Toughest Eight Minutes Ride !!


It’s a general human tendency to think that their problem is by far the biggest of all. There are numerous things in a day we worry about. Things such as tough meeting with your boss,unrecognized, mails sent without spell check, missed credit card payment, being rejected, getting sick, shedding hair, wearing a wrong outfit, eating high calorie food, bad traffic, not eating at regular intervals, missed workouts etc etc. can cause enough heart burns to us. What looks like a gigantic issues would diminish in no time when we read ,hear or see others problems. We have enough reasons to be considered blessed and fortunate to have the things we have.

It was a biting cold in Hartford, CT yesterday( Jan 6th). After yet another long day at work, my colleague and I was getting back to hotel in the shuttle. The ride was about 8 minutes to hotel and that was one of the toughest 8 mins ride for me!!

It took no time for me to notice that the driver was a very cheerful and energetic guy, who probably was in his early 30’s. My colleague knew the driver well and so he started the conversation asking about his Christmas and New year celebrations.The driver said that this was the best Christmas ever ! Great !! It was dark in the van but I could still see the sparkle in his eyes when he said that. He said his best part of the holidays was spent holding his beautiful baby girl in his arms. He watched her non stop admiring her beauty while she was on the nap. He played with her and captured those precious moments in his heart. He said he didn’t want to let any moment go. He would get her off the crib to put beside him in the night. She would slide over cuddling close to him with her head on his shoulders,I guessed it must be the safest place for the little baby. I asked if he is a new dad and if it’s his first child. He said he is a new father and it’s his 3rd child.I asked how old his older kids are for which he paused for a moment and said he has lost both of them. I so far was enjoying his beautiful narration was taken back for a moment. I was shell- shocked with what he just told. “Lost” would mean many things to me and I didn’t want to assume what supposed to be the obvious. Looking at my shocked face he smiled as if to console me and said he lost all of them and they are with the god. There was absolute silence in the van. The heater was turned on but I was feeling colder than ever before.He said his first baby girl came out early( premature baby) and lasted only three months. My mind traveled at the speed of light and compiled all the memories he would have amassed over those three months. All the pieces started coming together now for me ; He endlessly playing with her or holding her as tight as he can or staring at her when is on nap. The tragedy struck the family again. His wife conceived again and there was joy in the family again. However the joy didn’t last long as the fetus had lost its life before even seeing the light. They were told during their seventh month ultrasound that the fetus had lost the heartbeat. I had goosebumps all over me just thinking about what they would have gone through. He said the most challenging part was to carry the lifeless fetus in her womb for next seven days as they had to wait for the surgery to be scheduled. This happened during Christmas season !! Now things were as clear as water for me. The father was holding the baby as tight as he can knowing the previous one had gone during the same time ! uff, Life seems so cruel but not for this couple.

This couple lost babies but they never lost their hope. He said they never cursed god even for a day. They knew everything happens for a reason. My colleague said that life is unfair for good people for which the father’s response astonished me. He said it depends on how good we are in the eyes of god. Because God is so perfect, he expects us to be perfect and as none of us are perfect we need the help of the god. In simple terms he had explained the whole existence of god and belief. He went on to say that god does test our faith to make us stronger. By giving us the challenges he takes us closer to him through our “Faith”. This keeps us grounded and help us to become better human beings.

He thinks he is blessed and is extremely thankful to god for his third baby being healthy, strong and intelligent. She is 5 months old now and celebrated her first Christmas with lots of love and affection from family and friends. There was spark in his eyes when he said his daughter is strong and very beautiful. He is very confident that she will become very successful in life. I have no doubt in that knowing how strong her parents are !!

Our eyes were wet as we got off the shuttle. My supposedly mighty problems had gone in the wind as I listened to his story.

He promised to show his daughter’s picture when we meet the next time. I can’t wait to see his lucky charm, The beautiful girl.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark – Rabindranath Tagore

 

Western Caribbean Cruise trav·e·logue


Here is an attempt to share my recent cruise experience as many people wanted to know how it was traveling with an infant. You can make your cruise a very pleasant experience if you could execute your plan well.Vacation with an infant certainly comes with its own challenges. You are bound to come across unexpected situations with kids(infant)around. Relax and tell yourself that it’s your vacation and you would make all possible attempts to make it a memorable one. Even a pinch of irritation may lead to cascading negative effects and eventually your trip can be a spoiler. So make your honest attempt to stay cool and try to get the best out of your vacation. Cruise is indeed a great opportunity to getaway from work and spend quality time with your family. It’s a merry if you are traveling with a group – bigger the better for the cruise. Unlike those vacations to popular destinations where you have a laundry list of places to check off which can be little stressful with the infants, cruises offer a very relaxing schedule. You have everything on board such as the finest dining places, pool, shopping, child care, shows, movies, fitness, basketball, casinos, live music, games etc. and if you feel like doing nothing you can always relax in your stateroom or one of the decks with the unlimited ocean views. So for those who are thinking for your kids to grow up little before you cruise,I would say reconsider. children of all ages enjoy cruise. 20151214_132827There is always something for everyone on board. However, note that the cruise line we sailed didn’t had the child care facility for kids under 3 years. So if you are planning for any activities just for yourself then it may not be possible. Also I noticed that certain shows may be very loud so it may not be suitable to go with your little ones. We took our infant to some shows while she was napping, but at times loud sound would scare her so unfortunately either me or my wife had to leave with the kid from the theater. However good the show is you have to be ready to give up.This adjustments are needed when you are traveling with the infant. Weighing all the pros and cons of traveling with the infant(or kids), I would still vote for cruise.I’m not exaggerating but I think It’s a bliss to cruise. Imagine the luxury of having all your favorite cuisines on board. Throughout your stay on the ship the fact that you don’t have to go find a place for your breakfast,lunch or dinner is indeed a big relief. 20151213_221456 20151213_185855You do have restaurant which are open 24 hours in the ship! Whether you choose a free style buffet or a formal dining, Cruise has it. Norwegian Star, the ship we sailed features 14 delicious dining options, a sprawling spa, an always-exciting casino, plus tons of fun for kids of every age. The 1083 ship crew would make sure that you have a pleasant stay throughout. The hospitality of the cruise staff would amaze you. I bet you would be little perturbed once your cruise vacation comes to an end. That’s the impact of cruise vacation on you.

There is always something for everyone in the cruise. Go through the event scheduler placed in your room and plan your day accordingly.Even though you wish to,you may not be able to make it to all the events as some events will be happening in parallel. So you have to choose the events based on your interest level. children of age 3 and above would find the cruise to be extremely entertaining. Their favorite places are the pool and children’s play area and of course the variety of shows exclusively designed for them. My six-year-old kid made lot of friends in the cruise. She always had a company in the pool, play area,Theater or in the dining place. If you are not with the group but just with your family, don’t be surprised as you are not alone. You would see a lot of families coming by themselves. Get to know the families and help your kids make friends. We happened to make friends with four different families and kids played along very well. We usually coordinated with these families for shows,pool,play area or dinner so kids had the companionship.20151216_173605However fussy eaters they are at home you would be pleasantly surprised to see they tasting the variety of foods,desserts and ice creams.I found Marketplace(Buffet place) to be lot convenient with the children as we didn’t have to wait for the food to be served. Also you get to try different types of food here as opposed to ordering from the menu in the formal dining place. You would be surprised that there are tons of vegetarian options. Well marked signboards in the buffet place was very helpful.See in the below pic. labels marked with Green means it is Vegetarian.20151213_185507A knowledgeable staff was always willing to help when I was staring at the food with my confused look. Seems like they been dealing with lot of vegetarians in the cruise. I also noticed that majority of the cruise staff were of Indian and Philippines origin. Apparently they are staffed through the agencies in these countries with a 8 months contracts and possible extensions. Most of them I spoke to have served their 3rd or 4th contracts with the company. They always looked cheerful and friendly.Also some of them were very talented and we witnessed it in a show exclusively performed by the staff. Their singing/dancing skills or other talents were no less to a professional artists.20151213_191826There was professional artists on board and we watched some exquisite shows. Me and my wife even managed to get our daily workouts. I had a goal of 6.25 miles everyday so whatever time it was I managed to get my workout done.I worked it out around other schedules without making it the center of attention. Our nine month baby was extremely cooperative which made our vacation even more pleasant. We ensured that she was getting her naps and food on time. When you are traveling with the infant make sure that you are carrying enough baby supplies with you as you may not find it on board. We carried more than needed baby food(Gerber), Baby water, Formulas, Bibs, Mixing bowls, Cereals, Diapers, Wipes, Diaper rash cream, Medicines,Dresses, Blanket,Toys etc. The little one was thrilled to try yogurt,Jello and some easily digestible foods.

We had 4 days of shore excursions and glad that we managed to do sightseeing on all the days. We were leaving for the shore excursions without any rush and be back by 4ish. All planned according to kids schedule thus didn’t book any shore excursions through the cruise line. We traveled around the island in the taxis and thus beat the heat. Most of the days we were on the beach. Fortunately all the beaches we went to had nice shades making it very comfortable. Our little girl was happy to nap in the hammock with the nice breeze coming along and the soothing sound of the ocean. 20151217_142945It was feel at home for her as she is used to ocean(water) sound when she sleeps. One of us would watch her while the other would go and play with the older one.

Overall, Cruise is a great experience and not to be missed. if you are thinking of not doing it now because your kids are still very young then I would strongly recommend you to reconsider. There are definitely things for everyone to do.With Infants, Toddlers, Kids, Preteen,Teen, adult or old, I think cruise is more relaxing compared to regular travels for sightseeing. However it is subjective to individuals interest level.

I’m thinking of doing my next cruise in 2017. Happy cruising !

Our Itinerary.

Day 0  – Left from Chicago to Orlando. 2015-12-12 10.25.32Surprisingly Spirit airlines was on time even though the weather was little rough.Reached Orlando at 1.50 pm. The car rental was across the airport which avoided the hassle of taking the shuttle. rented the car with Alamo for $ 22/day. Upgraded to $33- Full size. Evening well spent in Disney downtown.

Day 1 – Tampa, Florida( Embark)

I did a 10.5 miles run in the gorgeous sunny weather in Orlando,FL.We started from Orlando at 12.30 and reached the Tampa port at 2 pm and checked our bags. Dropped family at the port IMG-20151213-WA0002[1]and I went to drop off the car. To my surprise, the rental location was closed and there was no key drop-off facility. The Alamo location was in Westin hotel and when I called the airport location(next close by), I was asked to drop off the car there. I didn’t have enough time to do that as I would have missed my cruise. When I told them my situation they advised me to leave the keys with the hotel staff or in the Alamo office drawers. The hotel staff refused to take the keys as they said it was not their responsibility. Fortunately I found the drawers open and put it there even though the staff scared me that it may be misused. The choices I had been to keep the car with me for a week till I return from the cruise which means another $400-500 for rental and parking or take a chance and leave the key in the drawer.I had to make the decision on the fly and I decided to take a chance. Must admit that I was worried the whole day ! I called the taxi to go to Port and was told it would take 15 mins. I decided to run (1.2 mi to port) as I could run in 7-8 mins. Just that I had to run barefoot as I wasn’t wearing proper running shoes.Once I reached the port, I called Alamo and asked them to update on rental contract that I dropped the keys in the drawer. Finally we went through the security check and completed the process. Probably we were one of the last to board the ship. We had to assemble at the 7th deck for the mandatory security drill. Ahana, my nine month infant was completely drained by then and was inconsolable. She was fine once she got some food and sleep in the room. We liked the size of the room as we could fit all our baggage and there was space for baby bed and kids bunker bed. The rest of the evening breezed through as we were in the process of settling down. We explored the ship and then ate our dinner at the Market place Buffet. We had variety of foods to choose from (Salads, pasta, Burgers, Chinese, Indian, Fruits, Desserts etc).20151213_185445 20151213_185552

Day 2 – On the Sea

We sailed the whole day. It was an opportunity to spend the day in the cruise. We woke up late and then ate our breakfast. Aditi enjoyed playing in the pool. 20151214_122035Shwetha, my wife and I took turns and finished our running in the spacious fitness center.Then we had our lunch and watched some shows in the Stardust theater. 20151214_082037 20151214_122247 20151214_123705We all had a nap for a while. Fully refreshed in the evening we did the photo shoot 20151216_223039and later Aditi went to Splash academy( kids play area). We picked her up at 10pm. A long eventful day ended around midnight.

towels

Day 3- Roatan Island, Honduras

Roatan, located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja, is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands.20151215_163043It is approximately 77 kilometers (48 mi) long, and less than 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) across at its widest point (wiki). Roatan is on CST time zone so we had to set our time an hour behind.The local language is Spanish and local currency is Honduran Lempira (HLN). US Dollars are widely accepted everywhere.

The ship arrived at Roatan,Hondurus at around 8.30am. We stepped out of the ship at around 10am 20151215_113748after our breakfast for the city sight-seeing. We didn’t book any shore excursions with the NCL as it was very expensive. You can get all those shore excursions for 1/3 price if you do it yourself outside with local guys. We hired a taxi for $30 for 4 hours of city sightseeing. The friendly taxi guy showed us places around. The highlight was the Gumbalimba Preserve & Animal Sanctuary. The admission was $10 per person. It was so fun to interact with the monkeys and the birds. A great place to visit. We spent a while playing with the monkeys and took plenty of pictures. 20151215_14452120151215_145703Aditi was hesitant to go near the monkeys initially but was fine later. Ahana surprisingly was brave enough and didn’t cry. We went to Bananarama beach after that and spend an hour there.20151215_152949Obviously it wasn’t enough for Aditi but we had to leave as it was very hot and Ahana wasn’t feeling good. We reached the ship at 4pm. 20151215_164710I had to go back to the taxi as we had left the stroller there. Later I went for a run in the beautiful island. It was a fantastic experience to run in the island in the neighborhoods amid curios local onlookers. After my quick 5 mile run 20151215_165741I reached the ship on time before the scheduled 6.30pm departure. The rest of the evening breezed through watching shows followed by formal dinner at Versailles restaurant.Aditi went to Kids play area after playing in the pool. The rooms were spotlessly clean and well looked after. 20151215_132816

Day 4 – Belize City, Belize

We reached Belize at 8am. The ship was docked 2 miles away from the port so all had to take the tender boats to reach the port. I was impressed the way the whole process was organized without any chaos. 20151216_094218People were called in groups based on their time to leave. We left at 10am and got into a shuttle for sightseeing. I paid $83 for four of us and the driver/guide told he would take us to Altun Ha Mayan Ruins, Country side, city sightseeing and other attractions on the way. Altun Ha Mayan Ruins being the important one. The guide was very knowledgeable and provided good insight of the place and attractions.Altun Ha is the name given to the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in Belize, located in the Belize District about 30 miles north of Belize City and about 6 miles west of the shore of the Caribbean Sea. The site covers an area of about 5 miles square.We saw the largest of Altun Ha’s temple-pyramids20151216_124151 20151216_130628, the “Temple of the Masonry Altars” which is 54 feet. It was very interesting to know about Maya civilization and visit their temples (wiki).

Click on this link to know more about Maya Civilization

We couldn’t stay there for long as we noticed there were plenty of mosquitoes. 20151216_130408Aditi and I went to the top of one of the ruins while Shwetha was watching Ahana. We were already exhausted and wanted to get back to ship. Took the rest of the evening easy. We met a friend from Mysore and we dined together in the Aqua restaurant.I managed to do a 6.25 mi run later in the night. Aditi watched some kids shows and played in the play area. Meanwhile I called Alamo rental and ensured that the car was safely returned and contract was closed.20151214_180820

Day 5 – Costa maya, Mexico

We were excited to be at the Mexican islands. We got off the ship and headed to one of the popular beaches 20151217_103114 20151217_104010there with another family who hailed from the same town I grew up. We took a shuttle to beach($3 per head). 20151217_105456The beach was awesome and we were provided Hammock, Tables and chairs,umbrella just for ordering food there. Also Kayaking was free to use. It was the best day so far. Ahana slept peacefully for couple of hours in the Hammock while Aditi and her friends played non stop in the water. We all did kayaking20151217_120117,took lot of pictures20151217_114845 and ate our food. I had not planned for a run so I hadn’t got my running shoes. But I had time and also was a beautiful day to run. So I decided to run barefoot on the sands and on the pavement in hot 85°F20151217_140919.It wasn’t easy at all as I was not used to this. However the pain was suppressed by the beautiful sight of the ocean. I managed to get a quick 5k run. I had to get back as we were getting late to ship. We did shopping near the port and got back to ship on-time. We watched the very famous Cirque du Soleil -type of gravity defying extravaganza in star dust theater. This is the main entertainment venue with a 1,100-seat inspired by classic European opera houses and spanning three decks (5, 6, and 7). Nightly shows include magicians, comedians, lavish Broadway-style production numbers.During the day the space is transformed into a cinema. Those who stayed back in the ship during the day watched movie Minions. Aditi participated in Pirate show and parade. We also watched” The perfect couple Game show” before heading out to Aqua for dinner. A day well spent.

Day 6 ( 12/18/2015)- Cozumel,MX

We reached the last island in the itinerary, Cozumel at 7.30 am.This is the biggest island of all the four islands in the itinerary. 20151218_152904We stepped out of the ship by around 10ish after breakfast. The place looked colorful. We took a lot of pictures and spent couple of hours shopping. We hired a cab to go to beach for $24 (one way) for two adults. Paid $24 as entry fee to the resort which would cover snorkeling gears, table and chair and umbrella. 20151218_164322 20151218_164529Unfortunately the moment we sat in the taxi it started to pour heavily. We reached the resort but it was still pouring heavily. After a while the rain stopped and we were ready for snorkeling. I had never done that before but after little instructions I was able to do it comfortably. Cozumel Mexico is very famous for its diving and snorkeling because of the magnificent coral reefs that are only a short distance from the shore. Had a good time in the resort but had to head back to ship as it started raining again. Ahana slept for a while and later we went to Aqua restaurant for Dinner20151214_213738. Spent good couple of hours with friends in the restaurant with mouth-watering food. We did another photo shoot after that. It was 10.30pm by the time we went back to room. Kids were totally exhausted. The boat was very rocky that night due to bad weather. I wanted to run 6.25 mi but ended up running just a mile as I found it very hard to run in the rocky ship.

Day 7( 12/19/2015)- On the sea

Woke up late in the morning. The ship was still rocky. To the disappointment of the kids the pool was closed. We still had other fun things to do. I managed to get a 10 mi run on the track. we ate our food in the Market place and watched the talent show exclusively performed by the cruise staff. Aditi was super excited to see our room housekeeper in charge Raj performing. Came back to room and packed our bags to keep it ready for the checkout process. We were told that the bags will be picked by 11.30 pm. We watched the very famous Cirque du Soleil -type of gravity defying extravaganza in star dust theater.It was one of the best shows I have watched so far. We got back to room around 11 pm and went to bed. A day well spent in the ship.20151218_200503

Day 8 – 12/20/215Tampa,FL

Woke up to see that the ship was already docked in the Tampa port. We choose the time slot of 9.30-9.45 am to get off the ship. Fortunately the line for disembarkation was not that bad and the whole process completed within an hour’s time. Picked the rental car from Hertz which was in the port facility and drove to Orlando. We had flight back to Chicago the next day morning.

All good things have to come to an end and so was our memorable trip. For sure, a trip to remember for three of us( me, Shwetha and Aditi). For Ahana, we will preserve all the pictures20151218_175653 and would tell her that it was her first cruise !!

 

You are uncool if you don’t…..


The Holiday weekend is going well so far. I’m catching up with some Bollywood flicks, Eating good food, Spending time with the family and continuing to work on my Dec 191 miles goal. Isn’t that pretty much the essence of Christmas( and holidays) ? To spend time with family, eat food, watch movies etc. Wait a sec…I don’t have Christmas tree in my house neither have a picture wearing a Santa Hat nor concept of Santa’s gifts for kids. So does it make me uncool ? Going by the trend, looks like it.

Looks like Celebrating Christmas has become a global phenomenon and was thinking why it has become so popular in recent times. Offices, schools ,streets in India are dressed up for the occasion. This was not common decades ago. Globalization is good but we seem to be not consistent. This is generally not the case during other major festivals. Also, some posting pictures of Christmas celebrations won’t be seen doing of their Hindu festivals( Sankranti, Ugadi, Deepavali, Ganesha festival etc..). I’m absolutely  fine with people doing whatever they like  to do but things they do which I don’t do gets me a label of uncool. This according to me is unfair. I’m less concerned with celebrating different types of festivals(which brings a global perspective which Hinduism encourages) than with growing trend of drinking and smoking because they are branded to be cool. People who don’t drink are considered to be boring. New year is around the corner. Some pointers

Non-drinkers – Don’t fall to this prey. Have your own identity. Don’t do things just to please others. Do things that you believe in and are comfortable with. 

Drinkers – Please be considerate with non-drinkers in your party. Don’t indulge in grownups bullying and make them feel down. 

People follow certain principles and traditions and that has to be respected and not made fun of. People who don’t party, drink or smoke are branded uncool. New year around the corner and thus lot of rumblings.

We don’t get Christmas trees for the occasion as it has never been a tradition. Also we don’t tell our children about Santa leaving gifts for them. They get new dresses and toys whenever we feel they need and mostly during major festivals which makes it pretty much the whole year. Especially in US, We buy more than necessary stuffs during this season because of the retailers promoting sales during holiday season. But we don’t give gifts to kids telling them that it is for Christmas. If that makes me uncool, so be it. BTW, we too take pictures with Santa and if someone wants me to wear Santa hat, Yes. I do that. just that I don’t go looking for it.

Indian PM Mr. Modi was criticized as non-secular for not wearing skull cap during one of the Ramadan’s party. It’s his choice. If he doesn’t want to do it for his own reasons then it’s his choice. It doesn’t mean he won’t respect other religions. Mr. Modi was in US during Navarathri, a major festive in Hindu tradition. He was on fast during that time as he does it every year. He adhered to his principles and didn’t break it during state dinner arranged by Mr. Obama. This was appreciated and was not teased.

Definition of fun need not be the same for all the people in the world. some would like to party the whole night during new year and some would like to do something else and those who don’t party or drink are not boring. Fun is what makes them happy and not others.

I practice my religion and taught to respect ALL the religion.

Christmas during my childhood days – December used be the coldest month in Bengaluru. We used to get up early in the morning to go to temple after bath for ” dhanurmasa Pooje”. In Hindu tradition it is a very auspicious month. As Sun transits through Dhanur Rashi (Sagarittus) it is called as Dhanur Maasa. It’s a customary to have prayers early in the morning during this period. My only intention was to get pongal prasada from temple ! I had good number of Christian friends in the colony and the picture of “Hanging lighted stars” in front of their houses is still imprinted in my mind.  It was a very common sight to see in my colony the Christian families dressed up well and head out to church. I was little amused to see some families even bursting crackers on Christmas day as for me fireworks was synonym with Deepavali and to be burst only during then ! I was feeling celebrated looking at my Christian friends as I had a soft corner for them that they had so little festivals compared to Hindu festivals where we have one or the other throughout the year. So I was consciously trying to festive. Respecting other religions started right at home.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Tolerance and Intolerance in India


I often get confused answering the question on whether India is a tolerant nation or not? It is indeed a difficult question to answer. Whether it’s for good or bad, I think India has a good blend of both. I have listed the things that we are tolerant about and the ones which we aren’t. It’s a neck to neck tie! The irony is that we are tolerating the issues which we should not be tolerating at any cost and not tolerating the ones which we can and should be tolerating. Confused, so am I.

Why is this issue making so much of news in recent times? What is the origin of this issue? Beef eating probably… I’m still not able to understand why Beef eating has become such a big deal. Isn’t eating supposed to a personal choice? How come one can enforce their thoughts on others?

Let me tell you that I come from a traditional South Indian Hindu family practicing Hinduism. As part of my religion I have always followed vegetarianism. As per my principle I also have always stayed away from drinking (alcohol) and smoking. That is my personal choice and I don’t talk to anyone about it or would not enforce my views on anyone. I’m extremely proud that I’m able to adhere to my principles in whatever situation it may be. Said so, I have always respected other religions and sentiments of fellow human beings. Treating everyone with love, affection and caring are the supreme guiding principles in our house as taught by my father. Growing up in a community of people from different background and ethnicity indeed played a big role in shaping my personality. In fact it is a great platform for social behavior learning and being tolerant.

Back to the topic of Beef eating, why are we against it? In a society do you expect everyone to have similar eating habits? Is killing the cow an issue because it is worshiped by Hindus? Mouse considered to be lord Ganesha’s vehicle is commonly seen in temples; they are killed as it is a menace. Same with Snakes, monkeys and elephants and no one seems to have problems with it! So, is the issue to do with killing or eating? Something to think about…

If it is killing people have the problem with, then I should say that I have personally witnessed section of society which is opposing the cow killings sending them to slaughter houses as they get old! Why? Because the poor farmers won’t have enough money to take care of those aged cows. So when the question of money comes, religion or sentiments takes a back seat.

If the issue is to do with eating beef, then I would ask – Isn’t eating a personal choice. One cannot dictate to others on what they should eat. What one eats is customary to their family practice and has got nothing to do with religion. I think mixing this up with religion is not a fair thing to do.

I worship Cow everywhere regardless of place (India or outside). I have special sentiments for it and is very personal. Period. Someone eating beef in India or abroad should not cause issues to me. If you can tolerate someone eating beef outside India then you should tolerate within India too. Because your sentiments or respect to cow won’t change if you are in India or abroad. Make sense?

My eating habits is personal to me. My sentiments should not be an enforcement to others to change their eating/drinking habits. If the eating habits is driven by others choice I wonder how you accommodate it. Where would you draw the line for it? The world will be a messy place. Should that be the case then being a vegetarian, I should be asking people to stop eating any kind of meat or for that matter drinking alcohol or smoking cigarette as I don’t do any of it. Not fair, Right? Unfortunately religion is used as a level to push ones agenda. Anyone can interpret religion in their own way to substantiate their points. The wrong interpretations of the religion is the biggest issue we are facing now. I’m sure every religion would preach that god won’t be happy with you if you don’t treat fellow human beings with dignity and respect. We are so caught up in peripheral issues that we are not able to see the core of the matter.

If we Hindus ask for ban on beef eating during our festival season then think what if Muslims ask everyone to eat meat during their festival! Doesn’t make any sense, Right? I would even say why not banning Tobacco products and alcohol drinks as it is known to cause health issues or for the fact that I don’t do either ! No one want to do it as it is against freedom of choice. How is beef eating different? My point is that if you can tolerate someone eating any forms of meat then Beef shouldn’t be an issue for you. For me it’s meat or no meat. Nothing intermediate. Being intolerant towards one type of meat over other doesn’t make much sense to me. In so called cultured society hard to believe that people are intolerant about others eating habits!

Being a hardcore vegetarian, of course I’m not advocating for beef eating here but want seem to be a trivial issues has been blown out of proportion. A non-issue has become prevalent now in India leading to perception of growing intolerance in the nation. There are much bigger issues to be concerned of at this juncture of nation building. Unfortunately we are tolerating some issues which shouldn’t be tolerated at any cost.

India Tolerates below Issues… But DON’T. Be Intolerant

Intolerance on any kind of crime on women and children– India is ranked on the bottom when it comes to women’s safety. Unfortunately this issue is growing exponentially. As a nation India should have absolutely zero tolerance towards any crime on women and children. Be it calls for making whatever changes to the constitutional laws. There are evidences of protests made aftermath to some incidents which made national headlines but failed to bring enough changes in the laws. We should be intolerant to any sorts of crime on women and children. We should be intolerant until stricter laws are enforced to take necessary action against the culprits.

Intolerance on female infanticide –Infanticide is a criminal offence in India but it is an under-reported crime. It is beyond my imagination on how someone can go for this barbaric act!! Girl child are the special gift to parents from god. They fill our lives with love, happiness and joy. Studies indicated that extreme poverty with an inability to afford raising a child is one of the reasons given for female infanticide. The dowry system is also another reason that is given for female infanticide. When do we stand up against this heinous crime? Shouldn’t we be intolerant against this inhuman act?

Intolerance on the unfair obsession to fair skin- Unfortunately, in India, People think looking better means you have to look fairer.” Not sure where and how we got it but there is a severe obsession for lighter skin. In 2014, India’s whitening-cream market was worth $625M, according to a report by market researchers AC Nielsen, and was growing at 18% per year. Last year, Indians reportedly consumed 437 tonnes of skin-whitening products, spending more money on them than on Coca-Cola. Studies has revealed that the obsession to lighter skin has created physiological problems in the children and teenager girls. What is so frustrating is the insensitivity people have without even realizing the negative impact it may cause. Unfortunately the children are also not spared from this evil. It is very common in India to make a comment about the color of the skin. There has been many instances reported on the dark-skinned people been humiliated and thus them resorting to extreme steps. It is unfortunate that we are not able to kill this evil yet. Another instance of us tolerating a practice which we absolutely shouldn’t have. Is color of the skin more precious than the happiness or life of our children? We as a nation should be intolerant against any obsessions towards fair skin. We should be intolerant towards any act of humiliation on the darker skins.

Intolerance on child labor – India is sadly the home to the largest number of child laborers in the world. This needs to be abolished once for all. We need to be intolerant towards any act of child labor. This need lot of will power; not just in the laws but by the law-abiding citizens

http://www.childlineindia.org.in/child-labour-india.htm

Intolerance on any type of Corruption/ Bribery – There is a fundamental issue with the way things move in India. Knowingly or unknowingly every citizen becomes part of the corruption in the system. We need to be intolerant till stronger measures taken to curb corruption in India. There has to be an awareness on the negative impact corruption causing to our economy. Laws need to tighten to punish the culprits – Bribe takers…and bribe givers too. This is the biggest issue impacting our economy negatively.

Intolerance on the lack of Public health– Some 130M households lack toilets. One-half of India’s population, at least 620 million people, defecates outside… Source- Population Reference Bureau, Public Health should be the first priority of the government. We should be intolerant against any inaction or delays on public health.

Intolerance on the lack of Infrastructure – People live in crumbling infrastructures thus affecting their day-to-day lives. We need to be intolerant till necessary infrastructure is available for the tax payers. Be intolerant till tax payers money is properly used for developmental projects. Law makers has to be held accountable for this.

Intolerance on the Road safety violations – Less said the better. The Global status report on road safety 2013 estimates that over 1.4 million people dying every year due to accidents.  A lot to be done in this space. Fixing bad road designs, lack of maintenance of roads and emphasis on the need for citizens to be more responsible on roads. We need to be intolerant against any casualties happening due to road accidents. We need to be intolerant with anyone being non-compliant with the traffic rules. The “Chalta hai” attitude should be totally curbed.

Intolerance on the practice of SuperstitionsSuperstition makes their homes in the weak minds. These are deep-rooted and irrational beliefs which needs no reasoning caused by ignorance and fear. Someone who strongly believes in god and their own ability, I guess won’t surrender to superstitions. Superstitions lead to closed minds. As Pascal said “Superstitions is founded on fear and ignorance and leads men to form false ideas of duty, to dread chimeras and to lean on a broken reed.”

When do we stand up and fight against superstitions? When do we stop thinking that these are bad signs – A cat crossing one’s path or a sneeze (or when someone calls or interrupts) while going out are considered bad signs.

Laws are not enough. We need to spread awareness among the masses and make them understand that superstitions are nothing but unscientific ideas. They are unadulterated believes that grow with and practice during one’s life time. Show your intolerance towards any kind of superstitions practice.

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Being-Superstitious

Intolerance on the Littering – This is a plague bothering the nation. This spoils the environment, People’s health. No one would like to keep their house dirty but we still litter. Having waste and garbage scattered around everywhere does not bother us. We are content within ourselves as long as our house is polished clean up to the front doorstep. When it comes to surroundings, that’s where our responsibilities seem to end. The “Chalta hai” attitude should not be tolerated. We need a zero tolerance on littering and urinating in public.

Intolerance on the gender discrimination- Another big issue India is facing. This problem has certainly subsided over years but still long way to go. For the progress and prosperity of India this discrimination need to extinguish so that India can take off its flight to the world of progress. We are highly vulnerable and tolerant when it comes to gender discrimination. We got to stand up and show intolerance towards any act of gender discrimination.

Intolerance on the system of caste based reservations – When a 22-year old leads an agitation for reservations for his community, there is some serious introspection needed in the country on the direction we are going? India has been shaken, and its thriving state of Gujarat paralyzed, by a massive agitation by its influential Patel community. This is a very controversial topic in India and hardly any politicians want to go the core of this issue to resolve as that may cost their political career. A true leader is the one who gets to the core issues and address them and not a band-aid solution to the every lasting injury. I see a merit in the argument that reservations to no longer be caste-based but tied only to economic criteria, with the poorest of all castes benefiting from them and not the better-off of some castes. We should indeed support fellow citizens who are economically poor by providing any necessary financial aid for education and other facilities. There should be no reservations in education or job. Everyone has to go through the same selection criteria’s and process for getting admission into educational institutions and jobs. The concerning part is that the caste consciousness is not withering away but is growing in young minds. This is harmful to country’s progress. We need to be intolerant against any caste based reservations in education or jobs.

Intolerance on the Minority appeasement – unnecessary. Why the appeasement? The law has to be the same for all the people living in the country. A country moves towards a growth path only when we believe that country comes above religion. Political parties work round the clock for minority community appeasement. There shouldn’t be any special laws for the minority communities. Be Intolerant if government fails to implement Uniform civil code in India (It is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen).

Intolerance on threat to national security – As a nation India should have zero tolerance towards any threat to national security. India has been repeatedly attacked by some bad elements but still nothing has been done to cut it down to zero. India has mostly been reactive than being proactive in addressing these challenges. We should not tolerate any threat to national security. It should be strongly responded diplomatically and through other means as proper.

Intolerance to media’s TRP driven agenda – Media is totally glamorized. News anchors have become more important than news. In the mad race for TRPs, Media has resorted to sensationalism and twisted, manufactured news. Be intolerant towards any media whose goal is to sensationalize the news and increase viewership. People believe what they see and hear rather than trying to gather facts and be well-informed on the issues. Reject those channels who are not ethical and publish fabricated information.

India is intolerant on below Issues… But be tolerant

Be tolerant towards children – As a nation, we are generally intolerant when it comes to dealing with kids. Grownup’s at most times respond harshly to kids when they ask for any information. We need to get the sophistication and civilization western countries practice with treating the younger ones. Even the toddlers are given respect and dealt politely when asked for any help. We should be more tolerant towards children. Even in schools, the rudeness of the teachers baffles me. Teachers has a duty to impart strong morals to their students. By showing them respect we we’ll end up imparting crucial lessons in kindness, consideration, honesty, open-mindedness, and gratitude as well.

Be tolerant to physically challenged persons – I can talk about the issues physically challenged people are facing today from my personal experience. The physically challenged persons are one of the excluded sections of the society and also they face number of problems in their daily life. We are generally intolerant towards them. Be it in the bus/train occupying their reserved seats or not giving any preference to them in parking or knocking them off in public places unintentional of course as we are super busy etc… We got to learn to be more tolerant towards this people who need our kindness and consideration.

Be tolerant towards others eating habits – Think that not everyone in the country can have similar eating habits. Eating is a personal choice. Rather than making big fuss about others eating habits let us move on and focus on bigger issues which matters the most to the people. Let us be little more tolerant towards our fellow citizens.

There are bigger issues we need to be concerned about at this critical juncture. Let us rise above from the petty issues. Let us not get sidetracked by unnecessarily wasting time on insignificant issues. It is easy to get derailed from the big picture. Let us always try to think big. We need to work towards the social changes which defines us as a nation. Let us make this place a better place to live for our children. Let us fight for those issues which would make them proud of us. When we do so we shall be imparting values of tolerance, compassion, respect and kindness to our children.

 

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih ||

Meaning:
From ignorance, lead me to truth;

From darkness, lead me to light;

From death, lead me to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace

My first 50k Ultra Marathon experience


My first 50k Ultra Marathon experience

20151031_141530

I registered for my 50K ultra marathon in July after the Schaumburg full marathon. I had done two marathons by then and I wanted to go beyond 26.2. The options were 50k or 50 miles (80k). After some deliberations I decided to do a 50k as physiologically 50k seems gettable as it is in the neighborhood of the full marathon distance and won’t be much of a stretch for someone doing ultra for the first time.

I had logged 315 miles since June for the ultra training for this ultra at an average of 63 miles per month. During this training I managed to get one 26.2 and two 20 miles. My confidence level shot up with the 26.2 miles as I managed to do it in 4hrs 34 mins. A big improvement from the earlier race. The key was understanding my pace and executing it accordingly. I had an injury during Schaumburg marathon by going too fast early in the race and completing the race in 5:13:24.4 (chip time). This meant that I had to work on my technique and understand the ideal pace for me. I read a lot of articles about it and one of it said “Arm carriage and correct foot fall are important for developing a precise running gait, but the easiest way to improve your form is to focus on running cadence. The correct cadence can vary by individual. Optimal cadence is generally considered to be somewhere around 180 strides per minute”.

I slowed down on my pace and focused on taking smaller strides. I’m still working on placing the feet closer to the center of gravity when it lands (whatever it means technically). I have a tendency to land on heel than on the mid foot. Technically the feet supposed to land on the mid foot and then roll towards toe as we take the stride. A friend of mine who is a vivid runner told that it may cause knee pain as lot of exertion falls on the heel and thus on the knee. This will also slows down the pace during the run.Per the researches landing on mid foot will give the necessary momentum during the stride.

Read this interesting article on this topic.

http://runblogger.com/2010/08/on-running-form-ii-where-should.html

I was more relaxed this time unlike the first marathon (Chicago) where I went through some anxious moments due to lack of the necessary training. I was watchful of what I was eating during the race week. I collected the bib the day before the race; this time very early in the day as I didn’t want to spend lot of time outside. I did the necessary carb loading and packed all the necessary things for the race. The weather was 100% chance of rain and thus had to dress up appropriately. I managed to get some good sleep as well.

Race day

I woke up early and got ready. I had a Bagel with Cream and a banana and of course lot of water. I reached the place at 7.30am. There was lot of time as the race was scheduled to start at 8.30am. The race started at Grove 19A, near the 63rd Street Beach House in Jackson Park, located on the south side of Chicago, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. As was predicted it was pouring in the morning and continued to rain the whole day. There were close to 300 participants for 50k and around 100 for 50miles. The race started on time at 8.30am. As per my plans I started slowly as I had instances of going too fast early in the race. I did my first mile in 10:38.8. It was little difficult to run due to cold weather and rain made it worse! The wind impact was very high as it was right next to the lake shore. As shown in the picture below the track is pretty flat which made the run lot easier. 40K was a three-loop course with the distance of 10.34 per loop. The volunteers had arranged for aid stations at the start line and at the end of mile 5,right at the U-turn for loop.

map

I completed my 10k in 1:04:15.By now the rain had made enough damage; the clothes and socks were totally wet making it very difficult for the runners. I was feeling as if I was running with extra 5 lbs. bag but I still managed to keep up with my target pace. The run continued uninterrupted and I took 2:05:17 to complete 20k.

Rain continued to pour and I had stopped worrying about it and also I was used to run in that condition. I worked mile after mile and in no time was in the 25th mile. I was determined to better my earlier performance so sprinted that mile. By the time I reached the point where we make the U-turn it was 25.9. So I ran further 0.3 miles and came back to the aid station and filled my bottles and was ready to run the remaining 5 miles. The miles 27-31 took almost 11.5 – 12 min/mile as I was pretty tired and legs were refusing to move.

Per Garmin, I completed the 31.4(additional 0.4) in 5:41:32. The move time is 5:32:45. The Average Run Cadence is 163. The fastest mile and the only mile under 10mins /mile is the 26th mile.

 

 

running summary

The average time is 10:52 min/mile. Not a bad one for the first ultra and that too in rainy, windy and cold 46.0° F (9°C) conditions.

BTW, I upgraded my watch from Vivo active to Garmin Forerunner 920XT. Vivo didn’t had any major issues but lacked some capabilities that XT920 provides.

I should say it has been a very satisfying first ultra marathon run for me. Something I will cherish for a very long time. The volunteers did a great job throughout the event. Not to forget Beth’s delicious hot and spicy Rice and red beans.

Interested runners in Chicago area should definitely consider doing this. The website for this ultra is

http://www.chicagoultra.org/

IMG_0718

 

10710226_701930369889074_3049365206522203680_o

First Marathon experience


It has been over a year since I ran my first marathon and the memories are still so fresh in my mind. Indeed, the first marathon experience is always so special. Therefore, I want to pen down my experience even though it was a year back. Better late than never, right? Moreover I’m on a vacation this week and no better time than this to put my thoughts together.

Running has always been a part of me. Like most kids of my generation, I too had the pleasure of growing up playing lot of outdoor sports related to running. Fortunately, I never got too away from running even though I had almost a decade of dry patch due to other commitments and priorities. It was back in 2012 when I came out of the hibernation and started running again and this time with a clear goal of tracking my miles. Thanks to my colleague and friend Dan La Bud who suggested that if I wanted to seriously pursue running, then I should consider setting up a specific goal and work towards it. He emphasized the importance of tracking miles and the motivation that comes along with it. I was blown away with the idea and thus came up with the 500 mile challenge (conquer 500). What started then is still going uninterrupted for 4th consecutive year. I was so self-motivated that I didn’t need any race to sign up to keep my running switch on! It’s 2200 miles so far since I started tracking in 2012. 500 miles every year in 2012, 13 & 14. This year I revised my goal to 750 miles and have completed 700 till date.

Nikeplus summary

Nikeplus summary

Why not a marathon – If you asked anyone for help climbing out of a motivational slump, it’s likely that the piece of advice would be to sign up for a race. It’s a smart tactic; putting an event on your calendar can give your running a sense of purpose; a goal to work towards. As I always enjoyed running, I didn’t need the carrot incentive to run. I looked forward for the weekends to go out and get some big runs. I enjoyed the feel of running, the preparedness involved prior to the run and of course the joy of running in new trails and roads with varying distances and paces. The joy of running is a big motivation to keep me going. I never looked at marathon as a tool to keep me active (run). Some signup for marathons to keep their running switch on for at least 7-8 months in a year by training for the event. My 500 mile goal is so evenly distributed and keeps me active round the year. So I somehow didn’t see a solid reason to do a marathon; also, it was a little struggle to fit in the structured training plan into over scheduled life or the logistics or the race-entry fees. It’s like something always hanging on my head to get it done. Dan La Bud who has been running for last 15 years with putting 2000 miles every year had given up the idea of signing up for marathons. His reasons were;

  1. a) Focusing on time and speed turned his running into a completely different experience which he didn’t enjoy.
  2. b) Running began as a way for him to relieve stress and get outdoors. With not able to train on certain scheduled days when he had signed up for marathon caused him unnecessary stress. His point of view is that Running is to de-stress and not able to run should not be a reason for the stress. Good point! My wife too never likes to track her miles as it causes her unnecessary stress to accomplish. She would love to run and likes to get her miles (whatever she can) but just doesn’t track. Most probably she would end up running more than me in a month. But I myself liked the idea of tracking miles, setting up goals, metrics around running etc. So working towards a specific goal in a short time frame was never an issue. So I had not completely ruled out the idea of doing marathons.
  3. c) Dan’s approach was running is an opportunity for him to have fun, tackle difficult terrains, socialize with running buddies, and exploring new trails. Signing up for races didn’t really provided him that opportunity. I tend to agree with him. When you are focused towards a specific goal in a short time frame of 3-4 months, I guess it may be challenging to fit in unscheduled things.

With all these thoughts, marathon was never in my radar till mid-2014.I’m that kind of a person who likes challenges, loves to compete, enjoy running in the crowd, set personal records  (in scheduled events) etc. If that’s the case just running in silo wouldn’t really do justice to me. I then thought about adding  couple of marathons to my existing schedule I didn’t want the training schedule to take away my flexibility of running for joy (whenever and whatever distances I wanted to run). Again, I didn’t want marathon to be an instrument to keep my running switch on. Below are some thoughts on my reasons to do a marathon;

  1. Experience the feel of marathon running in different courses alongside fellow runners. This would potentially bring the best in me and help me improve my running.
  2. Networking; meet people of similar interests and passion. This helps to plan group training etc.
  3. To bring more discipline to my running schedule. Idea was to build a good project plan to execute my schedule.
  4. Bring more structure to my training.
  5. Marathon becoming an instrument (reason) to travel to new destinations.
  6. Be more competitive.
  7. Obtain bragging rights for life with all the medals etc.
  8. Targeting 25 -30 different courses of marathons before I retire.

With all these thoughts solidifying, I couldn’t wait to get my first marathon done that year (2011) itself. It was during Aug/Sep month and some of my friends were talking about the Chicago marathon. You won’t believe if I tell you that I was inquiring about doing half Marathon in Chicago!! What I mean to say here is that I was so ignorant and didn’t know that Chicago was just full marathon!! You wouldn’t expect it from someone who has lived in Chicago for last 5 years and who considers himself a runner. That was very fundamental. But to my defense its typical me. If something is not in my radar, I wouldn’t worry about gathering information on that. Less things to process in my little brain🙂. I didn’t even know that the registration had already closed in Feb and its 26.2 mi only As a matter of fact I had never ran beyond 13.1 miles and of course 26.2 was beyond my imagination. Well, So much I had heard about marathons I was determined to do at least one for sure. Actually I should say I was desperate to do one that year (2014) itself and if possible a big one like Chicago because I was not sure if I was going to be in Chicago or not the following year. I was looking for possible ways to get into the race. However the concern still remained that I had never trained for a full marathon. Rather than worrying too much now, I thought I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it.

How many times has it happened to you that you were looking for something and when that comes, you are indecisive!! I was exactly going through the same.I had what I need to run but was not sure if I wanted it! Now the search was over but had boiled down to my ability to do. Neither physically nor mentally was I ready to do. The farthest I had run was 13.1 miles and now had to run double the distance. I asked for a day to think through about this and went to bed but couldn’t get sleep as the lingering decision was just not letting me sleep. I discussed with my wife, mom and sisters and they all seemed very confident of my ability to do. They knew how passionate runner I was and so they just wanted me to go experience the feeling and have fun! I was still not convinced as the serious impediment was my readiness. I just didn’t want to go and be a failure in my maiden marathon. Finally after lot of internal deliberations I gave my go ahead to participate.However I knew that I had committed with unresolved thoughts. Now that the decision was made there was no looking back. I called some fellow marathon runners to get inputs on diet, routes, Things to carry, and all possible information. I had made the decision on Oct6th for the oct12th marathon I am not kidding, I had the feeling of butterflies in the stomach with 6 days to go! I was told that it is common with experienced marathoners too and here I’m doing my first marathon, that too unprepared. Nervousness naturally!

I tried to do small 3-4 mile runs during the week and guess it was due to nervousness, I was feeling that one or the other body part was aching more than ever before🙂. My training was a bit raw with less or no strategy involved; no analysis of my comfort pace and scheduled water breaks etc.. I just knew that I could run my half in 2.05 hrs (my PB) and couldn’t even extrapolate my finish time for the Full marathon from that as I was not sure how my body would react after 13.1 miles. With all these unknowns the week flew through and the day to go to expo came. I had heard about it so much but never had experienced. 10710226_701930369889074_3049365206522203680_oIt was my first time to a marathon expo and it certainly was overwhelming to see the enthusiastic crowd in that big number. None in the expo seemed to have any kind of nervousness and looked relaxed. They were taking pictures, meeting friends, shopping etc. I talked to a few strangers and when I told them that this was my first marathon, their piece of advice was to go slow by a min or two from my regular pace. I was told the same by my friends also and so figured out that it must be something very critical. Other funny thing is, even though I had no clue of my pace, I registered at the Nike Pace team for an ambitious 4.30 finish time :) I collected my bib, took some pictures, talked to some experts and finally headed back home at 5pm. It was close to 7pm by the time I reached home. Definitely it was not a good idea to spend that long day outside just a day before the race. I still had some things to pick up for the race. It was half past mid night by the time I called it a day.

Race day-

Woke up at four in the morning. My friend Prakash picked me up and by the time we parked the car and walked to the venue it was around 6:30am. Well in time. Again, I was blown away seeing the ocean of people. The enthusiasm of the fellow runners certainly lifted my spirits. I was now warmed up and ready to go. My goal was to complete 13.1 mi, what I was trained for and then figure out the strategy for the remaining distance. A big boost was that my family was expecting me at the half way point. There was music all over the place. As someone said, it was indeed a carnival. So fun to watch millions of people across the streets of the 29 neighborhoods cheering you. I guess I was in Coral J and our turn finally came after a long wait. It was 8.22am when I took off. Thanks to Prakash for setting the pace without which I’m sure I would have gone too fast early in the race causing potential problems later. We ran 8 miles comfortably chatting throughout. The distance breezed through in no time. Unfortunately I lost Prakash in 8 Mile mark during water break. At least by now, my confidence level had shot up and had some better sense of the pace to maintain. My next goal was 13.1 miles where I would be meeting my family. So nice of them to come to cheer me especially my 5 month pregnant wife, my aged mother and my little girl. These are indeed my big supporters.

I was now enjoying my run and completed 15k in 1.35, 20k in 2.07. I was so glad to see my family just before the half way point. I had given them a heads up on my expected arrival time so they could spot me. Spent good 2-3 mins gulping half banana and some fluids. I had planned to change my shoes at half way point if in case I had issues with my new Brooks. Didn’t see the need of it so got going. Completed half in 2.17 at a healthy pace of 10.45 mins/mile. The break at half way point helped me and I was able to complete the 25k mark in 2.41. A gain of 12 sec/mile. I had even forgotten by now that I had not run this distance before at all. The crowd support definitely helped. I wasn’t even listening to the music as I was enjoying the crowd support and reading their creative placards.Good Idea 2 I completed 30k in 3.16 and 35k in 3.58. This distance between 30 and 35k was the tough one as I got cramps repeatedly. First time during the race I got a feeling of not being able to complete the race. Little stretches and break helped me to overcome that and I was able to slowly jog now. My pace at the end of 35k had gone down to 10.88/mile. I completed 40K in 4.37 hrs. I was exhausted by then. The last 2.195 was the hard enough. My legs were totally refusing to move. It took 15 mins. Finally completed the race in 4:52:57. I was tracking in Nike plus on my phone and the battery went dead. I lost sense of my time after 30k. I was just running at the pace comfortable to my body. So even though if I had any device to track, not sure how that would have been helpful. Probably I could have gone little slower between 20K and 30K. Whatever I got to know about my finish time was from one of the officials. Even though I paced to 4.30 knowing that it was not possible, I managed to do it under 5 hours. Not bad for a first marathon. I was happy to see my family after the race that I even forgot to do necessary stretches. Struggled with my walk of course. Came back home and ate nice home-made food and slept cherishing my eventful day. One year passed but the memories are still so fresh. I’m so glad Chicago marathon happened to be my first marathon. A day to remember for sure. 26.2 miles was achievable but 26.3 miles would have been crazy!

I dedicate my first Marathon medal to my mother for all the courage, determination and physical strength she has given me over the years.

With the true owner of the medal

With the true owner of the medal

What sprouted just a week before the Chicago Marathon turned out be one memorable experience!! A first marathon, that too a full (26.2 mi) and to go to it without proper training was indeed a risk. With lot of deliberations the challenge was well taken and executed in 4 Hr :52 Mins :57 Sec (11min/mi).

Splits

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/mile miles/h
05K 08:55:49AM 00:33:13 33:13 10:42 5.61
10K 09:27:40AM 01:05:04 31:51 10:15 5.85
15K 09:58:33AM 01:35:57 30:53 09:57 6.04
20K 10:30:20AM 02:07:44 31:47 10:14 5.87
HALF 10:39:39AM 02:17:03 09:19 13:40 4.39
25K 11:04:32AM 02:41:56 24:53 10:16 5.85
30K 11:38:45AM 03:16:09 34:13 11:01 5.45
35K 12:21:10PM 03:58:34 42:25 13:39 4.40
40K 12:59:54PM 04:37:18 38:44 12:29 4.81
Finish 01:15:34PM 04:52:57 15:39 11:29 5.23

Takeaways

  1. Great experience in Chicago marathon. Excited to do more marathons globally.
  2. While you inevitably try to pace with others in marathon, it is important to remember that you are always competing against yourself.
  3. Even though I continue to sign up for a marathons, I would like to follow my own schedule and build up my own distance.
  4. Planning is of course important in everything we do. However sometimes it’s fine to go ahead and take some ad-hoc decisions/ chances even if you know that you are not fully ready for it. As long as you have the will power to do it, you can certainly accomplish it.
  5. You have nothing to lose in your first attempt. Whatever the outcome is, look at it as a Thus the appetite for risk should be high. Always remember expectations are high from a seasoned player than a newbie. Make the best use of that tag and perform.
  6. Engage your family members in your activities. It builds their interest in your activities and so they would be able to appreciate your efforts and support efficiently.
  7. Build network, socialize, and do group running / events.
  8. Where do I go from here; Marathons, Ultra marathon (50K, 50mi, 100K).

Mann Ki Baat” and “Maun Ki Baat”


In defense of Mr ManMohan Singh who was at least consistently silent due to his nature and who was also beholden to Gandhi’s for his power.

Manmohan

Mr. Modi,you are well-known for your firebrand talks and also don’t have any political compulsions. Wondering then why have you surrendered to this unprecedented silence !
You are now tagged as Maun Modi which doesn’t go well with your personality.You should well know that “Mann Ki Baat” and “Maun Ki Baat” would not together. Not every combination can be Chow chow bath( famous Karnataka dish) to be good !

Don’t give opposition party a chance to do what you did for them.

modi5Please speak in LS before your Aug 15th power packed speech or else however powerful that speech be, would sound too feeble.Not just addressing the election rallies, please do address the law makers and resolve the issue.You are a skillful strategist who can make(international) friends easily and now it is a test of your statesmanship.
Don’t just blame it on opposition for the stalled LS session.This is exactly what any opposition would do and your party was no different when they were in opposition bench. Looking forward for your move.

By the way,It sounds so contradictory when ruling party leaders demand for respect of PM position when their campaigner at helm himself showed so little respect to the position!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Ep7P8gd6I

http://www.hindustantimes.com/specials/coverage/gujarat-assembly-elections-2012/chunk-ht-ui-gujaratassemblyelections2012-topstories/modi-attacks-congress-calls-pm-maun-mohan-singh/sp-article10-951649.aspx