What did you see on your walk today? #391 stars a Really Ferocious Beast. Or two.

So there I was, walking round Bangkok’s Lumphini Park, surrounded by hoards of late-afternoon runners (cue jealous emoji) and fellow walkers, and people working out on the exercise equipment when…

…all of a sudden…

…what did I see?…

A monitor lizard, cool as a cucumber.

I stopped to watch & gawp & film, but was the only one to do so.

Everyone else swept on right by, running, walking, or exercising.

Everyone, except yours truly, seemed totally blasé about a monitor lizard…hey, no…

…wait…

…just a mo…

…make that 2 monitors…

By the end of my walk, I must’ve seen about 7 different monitors. all part and parcel of the fun that is Lumphini Park.

To put the monitors in context, 3 years ago there were some 400 of ’em in the park!

400 😛

That must have been a sight.

Here’s a link to an article in Time magazine on Lumphini’s monitors. Makes my tally of 7 seem pretty dismal, right?!!

But it was such a thrill to see them, right there in the heart of this busy city.

What did you see on your walk today? #390 comes from Bangkok & stars fruit

Even though I “ran” about 300m a day ago, I decided to be cautious this morning, & not run/jog at all.

So I only walked.

There’s no rushing recovery, I’m learning. (Torn meniscus in my left knee, since you ask).

I did an early morning 5km walk around the Bangkok neighbourhood where we are holidaying, and stopped by the local Buddhist temple which is home to a bustling food market, most mornings.

Despite wandering around in running gear, I was greeted with smiles everywhere, as I did that typical tourist thing & peered inquisitively at unknown fruit & veggies.

And pink eggs, of course, which always make me smile:

Saw a couple of unidentified foodstuffs this morning.

Like so:

And this fruit, below – anyone recognise it? In case you can’t see from the photo, it has a hairy outer skin.

All great fun.

Nothing like a pottering, slow walk in mild weather to cheer an injured runner up 🙂

How good is the ASICS Hybrid Jacket?

Pre-review disclosure.

I am an ASICS running influencer in India (where I live) and as such get to try out and wear their products.

BUT – and this really is very important – ASICS has never once even so much as suggested I review their products.

Not once.

I am under no obligation or pressure whatsoever to write any review nor blog about the company.

But when I genuinely love a product, I review it here.

Which leads me straight away to the ASICS Hybrid Jacket.

I have worn mine all winter and absolutely love it.

For me, this lightweight, cosy jacket ticks all the boxes. Namely:

Zipped pockets, to keep stuff safe?

Tick.

Hood?

Tick.

See? In our harsh Delhi winter, I was toasty warm, using the hood.

Reflective strip?

Tick.

I’ve worn my jacket a lot – it’s been a particularly cold winter, so touches like the sleeves with thumb loops have been good.

Also, probably quite irrationally, I love sleeves with thumb loops.

The jacket show absolutely no signs of wear and tear, despite almost daily use these last few months. It is easy to move in, and feels flexible. I’ve worn mine to running group training sessions, involving bending & stretching, & it has worked perfectly.

Personally tried and tested, and 100% recommended.

I bought mine in India, where it costs Rs 6,999.

So, how was your January mileage?

February 1, 2020

I’ll spare you all the clichés about “How can it possibly be February 1 already? January has simply just flown by…”

(See how cleverly I snuck those clichés in. after all?!)

Anyway, for the first time since I started running 6 years ago, I have had a running-less January, thanks to my wretched torn meniscus.

I also had to pull out of the January Mumbai Marathon, my favourite running event of the year.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom.

Sure there have been moments of doom & gloom in January, but not 100% of the time…hey! I’m talking about running, by the way, and absolutely NOT Brexit, which made the last day of January thoroughly doom & gloomy.

So back to my non-running January.

I thought I’d check my Garmin stats, to see exactly how much I have walked this month & I totalled 150.19km of very, VERY slow walking this month.

I also swam a bit, + I did loads of physio, + I did yoga 3 times a week, + I even exercised at home, which impressed me no end, I have to say 😛

150km isn’t much mileage, but it’s reasonably solid, given there were a few days at the beginning of the month when I was in great pain and could hardly move.

So, there you are.

150km banked.

Onwards & upwards, and hoping February will see a continuing improvement in the wretched knee.

What did you see on your run today? #389 comes from Taipei & stars a rabbit

It was a tweet from my friend Nicci Smith apologising to a rabbit for almost falling over it, that caught my eye.

Well, it would do, wouldn’t it?

I pressed Nicci for more details.

Why on earth was she almost tripping over a rabbit on the streets of Taipei?

Turns out said bunny is a pet.

And as Nicci did her 5km run through the streets around her home, she nearly fell over the rabbit.

Who was on a leash.

Obviously.

As an aside, Nicci (who used to live here in Delhi) stopped running outside, & started running on a gym treadmill while here, to avoid the pollution and noise.

But as she says, “Now the coronavirus has come to Taiwan, I’ve decided as a precaution not to use gym equipment for a while, so I’ve started running outside again.”

But little did she know about the bunny hazard!

Thanks for sharing your running photo, Nicci & #keeprunning #keepinspiring

Also, stay safe with this dreadful virus worrying us all.

Walking back to running

After months of feeling mightily sorry for myself (a torn meniscus has that effect), I took an important psychological step back to running this weekend, when I rejoined my running group.

Ahem – let’s make one thing clear from the start:

They all ran.

I walked.

Some of the group ran quite considerable distances, in fact, but I was delighted just to be able to walk a steady, plodding 6km round Nehru Park.

Twinning with a rockstar runner

It felt good to chat, to hang out with other runners, and to be made to stretch – something I totally neglect, left to my own devices!

Running groups are interesting creatures, I find.

They are full of nice, like-minded people and yet, like anything else in life, change happens.

People come, people go, relationships shift.

In the weeks since I was away mountaineering/avoiding pollution/getting myself injured, my running group has changed out of all recognition.

Loads of new faces.

New trainers.

I only knew about 3 people there, which was weird after more than 2 years, but hey! change is good, right?

Whatever dynamics have been happening in my group, while I was moping and feeing miserable, it’s all for the good, I feel.

We drilled, we stretched, we ran (well, some of us walked…) and it was all very professional & crisp & no-nonsense.

I didn’t do stretches like this, with my gammy knee…not that I have EVER been this flexible!!
Sonali looking good
My new squad

So, onwards and upwards.

Here’s to the day I actually manage run with this crew!

Running on half tank

This guest post from the one and only Sanjeev Chhabra is an extraordinary account of a comeback to running, & what a comeback!

Sanjeev donated a kidney 3 months before his half, so the physical and mental recovery involved is truly impressive.

His story is also very funny.

Thanks, Sanjeev, for sharing this hilarious account of your half-marathon last week at the Tata Mumbai Marathon. Onwards & upwards!

I give you Sanjeev Chhabra, in his own words. Enjoy!!

Two days before Diwali 2019, I donated my left kidney to a family member. Exactly 12 weeks and 2 days later, I ran the Mumbai Half Marathon 2020.

This blog is about that.

Before

I have been on the marathon running circuit since 2007. Monikered Barefoot Ferrari by friends, I have done what every runner does, which is – add more challenges, achieve a personal best, gain weight, lose weight, gain speed, lose speed, injury breaks, etc.

The transplant was finalised sometime in July 2019. Our family had many questions to ask the team of doctors. But I had only one question,

“Excuse me. The registrations for the Mumbai Marathon are currently open. Do I go for the Full or the Half?”

Many dirty looks and frenetic messages later, I quietly registered for the half.

The transplant, unfortunately, did not happen in August 2019. There were tests, retests, second opinions, emails to the Doctor Uncle in US, samples going to France and what have you. Finally, on the evening of 23rd October I sent a cryptic message to my office

Am finally getting admitted for surgery tomorrow. No visitors allowed. Sorry for the short notice. See you on the other side.’

The last thing I did before getting operated was to lose my Garmin! When they were wheeling me in, someone told me no metals were allowed so I quickly discarded it somewhere. Where, I will never know. Most people who hear this story, instead of empathising with me, wonder what I was doing with a Garmin in the hospital anyway? Was I expecting to run a 10k in the corridors?

After

Every runner develops the feeling that he or she is super human. Well, to just pick yourself up and run 50km in the middle of a normal life, is definitely super human.

However, one thing I was to learn post-surgery was that I had lost those powers. Looks like the super-humanness resides in the kidney they took – my Left kidney. 

Note to self: next time give your Right kidney.

So, I had to start all over again. My daughter had to rudely point out to me repeatedly the sign in my room:

‘DO NOT GET OUT OF THE BED YOURSELF.’

So, I had to learn everything again. It’s as if my body had lost its muscle memory. Getting out of bed was the biggest achievement. First, falling off. Second, minimise the pain in my 5 external stitches and the internal wound. That is an art by itself. Slowly I learned how to walk, supported by my very dedicated wife. And on Day 5, I was discharged.

The Dog Walker and I

I stayed home for four weeks after the surgery. I had promised my wife to follow Doctor’s and her orders strictly. So, I walked inside the house till I was allowed, and soon it was time for the first Outdoor Walk. Per my wife, I could not go out unassisted, so we chose the Dog Walker to walk me right after or before the dog (Lucy). Everyone hid their laughs when the Wife told Dog Walker,

Lucy ko le aao, phir Sanjeev ko le jao.” (Drop Lucy and then take Sanjeev)

A couple of days with the Dog Walker, I started letting him go as soon as we reached the park. By Week 3, I was into what I thought was brisk walking. Here is when I realised first that my speed was compromised. At my very best I was touching 6kmph walking. I figured it was because I was wearing an abdominal binder. However, whatever I did, I could not walk faster than 9 minutes to a kilometre. 

And the Run begins

At the end of Week 6, Doctor allowed me my first run. 

“Please start with a small distance, and increase it gradually.”

A ‘small distance’, we all know, is 5km for us. So off I set, only to receive the rudest shock of my life! I could hardly manage one km. I of course stuck to my target, but for some reason, my running speed was less than my Brisk Walking Speed!

Was it the abdominal band, limiting my stride length?

Was it the weight? I was now 81kg. At 5’10”, this was slightly overweight. And for a marathon runner, pretty much overweight. 

I will never know. But in the 12 weeks from then to the marathon, I gained another 4 kg., and could not run better than 9 minutes a km, regardless the distance.

Was it the cold? The smog? The medication?

My asthma was at its best, a respiratory specialist at the hospital having put me on a battery of medicines which made my chest clear, and had me forget what wheezing was like!

Was it my footwear? I normally run barefoot. This time, however, to minimise the risk of infection to the recipient (a family member), I decide to run in slippers.

At the Mumbai Marathon

My last practice run before the TMM was an over-9 mpk 2:17 15k. In that context my biggest hope was to avoid a DNF (Did Not Finish) or a DNQ (Did Not Qualify). The cut-off, I think, is 3:15.

Reaching Mumbai a day earlier, I found instant demotivation by the full marathon. I myself have been a party to infantilising half marathoners. In my defence, though, all I say is,

“You don’t have to fly to Mumbai for the Half. For that you have ADHM.”

Anyhow I got a taste of my own medicine several times during the day.

First, a friend (now ex-friend) who was running his first full, infantilised me. ‘Baby marathon’, I think, is the term he used. Then I found out that there is no Tee shirt for Half marathoners. And none of my regular gang knew anything about the start point or hotels near the start point for the half!

Race Day Magic?

Most of my friends are shocked at my race timings, seeing how slow I run during training. The difference is as high as 1 minute per km., at times. My common answer for that is ‘Race Day Magic.’ Translated, it means that, unlike regular running days, we have no traffic, no household worries, no need to conserve energy and a lot of support.   

Well, my day did not begin with Race Day Magic. Reaching on time, I found none of my regular friends, and almost everyone huddled in groups. To top it all, the line to the starting point was just about as bad as Dadar Central at peak hour.

After walking in and out of lanes when I finally did reach the start point, my first thought was:

Drop it. Turn back. Enjoy a nice breakfast and go back to sleep.”

Exactly the same thoughts I had before my first ever half marathon in 2007!

Finally

Life on one kidney does not differ at all from Life on two kidneys. However, running a marathon (or half) needs a little extra care.

I had read up enough to know that I had to take care of two things: 1) Hydration 2) Over exertion

The first part, hydration, was trickier than usual.

Post-surgery, my surviving kidney has been a tad hyperactive. I pee a lot. Not frequently. A lot.

There is just a stronger stream which appears to last longer too. That is one thing I wanted to avoid. We all know what a royal pain it is to take a leak during a (half) marathon. So, I made sure I emptied my tank twice after reaching the holding area (I did not hold). The plan was to use two formulae shared by fellow runners:

  1. Rahul Verghese says sip a little water before you are thirsty. However odd the before sounds, its an art you learn over many runs
  2. Sandeep Srivastava, an engineer who, along with our famous Alfredo Miranda, brings mathematical formulae to running, says have the Energy Drink twenty minutes before you hit the wall

The second part (over-exertion) was a matter of judging your own body. I was mentally prepared to DNF if I had to. The intent, though, was to RWC (Run Walk Crawl) to the finish.

I ran a half good race.

The first 10k, on the Sea Link was faster than my training times. After km 12., asthma caught up a bit, so I slowed down to an even pace. Surprisingly, Pedder Road was not the monster it appears to be when you are doing a full.

I comfortably finished at 2:51, almost an hour slower than my PB. Surprisingly I felt no elation. No runners’ high. I did my stretches like every training run, and looked for the Medal Counter.

A line again, as long as Dadar Central. As I grumbled, I looked at a free line at the side.

It was for the Full Marathoners!

P.S. My transplant recipient plans to run the Half next year. That way my kidneys can claim to have run a Full.

Ed: I think that’s the hint of a smile, right?

Isn’t this SUCH a great telling of an impressive comeback.

I can’t wait for both your kidneys to run that full next year 🙂

Shabash, my friend.

Well done on every count.

#keeprunning #keepinspiring

What did you see on your walk today? # 388 comes from Delhi

I’m slowly recovering from injury – torn meniscus in my left knee – and am not yet running, but I am walking.

Hence the change in the title of this blog. (Did you notice?! Go on, admit it, bet you didn’t!)

So, yes, this afternoon I went for a slow, solo 5km walk in my local biodiversity park and just look what I saw.

The most relaxed nilgaI ever.

He was on the public path, and didn’t even raise his head when I stopped, as did the runner behind me, and then a couple walking & talking very animatedly who, judging from the loud “Oh my God”s that ensued, clearly hadn’t been looking around them either!

The 4 of us watched admiringly, then the other 3 continued on their way while the nilgai blithely ignored us all, much preferring to eat.

I stood and watched some more, ‘cos I never tire of seeing a wild animal. And to see a nilgai THIS close was a treat,

How close, do I hear you ask?

This close, dear reader.

This close 🙂

Too lovely.

An AMAZING dash to the starting line!

Said it before, saying it again.

Runners are THE best.

My friend Sneh Wadhwaney, who was our guest blogger on New Year’s Day, just ran her personal best in yesterday’s Tata Mumbai Marathon, clocking a smashing time of 2:08 in the half marathon.

Super congrats, my girl, and well done for balancing your various roles of mother, teacher, runner, triathlete.

But what moved me about Sneh’s Instagram post was that most of it was devoted to showering praise on another runner!

See what I mean about runners being THE best?! 🙂

Sneh shared the story of her friend Bindyuu Grover’s crazy pre-race shenanigans, and I can do no better by these intrepid women than by quoting Sneh verbatim. She wrote the post yesterday (by way of explaining the time sequence.)

Hold your hats – this is one seriously dramatic story a’coming up!

“For Bindyuu Grover what can I say? Her story is quite different from mine.

She flew in from Guangzhou China this morning at 4am after attending a 2 day conference which finished last evening. You can imagine the stress of wanting to reach the start line of the half marathon at 5.15am when your plane decides to take another circle while on top of Mumbai!

Can you even imagine her nerves?

She lands and sees a snaky line (an understatement) at immigration, escaping all that by requesting that people let her move ahead, she manages to get out only to find out that after screening, someone picked up her bag! So what does Bindu do?

It’s 4.55am.

Bindu chucks the bag given to her, and runs to the basement parking to the car waiting for her.

She reaches the shuttle bus service to that starting line at 5:18!

And finishes the half marathon!

Now if anyone wants inspiration on resilience, determination, grit, look no further.

When you set your mind to it, you can do anything!”

Ladies, take a bow!

Bindyuu for being seriously bad-ass and Sneh for being such a supportive friend.

These are the running stories that I just love.

Ladies, #keeprunning #keepinspiring

When you share your joy of running

One of the nicest people in the Delhi running community is Navi Singh, who has, incidentally, written a few guest posts for us here.

To wit:

Navi never hesitates to pick up the phone and give me a good talking to about my runnning form – usually of the “why don’t you train more consistently & stop faffing around?” variety 😛

Navi is a runner with a BIG heart who cares about his friends, and so when he posted on social media this account of running with his house help, I knew he wouldn’t mind my sharing it here.

It is also SO typical of the man.

This is such a feel-good post 🙂

“Ever since he joined our house as a help, Sandeep has been asking me to take him along for a run (almost 3+ months).
Most of the running over last 3-4 months has been on the road, thus I was not able to take him along because I did not know how much he would be able to run, and my run would be compromised because of him.
I promised him whenever I go to a park for a run he’ll be going along for sure.

I had a confirmed plan to run today, but even at 8am the aqi was 540+, thus I dropped out at the last moment.

When in the afternoon the aqi dropped drastically to 170, this turned out to be a perfect opportunity to take Sandeep for a run

Landed at Central park, and after a warmup, we started to run together

I was utterly shocked to see him matching pace to pace with me for full 5km non stop in 29mins

Then, after resting for 15 mins, he again joined me for another 2km, averaging the 7km @sub 5 pace.

So, so glad he got inspired and now wants to run and train with me on regular basis.

Never know where he lands up in the next 2-3 years.”

Shabash, my friend for your own fast run. For taking Sandeep along. And, I’m sure, mentoring him in the future.

We’ll need regular feedback as to how Sandeep is doing, you do realise that?

#keeprunning

#keepinspiring

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