TOTAL running inspiration

WHAT a photo 🙂

This was taken at last month’s New Delhi Marathon, and if ever you wanted an illustration as to why runners are the best – well, here you go!

The lady in the centre is Neelu Panag Khanna, & she is between 2 legends of the Delhi running community, the stars of long-distance running, Mamta and Meenal.

Let Neelu take up the story, in her own words, below the photo…

“When you hit the wall & you hit it hard.

Not a great pic to share but it’s more than a poor pic of me.
It’s about women supporting each other in odds.
Holding hands, not one but from both sides and making sure you reach your goal.
It’s about selfless friendship, sacrificing your own Sunday run and much more.
Most importantly being there…knowing v.well that you’d be dragging a dead meat.

And it’s a promise that next time I will make you proud for what you gave up for me.”

I love every single sentiment expressed by Neelu.

Every.  Single.  Thing.

This is just such a powerful image.

Hugs to 3 amazing friends 🙂

Sometimes it’s good to look back…

In this funny ol’ journey called running, there are moments when you really do need to stop, look back and take stock.

Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

This week, thanks to those handy Facebook reminders, I learned that 4 years ago I ran my first ever 10k.

I remember that day so clearly.

10k.

An unthinkable distance, a huge challenge, both physically and mentally, and oh my goodness me, the subsequent pride at having completed 10k.

Fast forward 4 years and yes, 10k is still a very respectable challenge – I just ran a 10k race 2 weeks ago, in fact – but it is no longer a distance that scares me.

I’d be showing off if I were to say 10k is my “normal” daily distance, but it almost is.

When I go for my run in my local park, it’s 1.8km there & back = 3.6k.  One round of the park is about 5 1/2K so without much effort, yes, an-almost-10k has become a regular distance.  One I tackle slowly & pottering-ly, but as I said, I’m no longer scared by it.

So yes, it is good to stop & look back occasionally.

Which is by way of a long lead-in for yesterday’s “looking-back” session.

We were a small group yesterday, for our tempo run, but boy were the standards high.

A cracking pace was set by Navi, & I had to battle to keep up, succumbing to a wave of nausea 120 metres before the agreed distance.

But by and large I did manage to keep up, nausea notwithstanding.

Then we planked.

I’m still pretty bad at planking, but I can do it.

Sort of.

There were a few admonitions of “lower” and “bottom down” yesterday, but I can at least hold a plank, something I could not do a year ago.

Which is why, when I flailed around like a beached whale while my companions effortlessly did super cool yoga asanas, I tried to keep the faith.

Above we have young Ripu, in his first run after injuring himself, and (below) the one and only Navi.

If I can now run 10k without worrying…

If I can hold a plank for more than a minute…

Then yes, one day, perhaps I, too, will be able to do cool things like this…

Rachna makes it look so easy.

So, instead of fretting about what lies ahead/what is still to be achieved/what seems impossible, sometimes it’s OK to look back.

End of sermon 🙂

What did you see on your run today? #373 stars my namesake!

My lovely running girlfriend Katha is back in Blighty, after a whirlwind trip to Delhi last week.

Taking advantage of, as she says “the unexpected super bright sun that shone for a couple of hours”, out she headed for a run.

A brisk 4-miler on a road near home, where she captured the sunset for us:

And –  quick drumroll – look what else Katha saw 🙂

Yaay!  Fame!

Thanks, as ever, my dear friend for these & #keeprunning #keepinspiring

Summer time and the running is lazy

It is the beginning of March and here in Delhi, where I live, the winter has well & truly given way to spring-borderline-summer.  Mornings & evenings are still pleasantly cool, but the days are hotting up, all adding to the summer holiday mood I am now in.

Let me explain.

The North Indian running calendar – well, my calendar at least – is very winter-centric.

There are an increasing number of races throughout the year, in line with the growing popularity of running in India, but I stick with just a few of the big races, which all take place between late November – late February.

In the 3 months from late Nov 2017 to end February 2018, for example, I ran 2 halfs and 2 fulls.  Small wonder that, having run 2 full marathons in the space of 5 weeks, this week seems like the beginning of the long summer hols when I was a child…no pressure, only fun times ahead…

It was in this holiday spirit that I went for a slow, gentle run in my local biodiversity park.

No training schedule in mind, just pottering along, enjoying myself.  Which is why I run in the first place.

The park was deliciously cool and deliciously empty as the sun rose, and I got to run past more peacocks than you could shake a stick at.

Gorgeous creatures, all their plumage in place, and I look forward to seeing these lovely fellas dance their hearts out in a few weeks, as they do every year.

I rounded a bend on the track and ran smack dab into this flock of multicoloured women 🙂

Wow, I told them, you look amazing.

Hoots of laughter all round.

Where are you all going ?

To do a puja (a religious ceremony).

Where?  At the little shrine down there, I asked, waving in the general direction of a little temple inside the park, back down the track.

Yes, they all agreed.

Is it a special day, I asked?

Here, come over here, was the reply, as a young woman who had been at the back of the group came forward.

She’s the daughter in law, one woman said, as though that explained everything.

Which it sort of did.

I guess they were all off to do a puja because she’s just become the “the daughter in law” or possibly isn’t getting pregnant, but whatever it was, with cheery “bye byes” (in English, please note) off they trotted at a heck of a clip.

This morning’s slow amble round the park – 15km worth, all the same – was a refreshing reminder of why I enjoy running so much.

There is a wonderful running life beyond races 🙂

And the award for the best marathon sign goes to…

Pause, while I open the envelope…

(Oscar fever?  Moi?)

Well, actually, why ever not?!

And the Oscar theme also allows me to explain to my dear friend Sushant why I waited 2 whole weeks before posting this 😛

Sushant recently ran a full marathon – here, let him tell you himself:

“I ran my second full marathon this weekend, on a cool, overcast day in lovely Austin, Texas! But my awesome wife stole the show with her sign-making and cheerleading skills, with an Austin website featuring her on their site!”

Here’s Megha holding up That Sign.

And here’s the link to the website 🙂

What a great team you two are!

Congrats, Sushant for the marathon.

And congrats to Megha for possibly outshining him 😛

RUN LIKE A GIRL

After this morning’s event, to mark International Womens Day, I could not give a bigger compliment to anyone than “you get out there & run like a girl!” 🙂

Girls, teenagers, women in shorts, even women in saris, participants in the 3km, 5km, 10km races – we were a big happy crowd this Sunday morning, for Coach Ravinder Singh’s annual event.

And lots of us were wearing Coach’s super cool psychedelic T shirts, I might add.

WHAT a fun morning it was.

Track, loos, marshaling, nutrition – everything was spot on.

Many of the (male) stalwarts of the NCR running community came to pace and encourage and chivvy us along, which was great fun.

Like so 🙂

Look at the interplay in the photo between Poonam, in her final dash to the finish line, & her pacer, the kind & gentle Navi Singh.

Talk about the spirit of running.

I was lucky enough to run for a kilometre or so with the talented Tarun Walecha, at exactly the moment my energy levels were dipping, and he talked to me and gave me advice about listening to music – he thinks I shouldn’t, by the way, and should rather listen to my own breathing, and thus master control over my otherwise erratic pace.  According to Tarun, my brain is focusing more on the music than on the rhythm of my running.  Makes total sense.

Such kindness & it has given me pause for thought.

The official photos are not yet online, so this bunch of happy, smiling faces come from Facebook posts.  All cheekily swiped 😛

     

Loved the fact that so many young girls took part – encouraging!

I saw some lovely moments.

A mother arriving with her twin daughters, all 3 of them wearing matching Ts and bibs.

A Sikh father walking alongside his wee little daughter who was running.

It was heartening to see so many girls out exercising, and the mother-and-daughter combos were very special.

My best moments?

Seeing Shakti Khanna run 10k in a sari.  Definitely.

Here’s her finish line moment!

#Women10KRunWhatever I do, I do it in style 👌#SariRun #Respect Shakti Khanna and too good

Posted by CoachRavinder Singh on Saturday, 3 March 2018

A HUGE thank you to the organisers of an event which I think is very important.  It provides a safe, happy, encouraging platform for women and girls – especially for new runners and people who are, perhaps, a little hesitant about running.

We should all #runlikeagirl !!

RIP Sir Roger Bannister

Oh, how sad.

Sir Roger Bannister has just died.

Sir Roger was the first person ever to break the 4 minute mile, in Oxford in 1954.

What a fab photo this is.

Men in over-coats and hats, holding stopwatches.

And when you think of today’s technical paraphernalia of timing chips and timing mats…I just ran a timed 10k race this morning, so know all about chips and mats.

By the way, I converted 4 minutes for a mile to minutes per km, since I think in the latter, & it equates to 2:29 per km.

Crazy fast!

What a great man Sir Roger was.  Totally modest.

Poetry in motion

One of the most cerebral runners I know is the infrequently-glimpsed Vinay Nagyal.

Actually, let me clarify that statement.

I’m sure loads of people glimpse Vinay a lot, but I only seem to see him in the dark of a pre-race holding area, or as we run past each in a race, him ahead, me trailing.

Which was the case last Sunday.

4am in the holding area before the New Delhi Marathon & I was feeling a bit tense.  Couldn’t find my pacer and there was no water.

A voice greets me in the dark & wishes me well.

Vinay it was.

I told him that I expected some poetry after the marathon, because that’s what this man does.  He writes with a rare degree of lyricism, in this day of instant Facebook updates.

Next time I saw – yes, indeed, the next time I “glimpsed” Vinay – was on Raj Path.

He was heading back, after our 2nd loop, and I was just starting down Raj Path.  That means Vinay was probably a good 7km ahead of me, which makes sense as he finished almost an hour faster than I did.  I called out, but he was in deep, meditative mode.  Eyes fixed a little distance ahead on the road, and not looking to left and right.

That is a skill I have still to learn.

As is the art of writing race poetry, like this.

I give you Mr. Nagyals’ post marathon thoughts… 🙂

“reliving the experience of NDM 2018…..

• what?!! 04:30 is helluva time for a marathon on a sunday!!
• ha ha…plenty of us fools at the line up this year again.
• an international run delayed by 5 minutes by sachin fans? when will indians get over cricket?! 
• wow, this early spring samal flowers fragrance along lodhi road again.
• armstrong’s la vie en rose and ISCON’s krishna das on a meditative run in the dark. nice…
• brr..the pre-dawn cold; these green barbets, pied cuckoos and black drongos got up early!
• the hamstrings have begun to complain about the high cadence. time to open stride and use quads.
• crossed the wall…ah yes…. the endorphins have begun to hit the spot.
• hard to maintain pace in these last 5 kms; shouldn’t have had that beer last night.
• shut up, its a mind game. smile and act cool for the race pic.
• ufff the pain. what a great run. when’s the next one? 
#NewDelhiMarathon”

 

Thank you, my friend.

So? What did we think of the New Delhi Marathon 2018?

Yesterday was the 3rd edition of the New Delhi Marathon – or, to give it its full moniker, the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon.

I’ve run all 3 editions of this race, and have seen its evolution, so can speak with a certain amount of authority.

For anyone interested, here’s the review I wrote of the 2016 race and the review I wrote of 2017.

So, here goes.  My balance sheet for 2018.

Although I’m not all that experienced as a runner, to my way of thinking, participants in a race for which they have paid, and especially for long distances like a half and a full marathon, do require certain non-negotiable things.  To wit:

1.A safe, well-lit route.

2. Water.

3.Loos.

4.Marshaling.

5.First aid.

The rest – the T shirt, the breakfast, the roadside entertainment – are of far less importance.  Well, to me they are.

1.A safe, well-lit route.

The start time of the full marathon was changed at the last minute from 5am to 4.30am.  No idea why, but it wasn’t a biggie as far as I was concerned, & actually gave us more time on empty roads before the half marathon started.

BUT, there were stretches of the route which were in darkness.

As in street lights not working.  True, they were still not working at 5am, so the start time change really made no difference.

I’m not sure one can take race organisers to task for poor civic infrastructure, but I felt very apprehensive about tripping and falling along stretches of Lodhi Road, and one runner in front of me did indeed take a tumble in the first 2km.

What else constitutes a safe route?

Absence of traffic, that’s what, and this is my single biggest complaint about yesterday’s race.  The traffic was a nightmare at India Gate, and I was stopped twice while cops let cars go past.

Once again, like the street lighting issue, I’m not sure where the balance of power/blame/responsibility exactly lies.

Is it the decision of the traffic police to stop the traffic for accredited races?  Do the race organisers have any say in the matter? I don’t remember any issues with ADHM (the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) so what went wrong yesterday?

I am only an amateur runner, but even I got irritated by being held up while noisy, irritable, honking cars swept past, but imagine what it must’ve been like for the elites, competing for serious money and for rankings that affect their careers?

So, on the first score – a safe, well-lit route…sorry, not good.

Not good at all.

Water

I had no problems whatsoever on the route but oh my God, was I stressed before we started.  There was NO water in the holding area.  A few already-empty dispensers, and that was that.

So, for half an hour, I fretted and worried about water.

Memories of the lack of water in the inaugural edition came back to haunt me, and it was only at the first water station that I calmed down.  

After that, I had no problems though I heard from friends in my running group that there was no water in the stadium after the event, nor in the latter stages of the race.

Loos

The loo I used in the holding area at 4am, before the race, was disgusting.  Absolutely revolting.  And the flush didn’t work.

I used the first loo & the second loo on the route, on the basis that they should still be Ok.  Both were absolutely disgusting.  Stomach-churningly disgusting.  And no water.

I was a full marathoner, so the only people ahead of me were fellow runners, and we weren’t that numerous, so God knows how many people had managed to use them before I did.  Or were they delivered like this?

I won’t belabour the point.  You don’t need to be further disgusted.

I truly pity the thousands of people who followed us.

Marshaling

I have no complaints whatsoever.

Adequate signs, plus I’d studied the route, which I actually know very well by now, since it was 99% the same as ADHM.  There was one little loop added on, but it was clearly signed.

So I’m not quite sure what went wrong for this poor runner:

First Aid

I needed Volini spray twice, as I was cramping badly, and was administered it quickly and cheerfully by the youngsters at the aid stations.

So absolutely no complaints from me, BUT – remember I said a runner had fallen in the early stages of the race on Lodhi Road?  He was part of a group I caught up with – didn’t know any of them – all middle-aged blokes.  I was running alongside the group when a man ran up quickly, joined them & settled down to our pace.

“Talk about a bloody First Aid van.” (and I quote)  “All they have is Volini and some band aids. No Dettol.  No disinfectant.”

What else?

Last year I had remarked on the crowds of runners on the route, selfie-ing away and blocking the HM-ers and FM-ers.  I didn’t experience this yesterday, thank goodness, but oh my giddy aunt – the finish line. You rocket over the last timing mat, and go smack into runners hanging round waiting for their mates, I imagine.

The area needs to be kept clear.  You can’t screech to a halt –  well, I can’t.  So I know I cannoned into people.  In Mumbai, when you cross the finish line, there are barriers that funnel you straight away from the finish line, so you don’t get in the way of the runners behind you.

This was most definitely needed yesterday.

I couldn’t find where the breakfast was, so I left without eating.  I know you’re supposed to eat after a race, especially after running 42.2km, but I couldn’t see any signs for the food area, so gave up.

Let me end with one final anecdote, which I reported in an email to the race director this morning.

My husband was standing on the roadside, very close to the final turn into the stadium (for Delhi-walas, he was between the overbridge and the road that crosses the main road) when the metal barrier fell down on top of him, knocking him to the ground.  He has a lump on his head and is feeling very stiff and ache-y today.  Phone screen damaged.  Apparently another barrier across the road (so just before we turned left back toward the finish line) also fell down a few seconds later.

As with the street lighting and the traffic management, I feel churlish laying the blame for this at the feet of the race organisers.

Who erects those metal fences?  The police?  The traffic police?  My husband wasn’t seriously hurt.  But he could’ve been.

This all sounds a bit crabby, doesn’t it, and possibly gives the impression that I had a bad race.

I didn’t.

I had a brilliant race.

Loved it.

But that doesn’t blind me to the fact that there were lapses.

I welcome your feedback, I truly do.  Tell me if you think I’m being overly critical.

But I don’t think so.

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