Fighting back against lookism

I am part of an all-women Delhi-based running group called the #sheditrun.

Our aim is to be able to run as we choose, in freedom and in safety, shedding our inhibitions and doubts about appearance, weight, age, clothing – just some of the issues that (especially) plague women.

The young women in my #sheditrun group are fearless, feisty and huge fun. Hey – you know what, I promise you, I didn’t deliberately choose these 3 words for effect. They just came naturally!

So yes, these women are marathoners, executives, mothers, entrepreneurs. We range in age from 20s to me, the oldest at 65.

It was with these gutsy women in mind, that I reached out a few days ago, to someone whose post I saw on Instagram.

Let me share with you the interaction I had with a young American woman called Jenn Wilson, but known as @jenne15 on Insta.

10 days ago, I saw this photo on Jenn’s feed:

THEN I read her post.

Who on earth has the right to insult anyone?

This is lookism at its worst.

Evil body-shaming.

This is one dedicated young woman, running and exercising and taking control of her life and it is NO ONE ELSE’s business. I suppose you could say it’s none of my business, either, but I was so incensed on Jenn’s behalf that I contacted her and asked her permission to write this blog post. She immediately agreed.

Jenn, keep on ignoring the terrible, cruel people who try and pull you down.

Know that you have a fan here in India, and if you lived here, you would IMMEDIATELY be part of our #sheditrun group.

More power to you, my girl ๐Ÿ™‚

Reunited with my tribe

For those of you who don’t know me, I live in New Delhi, India, a city with the dubious reputation of being one of the most polluted cities on the planet. if not THE most polluted.

My ASICS running group meets very early in the morning, to allow people to train and then head off to work & do the school run. Unfortunately, early mornings in our cold Delhi winters are the absolute worst time for pollution.

Waking up to the cold and the dark AND sky-high pollution levels is the bitter reality for everyone who lives in Delhi and the surrounding satellite cities.

I am in a very small minority of jobless runners in my group, with the freedom to exercise when I want (By the way, I’m not really jobless! I freelance from home, so am mistress of my time…)

All of this to say that I haven’t been training much with my running group over the past few weeks, opting instead to head out and run in the middle of the day, when one hopes the noxious pollution has burned off somewhat.

Brilliant as solo running is, it was with some anticipation that I rejoined my group on Tuesday.

The pollution didn’t seem q-u-i-t-e as bad as usual (though it’s still worryingly high) and so off I went for an interval workout, after quite an interval. (Geddit?!)

It was only once I started running with my team mates that I realised quite how much I’d missed them all.

I’d missed the friendship and banter and chit-chat.

But most of all, I’d missed peer-pressure.

There is also the discipline of training with a Coach and a group of fellow athletes. I never run intervals on my own. Never. I just run.

So being forced back into structured, disciplined drills felt great.

When you run on your own, as I have been doing these last couple of months, when you feel like slowing down, or stopping, or jacking it in, you do so.

There’s no Coach telling you to move.

There’s no team mate encouraging you.

There’s no peer pressure, basically.

In other words, I LOVED being reunited with my tribe, and I know I ran better with them than without them.

What did you see on your run today? #389 comes from Yangon

Gosh.

Let me rephrase that…it’s more a case of what did I NOT see on my run in the park near my Yangon hotel!

I went out in the cooler evening, after a hot day of sightseeing, for a run in a delightful park, Bogyoke Park.

With a well-lit wooden walkway across the lake, and lots of people out running.

The wooden surface was nice to run on.

The park is well lit, even as the twilight deepens. I felt 100% safe.

The walkway isn’t that long, but I trotted up and down it, as did all the other runners, and the kilometres gradually increased.

Then I saw this…

The Shwedagon Pagoda, in the golden glow of sunset, literally stopped me dead in my tracks.

So if I were to answer the question of this blog post literally…on my run in Yangon, I saw beauty and history and serenity and golden reflections in a peaceful lake.

I am not ashamed to say that the sight of the pagoda, shimmering in the sunset, made me cry. Grateful to be able to travel, to see such sights. Grateful to be able to run. Just grateful…

Follow up review of ASICS Gel Nimbus 20

One minute it’s November 1st 2018 & I’m unboxing my gorgeous brand-new lemon Gel Nimbus 20 & taking them for their very first run.

Next thing you know, here we are, 90 days later & 325 km down the road.

Most definitely time for a follow-up review, methinks.

So where have we been, my lovely shoes & I, in the last 3 months?

Well, we’ve been out and about, and on Instagram, which is where most of the photos come from, by the way.

But before I go any further, there is one thing I must tell you.

I am an ASICS Running Influencer, but, & this is gospel truth, ASICS has never once even suggested that I write reviews (positive or otherwise) of their products, and just leaves me to run and enjoy them.

Which is pretty darn cool.

So, yes, thank you so, so much ASICS ๐Ÿ™‚

But since I am totally in love with my Gel Nimbus 20, as you might have gathered from the initial review I posted here, it was only to be expected that our love affair would continue, and I am pleased to report that 325km + 1 half marathon + several LSDs + 1 full marathon later, these shoes are every bit as great as I suspected.

The photo (below) was taken last week, as I crossed the finish line at the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

The shoes feel as bouncy and springy and cushioned as on the day I first ran in them, and after last Sunday’s full marathon in Mumbai, I had no knee pain whatsoever, and whatever slight stiffness I had in my legs was entirely my own fault, for not having stretched afterwards.

In other words, 43 km (yup) and my shoes cushioned my feet beautifully.

,No blisters. No aches, No pains.

We even won a silver medal (in my age category) so I’m beyond chuffed.

The Gel Nimbus 20 are a wee bit heavier than my ASICS Dynaflyte, but there is a comforting, enveloping feeling to them, and the heel support is fabulous. I feel protected in these shoes, if that doesn’t sound silly.

I have run in my Gel Nimbus 20 in New Delhi, India (where I live), in Mumbai, and in Bangkok, and on a variety of surfaces: the dirt track in my local park. The streets of Delhi. The streets of Bombay. The streets of Bangkok. It is the road running that puts these shoes in the limelight, since they cushion you so well from the otherwise hard, unforgiving surface,

I am now training for my second marathon in a month (yes, crazy, I know) and I will again run in these lovely shoes.

I’m not superstitious, or anything, but if we’ve won one medal together, who knows…perhaps…

I love these shoes, and recommend them wholeheartedly

Marathon musings. And a few tears.

So, here I sit in Mumbai airport, waiting for my delayed flight back to Delhi and the cold and smog. Yesterday I ran the Tata Mumbai Marathon, my 4th time here, and my 7th overall marathon.

“So how did yesterday go?” did I hear you ask?

Thank you for asking, and my race went well

Not brilliant, but well.

Actually, you know what, it went very well, in fact.

I managed to run my fastest time ever for Mumbai, which felt wonderful, but it was not my fastest marathon time overall. A whole 6 minutes faster than last year, but I didn’t crack 5 hours, which I’d hoped for, missing it by a measly 48 seconds.

Ouch. 48 seconds.

Now Iโ€™m kicking myself for slowing down to that walk that most definitely cost me a benchmark time.

But I didn’t injure myself, or feel sick, or any of the other things that bug we marathoners, especially on such a hot and humid day like yesterday. I saw in the papers this morning that there was a marked increase in runners needing medical treatment. According to the Times of India, over 3,200 runners needed medical treatment, so lucky old me.

For those of you who have run a marathon, and especially any of you who ran yesterday, you’ll know what I mean when I say that despite whatever the weather gods throw at you on race day, despite the exhaustion, crossing that finish line, after 42.195km, is one majorly fantastic experience.

Yesterday was hot and humid. Pedder Road doesn’t get any easier (but I’ve learned how to deal with it).

But the spirit of Mumbai was on such wonderful display, with fabulous crowd support all along the route, and that is something that eggs you on. The smiling, the cheering, the signs held aloft, people offering you food and water and salt or a spray for aching muscles…it is quite a spectacle. All along the route there are people cheering, smiling, just being there.

At one point, running through Mahim, which was about 25/26km into the race, I think (so on the homeward straight) I found myself close to tears.

A combo of the music playing on my playlist, and the smiling faces along the way, and the realisation that here I am, 65 years old, and able to run a marathon. And I got all choked up and tears came to my eyes – as they are now, actually, as I relive the moment. It was such an intense feeling of being alive and healthy and privileged enough to be able to run.

OK, I’ll stop right there, before this becomes embarrassingly emotional.

There was also a very different, very happy twist to this marathon, my first since being appointed an influencer by ASICS.

It was such a wildly unexpected compliment from ASICS, in this brave new digital world of young people, to be made an influencer, that I’m still slightly in thrilled denial.

On a more practical note, this honour also meant that several thousand marathoners were subjected to the sight of yours truly on stage at 4.30 in the morning, as part of the warm-up routine. Poor things ๐Ÿ˜›

But SUCH fun!

To every single Mumbaiker who was out there supporting the runners – thank you!

To every lovely runner who talked to me, or told me to speed up when I flagged, or who said they read my blog, or follow me on Insta – thank you!

I loved every single moment of yesterday…

…I lie, of course ๐Ÿ˜›

I hated the chafing from my arm-phone-holder-thingy. But that was small beer in the overall scheme of things.

I loved being back in the Maximum City, and I’m leaving (if my flight ever takes off ) with love and gratitude for such a fab place.

What did you see on your run today? #385 comes from sunny Spain

My Belgian cyber-friend Myriam kicks off 2019 for us with a happy, sunny photo from Spain. Seeing this, sitting shivering here in Delhi, also means that I start 2019 feeling envious, which is not good, I know ๐Ÿ˜›

This is what Myriam has to say:

“First run in 2019. we are in Spain for the holidays. Blue sky and sunshine. Love it.”

And she continues:

“Here is another idea for your blog : what are you thinking about while running? A penny for your thoughts. I was thinking about home. My son was celebrating New Year with friends at home, so I was wondering who’s cleaning the house?!”

Myriam, that is SUCH a good idea! I will launch a new section here called “A penny for your running thoughts” ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks SO much ๐Ÿ™‚

There really is no such thing as a bad run

I’d planned to do a much-needed, pre-marathon long run today, but everything went pear-shaped.

I live in New Delhi, India currently one of the most polluted cities on the planet – if not THE most polluted.

On a cold, uber-polluted morning, it seemed foolish & totally counter-intuitive to head out early to do the scheduled 30k I’d promised myself I’d do.

So it would have to be later in the day, when the pollution would be less.

Which meant wheedling agreement from the family to advance lunch, so I’d have enough time to run – oh, you know what, I won’t bore you with the tedious internal disputes around my running schedule. That’s all part of my own, personal running drama ๐Ÿ™

Anyway, off I trot after lunch, all set to do 30k, well perhaps 25k given the short winter afternoon, OK, I’ll be happy with 20k…it was fast developing into that kinda run. Hadn’t digested lunch, so felt borderline queasy and at 5km I made a decision. Stop running for today because it’ll end in tears otherwise.

Grumpily, I headed for the park gate, angry with myself, angry at the filthy pollution that blights this city, angry with…and then I met up with a delightful Korean couple I only ever see in this particular park. The lady hugged me with great glee, and promptly pulled a calendar out of her handbag and gave it to me.

I hoped she had had a good Christmas?

“My children came home to visit, the best Christmas present!” she smiled at me.

I told her my children had also come home for Christmas, too, at which point we hugged each other again.

And off I trotted back to my car, with a smile on my face plus a calendar richer. All because my run had gone the way it did.

Tomorrow I will brave the early morning cold & dark & pollution, since that long run has to be done.

But I bet I won’t get a friendly hug, and certainly not a calendar!

What’s meant to be is meant to be, even in running.

No Regrets Running

There are days when I’m out running, & feel so on top of the world & energised and oh-so-wonderfully alive, that I quietly regret only starting to run when I turned 60.

I catch myself thinking “Oh, if only I’d started running in my youth, or in my 20s/30s/40s/50s”…and then I imagine where I might be now, and what I might have achieved, and wonder how life might’ve been so very different…all those wasted years of running bliss ๐Ÿ˜›

I’m 65 now, and have debated this question back & forth over the 5 joyous years which took me from zero, as in z-e-r-o, to a full marathoner.  A slow full marathoner, admittedly, but a full marathoner, dammit!

But the fact of the matter is that I’ll obviously never know what it would’ve been like to run as a fit 25 year old, because I didn’t, so I must look at things differently.

As I get older, I find myself increasingly attracted to websites aimed at fellow senior citizens and you know what?  There are hundreds and hundreds of runners out there, my age and older, running amazingly fast and strong, or running slowly and happily, and all of us having an absolute blast as we do so.

There is one huge advantage to starting running so late in life – I have the “comfort” of not having to see a decline in achievements or speed or pace – because there’s nothing from my youth with which to compare myself ๐Ÿ˜›

But what is wonderful is that there are still so many role models of my own generation who I can look up to & hero-worship

I read with open-mouthed amazement of 70 year-old Jeannie Rice running the Chicago Marathon in 3:27:50 and fellow 70 year old Gene Dykes breaking the mens’ record in 2:54:23.  

Are these 2 super heroes or what?

One of the many things I’ve learned about myself since starting running is that I am competitive.

Never knew it before.

Seriously.

Having never been sporty or athletic-y, I never really had occasion to match myself physically against others.

But now with running…the problem is that I run with youngsters, many of them way younger than my children, and naturally I want to keep up with them, and feel as fit as them. So the advice in a very interesting article I read online makes sense (although I say this with great reluctance!):

“If you want to survive and keep running, you have to first accept that you’re not 35, 40 anymore…Your mind might want to run like that, but your running regimen has to be different.”

I accept the concept – your mind thinking it’s 35 years old – but I don’t want to aim lower than all the kids I run with ๐Ÿ™

Deciding to aim as high as is possible in the marathon world, I checked the qualifying times for Boston, the gold standard in marathons.  I give you the qualifying times for 2019 :

And hereโ€™s 2020:

Hey! Guess what!  I can qualify in the 70-74 age bracket :P. 

Joking aside, it’s not too crazy ridiculous, is it, to think that were I to shave 20 minutes off my current PB I might j-u-s-t be able to qualify for Boston in a few years?!

Talk about SERIOUS old lady goals!

So, No Regrets Running it is for me!

I run.

I sometimes even win medals.

I have a great sports brand, ASICS, that backs me, which is super exciting.

I have tons of new friends.

No Regrets allowed here.

What did you see on your run today? #384 comes from snowy Vancouver

While we sit here in New Delhi, grumbling about the cold, and the fog, over in Vancouver, where they know the meaning of winter, the intrepid Namrata Joshipura is out running in the real McCoy.

Real cold.

Proper snow,

And how lovely it looks 😀


Makes our early morning 9C here in Delhi look positively wimpi-ish ๐Ÿ˜›
Thanks Namrata for the lovely photos, and, as you always do, #keeprunning #keepinspiring.  Also, crucially, girlfriend – #keepwarm!

My half marathon check list

Who else is running a race tomorrow?

Who else is spending Saturday night busy checking their gear and their playlists and their stash of gels?

Tomorrow morning, Iโ€™ll be running a half marathon in New Delhi, India, where I live, and with a 5.00am reporting time, it behoves me to get my ducks in a row tonight.

So here we go.

My pre-HM checklist.  Shout if I’ve forgotten something, please!

Main items

Shoes, socks, sports bra, underwear, trousers, top, bib, Garmin.

Extras

Waist pouch for phone, snacks, gels, kleenex. Headphones,

Extra extras

Sweater for journey to venue, beanie for journey to venue, water for car, bananas for car.

Still undecided about…

Gloves, head torch (5.30 start in deepest, darkest winter)

Need to do tonight before I sleep

Pin on bib, check playlist for the umpteenth time, charge Garmin for nth time, carbo-load, hydrate, calm down, remember I’m doing this for fun AND paying good money to do so!

Wish me luck, folks ๐Ÿ™‚

And if I’ve forgotten anything, PLEASE tell me now!

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