Monday, January 23, 2017

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

I thought I was done with the Marathon post, but I decided to put together some learning and some stuff that I need to change before I attempt another marathon.

The Good
  • Coach Kumar was a blessing.  A positive person and an expert in Marathons, he was following up on us like crazy and he was so accessible.  On days that I couldn't practice, especially during the Christmas time, I was a little apprehensive to face him.  
    The coach with the girls during one of our practice runs
  •  Practicing  and running with friends who had a common goal helped.  We were very clear on the race day that we will run our own race.  We did not let each other pressurize ourselves, or bog one another down.
  • I ran the entire 10km.  No mean feat this.  happy for myself.
  • We did a lot of reading and kept ourselves informed about the techniques for running, postures, mudra for aiding meditation and concentration, the diet, strength training exercises, warm up and warm down activities. We practiced some of them during our trial runs like the postures and the Gyan mudra.  Sent each other what we read and since all of us were doing it was four fold and before running we would have scored full marks in theory.
  • We all reached an hour in advance, had time for work-outs and loved the frenzy  of the other runners.  I had laid out my running clothes, attached the bib, practiced in the new shoe that I was to run, hydrated myself enough the previous two days, carb-loaded myself and was all set mentally and physically.
  • The magic of cheering and appreciation unfolded in front of my eyes – there were people cheering the runners all though the way.  I waved to them and loudly thanked them for standing there and cheering us.  I met an old couple well past 85 cheering for the runners, a Pomeranian owner was holding his dogs palm and waving to us.  I asked for the name, intending to hear the dog’s name, and he said, my name is Chakravarthy, you can call me Uncle.  ( all this while I was running ).
  •  While on the note of cheering, there were a group of special children who were playing music just near Madhya Kailash.  I crossed the running crowd towards them to thank them and they could not even acknowledge or smile at me.  That made me tear up. 
  • The event was organised well with the route maps and milestones completed for all the marathoners – the ones running 10k, HM and FM.  So whenever I saw the hoarding for completion of every kilometer, I cheered myself.  At the 7th km, I had missed the hoarding, but I heard a runner say that we had just crossed 7th km.  I started clapping as I was running, and the runners around me looked very surprised.  I told them I am cheering myself and the set of people around me clapped and said, we would also cheer you.  That instant camaraderie of marathoners – priceless
  • A septuagenarian was running in front of me, with this tag “ Marathoners last longer”
  • It was always difficult for me to find myself in a crowd.  This run was different.  I could complete a Divine mercy Rosary between the 2nd and 3rd km and was mighty thrilled to find inner peace, while being in a huge crowd and yet focus on my prayer.
  • A friend who kept following up on my practice runs, once wasn't happy that I missed it and messaged me saying “ You will be assigned a water station on the marathon day”.  Every time I crossed a water station, I was reminded of the comment and I did laugh out loud ( not that I needed a water station to get reminded of this friend, but yet) 
 The Bad
  • I was so damn anxious, that in spite of going to bed by 10pm, I must have fallen asleep only after 12 in the night.  I can get overly excited about little things and Marathon was no exception.  I should learn to sleep well the previous night of the marathon.
  • The marathon was on the second day of my periods and that slowed me down quite a bit.  It definitely was a mental block, but I am glad I overcame it.  There was nothing I could have done about it. Every muscle, every joint in my body ached, but it could not bring down my post run kick J.  That reminds me, I felt giddy after the run. 
  • I didn't want to eat anything heavy before the run, so I drank water and ate a couple of bananas.  Since we started pretty early 5.30 am in the morning, by the time I finished the run, I was famished, could have also been the reason for my giddiness. 
  • The timing 1 hour 45 mins and 2 secs needs to improve. Need to practice more.
The Ugly
  •  I will not definitely repeat this mistake.  Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea Maxima culpa.     Call it a girls’ Woman's fetish.  The normal walking shoes that I am comfortable in is something that I am using for more than a year.  I have another pair shoes which fits me snugly, A 7 and a half size from US and I have used it during my long flights.   Most importantly it was black and matches my walking pants that I planned to wear on the Marathon day.  The costume had to sync up right – Woman’s fetish?  I practiced my walk in it before the marathon, not the entire 10km though and I did not run in it.  So when I started the run on the D-day, all was well till the 4th and the 5th km.  But after that the shoes started pinching my toes and it started getting painful.  Every step that i took my 3 little toes on both the legs started hurting incrementally.  But remember what I told myself?  Unless you faint….  I kept at the run.  The result?  Shoes pinched me so hard, that 2 of my toenails have fallen off and it still hurts.  Ahem.  I can be awfully stupid too.    Never again will I ditch my walking shoes for cosmetic reasons.  By the way, the pain couldn't wipe my smile off at any point in time during the run. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

My first 10km Marathon

 Woohooo….  Yes I completed my first 10 K Marathon.   I cannot believe I have done it.  Yet, it is true. From a person panting for breath if I ran 10 feet together, running all the 10 kms for a marathon, I have come a long way!

It all started with the early morning regular walks that I have been consistent at  ( at least one claim to fame ).   Now that I have been at it for the last 3 years, and I do not miss out an opportunity to talk about it, the moment someone starts about exercise or fitness routine.  Talking about my walking routine, may sound like self-praise, but in essence the more I make it public, the difficult it is for me to back out – great technique.  Try it with your inconsistencies and see what miracles it can bring about. 

I should thank my friend Sudha who tells me often, that I am doing the most difficult of stuff like walking every day.  I started believing her when she followed my footsteps and started the walking habit. I felt that I had to continue this habit, to ensure she stays inspired.

It was during this time, I got to know that Kumar who works in my organisation, in the same premise and  in the same floor as mine, is a marathon runner.  He had done 4 full marathons and more than 10 half Marathons.  During our corridor / water cooler conversations I got to know more about his marathons and when this Wipro Chennai Marathon was announced sometime in September, Sudha and I decided to enrol.  Kumar was encouraging and was generous with his tips on how to practice for a marathon and how different it is from walking. 

During one such tips session,  we rechristened Kumar as Coach Kumar.  I have to tell you all this about Kumar – when I first met Kumar, he had a nice little pigtail and I loved it.  None of my friends till then had sported a pigtail and I thought he looked quite modern and savvy.  Not many men can carry it well enough and Kumar kind of managed it well.  And these days, Coach Kumar sports a man bun and he continues to be the only man in my organisation who I can ogle at :-) :-) didn’t I digress there and divulge a big secret?  I hope Kumar does not read this he he he…

We also kind of forced him to come to the walking trail that I go to, to train us for the marathon.  Coach kumar didn’t have much choice – we kind of bulldozed him to be our coach and also garnered more women power  by adding 3 more women to our marathon group.  Coach Kumar was a sweetheart and he came with us every Saturday for the practice run.  4 women and coaching us could have been a nightmare for him.  He started with the 1 minute run and 1 minute walk routine.  This was moved to higher sprints of running and lesser walking.  The first few weeks were only 6k running and walking and the last few weeks we started doing the 10 k walking  and running. 

Coach kept us motivated, shared his own running experiences and his friends’ experiences.  He continued being part of his own group of runners “Pillar Pacers”, practising on Sundays for his full marathon, but yet found time to coach us on Saturdays for the last 3 months. 

The Marathon originally was scheduled on December 11th 2016, but cyclone Vardah made sure that it was postponed to 8th of January 2017.  Coach could not join us as his Full Marathon was flagged off at 4.30 am and ours started at 7.30 am.

The running itself, the frenzied running crowds, the people who were cheering the runners, the pacers, the sun, the roads of my city – it was nothing less than a fantastic experience.  Months of training, pain, perseverance, rising against your own will all culminated into one thought for me on 8th of January.   RUN VINCY RUN.   I told myself, unless you faint, you will not stop running.  I enjoyed the sights, thanked the volunteers, people cheering the runners, musicians playing loud music along the way, the adrelanine rush when the tagline of Wipro Chennai Marathon “Gummthalakadi Gummava, Chennainna Summava!!” was played (sorry to those who do not understand Tamil, this is not a phrase but an emotion & cannot be translated ) – I took it all in savoured every moment of it and ran the entire 10 km.  Most importantly with a broad smile.

I completed my first 10 K in 1 hour 45 mins and 2 secs.   Not a great timing, but to me it is incredible that i even attempted it.

Like I mentioned in FB after posting the Marathon pictures, “Strength does not come from doing what you can, but from overcoming stuff that you thought you cannot do”

The warm-up stretches before the run

The four of us who trained together at the starting point Napier's Bridge as soon as we arrived
picture clicked while running on Adyar bridge - notice the sea of Runners in front of me.

With Karthik TM, my friend, of EVAM theater fame.  He was the pacer for us.  Can you believe he ran in a Panchagajam?

The Medal

every muscle aching - but the smile says it all

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Going back in Time

During a chat with a long time friend and a soul mate, a very uncomfortable topic cropped up and my friend accused me of coming to conclusion without sufficient  accurate data.  I was certain about the topic in discussion and I also remembered a post I had scribbled on the topic years back.

In the pursuit of hunting down that post, I starting going back to my old blog posts. And I did find the post which had additional data points that supported my case with the friend I was having the chat with and I also clarified later, but it definitely ruffled some peace of my mind over stuff that I had pushed away to an irretrievable nook of my memory.


The best part of going through the posts was to remember and relive the past experiences. While reading certain blog posts it was amazing to see the emotions they evoked -  some sweet memories, some bitter and sometimes a  mix of  both. Couple of posts on my grandmom choked me a bit and some brought tears ( Like many women, I seem to have a never ending stream of it stashed away somewhere). A little time travel back upto 2006 and boom I came up on this post here.

For those who do want to take the trouble of going to the link, here is a synopsis.  My first trip to Australia back in 2006, was searching for a catholic church to go for my Sunday mass.  Google maps and GPS were alien to me those days and people around weren't familiar with a catholic church.  I counted on divine mercy and the lord showed up gloriously through a bright green rosary along with an Lebanese lady called Lorraine and she ended up gifting the rosary to me saying, the Lord wants me to give it to you.

This story is a simple memory of the past grace that I received from my maker.  The story of my maker answering me when I called out to him in despair.

And I here is the picture of Lorraine ( with her rosary) and me near Paramatta river, in Sydney.
Notice Lorainne's Rosary how visible it is? 
And here is the same rosary gifted to me, by Lorainne, that I use even today after almost 11 years in memory of that grace. 

The Rosary that Lorainne gifted me, 11 years old now.

And I love the fact that this space helps me to travel back in time. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Old ends and New Begins

I hope everyone has cheered the new year 2017 in,  and I know I am a few days late, but better late than never, right?

The last post I remember was just before Christmas and after that was family time for us at home.  Celebrations, Choirs, get to-gether's, dinners, partying, gifts, surprises what not.  I actually felt the need for a couple of days of holidays after the last week of the year, ( in which I was officially on leave).

Starting with the fun of a dear friend from a different city listening in  to the Christmas Choir which came home, to the huge  surprise of Joe dropping in home 12 hours early driving through the night from Cochin, packing gifts for family to the Christmas Mass where the priest almost called everyone's name during sermon and asked individual questions embarrassing most parishioners, getting together as a family where we siblings and our spouses having a whale of time partying together,  the holidays just vanished in a jiffy. Left with the feeling that we didn't get enough time with each other.

And suddenly you know, it was time to start a whole year anew and to trust in the magic of beginnings.

New year as usual was at Church.  We, as a family have been at church every new year, since I remember, a practice our parents have got us into, thanking the Lord for every blessing bestowed in the year gone by and entrusting the new year into his safe custody.  This year we were part of the New Year mass of the most famous Edapally church at Cochin.

So, here's wishing all of you, an awesome year than all the years before.  God bless.

And before I leave here is a picture of three of us taken during the Christmas holidays.