Running does that to you – My First 1/2 Marathon

The ambience was great – a mild drizzle, chill enough to lift the spirits of a nervous first time 1/2 marathoner. As I saw the throng of people waiting to go at the start line, I got a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold drizzle or the temperature – this shiver was triggered entirely by adrenalin.

I jostled at the start line smiling nervously at the head of my cheering crew(my husband – who else?!) and the announcer’s voice cracked into the air

“Do you know why you are here?”
“Do you like to torture yourselves?”
But you still want to do this?”
“Well, then here you go………….”

That pretty much summarized my running experience. This was the longest I had attempted so far. I had no idea why I was doing it. The weeks of training prior to the marathon had achieved one thing. It had awakened in me a long dormant self discipline, I had almost forgotten existed. I felt good about setting a task and overcoming hurdles to achieve what I set my eyes on.

I am a firm believer of the theory that the right things will happen at the right time. Two years ago when I attempted a half marathon, I had to limp out of training around the 6th mile – I wasn’t ready. For an erstwhile short distance track athlete, endurance running was a different ballgame and I found my competitive spirit raising it’s ugly head at the most inconvenient of times, like when I saw runners with biceps the size of my thighs run faster than me. I would throw caution to the winds as to the consequences of overtaking such runners, and thump behind them. (what if the biceps lunged out at me because Mr Biceps does not like to be overtaken? – BRR)

I also realised that though I was fast enough (in my cocky mind of course!), I wasn’t exactly a teenager competing in the Inter School Athetic Meet in Wellington, and spotty training was clearly not enough. The dreaded ITB surfaced and my shoes retired to a quiet corner.

I read about running injuries and all the websites said it was hard to not run. I disagree. Not running is very easy – just curl up in bed! I went back to poking fun at the husband for his running socks and running t-shirts.

Somehow, this time felt different from the word ‘Go’. This time, I was ready. For one, I trained steadily. I religiously maintained my mid week runs followed by my long week-end runs. I gulped down the encouragement streaming from my husband and kept going. I learnt to
repeatedly tell myself that my goal was to finish, and beating others was not my priority. I found that I enjoyed running – my thoughts and myself in tune with the early morning birdsong was one I learned to cherish.

So, on the marathon day, all I had to do was keep telling myself my mantra
“Just run slowly Just run slowly”

What amazed me was the number of people who had turned out on race day. And I don’t just mean the runners. I had already joined the nutter category and revelled in the runner-nutter-camaraderie. I mean the number of people who are not running who had turned out to help. I felt the goodwill rivers flowing freely towards random strangers. People took time off from their lives to shout out encouragement, volunteer at aid stations, hold placards to bring a smile. There was one place where after a killer uphill run, people were huffing and puffing only to come up the slope and see an old lady leaning on a walking stick holding a placard – “Yeah downhill!!!”

Who does that? These people don’t get anything more than a smile from the tired runners, and yet stood on street corners, straining to read your name and shouting encouragement. I felt selfish – I had never done anything like that before. I suddenly felt like my life had been lived in a cocoon of me, myself and mine.

I ran on, slowing down near water stops and gulping the horrible tasting cytomax, but never stopping. Despite the hilly terrains, I found myself running non-stop and for that I credit all the selfless volunteers who cheered. Here is a tribute to all you people who devoted some hours of your life to enable me to achieve my goal (See?!)

Just like that, I had breezed through to 8 miles when I saw a peek of my support group at a signal and then pounded the remaining miles. As I neared the end point, I was slowing down, maybe subsconsciously sorry for the event to end. I saw a little ahead of me that people automatically started running faster. I soon found out: there was a person with a placard reading
“Almost there! Run like you stole those sneakers!”

I laughed out loud and found myself running faster too! I finished strongly in 2 hours and 21 minutes. I got the finisher’s medal and almost kissed it. I saw the pride in my family’s eyes and suddenly felt overwhelmed.

I reached home and lost all my rights to crib about my husband’s clothes again. Said husband always wears these strapping running t-shirts and I was sick of seeing him in them. Yet, this time after a shower, I found myself proudly wearing the San Francisco Marathon T-shirt.

Running does that to you.

The Gift of Personality

I have become an aunt over again. Over the years, I have cherished the special relationship of Aunt. Predictably, when news of my niece reached me, I was all agog.

What is it about a birth of baby that has us all excited? To me, it is the dimension that is added to you simply because of the richness of personality added into the mix. This little person holds within her love, strength, compassion, intelligence and many more qualities. She will enrich our lives by making herself a part of our lives.

For now, she sleeps placidly, while we wait for her to blossom into herself.

On the occasion of her birth, I listened to one of my favourite songs in Tamil – that of a daughter growing up too fast. The song put our complex thoughts into words, and that in turn put complex thoughts into my mind. I savoured the news of my niece and the beautiful song.

All in all, the news of my niece has put me in a state of joy. Welcome little one – this post is all I have to offer now, though my heart yearns to see you.

80% of Americans…..

I have had the opportunity to talk about dubious news items before. But with the Internet, it seems anybody can put up any numbers never to be cross-verified with anybody else, and what is more, it comes up as the first hits on Google.

This particular article claims 80% of Americans want to write a book. That had me stumped. 99% of Americans are literate. But 80% want to write a book?

Not to speak disparagingly of the American public or anything, but I wonder if 80% of Americans READ books.

This particular article talked about people wanting to write like J.K.Rowling.

I am guessing at what the survey looked like
Question 1: Do you know how to read
Ans: YES

Question 2: Do you know how to write
Ans: YES

Question 2: Do you want to write a book and become a billionaire like J.K. Rowling?
Ans: YES

That is the only way I can think of explaining that survey of 80% of Americans wanting to write a book.

What do we crave?

A while ago Scott Adams had posted on his blog about the blogs with the most popular ratings and went on to analyze the readers’ profiles.

One closer look at the whole post indicates that the profile he has outlined is nothing but the topics written most often by him. In short, things he likes, similar to his profile and such. For example: when he says that we like to read posts based on how things work or possible solutions to global problems because we are logical thinkers, means nothing more than the fact that he blogs on these topics the most. By derivation, if we read that, we must like that. Predictably, this post received the highest number of comments.

I can’t help thinking that this is exactly the same choice facing me when I chance upon my astrological profile. My mind will subconsciously go to my zodiac sign, and if there is something I think of as positive, I want to believe it. If there isn’t I can shrug it off. And the more I see the astrological predictions in store for me, the more I see the pattern of his post in it. Randomly, there will be some aspect of the prediction that will hold for me, but there are huge portions that don’t. But the small portion sticks.

Emphasizes time and again how much we crave for an understanding of ourselves and our futures. In that respect, I found Jikku’s( letter to her teenage self series very interesting. How our life would have changed if we knew then what life had in store for us?!

Landing on the mooon and Harry Potter

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing – the triumph of the ‘can-do’ attitude. I am becoming a big fan of this attitude, although it is taking a lot of practice to not lapse into the “Can I do it?” mode.

My posts of late are reeking of the Twitter-ish tinge. I shouldn’t have read about the brevity becoming the new breakfast cereal. My words seem to be slowing down at 140. I am sure the sub-conscious is playing its role. Today, I am determined to fight back. I can do it, and therefore, I am going to sit here and tell you all about my views on the latest Harry Potter movie.

As far as books go, Half Blood Prince is courageous. The book was a nice prequel to Deathly Hallows and answered for us the questions about Lord Voldemort. However, the movie was a disappointment for me at many levels.

Plainly put, a person who has not read the books and has only seen the movies, would not be able to string the story together. And that is a huge miss. Arguably, Harry Potter need not cater to a base that hasn’t read a book or atleast the book review, so they should be able to string things together. But, I still find this discomforting in a movie.

Contrary to the other movies, there was too much of the dating aspect in this movie and quite a few out of character treatments.

Dumbledore, for example, is seen asking Harry about his relationship with Hermione, out of his curiosity! Like Headmasters stand around asking who is dating who?!

Lavendar creates a scene and fights with Hermione over Ron in front of – get this: Professors Snape, McGonagall, Dumbledore, Slughorn and Madam Pomfrey, and it isn’t over yet – IN the hospital. All the professors stand by and watch the altercation with either consternation, a smirk or amusement, depending on their characterization.

Harry is made to stand aside and watch Dumbledore succumb wandless without a compelling reason to do so. In the book, he is stunned and under the invisiblity cloak. He is UNABLE to do anything. In the movie, he is standing right under the scene, with a perfectly functioning wand, and a clearly nervous Draco and wandless Dumbledore standing and chatting about Draco’s task like it was a tea-party at Hogsmeade or something. This is so unlike Harry – when has he hesitated to help anybody? In fact, Hermione helpfuly pointed out the “hero mentality” in the previous movie!

All in all, looks like Warner Bros knew what they were doing – they kept all the crucial plot points to secure their earnings in financial years 2010 and 2011.

Now, you are wondering what the can-do attitude of landing on the moon has with my opinion of the latest Harry Potter movie. Nothing.

For Pots and Mirrors

We were lucky enough to catch the last and most thrilling sector of the Men’s Wimbledone Finals. Federer and Roddick gauged each other and combatted with the spirit that only stalwarts can command. Shot for shot, point for point. The game went on..

Finally when Federer won, our hearts went out to Roddick, though Federer had broken a world record. That is the true spirit of sports and overwhelms me every time. The youngest and oldest in our group at the time made two startling revelations:

The youngest quipped at the award giving ceremony: “See, one got a pot and the other got a mirror!”

The oldest quipped: “You know it is far more thrilling to watch a match without knowing the outcome!” (DUHH .. coming from a man who spent half his grown-up years advising his son that watching a match live was worthless, this was a revelation of sorts!)

While the grandfather discovered that watching a match live was thrilling, the grand-daughter discovered that people spent a LOT of energy to get a pot and a mirror.

Phone Message

Have you tried calling anybody lately? You would pull up the person from your phone’s contact list, or take the trouble of punching the numbers in only to get to their voicemail. Isn’t it funny that a majority of voicemails first tell you the number you dialled. “I know!” you want to scream, “I dialled it remember?!”

“You have reached the voicemail box of 4-8-9-3-3-8-5-9-7-4.”*”Dulcet Tone?”*” is not available. Please leave your n-am-e and telephone number at the beep” BEEP!

I’ve also noticed that everytime one is asked to say their name under pressure, they say it with a questioning tone of incredulity. It sounds like they can’t believe they said their name correctly at the right time and want to ask you if it is okay.

The tone is irresistibly influenced by the automated message tone. So, Melody Personified” invariably sounds likeSqueaky horn?”

The exact same thing happens with conference bridges. “Saumya?” has joined the conference *BEEP* “Chris?” has joined the conference

If you call me, you will be treated to the same phenomenon, but when has that stopped me from saying anything?

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