Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks and the Bronx River Parkway trail

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. It gives me a chance to reflect on everything in life I should be thankful for... Family and friends - who are there for me no matter what... There have been times over the years, especially when I was a student, that I was thankful that I have had a place to stay every night and enough to eat...

This year after three years, I visited my sister for Thanksgiving! It was a surprise trip and I was very well fed on Turkey day :) Given that my sister is a gourmet cook, I dare not miss out on the food. However, it also means that I needed to get in my runs to burn as many of the extra calories as possible :p

When I'm in Valhalla (Westchester county, New York), I run on the Bronx river parkway trail. It's a beautiful trail by the river, highway and trail tracks - Valhalla, North White plains, White Plains, Hartsdale, Scarsdale... It was nice to be running in warmer, drier and mostly sunny weather.

For me a run has to be at least 17 miles before it can be called a long run. I ran 17 miles on Saturday - my first long run since I ran the marathon in May. It was a comfortable run... The song in my head: ... Purano Sei Diner Katha

Sunday's run was just perfect - these are the kind of days I run for! A crisp, beautiful, sunny, Fall day when running just felt effortless! The song in my head: Beautiful Day - U2

This week's mileage total = 53 -> 6,6,(6,6),0,6,17,6. The most I've run in a week this year.

Thanksgiving observation: The exit row seats are amazing. On both my flights en-route New York, I got exit seats. An added bonus was that there was no-one seated next to me. So I could lie down or stretch my legs depending on my mood. For the full Seattle-Houston flight this was really lucky since the flight was full! I overheard a guy muttering as he passed by me - "This guy really lucked out!" :)))

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Arctic blast - remembering Boston

When mother nature bestows snow on Seattle, Seattle shuts down... It's a city that does not know how to deal with snow. We do not salt the roads because it's not environmentally friendly. So driving becomes outright dangerous. Thankfully, we can always count on the snow to melt soon :)

Hardly, anyone came into work on Monday. My normal bus commute took me double the time. Some of my friends who had driven had to spend hours on the road. Thankfully, UW shut down because of a "weather emergency". I could run earlier instead of the normal 11pm after-class run.

It's been awhile since I've run in these kinds of conditions - cold and snowy. It reminded me of winter running in Boston. This article from a journalist in my old running club sums things up: Cold Feat ...

The bottom line is that we can run through anything if we're appropriately dressed. Once the wind chill drops into the teens I tend to over-dress a bit. I don't want to end up with hypothermia if for some reason I have to stop running!

Running on soft snow is a lot of fun! It's when I have to start dealing with black ice and it gets slippery or there is a lot of salt on the road, that it's more of a predicament. Obviously, I'm running at a slower pace than normal due to the decreased traction. However, it's a different/novel experience.

It felt magical as I ran through my normal route by Eliot bay. I wished I could have captured what I felt and saw. I did - it's taped in my head :) I did have my small camera with me but there's only that much it can capture :) The water-vapor rising from the Bay, the snowy ships in the dock, the snow covered empty trails... Peaceful and tranquil!

While Monday's run was in the night, I ran in the mornings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Actually, I did a double on Wednesday - 6 miles in the morning and 6 miles in the evening. It's been a long time since I've run a double. I had to compensate for missing my run on Thanksgiving day.

We had a very mild winter last year due to La Nina. This year winter is predicted to be harsh because of Al Nino so it's good that I have my running act together!

Observation of the week: There was a lady typing on a typewriter (yes an actual typewriter!) on the bus. People were so fascinated that they were taking pictures of her on their cellphones and with cameras. Reminded me of the days when I was a kid. Typewriters were commonplace. I used to go to Gariahat with my dad to get documents typed by one of several typists on the street :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peaches, A short film for a good cause and Running is Control

Peaches by New Heights
A short film for a good cause

Dane writes my mind :)
Running is Control

Life often does not go the way we would like it to. Circumstances rarely play the way we want them to. Happy endings are called fairytales for a reason. Fortunately, there is one thing we can control when the proverbial “you know what” hits the fan. That is running.

Last week I had some personal things come home to roost in an unsavory way. I could neither control the outcome or how it was handled. I was forced to simply sit and wait when I knew I could not, well, sit and wait. The weather outside was, according to, cold and drizzling. The weather outside according to disagreed. The sun was shining and it didn’t look that chilly. But I bundled up anyway and began my run. I could control the run.

My mind was completely wrapped around the events of the day and I was wondering what exactly would happen next. As I ventured out on a familiar 9.9-mile course (I designed the course and then looked up the mileage afterward, which drives my numerically-minded friends crazy, saying they would run longer to get an even 10 on their GPSs) there was a tender bit of nip in the air. Soon, however, I heated up, took off my hat and rolled up my sleeves.

I realized that the temperatures were warming even while the sky was cloudy. Will that cloud and its dark underbelly venture north from the point of the mountain near Provo and head towards me in Salt Lake? (Yep.) Is that guy making a right turn going to even look to see me coming from his right? (Nope.) Is my mom going to forgive me for not making it home this Thanksgiving? (Remains to be seen.) Oh yeah, I then remembered I still had this crappy situation to deal with.

In the interim, I had run five miles and at one of the places where I checked to see how my pace was going I realized I was cruising along fairly well. I felt a little pleasure at this and then felt a little guilt right afterward as I shouldn’t be feeling pleasure because I am worried about what is going on. Soon I felt nothing. Leaves crunched underfoot, a few raindrops fell and I began the final descent of the last two miles, which drop me about 800 feet from the foothills of the mountains down into the valley near my home.

I finished, running one of the fastest times I ever had on this particular course. I went inside with no real answers to my problems, but at least I had burnt 1400 calories and killed 73 minutes while I waited. And also, I may have actually gotten some insight. Who knows? Time will tell, that is for sure. But for even a small amount of time, I was in control. That is just one of the many reasons why I run. When the hail began to fall about 90 seconds after I stepped inside, I was thankful that I control the run, because I do not control the weather.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blowin In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, an' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, I was blowin in the wind this week as Bob Dylan played in my head ... It was very windy all week, with wind gusts of 15-30mph. During my long run on Saturday there was a wind gust of 30mph and a wind chill of 28F. 11pm on Monday ... swept by the winds. There were moments when I told myself - "Dude you're hardcore to be running through this... Good job :)"...

50 miles for the week. 6*6 miles and a 14 mile long run on Saturday.

My dentists notes on me has a bullet - "Marathon runner". So whenever I visit she makes it a point to get a report on the state of my running. She informed me that she ran her first 5k this summer. She was curious as to how I manage to run in this kind of weather. I told her ironically when the weather is good there are too many other distractions but in winter I get to focus and run ... Any special clothes? ... Hmmm not really. Shorts and an extra layer on top. Gloves and something on my head at times but that's about it.

140s!: 9 more to go :) Two pairs of jeans that did not fit me all year now not only fit but are loose. I'm floating in the one that used to fit and both of my belts are rendered useless...

Observation of the week: I was walking back from my run... I could not help but stop and observe the sight in front of me. Two men, very much in love, were kissing each other passionately. As passionately as I've seen any couple kiss. Downtown Seattle is next to Capitol hill, the "liberal" part of town... It reminded me of the friends episode - "The one with the lesbian wedding" ... "Now I've seen everything!" I remember being similarly transfixed in Zurich a few years back when I saw a couple of lesbians kissing in the train.

The Seattle Theater Group: The folks at the Paramount Theater noticed that I had attended so many of their events over the last year, that they called me as part of their annual fundraising drive. One of the programs they fund is "The Dance for Parkinson's" Needless to say they had a donation from me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Chilean miner - New York marathon

Edison Peña gained worldwide fame when he was rescued from the gold and copper mine near Copiapo, Chile, on October 13 and revealed that he’d regularly run three to six miles through the underground tunnels while he and 32 others were trapped for 69 days. The fitness fanatic and Elvis Presley enthusiast jogged in his heavy miners' boots each day through dark uneven tunnels finding his footing by the light of his miner's lamp.

"When I ran in the darkness, I was running for life," he explained. "I wanted to show God that I wanted to live. I was saying to the mine, I'm going to run until you're just bored and tired of me, and I did it."

Peña accepted an invitation to come to NYC for the ING New York City Marathon—and announced that he would run the 26.2-mile race. Peña’s run celebrated the marathon as an affirmation of life and triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. He battled a knee injury and some pain but finished in 5 hours and 40 minutes a bit under the six hours he said he expected. In his dark glasses, wearing a knee support due to an injury in the mine, and carrying a Chilean flag, Pena crossed yet another daunting finish line.

"I have a strong desire to motivate the others. This is the most important thing for me."


I got to change my shoes this week. I finally logged 300 miles on my current pair. The new pair sure felt good to run on! I thought about the miner's shoes. Also, I reflected on the shoes I used to run in, in school (pictured here :)).

How spoilt I am these days - $120+ Mizuno shoes with $400+ custom orthodics...

42 more miles this week. I took Friday off from running. I had to fight the urge to get in a run and listen to my body - I needed a rest day. I however did run 12 miles on Saturday. It's about time I start building up towards a weekly long run.

The Paris marathon is now sold out so it's a good thing I registered... Less than 150 days to go!

Sight of the day: 40+ sail boats on Elliott bay during my run today

Interesting observation: A new store has opened up near my apartment. They hand out chocolate every Sunday when I head out for my run. It's classy chocolate so I dare not decline :p

Culinary discovery of the week: Cabbage and eggplant curry. Of course I again had to counter skeptics who doubted the aesthetics of such a combination but ...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Ich bin ein Berliner"

The Berlin Marathon is filling up quickly, after registration opened a couple of weeks back. I didn't want to take a chance and registered!!! Hopefully, this means I will be toeing the line in Berlin on 25th September 2011!

It will be really cool if everything goes as planned and I get to run the Paris and Berlin marathons next year. Fingers crossed :)

With midterms and classes, work and life the last few days and the next few days have been/will be incredibly busy! The one thing that I've been determined to do and so far have succeeded in doing is to not miss my run every day... whatever happens... even if it means I'm running at 12am... So 42 = 6*7 miles for this week :)

I can't describe how happy I was to wake-up today and realize why my wall clock was off by an hour! Day-light saving time was over! I remember having to spend an extra hour at the train station last year, waiting to get to the start of the NYCM. I had not realized that the clocks were going back... Today was such a beautiful day to run by the waterfront. I ran at a sub-8 pace, my fastest in a long while. OK. I'll fess up. When I started running, I saw a cute runner in the distance. She was like a beacon that I had to get to. I did catch-up with her and passed her but I maintained the tempo for the rest of my run :)

I've pledged to not take the elevator/escalator for as long as I can. The funny thing is that I find some others doing the same thing at work :) I'm also trying to get in a short walk in the afternoon. There were some beautiful Fall days last week so I really wanted to enjoy a bit of it. It's always dark by the time I get out of work.

I escaped eating candy at Halloween for the most part. It's not easy at work. There's candy strewn all over the place. Someone even left a packet of candy in my office. I threw it in the bin! Then there's usually cake and other junk left in the kitchen all the time... Can't they leave something healthy around :p

I was reading about the return of the McRibs, for the first time since 1995. I did think I might want to pick up one until I read about the 26 grams of fat in it. Then I just cringed in disgust!

I bought celery and cucumbers from the grocery store, for possibly the first time in my life. My lunch mix of tuna, celery, cucumbers and lentils turned out really well. It really did - even though someone I raved to about this, did not think such a concoction was edible. Oh well - I liked it :p

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