Shed your inhibitions!

To women runners across the globe, this is to let you know that a small group of women in Delhi took a decisive step this morning 🙂

We ran in our sports bras and crop tops, the way millions of you already do, without even thinking about it.

But this is India.

And this is Delhi, a city not known to be women-friendly.

But we did it!

It all started with a phone call from one of the Delhi NCR’s most popular and influential runners – the blogger, yogini and runner Tanya Agarwal.

She was organising a sports bra run along with another runner Nikita Seth.  Was I interested?

“Obviously,” was my answer.

And so this overcast, humid Delhi morning a group of us ran together in our sports bras and crop tops, feeling cooler without the extra layer of a sweaty T shirt, feeling great, and having a blast.

When Tanya announced the run, she shared the vision behind it:

“The objective of this Run :
Shed your Inhibitions and run!
This is not any of those women’s liberation kind of run. It’s a few of us ladies getting together to feel the experience of a different run with like minded company. It’s to shed inhibitions, continue to feel strong about our bodies and believe that once in a while you can do it just the way you’d really like and have wanted. Delhi is hard on us women and we should not do this alone! But together we can! 

Hoping to inspire the fence sitters. Hoping to be a drop in the ocean!”

I can’t officially speak for all the other fabulous young women, but I’d say it was TOTAL “mission accomplished”, Tanya and Nikita.

We ran strong, we had fun, we turned a few heads, and we garnered smiles and high fives from most of the runners we met en route.

It was SO encouraging to see the smiles and hear the cheers as runners passed us this morning and – in a moment that I hope someone captured on film – as we crossed a group running towards us, Tanya yelled “Take it off!” and Garima Dhamija did just that! Whipped off her T-shirt, changed directions and  joined us.

Total rockstar moment.

Whenever I’ve seen runners overseas, I’ve noticed that so many women run in crop tops.

If you look at photos online of races, marathons, whatever, so many women are running comfortably clad, and no-one seems to bat an eyelid.

So that issue was part of the rationale behind today’s run.

And yes, it felt great to run freer and cooler, and I think we all looked pretty damn fantastic –  though I’m obviously biased!

But it wasn’t simply about running in our sports bras.

It was also about shedding inhibitions, about feeling OK about your body.  About feeling good in your own skin.

Yet again, I can’t speak for all the young women this morning, but I know that a couple of women felt apprehensive about running in less rather than more.

I certainly did.

I’m very conscious of my age, of the wrinkles, and of the old-lady flab that is gradually accumulating, despite all the running.

I admit to having a bit of a wobble during the week and wondering whether I wasn’t about to make a total and utter fool of myself.

But I wasn’t about to let down the great core team of women and – very importantly – great male supporters, and so off I went.

We rendezvous-ed outside Nehru Park, and had a fun photo shoot

    

Just look at these young women!  Fit & fabulous & looking completely normal in their pared down running gear.

    

What a gallery of great women 🙂

After yet more photos and initiating an hour-long Facebook live session, off we set, accompanied by a gang of great guys.

These men, all stellar runners and coaches in their own right, supported us fantastically.

I suppose the original idea was that the men would be there in case of any untoward reaction to the sight of women in Delhi in – gasp – sports bras & crop tops.

As it was, nothing happened, though to be fair we were running at dawn, and around a park that is runners central on Sundays, but nothing other than cheers and positivity came our way.  Which is SUCH a wonderful reaction.

So the presence of so many of my male running friends just made the whole exercise seem more normal.  In the end, we were a group of women running with a group of men.  How brilliant.

I enjoyed every single moment of this initiative and was hoping that Nikita & Tanya would agree to another lap of the park.  As it is, I’m hoping they already have the next #shedit run planned!

So.

Did I shed any of my own inhibitions?

Well…I certainly feel very conscious of my wrinkles in one photo that is so hideous (of me 🙁 ) that even in the pursuit of objective blogging, I can’t bear to share it.  I look about 700 years old 🙁 🙁

So, no, actually, a total fail in shedding that particular inhibition!

Joking aside, it actually felt weird for a moment, putting my T shirt on for the drive home.  It had felt natural to be dressed the way we were.

And taking things forward?

In Delhi, I certainly won’t be running in my sports bra alone.

I might well run in it with another group of women, like today, or with the same kind of fab blokes we ran with today.

And I’m going to work on that flab, which isn’t an inhibition, before you say anything – just need to #shedit!

Today was great fun, but also came with a great purpose behind it.

Honoured to have been part of the inaugural #shedit run & look forward to the next one!

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Women inspiring women to run

This lovely guest post is by one of my running girlfriends Mousumee Mishra.  We ran the “Shed it” Run together a couple of months ago.

Mousumee shares here the story of the first ever Pinkathon run in the eastern state of Odisha, and she tells it with her usual verve and enthusiasm.

I can almost hear her happy laughter 🙂

“Pinkathon Day is celebrated on the 21st of October. It is India’s biggest women’s run founded by Milind Soman and Reema Sanghavi, & was created with the objective of spreading awareness about women’s health related issues like breast cancer. Through the Pinkathon we encourage women to adopt health and fitness in their daily lifestyles by means of running. The Pinkathon, organized by the United Sisters Foundation, is conceived as more than just a running event & the purpose of the run is to use community running as a tool, to empower and enable thousands of women across India to bring positive physical change into their lives.

Our body is perfected over millions of years to perform endurance exercise in fairly warm conditions. Running helps to better your own fitness levels. Training the body to push past the “I need to stop” thought truly helped many runners to build an indomitable level of determination across all spheres in their life. Running brings positive change in my mental and physical state of being. I’d heard about Pinkathon for 4 years and how Milind was able to make a fitness goal for women across states to have healthier women at all households. As I was scrolling through the website of Pinkathon day, I was curious to know who the Ambassador for my hometown, Bhubaneswar was.

There was no name!

The reason why I chose to lead the Pinkathon day in Bhubaneswar is that my roots belong here, with the city. I want to make a difference in my hometown. I want to make running as a lifestyle choice for them, just didn’t have the right platform or partner to demonstrate that.

“Why do you run?” is the question asked by every non-runner.

I don’t have an answer for them. And I have stopped asking myself this question. The night before any run I imagine myself balancing some insane amount of energy and strength on the road in my running gear, and then there is no looking back when the alarm rings.

For any event to be successful , we need like-minded leaders to hold hands and share the load of organizing such event which was first of its kind in the city. Through Milind and his core team of Sharmila and Vaishnavi I got introduced to two of my co-leads, Indira and Biswanath, both runners and who had the same goal in minds. Objective was set, we are going to organize a run for women health awareness.  It would be a 5km run, with online registrations of them and a few men volunteers for this event.

But here was the twist, neither Indira nor I was in Bhubaneswar to ensure seamless execution. Through the Pinkathon Whatsapp group, we were guided and given instructions at every step in our journey. Bhubaneswar got a slot a week before the closing date. And boom we had close to 200 registrations. Long story short , we managed the first step.

 

Biswanath conducted weekly runs for the enthusiastic participants and we encouraged many of them to start practicing. As Team Bhubaneswar started gearing up for the run, so did the monsoons and the Durga puja preparation in the city. Durga puja festival is the time of the year where the whole city is united to celebrate Maa Durga’s nine avatars with pomp and show. Amongst the beautifully lit pandals and street food, the training runs were conducted.

Finally the D day arrived with loads of pre preparation anxiety.

Our volunteers and Ambassadors had reached the venue at 5am. We stuck with our race plan with directional signage made by participant’s children and special kids from Hopes and Smiles. We placed the volunteers with medical kit and kilometre boards and instructed all to follow the same. All the volunteers were trained properly with their respective responsibilities.

We started with few minutes of warm up session and as all started running it was an empowering experience to see that. We saw the light chatty runners,  the speedster runners, the mother kid duo run, the ex-veteran athlete runners. Most of them felt really relaxed. We let them do what they are comfortable with and we wanted all to have fun. I saw many women sharing fitness coaching ideas and bonding camaraderie and seeking help to reach each other’s training goals. And for a few, the blissful solitude of running alone and soaking all energy.

One of the great things about running is the freedom to do it wherever and whenever you like.

My parents stood like a strong pillar, not only in supporting but by participating and push and ensuring this event was executed properly. They are always an integral part in my fitness journey to ensure I can juggle it in between home and work and get enough recovery.

For the first time in Bhubaneswar history, 150+ women joined hands together with few generous men to run the PINKATHON DAY.

I could pat myself on the back, after seeing the perfect execution of the plan and the floods of posts in digital and print media about happy runners. Thanking the media who ensured our goal fitness reached each household.

Next year we will make it bigger, and ensure more people are on the street running for fitness.”

Well done, my friend, for being instrumental in launching such a great fitness initiative and I wish you and the great ladies and girls of Odisha good luck for all future events 🙂

#keeprunning #keepinspiring

A newly minted ultra runner shares his story

My running friend Dilawer Khan, who lives in Jammu, has just become an ultra-runner.

How fantastic is that?

A week after running a super fast half marathon in delhi, Dilawer tackled a 63km run, and has thus moved himself into a new league altogether!

Congrats, my friend, and thanks for sharing your experiences in this vivid telling of your first ultra run.

Dear reader, I give you Dilawer in his own, happy, humorous words:

“It has been on mind right after some time I’d started running and now I’ve accomplished it- to run an ultra (anything beyond 42 Kms).

I started running in the year 2015 and ADHM was my first official race. Since then I’ve run around 15 half marathons, 2 full marathons and few 10k’s. With time I’ve been able to improve my pace and I’m only getting greedier. However at the same time I feel like running longer distances as well.

So basically need to strike a balance between distance and speed.

This Sunday my team, Jammu Runners, planned to run an inter-city ultra run from Jammu to Udhampur(65 Kms approx). I was a bit sceptical about this as I had ran my fastest HM only a week ago (ADHM’18).

Then I decided that I’ll take it as my usual Sunday LSD (long slow distance) run and see how far I could go.

We, the group of 13 runners (everyone with his own set of targets) and 3 crew cars, started at 5 AM and it was perfect weather for running. With the brief flat/downhill start it was mainly a continuous uphill run till around 20 Kms on NH-44. So it was even slower than the LSD pace.

The weather and the scenery around the highway made the ascent easier though the monkeys, our side spectators, did scare me at times. I crossed the highest point till that distance in around 2 and a half hours and it was the first time also that I crossed that toll plaza without paying anything 😀.

I along with my experienced ultra runner friend Gagan started with leading the run, were at the back of the pack now thanks to our generous stoppages and photo shoot sessions.

After the toll plaza we ran through the mountains (thanks to the tunnels). There we came across a man on his cycle rickshaw coming all the way from Jalandhar to pay his obeisance to Vaishno Devi at Katra(power of faith).

Thanks to our support team, we had been having proper supply of nutrition in the form of energy drinks, fruits and biscuits. After running for more than three hours and completing 22 kms we stopped for proper breakfast. After that it was kind of a picnic run, if I can call it so, with more stoppages and photo shoots. Without much fatigue and tiredness touched the mark of 30k, so my next target was full marathon. Some of the runners had already finished their run after achieving their respective targets and the leaders – Rajesh Padha (running 60k on his 60th birthday)and Mukesh(his first full/ultra marathon) had made the u-turn after touching the full marathon mark (they finished after completing 61kms).

As we, Gagan and me, decided against U-turn(to add an inter-city run to our running profiles 😋) bid adieu to our crew captain and had to carry our bags now.

After some more pics and more breaks and I crossed FM in around 5 hours (running time). Then the goal post shifted further to 50k(ultra).

After 10 hours on feet and 7 hours of running time I touched my first ultra run mark. Honestly speaking there was no special feeling of jubilation or sense of achievement, as now I was eyeing to finish it at another town.

Then we had our last break at 55k and set for Udhampur town.

The sun was setting and it was getting colder now.

Legs had started to show the signs fatigue.

After running 62 Kms on the highway we took the left turn towards the town, finally the destination was in front of my eyes and we finished after 63 Kms with more than 12 hours on feet and almost 10 hours of running time.

There I was with the feelings of joy and contentment or maybe no feelings at all. But now when I look back and go through that run again in my head I cannot believe that I have run from Jammu to Udhampur.

Here I have to thank my friends who made it possible (and look easier).

First of all Mr Rajesh Padha for making the plan and leading from the front, Rajeshwar for his unrelenting support on the way, Sandeep Singh for his energy injections (not literally!) and everybody who ran along with me.

Last but not least, Gagan, who actually turned this ultra run into a fun run with continuous sharing of his prior ultra running experience, holding me back whenever the speedster in me tried taking over and everything he did to make it a memorable experience.

This first ultra run of mine exactly did the same to me what most of the long runs do – makes you humble.”

Dilawer, my friend, I am speechless with admiration!

You put lazy ol’ runners like me to shame 😛

Fantabulous achievement & I am super proud of you.

#keeprunning #keepinspiring & the next time we meet in Delhi, you can buy me a coffee with the money you saved from the toll plaza!

Running to the tune of Coach’s whistle

For those of you who were not out running early this morning in Delhi, let me say, quite simply, that it was brutally humid.  Hot and very, very humid.

For those of you who were running this morning, you don’t need me to remind you of the cruel weather.  So let me just say “well done” for being out there, training 🙂

We were a large contingent from our ASICS Running Club to meet up before 6am in a Delhi sports ground, to drill and train and run.

Today we did an unstructured fartlek workout.

We’ve done many fartlek workouts over the 18 months we’ve trained together, and I’ve written about them, too.  Here’s the link to the most recent fartlek session I wrote about, dating from mid-May.

Today, though, was different in that Coach didn’t tell us in advance that we would do x fast reps and y slow reps.

Instead, we were to start running and then go by his whistle.

So we all set off running fast and waited for his whistle, and then ran slowly until the next whistle, and so on and so forth.

Coach blew his whistle in what appeared to be a random pattern, but I’m sure it wasn’t.  Sometimes the long-short rhythm would be regular, sometimes there would be a long fast section followed by a too short slow section 😛 and he varied the rhythm non-stop for 5 km.

Yes, it was exhausting.

But it was challenging and fun and though I felt a bit nauseous about half way through, I didn’t stop, and staggered on to the end. Coach stood there, throwing out his pithy one liners to encourage us.  At one point, when Coach was blowing his whistle quickly between the fast and slow sections (meaning they were each of a shorter duration), as I tottered past, he muttered something about how I could perhaps make an effort in the fast drills, since they were getting shorter.

Although I managed a fast pace at the outset, obviously I got slower as the 5.3km went on, but was pretty darn pleased that I finished it, with no goofing off.

I was wiped out, I have to say, and things were not helped by a fearsomely difficult yoga workout led by one of our tribe, Ajay Jaisinghania.

I’m stiff and un-supple at the best of times, but Ajay’s routine this morning actually had me teetering on the edge of tears.

Truly.

To be the only one unable to bend and twist, and the realisation that I’m probably too old ever to be able to work towards such suppleness was a sobering thought.

From the “high” of doing a good fartlek, I was almost in tears.

Stupid, but there you go.

Team photo, though probably more than half of the group had left, since it’s a working day.

Once home, I did a little online research about the benefits of unstructured fartlek & I’m sharing here a very useful article from the always excellent Runners World website, which has some interesting insights into the kind of unstructured fartlek we did this morning:

“…workout uses deception as a way of tapping into your hidden reserves. You may think you’re cooked when you finish a hard workout, but scientists have repeatedly shown that people can actually maintain a similar pace for another few reps after completing a prescribed workout. And the benefits can be substantial. In one study, cyclists who were fooled into riding farther than expected were subsequently able to race 13 percent faster when they knew the correct distance…”

Deception as a way of tapping into your hidden reserves“.

Now how interesting is that as a concept?  Certainly worked for me this morning.

And this next sentence could almost have been tailor made for a slow runner like yours truly:

“Don’t get hung up on pace—the goal is to push when you thought you couldn’t anymore.”

Somehow, something worked, because despite feeling super tired, after our ASICS session, I then went for a v-e-r-y slow 6km run with my running partner Ripu Daman.

I was quite convinced after the fartlek workout that I’d have absolutely no energy left, but those hidden reserves mentioned above actually came into play.

We went to check on the tree-cutting, by the way, and found no evidence of further tree cutting in Netaji Nagar, scene of our protests.

That was good news.

What did you see on your run today? #382 stars Casper the lost dog

My running friend Rohit Manaktala has a lovely story from his 15k run in the Lodhi Gardens this morning.

Let him tell you this sweet story in his own words:

“As I finished my cool down walk after a nice 15k interval run at Lodhi today, I saw a car drive up with a beagle which looked exactly like Pixie, my neighbour’s dog, except he was not a she!

I came to know from the lady, a resident of our colony, that the dog was found loitering outside her gate and she thought it was Pixie, and so brought him here only to discover the vital difference!

We had seen a beagle being taken for walks to Lodhi, so surmised he was probably from the adjacent colony.  A couple of boys were sent to ask around and spread the word, and we also flashed the news on our colony’s Whatsapp group.  Whilst waiting, we kept Casper (discovered his name later) busy by playing with/petting him, and also introduced him to Pixie who, after some initial alarmed barking, started sniffing each other and became quite friendly.

The owner meanwhile had hard about the boys enquiring and came looking for Casper on a scooty.  She recognised his bark and zeroed in to where we had tied casper and given him water and biscuits while waiting.”

Awww.

A happy ending and, maybe, just maybe, a budding romance between Pixie and Casper 🙂

Here’s the star of this cute story:

2 sides of the same super cute running story

How I love these 2, Kathakoli Dasgupta, the gal who got me running 5 years ago, and her met-in-India hubby Dave Hogg.

They both ran a race yesterday and they both share their stories here.

(Pause for everyone to say “Awww…” 🙂 )

I didn’t even have to badger them to write, bless ’em.

By the way, you need to know that Dave was injured recently, by the way.

So, Katha first:

“There are some races that you just do, some you are proud of and some that make you happy. Today’s Great South Run was the happiest I have felt during a race.

The weather was gorgeous, the energy infectious, the music uplifting, the cheer from the crowds super encouraging. I did high-fives with every kid I could reach and was beaming throughout the 10 miles.

What makes this race even more memorable is that Portsmouth’s historic sea front has a special significance for Dave’s family; plus Dave’s achieved another milestone in the road to recovery—he is running again, having started to jog a few days back, and finished the race in 1:20:53! I wasn’t far behind and am pretty chuffed with my 1:29:32. #HappyRunner “

Now over to Dave:

“So I wrote last week about new found enjoyment from walking whilst I couldn’t run after an accident. Since then I’ve taken steps back to running, first a short jog, then a longer one, then further again. It felt really weird as I’ve never had such a long time not running (albeit 6 weeks) since I started running 19 years ago: my muscles just weren’t used to it and had lost their running edge. But given we drove six hours to run the Great South Run—or at least for my wife Katha to—and the weather was unseasonably fantastic, I couldn’t but reverse my decision not to run. It wasn’t easy, but I gritted my teeth and got round the course in a not unreasonable time. And the best thing was that, with no pressure to race or get a PB, I again got to enjoy the coastal scenery en route.”

Dave, as a fellow Brit, I applaud your totally British understatement – “not unreasonable time”.  Arre, baba, you’re running after being knocked off your bike, and you do 10 miles in 1:20.  Amazing stuff.

Fantastic!

And gotta love the Indian T shirts in action!

Thanks the both of you & #keeprunning #keepinspiring

How 2 women runners tackled a groper

India is going through its own #MeToo movement, with the naming and (theoretical) shaming of Bollywood personalities and politicians.  I use the word “theoretical” advisedly, since in the case of a journalist-turned-politician M.J.Akbar, he is brazening it out, and our government remains steadfastly silent about the fact that their junior minister for External Affairs stands accused of sexual harassment.

Speaks volumes about the way India regards its women.

All of this is by way of introduction to the following story shared by my running friend, Shalini Verma.

For readers not familiar with the places Shalini mentions in her account, all you need to know is that this took place in Gurgaon, a bold, brash, brand new satellite town next to Delhi, where many of the biggest companies have their HQs and where there are glitzy towers blocks and malls galore and…read on, and you’ll see what else there is.

The other thing you might need to know is that ADHM refers to the big half marathon taking place in Delhi this Sunday.

And now, over to Shalini:

“As part of #ADHM training, my friend & I were doing a 3 hour run today. We started at 5am from Galleria and went till Mega Mall near Bristol Hotel.

When we were crossing the metro station, a white scooty crossed us from the wrong side and the driver touched my friend’s butt…and drove away.

We both were shocked and for few second did not know how to react. 
Then we saw him crossing us from the service lane side.

We both decided to follow him. So we started running towards Mega Mall. After a few minutes we were not able to see his scooty. We thought he must have gone, so we turned and started running again.
But no…… he came back again and stopped at the Galleria turn…. after a few seconds, he took a right turn towards Galleria.

We both decided to catch hold of him, thinking that there are cops near Galleria market, so we might be able take their help.

But within a second he again turned back and started coming towards us …… by then we knew what we are going to do….. I was ready with my water bottle and she was ready with hers.

When he was about to cross us, we both ran towards him. He was not ready for this attack…. my friend pushed him towards the road dividers ….and he lost his balance. That’s when we caught hold of him and started slapping him left … right … centre.

I used my water bottle to hit hard on his face and head. Since he was on a scooty he managed to escape …
But we both felt nice….and then we went on and completed our run.”

Firstly, ewww that yet another woman was groped by some low life man.

Been there, sad to say, on several occasions.

Secondly – WELL DONE, ladies, for fighting back.  Great reaction and brave of you to tackle him.

In my experience of being groped when I’ve been out running, no one, repeat no one, comes to your aid, not even the cops.

So you 2 handled this as well as you could.

So bad that this stuff happens.  But then look at what is NOT happening with the #MeToo movement…

And the pre-race nerves begin…

This time next week, fingers crossed, I should be safely tucked up in bed, race gear all laid out, ready for a super early start.

Next Sunday’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon starts at 5 o’clock in the morning, which will mean reporting at 4.15 latest, which will mean leaving the house at 3.45, which will mean getting up at…

Pause while I hyperventilate.

I had this exact same conversation this morning with Vaibhav, one of my ASICS Running Club mates, and I think we ended up deciding we’d have to be in bed by 6pm 😛

Jeez Louise!

This fretting about the time I’ll have to get up pre-race, is all part and parcel of the countdown to an event, and in the 5 years since I entered this exciting world of running, I’ve learned that nerves are all part of the process.

So better to get them over and done with in advance.

Further proof, if it were required, that I’m in race countdown mode is that I tinkered with my playlist today.  Added a couple, moved a few around.  That kind of stuff.

And thus it will go on all week, as race day gets closer.

In our running club meet this morning, we did just one fast hill work out: 20 x at a fast pace, about 80% of our normal fast pace, according to Coach.  Between you and me, I was crushed when I was giving it my all (or so I thought) and was told by Coach to speed it up…ah well 😛

But it felt good to pit myself against a stronger runner like Saurabh, and sort of keep up with him (below):

Here’s our real speedster, who must’ve done 30 reps.  He just didn’t stop!

But other than this short and fast drill, we mostly worked on strength and stretching, and we did some different strength exercises, which were fun and challenging at the same time.  The idea is to taper, gradually, before race day.

The weather is beyond perfect in Delhi at the moment – borderline chilly at 5.50 when we started – and it feels invigorating, after the muggy summer humidity.

One of our members, Sushil Hooda, made a lovely video of this morning, which sums up our training, with a week to go before race day.  It also gives you an idea of the fabulous light, early in the morning.

Great memory of a good session:

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Are you a running nerd?

Confession time.

According to a Buzzfeed quiz I took, I am a total running nerd.

Like so:

So, in the spirit of true nerdiness, I’m going to share with you my latest discovery, from this morning’s session with my Delhi running group…

My discovery is that I really, really, REALLY enjoy unstructured fartlek.

Doubt it gets weirder than that 😛

As I’m sure you all know, fartlek training is “defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.”

In structured fartlek, you do (for example) 1 minute fast followed by 1 minute slow, or whatever combo you decide.

In the unstructured version that Coach Vijay made us do this morning, it was random.

We all started out fast – but our own version of fast – and when he blew the whistle, we changed to slow, and so on and so forth, in a pattern of uneven times.  Coach didn’t set a pace, nor a fixed time frame.  We ran on our own, according to the whistle.

What I liked about this morning’s session is that it was me fixing my fast and my slow, so I was totally running for and against myself.

No feelings of dismay at the superior speeds of my fellow runners, as happens in tempo runs, for example.

Today, I decided my level of fast, and ran my own drill.  Since I am naturally a slow runner, and habitually the last to finish drills, often I admit to feeling disappointed by my own lack of speed, compared to the others in my group.

But not in this training method.

I finished the fartlek session shattered, but not at all discouraged.

No one comes first or last in such a drill.

So you end the session totally elated 🙂

Hey!

One last thing before I go.

Won’t you please share your level of nerdiness?

Post a comment (directly here in the blog, please and not via Facebook) and we can see just how nerdy we all are!!

All hail the new marathoner!

Disclaimer.

    1.  This post is almost a week late.  My bad.
    2. This post is 99.99% written by the shiny new marathoner in question, so my input is minimal.

Having said that, it is now with HUGE affection that I hand over the reins of this blog post to my Delhi girlfriend and BRAND NEW MARATHONER, Reeti Sahai.

Reeti is a well-known & much-loved member of the Delhi-NCR running community.  Tall, willowy, with an infectious booming laugh and a personality to match, Reeti just run a sub 4 in her first ever marathon in Berlin – where running records were broken.

Fabulous achievement, girlfriend 🙂  And having seen you out running all through the summer, you totally deserve this outstanding result 🙂

Let’s here it for Reeti:

Marathoner – this word gives me immense JOY !

I had been running half marathons for 6 years now and I somehow always said, “ Nah not a full marathon. It’s too much.” And while I said so, I respected every person who ran a full. I turned 40 this January and one fine day (just about four months before I ran the Berlin marathon on 16th Sept 2018) I just sprung out of bed and said, “I’ve got to run a full marathon in my 40th year”. And that was IT. There was no looking back once the mind had conceived it. Thankfully, like most decisions in my life, this came from my gut too and I was convinced that this had to be done.
I called up my running coach Ian Dexter Ladbrook and broke the news. I was apprehensive he’d say, “you’re not ready. You’re too old to start running one. “ etc etc However, to my surprise and delight, he said, “that’s amazing and you can do a sub 4 hour marathon Reeti”. While I loved his confidence in me, I wasn’t sure what that meant in terms of training and hard work. And yes, it certainly didn’t mean that cause I can run a half in sub 2 hours (my PR being 1.44.03) I could run a full in sub 4. Those of you, marathoners, who’re reading this know exactly what I mean. To cut a long story short, I started receiving my weekly training plans and I started off with running four days a week and strength-training once a week. Gradually the mileage, intensity and days of training increased. And so did the heat and humidity in Delhi. I trained in the brutal summer of Delhi. There were mornings I’d question my decision. There were days I didn’t feel like running. I had hell training days. I went through emotions I hadn’t experienced. Training in the Summer wasn’t easy. I chafed and HOW. Discovered aches and pains in new parts of my body. I slept for 10hours a couple of days a week. I tried to eat as healthy. I had a bare-minimum social life (my friends almost dis-owned me and will vouch for this). They thought I’d hit mid life crises. I visited my sports physician for every minor niggle I had. I didn’t want to jeopardize my training. I got regular massages done. I almost slept at 9pm if not earlier for these four months. I barely drank alcohol.
I had the most amazing set of running friends who are family now. I couldn’t have done this without them. They say sport has the power to change lives – I can vouch for this.
Subhash, Jyoti, Hritik, Vipul, Vinay, Harveen, Amit, Nivi. Subhash ChauhanNivi Samanta Hrithik Prakash Vipul Manocha Vinay Bhardwaj Harveen Singh Johar DrAmit Ballani
I don’t know what to say, except GRATITUDE from the bottom of my heart. You guys have been beyond amazing ! To run with me every Sunday morning. Crazy hours. Crazy distance. And the runs only got longer and tougher but you ran with me throughout. I’m blessed. I owe you !
Preet Singh Thankyou for being there. Thankyou for constantly pushing me, encouraging me and telling me I could do this. For bearing with my rants and for also being selfish at times to achieve my goal.

Amna Ahmed Divya Vaish Aggarwal Hamid Ahmed Bharat Sharma Nitin Bhardwaj Deepak Bhardwaj Arvind Kumar TheKhati Amit Bhavya Sharma
Amna Divya Hamid Amit Bharat Nitin to name a few – who saw me train every morning and always encouraged me. This gave me so much strength guys. Wouldn’t have been possible without you guys rooting for me.
I know I’m missing a lot of names. Each one of you know who YOU are. And I can’t thank YOU enough. This has been one hellva journey and it has changed my life!
My entire family who always supported and encouraged me. They love to see me follow my heart. I’m blessed to have the family I have. I know I may have compromised on family time, trips. I promise to make up for it now. Love you all.
Arjun and Ruushil Arjun Saraswat Ruushill Bhaskar – Thankyou for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity. A shout out to the adidas Runners Delhi – for all the training and running mornings with all you fabulous aR people.
Thankyou Ian Dexter Ladbrooke for everything. Yes, let’s discuss marathon No 2. I’m hooked.
I landed in Berlin on the 13th of Sept and settled in. We went to the marathon expo on the same day and it was an overwhelming experience. I loved it. But I also wanted to move out of there as quickly as possible. It was HUGE – the word also doesn’t do justice to how BIG a world major marathon expo is ! Picked my bib number and it all seemed REAL. I was almost there. Nervous and excited. I kept trying to stay positive. Visualize the finish line. How elated I would be once I’ve crossed the finish line etc. it wasn’t easy but I was doing all this. Walked around the city a little for the next two days and these two days seemed never ending. I couldn’t even do much on my feet. You need a pair of fresh legs to run strong kept echoing in my mind. Saturday morning and I went for the shake-out run with adidas Runners Berlin. As always, it was a brilliant morning and we ran from the Berlin City palace to the Olympic stadium – where Usain Bolt created history. It was a beautiful 6km shake-out run chatting away with aR runners from across the globe – this running community is incredible ! I’ve met and made some friends for life. Soon I was back in my hotel room and it was a few hours to the start of my maiden marathon. Butterflies in my stomach as I started pulling out my race gear. Everything was out and ready to be worn the next morning. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to calm.
Ate some pasta for dinner and went to bed early and before I knew it my alarm rang. And it was RACE day.
Off I went to the Start point and almost got lost. It was so huge. 45000 runners from across the world. We kept trying to find the adidas Runners enclosure but couldn’t. It was one hour fifteen minutes to start time. I panicked a little since I had to drop off my bag that had my phone, post race change, some snacks etc. We decided to drop-off at the official baggage counter instead of the aR counter. And then we stood in a 30 minute line to pee. It was crazy. While you could see portapotties all over, the queues were never ending too. I heard the gun and the elites took off.
This was going to be a super special maiden for me. It is a world major marathon. A very saught after marathon. And It was rumored that Kipchoge will break the world record too. And as luck would have it, Yes, he did and I ran on the same track as him. History was created. This will stay for a while now. It was an incredible morning.

Soon, I was at the start line for my maiden marathon to begin and before I could stress more about it, we were flagged off. We were tonnes and tonnes of us who started together from my line up. It was hard to navigate through the crowds but that’s how it was going to be. It took me 15kms to kind of find a little space of my own to run. My pictures will be a witness to what I’m saying. While it was hard to navigate, the crowd also gave me energy. It was contagious. The streets of Berlin will never be the same. It was amazing to see the sheer numbers running and supporting and cheering throughout the 42.195kms. It was one BIG party on the streets of Berlin.
I kept an eye on my watch and tried not to go faster (which is what I usually do and then crash towards the end) than my race pace. I was on track at the 5km mark. I felt great. Soon I had reached the 8th km. I popped a gel and took a couple of sips of water and by the time I settled it was 10km. I felt good. I felt strong. And I said to myself, “let’s do this Reeti. 3 more 10kms to go with the same pace”. I kept talking to myself to run strong and not drop pace. I went into a zone and before I realised it was 16kms done. I had finished the water I was carrying. Thankfully, I was holding on to the bottle. Picking up a glass and drinking while running wasn’t the easiest thing to do. You could neither drink the entire glass nor run with it. And I didn’t want to stop at all cause I would loose momentum then. This was painful. And the water stations had traffic jams – if you know what I mean. It was the hardest to navigate through a sea of people to pick that glass of water while running. I popped my second gel at the 16km mark. Downed a couple of sips of water and threw the glass away. To my delight, I saw a water re-filling station. Atleast, I wouldn’t need to stop as often. I quickly stopped for a few seconds to fill my bottle and continued. And as I looked I had reached the half way mark. The first half-marathon was done. And it was done on point. Pace and time – even splits. I was smiling and said, “let’s crush the second half too”. I was focused. I saw a couple of cameras clicking, I was smiling. Visualising the finish line. Bands playing. People offering energy drinks. Rooting. Encouraging. Shouting along the way. The energy was incomparable. I looked at my Garmin and I had reached the 25km mark. I said, “15 more to go” Come on Reeti. I popped another gel and felt as good as the start. Had a few sips of water. Sprinkled some on myself as well and I was good to push for another few kms. I zoned out again. Was just enjoying the energy around me. Smiling and grateful thinking that I’m actually living my dream of running a world major as my maiden marathon. I notice around and the crowd got slightly lesser. I’m at the 34th kilometer. I do feel a little tired. I was almost on track even now (fingers crossed). I had heard of THE wall from most of my marathon friends. I was well versed with the term NOT the feeling yet. Was hoping I don’t hit the wall. I quickly popped my fourth gel. I realise I’m out of water and just then I see another water re-filling station. I stopped for a few seconds and filled my bottle hoping it will last me till the finish now. By now I was thirsty, I wanted to drink a couple of litres of water. I had almost half the bottle and my fourth gel and felt better and continued running. And YaY, I did NOT hit the so called wall.
Before I could realise I was crossing the adidas Runners cheering station at the 37th km and I see familiar faces and hear louder cheers ! I got a bout of fresh energy. And it was a matter of the last 5kms now. I knew I had no choice but to push. Giving up is easy. I was a bit tired now. My legs were screaming. Pain is temporary. Glory will be permanent – is what I told myself. 37done Reeti. The last 5km to go.What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is an absolute favourite of mine and it actually works. I was smiling too thinking I’ll soon be a marathoner.
As I got closer to the finish line, the cheering got louder. I could see the Brandenburg gate and I knew I had done this. I crossed the timing mat on the Brandenburg gate and realised I have another 400 meters to run. The finish line was finally in sight and I crossed it with a huge sense of pride and couldn’t stop but tear up. Yes, tears of joy ! I had done it. Done it strong. I was smiling. I was at peace. It seemed like a dream. It’s still sinking in. I’m still basking in the glory of a sub 4 marathoner ! Yes, I’m flaunting my time. I’ve earned it.
This will always be special – so close to my heart.
My maiden marathon
At 40
A world major
Berlin marathon 2018
Where Kipchoge broke his own world record
And a sub 4 marathon for me.
3.57.32
Does it get any better ?

Counting my blessings.
Grateful.

Now, isn’t that THE most fabulous sharing of a super moment in time?  This young woman has described every emotion so perfectly, and reading it brought back so many memories and feelings of my own maiden marathon…though I trained alone and trotted over the finish line w-a-y slower than my rockstar friend :P.

Reeti, fabulous achievement.  Fully deserved.  And here’s to many more wonderful achievements.

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