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Growing (up and old)


butterflyArt

 

Here I am, another one of those nights where I sit by myself, believing I am a stone in the river of time as it rushes past me unabated, unfettered … driving away things and people and memories that were right here just a moment ago.

When spacetime is so unyieldingly dynamic, why is it that we feel bound to stay unrealistically onto strands of borrowed moments that we take comfort in, and so zealously protect.

What happens when you feel you are a mentor, having lived a tough life and anxious to protect those you know from falling into the fallacies we once fell into. What happens when you try … and yet you speak at condescending ears or those that seemingly are dimensionally unaligned to make them unable of comprehension?

What do you feel, being a reluctant mentor, yet seeing your efforts unable to stop the ones you love from falling into the abyss.

Perhaps the world has changed enough to make it much more nuclear than ever, a world where the unlimited forms of entertainment, intoxication (and subsequent escape) and need have taken relationships to the beginning of a new era – a selfish unattached, unemotional age. Perhaps the vinyl records, the hippie words, the struggle for solitude and appreciation of beauty amid nature are all truly over.

Heck, we might be heading seamlessly towards an era of touch screen and mixed reality biological cyborgs who might never need mentors as long as the ubiquitous Google search engine and youtube succeed in evolving and driving human enterprise and ability to question, extinct.

Perhaps the world of the future does need mentors to remind it to think, but then again, perhaps they do not!

Post in reply to the prompt – WordPress mentor prompt

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Wannabe Marathoner : Finally! SCMM 2015


Powai HM

Running down the slope at the Powai Run Jan 2015

 

I was thinking of making the title something dramatic…something like Wannabe Marathoner : No More…but it could easily be construed as me being a runner no more which was unacceptable! Whilst continuing to type on, I realised that I will always be a wannabe, always a learner…someone who will always find ways and means to improve, much like my philosophy in life. So perhaps the title is probably stuck forever! (unless of course by some miraculous twist of fate I turn into an elite runner…or of course pigs learn to fly, which seems more likely anyway!) Enough faffing about, let’s begin my account of my first ever Full marathon.

August 2014

Having done a few Half Marathons and not really having particularly distinguished myself in any of them (always a mid to back-midfield runner) I was toying over the category to register in for the SCMM 2015 (Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon) For those unaware, this marathon is the pride of Mumbai, mayhap of all of India in the sheer numbers and talent it attracts as also the fanfare and crowd support and of course the flavour that is uniquely Mumbai. The route is also amazingly scenic, going through many important landmarks of Mumbai.

Back in January 2014, Tapan and I had experienced the atmosphere of the SCMM for the first time. We had been walking towards the start point (Azad Maidan) from Churchgate station and had encountered people cheering, bands and dancers going at full blast and a number of people shuffling on by on the road. It felt amazing to see so many people gathered there to cheer runners who thoroughly deserved the cheers. We had then decided to come back next year and run in the Half marathon and be part of the actual run rather than the Dream Run carnival.

Cut back to August and as I hovered over choosing half or full marathon, I debated and discussed with Tapan. his mindset was that we should try and better our speed rather than the distance, while for me both went hand in hand. I have always had the tendency to throw down the gauntlet and then train to be able to accomplish it. If I do not set myself tough goals, I do not realise the best in me. after spending a day thinking over it, I registered for the Full marathon, deciding that my goal was set and I would now work towards achieving it. Tapan went on and registered for the Half Marathon…either way, we were both set to be part of the “real” run.

October end 2014

During one of the speed interval training runs for trying to set my fastest HM time in the prestigious ADHM (Airtel Delhi Half Marathon), I felt discomfort in my right heel. It pulsed, at times fading while at others returning with some ferocity. I checked online (yep usual self-diagnosing medical syndrome) and was very scared that I may just have brought Plantar Fasciitis onto myself. I was not ready though to diagnose myself so easily with plantar since a few tests to check my plantar muscle strength turned out to be quite positive. ie – I always knew my toes were quite strong and just could not believe how I could get plantar. I have awkwardly shaped feet because of which since childhood perhaps I have been using the toes much like an ape does…being able to grab hold of an lift objects off the floor comfortably and thus flexing and exercising them since many years unconsciously. Without having really found an answer to the pain, I decided to rather ease my training and slow down.

November 2014 – An Important lesson

This was the month for the ADHM where I was determined to set a new PB. After a week of easy very very slow running, I decided to again ramp it up a bit. After another speed session, the pain was back with increased intensity. This time I spent longer researching the pain and found that my dependence on my right leg to preserve my weak left knee could likely be causing my right foot to land awkwardly. Additionally my shoes had been minimal which meant that there was no support or cushioning. So my finger of suspicion pointed squarely to this enlightening article I dug out – Subtalar joint pain can mimic Plantar Fasciitis!

This was quite a revelation and I started working on trying to increase the flexibility of my joint and began analysing the way my right foot landed. I consciously did exercises to make sure my right foot landed straight. It seemed my foot was leaning toward the right, so I consciously made sure it would point inwards. I practiced it while walking, sitting, exercising and started doing slow runs. There was no major relief but there was definitely some relief after doing the mobility exercises and sleeping with balm on the ankle and ankle support.

The big day was soon upon me and although the heel was still painful, I had no choice but to go out and put my money where my mouth was. ADHM came and went and I surpassed my expectation … finished in 1 hr 59 mins which was much better than my expected 2 hr 5 mins.

ADHM 2014

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2014 medal. Big and heavy… worth the effort 🙂

 

As always while the medal was great, as was the timing, the consequence was increased heel pain that would haunt me for the coming month!

December 2014

This was to be my main month of endurance training but my fear of injuring the heel (which was very slowly getting better) meant I had to really drop my training down and only run sporadically, that too very slowly and small distances. Added to this was the fact that my daughter’s holidays were around the corner which meant a nice XMas holiday trip for the family. The month was almost a total washout in terms of training but I did mange to do something good – I bought myself a pair of support and cushioned shoes with enough time to break them in. (FYI I bought Kalenji shoes with the 42 Km distance tag)

January 2015

And so the holiday came and went with only an 8.5 kms run on Jan 1st. With only 2 weeks to go, the penultimate week was very important. I had never ever run more than 32 kms in practice or otherwise, and although I did think that I was strong enough (thanks to my stair and slope work over the past few months) I just was not confident I could cut it. So, as always I tried to make the best of this week and in hindsight, probably overdid it a bit!

That week began on a Sunday with the Powai half Marathon, which I did alright – 2 hrs 10 mins on a course with a few slopes. Not a great time but pretty good considering it was my first 8 k + run after a month!

Powai Run 2015

Powai Run 2015 Medal…better than last year’s by far!

 

I then ran 23.84 kms on Tuesday along the undulating course at the Borivli National Park. this was an exercise in being super slow with a mix of running and walking – the aim being to build up the slow twitch muscles and also mentally prepare myself for willing me on to run on tired legs after taking intermittent walk breaks.

The same objective continued after a day’s gap with a 25 kms run on the same course on Thursday.

The final long run was on Sunday…it was to be an almost race day simulation with the first half run at tempo pace till HM distance after which I would slow down and take run/walk breaks till I reached 30 kms. Thanks to a bit of distance miscalculation I actually ended up doing 30.69 kms which did exhaust me especially as I ended by 11:30 am under an unforgiving sun.

The last week before the build up saw me doing 4-5 kms slow walks and then a 15 km slow run on Wednesday and finally an 8 k slow walk/run on the previous day just to make sure the legs were good enough for the next day.

Needless to say I ensured I did a lot of core exercises and massaged myself as and when I could to make the legs sprightly.

THE BIG DAY

—————————————————

Finally the big day…it actually started off on a comedic note with the driver not having arrived and me having to wake him up and get him to rush! So while I was originally supposed to reach comfortably on time, I started off 40 mins late from home! Luckily the roads were all empty and we made decent time to reach about 15 mins before the start. Turns out the queues were so long that the start itself was pushed back by 10 mins! By the time I snaked past the sea of runners, the clock showed 5:48 am as opposed to the scheduled 5:30 am start and without any real thought I was on my way.

My plan was to run the first half at a decent pace without being too fast so that I would have enough time in the last half to take a lot of walk breaks. The intention was to finish between 4 hours 30 mins and 5 hours with the operative word being FINISH!!! Within the 2nd-3rd kilometre itself I realised this would not be one of those days where the weather Gods would be smiling on me. I was already sweating and I had not even begun to motor. I immediately re-assessed my targets and decided to settle for a 4 hr 45 mins finish as an optimal time. This meant that I needed to do 10 K in 1 hr 2 mins, with the HM in 2 hr 8-10 mins to give me enough leeway.

Unfortunately, being cautious meant that I ended up losing a few minutes which meant I finished my 10 K in 1 hr 4 mins. Carrying on the trend of caution, my HM also slipped a bit and I crossed the halfway point in 2 hrs 13 mins. I then tried to put in some more speed till 25 kms and I was successfully maintaining the same pace but around the 26-27 km mark, my left knee started throbbing as did my lower back. The lack of practice and core exercises was coming back to haunt me, so I had no choice but to slow down even further.

At around the 27.5-28k mark, I actually considered throwing in the towel as the 4:45 min buses just zipped past me. That was quite disheartening, cos at that time I was well on target and this seemed like a bitter blow. Probably the bus “drivers” were keen to finish 3-4 minutes faster than their advertised time or perhaps their gun time was a few mins earlier than mine…whatever the case it was quite frustrating.

So, do I quit?

No one would really bother and I could make up a thousand excuses anyway, no one would be the wiser. Perhaps this was what it meant “hitting the wall” … maybe I had gone in harder than I should have or maybe the climate was hotter than what I expected… or maybe it was all three. I then thought that if I was anyway harbouring thoughts of quitting, it meant my finish time was not important, so I might as well enjoy a nice 300-400 metre long walk, sip water, munch on jaggery (I was feeling hungry too!) and maybe just walk till the end. 14-15 kms seemed a bridge too far.

The jaggery however maybe worked wonders (I cannot explain my renewed sense of purpose any other way!), and I realised with a jolt that I was almost at the 30 K mark while I had just been running/walking and pondering over my next move. I looked at my watch and then began calculating and realised that I was still in with a remote chance of a 4:50. Alll I needed to do was run for 400 odd metres, walk 100 and then repeat the cycle. I should still be able to do a km in around 7-7.5 mins. So I set off again, with my brain telling me to just get to the 33 km mark cos after that it was all in single figures. Those 2.5 kms were pretty difficult…I kept looking out hopefully for the distance markers that seemed to be stretching out with every passing kilometre but just like everything else in this world, the wait did end. The 33 km mark was the prettiest one to my addled brain. I drenched myself, popped in some oranges, steadied myself and renewed my assault. From here on I was determined to set targets along the road ahead and run till there, walk while counting till 15, then resume running to the next target.

On came the infamous Pedder Road slope but curiously I think my frame of mind at that time was such that I was like an automaton – only focusing on 200-300 metres running, 50 metres walking… repeat. Slope or otherwise it pretty much felt the same! By the time I had begun the turn onto Marine Drive after Babulnath, it was 37.5 kms almost. Of course the 4.7 kms remaining seemed like 47 kms, but I was only focused on continuing my mechanical walk run, repeat process with a look at the watch at every km marker. By around 39 kms, I realised that 4:50 was no longer possible BUT I could just about scrape through under 5 hrs. So that became my new target and that was one I would just not let go come what may.

In order to not put myself under pressure in the last km, I decided to push harder and faster during my run stretches to save a few seconds with every effort push. I was constanttly calculating furiously which probably helped my brain stay focused and away from letting tiredness take over. Add to it the fact that my Garmin had conked out around the 36 K mark so that meant I had to do continuous math to predict my final time and thus dictate my next km target. I wanted to keep 10 mins for my final km, so I worked really hard in km 41 and was very happy when I saw I was at 41 with 10 mins to spare (That’s the ONE target I did keep!) I then decided to run the usual 200 metres- 50 metres… until I saw the 500 mtrs remaining marker. I tested my legs, weary but ready to put on one final push. All systems go for a 300 metre dash is what I thought as I could see the VT (CST) station in the distance. It looked like the big Gothic monolith was looming forbiddingly against the blazing sky… quite opposed to the beautifully lit up masterpiece in the morning when we began the run! Ah how perceptions change over a few hours!

I intentionally kept my eyes focused on it and kept running until the bend straightened out and with the markers showing 300 metres on the left, I could SEE the finish line and everyone knows that actually seeing the finish line is the greatest boost one could ever have! All thoughts of stopping to walk vanished as I decided to go all the way without a break. I could see the clock above and I could see that I was inexorably close to the 5 hr mark. As I reached the final metre I knew I was well inside the 5 hour target and I even found the inclination to raise up a victory sign before I crossed the line.

I had done it in 4 hrs 57 mins…not my best but my lack of elation and also the fact that I could walk easily to the medal counter meant that I had definitely not given it my all. Yes, I was tired but I instinctively knew that I had not paced myself to my limit for fear of cramping or falling sick. Prudence had taken me to the finish line, but it was not the optimal result. With mixed emotions I walked around for the next 2 mins, collected my medal, saw the winners being felicitated and then moved off for home.

It had been a tough run but my lack of practice and then subsequent over training and lastly my inexperience meant that I have lots of room to improve. That’s probably a good thing now in hindsight but I reckon all of Sunday I was just relieved to have got the monkey off my back!

SCMM 2015 FM Medal

SCMM 2015 FM Finisher Medal – Was it worth it? You bet it was!

 

 

This has been a very long post already, so I shall continue in my next post about what I did learn while on the way to my first FM. There were many curious points and counter points about timed running vs running without gadgets… discussions about hyped races, discussions about various events and their lack of facilities… within one year I have seen the running scene in India from a lot of viewpoints and I will post my own thoughts on the matter in the coming few posts. I will also post about my analysis about what went wrong during my run and what I should watch out for. There were many others this time who also got it wrong, either because the climate got too hot too quickly or perhaps they did not train enough or probably went too fast or too slow. (this even includes a handful of ELITE athletes who did a rare DNF!! that’s probably unheard of…at least for me!)

That’s it for this loooooooooooong post …Many many thanks for reading…to whoever bothered to reach the end!

Mussoorie Half Marathon 2014 – Probably The Toughest Half Marathon in India!


 

(Disclaimer: Except the sunset pics, none of the pics have been clicked by me and are not my property. I have used a number of pics clicked by the Mussoorie HM guys and its full credit to their photographers. The intention is to portray the beauty of the race and not my skills at photography, so I do not lay claim to any of them… and they are all fantastic clicks)

 

The beautiful Mussoorie HM

The beautiful Mussoorie HM

The fantastic vista all around

The fantastic vista all around

 

I was fortunate to have run the Mussoorie Half Marathon on Saturday the 1st of Nov 2014 as it was pretty much as near a perfect run as I can hope for! This was the third edition of the run and the first running this year of a new course that led along the ridge from Mussoorie to Dhanaulti. This was expected to be an extremely tough course and I’m glad to say, it was true to its word!

Before I get any further with the race details, I would like to thank whoever it was that mentioned this lesser known Half Marathon on a discussion involving which was the toughest hill half marathon in India. The general consensus is the Satara Half Marathon but that is probably because it is so well known and because it has a prize money which draws elite runners. I have been on a quest to do all the toughest hill runs in India and thus, it was without hesitation that I registered for this awesome run. (one of the best decisions I have made in a while!)

 

The Registration fee was a paltry Rs. 500 and that included a t-shirt, post run snacks (bananas and biscuits) and a manual timing certificate. This year the medals were only for the top 3 finishers in all categories 5k, 10k and 21k men and women. (Apparently last year the registration fee was higher and a medal was included… but I cannot be sure about that since this was my first run here)

Event details (bib pickup times, mela schedule etc) can be found on the event website – http://mussoorierunners.com/event-details-and-history/

 

Now onto the experience … 🙂


 

Oct 31st Friday

I reached Jolly Grant airport in the afternoon and caught a pre-paid taxi till Mussoorie (cost Rs. 1600) The taxi raced manically with its horn blaring through the dusty Dehradun streets, populated by insanely adventurous drivers who love honking and overtaking at the slightest possible opportunity. I have seen this insane driving around Rishikesh all the way till Joshimath, so I think I can safely conclude that this is a common Uttarakhand problem! No one seems to have patience in this state! After a torrid 45 minutes of sensory annihilation, we finally escaped Dehradun and started out on the outskirts and up the slopes to Mussoorie. For a seasoned Himalayan traveller like me, the green hills do not provide anything exceptional…on the contrary they suffer from the same problem that every hill town in India does – haphazard development leading to ugly concrete structures perched sporadically along their sides.

After a total of about 2 hrs and 10 mins, up winding slopes and switchbacks, we finally reached Mall road and I was dropped off near the point where the road forks off leading to Woodstock school. I called up my friend and fellow runner from Mumbai – Amar, and found that he was still about an hour away, so decided to tuck into a quick lunch while I waited.

It was about 3:30 pm when Amar and I met at Mall Road and began the walk to Woodstock school gate for the race packet pick-up. The school is 3 kms from this point and the altitude keeps rising as we go further eastwards. After about 40 minutes of hauling our bags and ourselves over the slopes, breathing in the rarefied air and dodging the insane drivers, we finally reached the school gate. Steve Luukkonen, the P.E. teacher at Woodstock School, is the driving force  behind this run. He is a runner par excellence and an awesome, ever-smiling host! He was distributing the race packet personally and answering the queries we had.

 

The bib pickup - Woodstock school gate

The bib pickup – Woodstock school gate

 

Steve incidentally has been the winner on both the previous occasions on the earlier route. This year was a new route and would be the first time the Half marathon would officially be run. Steve explained that the run would begin from the gates of the HANIFL centre, one km further up the road, so we went walking ahead to recce and make sure we knew what awaited us the next day. Running up the initial slope from the start point literally took our breath away and we knew tomorrow would be a real test. As we walked back and passed the school gates, we saw a couple of guys taking selfies with the Libyan flag draped around their shoulders. They waved a hello to us and we got talking. Both were friends, pursuing B Tech in a university in Dehradun and had been practicing for the event by running up slopes near their college. One of them was a Libyan – Walid, while the other was a Keralite – Vinod. We wished them luck and as the sun set spectacularly at the back, we parted ways.

 

 

silhouette

Silhouetted trees in the gorgeous sunset

 

sunset

the sunset without the trees 🙂

 

We decided to walk back to our hotel – Club Mahindra to help us acclimatise better and that was probably a smart move. The walk back was pretty demanding as it was 5 kms from the HANIFL Centre and the fact that it was perched high up on Gun Hill meant there was a steep slope and a long flight of stairs to negotiate before we finally tumbled into our rooms around 7 pm. We were absolutely tired and after some coffee and freshening up, decided to have a quick dinner and turn into bed asap. Dinner begins from 8 pm onwards and we were the first in the restaurant … quickly ordered dal, palak paneer and rotis and somehow got it all down without falling asleep at the table! By 9, we were back, and within a minute of getting to bed I was asleep .

 


 

Nov 1st Saturday

We woke up at 4 am, got refreshed, had some badam milk and coffee and were ready to start marching. By 5 am, we were out of the room and marching down the Gun Hill slope to meet Saurabh at the junction of Library Chowk and Mall road. The lights of Dehradun glittered in the distance and the early morning sky was pretty clear and chill as we marched rapidly toward HANIFL Centre. After an hour-ish of brisk walking, we were at the centre by 6:15 am.

The place was already bustling with Steve marshaling his troops along. A desk was quickly brought out for registration check-ins and runners were quickly and efficiently cleared out as per the distance chosen. Everyone was in great spirits and very friendly, and we met with and chatted up quite a few folks. The facilities were perfect – plenty of water, ample toilets and a spacious luggage cloak room.

the start line was 100 metres down the road from the HANIFL Centre while the finish was right at the Hanifl gates, so we crossed the finish before we even began! A lovely sunrise peeked over the plains in the distance as we got ready to begin.

 

MussoorieSunrise1

The rosy glow across the pains (taken from Hanifl centre)

MussoorieSunrise2

The sunrise again, this time from the start line.

 

A total of 65 runners had registered for the Half Marathon, of which it seems 37 (or 38) actually turned up. Me and Amar (Ranu) were the only runners representing Mumbai, and I also bumped into a friend of mine, Shishir Gupta from Delhi, who had recently done the Leh Half marathon…he would be a good judge of whether this marathon did stand up to the test of difficulty! As we waited for the final (on the spot) Registrants to come on down to the starting line, we spied bib number 332 and got this cool pic together

 

Sequential bonding pre-run

Sequential bonding pre-run

 

Steve belted out a few final instructions :

– throw the paper cups on the road, a vehicle will sweep past (do not chuck them over the road side)

– Make sure you turn around the mid-way point and ensure your bib number is recorded (no timing chips for this run)

– enjoy the run

All sensible advice… here he is “dictating” terms at the Start Line.

 

General Steve at the Battlefield frontline.

General Steve at the Battlefield frontline.

 

At about 10-12 mins past 7 am, we were off and running with Steve leading the way. As an aside, it was incredible to see a bladerunner (bib # 343) in the lineup (you can see him in the pic above right at the start) competing in an incredibly tough run. His name is Prakash Sodhi and he fought hard and completed the run with a superb time of 3:29. A true victory of the spirit and I am fortunate to have known him through this run. I hope to meet him again next year and run with him!

 

...and the race begins! Amar can be seen in the fluorescent XPTC t-shirt zooming away ahead of me.

…and the race begins! Amar can be seen in the fluorescent XPTC t-shirt zooming away ahead of me.

 

Everybody zoomed off down the short slope and then virtually raced up the steep slope, leaving poor me struggling at the back of the pack, slowly enjoying my way up, taking in the sights. The first slope after the start line is steep, although its not an insanely steep slope as it seems, and can be negotiated, IF one keeps his breathing regulated. It does take a toll on the legs and well, that’s the story for pretty much the entire course! there was a water station aorund the 1.5 km point and then another at the 2.5 km point. You can see the slopes from the route elevation at the end of the blog post and can also see my lap breakup times.

The first couple of kms take you around a curve that is in shade and then finally open out on the other side around the 2.5 km water station into bright sunshine. The route there on largely continues in the sunshine for pretty much till the halyway point and back, which ensures the chill factor at the start is not really felt. (the temperature at the start must have been around 11-12 degrees celsius) Thankfully there wasn’t much wind, which meant that once warmed up, we actually enjoyed the lovely sunshine and the cool temperatures!

 

me and Tara at the top of the first steep section, about to turn into the sun!

me and Tara at the top of the first steep section, about to turn into the sun!

 

There in the pic above you can see us, the “turtles” bringing up the rear of the runners. (even the bike dude seems to be looking at us quizzically) To my right is Tara Kaplan, an amazing lady, she is the nurse at the school, a superb, strong runner (who never stopped during the entire run!) and an absolute gem of a person. She was my running partner during the run, and it was thanks to her that I did not feel tired at all! In fact, its thanks to her that I enjoyed the tough run more than I have enjoyed any other run! I did not even know how the time went by and we had already reached the turn around point! My eternal gratitude to her for her company.

 

Finally the downslope!

Finally the downslope!

 

The long downslope (3-4 kms) after the torrid upslope from the start-line (which was also 3-4 kms) is a relief and great fun. You can see the downslope all along our back (which obviously became the upslope on the way back) Around the 5 kms mark (I think) the road turns around and opens up a vista where the Himlayan range is usually visible, except that on our race day, the clouds had already come in and closed the mountains up.

The final 3 odd kms to the turn around point were also a painful upslope, but I finally managed it happily and wasn’t all that tired! Enroute we ended up overtaking a few of the early rabbits at our steady pace which meant that I was not likely to finish last! 😀

After the turnaround point,  its a pretty similar grind back and the real test begins around the 15-16 km mark where the steep slope begins. I tramped on till the 17.5 km point and finally decided to take a long-ish break to rest my strained muscles! Tara however was as strong as ever and she disappeared into the distance without needing a single break while I manfully marched on.

 

A pic of me solo probably not far from the end!

A pic of me solo probably not far from the end!

 

…and finally after some serious effort in the ending stages (there was a half kilometre upward spike slope before the final km) I was at sight of the finishing line in 2 hrs 33 mins. A total of approximately 6300 feet of elevation climbed with the minimum altitude being 6700 feet and the max being approximately 7600… a seriously tough half marathon ended very satisfyingly in 20th position.

 

The finish line after 2:33

The finish line after 2:33

 

Post race, we all gathered at the HANIFL lawns and I gobbled down bananas and Parle G biscouts and a lot of water. That’s where I heard the news that the Libyan runner – Walid, who had been running really hard and well, had severe breathing trouble and collapsed due to the lack of oxygen, which led him to be taken away by ambulance. his partner, Vinod though finished strongly in 3rd place.

I forgot to mention this but we spoke to Shishir at the end, and he confirmed that this Half marathon was indeed tougher than the Leh HM. He said that the Leh HM had only 2 real sectors of slopes while the majority was a gentle slope/flat run. the only issue there was the low oxygen which could be overcome if you stayed there for a week and acclimatised well. This HM though was much tougher with its constant and extreme elevation changes at altitude. So he rates this as much tougher than the Leh HM…and I will be trying this out myself next year and reporting back.

 

The winner Nate, from new Zealand,  set an absolutely stunning time of 1:25 which was obviously a course record and probably one that will stand for quite a while!

Before I sign off with this report though, I would like to extend my thanks and a special mention to the incredibly enthusiastic cheerleaders at the water stations, whose screams of support  (audible from half a kilometre away) were like a beacon of hope guiding me to the promised land (rest!).

The amazing cheerleaders!

The amazing cheerleaders!

 

At the finish line, the starting sequential trio again! The promising runner Saurabh Singh from Agra who had been our companion at the start ended up 4th and was bitterly disappointed not to have got 3rd… missed out by a few seconds! Amar finished 14th and Manish, on my right finished a few seconds ahead of me in 19th.

 

The trio with our certificates

The trio with our certificates

 

 

As promised earlier, here is the route map and elevation and below it, the link to the Garmin race stats.

 

The Mussoorie HM Route Map

The Mussoorie HM Route Map

 

Click here for the Mussoorie Half Marathon Garmin stats

Click here for the event website photos and results

 

A few other awesome pics of the run below…hope many more Mumbai runners come along. Tara was wistfully hoping to have more female runners, sadly there were just too few and none from out of station. Hopefully our Mumbai ladies will join up and enjoy this truly fantastic run.

 

met these two around the 15 K mark, they were playing 'Whole Lotta Love' by Led Zep ! awesome! :)

met these two around the 15 K mark, they were playing ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zep ! awesome! 🙂

A view of the lovely dark forests

A view of the lovely dark forests

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Of The Day – 16th June 2013


Rekindled my love for photography today after ages 🙂 Having to brush the cobwebs and buckle up! 🙂

Here’s the pic for the day and alongwith it is my daughter… its Fathers’ Day!! 🙂 my little gift to her.

Nestled among the folds far below, the crystal finds sanctuary

To my angel with a lot of love 🙂

Aadhar UID – Important Information


 

Since the last couple of years, the government of India is trying to get everyone under a special unique identification number akin to the unified social security system in the United States.

This however has been (as always) a logistic nightmare with horrible queues forming up thanks to the limited biometric machines available. Recently, however the government has begin the process of trying to organise things better (electronically) and make life easy for everyone. (its a trial process and is currently limited to a handful of cities) This is a great idea BUT fails since there is absolutely no obvious way online to register for an appointment at the biometric centres! (Not even their official website mentions where you can go ahead and do it) … yet another example of a great idea tried haphazardly.

Incredibly though, the actual online form is indeed available online and after a painstaking search on the web, I finally found the link hidden in one of the search results! 🙂

First, download the form here and then apply for an appointment to submit the form and your biometrics.

Please click here and choose your appointment date for submitting your forms and voila that should be all you need to do! (theoretically that is… I myself have applied for an appointment but am yet to see how it goes about!)

Hope this helps everyone in managing to get their enrolment done in a calm and organised manner, so that this initiative can actually bear fruit!

I also urge all my Indian readers to please go ahead and get it done as soon as you can. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Environmental Armageddon


Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of unusual climatic events – an excessive number of floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes… all harbingers of change, that everyone knows is approaching and is yet loath to admit (fear that admitting it will make it worse?)

The Disappearing Arctic Ice

The latest salvo in this build up to armageddon (contrary to popular belief, armageddon means sudden, intense change…a new beginning) is the lowest ever recorded levels of Arctic Ice. To many this seems trivial since “the oceans havent flooded yet have they? … our cities are still standing!

But the truth is, this could lead to far reaching consequences, of which no one actually has a clear idea. I am not a scientist or an expert on climatology, and so I do not profess to know all the answers but I am determined to find out more…if nothing else, then for the future of my daughter.

So, what does this melting of Arctic ice herald? For starters, the ice would reflect large amounts of sunrays back into the atmosphere, keeping the region cold and the ice solid throughout the year. With very little ice to reflect the rays back, it would mean warming of the North Sea. Currently, the world is encircled by constantly moving ocean currents that dictate mostly the climate of the land masses they pass by (for example, the hot Gulf Stream flows past the United Kingdom and keeps it free from freezing, even though its pretty close to the North Pole!)

Why does the Gulf Stream move all the way up to the poles from the equator? In simple terms this is due to a huge body of cold water at the North Pole sinking down with its weight (cold tends to sink while hot tends to float) and to fill up the “gap”, the warm current from the equator which is much lighter, flows upwards (helped by the motion of the earth – the Coriolis effect) thus forming a giant water “pump” of sorts, that maintains the climatic status quo along the coast of the United States and Britain. As the North Sea starts becoming warmer, the cycle of this warm current will weaken and dissipate, and quite likely cause frequent storms and typhoons along the coastal areas on both sides of the Atlantic. This is alos likely to affect the wind currents, which would mean that certain interior parts of Europe and Asia will also see very unusual weather patterns… the rainy season could alter, droughts could increase…the Sahara could become green again (okayy that was a bit too much) 😀

The Swarm – HIGHLY Recommended Reading

The Swarm is a spectacular book that explains all the possible disasters we are bringing down upon ourselves…and does it while keeping up a completely believable and incredibly entertaining plot. Read all about the plot here  and trust me, get yourself a copy. Its simply brilliant…un-putdownable even! (the first 2-3 pages may be a bit dull but the rest is superb)

Why I Love English


This photo is not mine – I saw it on a Facebook share. UI had to share it..if nothing else, to remind myself of the richness of English and its witty writers 🙂

This is a discussion between people deciding which scientist to go dressed as in a Halloween science themed party.

WordPlay and Puns 🙂 Gotta love it!

 

 

Guns N Roses in Dec and Slash in Feb?


Too good to be true? well…if Metallica can perform in Bangalore and Megadeth “could” perform in Noida in October, surely this double treat could happen as well! Hell, I’ve waited loooooooong enough!!!!!!!

Here’s some grist for the rumour mills 🙂

GNR In India

Axl In India!

According to many credible sources including Wild City and Gibson Guitar India, rock juggernauts Guns N’ Roses (GN’R) will tour India this December. The legendary rock band has had a colourful history with huge hits such as ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine‘, ‘Paradise City‘ and ‘November Rain‘ entertaining fans around the world from the mid ’80s to the early ’90s. Along the way, there have been controversial changes in personnel and lots of infighting before the current avatar of the band was consolidated under lead singer Axl Rose.

The complete article here -> http://nh7.in/indiecision/2012/08/01/guns-n-roses-to-tour-india-in-december/

Slash In India

Slash in India!

Mooz Entertainment , bringers of tentative-awesomeness (Korn’s Tour of India), have announced their plans to bring ex-Guns ‘N’ Roses guitar star Slash to play a three-city tour of India in February 2013. Earlier this month, Mooz Entertainment announced that the Guns ‘N’ Roses would play here in December.

The complete article here -> http://nh7.in/indiecision/2012/08/17/slash-to-tour-india-in-2013/

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If this happens, which one would YOU go to? 🙂

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Picture Of The Day – Sep 19 2012


Found this posted on a Facebook group. Obviously doe snot belong to me, cos I dont live in Australia!

Its a tornado of fire that ravaged the Outback for 40 minutes (purportedly)

Tornado of Fire – Australian Outback

 

 

Festival Season Begins!


Its autumn…which means its time for some of the biggest festivals of India. This is the time when (for a change) it actually feels great to have a bugeoning population! 🙂 as everyone crowds the streets…dressed their best … a true riot of colour.

Different states in India have varying presiding deities, and its quite interesting seeing the way festivals are celebrated differently.

Today is the start of the biggest festival in my city – Mumbai – Ganesh Chaturthi. The city’s presiding deity is Ganesha and is loved and revered in equal parts especially in Maharashtra with the Ganesha festival being at its boisterous best in Mumbai. Its no exception this year, as people have once again spared no expense for the elephant God, despite the back breaking inflation and general ineptitude of the administration.

Here’s what you can expect … (this photo is not mine and I do not claim the rights to it. Its purely used to show the sheer revelry the festival brings out)

Lord Ganesha

Ganesha lording over the minions

While on the other side of the country, in the hills of Darjeeling, the festival of Teej was celebrated. Here is a pic showing the celebration (again its not mine and I thank the photographer for posting it!)

Teej

Teej celebrated in Darjeeling

 

 

Travelling and games for me please :) Check our games https://twitter.com/blackcobragame

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