Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Running for India!

We just had a great half marathon in Gurgaon on Sunday Dec 7th.
The volunteers were there by 5:45 am with registrations happening with torches and much gusto. Runners quickly pinning their bibs on and getting ready for Gurgaon's first ever Half Marathon - the Runningandliving.com Half Marathon. Anita, Venkat, Aseem, Shruti, Rahul Nainwal and others helped make for swift registrations. We had a sophisticated wireless digital timing system - even more sophisticated because this did not even use chips - It was a digital stop-clock!!
We flagged off the run on the dot at 630am, as we ushered in the registrants of the 10K run - a run for India, to express solidarity with the tragic events that had happened in Mumbai the week before. We were all one. The 10K runners were raring to go as they cheered the half marathoners as they finished their first loop, and at 7am, they were off.
The 5k runners who had come for the run for India, came in huge numbers, from schools, corporates, Kashyap Kashmiri Sabha and anyone and everyone who had heard Red FM making announcements over the previous three days. The innocents and heroes in Mumbai may have had lives snuffed out, but they had gotten us out of our inertia and lit the fires in our hearts, to start doing something. The focus was on "what am I going to do to make India a better place" and several runners wrote their personal resolution out, which was then put up on a wall. The themes went covered security, being a better citizen by not paying a bribe, by parking in the right place, by thinking as an "Indian", and building a green future and so on.
The atmosphere was charged as the runners assembled on the starting line. About 100-150 kids stood in the front - kids from Happy School in Gurgaon, others supported by TCS, and yet others who had come with their families. They cheered lustily for the half marathoners as they came in for their 3rd loop. Shortly thereafter the 10K runners came in for their 2nd loop and then they were cheered lustily too, and at 730 it was time for all those collected for the Run for India to be off.
I ran with the 5k runners and had just finished a km when I got a frantic call from my elder daughter at the 10K finish line saying "Papa where are the goodie bags for the 10K? I think someone is finishing now." Thats when I cut short my run and sprinted back to her.
All was sorted out at the finish line for the 5k and 10k and the volunteers who were runners, their spouses and kids, all did a fantastic job of helping out and making the runs full of high energy, making them high involvement runs.
Several half marathoners finished with personal bests - I knew they were - since this was cold and great, serious running weather, flat, Gatorade, cheering audiences, + anyone who had run the half on Nov 9th was going to be in great shape for a PB in any case. Thats what makes a difference - being runner friendly, I guess.
Was great to see the media turned out in huge numbers to cover the event, talk to the runners and not celebrities.
When one media person asked me if there were any celebrities, I said yes there were. "There were over 1000 celebrities!!"
The winner of the half - Bhupender - finished in an amazing time of 1:29 minutes and several others shaved 5-10 and even 15 minutes off their best times. I just got a call from Vineet saying that he ran the Nov 9th half marathon in 3:02 and he finished the Runningandliving.com half marathon in 2:22 - Now that is outstanding!!
Made me feel proud at what all of us had been able to accomplish. Hats off to each one of the thirty five volunteers who helped make this happen, and to Red FM, Gatorade, Aquafina, Reebok, HUDA and the Gurgaon Traffic Police.
Check out http://www.runningandliving.com/Organising_a_Running_events.html for some basics if you are planning to organise a running event

Everyone bettering what we had done earlier, and resolving to make a difference, personally.
We did it!!
We can do even better!
Pictures at :

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

I did what I shouldn't have

I cracked my big toe when I slipped at home on 3rd Oct - a very unglamorous thing I must add. My right foot was in plaster to immobilize my toe and I got many sympathetic looks from all around. Meanwhile, I felt a bit foolish as I was driving my kids to their activities and going to the hospital where my wife, was down with some weird allergy. I felt helpless not being able to run, so I went to the gym thrice a week in the mornings for a token 20 mins - with 10 minutes of cycling and 10 minutes of a circuit schedule of some light weights. You can tell, I'm not much of a gym guy.
31st Oct my cast was off and we had organised a few runs on the 2nd - my toe was still swollen to at least 50% larger than its counter part on the other foot. With a sigh, I decided not to run on the 2nd - there's always another time and another event - after all life is not just about running, but about running and living. :-)
8th Nov - I said to myself - I will take a few snaps, run a couple of km in the half marathon in Delhi the next day. And meet up with lots of runner friends and make a few more, since I had not run a step over the last 5 weeks, and my orthopedic neighbour had told me - "nothing is going to get upset now, your bone has healed, but the aches will just take far longer to disappear and your toe size to get back to normal. "
So on the 9th of November I did meet up with various folks in the holding area, as I walked with them towards the start. And then we were off, felt great, the weather was fine and 2km down I felt fine so I said to myself I'll do another 2km and then take an auto back to the start and catch my 2 girls who were running the 6km. 4 km down I felt fine and I said I will review the situation at India Gate. I passed India Gate and felt absolutely fine - cheering folks on - Sunita Godara and Subhinder. Rajesh and Gopi from Hyderabad, Mahesh from Pune, several other friends from Delhi and Gurgaon, Dr Ashish Roy who is now a pal, and more.
At the Meridien hotel turn around I felt on top of the world and seemed on pace to finish in 2hrs - at which point I told myself "slow down, you'll ache like crazy for the next few days not having run 5 weeks" and so, grudgingly, I did slow down. More photographs and many more chats with friends as they crossed me or I them.
I found myself at the finish line in 2:10 - one of the most relaxed half marathons I had ever run - and I celebrated. I had done all the things I tell others not to.
I had not run in 5 weeks, I was not fully recovered from my injury, no rest in the last week and had not slept well the night before.......
But I did one thing that I always tell others to do, while they run- I had fun! And I ached like crazy for a few days thereafter, much much more than I've ached post any marathon.
Read http://www.runningandliving.com/Keen_Runner.html for how you should go about your training for a run of any distance from a 5k to a marathon.