ठाण्याची गाडी

आता ठाण्याला जाणाऱ्या गाडीत विशेष काय, असं विचाराल, तर काहीच नाही। प्रगतीने खंडाळा सोडलं आणि मी दारात जाऊन उभा राहिलो । तपकिरी पिवळे डोंगर, उघडा बोडका कातळ, त्यावर मध्येच मोठाल्या गोवऱ्या थापल्या आहेत अशी माती , तर अधून मधून आम्ही अजून टिकून आहोत असं सांगणारी झाडी । हा देखावा जुनी हिंदी गाणी किंवा मराठी भावगीते मनात गुंजू लागतील असा नक्कीच नव्हता।

पण का कुणास ठाऊक त्या उन्हात होरपळून गेलेल्या आणि पावसाची वाट पाहणाऱ्या डोंगरांत मी हरवून गेलो । डोंगरवाटा मला खुणावत होत्या – वर चढायला, धावायला, धापा टाकायला । मला तो अलीकडचा कात्रज सिंहगड ट्रेक आठवला ।

पुढच्या क्षणी मी गाडीच्या फुटबोर्डवर मित्रांबरोबर दाटीवाटीने बसलो होतो । ठाण्याहून मध्यरात्री नंतर निघणारी दुसरी पॅसेंजर । कर्जत येईपर्यंत मुक्काम फुटबोर्डवर। मकडोवेल नंबर 1 किंवा aristocrat सारखी स्वस्त आणि बेकार व्हिस्की किंवा ओल्ड मॉंक सारखी स्वस्त आणि मस्त रम बाटली सरळ तोंडाला , बरोबर फरसाण । कर्जतला उतरून माथेरान नाहीतर भीमाशंकर।

पुण्याला आलोच तर राजगड तोरणा नाहीतर सायकलने महाबळेश्वर , असे उद्योग ।

कर्जत आलं ते कळलंच नाही । डोंगर संपले, स्वप्न तात्पुरतं संपलं।

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Volunteering for a Half Marathon

Few things are as uplifting and inspiring as witnessing runners of all types – the kids and the young, and the so called old, fit and those who didn’t look fit, those with a flowing and flying gait and  men and women run. During my many races I have admired the volunteers who help us with water and directions and I have marveled about what it would mean to volunteer myself. I imagined that it would be a wonderful experience.

My previous opportunity to volunteer for a running event came last November when I was asked to be a pacer for Half Marathon in Pune’s popular race Pune Running Beyond myself PRBM 2017 edition. Unfortunately, a foot injury meant that I could not only not run but also I couldn’t set a foot anywhere near the route. I had to sit it out and could not go even to congratulate our Anyone Can Run! group’s runners. Following my recovery, I have been running well for several months. Another opportunity of volunteering came.

A Half Marathon and 10K, 5K, and 3K runs known as Last Sunday of the Month (LSOM) as were organized today by Pune Running Group. Today’s  run was by Kothrud Deccan area runners in aid of autistic children. The LSOMs are quite popular and attract over a thousand runners. Our group decided to help out as volunteers. Some of us got water station duty, some to handle traffic. I was part of the group at managing traffic at the busy Karishma junction slightly off Karve Road.

Within  few minutes  of flag off at 0500 AM, a small group of runners came and blurred past our junction about 1.5 Km from starting line.  The traffic was negligible, so we could watch their gazelle like stride and clap.

Other runners followed. Soon runners started coming from both ends and the traffic was building up. All five of us at the junction were fully engaged in a battle of wits with the marauding road warriors who wanted to cut across the runners’ stream. We were trying to find safe gaps for letting the vehicles pass through.  Many motorists and bikers stopped willingly. Some argued ‘why don’t you stop the runners, I am getting late’ .  Some just drove through  ignoring our calls, fortunately we could stop the runners keeping them out of harm’s way.  Some admired and asked us what’s the name of the race. One of them, driving a car, told us  that we were doing it wrong ( traffic management) at the same time ignoring our signs and cutting through. Ironically the young (and supposedly foolish) mostly stopped willingly and the old ( and supposedly wise) broke through. The tempo drivers and those with big fat numbers came menacingly close to us. But the worst were the so called educate elite, who on a Sunday morning were in a tearing hurry to get somewhere.

I was super excited about volunteering.  I usually sleep well the night before my races, but in this case, I got up a couple times before the 3 AM alarm just to check time. But actually doing it was very tiring, less due to physical efforts of standing for four hours, and more due to the taxing job of stopping people from doing something. I had to turn my back to the runners and face the traffic while standing bang in the middle of the road to block it. I missed many of our Anyone Can Run! group runners failing to cheer them. I missed clapping and shouting for runners. I would have to liked to run a little with some of them, particularly those who looked tired. I would have liked to race a bit with kids.

I felt good that I did something that was crucial for runners but I did not feel good while doing it. I felt famished and hungrier than I feel after my Half Marathon runs.

Life is like that, we have to do what it takes to make a positive difference.  The LSOM organizers did a fine job judging by reactions of the runners.  So it was all for good.

May be, I would have been better off if I had put in a run of about 5 Km from my home to the LSOM venue. As if to make up for that, I went off for an evening run  along the busy Ganeshkhind road and Senapati Bapat road.  It felt good.

As the evening turns into night, I am happy that I volunteered and I ran.

 

‘Not running’ status: avoiding or scrolling down facebook screen fast

My facebook timeline makes my ‘not running’ status more painful.  And what is facebook without posting pictures of our running group Anyone Can Run and clapping PBs of your fellow runners?

The good thing is that after my crepe bandage has come off and after I started walking more, started going down the stairs, and started driving car, the pain in my foot is going down. I have started preparing for my first run. I have am planning to see a physio for early rehab of my foot muscles. I have even started wiggling my toes 🙂

This layoff has given me an opportunity to attend to my upper body and core muscles -something I guess I wasn’t doing that well when I was running four days a week. That was some serious running and hence skipping strength training was alright -that’s what I used to tell myself.

But not anymore. With enough time on my hands and being more or less home bound, I have looked up and invented whatever exercises one can do by lying down on my back or by sitting on a chair. A pair of dumbbells is all that it takes . Perhaps I may add an exercise band.

I imagine that I will start running even before the stipulated period is over. I am excited and scared at such a thought.

 

The crepe bandage is off!

A visit to my orthopedic doctor and an X-Ray confirmed that all is well. He said ‘Vvaa! ‘ looking at my X-Ray (in Marathi, which is like ‘wow! ) Off goes my crepe bandage and ‘you can drive, bike, swim, walk… but no running yet’.

It feels so much better to walk without one foot in bandage. Driving on Pune roads is not a pleasure but it is nice to be independent after a month.

It is still three weeks to my running. But I am on a comeback trail for sure.

On the comeback trail

I haven’t been running since my 17 Km run on 4th of November.  I have been enjoying no-alarm mornings in Pune’s winter. I go for a lazy walk and have the Amrit tulya chai at my favorite tea, stall Trupti. Then I come back.

My post-run routine of tea and newspaper and walking back home is now in place.

At times I meet usual walkers and runners and others on my stroll. All is well except that I limp a little. The limp today was less than yesterday’s. This suggests that I am on comeback trail after the longest and the only running injury related break since I started running seven years back.

 

Mumbai Marathon: You are a confirmed lunatic but you having a good time like them kids

This had to be a different Marathon for me. The signs were all there to see. For starters, this time we had no difficulty in locating our hotel in Ballard Estate despite Google Map showing it wrongly.

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017 of 15th January brought me back to the city of my childhood and early rebellious days- gulli cricket, of  IIT Powai hostel days, of journeys by crowded local trains and of roaming around Fort, Colaba, Marin Drive, Dadar’s Chabildas School for experimental theater.

The Saturday of 14th was spent in collecting race bib (Race Kit), holed up in a our hotel, and gingerly strolling around in the area. Gingerly because,  last year me, my friend, and my son had tired ourselves silly by walking for hours looking for our hotel and buying fruit in Crawford Market.

I was rewarded by the site of a beautifully bedecked VT (Now CST) station during the stroll on race day eve.img_20170114_1912131

On the 15th, we started the race on at 24 deg and 80+ % humidity. Now all my practice was in Pune in freezing 12 deg and dry weather of November and December.  I knew it was going to be tough. But getting to run in Fort, on  Marine Drive and Pedar Road all cleared exclusively for us runners more than compensated me.

Live bands were playing on side walks and enthusiastic early risers of Mumbai were there to cheer us. I tipped my running cap at them.

They -the pacers of Marathon – kept saying that only once in a year you a get chance to run on the Bandra Sealink.  I reached the sealink climb at 17th KM mark in good time and in good shape.  Another good sign and time for a selfie with my runner friend.img_20170115_0803081Last year, the Elite Runners -who start hours later than us slow runners – had overtaken us at this point. This year no sign of them yet. This confirmed the good sign. My smartphone’s Strava app had crashed at 10 KM but such experiential signs are way better than the numerical ones.

The run through the roads of Mahim was lined with people who cheered and kids who stuck out their hands at us. I responded to as many kids as possible.

But Km #30 to #35 tested my resolve. The stretch of Worli seaface upto Haji Ali bored me.
No pain but it didn’t feel good. Time for you mind to start messing up with you. ‘Why are you running if you are bored?’ ‘Walk like many others’. Time also to ignore it. Then came the Peddar road climb when I could overcome my frustration and get back in a groove. The challenge of running up the long climb did me good. It felt good that I was among very few who were running there. Practicing in Pune -where you can’t avoid the steep climbs of Symbiosis,  Chandani Chowk and many other less steep ones of University Road, Prabhat Road and those inside the University campus -helped me. One shouldn’t avoid them.

Peddar road descent to Marine Drive brought the first cramp in my calf. There were two more cramps. The last one was within 300 meters of the finish line. On all occasions, I felt immobilized but I fell back on my experience that cramps are best handled by making the affected muscles go through full range of movements. But they were scary. Mind you, I was well hydrated, electrolyted and fueled. These things happen despite all precautions. It is a lesson that comes to us now and then that each run is different and your body and mind are different at each time. They need to be respected as they are.

By this time my calculations showed that I could still finish under 6 hours even if I had walked the remaining 7 Kms. But walking was impossible. Running was easier! The return leg of Marine Drive passed.  I didn’t notice passing the the Ambassador Hotel, Brabourne Stadium and the Tea Board Lounge, so focused I was on reaching the finish line. I had sensed that I would finish under 6 hours and decided to run well.  I overcame the third cramp within 300 meters of the finish line. My timing 5:48.

While I waited for my friend at the finish line, I had time for another selfie 🙂

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Now a time of 5:48 is nothing to boast about when the race was won by Sibbu of Tanzania in 2:09 and several in my age group 60-65 finished it in under 5 hours. But I was happy because in the previous Marathon I needed 6:25. Actually,I would have been happy with anything under 6 hours. For someone who started running at the age of 56, running a second Marathon under 6 hours wasn’t bad at all.

So needed to pat myself after all 🙂

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A taxi driver had asked us about the prize money after he learned that we were spending our money and time just for running. He was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t get any. Last year, an elderly Gujarati lady had asked me why we were running.

I could stand for an hour after all those 42.2 Kms of Marathon running and I could forget sleeping until well after we had our celebration. The recovery over next days was good and there was hardly any niggle. All good signs.

In morning after the race day, I strolled leisurely around the GPO near CST  taking in the race experience and thanking my stars for affording this luxury.

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Runners find it difficult to explain why they run such insane distances. But when the kids line up to give you hi-fives you know that you may be a confirmed lunatic but you are having a good time like them.

via Daily Prompt: Marathon

A run in San Diego

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A late morning run was just what I needed after landing in San Diego on the previous night. I had traveled half way across the globe from Pune.

It was a good way to shake off the lathargy. The weather was cloudy. The Sun remained under the sheets for the day. I found a 1 Km stretch of straight road near my hotel and kept looping on it for all my run. I didn’t want to keep track of directions. Besides it is impossible to find a perfectly straight and flat  1 km stretch in Pune.

Cars were zipping by but gave a languid appearance – because of either the weather or the rime of the day.

I am imagining how much prettier the flowers would look in a typically sunny San Diego.

Hemant
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