Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sights and sounds from the Marine Corps Marathon

The 10K is finally done! Here are some sights from the day.
This is the Marathon start like.

The 10k had 5000 participants. Heres how the 10K lineup looked like.

There were so many people also cheering from the sidelines. The Marines, in their sharp, crisp uniforms, were handing out powerade and water to the runners.

How did I do? The first mile was nice and breezy and I was running and all chatty with my neighbors. When we saw the first mile marker, we all joked about how well we were doing. I tried not to go too fast and tire myself out. According to my calculation, I was pacing myself at a steady 5 mile per hour pace, something I was used to during training. That meant I was covering each mile in 12 minutes. During mile 1-2 was completely warmed up and ready to go more! As mile marker 3 rolled around, I saw the better half waiting for me there, to click pictures. I was super thrilled and posed for some nice pictures (that meant I stopped for 30 secs or so) and was off on my way all excited. Mile 3-4 was the most painful yet. I started getting crampy and tired but as soon as I was slowing down, the good marines started cheering from the sidelines......"#2658 don't give up!"...this sent me rolling on my way. Once I saw the 4th mile marker, I knew I could run the rest of the 2 miles without crashing! Mile 4-5 provided some steep turns but the distance seemed really short. The home stretch on mile 5-6 was super easy and I was really fast and made up for my slow running in the first half. I was hoping for a 75 minute finish. The last 0.2 miles were really steep but there were teddy bears, and lots of sweet people sheering us on and I sprinted to the finish line in an hour and 13 minutes(73 minutes)! Not a remarkable time but it is my personal best so far.
Here is the medal that now proudly sits in my living room:

I must say it was an exhilirating experiece and I would like to do a few more 10Ks before I try a half marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon was especially a good idea because there were all sorts of people like me who were running, and that gave me enough encouragement to go the extra mile. No wonder it is called the People's marathon. I should say, seeing the crisp, sharp, handsome marines up close is a plus!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marathon update and lessons learnt!

This is my last week before my 10K(6 miles) race on sunday and I feel excited and scared at the same time. Till today I have run the whole 10KM distance only once during my training. My usual distances are 4miles(a little less than 8KM) and I do that with little discomfort. Last weekend I attempted my first 10KM distance and struggled for the last 1 KM. I finished it huffing and puffing. I might run the whole distance twice this coming week and take rest the last 3 days before the run.
The Marine Corps Marathon is a very prestigeous event and the 10K portion of the marathon has been popular among people who want to run but cannot run the whole marathon(26.2 miles) or half marathon distance(13.1 miles). Often, a 10K is the starting point for a lot of beginning runners(5K is another place where you can begin). People line up along the spectator stands early before the race starts and cheer for runners all day. Its one thing running for yourself, its another to cheer some person who don't even know, to keep going! I will do a full post on my 10K marathon running expereinces and how the crowd was.

I am terribly slow. The other day there was this guy running on my neighboring treadmill in the gym and he seemed to be struggling with it. From the looks of it, it seemed to me that he was running a moderate pace. I was diong a 5mph pace and thought he must be doing something similar too. I glanced, stealthily(yeah, I know it is a bad habit!!), at his treadmill dashboard and almost fell off mine! He was running a 7.5 miles and hour pace and it didnt even seem like that! After that shock, now I stick to looking at my own dashboard instead. Even at that low speed, running feels very energizing in so many ways. One being the adrenalin that is pumped because of the workout. Another reason is that running makes me feel like I am overcoming my weaknesses. I am a slow runner and my reflexes are poor so I cannot play a game like Tennis or Squash with someone who can play well and that makes me feel a little inadequate but being able to run 40-45 minutes without feeling it makes me forget those inadequacies!
Is there any workout/activity that makes you feel energized?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

This post comes after reading Nita's blog on this topic. According to her,
Blog Action Day 2008 (15th October 2008) - an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day.

So here are my two cents' worth on Poverty.

I have never been poor. I have never had friends who were poor. But I have seen poverty around me. In ways that might not impart the experiences of living poor. I have seen that the maid who worked in our house for 20 years was really poor and could not afford to send her kids to school. Her children worked with her and made whatever money they could. I have seen poverty in the umpteen slums around my posh apartment in Kandivali, Mumbai. I could see the slums and the goings on there from my 8th floor apartment window. Half clad children playing near the gutter, women fetching water from municipal taps, unsanitary conditions all around. It used to make me sad, and guilty, but I confess, I did not try to do anything about it. I guess most of us are like me. Its easy to close our eyes and imagine that poverty does not exist.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid!

This was a phrase used by James Carville, who was advising Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign. Well, in 2008, "It's the Economy, Stupid"! And I want to say that to both the campaigns, although I want to give credit to Obama for consistently keeping the focus on the economy until this week. As soon as Sarah "Barracuda" talked about her "opponent palling around with terrorists", and the McCain campaign started slinging mud, he rolled up his sleeves and went into the mudpile with them. The day before, there was a documentary from Obama about McCain and his association with Keating in the 1980s. Then there was an ad by McCain(gosh his name is tough to write fast....m, c, c, a, i, n) that said Obama is dangerous and cannot be trusted blah blah blah! Its the Economy, STUPID! There, now its in bold and caps, will you, atleast now, talk about how you want to steer the economy when u are in office?
Will you stop talking about judgment, Israel, old associations for a minute and talk about the economy? People are losing jobs, their 401K's are losing value, their homes are losing value, there are 2 wars that are draining our resources and killing people and you are worried about who has worse friends and who asked for less earmarks?
I saw this in the VP debate too. Biden tried to talk about the economy a few times. Palin's repertiore of answers when confronted with a question was limited to "we are a bunch of mavericks", "hockey mom", "dont talk about the past" and a lot of other empty words like "like", "doggone it", "you betcha" and a few winks and creepy smiles. (Did you all hear, she says "nucular"? That reminds you of someone?). Lady, tell me what your "maverick" runningmate is going to do about the economy? He doesnt even understand his own healthcare plan. Is he taking those $5000? Can I more across statelines and avoid that tax? How? Does $5000 cover all medical expenses for a family of 4?
I think a part of the problem, my friends, is that no one is asking those questions. Yesterday's debate put me to sleep. Did the people in that room appear even remotely interested in what the two were saying? And all the media talked about was how one was hostile to the other and who won. Well, I say no one won! I say the people lost. Why? Because it is the economy, stupid!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My first blog award!

Newsflash!!!!I have been awarded by Asaaan!

A big thanks to her for this. This being my first award, I would like to thank myself for putting myself in the position of having to move so many times! I am sooo proud of myself.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My current favorite

I love reading. I love fiction. I love a good book. And if that book is humourous, written in a simple language, has a dash of reality, a little bit of philosophy and has a riveting plot, all the better. There are a few authors that come to mind, who have the uncanny ability to mix all the attributes above. A year ago, I would have said Somerset Maugham, Jerome K Jerome, Harper Lee(though her body of work is limited to one) make the cut. But now I am ready to add another author to this list. He is a modern fiction author who has written more than 25 books, spanning 4 story series and is internationally acclaimed for The No1 Ladies' Detective Agency series(source: wikipedia). The first time I heard of Alexander McCall Smith was when one of my friends was reading this book called The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency sometime in 2006. I was curious. The name sounded like it was a childrens' book. I like reading anything that comes by, but I would not be too excited about a kids' book. I asked her how she found it, and she said she loved it. Now this girl was by no measure a poor reader. We used to routinely exchange books and I knew that she had a good(very good) taste in books. So when she said she liked the book, I borrowed it from her and very gingerly started reading. Saying I was surprised would be an understatement. I was pleasantly shocked that this book surpassed my expectations and came out with flying colours! Since then I have read almost every book by McCall Smith in the market and eagerly look forward to his new ones!

Now let me get to the point and talk about what is so special about his writing that has me hooked.
There is a story. Each one of his books has a different story. All the characters are very well profiled and you get the feeling that he has spent quite some time thinking about them. None of the characters, however small, is left without a unique personality trait and all of them have a role in advancing the story to its end. No charater is just there to fill pages or to provide the shock value! The story itself is very simple. In most series, there is a central character(or characters) who either has another person's problem to solve(No1 Ladies' series), a personal problem(sunday philosophy club series) or a larger than life ego to satisfy(Von Igelfeld series). While going about doing this, the characters experience love, pain, apathy and a myriad of human emotions and their relationships with other charaters evolve(or degenerate in some cases). All this drives the story to its intended end, which can be the most unexpected or the most mundane.
More than the end, it's the journey that overwhelmes me. It is the way emotions are woven into each story that get me everytime I pick one of his books. It is the simple language that impresses me. It is the fact that he doesn't have to use cliches, (unnecessary) graphical language, (useless) side storylines that are meant to capture the readers' extreme reactions, to sell his books that makes me so happy to read him. All the incidents in his stories are drawn from real life, with a dash of humour. I would go so far as to say that he is one of the best modern fiction writers and certainly my current favorite. Do you have any favorite authors?