Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The year that was, in training!

864 kilometers of Running
3,840 kilometers of Cycling
95 kilometers of Swimming.

It was an interesting year, looking forward to an even more interesting one ahead.
I hope I traverse twice the distance in every field in 2014, faster and stronger!

A Happy and a Prosperous New Year to everyone! May you all be even more fitter next year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why I am not going to run for the next 6 months, at the very least

    So it's been around 7 months since I had my satisfying long run. Now when I think back about all those miles I used to put in, I can't help but wonder how did I ever manage that. 
Stress injury, the culprit behind the long unwanted breaks on running, reared its ugly head every time I've tried to get back to running, ever since. Thrice, to be precise. 3 times the bugger has sent me down into the dumps. I came back from my run today, and for a moment or so I thought I was back. I really enjoyed the run, even posted a reasonable timing, but back in my room when I was feeling up the tibia for that familiar pain, I wasn't disappointed. The pain is back again. 
But this time, I tell you, this time, I am not going to let the bugger belittle my spirits again. Instead of the original plan of running twice weekly, I am not going to not run at all. Instead, I will spend an hour or so on the cross trainer, the elliptical or maybe just go cycling, hard, but not feel despondent for the lack of that run.
And I am going to keep not running, till I reach that illusive 70 kg mark. No more registering for any race, event, or blah.
To my favorite running shoes, I say, I'll be back.
Stress injury, Screw you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I know I know, this seems to be steadily transitioning in my work-out blog. Well, to be honest, I want it to be one, because in the future, when I feel bad for not having run as I wished, this little piece of writing will cheer me up.

I ran today, 5.9 km to be exact, and it just felt great. This has been my first run in the last 10 days, and was nothing like anything! I don't remember running like this in the last 6-7 months. It just indicates that all the strength training, cross training and diet is paying off! I felt I was flying, and indeed I was. 4:32 / km, haven't run at that pace comfortably in ages, and hope to keep doing so, get better and better!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bring it on!

When I completed my first Half Ironman Triathlon last year in November, I realized that weight was something I needed to work on, and also, my aerobic fitness. And so, I subconsciously came down from 76 to 72kg for my next one in March. The effects of training showed, as I managed to shave about 2 hrs from my first stint.
Then I set my target at completing a full Ironman. I wasn't worried about the cycling leg of the event. I knew, that with a good road bike and a little bit of practice, it would be the easiest part of the race.It was the marathon at the end of the 180km bike ride that sent shivers down my spine. And so to work eliminating that fear, I decided that I'd conquer the marathon first, all alone, as one singular goal.

And so, I began with the common 10x10 program, wherein you run 10kms everyday for 10 days on a stretch. I went headstrong into the event, that i would run faster each day then i did the day before. I pretty much did what i set out for. But on day 9, I ended up sprinting the last kilometer. And then on day 10, I felt a strange pain in my leg. Some research on it ruled it as a stress fracture. Well, later, it turned out that it was a stress injury. But nonetheless, it meant that I wouldn't be running for a very long time. And there, I blew away my chance to conquer the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon.

At this point, I weighed 77kgs. Quite expected. Trips to home always put on some extra weight on you.

Luckily for me, we had our Inter-IIT aquatics tournament just then. The next two months were rigorous, to say the least, with intensive practice sessions, and juggling academics, placements and final year projects all at the same time. At the end of it, we did emerge victorious in all our intended endeavours.

And I thought the time was just ripe to step on the weighing scale and expect a good fall. Ouch. I was 78kgs. Every year, the 2 month practice would leave me 5kgs lighter. I had put on a kg this time. Something was not right, or so I felt.

I still had the marathon to conquer though. I had registered for the Mumbai marathon a few months back. Now was the time, to get back on track. And so, I found a nice plan, targeting a sub 3:30 finish and followed it up religiously, until 2 weeks. Until I felt that same nagging pain in the inner tibia of the left leg. And I knew, that the next marathon was off. Shame. 

Fortunately, I had the placement season coming up. Preparing for interviews and all would keep me distracted I felt. And they did. But only after getting the job, when I stepped on the scale again, did I realize that I had added 1 more kilo! It was high time to panic. And so, I jumped on to my military regime of working out every single day.

But this time, I was sane enough not to run 5 times a week. Instead, I filled up my week with 3 days of weight training, 2 days of cycling and 2 days of running. I decided, that I was going to bounce back from my low period a lot more fitter, and a lot faster, stronger and healthier! 

I found a nice workout plan online, and have been following it for the last two weeks. At least, I am enjoying going to the gym. (I hate it though.) But the tibial pain still threatens to come back.
To add to it, the weighing scale hasn't been very encouraging. I has consistently showed a positive gradient. I put on 2 kgs in 10 days. Ouch.

Standing at 81kgs now, I felt something was definitely not right. Yes, adding weight when you expect it to be otherwise definitely brings it's share of lows. Having been through a phase, where I was once 96kgs, I definitely didn't want to be there again! But somewhere along the way, I realized that I was getting stronger. I could lift up things, which I couldn't do so earlier. That's when I realized, the simplicity and the beauty of the regime.
I was surprised! I could lift it with just one hand??

This graph (I know I am a geek. Being in an engineering college does that to you) explains what is going to happen.
My theory of what's happening to me.

It's easier to build muscle than to loose fat. The first happens relatively faster than the second, and I was feeling it. More the muscle, the healthier you are. I just have to give some time to my body to adapt, and regain it's fitness. Soon, my body composition will change. I will be a lot more fit, will have a good amount of muscle, loose any unwanted and unnecessary fat, and well, who knows, will end up with those dream packs.
So everytime I step on the scale, I'll be looking forward to reaching the peak. Because I know that is where things are going to take an interesting turn.
I know that I just need to be patient, cut off from everything else, maintain some control over eating, and keep at it. The results will be fabulous. Spectacular. And very very satisfying. To all the events and challenges that are going to come up I say, Bring it on!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Arushi-Hemraj Case

I came across this article in The hoot. It takes a neutral stance without convicting or exonerating Arushi's parents, but at the same time, taking a gab at the investigating agencies and the media. The arguments have been brilliantly put across, and raises a real question about the influence of media on the investigation, public mood and trials of sensitive cases. Time and again, the media forgets that it is supposed to be a neutral reporting body, and not just an opinion maker based on incomplete, incorrect facts. The author of the article very dismally puts across her final point, that it's not about Arushi, it's about each and every one of us.

I couldn't help but comment on the article,
It couldn't have been more cogently elaborated! The media abuses it's power but keeps forgetting, that with great power comes great responsibility. The outcome of the case might have been different had the media shown some restraint, and the investigative agencies not been so prejudiced. Not to mention, it would have not added to the trauma of already losing their daughter! 
I feel all this recklessness stems from incompetence of everyone of us, from the 'chalta hai' attitude. In this case, that the news channels since are "running" out of constructive ideas to hold the public attention, are resorting to cheap, unethical and biased tactics. Shame!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ship's going down, and anything good happening at home?

So if you take a look around, you can see that the world (read UK, US, France, Hollande blah blah) is gearing up for penetrating yet another poor nation. Agreed that nation has it's own set of caricatures, but it seems there is far too much policing going on even on the international stage. It looks funny, if you take a step back and look at the whole picture. What national interests have those daddies and grannies and aunties found in Syria now?

Yet another nation awaiting "vaccinating intrusion" by the daddies and grannies

Well, god bless Syria, and god Definitely bless America.

Meanwhile, what's going on at home?

Juvenile in the infamous Nirbhaya gang rape gets away with a paltry 3 year sentence.
Rupee playing swing with dollar.
Politicians going crazy
Current Account Deficit

Is there anything good to look out for?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What now?

So the last time when a country was embroiled in genocide (Rwanda 1993; 8,00,000+ people massacred), all the power house countries were engrossed in the most ridiculous of all debates (on how exactly do you define "Genocide"), trying to evade their duty of stopping something so sinister. And now, when another country (Syria) is in something not even remotely close, one of those very dumb set of bullies (Britain) is actively trying to solicit the support of UN to intervene. What did you find there now, oh Queen?

 And how do we even know the credibility of your accusations? Chemical Weapons? The last time a country was invaded on charges as evil as possession of WMD, it turned out the allegations were concocted to stir up an ordeal of turmoil in the piteous nation (Iraq).
Source: Google search + some editing in Picasa
Where else will they find their "National Interest" ?

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/britain-seeks-un-support-for-action-against-syria/article5068022.ece?homepage=true

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


They had a tiny altercation that night. Or it was more like two minds, in a mutually exclusive set up, frustrated from the day’s happenings letting the steam off over each other. Or so he thought. Later that night, when the minds calmed down, they realized their follies and exchanged sorry(s). But it didn’t seem correct. She was sorry too, yet the narratives weren’t convincing. She was a thousand miles away from him. He couldn’t go over and sort it out. There were loopholes in the story. But considering that both of them were exhausted, sore from the day, he thought sleeping over would help. Or so he thought. 

The next morning, he received a message before he woke up. It said she would be busy early in the morning, attending a few vendor calls. She hates waking up that early. Others hate waking up that early even more. But apparently the vendors were from China, so the time zone difference along with her diligence convinced him that she really was busy. He decided to let it be, and apologize a bit more sincerely once she was free. He waited and waited.

He gets a message after a while, inquiring about his schedule. If he was going somewhere, what would be his location in the immediate next hour. There was a surprise waiting for him, she had it delivered from very far away, she said. Finally she called him, their first call for the day.
“How busy are you? Will it be possible for you to go and collect your gift downstairs? ”
“Hey! Yes, I think I can manage that. When should I go? Now?”
“Hmm, yes.”

He starts descending the stairs. All this while he is thinking about the present.
“A card? A bag? A book? Food? Chocolates?” Thinking didn’t really help much, so he just decided to keep going. His phone started ringing again, it was her.
“Hey, just wait a few minutes, I want to tell him how to deliver the surprise.”
“Ok, sure.”
After a while he got her call again.
“The guy doesn’t know your department. The only landmark he knows is the BT department. Would you mind going there?”

He started walking towards BTD. His was mind was going crazy. He eyed every person he saw on the way, eagerly scanning them for harboring some resemblance of a surprise or carrying one. None. She told him he had his number. Alright, this will take a call or two, he thought.
Fifty meters away, by the turning, he saw the gift. He was speechless. Thoughtless, astounded by the very idea of such a gesture. He was stupefied, bewildered. It couldn’t have been happening, or maybe it was a dream. He was stunned, he was dumbstruck. He went into a thought coma.

It was her.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Foodies' Delight, the Shawarma!

This is post dedicated to my single most favorite dish in the world, the Shawarma!
Pic courtesy: spicytasty.com

The Approach
You go to the restaurant (Zaitoon in this case). Before joining the queue, you go to the BBQ counter. Your eyes anxiously scan the section for the tower, chicken stacked to look like a pillar. You see the chef moving towards it, with two scale-like knives in his hand. He looks at you and sees the eagerness in your eyes and gives you that taunting grin. Begins grating the chicken.

Suddenly you realize, Uh oh! You haven't placed the order yet! You scurry to the counter, but alas the queue is long! Once again, your eyes are scanning the line, desperately looking for some soul that you might know. Sometimes you get lucky, and the wait is "short".

The Wait
And sometimes, it's a long arduous, torture. Every now and then your eyes keep turning towards that tower in that shop. Yes! It isn't over yet! And yes, there is a lot of salad lying there below the tower on the plate. You calm yourself, you reassure yourself that it won't be over by the time you reach the billing counter. But you see the line and get nervous again. This goes on and on, in a loop, till you finally make your payment.

You rush with the bill to the counter, and call the chef, "Sir, 3 Shawarmas! Did you get the bill? Here it is! Please, haste!" The guy replies in the most casual of all tones, "It will take time. 10 min. You wait somewhere."

But you refuse to admit it to yourself that it'll take that long. Finally, after almost as long as he said, you get a plate, beautifully stacked with three mouth-watering shawarmas.

You don't really bother about finding a place. You grab one immediately, tear the cover off. You unwrap it just like some Kaurav prince pulling the sari off Draupadi. But in all that impatience, you feel it's unending, and simply pull it off.

The Bite
The next moment, you take a huge bite off the roll. Delicious, yummy, ummm, you look up, close your eyes and savor the divine concoction in your mouth. Every chew, the paste, the pieces of meat, the garnishing. Wah! Before you take the second bite, you cannot help but thank the Arabian nomads, who probably invented it. And then you dive in again.

The End
One by one, you finish them all. You wipe the plate clean. Finish off all the seasoning, the marinated beetroot, the Chilly pickle. Your plate might never have been cleaner, except for the wrappers. You'd eat them too, had they been edible. Your stomach is full, but your mind still craves for more. But then control strikes in, and you tell yourself, next time.

And then, the whole experience repeats, the next time you go again, to get a bite of the divine delicacy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More like a diary entry

It is difficult not to go into a deep introspect, these days, with so many confessions coming up on FB which correlate with you so well. You cannot help but fall into a limbo of thoughtlessness, or over-thinking rather.

Being in pre-final year, with placements less than a year away, I cannot help but think where is it that I really want to be, few years down the lane? It is easy to get carried away by looking around, what the "focused" people are progressing on to, and yet there is the irrepressible urge to the shake the very roots of conventional-ism.

They say you are loaded with energy and the belief that you are infallible (a very important motivator I feel), and that now is the time you ought to venture into prospects that you may not want to venture on later in life. But what if I take a decision, which takes me very far away from what I am currently, reasonably good at, and then drops me at a point of no return? Screwed, won't I be?

Too many ifs and buts indicate a sign of insecurity, but when you see a thousand possibilities and then look at the failures, or dead ends where your past decisions have led you to, a little bit of that feeling of infallibility gets chipped away. And little by little, you feel scared of taking decisions anymore. They say in this case skip everything else, take something you really like and rub it out to the very end, and it is very easy to think that yeah, that's all, why am I even stuck here? But you start again, and find yourself lacking that zeal which initially pulled you into it. And there you go, the feeling of limbo all over again.

Heck, all this keeps building up and drains out, just like a tide in the sea. And soon, while the tide is low, or high as the case may be, without realizing I'll be into something new, something..

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day two: Vellore to Bangalore

Early in the morning at 3:45, the alarms began to ring. It was time. This day was big for both of us. Firstly, we were to cover around 215kms, and secondly, there would be some tough climbs on the way. Also, this would be the first of the many 200+ km days to come. If we failed today, a re-scheduling of the trip would have been in order.  We were ready by 4:30, and were out of the lodge soon. For breakfast, we had bread that we’d bought the previous night, along with some tea.
In the dark, we rode
It was a bit cold, and yes, for the first few kilometres, the legs did feel a bit tired from yesterday. From the lesson we learnt yesterday about speed against wind, we took turns for taking the lead. We’d keep switching the lead after about every 5kms, so that we maintained a good average speed, while the other conserved energy drafting. Also, we planned to stop for half an hour after every 50km, just to make sure that we finished the 200k strong!

We had our first stop at Ambur, around 48kms from start. After about a break of half an hour, we left again. The ride till here had been wonderful. Contrary to our expectations, we hadn’t really come across climbs. All the while we’d been cruising at 32+kmph and the wind wasn’t really against us. Our first proper halt was to be at Krishnagiri. My dad’s friend resided in Krishnagiri, and we were to meet him, as was decided yesterday. So after about 120kms from start, through the city’s noisy and dusty traffic, we reached his residence. His grandmother had cooked some wonderful food for us. We devoured food, almost like pythons, and then there were gulabjamuns! Too yummy, but we made our first mistake there. 
Somewhere on the road. Setting the perspectives.
Too much food made us drowsy, and the sugary gulab-jamuns kept us thirsty. We simply couldn’t quench it!  And it sure was tempting to just sleep there. I bet that sleep would have been wonderful. But we had to go, so about at about 2 in the afternoon, we left. Grandma had packed some lemon rice and juices for our journey, so we weren’t really worried about taking another major stop.

Too good, isn't it? In the pic: Varun
As we went ahead, surprisingly, we didn’t feel sleepy and tired as we’d expected. Maybe because it was a bit downhill, or because the food was assimilating inside but we sure were on a roll. Very quickly, we covered 20kms or so and in no time, and soon, were on the flats again. Right when we were to take our 3rd stop for the day, the scenery began to glow. Hills, roads and the climate were simply beautiful. After a while, we started again. Soon, the most dreaded part of the journey arrived.
The beginning of the grind
 It was a long, steep uphill, and we could see it going right between two hills. And what even more dreadful was, that the way ahead wasn’t visible. What if it were still steeper? But we didn’t really have a choice of circumnavigating the hills so we trudged up on the bike. Starting from a combination of 3-7, going down all the way to 2-2, we moved at a snail’s pace of 12kmph. 

The dreaded climb
Biking uphill is so different from any other form of cycling. Unlike a flat road, you don’t keep going ahead if you take a break from pedalling; you just stop then and there. Every crank feels like going upstairs. You feel the push as if someone is pushing you by hitting you with a pillow. The music from the earphones falls on deaf ears. All you are listening to at that very moment is your heart beating, nothing else. Sun was high and hot, and we could feel our skin burning. That’s what happens when you forget to apply sunscreen.

But going uphill has its benefits. The downhill ride, that ensues, is an experience like no other! Here’s where I touched a speed of 59kmph, even though for just a few seconds. Riding downhill poses new kinds of challenges. On an MTB, the top speed you can attain is limited by the cycle, even though you may be strong enough to push some more. Aerodynamics plays a crucial role. You can’t really go beyond 50 if you are in an upright position, so you tuck yourself as close to the frame as possible. Even then, you touch 54. After that point, it’s all up to you. The pedals feel as if the chain has been derailed off the gears, and your cadence is well above 200. Yes, at that point you are pumping more than 200 revolutions per minute on the crank! So if you are adept at going faster than that, you go, maybe a kmph faster. You don’t really look ahead; you just see the road below you passing by. The rate at which the cat-eyes pass below you give you an idea of how fast you are going. You don’t really get to see the speedometer at this point. You breathe out hot, moist air, which because of your posture and speed, like a thin film of fluid, you can feel passing out from your mouth, along the throat, some into your t-shirt and some along the arms. After a while, once the downhill is over, you get back to the upright position, you see the speedometer showing you the max speed and smile at yourself. 59.1kmph. 

Around 180kms from Vellore, we pulled over after another gradual climb and finished the lemon rice and juice that we’d brought along, 2kgs off the backpack, and into the engine. Soon we were past Hosur, and reached the Electronics City. The velo read 200km. The feeling was epic, 200k and we were going strong. After only 17kms, we reached our guest house, but that distance took close to an hour and a half. That is the intensity of the rush hour traffic. But nevertheless, we weren’t all dead when we reached our place, and that was enough of a confidence booster for the journey ahead. But before that, we had a day off in Bangalore. And Deva would be joining us soon.

Day’s Stats: Distance covered: 217kms in about 9hrs and 30min on the saddle. Almost 14hrs on the roads.

The following day, we met Poorna, one of our college’s ex-aquatics team captain at her home for lunch. Later in the evening Varun’s friend came to meet him at our guest house and I went out to meet mine.  Soon Deva also arrived. The wolfpack was complete. After stacking up breakfast for the following day and tuning up our cycles, we crashed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chennai to Mumbai!

Day One: Madras to Vellore

Early in the morning at 5, Varun and I started for Vellore, the first leg of our journey. But before we hit the roads, we had a quick bite at the Krishna gate. A Pongal, mendu-vada and tea, and we were ready. But just then, Varun realized that he’d forgotten his jacket, so again we went back to his hostel. Once all the final checklists were ticked off, the journey began! 

Google maps led us out of the city and placed us on the highway to Vellore. And before long, we were on the outskirts of the city and cruising along the road. It was still dark, and a bit cold as per the Chennai standards, but when you are cycling at around 30kmph, little is the concern that cold creates.

Varun on his bike. Notice the head lamp.

Cycling, with a backpack weighing around 6kgs, the handle bag, two bottles mounted on the diamond frame, an attached pump, a saddle bag right below the seat and with a helmet over your head is an entirely  different feeling as compared to cycling freely on a city road. Brakes don’t exist when you are cycling long distance. Gear combinations below 3-5 or even 3-6 tend to rust for their lack of use. And you feel free. You scream, you laugh, you smile, you even sing when you feel the freedom you beloved cycle offers. You wave at every tide of school kids that you come across, and they wave back. Flat roads, varying gradients, the vehicles passing by all add to the pleasure. You stand up on the pedals, take your hands off the handle, and scream again, as if embracing the way, but then you realize the magnificence of the environment, and humbled, you get seated again. But well, this was the first day. What, did we know then, of saddle sores and fatigue?

Then came the patch, where we surged ahead at a pace of 36kmph! 36 might not be a figure of much bewilderment to a road-biker, but on a 26er mountain bike, it sure is a surprise. And to our surprise, we weren’t really exerting, we were just getting warmed up! By now, the sunrise had begun and there was no need of the headlights. After about 60kms, we stopped at a roadside tea stand. Tea, minute-maid, some hydration, some stretching and we were off again.
At our first stop
He he. Shades not really required, but new toys, well, will always be irresistible.

If there is a factor, that people often take for granted on such trips, is dehydration. Yes you feel fast, you feel energetic, and you are merry making on the go and you are not sweating. But what you don’t realise is that, all the sweat you are supposed to be accumulating evaporates without you realizing. And that, slowly but surely, shows later on, on the ride. 
No, we didn't stop here. What if the food was bad?
No matter how much water you drink, your lips tend to feel dry. You don’t really feel like eating anything, and cycling even at 26kmph suddenly begins to feel a task. The sun begins to feel hotter than it really is and after a point, you just start feeling tired. Discomfort begins to set in, and you feel like pulling over and calling it quits. And that almost happened. After our first stop at 60km, we had to stop again at around 80, and then at 100 and then at 120 again. 
See, the thalaivar's dehydrated!

The sun was getting hotter and hotter, living up to its name, and yes, hunger was catching up too. And this, is when, snickers came to the rescue. A bar of clean, delicious energy, and bam! Off we were, green again. Soon we reached the outskirts of the city. 

We had contacted a lodge beforehand, and a local was kind enough to guide us for 2-3kms to the place, but we found a better accommodation before we reached there, and for 250bucks, we managed a room with two beds and the permission to keep our cycles inside. 
Our humble lodge. Surprisingly clean, and supplied.
It was around 1 in the afternoon, and we were 140.5km from our beloved campus. A lunch at a “Punjabi daba”, a stroll around the place, a little stocking up for the next day, an evening dinner at a Saravana Bhavan and we were set. But somewhere on the last half a mile, Varun lost his bike computer. And so, now we were with just one velometer.

Link to Day two: Vellore to Bangalore