Sunday, November 01, 2015

Back to the Path

After I got busy with my marathon preparation - since June -  I stopped going Sudarshan Kriya by myself.

Every Sunday at 7:00 AM, there is a refresher course - where an Art of Living teacher guides us in doing Suriya Namaskar, and a few Asanas, Pranayama and finally Sudarshan Kriya in Guruji's voice -  in our Apartment Complex party hall.  I used to attend them occasionally before, and after signing up for the Marathon - I stopped going.

On Sep 20th evening, after I finished the Half Marathon and was cooling my heels in the hotel room reading a book I picked up at Blossoms on Church Street - I get a WhatsApp message from Aditiji - she was my teacher when I attended the Art of Living Course in August, 2014. "Where are you, don't see you nowadays?". I was in such a good mood ( runners high ), and I immediately replied, "I was training for the Marathon. It is done. See you next Sunday".

After sending the message I wondered - Man is this sheer coincidence or is it all planned. Would be interesting to know the sequence of events in Aditiji's life which prompted her to send me the message  - perhaps that Sunday no one turned up and she went through her contacts to round up elements like me ( on-now-off-now ) 

That Saturday I told San, ( more off-now-rarely-on element ) - tomorrow lets go to the refresher meet. San incidentally was suffering from cough which started almost around Monsoon beginning and was not going away. She said perhaps the So-Hums will be of help and she readily agreed.

Sunday morning I wanted to sleep - no more long runs - it was the very next week after 4 months of running on Sundays - but San was all pumped up to go do Yoga. Seeing her charged up the enthu rubbed on to me, and we both went to the Party hall. 

We did all the Yoga, Pranayama and Kriya and by 9:00 when I opened my eyes - I felt the same feeling I got after running 12 kms during the marathon - that same calmness, the clarity of vision and mind - and being almost thoughtless. I just wanted to go sit under a tree, close my eyes and linger there. 

After that the next few days we continued doing the yoga and Sudarshan Kriya by ourselves. San's cough went off. Again - can be coincidence - the rains stopped - or the So-hums had an impact. I am finding more of the skeptic in me reducing and I am starting to believe in the meta-physical world. 

I am realising a few things. 

Breathing is the key to opening something amazing locked up within our bodies. From my early days of running to the current running form - my breathing has gone from huff and puff - to a gentle steady relaxed breathing. I can run for long distances without getting exhausted. Likewise the breathing we do during the Pranayama - especially the Ujjayi breathe ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ujjayi_breath )  and the fast paced Bhastrika (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhastrika ) - immediately puts the agitated mind in a calming state.Then the countless So-hums we do during Sudarshan Kriya takes it up a notch. 

Yoga is another crazy body hack. It would take a solid half an hour of pounding the road before I would start sweating profusely. Within 5 minutes - a fast paced Suriya Namaskar will have the same effect. I think I can only do 6 or 8 rounds of Suriya Namaskar. There are these Yogathon events ( like Marathon ) where they do 108 rounds - want to give it a shot sometime. I have some fatal attraction to these Marathons and Yogathons.  There are a few more asanas I have learnt which gets the heart racing in no time. 

There are a few Magic spots in the body. Chakras and Kundalini Energy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini) , and Solar  Plexus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celiac_plexus) - which Yoga and Breathing activates in a positive way. 

There is so much to tap into the India's century old secrets - Yogas and Kriyas. Since there was no scientific explanation I thought these were all VooDoo - but having experienced a glimpse of the "other side" - I want to continue unravelling the secrets. 















September 20 - The Half Marathon

Tl;dr : After preparing for a Full Marathon, I complete the Half Marathon - in just under 3 hours.

This reminds me of a tweet I read "Woman completes marathon without talking about it" - and thought about myself. Here I am chronicling each week of my Marathon training![ Starting here ]

Anyway - here is a brief write up of my running the Kaveri Trial Marathon 2015.

I had booked a cheap room near MG road, one of the fancy startups of 2015 - parallel to Church Street - where all the pubs are there. Woke up at 1:00 AM, freshened up and walked to the bus pick up point near Queen Victoria Statue. This is near the Chinnaswamy stadium - and till I reached I was not sure if the bus will be there - and was wondering what will the plan B be if the bus had already left or didn't show up.

Thankfully 2 buses were there - and a volunteer cross checked my name and let me in. I got in and immediately dozed off.

Took more than 2 hours to reach the race venue. It was still dark. They had music going on and felt energised.

Some 200 odd Full marathoners were there. Their race was to start at 6:00 AM. The race starting point was a Km away. For the 800+ Half Marathoners , the race was to start at 6:30 AM. The full marathoners started proceeding to the race start point.

I went and stood in the queue for the Portable Potty. There was a long queue and there were 5 units, but only 2 were functioning as water and toilet paper were out in others. Next time - carry a roll.

I had to rush to the race starting point - and boy oh boy - there was such a huge crowd. And the track was so narrow. I thought - there is going to be a stampede.

It was beautiful. Just perfect weather - not too cold and fresh clean air. And the excitement and enthusiasm all around crept into me.


Starting point at the distance



6:30 Start.

The fast runners pulled away quickly and we laggards started slowly - the narrow road was not a problem. I was looking at how people run  and a few were stomping heavily - felt bad for their legs - it will hurt bad at the end.

I ran without a break till the turn around point came - and still kept going - passed all the aid stations and finally stopped at around 12kms. I was listening to 2011 Space odyssey. What a brilliant book.

I was munching parle biscuits and looked at the sky - and it looked so clear. My mind was calm and devoid of any thoughts. Paused the audio book and let the moment sink in.

I resumed running and continued my gentle unhurried pace. Soon I was just 5 or kms from finish line. No pain came thankfully and was enjoying the run.  It is all in the mind.

The sun was up, but clouds quickly covered and there was a gentle breeze.

The people in front



People behind me

Full marathon gives me the shiver.. 

Finally completed it in a new Personal Record time of 2hours and 53 minutes.






The deed was done.

The Full Marathon looks impossible now. Perhaps will give it another shot next year. Will continue my training. Have to increase the pace. This number I put up - was still slower than the veterans - 60 years and above - first place finish ( 2:45 I think ).






Monday, September 14, 2015

Not Much Running Notes : Week 11 - 15

I think Week 11 Sunday I ran 26kms. I felt some weird pain in my foot so stopped. Had set a target of 32kms.

Then as the day went I found my left mid foot hurt really bad. Yaay - new pain. Started research and read all about pronation. Perhaps I was not running right. Saw a youtube video too to prove myself. Read about the correction shoes and got even more confused.

Then I read a post - saying - this is how humans run - no point correcting it. So I came back to my starting point - thanks and no thanks internet. My running is fine.

Perhaps my legs gave up after too much of running on hard surfaces.

I took the tough decision and downgraded from full to half marathon.

Waited for a couple of days, and went for a run. Stopped after 1.5kms as the pain was back. I stopped running for the next 4 days or so.

Should I just quit and live to fight another marathon or give it a shot.

While the debate was raging in my mind - I noticed the pain ease a bit. Did a few runs and even though was tempted did not exceed 5kms. The mid-foot pain was not there.

Yesterday, I ran for an hour at a very gentle pace and managed a little less than 8kms - thankfully no pain.

Will do a couple of short runs this week and be ready for Sunday morning. 21kms I have done so many times the past few weeks - and if no pain surfaces can manage it.

Whoever said Running is fun. Damn you - it has added more stress to my already stressed out life. grrbrr.








Monday, August 10, 2015

Running Notes : Week 10/16

Monday I went shopping in Godrej Nature Basket. Picked up Sofit - Soymilk the plain version ( not adulterated with sugar - which is hard to get ), Tofu and Gooseberry.

Went for runs according to plan on Wednesday,Thursday and Saturday and did the knee exercises.

Sunday morning I was delayed - partly because of the rain and partly because I was lazy. I started the run at 8am.

Set 29kms as target.

My legs felt tired right from the go. I checked out the park but it was fully soggy and unrunnable. Came back to the concrete parking lot + the inside asphalt road. It is going to be a boring 29 loop run. Was debating whether next time I will go to Aarey colony road - but the slopes will kill my confidence.

Crossed 10.5k and took a recharge break. I now switched on the audio book - Wizard of Earthsea. The headphone's right side had stopped working. This keeps getting better.

Ged gets good advise from his master. He starts chasing the shadow. The hunted becomes the hunter. They meet one more time and this time Ged tries to clutch the shadow with his hands but the shadow escapes. However now the shadow has taken the shape of Ged ( but there is no shadow when it walks ) - and is on the run. Ged follows it till he comes to a town where his old friend Welch stays. Welch joins him in the quest to put an end to the shadow.

I continue to run gently and after 17kms, I start doing my run-walk-run routine. Run till the nike App says - you have x kms to go, your current pace is y.. then I will walk for sometime  - will keep telling - ok I will walk to the lamppost and then run - and I will cross the lamppost and then will tell myself - ok the next lamppost but no cheating alright - and so on.

During my research during the week I read something very interesting.

"Learn to differentiate between pain and discomfort"

I could feel some pain come on the foot or ankle or my knees - but I told myself - this is just discomfort and it will go away after sometime. I was getting more and more tired.

Around 20.5kms I took a recharge break. Still 8.5kms to go.

Around 24km - suddenly my senses became super alert. The last time I felt something close to this was during my 4 day Art of Silence course. I could see the road very clearly - each and every micro pot hole was visible. This stayed with me throughout the day.

Reached 29km finally. Was hungry as hell. Have run 4 Hours 18 minutes. Longest ever.

Both my hands were hurting near the joint. Will have to research and increase my upper body workouts a bit. Currently I do 10 push ups and 10 dumbbell lifts. My legs were aching but thankfully none of the fancy pains were there.

Now - the doubt of completing marathon has reduced, but a new one has started increasing - you are one greedy mind - Will I be able to complete within 6 hours - else I will not get a medal. Also the aid stations will all be shut down by then - what if I badly need water or something to eat - I will be damn hungry.

If this was the D-Day I would still have to go 13 more kms. The last km I did in 8.50 minutes. This will only get worse towards the end. If I assumed 9 minute pace  - I will need another 2 hours to complete the marathon.

That will make it 6 hours and 18 minutes. Gotto shave off 30 minutes - so I will have some buffer.




Next Week Torture plan - same as this week, but with 32Kms target for long run.










Sunday, August 02, 2015

Running Notes : Week 8,9/16

Week 9 

And Monday we had a team outing at Thungareshwar. It was a 4km climb on a gently rolling hill - for a temple and a waterfall near Vasai. I went up and back without any fuss. Patted myself on the back - couple of months back I could not have pulled this feat. The body adapts itself really well.

The next 3 runs I kept myself to less than half an hour - so I could spend more time doing the knee strengthening exercises.

Sunday morning it was raining heavily. I was worried about the park.

As expected I found the track very muddy and un-runnable. I left the park and came to my parking lot. However this time I did only 25% of a run in it. Rest I did it on the tar road.

As expected after 5 kms, behind my knee I started feeling the pain. Don't know it was the mind playing tricks on me, or it was really hurting.

Choose to ignore and continued listening to the book - which was quite engrossing. Our hero puts a spell - in a duel with the Malfoy character - which brings out a nameless creature from the unlife.

It starts tearing him apart, and is rescued by the Dumbledore like Head Principal - who dies in the process.

I run 10kms without a break and recharge with a banana and a liter of water.

Sparrow Hawk graduates as a wizard and goes to protect a village from Dragons. He successfully does it and tries to return to his School. However the creature has become his shadow and he is not able to get near his school - since the school is protected by spells which prevents such creatures from coming near. He has to fight the creature all by himself. Oh btw - this nameless creature - is the Voldemort in HP. Oh JK - what a rip off you did?

My legs start showing signs of pain. I run 1 km, walk a bit and run again. I continue doing this - guess this is my rhythm.

At 21kms I again eat a banana and half a litre of water.

Still 5 kms to go.

Around 23kms a gentleman - who was cycling earlier - but later had given the cycle to his wife and he started running - called out to me. Way to go man - and gave a thumbs up and an expression of admiration. I said Thank you and continued.

Typically my ego is in check - always humbled by the distance and pain. But now it erupted to its fullest glory and was very pleased. However I did not do anything foolish - but kept my run a km, walk a bit routine.

I reached 26 and stopped. Wow. I think the marathon is on.



I think for next week I will continue the same plan.

Monday,Tuesday : Rest
Wednesday,Thursday : 5km with a good dose of knee exercise.
Friday : Rest
Saturday : 5kms with knee exercise
Sunday : 29kms.

Week 8

Monday,Tuesday I took rest.

On Wednesday it was raining heavily. I thought I will do skipping. Did a 100. Found I was not sweating, and did a 100 more.

Then a pain came up on my left ankle. Not good.

The next 2 days I was mentally kicking myself whenever I thought about this.

Then on Friday went for a run, and thankfully there was no pain. Saturday went for a short run in preparation for Sunday long run.

Again started my run after setting 26kms as the target.

Around 18kms I felt pain somewhere behind my right knee. Thankfully the left ankle did not hurt.  I walked for a few minutes, and again ran - and again the pain was there.

I somehow managed 23kms and quit. My mind was furiously working on Plan B. Just do a half marathon it said. You don't have it in you - need more training. Again do you want to face the ignominy of coming last in the full marathon?

However I felt that I still had some energy in me. I was not spent like the earlier runs on Aarey Colony - where I had to run on slopes.


Afternoon I had to take P to a chess tournament. I had 4 hours to kill and I was researching all about running and the pain I was having.

Found the name : ITBS - Illotibial Band Syndrome. And found one of the remedies is not to run on concrete surface.

A light bulb went up. At 10AM they close the park and at that point I would have completed 16kms. Then I come back to the parking lot - and after running a couple of kms - around 18kms - that is when this pain starts.

Also I found a good site on knee exercises. Decided to incorporate them after every run.

This one : http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/knee-exercises.aspx

Oh - and I started a new book : A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K.Le Guin. Harry Potter is a straight copy  of this book. HP is all about the boy who will do no wrong etc. In this story - our hero who goes by the nickname - Sparrow Hawk - has skills, but also has the follies of a normal human being. It is way darker and our hero keeps making one wrong decision to another falling deeper and deeper into trouble.

And similarities - walking through walls, a school where they teach wizardry, illusion tricks, a Malfoy like character. JK Rowling.. disappointed with you.










Monday, July 20, 2015

Running notes : Week 7/16

Since I was shifting my long run from Monday to Sunday - it was a short week. Only 3 runs in total.

I was bringing 7 years in Tibet to a close. The interactions between the young Dalai Llama and Heinrich is beautiful. China invades Tibet in 1951 and the book ends on a very sad note - with an appeal for help to keep Tibet free.

This time for the long run I did not go to Aarey colony. Was back in the park behind my apartment complex.

I set 26km as goal and started running. It was drizzling and the rain clouds went away.

Did a 9km non stop run, before getting back to my Apartment Complex security where I had kept 2 water bottles and 2 bananas. After downing a liter and a banana, continued on the 2nd round.

At 18kms, I again got back to my pitstop and downed the 2nd water bottle and another banana. My legs were quite heavy and tired by now. Sat for quite some time, and pulled myself up and started running gingerly

I saw a long brownish black snake swiftly go into a few rocks near the running track -was quite scary - I continued running, and did not dare look back.

Around 10:00 AM, the park security shooed me out. I went back to running in the concrete parking lot - and it broke my running rhythm. Also the Tibetan book ended on a sad note, and I pulled up a podcast which was a bore. Should have prepared something earlier to distract myself.

Beyond 20kms I started feeling pain at 2 places.. somewhere above the left ankle and  behind my right knee - I think this is the lactic acid building up. I walked for sometime so the pain went away, and started running again but the pain kept coming back - after 5 minutes.

At 22.5 kms I stopped. I don't know if this is where my limit is.

Since I did not run on the slopes I was able to stretch my legs properly and even though the legs hurt - it was not as bad like the last 2 times.

I started researching how else I can improve my running. If today was Marathon day, I still would have 20 kms to run :(  There are still 8 more weeks to go. Have to hack my body.

1. I have to start doing Fartleks - run fast and slow alternatively. Every material I read keeps harping on this.

2. I have to start adding more protein to my diet. Did a math - I should take 60gms of protein. Right now I am having an egg a day and some legumes as evening snack. Since I eat red rice for lunch, I am covered on Carbs. But protein I am falling way short. Planning to introduce tofu for a mid-morning snack - don't like the taste that much but I don't have a choice now.

The meat eaters in the family are tempting me - just a few bites of chicken and your daily protein requirement is met they tempt me.. grr.. not falling for it.

I am this close to hitting the panic button, will wait for the coming weeks run and attempt the 26kms one more time and then decide to panic or not.

God give me strength.


Torture plan for next week

Monday,Tuesday : Rest

Wednesday : 8kms
Thursday : 11kms - Fartlek

Friday : Rest

Saturday : 8kms
Sunday : 26kms.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Running notes : Week 6/16

The euphoria of running a half marathon died down rather quickly.

I actually cheated last week. My goal was 23kms, but I stopped after crossing the half marathon mark. Not meeting the long run target was a mistake.

The week was uneventful - it did not rain much and I clocked a few runs according to my plan.

Last week my long run was on Sunday. This time I pushed the long run to Monday - being an off-day ( Team ADDA works Tuesday thru Saturday - no Monday morning blues for us ).

I reached my running spot at Aarey colony and found it devoid of runners or walkers.  Today is a working day and all the poor unlucky folks are at their desk I thought.

I got to know the reason why there were no runners at around 8:30AM. The main road connected Western Express Highway (WEH) to Powai and is full of traffic during peak hours and is jammed. The Aarey colony road is the only alternative to the world famous JVLR road. Moment there is a jam, all the cars and bikes take a detour through my running trail - #)$$*$#))# - and they kept coming on and on in an endless procession.

When one of these vehicles whizzed past precariously close to me, or I had to get down from the asphalt to let the cars go - I plotted how I can get back on these guys. I even invented a portable nail device. When my mind oscillated to the angelic self - it thought of posters that can educate these drivers. Yeah right!

This time I decided to conquer the Aarey colony slopes - so I ran up the 2.5km incline - on both loops - one step at a time. First loop I ran the entire distance of 12kms. Second loop I had to take quite a few walking breaks.

When I was 22kms I closed shop. I was done.

I was kind of down after the run. I could not reach my goal of 26kms. My legs hurt like hell. I had only one thought in my mind - how am I supposed to run 20 more kms? I still have only 2 more months to train and looks like I have hit my limit.

Later when I was running through the run ( :) )  in my mind - I realised. Here I am an ordinary runner - who had struggled to finish a half marathon 3 years back - had just completed 2 back to back half marathons. And I had run up the slope and not walked. And this could be the first run in a long time when I ran without songs or audio book - and so I could not disperse the dark moods that kept clouding my mind.

I should be happy with my performance today - of completing 22kms on a hostile environment.

But men are a greedy lot and so am I. Instead of basking in my achievement - I decided to sit depressed. Later I spoke myself out of it and was at peace.

I have to either move my runs back to Sunday - so other runners can join me in pelting a car - or - find an alternate place to run. Have to do it before the next run - and this time I will reach my target of 26kms - no one can stop me.

Runs for Week 6


Plan for next week

Tuesday,Wednesday : Sweet Rest

Thursday : 8kms

Friday : Rest

Saturday : 8Kms

Sunday : 26kms.



















Sunday, July 05, 2015

Running Notes : Week 5/16

Monday, 29th June 

Rest Day. I took my bike and reconnoitred the Aarey colony area where runners go to train. I measured 5kms one way and was quite pleased. I make 4 trips and I can touch 20kms. The landmark there is New Zealand hostel - and there were quite  a few ups and downs. It is going to be hard.

Tuesday,30th June

8KM goal.

I continued with the Tibetan book. They have got asylum, and the book has become boring. It is an observation of life in Tibet.

When I had just crossed 5,  it started raining and I got back home. My mood also was off beat - lot of things going on and couldn't focus on running.

Wednesday,1st July

8kms.

It was sunny and a nice beautiful day. Had a good run and I did not take any walk break. Towards the middle of the run felt like stopping for a walk break, but kept going. The less I stop the timing is better. I have made a run playlist now of my favourite songs and it helped.

Thursday, Friday 

Rest days - I am following my self made torture plan. I checked the Nike Running coach - it is asking me to run all days of the week. Nuts.

I had got hold of Prefontaine movie - about an American College athlete, a very good (mercurial) runner who breaks lot of records - and who goes to run 3Mile race in Munich Olympics at the young age of 21. There he witnesses the terrorists killing all the Jew athletes right in the Olympic village. He gets disturbed. The games continue, and he is up against a good runner from Finland. He has a chance of winning silver or bronze, but loses.

Then he gets involved in politics with the American Runners Association etc. and organises a meet against their wishes. He successfully pulls it off, but while preparing for the next Olympics in Montreal - unfortunately dies in a car crash.

His coach goes on to co-found Nike.

This movie is apparently a must watch movie for runners. I did not find that inspiring.

Saturday,4th July

8kms goal.

Last Sunday when I ran 19kms, I had not run the 8kms run the day prior. I did not feel quite happy about that. I think these warm up runs before a long run are important. I made sure I will not miss this run.

Tomorrow is a big day ( Sunday, 23kms ).

It was a good run - it was not raining. A strong runner was in the park today and man he runs fast. Typically only walkers are there, and even the few runners are there I over take them. Today I was shown the place in Kandivali Running circuit.

Sunday,5th July

7:30 AM I was at Aarey Colony. There were a few bikes at the beginning of the trail and I parked it there.

I carried 3 water bottles, a 10Rs little hearts biscuit packet, 200Rs cash and my license. The goal today is 23kms.

It was flat for a km and then I hit the slope - all the way to New Zealand Hostel - a gentle but steady 2km incline. I ran the entire stretch.

I was remembering the first and only half marathon I did in December 2011. I had never run in a slope before - the lake I used to run was flat - and on the marathon day it was the first time I encountered a slope - and it messed me up really bad.

I was quite happy when I saw New Zealand Hostel - and did not stop - continued running. After a while I checked the distance - 5.7kms. There was lot of traffic - bikes, cars, lorries - had to be on the lookout all the time - as the roads were quite narrow.

I retraced the way back, and this time I started walking on the upward slopes. Moment I hit a flat land, or a downward slope I will run.

Had covered 12kms. I got back to the bike, sat down and chugged 1Litre water in one go. Managed to take a photo of the bike and my legs while I was resting. No one had touched my bag - Mumbai is a honest city.





I took a half a litre bottle I had brought with me and started my 2nd iteration. This time I walked the entire 2.5km slope. Running with a water bottle in hand is a first, but it was not that bad.

I was in the last 3km stretch - and it was a downhill slope. I gently ran and found a new way to run in the slope - small steps and I could keep the speed in control.

21.3 kms. In 3 Hours and 8 minutes. A Half marathon done.



My legs were very tired by now. Sat down and chugged half a litre. I was quite hungry now and had the Little Hearts. Next time I will bring Parle biscuit. I tried stretching but my legs were hurting. Quickly got on my bike and got back home. All along the leg muscles were feeling very tight. Regretted not having stretched them. I have to do some minimal stretching no matter what.


After reaching home dipped them in warm water and felt better.

My body was tired. Tried sleeping but my mind was very alert. It was weird. I was recollecting my last half marathon - where I finished last and was in pain when I finished it - and had to limp for the next few days. And not to mention the drama I did before the marathon - eating curd rice for lunch and dinner in the name of carb loading. Also I was a meat eater that time.  This time I did not do any fuss and continued the regular vegetarian diet.

Some photos from this beautiful hidden lung space - 200ms from the congested Western Express Highway near Goregaon.

A few places they had laid good roads - also vehicles come very fast in these stretches

This is the treacherous slope - doesn't look much in photo -
bikes,cars switch to 2nd gear.. 


Here is my plan for the next week.

Monday,Tuesday July 6th,7th - Rest.

Wednesday, July 8th - 8kms
Thursday, July 9th - 11kms

Friday,July 10th - Rest.

Saturday, July 11th - 8kms
Sunday,July 12th - 26kms.














Sunday, June 28, 2015

Running Notes : Week 4/16

Monday June 22

6.46KM. It was a laboured run. Rain was pouring heavily and had to stick to the parking lots.

Our hero and his friend decide to take a treacherous route populated by nomads and campa ( thieves )  - as there are no district officials in that route. The district officials would have stopped their progress as they do not have permit to go to Lhasa.

The 2 fugitives move from one nomad camp to another and are well taken care of. Here they find polyandry common - a woman living with 2 or 3 husbands. As they get deeper and deeper, they find the nomads becoming more and more hostile. They were entering the campa territory. Campa are the thieves who plunder from nomads and caravans.

They unknowingly go near a tent, assuming it is that of a nomad. Soon they find out it is that of a Campa - as they do not have any sheep or do not look anything like that simple nomads. They have a fitful sleep if they will be murdered that night.

The next day morning they quickly start. The campas let them go, but soon 2 sturdy looking campas start accompany thing them prodding them to go to a nearby hill where a smoke was emanating. Our heroes quickly decide it is a bad idea, and soon retrace their way back to the campa tent giving some excuse, and then they follow the route they came - as they knew it already and it was not campa infested.

Somehow they dodge the pursuers, and now take a different route suggested by the nomads - which is  even more treacherous but no humans inhabit this hostile territory.

Tuesday June 23

Target was 11kms. I decided to get out on the road. It was a very bad idea. There were poodles of water and it was raining heavily. I mis stepped multiple times and I knew it was not good for my legs.

After 6.8kms gave up as I had developed a familiar pain on my right legs - Shin splints.

I used to have it in my left leg a long time ago. It usually comes when I run a lot or I run bad. This time it could be the combination of both.

I was worried a bit as does this mean my marathon conquest is going to end? I decided to give a rest to the training program.

Wednesday thru Saturday

Rest. I was constantly researching where to go run. Ruled out Sanjay Gandhi park as they have laid it in concrete the entire stretch to Kanneri caves and I can only go after 7:30AM. Have zeroed in on Aarey colony - have to go check out.

On Friday I did manage a few steps and there was no pain. I was at Isha foundation at Coimbatore and was trying to reach the 5:45PM Nada abhishegam. We reached at 5:45PM and had to run to the Dyanalinga. It was beautiful the meditation and the scene - it was cloudy and drizzling, at the foothills of Vellingiri mountains where we spotted 5 water falls.. and a beautiful calm ashram. Could have stayed forever.

Sunday June 28th

According to the training plan I have to run 19kms on Saturday ( yesterday). I decided to do the long run today.

Thankfully the rains had spared Mumbai the last 2 days and the roads and park were dry. There was a brief shower in the morning but it was not heavy.

I ran for 8kms at a stretch. No pain. Phoo. The marathon is on. Took a short walk break and continued running for another 2kms. I went back to the apartment security guy where I had kept the water bottle and drank it all. My legs were already tired and sat down for sometime. Screw time.

P was doing his cycle rounds and spotted me. The chatter box will not leave me alone. I was starting on the next 9kms with a doubtful heart. And this guy asks,

"Naana why you are not running?"

I said, "boss my legs are tired. I am giving them a rest. Will have to think of something strong and then run"

"What strong things - like metal?"

I thought for a moment and said - "like Love and Joy."

P wanted to come with me on his cycle - I had to force him to cycle within the apartment complex. On a shorter run perhaps I will take him with me. Today I have a tough run ahead.

I walked for another km, and then entered the park. This time decided to finish the remaining 8kms in the park itself. I ran a mapping run - to see how long the trail was - had to put on the headphones for this and switched on the audio book. The trail was a perfect 1km. What a blessing this place is.

Our heroes now enter Lhasa. They use their wit and lie at couple of places that a bigger entourage is following and they have to go and prepare lodging for their bosses and race through the checkpoints.

They are received well, and the Tibetans take good care of them. Even the Dalai Llama's parents meet him. They were simple peasants in a village in China before their son was identified as the Buddha reincarnate.

They were then brought to Tibet where they were treated as a King and Queen.

The heroes now are more or less saved. Their first night was funny - after spending days in the cold in their make shift tent, they get a nice warm heater and a soft bed - and they find it hard to sleep.

I switch to my running songs and complete the run with more walks towards the end - after a marathon 2hours and 45 minutes. 19kms conquered.

P was waiting for me near the gate of the apartment complex and we both go and drink Tender Coconut.

My legs are super worn out. Shin splints did not appear.



I will be making few changes to my run - I think I get the drift of this marathon preparation.

Here is going to be my new torture plan for the next week. Deviating from what Nike run coach is suggesting ( i am cutting off one run )

Monday : Sweet Rest

Tuesday : 8kms
Wednesday : 11kms

Thursday,Friday : Rest

Saturday : 8kms
Sunday : 23kms

Will use tomorrow to explore my new route at Aarey colony.

Here is what I did on Week 5.












Saturday, June 20, 2015

Running Notes : Week 3/16

Monday - June 15

I decided I will not doubt anymore if I can complete the marathon or drop midway. I have survived 2 weeks and I have run 86kms in 2 weeks - something I take 2 months or more to do.

I have to be distracted when I run - either by a podcast or music or a good audio book. Sunday evening I was hunting for a good audio book. I discovered 7 years in Tibet - set against World War II. Had seen this movie long back - Brad Pitt was in it. Downloaded it and was looking forward for the morning run.

Also, a friend of mine advised me to not run on concrete too much - I run around the parking lots - the hard concrete surface damages the knees in the long run ( hehe - unintentional pun ). So I moved to a nearby park - it was completely deserted because of the rain and the track was a mud track and was wet slippery and soggy at lot of places. Not sure if this will still be runnable after the Mumbai Rain comes in full force.

This autobiography starts with the narration of German mountaineer, Heinrich, is part of a mountain expedition and is waiting to take a ship back to Germany. It is the beginning of World War II and immediately after Britain declares war on Germany -  his team is arrested by British Indian soldiers in Karachi and is deported to Dehradun POW camp. There he plans his escape. He knows no knowledge of English or Hindustani ( thats how he says Hindi ) and tries to learn as much as possible and plans the route to Tibet - which is a neutral country and he can apply for an asylum.

6.4kms passed away on a strong note.

Tuesday - June 16

It was sunny and no rain. Weird. It is a 11km run - and I went to the muddy track to run.

The story was engrossing. Heinrich and his friend escape and travel quite a distance on foot. English Saahibs never carry anything except a rifle, and all their belongings are carried by Indian servants. So these 2 if spotted will be in trouble. So they travel in the night and hide behind trees or boulders during the day.

They make quite a good progress before they get captured. They are then sent back to the Pow camp and get 26 day solitary confinement. And again they start planning for the escape during the summer of 1939.

This time 7 others join him - but 4 were going to Burma, and 3 along with him to Tibet - which is a neutral country and hopefully they will get asylum there.

The 11km run today was a bit difficult. Managed to finish it keeping under 7 pace. This has become my goal nowadays - to keep the pace hovering around 6:56 or so.

Wednesday - June 17

Today it is a 8km run. It was drizzling and it was gloomy.

I started with the This week in tech podcast - learnt about Apple Music - which I am looking forward to launch in India - and generally the panel was in negative mood. So I switched to 7 years in Tibet book.

The fugitives make good progress. They enter Tibet and keep making their way to Lhasa - passing one village to another - and being mesmerised by Himalayas. The author takes time to describe Himalayas, Manasoravar lake etc. and I am jealous of him. How beautiful it would have been at that time - untouched by humans and pristine.

Things finally look up for the fugitives and they might be granted a pass to go to Lhasa. I end the run just a little shy of 7 pace. Give a pat to myself for having finished the run for the 3rd successive day and earned a rest day tomorrow.

Today my legs were both tired. I figured, even if my legs are tired I can run at this gentle pace - perhaps this week long run I have to run this way only.

Thursday - June 18

The beauty of a shade is only appreciated after standing in the sun for hours. Today is rest day - and I am loving it.

Friday - June 19

Mumbai is getting heavy rains. Schools and most of the offices are closed today. Local trains which never stop were stopped because the tracks were all flooded. And in this weather I ran. I wore a cap, a rain jacket and regretted immediately as it got really hot - not a good idea. It is better to run drenched.

The park I run was unrunnable. Ran on the roads and felt my pace getting hammered. Let go of the under 7 pace goal. Had to run into many a puddles, wait at intersections, and water got into the shoe. It was fun. Not sure if it will dry by tomorrow for the long run.

6.4kms was completed in a gentle pace.

Saturday - June 20

It was as if a big bucket of water got dumped on Mumbai. 1/10th of the annual rain fall came in just one day.

Throughout the previous day was wondering where to run? Was tempted to ask this question on twitter - but it would have raised a storm - when the city is flooded is this your biggest concern @venkat2? Ideal topic for trolls. Kept my peace.

And today is the mega run - 16kms.

I started the run today and decided to stick to roads - no parks. I did not listen to the book - had to be alert to listen to the vehicles. If I was listening to the audio book or music, I will get prompts every 1 km. But today I had to run without these alerts. I ran for quite some time and thought - I should have run some 10kms. I took a walk break and that time checked my phone and saw I had covered just 5kms. Man this is going to be tough.

I took a deep breathe and again started. This time I discovered a new park behind our Apartment Complex - a larger one - has a mud track and was slippery in patches. It was deserted. Running in roads did not excite me - I like the parks. Did a couple of rounds, and ran through the parking lots once again. Had kept a water bottle before the run with the security guard of our Apartment Complex - took a break to drink and checked the distance. It was 12kms. Phoo - just 4 more kms.

I switched on the audio book and decided to run within the parking lot. Our hero is stuck in a village - has made friends with the locals and  celebrates Tibetan New Year. A young girl dies of chicken pox and observes their rituals. 3 men carry the dead body to a place of burial marked by lot of vultures and birds. Here one of the men chop the body into many pieces and even break the bones for the birds to consume. The other men keep the birds away.

In Tibetan culture - the soul has gone on its journey of reincarnation. They do not want any part of the body left behind and they let it get consumed by the earth. Sounded barbaric but natural.

Having signed up as an organ donor it resonated with me. Each human being can give an eye sight, or  even more precious - life - to 9 other people - by donating organs.

Anyway 1 km was left, and I have run more than 2hours. World record for marathon is 2:03:02. And here I am still struggling to finish a 16km run. I am in awe of the super humans who can run a marathon in 2 hours time.

I completed the 16km distance and heaved a sigh of relief. Week 3 conquered. My legs were done. My pace was 8mins.

Coming back to the story. The war is over but he is still a fugitive. Tibet has not given asylum and they are urging him to go to Nepal - where he is sure he will get arrested and sent to the camp.

So our hero plans an escape. Does all the preparations and sets off in the night - the villagers even though they protest - because they will get punished by their higher authorities, do not stop him. I am eagerly waiting when he will reach Lhasa and meet Dalai Llama who was a kid that time - the exchanges between them was very interesting in the movie.


My pace went downhill

Current week torture report 
Next week torture plan

Here is what I did on Week 4.






Saturday, June 13, 2015

Running Notes : Week 2/16


Monday - June 8th

When I woke up felt my legs ached a bit. Was debating whether to give it a pass - as I have 2 long runs coming up the next 2 days.

Anyway, dragged myself out of the home and started at my gentle pace. Once I started running did not think of the mild pain.. it went away I guess. It was just my mind fooling me. Then when I had 2 kms to go raised my pace a bit. I think I can identify 2 paces - a slow pace where I breathe through my nose effortlessly, and a slightly faster pace - where I really run - and breathe through the mouth. I feel I have one more gear left.

Listening to Once a runner audio book. It is about a bunch of cross country athletes in a South Eastern University of Florida, and our protagonist - Cassidy - is in trouble. He had represented other athletes against a rather stupid circular from their Athletic director - to cut hairs and wear collared shirts. And the athletic department has suspended him to bring fear and discipline in others. He is to face the board today, but before that goes for a run with his friend - and the author philosophises about running - beautiful piece.

Tuesday - June 9th

Night I had to put Volini on my knees. They were not feeling normal. When I woke up knees did not have the odd feeling. Had the nagging fear - will I get pain on my knees and I have to break my run midway?

I was searching for WWDC podcasts, but none were there. I continued Cassidy's story and he is thrown out of college. He goes to the woods and lives alone and becomes a monk runner - runs twice a day.. almost a full marathon each day.

Todays run is 9.7 KMs, had to run at a fast pace after 1.6KMs. I picked up pace, and each lap I ran faster than the previous one - like a Formula 1 car that picks up speed as its fuel load lightens up. Ended up with amazing timing - almost 6.30 on average - pretty impressive.

Right knee is acting up a bit - gotto give it a massage in the night, and perhaps buy the knee braces. This running business is expensive.

Wednesday - June 10th

Woke up at 4:20AM in anticipation. Thought I will do Sudarshan Kriya, but dozed off. Searched for any good podcasts, I only got 2 hours left in the audio book. Did not find any interesting podcasts, so decided to run with the book.

It was a gentle good run - 8.4kms - did not push too hard at any point.

In the story Cassidy practises real hard and even manages to run a mile within 4 minutes. His friend Denton keeps Cassidy filled with books, training and keeps him sane. He is trying to enrol Cassidy in an athletic meet, but the College board removed Cassidy's name from him. Denton talks to the Chancellor - and says Cassidy can bring glory as he has improved a lot, but the Chancellor talks of discipline etc. and even threatens Denton openly on his academic career coming to an end if he keeps supporting Cassidy.

I picked up a mild pain in the right leg muscle below the knee on the back. Tomorrow is cross-training day ( I call it rest day ) - if I give it enough rest it will be alright.


Thursday - June 11th

Cross-training day. Did Suriya Namaskar and Sudarshan Kriya.

Friday - June 12th

I had a 8am meeting in Worli. That means had to leave home by 7am. That means I have to complete my run by 6:15am max. That means I have to wake up by 5:00am. Thats what I did and ran 6.4kms.

It had rained the night before, and it was dark and there are little pools of water here and there. The Mumbai rain season is just beginning. Legs felt heavy and was wondering how I will do the long run tomorrow. Also I did not have my morning dose of filter coffee - so was in a terrible mood at the beginning. But like in all runs - after a few steps the dark mood drifted away.

Cassidy trains real hard. Denton his friend and trainer makes him work really hard. Does interval training where he gets him fully tired. Then makes him repeat it - and here is where Cassidy discovers something inside him. After this he sleeps for 17 hours straight after this.

And he is going to race in the College Track once again. The worlds faster runner - a bloke from NewZealand - is to participate and Cassidy is enlisted as Faaz - with Denton doing some shady stuff - as a Finnish runner. And Cassidy had stopped shaving and grows a beard - so he won't be recognised. Can't wait for tomorrow's run to see how this story ends.

Saturday - June 13th

Today is the longest run of the week.13kms.

Legs feel real tired. I started the run with lot of doubts - could I finish today's run and the Marathon?? It was drizzling a bit and had to watch where I put my foot as I might slip on the slopes.

I tuned into the audio book - and Cassidy walks the track before the race night thinking what he will do at every step. And the race night. It is all explained in detail. After the race starts, somehow the word spreads and everyone comes to know the bearded runner  is not Faaz - the finish runner - but their own hero - Cassidy - who has been expelled - and the crowd starts chanting. Cassidy's now ex-girl friend - Andrea - stands up and sees his face - and suddenly realises what this runner is all about and she too starts chanting - much to the chagrin of her new boyfriend.

I cry here. Thankfully my spectacles is all wet and no one would have known. I was rooting for Cassidy too.

The Newzealand Runner is ahead but at the final stretch Cassidy beats him to win the race and that too in 3.52 minutes. His fastest ever and he not only breaks the 4 minute barrier, he also beats the worlds fastest runner. The Athletic director eats humble pie.

The story ends with him leaving the medal on the field and walking away.

The story got over quickly. I still have 5 more kms to go and it was getting tough. My legs have become very tired and the last 2 kms I had to really push hard to complete.

Tomorrow thankfully is a rest day - and from Monday Week 3 starts. And next week the long run is 16km. It is cruel - after a gruelling week - on Saturday - when my poor legs are the most tired is when I do the longest run of the week. This is how athletes build strength I guess. This is how they learn to run the last 10 or 15 kms of the 42km Marathon - when they are all done and tired, they dig into their deepest reserves to complete the race.


"Trial of Miles. Miles of Trials" - Once a runner.


This week running summary

Next Week plan
[ Week 3 Notes ]







Sunday, June 07, 2015

Kaveri Trail Marathon

September 20 is my D-Day - The Kaveri Trail Marathon [ http://kaveritrailmarathon.com ]. Got to know via a tweet and it set me on another of my adventure / irrational act - to run a full marathon ( 42kms ).

I had run (half walked in pain) a half marathon ( 21kms ) in the Bangalore Midnight Marathon held in Dec 2011 and it was a disaster. [ My first half Marathon ]. I finished last. And vowed never again. Next time I will train better and will run the full race, not walk half the race.

It has been 3 long years since then and I could never bring myself to run even a half marathon again. Always the fear of failure was there and the last disastrous experience kept haunting me.

What if I cannot cross the wall - the point wherein body has exhausted its glucose content and starts burning fat. Body thinks it is starving and self preservation kicks in and freezes itself - and a runner cannot take one step forward as body does not allow fat to be burnt. Every marathoner has to overcome this wall.

What if I get cramps at the 41st km just before the finish line - and my legs are all locked up and I am lying on the floor watching the finish line and see others runners crossing it.

What if I develop shin splints and other running injuries and I have to give up the training midway.

What if on the race day I land my foot on a hole, and sprain it badly that I have to DNF ( did not finish ).

What if I develop blisters, stomach cramps, dizziness - or the myriad ailments that can strike me when it is undergoing the heavy stress of a marathon?

My mind quickly got filled with all the Nos. Why should you subject yourself to such torture, when on the very Sunday on Sep 20th - I could be sipping my morning filter coffee and reading a nice book in the comfort of my home.

And it is not just torture for one day - the next 4 months is going to be a torture - every single day.

Why bother at all with this?

But then there is this little voice in my head - which keeps fighting all these little devils - tells this - what if this frail body we are all in can pull off an impossible feat. And I want this little voice to grow louder and defeat these little devil friends of mine.

So I pulled up my phone, launched Nike Running, navigated to Coach, keyed in race date as 20th Sep 2015 - and it created a training plan starting from June 1st ( 16 weeks total)

I will have to do 5 runs a week of which one of them is a really long run. One cross training day. One rest day. One of these runs, as per the running program - I have to do a Fartlek - interval training - run very fast for a few minutes, then run slowly to recover and keep repeating it.

Till date I was averaging 40 to 50 kms a month. From the very first week I have to run 43kms in a week.



I completed the first week successfully. Legs were tired throughout the week, knees a bit wobbly - but thankfully no pain.

Continuing my vegetarian diet. I eat Brown rice for lunch and last week started legumes for evening snacks.  Thinking of adding Soy milk for increasing protein intake.





I have travel coming up - not sure how I can fit them with my training - do not want to miss a single running day.

Will I last the 16 weeks of training?
Will I complete the marathon?

Doubts.. and the battle with these doubts - this is my life for the next 4 months.

[ Week 2 Notes ]











Friday, May 01, 2015

The Swap

I had booked the last flight home - at 10:45pm - to avoid the crazy Gurgaon Peak Hour Traffic, and also it was the cheapest I could get.

And the flight was delayed. Finally the boarding started at 11:30pm. I had woken up at 3:00 AM today, for this one day trip. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open and quickly dozed off as the flight was taking off.

I felt a scary shudder and woke up and found the flight dark. I closed my eyes but I could not go back to sleep. I pulled up my phone and saw the time - it was precisely 12:00 midnight.

But I knew something was wrong. The phone was blurred and it was kind of overlapping as if 2 phones were there. I thought it was my tired eyes playing tricks on me and closed them once again and tried to go back to sleep. I could not shake off the odd feeling.

I tried to open my eyes, and by habit when I am bored I unlocked the phone. This time I tried to focus my eyes better and I could not believe what I was seeing. There were 2 phones. One an Android Phone and another my iPhone overlapping each other. I brought my hand up and could see 2 over lapping wrists and palms. I looked to my left and got the shock of my life.

My sleep evaporated like spilt petrol on a hot tar road.

My co-passenger, a young man - was showing in double - in an overlapped state - like a bad photoshop job. I knew it wasn't a dream. Because any time I get such a shock I always end up waking. I spoke to myself what is this?

"Yes what is this" - I felt a message come back to me and it was very much my voice. Was I speaking to myself?

"Did I just speak to myself? - felt as if I got cloned or something", I thought.

"Yes, it does feel like I am split into two. This is crazy", quick came back the reply.

For sometime both of us were quiet letting the situation sink in.

I did not know what to ask. But I got a thought from my other self pop up in my head.

"I have read about this before. This duplication"

"Kidding me. This is nuts. Doesn't make any sense".

"Ok, I have a theory. I read lot of sci-fi, you read books right?"

"No. I don't - but how come I read books. I certainly don't."

"Hold on - don't panic. I think I am getting it. There are these parallel universes. Infinite parallel universes. There are infinite instances of us in all these parallel universes this very moment".

"Doesn't make any sense. You mean to say, I am right now in infinite such situations, and there are infinite Earth and Universe and so on. Sounds crazy.But go on."

"Ok. Believe me. The latest in Quantum Theory proves the existence of these Infinite Parallel Universes. And at precisely mid-night we might swap our positions."

"You mean you are having a different life - like a rockstar, and I can take up your life".

"More or less. However our lives are not that wide apart - just a few variations thats all. I run a startup - what do you do?"

"Same, I also run a startup".

"Ok, but before we get into the details, do you want to swap?"

"You mean we have a choice so we can swap places. How will we even do it, and how will I survive in your universe"

"Don't worry, we have done it so many times before - just that we never do it consciously. Haven't you felt your life take wild turns all of a sudden - it is because we have swapped places"

"Yes, agree to that. Thought I suddenly got lucky, or got totally unlucky. Ok I am game - always ready for a new adventure".

"Ok. Man you are me. Always looking for an adventure. Lets do it. Just close your eyes, and will to swap places - I will do the same and go back to sleep. It will work".

"Will we meet again?"

"Highly improbable. Even if we meet we wouldn't know because there are infinite of us".

"Can't we continue this conversation some more time?"

"Look at our phones, what time does it say"

"Weird, Still 12:00. Thought I was chatting with you for long."

"Yes, since we are conversing at the speed of thought, this discussion is happening in fractions of seconds. Before it turns 12:01 the swap should happen. Not sure how much time is still left. If you want to do it, we shut up, will it and go to sleep"

"Done. Nice meeting you myself. Have a good one."

"Same here.Good night". 

"Please raise your window shades and pull your seats to the upright position", I heard the air hostess say. I opened my eyes, and felt strange. And suddenly the conversation came flooding to my mind and looked at my phone - it was 1:20AM. And it was not an iPhone any longer.






Monday, April 13, 2015

1,000 Kms.

This is a chest thumping post. I am warning you.

I have unlocked a new level in my life. I have run 1,000 KMs.

 


This was done over the last 2.5 years starting Nov 2012, averaging 6 Kms per run at a nice middle aged man's pace of 6.5 ( pace is the number of minutes it takes to cover 1km ).  I can hear you saying - nothing big to crow about - but hey - this is me I am competing against - not Usain Bolt - and as a competitor I am tougher!

I am not a consistent runner. During monsoon I stop running and eat lot of onion pakodas. Also just a few months back my shoe was stolen, or for any lame excuse the devil in my brain will throw at - I will agree immediately, and I will declare an off-day.

It has been a constant battle between the Angel and Devil in my brain. And no clear winner has emerged of far. But I want to show this devil - inspite of you I have accomplished something really big.

I have so much to tell - but will tell one thing I found in this journey of 1000 kms. About Human body - how it is amazing and how it heals by itself.

I over do at times - like this year beginning when I took a drastic resolution. I am going fully carbon neutral. So I cycled to work, climbed stairs up and down ( between the 2 offices one on 3rd floor and 5th floor ), and full day did the standing desk. And to make matters worse purchased Puma Mobium - a front foot striker shoe which increased my pace drastically - and got a 5 to 6 pace. I am basically a 6 to 7 pacer. Felt I was a champion and did a few runs around 5.3.

And I got severe pain at the place where the leg fits into the ankle. Especially when I climb down stairs, or even at random times when I get up from a chair. It was terrible. I could not run anymore.

I went to see a doctor this Jan 2015. [ Entire 2014 I did not visit one - thanks running! ]. He said it is over use, and something got inflamed - take these pills over a month. Took the pills over a month - nothing improved. I kept postponing meeting the doc again. Was afraid he will order a CT scan.

I waited one more month. During this period my Puma shoe got stolen. I felt so damn guilty that I did not buy another one. Feeling lazy is awesome - and the devil kept whispering - tomorrow and tomorrows kept coming infinitely. I completely stopped running from Jan to March end this year. The pain was not fully gone - but was constantly reminding me - that it is still there. The devil started whispering - your running career is over dude, just sleep. And I stopped running completely.

Finally - I mustered courage to put money on another shoe - the wife also felt bad for the shoe lose so she encouraged me on the purchase - and this time I went back to my old faithful - Nike Free Run - I had started suspecting it was the Puma shoe ( or rather I should blame my ego ) that damaged my foot-ankle.

I did a few runs in the new shoe - and a mild pain was there during the initial runs, but after a few runs it was totally gone and I don't remember anymore how the pain used to be. Today I did a 8.5km - and absolutely no pain anywhere in the system.

The more I run - the body adapts itself I guess - and strengthens automatically at places where it is weak. This has happened to me so many times. My shin splints, knee pain etc. all went away - the more I ran.

The "loose it if you don't use it" adage is apt.

1,000 Kms. Bangalore to Mumbai distance. Don't mess with me :)














Monday, April 06, 2015

Problem being a Celebrity's Kid

Appraisals, Tax, Meetings, Interviews, More Tax, Property Tax, License Renewal, Passport Renewal constable interview, EMI, Aadhar card...

You think your life is tough?

Just look at a couple of Celebrity's kids. It is tougher for them. Way too tougher. One whose names starts with R and has a famous freedom fighter's name as last name. Another starts with A and his entire family - except him of course - wife, dad, mom - are all Padmashri winners.

Now meditate this.

They are not concerned about Taxes, or License Renewal or any of the mundane things you and I have to deal with on a daily basis.

They have a bigger fish to fry. It is the dreaded word called 'Expectation'. Or filling up the big shoe their father wears or once wore.

It is the genes - we all say - and rightfully so - being ruled well by the Kings and their princes and their descendants all these years till the mighty British came and made a mess of our country. The genes should bring out the next better version - and they should surpass their Dads.

If you ask R or A - they do not want to be in the profession their Dads were. But we all 'expect' them to do better than their Dads. Perhaps they could have been a kickass pace bowler, or a chef book author or a top notch coder.. we will never get to know.

It is lot of pressure. And these young minds cannot cope up with it. Imagine if you are judged daily - on TV and newspaper - and ridiculed by Social Media and Blogs ( hey I am on their side ) - will you be able to perform? There was no performance anxiety for their Dads.

Anyway - leave all that aside.

Let us focus on our miserable life as we call - Taxes, More taxes, Passport renewals, Aadhar card and all that - now does it feel bad? Not bad at all right - no performance anxiety or expectation.  Just leading a bindaas life - and can go watch a movie whenever we want, or go eat Paani Poori on the road - without it making a big headlines anywhere.

Next time when you eat a Chinese Bhel, spare a tear drop, for these celebrity kids - they have a raw deal indeed.























Sunday, March 01, 2015

Guy who went around the world on a bike, in 1975

I finished reading Jupiter Travels by Ted Simons.



This crazy British journalist went around the world in 1975 - in a Triumph motorcycle, took 4 years and lived to tell the tale through his book.

Each of us are sent to this world to experience life. It is all programmed before we are planted on earth. Some of us let the soul's true purpose come out - some of us let the ego, self-imposed chains to prevent the soul from going in its journey.

Ted Simons let his soul a free run and did this brave journey - all alone in 1975. He entered and left Egypt before the war, reached Cape of Good hope at the bottom tip, took a ship to Brazil, got arrested and let off and explored Argentina and via Mexico got into USA, found his love. Again took a ship to Australia, then rode across the continent, took a ship to Singapore - rode a bit there, came to Madras ( as it was called then ), rode to Bangalore to see Sai Baba in the now Whitefield ( and was disappointed not to see any magic ), went to Mumbai, Benares, Calcutta, Agra.. got totally bugged off India towards the end - got into Pakistan, Turkey and reached home. What a journey.

What I loved about the book was his candid account. He did not hide his emotions and feelings - was a true first person account.He did not hide back the frustrations, the disappointments, the anxiety. He did not pretend he was a hero or this brave chap out to accomplish something.

Towards the end I felt he was forced by the publishers to write what the take away from this journey was - could feel he was arm twisted into writing this - otherwise as a reader we will be disappointed ( I wouldn't be! ) - that he did not learn anything from this 4 year journey. He did dwell upon this - but I knew it was not from his heart. Sorry Tedji - you need not have told us about this - words cannot convey these I think - has to be felt.

And my Thunderbird is quietly running errands.. it is telling me something.. my soul can feel it :)












Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Facebook parents

India is in a growth phase like how the US economy was in the 80s. The US parents during the boom were called baby boomers. 

The Indian parents who are in their 35s to 45s of today are the equivalent of the baby boomer generation. Thankfully the school admission process is so competitive - it has scared them into not making a boom of the baby kind. 

Let me coin these parents the "Facebook parents" as they are all chained to their smartphones and Facebook. Of late whatsapp has become quite popular but whatsapp is owned by Facebook - so this term can still stand a scrutiny by future historians. 

They are economically successful and better off than their parent's generation. Most would have started their career drawing a salary their parents would have retired at. 

Would have visited a few countries for work or for pleasure. Would have a car or two or an unnecessarily powerful bike which they use for grocery errands. Would have a heavy EMI too. 

Like any good biologist - let me classify these species into a few categories. 


The Chinese moms.

I read a post in huffington post years ago on how Chinese moms bring up their kids. The article starts pretty negative showing the Chinese moms in poor light how they push their kids into hours of practice. However the article concluded with a positive spin showing how the kids shine later -without some hitlering these lazy kids would have never picked up the difficult fine arts. 

Armed with this article for justification these Chinese moms ( and dads ) can be found on weekends dragging their kids from one class or tournament to another - bribing their kids with chips or ice cream or a visit to the gaming arcade in a nearby mall.

They turn up in annual sports day events with their DSLRs to capture the finish in highdef video and get into arguments with the poor fatigued over worked and underpaid school sports teachers why their kid should have had a podium finish. 

The spiritual parents

Having hit a ceiling at their career, life becomes monotonous. No more challenges. More meetings at work. The upward climb is blocked with too many VPs. 

They start following spiritual accounts in facebook and you can see them sharing deep quotes on Buddha or Osho or Sri Sri or Sadhguru. 

You can find them taking off days together to go on spiritual retreats and  sit in silence. They come back all divine and do not get into fights at work - for a few days. 

They do not get angry with their kids or push them too hard and believe their karma will run ( or ruin ) them and let fate run its course. They do however show the path and enrol them in various classes but if the kid throws tantrums and starts feigning fever and stomach ache to avoid classes, the spiritual parents pull them out and believe the class will find them at the right time. 


The Bruce lee parents

These parents use the same technique their parents had applied - which is no technique. 

Bruce lee when asked what his technique was he said he had no technique and that was his technique. 

In the previous generation, either because of economic reasons or lack of will or too many kids to handle - they let these grow up by themselves. Never enrolled them in any extra curriculars or used the enrollment forms for removing the extra foam while shaving. And their kids - the current Facebook generation parents - turned out to be alright as they were self made and believe it will all work out in the end. They apply the same technique to their kids too. 

These Bruce lee parent's kids can now be found chilling in the apartment parking lot playing their self made games or practicing dance moves by themselves and generally having a good time. 

So what kind of parent are you?














Monday, February 16, 2015

Agile and Spiritualism

Ahemm..first my apologies for tying a camel's tail to a pony's tail - this post is akin to that. Totally 2 unrelated disciplines being compared :)

Agile - as you know is what we use to create kickass products.

Spiritualism is to me the exploration of the Why? - Why are we happy, or sad. Why did we come on earth, why we die?

I practise Agile at work, and explore Spiritualism constantly in all things.

During one of my meditations it hit me - A developer practising Agile, and what Spirituality teaches us are so common.

The Now

Our mind is like a pendulum. It either swings to the past - oh I did this, said this, he spoke rudely to me that day, I missed giving a good repartee .. or swings to the future - oh what will happen if I don't file my tax returns, what if I confront my colleague tomorrow.. it goes on and on - swinging back and forth. And when the pendulum hits the Now - it is where happiness is - pure unblemished joy. It stays for a fleeting second.. and then goes on to dwell in the past or future - leaving the joy as a memory.

We try to get to the now.. and hang on to it - and it is a lifetime's effort to get there - and then you get enlightened... perhaps.

When I first heard of a "Story" - in the Agile context - I was told to focus on that story alone while developing. Not to worry about the future stories in the pipeline, or the changes in requirement that might or might not come, or what the nearby developer pair is working upon. Focus on just your story, and do a great job on it. Everything will turn out to be just right.

As a developer, as you focus on just the story ( with a little cross-eye on an open ended design ) the outcome will be 100% Bug free and your story will sail to QA complete effortlessly.. and then you hit God Mode in your team.

The Now is your Story.

Death & Failure

As you get more spiritual you get more comfortable with Death - the big end. Because you know it is not the end, but the beginning of another adventure. You will be tossing out all that you earned, and will have to start all over again. However some of the intelligence you acquired - will come to help in the next adventure. Dejavu, Gut instinct, Karma are all that.

There is a parallel in Agile as well. It taught me to scrap everything I had worked, and start from scratch if there is a need - Agile is comfortable with change and does not crib ( unlike giving a big Change Requirement Document and a bill ) My backyard has many dead bodies - some unfinished abandoned projects and some code, some perfectly working stuff.. but had to be archived and might never get opened again. However, someday it will all come to use. Even if the Story I worked on never gets to production or the project fails to see the light of the day - the learnings are enormous.

Most of the good discipline I picked are from failures - either from my own handiwork, or watching other developers mess up.

Celebrate Death & Failure!

Discipline

One can read as much as you want on Spiritual books, or listen to all the lectures from Spiritual Gurus - but the real joy is in practising it - in a disciplined manner.  Only when you sit down to meditate do you experience bliss. For best results - lot many things have to be followed - like food habits, health routine, sincerity of actions, purity in thought.. Break any one of them - you get nothing in the end.

Again for an Agile project to be successful - just reading books and viewing lectures from Agile Thinkers is not sufficient - the team has to be disciplined at every step. Standups, near abstract stories, continuous builds, unit tests, automated tests, periodic showcases.... break any one of them and the project is doomed.

God speed my Agile Developer friends!

Yours Truly
The Agile Guru :)








Monday, February 09, 2015

Fun with Raspberry Pi

This post is a 101 Introduction to Raspberry Pi.  I will show you how to use a Raspberry Pi to create an Apple TV, Chromecast equivalent, and also read and push your home temperature to a server.

It is the best time to be a geek! There is 3G everywhere and 8MB Bandwidth at home and office. Geeks everywhere carry a super computer in their pocket now!

TBs of storage are now available for a dime. Everything is backed up realtime to the cloud. Even if you lose your device or hard drive crashes, it can all be downloaded back. Maps and GPS Accuracy is spot on. The stuff geeks have now makes James Bond look like a kid showing off in a School Science project.

And we need not deal with Windows or IE anymore. It is either Android or iOS or Ubuntu or OS X.

And then comes this Raspberry Pi to the party - from the open source hardware movement - a cute little computer - the size of a palm - which costs just Rs. 2,500 and can do a hell lot of things.

How to procure a Raspberry Pi

I got mine from Amazon.in - protocentral was the vendor. Just the raspberry pi ( motherboard, 4 USB, HDMI port, ethernet port ) will be 2,500. I also got a kit which had a SD card with the OSes, USB dongle, a breadboard, a few resistors, a capacitor and a power supply (which blew off). Also ordered a DHT11 a temperature and humidity sensor - it is 99Rs. It all came to Rs.5000.

Raspberry Pi or Arduino?

Just like the yin-yangs of vi emacs, android iOS, raspberry pi also has a yang - it is this Arduino. While Raspberry Pi is from UK, Arduino is from Italy. From what I learnt Raspberry Pi is good for beginners - understands Python and is more general purpose and can only talk digital. Arduino needs C ( segmentation fault - thought I had broken up with you) and is more rugged and can talk analog.

Some say start your prototype on Pi, then manufacture on arduino. Might know more about this as I keep digging.

Setting up Pi

Apart from Pi you will need these things

1. A TV with HDMI input
2. A keyboard
3. Mouse
4. 8GB or more SD Cards
5. Ethernet cable, and a router ( alternative is to share wifi on laptop over ethernet port )
6. A laptop/desktop - to format SD Card

Raspbmc 

If you have a spare SD Card, format it to Fat. Then download Noobs Lite - Network Install Only - http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/, unzip and copy the entire folder contents into the root of the SD Card.

Boot the Pi with the SD Card, and it will show an option with a few OSes.  Choose Raspbmc - this is
the XBMC port and turns your Tv into a Smart Tv.

Here you will have to connect your Pi to the router through the ethernet port - so it can download the OS ( around 700MB ). The setup is entirely automatic and does not ask for any configuration. The default user account is pi and password is raspberry.

There are so many Add-ons and settings that are available - like a Youtube Add-on, or a subtitles Add-on for Movies. There is also a free XBMC Remote app on iOS and Android  with which you can connect to the Pi to control TV.

Raspbian

This is a regular light weight debian port. Works quite well in the puny pi. You can get another SD Card and install Raspbian ( same steps as raspbmc above ) - so you can swap the 2 sdcards.   There is also a multi boot option so you can boot into Raspbmc or Raspbian or more. I did not try this.

Say Hi to GPIO

GPIO - General Purpose Input Output. This is where things get interesting. There are 8 pins which can either send a 5V voltage, or receive a signal.

I wired the DHT 11 - Temperature and Humidity sensor to the Pi and was able to read the settings. Was quite easy.

1. The circuit layout I got here : https://chrisbaume.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/beer-monitoring/. Looks scary - but it is actually a very simple circuit. My skills are not that great, just followed the circuit to the T and it worked at the first try.

2. Get the Adafruit drivers and see if you can read the sensor.

git clone git://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-Raspberry-Pi-Python-Code.git .

cd Adafruit_DHT_Driver #go to the folder where DHT driver is present

Adafruit_DHT 11 14 #11 is for DHT11 sensor, 14 is the Pin I used

If you get temp and hum in output with numbers, then the circuit is working fine. Sometimes it will not give any reading, and a hex error will show up.



3. Next is to push this to a server. Again it is super easy.

First - create an account at thingspeak.com and get a key.

I created a shell script which will call this python script with the temperature as argument. Then this script will post the readings to thingspeak.

Shell Script :
#!/bin/sh
SCRIPT="/home/pi/playground/Adafruit_DHT_Driver/Adafruit_DHT 11 14"
TEMPERATURE=`$SCRIPT | grep "Temp" | awk -F " " '{print $3}'`
echo "$TEMPERATURE"
HITTHING="/home/pi/playground/mycode/kandivali_temp $TEMPERATURE  "
THINGSPEAK=`$HITTHING`

Python Script :

#! /usr/bin/python
import datetime
import logging
import time
import httplib, urllib
import sys

# The feed id and API key that is needed
thingSpeakKey = "getyourownkey"
tempvar="nil" 
for arg in sys.argv:
 tempvar = arg
if (tempvar != '/home/pi/playground/mycode/kandivali_temp'):
 print "Updating ThingSpeak ", time.strftime("%A, %B %d at %H:%M:%S") 

 params = urllib.urlencode({'field1': tempvar, 'key':thingSpeakKey})
 headers = {"Content-type": "application/x-www-form-urlencoded", "Accept": "text/plain"}
 conn = httplib.HTTPConnection("api.thingspeak.com:80")
 conn.request("POST", "/update", params, headers)
 response = conn.getresponse()
 print "Thingspeak Response:", response.status, response.reason

 if (response.reason != 'OK'):
  print "Problem, ", response.status, response.reason


Here are a few readings I got - https://thingspeak.com/channels/25022

Next step would be to merge the shell script with Python ( still learning ), and run this as a cron job every 3 minutes or so.

The above concept is "Hello World" equivalent of Internet of Things. I can connect to any sensor, and   when things go bad - ( lets say the temperature starts spiking ), can send a notification on a phone to someone. The possibilities are infinite.

Some Gotchas

* Pi is configured to UK Locale by default. When you hit Shift 2 ( to get the @ symbol ) you will get a Pound symbol - and so on. It is annoying. Just go to /etc/default/keyboard and set it to US and reboot.

* I connected an external Hard drive, and Pi was not detecting it. The external hard drive needed a power source before Pi could detect it.

* Pi can be connected to a USB port of the laptop. Need not  hunt for a free power slot. Figured this out after the usb power plug blew up.

* Looking at TV and typing tires the eyes. Instead set a Static DHCP IP and then ssh to pi using Putty if you are on windows  ( ssh pi@192.168.1.111, password raspberry ) and can use your laptop's keyboard.

Happy Baking!