on the tar roads for about 2km, after which the smooth roads paved way to an uneven terrain of rocky pathways and rolling hills.  The unmistakable cascade of greenery was a visual treat to our eyes and it literally felt like a green carpet welcome. The mystical woods looked even more beautiful in the monsoons with the streams gushing gently on either side.

As we continued our strides, we soon encountered muddy slushes-an after effect of the torrid rains the day before. Added to which, the humidity levels soared with not a speck of rain that particular day.

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Now running on the roads was one thing and running on pebbly pathways where a slip and a fall could result in a severely bruised knee, was a different thing altogether. It seemed to zap our energy levels to an extent that we were drained after 5 km.  Fortunately there were aid stations with volunteers at every kilometre mark, handing over water, enerzal and bananas. A sip of enerzal did wonders as we prepared ourselves for a long road ahead.

At the 7th km, we were greeted by a steep gigantic slope. I remember staggering up this incline like an old woman with a hunchback, last year. However this time, I fought my mental block and ran up fiercely, determined not to let the hill get the better of me. The village folk cheered us on as we turned at the 8 km mark and descended downhill, encouraging our fellow runners who were struggling with this monstrous incline.

I relaxed and decided to bask in the beauty of the surroundings. Running in the forest tends to remind me of stories that I have read during my childhood. The pebbles on the muddy route took me back to the story of Hansel and Gretel, where Hansel left a trail of the same to get back to his cottage from the woods.  I spotted a huge tree at a distance which traced me back to the magic faraway tree story with its queer folk of pixies, elves and gnomes residing in it. Just as I was smiling at these pleasant memories, we were asked to turn back and follow the loop up to that horrid slope again.

The 21 km route had apparently changed from the previous edition. I stared in disbelief and managed to conquer that incline once again and came gliding down smoothly, subsumed again in my thoughts about the peculiar creatures from Grimm Brother’s fairy tales and Enid Blyton. It certainly helped in taking my mind off the tough conditions that we were subjected to.

As we ran along further, I imagined the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland popping up and me posing a question to it- “How far do I have to go?” To which I get a reply, “It depends on where you want to go”. I persist saying “To the finish line please” to which pat comes the reply “Then you will just have to keep going.” My eyes blinked as my garmin buzzed at the 16 km mark. “Well just 5 km more to go”, I comforted myself.

We soon spotted the tar roads and bid goodbye to the woods. I picked up pace and continued my strides  when my garmin buzzed a 21 km at 2:18.   I stared at it in confusion as the finish line seemed a good stretch away. Nevertheless I put my best foot forward, ran like a person possessed and finally came to the 200 metres uphill stretch to the end zone. I glanced at my watch which showed 21.87 in 2:24 at 6.3 pace.

After collecting our medals and doing the customary poses, we headed towards the breakfast area which served poha, sheera and upma- sufficient to cater to our famished appetites. While discussing the run, it was apparent that the route was stretched a little further according to everybody’s garmin and the 21 km was certainly tougher than that of the previous edition.

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Durshet Forest Marathon was a well-organized event with its cheerful bunch of volunteers and photographers. It guaranteed me of being amidst natures surroundings with its resplendent beauty. Yet it also offers its intimidating stance about not being easy to conquer nature’s abode.

A fraction of a second led me to wonder if I was probably safer, signing up for city marathons where one needn’t tread on uneven surfaces or be appalled by the timing. However I realised that stepping out of your comfort zone and taking up such challenges moulds your mind into that of a stronger person.

I may not have bagged a podium or my personal best with regards to timing which certainly is not in my priority list when I run a race. But I have certainly emerged as a tougher person, managing to finish 6th overall.

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It is the journey which ultimately matters as I pen each moment down with immense fervour, as a record of one of life’s greater experiences.

Thank you Run buddies for a wonderful experience and a great event!

 

 

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!

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!