Friday, 30 January 2015

Do I Run, Jog or Walk?

Today was to be a solo run and I planned to run at a leisurely pace to savour the morning. I was asked by a Chukku coffee vendor who was riding by my side for some time if I was walking!
I don’t know if any other runner has had this experience or is it special to this part of the country. I have been asked by well meaning fans if I was doing walking. Initially I used to take it literally and take it as a reflection on the speed at which I run. Any long distance runner would know that Elite runners call the lesser us lesser mortals as joggers and being called walker should be downright insult! Now I have understood that historically long distance running has not been in vogue in our country, but, making long walks for pilgrimage has been part of our tradition. I now accept this comment as a compliment and not as a comment on my speed and smile back in affirmation!
I had started my run at 4:08 AM. The episode about Raj Vadgama 10000 Km run and sharp divide among runners has left me quite disturbed in the last few days. Since i am not very comfortable with the comment format on facebook to do justice to the issue and already so much had been written, i did not comment there. But, i need to say what i know and feel. I had run with Raj when he came to run in Chennai. I was with him for about two hours only even though i had promised to run 12 hours with him as the venue was not barefoot friendly. I noticed that he had reduced quite a bit physically since I had seen him in July last year when we had run together. I remember having asked him as to how his run is being monitored/verified by the Guinness book people. While the jury is out on the distance run, but, I am overwhelmed by the grit and commitment shown by him to be at it for the last five months. While the original idea of covering the entire country would have been a good motivation, but, to keep running day after day to just tot up a certain distance would have been numbing. The only instance I remember of counting my runs was during the year before last when I kept count of number of marathons run to get to the magic figure of a hundred marathons in a year. The attempt had given me lot of publicity and even though my claim was not questioned, one senior runner had commented that these were not monitored runs. I specifically remember the joy going out of the runs once it became a mechanical job of meeting a target number of runs.
I for one have taken to running as a hobby. Even though competitiveness is all pervasive and natural, but, for longevity of interest in the act and using running for a higher purpose of becoming a better person, I have found statistical records have to be kept at a distance. It is like the Gita advice of performing action without attachment to the fruits of the action.
Today in my second loop from Napier bridge to Lighthouse, I met Vijay B (since his name on facebook is in Russian/Bulgarian, I am not able to tag him!) at Labour statue and we chatted while we ran together. We regularly cross during our morning runs, he enquired about my foot and tooth and hence I knew he was a reader of my blogs! Interestingly the topic of discussion was once again on why I have decided to keep away from paid events/organized runs. Looking to the cut throat competition and the level of commercialization in the field of long distance running, I hope to hold on to my vow of staying away from the hurry-burry of competitive events. Despite the leisurely pace, I finished at 7:28 AM which means at yesterdays pace almost (in long runs it all evens out in the end)! Looking forward to long runs over the weekend!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Run in a light drizzle today

Recovered, but, with the aid of a tablet and was eager for a run today. Sundar Purush signaled his delayed start (5 AM) yesterday night itself. Biscuit was uncharacteristically grumpy in his walk today and showed aggressiveness towards his friendly stray. I had to shout and drag Biscuit away spoiling the early morning tranquility. I started my run from the colony gates at 4:17 AM. Guess Kakinada express would leave behind the Hubli Passenger connection at Lighthouse.
Today I decided to experiment on staying completely silent during the run to capture the Hubli moments of run even when running with partners. I did wave and get waved at along the route from my usual friends. There was a very light drizzle for the most part, but, humidity was at its worst. Balu was not there at the TTK flyover. Reached Lighthouse at 4:59 AM and found the Doctor pacing restlessly.
We ran in complete silence. The black beauty in Pongal finery did oblige to come for the proffered banana peel, but, just took one. They really watch their weight and do not take more than what is required. I had to woo one more cow for the other peel. The dogs near the Labour statue have returned from their exile for the Republic day. Hope their Delhi mates are back to their homes! The pavement sleepers are also back in full strength.
Encouraged by the smiling traffic policeman at the start of the Mount Road, I asked him his duty hours. He works more than 8 hours in two shifts, 5:45 AM to 10 AM and 2 PM to 6 PM. In the second loop we met Ram Rajagopalan and his friend near the War memorial. He jocularly sought footage in the blog and I am obliging him for what it is worth!
I was running ahead of the Kakinada express for most part of the second loop and pre-empted the famous dash. We crossed Chennai express near the War memorial going towards RBI. Doctor and self did finish together to part ways for the second leg to Napier bridge. Crossed Sundar near Presidency college and we decided to try and meet before my finish point with him taking the Poes garden diversion (I knew he was too fast for me to meet him again even with the diversion!). I finished my run at 7:36 AM (a 3:19 32K!) and am sure Chennai express must already have reached his home!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Break ke Baad

An upset stomach after an insufferable official get-together the previous night put paid to any plans I had of running yesterday. The only silver lining was that I could score some brownie points with my better half for taking off from running (which she seriously considers her souten!). Yesterday being our twenty fourth wedding anniversary also played its part!
Today was the first day in a long time that without any coordination through mobile or facebook, the trains ran to schedule. Sundar was at the gates when I joined him at 4:04 AM. It was a largely silent run as the topic of Republic day did not fly. Balu was the only person met and greeted on the way till we reached Lighthouse at 4:44 AM. On the way, the wall paintings of Lord Ganesha, the holy Kaba and Jesus looking out seemed to assure the visiting president that we respect all religions and are a tolerant people. Familiar face of Dr. Mohan was awaiting us at Light house. Cows disappointed us in the first loop and we even decided to offer the banana peels to a buffalo which definitely did not know what it was missing when it refused our offer. I had to carry the burden for the two inner loops and only on the way back were we able to spot our regular black beauty to do the honours.
Babu, the insomniac cook, met us near Kannagi statue, his half way mark, when we were on the way back in the first loop. He seems to have taken the advice of getting sufficient sleep. Doctor, led the way near the finish of the first loop and we did not challenge him today.
As is our convention, the second loop from Lighthouse was to be a free for all. I had taken the road looking to the congested pavement. Sundar had stayed behing to accompany the Doctor. After I had crossed the Gandhi statue, Sundar caught up with me and said that he had to hurry as people near the Gandhi statue had asked him as to why the Son was trailing the father! We finished the second loop at 6:41AM.
Sundar stopped after the Police Commissioner’s office for a drink of water, but, he could not get what he wanted. He had almost given up on a drink and wanted to test his ability to run without water, when I asked him to try the cool water spout outside AVM Kalyana mantapam. We both had a refreshing drink. Today there was no fixture and the hall was having a well deserved break. On the TTK flyover Gerald crossed us on his cycle. I had a pacy run from Gemini flyover to home, finishing strongly at 7:18 AM. This has been my fastest time of 3:14 for a 32K run on this route (the PB being 3:08!).

Monday, 26 January 2015

Republic day for, of and by the…

As is usual, I have fallen back in my narrative over the weekend. Saturday the 24th was the easiest, bunk with a very new excuse;
Biscuit woke me up at 12:30 AM on top of an already late night entertaining of a colleague and his family which went on till 10 PM. Biscuit did not take much time with his outing, but, the break did it. I could not wake up after that. Woke up at 4 AM to send a message to my runner friends of the intended bunk and slept without a care.
I observed the Mannequins outside the Diva showroom across the door and was struck by the change of attire, they had all switched to Saris from their skirts. They seem to be sending a message, Christmas or Pongal, Sari or Skirt we are the same inside. What drives the world is ‘Sabse bada rupaiah’.
Biscuit was welcomed with a more than usual enthusiasm by his Rottweiler friend Tiggy. I don’t know if it was a welcome or a crib to his parents to let him out too! Biscuit then tried to woo a lady canine who was sleeping by her partner’s side much to the anger of her partner. While she walked away from the scene, he bared his fangs to show that he was not amused. They must be thinking that the Law and Order in the city has gone to humans with couple can’t even sleep peacefully together inside a railway colony without a spoilt brat coming out to tease them in the middle of the night. I had to step in to restore peace. While we were getting back, Biscuit was invited by the street dogs on the deserted road for a shouting match who thankfully Biscuit decided to ignore, his blue blood showing up for a change!
I started the run at 4:07AM, I was not surprised, even if a bit disappointed in not finding the Chennai Express. It was to be a solo run that day. While I entered into Haddows road, a couple in a car stopped next to me and offered to drop me. They were going to the Cool Runners HM at Nandanam. I thanked them and preferred to have my full instead (I hope the police let runners be on the Marina!). Now Chennai seem to have running events on almost all weekends and people dutifully going for them at such odd hours is not uncommon. Chennai must truly be becoming the running capital of the country.
Balu my flyover friend, called me by my full name, we have this way of showing each other that we haven’t forgotten each other’s name. The police presence thickened as I neared Marina and Gandhi. I was afraid if Marina would be open for a run. I had my brush with the policeman (his name I gathered later was Murugan!) when he saw me trying to unsuccessfully woo a cow dressed in my khadi shorts. In retrospect, I could understand his reaction, but, I did not like his tone. What took my goat was the statement of another walker (dressed in a blue Jeans and a T-shirt!) who purportedly was trying to help my case was that if I were dressed normally, the policeman would not have bothered me. Both Murugan and the bystander got a lecture from me on whether Gandhi would be able to take a walk in his dress and since when khadi has become abnormal and Jeans normal. They looked suitably chastised and I felt good for having defended the good old khadi!
As I neared the Labour statue, I saw the group of dogs wandering listlessly. My first thought was whether Lady Kindella had come and was she allowed to feed her dogs? The policeman at the Labour statue did not know and I was worried because the next day would also be a day of fasting for them. This led me to think to myself that our Republic day is no longer for the public and it has become only ‘for by and of the Police’.
The Police tribe redeemed itself when the policeman at the start of the Mount road, stopped traffic for me on all three loops. But, it meant that I did not get an excuse to take a walking break. By the time I came back on Marina for completing my first loop, there were quite a few walkers and runners and I felt comfortable in my khadi.
The policemen on duty near Gandhi statue cheered me as I went passed them. I had an interesting exchange with the policeman Nagarajan, who also ran and his claim to fame was that he stood seventh in a field of one hundred and fifty trainees.
In my next loop I met two friends who stopped me in my tracks and wanted tips on losing weight. I did my bit to spread vegetarianism by asking them to stop eating Non Veg if they could help it as a first step to losing weight. He responded with a pained look ( as if I had asked him for one of his kidneys, not mine, it’s an original quote from the movie 3-Idiots!).
I came back to a cheering welcome from policemen near Gandhi statue when I finished my third loop, I felt like the balance between the common man and the constabulary was restored at the end of the day. I returned home with a slow run to complete my day’s outing at 8:23 AM, a satisfying FM in 4:16!

The Republic day run experience was not very good as I could only reach within 200m of Gandhi statue. I had a short run of about 12 kilometer from 4:27 AM to 5:45 AM. I was left to nostalgically remember my run on my very own NH-218 at Hubli on last year’s RDay! 

Friday, 23 January 2015

A Solo run and a full house

When I ran alone yesterday I did not realize that I would have a full house today. I would first unburden myself of the yesterday’s run;
The two siblings Biscuit (my 6 year old Labrador) and my daughter have been suffering from cold for the last one week. Since my daughter owing to her heavy schedule could not fight the virus unaided and opted for an antibiotic, Biscuit chivalrously became the control group and roughed it out manfully. Biscuit is fighting fit today while my daughter has routed the virus, but, if fighting the after effects of the antibiotic. Between them they have proved the old adage, Cold takes a week with medicine and seven days!
Despite his infection, he never missed a walk and was manfully inspecting the colony at the wee hours in the morning. Not being a member of the Railway Protection Force, dog squad, does not mean that he shies away from doing a thorough inspection. I don’t know if he knows that the Rest house surroundings which he so fondly inspects is going to have the General Manager of the Railway in residence for the next week or so. I hope he can continue his mock drills!
I recently received woven cloth of the cotton yarn I had sent to the weavers. I have been asked by many people the conversion factor of length of yarn and the cloth in meters. Though it depends on the thickness of the thread spun, at my current level of proficiency, I found that one hundred bundles of five hundred meter yarn translated to 15.5 meters of cloth. So, at 1500 meters of yarn per week, I take a little more than a fortnight to get enough yarn for one meter of cloth. Though the work the weaver does is priceless, but, for the record I was asked to pay Rs. 375/- for 15.5 meters of cloth.
I left for the run at 4:15 AM. It was a moonless night, but, the city lights have rendered her inconsequential for the lighting needs. The weather was quite cool and I could feel some very light drizzle on my face. As I crossed the treacherous initial stretch till the Nungambakkam high road, I was reminded of the saying, ‘Eternal vigilance if the price of freedom’. I realized why this fits into my barefoot running, for continuing to enjoy the freedom of barefoot running, I need to keep my eyes skinned and mind concentrated on the road ahead to avoid a painful poke!
I passed the brightly illuminated big board of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India silently hoping that it would vouch for the Hubli Passenger’s running stats in case the likes of Limca book and Guinness show some interest at a later date!
I crossed the complex Gemini flyover to get on to the Cathedral road to ease into a smooth road and this is where I get into auto mode till I touch the TTK Music academy flyover. Today I did not meet Babu, the cook, whom I had advised to catch up on his sleep. Even, the regular Balu seemed to have given his morning walk a go by. Hotel Saravana Bhavan and its competitor Madras CafĂ© next door were slowly waking up and spreading aroma of fresh coffee. The AVM marriage hall was displaying the day’s cast of the couple at the start of their ultra marathon called life.
I reached the lighthouse station at 4:59 AM. It was a difficult proposition to run through the stacked bamboo poles and other building material not to talk of nails etc., so I got on to the road which thankfully was cordoned off for the march past practice. Cows had shifted their grazing operations a little away from the Gandhi statue as spot where the father of the nation stands was chosen as the venue for the high and mighty to witness the parade. Mr. Srinivasan, the man with the elaborate Namaskaram greeting where he lets out a loud clap while putting his hands together, had come dressed in a monkey cap. I have now started taking the refusals from cows to my offer of banana peels in a stride. I try till I get a cow with a taste!
Now that the Parle G lady has stopped feeding her charges with the said biscuits, I thought of promoting her to the post of Kindella (as opposed to the famed ‘Cruella’ of the 101 Dalmatians fame, this name suggested itself to me as I saw her walking proudly among her tail wagging friends).
As I turned into the Sivananda road after completing one loop two people, whom I will introduce as the Laurel and Hardy (I don’t know if I have already introduced them, they among many other well wishers had advised me a few days back to run on the side of the road!), crossed me. Hardy who was ahead of Laurel apologized for his friend having advised me and said he does not know about running. I assured him that I understand that they do so out of their concern for me. I don’t know if other runners have people stopping them for a chat, my theory is that I get more than fair share due to my earthy attire!
In my second loop from Lighthouse one gentleman who has Verappan style moustache, but, a very kind smile decided to race me. We are otherwise regularly meet each other running in opposite directions and invariably greet each other most civilly. I think the Doctor has infected me with his competitive bug. We raced till Kannagi statue where he grudgingly gave up. Maybe, there is something in my easy running style to encourage the competitive instinct in men of my age. I found him doing stretching exercises on my way back from Napier bridge, the smile exchanged indicated that the competition was a friendly match!
I have now started to thank the municipal workers who I find are sweeping the edge of the road of the pebbles which come off the road surface. I explain to them how thankful I am for what they do as it reduces the pricks on my bare feet. While most of them give me a smile for the compliment, a lady brought in the jarring note asking for a tip. I did what I do best when I sense a touch, turned out the pocket of my khadi short to show that I don’t carry money. I was reminded of the coldness that has crept in (at least on my side!) after our friend Venky (of the IOB ATM fame!) decided to bring in commerce into our dealings. I finished the run at 7:36 AM, a decent pace thanks to Veerappan’s challenge! A phone call in the evening from Sundar Purush (as opposed to a text message!) means we could have a run riot the next day!

Today’s run

Sundar was at the gates at 4:03 AM bearing a gift for me from his visit abroad. I could not run with it and I did not have the heart to wake up the guard who was in deep sleep. The thought of waking up my sleeping wife/daughter even if with a gift was daunting. I decided to drop it in my post box hoping nobody pries into it and hoped that I remember to collect it after my run.
We started at 4:05 AM. He had to return by 6:30AM and planned to do one loop leaving me behind for my second loop. But, for a little talk initially about his trip (my running schedule in his absence anyway he was up to date on), we ran in silence for most part. Thanks to his fresh legs and my ego to keep up with him, we reached Lighthouse at 4:45 AM. We had just run about 50-10 meters when we saw the Kakinada express chugging in. He briefed us on his travails at not getting accommodation on his way back as he was competing for scarce resource with Governor’s men. He ended up travelling in a car for eleven hors and was poorer by a fortune. There was some discussion on the Kiran Bedi/Kejriwal faceoff ,but, the conversation petered off. Politics and running do not mix well! Cows were spoiled for attention with the three of us pampering them, but, I got lucky only the third time. The eagerness and speed of dispatch of the offering by the spotted guest for the day made up for the spurning by her predecessors.
No skaters and very few army men meant a quite run for the three of us. Sundar departed at the Napier bridge turning after reminding me to pick up the gift from the post box. The Doctor and yours truly had a silent run for the most part and with about 2-3 Kilometer to the Lighthouse, the Doctor gave me the charge. I also pushed myself without a care for the second loop and the return journey. We finished together drenched in sweat, but, with the satisfaction of an honourable draw. We parted at Lighthouse with each one deciding to run at a pace comfortable to oneself. I had to spill on to the road for many portions to avoid the crowd on the pavement. I was able to complete the loop and the return journey without a break even though at a leisurely pace. I finished the run at 7:24 AM, a 3:19 run of 32K, thanks to hustling in the beginning by the Chennai Express and the sprint with the Kakinada express later. Watch out for the Three Musketeers at the same time same place for a run riot!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Just another run or was it!

            The schedules of the three trains, the Chennai Express, Kakinada express and the Hubli passenger seem to have got into a disarray much like the North bound trains on a foggy morning. Despite the complaining left foot did want to do a slow run to maintain continuity. Biscuit having been given one more playmate, the pink elephant (we have tentatively named her Mumbo to rhyme with her brother Jumbo!), has started neglecting Jumbo. He showed no laxity in his morning inspection of the colony grounds despite his latest love waiting at home. His sworn enemy the Rottweiler (his name is Tiggy!) did not engage with him as he has moved indoors from the balcony owing to the winter. The stray dogs were dozing in contentment (much unlike their counterparts in Delhi who are said to being relocated for the Prez. Obama’s visit!).
            I started at 4:15 AM and kept the engine at a subdued pace more so to negotiate the bad stretch till the Uttamar Gandhi Salai without hurting the foot. One walker regularly greets me near the flyover and today I stopped to get introduced to him. His first question was ‘my place of origin’. He was relieved that I was from Tamilnadu, I learnt later that it was to facilitate conversing in Tamil rather than any parochial reasons (he mentioned that he took me to be a Keralite!). He is Babu and I susually see him returning when I cross that place, I found that he leaves at 3:30 AM. He is a cook and does not get to sleep till midnight. I cautioned him about the dangers of sleep deprivation. Reached Lighthouse at 4:58 AM.
            Had the ignominy of being spurned by two cows before a smartly adorned black cow walked up to the plate to do the honours. She was wearing sea-shells and other trinkets around her horns and neck (Cows are actually decorated during Pongal celebration, and she seems to be not wanting to get out of her party gear!).
            I have a backlog of three runs, two of 32K and a FM on Friday last which I have not documented. It is now too stale to merit detailed blog, but, would like to recount a few highlights;
                        The image of a mentally challenged person who we usually find walking quietly and who broke into a wild dance refuses to go away. I also remember a discussion I had earlier with the Doctor about the large number of such patients and their not receiving any professional care in our country.
                        I was stopped by an auto driver Pugazhendi who after the usual initial questions about my age, diet and distances run came out with his story. He was a avid sportsman who was working with State Transport Corporation and he seems to have been laid off in 2009 after the infamous strike. He confessed to having an unhealthy lifestyle and the drinks habit at night. I used my new found friend status to get him to promise to quit drinks.
            I regularly cross a middle age lady who always walks in a silk saree. I find her attire cumbersome for a morning walk. I have defined acceptance of my unusual attire by the traditional Chennai to be complete on the day when she meets me in the eye and wishes me!
            My foot got better with the run. The pavement has been dumped with lot of building material has been piled up on the walking pavement for the forthcoming RDay parade seating arrangements and it is getting very crowded for the run especially when three or more join hands and walk together blocking others. Reached home at 7:38 AM, meaning 6 minutes extra compared to yesterday. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Let us claim the Republic for the Mango people

Biscuit tempting me with his Chota Jumbo and growling at my attempt to leave was just the excuse I needed to take a break yesterday. I seem to need a break after an FM day in Chennai weather, and, we are not into summer yet! Being the last day of solo running with Sundar Purush and the Doctor scheduled to come back today only was another reason for snuggling back into the bed. The hung over feeling for the rest of the day was something we runners are quite familiar with!
Sundar texted yesterday night rescheduling the rendezvous to Light house at 5:45 AM. There was no word from the Doctor. However, having now agreed upon a flexi running plan each one of us is free to start at their own time and run to one’s appetite. The timing at Lighthouse viz., at forty five minutes past every hour starting 4 AM onwards being just the guidance for meeting up.
I started at 4:18 AM overriding a Biscuit’s growl (meaning ‘Tussi Na Jao’). Today my thoughts continued to dwell on my decision to stay away from paid events. I must admit that participation in events, the gadgets, cheers from crowds are initially necessary to get one hooked to this sport, but, once you get the taste of it running is an end in itself, it needs no accompaniment. I compare this to Saguna and Nirguna schools of Bhakti. Saguna is where one prays to a God with form and it is essential for a start. But, for an evolved Bhakta, the formless one or the Parmatma which is said to reside in each and every living form is enough to meditate. As in Bhakti, so in running one graduates from the gross to the fine. I still found staying away from Mumbai marathon quite tough as even though I was running in Chennai, all my thoughts were in Mumbai. This renunciation will take time.
Reached Lighthouse at 4:59 AM, not finding Doctor (who I am sure must have started his loop by then!), I started my run. I had no chance of keeping to 5:45 AM schedule at Lighthouse after one loop. To make matters worse, the cows pampered by the Mattu Pongal (a festival during Pongal time when the cows are felicitated for their contribution all through the year) attention refused my humble offering of banana peels. My trusted one horned cow made sure that I did not face the ignominy of taking back the Tiffin (mothers must be relating to what I am getting at, child bringing back the Tiffin box unopened!).
There was a huge mobilization of people of the three services and NCC for parade rehearsal for the ensuing Republic Day. The traffic policemen, smartly dressed, were out in large numbers to regulate traffic. I have now started pitying them, looking at how many days they are required to do bandobust duties for all and Sundry event management. This however must be special being for a national cause. My regular waves to the policemen ensured I was waved on in my run. I met Manish Suri and some other Marina Minnal runners.
I decided to do the second loop before completing the Napier bridge to Lighthouse stretch later. I calculated Sundar would meet me somewhere in the Beach road stretch. Near War memorial into my first loop, I thought I saw the Doctor, I called out to him, but, there was no response. He was on the other side of the road and behind the high divider. I reached Lighthouse at 6:21 AM, there was still one more loop to Napier bridge and back. Momentary lapse of concentration had me tripping again on my left toe, luckily it was not as bad as last time. I reached the Gandhi statue at 6:55 AM.
On the way back, I found the right side of the road cleared of traffic. I found it quite comfortable to run, in any case I prefer to run against the traffic. My luck with Traffic police ran out today. The austere looking policeman asked me to take the left side of the road which had lot of traffic. I argued with him trying to explain why I can’t run on the edge of the road and in traffic. I asked him the reason for not allowing even pedestrians and runners in the other half. It came out that it was not their concern for our safety, but, it was because some VIP movement for RD parade practice was due to happen. I argued with good support from an old man and two cyclists and managed to claim my right of way. I don’t know what got into me to argue, I think it was because they were herding people to one half of the road for some VIP movement. I felt like starting a satyagraha, Gandhi style.
Soon enough, a convoy of vehicles crossed me and it seems it was VIP’s practicing for the RD parade. This took my goat, I can understand marching contingent requires rehearsal, but, to replicate VIP movement for four days looked preposterous. The traffic policeman who confronted me next near Gemini circle was quite apologetic about the restrictions when I commented to him that we Mango people must claim the Republic from the VIPs! The next two kilometers on Nungambakkam high road had jam packed traffic and I updated my daily friends (vehicle drivers!) about the cause for the jam and was allowed passage through them. I met Sriram Raja during this time. I finished my run at 7:36 AM, a three hour eighteen minutes 32K in the kitty!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sunday Marathon(18.01.2015)

            When at 4:08 AM, I left for running a marathon on my now familiar route including the Beach road, my mind was on my many running friends who must be preparing for their 5:40 AM start at the Mumbai marathon. I had taken a decision after the Auroville marathon at the beginning of this year not to participate in any paid events.
            It was initially a knee jerk reaction to the boredom of having done each of the major events three to four times and finding them no longer challenging. The added problems of travel, stay and diet (Vegan to boot!) only made me more resolute in my renunciation. I did miss the crowd cheer and the atmosphere. Having moved to a city with a popular running culture, every day of my morning run has been like a miniature version of one of the organized runs. Occasional visit by runner friends from other cities have ensured that I don’t miss company. I found the overheads for running for less than four hours to be too much in most of the organized runs of today. I find the Expo and events preparatory to the run too cloying with commercial overtones that the benefits of being able to compare notes with runner friends too small a compensation. The exorbitant price tag and travel have decided it for me now. All said and done missing Mumbai marathon was heart wrenching and my thoughts during the run on Sunday were with the runners in Mumbai.
            I was not expecting to see many runners in my run today, but, I found good company of @Srikumar Rengarajan He met me just after the War memorial when I was on my third four kilometer loop and on the way to the Napier bridge. I still had two stretches from Lighthouse to Napier bridge and the run back home to complete my quota of a full marathon. He immediately abandoned his run and joined me. He was with me from Napier bridge to Light house and one more loop from Lighthouse to Napier and back. We had interesting discussion on the Hindu Lit Fest and religion.

            I finished the last loop where I met one regular who stopped me to find out the route and distance I run each day. Neither of us got the others name, as they say ‘Jaat Na Poocho Saadhu Ki’. On the way back I was feeling strong and despite humidity opted to not take the water break at AVM choultry. I met @Jayendra Soni near Valluvar Kottam near the finish. I finished the run at 8:24 AM and it was a creditable 4:16 hour marathon.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Chota Jumbo

            Biscuit, my six year old Labrador, has never had a steady playmate. He specialized in knocking the stuffing out of stuffed toys from a very young age. My daughter’s Teddy bear of nearly two decades had to be rescued from his bear hugs and love bites. His fascination for toys resurfaced recently when he got attracted to rubber toys which make a squeaky sound on squeezing. He regularly raided my helper’s house whenever he found them lax in leaving their daughter’s playthings outside. The last casualty was a blue dolphin which lasted just a few hours. This attempt at getting him a new toy was not with much hope of its longevity, but, just a momentary weakness on my wife’s part when she went shopping for making good my helper’s daughters’ playthings.
            Thus arrived Chota Jumbo a bright yellow coloured elephant with a red cap. Biscuit’s initial treatment of the Jumbo did not show any difference in his approach to toys and did not portend well for Jumbo’s survival for long. As they say in cricket the trick is to survive the initial overs before the shine comes off the ball and the atmosphere dries up. Jumbo not only survived the first day, but, seemed to evoke something maternal in Biscuit’s bosom. They are now an inseparable pair with Jumbo even going to sleep with Biscuit. In fact he fought off sleep till it became impossible to do so for fear of losing Jumbo. When he goes for a walk he insists on carrying Jumbo and when stopped from doing so, rushes back to find Jumbo the first thing after returning home.
            He has learnt to gently hold Jumbo in his mouth without hurting it much like how a cat carries her kitten. He even licks Jumbo off any dirt on his surface. I am reminded of the friendship between the Dog and Jerry in one of the Tom and Jerry cartoons where the Dog tells Jerry to ‘just whistle’ in case of any distress from Tom. We now find that to attract Biscuit to any part of the house just requires sounds to be made off Jumbo and he comes running to rescue his friend. He has accepted the name given to his friend by us and responds to our asking him to fetch Jumbo.
            We seem to have finally succeeded in winning Biscuit’s confidence in that he gives Jumbo to us and seems to finally understand the game of fetch. It’s a tender and heart warming sight to see Biscuit using his jaws with bone crushing abilities to carry Jumbo delicately wherever he goes.
            Long live the friendship of Chota Jumbo and Biscuit!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meet Jeetu and Mahesh

 Biscuit woke me fifteen minutes before my alarm time. He was adamant for a walk straight away, and as a result I was back at 2:30 AM. Spent half an hour on the facebook over a cup of green tea. I developed a slight niggle in the calf and Kakinada express had excused himself citing late night engagements. Given the situation that Chennai express is already in holiday mood, I was looking at a prospect of a solo run. Situation was quite tempting for bunking the run and getting into the bed. Biscuit was aware of the opportunity and was lying in wait on the sofa in the hall. I am due for babysitting Biscuit tomorrow and would have to bunk the run, two days of run deprivation was unthinkable, so off I went much to the disappointment of Biscuit.
 I was at the gates at 4:07AM and must confess that I did look around in the faint hope of finding Sundar Purush pacing the pavement. Even though there was the likelihood that Chennai express may have gone ahead of the Hubli Passenger, due to the agreement yesterday that neither would wait for the other and we could meet at the beach road even if we start at different times, I did look for him at every turn. By the time I had wished Balu after negotiating the bridge and I had now reconciled to running alone. Today the water spout outside AVM Kalyana mantapam looked like a good competitor to the Saravana Bhawan. I would try and popularise it among runners returning from their workouts as opposed to their patronizing the Saravana Bhawan.
 Reached Light house at 4:49 AM, 42 minutes have become the par for this leg, however slow I run. The speeds on different stretches seem to average out. Met Srinivasan, of the elaborate Namaste fame, after a gap of few days. Crowds on the pavement were back to full house and I didn’t mind weaving through them as I now see lot of familiar faces and greet and get greeted. I tried remembering the first few days when I was literally on slippery ground and figuratively conscious of my attire. Now I seem to have a firm grip of the soles and the even the traditional Chennai walker has come to accept me. The last four months have got me introduced to the cows which frequent Marina and I now recognize the ones who like Banana peels. Today the white one with dark patches was the favoured one.
 The skaters were warming up and the early army men and a lone couple gave a hint of a lively time by the time I would be doing my second loop. Time to meet the first of my new friends;
 As I was turning into the Flag Staff road, a bunch of kids carrying bat and ball passed me shouting and laughing. As I crossed them, a few laughed, and I gave them a smile back. Two of the boys broke from the group and tagged on with me. After some time, I started to make conversation with them. One of them is called Jeetu (I didn’t get his partners name!). He is twelve years old and is from a village near Calcutta. He along with thirty other kids works for a jewellery unit. They are paid Rs. 6000 a month with boarding and lodging free. They come to play on the Beach road on days when they don’t have work. They seemed a happy bunch. I am dead against child labour and believe that there place is in school and not the workplace however benevolent the employer may be, but, do we need to find a golden mean considering the crushing poverty. Can they be given evening classes along with vocational training which they are getting in their job? Kailash Satyarthiji, are you listening?
 I met Manish Suri twice during the run, must be their groups training day at Marina today! I completed the loop at 5:51 AM, not bad considering the freewheeling discussion with Jeetu!
 The second loop was even more relaxed as I didn’t mind getting home a little later (Chennai Express has a tighter pre-office schedule!). The pandals set up for the road safety week near the Labour statue was deserted today and the dogs were using the red carpets for their after meal siesta. Met two platoons of the army running contingent and the Good morning/hello from my side was uniformly replied with a running salute (stiffening of the back/arms!) or a Jai Hind. The skaters livened up the Sivananda salai and Mount road.
 I was not done with making new friends for today and the place interestingly was the entrance to the Flag Staff house road. A young man quietly started to run alongside me. His steady pace and even breathing indicated that he was a Pro. We got talking. He is Mahesh from Pilibhit in Uttarakhand and presently posted in Tiruchy. He is on a temporary duty to Chennai since last month and would be here for another two months. He is from the Green team (must find out how high it ranks!) of Boxing in the Army and has represented it for five years till he turned thirty (he is 32 now, Sundar’s age!). He told me that he had a major fracture of the hand when he was a young child. All his friends used to tease him. He learnt yoga and strengthened his arm and learnt boxing by observing his teacher from a distance (who wouldn’t take him as he was weak!), your Eklavya! He has two kids aged five and one and a half and he plans to get his family after he gets back to Tiruchy. His wife is educated (B.Ed.) and he plan to encourage her to study further so that she can teach once the kids grow up a bit. Before we knew we were near the Gandhi statue. He got my family details as also my service connection and promised to run when he got time. He plans to teach kids who train near Marina the nuances of boxing as he loves the sport and teaching.
 It was a very fruitful two loops today. I reached home at 7:26 AM, a 3:19, 32K. Must complete my weekend run blog later in the day!

Marathon at last(11.1.2015)

After laying to rest the ghosts of the injured foot and the infected tooth, I was looking forward to a full marathon to feel complete again. Sundar Purush had sworn in a text message that he would join me. Was at the gates at 4:02 AM, the usually punctual Chennai express was not to be seen. I know he does not carry a mobile and I did not want to wake up his wife by messaging on his mobile. I gathered courage and walked up to the police guarding the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission opposite our colony. I asked him to look out for a tall and handsome runner and if he waits outside the colony gates, he was to be given the message, ‘Hubli Passenger has left’. The policeman about a month back used to look at me suspiciously due to my strange attire and ungodly timings had grown to trust me and gave me a conspiring look signaling acquiescence to our plan! I left at 4:05AM.

Prospect of a solo run due to the absent Chennai express and Kakinada express (who had informed of his plans to go cycling on Sunday!) was staring me in the face. In fact I seemed to welcome it, some me time after a long time. Have never been able to switch off completely into self even if the partner is very silent and there is virtually no traffic. How I miss my NH-218 runs of Hubli!

I maintained a slightly lesser effort level to keep some reserves to go the full distance. As if to help me get rid of the extra baggage of the banana peels, I found a cow standing under the usually busy Gemini flyover. She must have heard about the Hubli Passenger and his treats from her friends, as she accepted the offering gratefully and proceeded to look confused in the busy junction. I could understand her confusion, as I have only just now mastered one route of the busy metro. These city bred cows and buffaloes are however smart as I have seen them comfortably negotiate the traffic on Beach road with the owner sometimes only a small boy following them at a safe distance.

I reached Lighthouse at 4:45 AM. I wanted to be back after completing the first loop by 5:45 AM in case Chennai Express decides to show up then. First loop was done in darkness and I took it easy particularly the stretch near the speed breaker where some speeding truck with jelly had strewn lot of pebbles. Some patch work of filling up small patches of damaged road on the Flag Staff road with carelessly dropped jelly with tar was a deadly combination for the feet. I hoped it would all be better in the next loop with daylight. It cuts both way, Sun will bring light, but, can the heat be far behind!

When I was finishing my first loop, I saw @sriku with two of his friends running in the opposite direction near the Gandhi statue. No Chennai express meant I was on my own. I decided to do both the loops of the island ground together so that it can be completed before the traffic picks up. Met Srikumar and company on both the loops. After completing the two rounds around the island ground, I reached Light house by 7:11 AM. Three hours and nine minutes for 30K, not bad!
The last stretch to Napier bridge and back was sapping with the Sun taking its toll and the monotony of same length being done made me mentally tired. The return trip home had two incidents worth mentioning, first was an Auto drawing by my side and as I was bracing for advice to run on the side of the road, I was pleasantly surprised to see the driver telling his passenger that I run 20K every day. I think I must update my current daily mileage to the Auto drivers association, but, it felt good! The next was a scooterist who passed me by mumbling something and as he crossed, he raised his hand over his hand making gestures. Again fearing the worst, I flagged him to have a discussion on which side of the road is barefoot friendly. He gave me a wide smile and said ‘Seven Pack Surya’.
I deserved a treat after this, it is then I spied the water spout outside AVM hall. In taking a water break I let go off another young runner who I have been tailing from Gandhi statue. I could barely catch him when he turned on Gopalapuram cross after the flyover. He did turn back to see me passing him and his smile of respect made my day. Reached home at 8:26 AM, hobbling on my left leg, the thigh seems to have taken the brunt. But, a 4:25 marathon was worth all the pain and anyway a full day of rest and wife’s delicious cooking awaited the warrior!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Getting over the weekly rest day

Sixth day on the trot and that time of the week when one is tempted to bunk, Got up at the usual hour of 2 AM in the morning and browsed around on facebook. Biscuit claimed his walk and out of habit spent an hour on the spinning wheel over hot cups of green tea. It was seven minutes past four AM when I thought of the punctual and regular DrAvk Mohan, the Kakinada express who would be pacing the Light house terminus at the appointed hour of 4:45 AM. Quickly put on my running clothes and had a late start at 4:14AM.

Sundar Purush, a.k.a Chennai Express has been uncharacteristically irregular and I did not want to put pressure so did not text him, his absence on Sunday is a mystery and was dying to find out the reason. How I had co-opted the services of the guardians of the law posted to guard the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission opposite my colony to act as a go-between between the Chennai express and me will be revealed if and when I get down to punching the weekend exploits!

A young man sticking posters was using the cover of darkness to advertise the permanence of IT by pasting this part of the city with NIIT posters, ‘Make In India’ can go and take a walk! An auto driver with his charge of a middle aged lady with lot of luggage decided to test my knowledge of local geography and I am glad to inform that I came trumps ( a cyclist who seemed a veteran waited patiently to hear my diagnosis and confirmed my prescription), my good deed done for the day, I soldiered on avoiding the pebble ridden stretch which tests my soles before they have even warmed up to the road.

The first acquaintance (Balu who operates in the morning on the flyover!) who, unlike the Parle G lady, is a morning person and believes in cheery greetings met me on flyover. Just as I came off the flyover relaxed in having negotiated the bad stretches for the time being, I was pleasantly surprised by the Chennai Express out flanking the Hubli Passenger. The mystery of the bunk on Sunday turned out to his losing the battle with the bed, but, he confessed that he had a miserable Sunday after waking up late. He was sent out by his wife on compassionate grounds today to recoup his endorphin deficiency. What started as a listless run for me caught pace and even though we did not talk much, we had a good run and before we knew we hit the Beach road.

We reached Lighthouse at 4:55AM, and no surprise, Kakinada express was stretching to conquer. The morning attendance on the beach was very sparse and looked like the case of the Monday blues! Sundar sighted the bunch of cows which had settled around and were dozing while chewing their cud. They surely could not be tempted to break their kitty party for a few banana peels. A lone cow still on his last course of the morning meal was wooed by the Chennai and Hubli duo, It looked at the mating calls and the offering in my hand and went back to grazing. The observant Doctor diagnosed the problem being that it was a bull and not a cow. I need not have bothered, few steps later in the run, my trusted friend the one horned beauty made short work of my offering and gave me a sweet smile to boot in return.

I have generally been waving to each beggar on the stretch and always fascinated by the blind beggar who sits patiently with a walking stick with a cycle bell at its end. Today he seemed to be agitated and was trying to attract attention by stretching out his hand at the sound of passing feet. Hope all is well and he is not running low on his finances!

I am thinking of joining a group of runners planning to run from Chennai to Tirupati during the extended weekend of the Republic Day. Sundar did a rain check of my preparedness and gave very practical suggestions. I only hope that the patriotic fervor does not dictate forced attendance, fingers and toes crossed! As we crossed the Vivekananda house, I sounded that today was his birthday, but, there was a muted celebration if there was one at all! Met Parle G lady after a long time as she was walking down the pavement supervising the feeding dogs, must be quite fulfilling to be given such a rousing reception by so many canine friends every morning. It’s like a 21 gun salute for her every day.

The festooned pandals of the road safety week celebrations started the previous day wore a deserted look with a few policemen manning them more out of duty than conviction. The skaters were missing, maybe, taking the weekly off. Lesser army men crossed us on our run, the Sivananda Salai stretch was shrouded in darkness making the progress difficult for my bare feet. A bad pebble strewn stretch near the speed breaker was really bad on my foot.

         When we were about a kilometer off from Lighthouse, Kakinada express zoomed off without warning and finished at the terminus with a sizeable margin, The Boss showed who is the boss! We reached the Lighthouse at 5:56 AM, was telling Sundar we were at our pace, something must have gotten into the Kakinada Express today!

        Chennai express and Hubli Pass’r took leave of Kakinada express as Kakinada express wanted to do a relaxed cool down run for the second loop. We reached the Gandhi statue after the second loop at 6:57 AM.

On the return trip from Lighthouse, I showed Sundar the Chilled RO water taps with chained eversilver tumblers on the walls of AVM hall. This was my hydration break on my Sunday run. The aged couple met us on the flyover, these people meet me regularly. The lady prompts the husband if he is looking elsewhere, reminding me of one of the Mobile operator Advt. which had the lady telling her husband, ‘Aapka Phone’! Reached home at 7:31 AM, a 3:17 32K, not bad for the sixth day in a row!
I do get petty at various times during the day in thought at least if not in deed. Like the Kakinada express beating the Hubli Pass’r today or more seriously many other perceived slights or triumphs. I have to stop near the Hindu crematorium on my way to the railway station every day. It is a sobering thought and a constant reminder of how ephemeral life is and to rise above the pettiness in life. More than places of worship, these would a better idea to sober people.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Meeting a school friend

Biscuit (my six year old Labrador for those who haven’t had the honour of knowing him yet!) has recently been complaining of lack of footage in my daily dispatches. While I have been struggling to settle into the big city, He has beautifully adapted to living in a flat and that too on the fifth floor. He looks forward to the ride in the lift and has adjusted to the smaller empire for him to inspect. He has learnt to negotiate the cattle trap at the colony gates. He is slowly trying to get over his fears of the trucks. He finds the smaller house easier to chase squirrels (he was unequal to the squirrels pace and agility in the wide open grounds at our Hubli house!). He has made friends with the crows who get to share one of his rotis. He seems to be getting more exercise in the smaller house chasing squirrels than in the house with a big lawn. He seems to be giving a bigger lesson to us that happiness is not related to the size or location of the house!
Woke up to the alarm and Biscuit’s prodding at 2 AM. Had a banana and a few dates. Kept green tea for brewing, set up the charkha and called Biscuit for his walk. Today was a quiet and contemplative walk. Biscuit did not react to his friends who must have been sleeping after a late night (curse the traffic which roars on till 11 PM). Even the friend’s heavily chained Rottweiler who usually barks and tears at the chain as if he would jump down to have a ‘Mukalat’ with Biscuit seemed to be having a peaceful sleep. Biscuit reclaimed his territory and the flora quickly and was ready to get back home for his second innings of sleep.
After little more than an hour of spinning over hot cups of green tea, I got into my running clothes. Biscuit was warming up on the sofa in the hall through my spinning and only went to bed after I left for the run. He did not protest my leaving today. A little bit of stretching, pocketing the banana peels for the cow and tucking in the spent green tea leaves in the mouth for chewing during the run, I reached the gates at 4:02 AM. Sundar Purush again excused himself from the early start and promised to meet DrAvk Mohan and me at Lighthouse at 5:45 AM.
I ran at a leisurely pace knowing that I could reach Lighthouse terminus in time for the scheduled arrival of the Kakinada express. The sanitary workers, tea shop owners, guards and regulars who wait for the first bus at the bus stops exchanged glances and at best waved. They very constituency which started out with cat calls and now accepted me and taken me for their own. Even the policemen on their patrol cars and manning check posts have switched to friendly waves rather than converting me to running on the left side of the road. Mr. Balu, my friend of the bridge continues to greet me by calling me by my name to show that he remembers it. Venky (the ATM guard of IOB near the Royapettah flyover for those who don’t know him yet!) was in his dreams (a man of healthy habits like cycling does have his perks!).
I saw the clock near Gandhi statue show a little past 4:35 AM and I relaxed. As I turned into the Beach road, Kakinada Express steamed in on the pavement towards the Lighthouse. It was like two trains entering a major terminal at the same time. The first question I asked him was as to whether he was able to stay alive in office after the killer run and sleep deprived night before. He seemed to have coped well and was back for more. If my passion for running is bordering on madness (not mine, my wife’s quote!), then he can be my witness to plead sanity by comparison!
We left at 4:41 AM keeping a cushion for the 5:45 AM schedule of Chennai express later. Today the Doctor was a little slow and I kept taunting him keeping just a step ahead of him, but, kept the pace slower. The black cow has now become my regular for receiving banana peels. So fond is she of the stuff that I today feared that she could take the thing with the polythene bag in which I brought the peels. I have now overcome my fear of the cows and am able to address them fondly as I do Biscuit, and, I think they understand!

The first topic of discussion was my defense of why I suggested his cutting short his run the previous day. I was fresh from reading the case of a young CEO who was a regular runner and had died of a heart attack. The reason attributed was lack of sleep. He digested it quietly. Lot of army guys were out for a run today and the Doctor said that it was partly due to his regular running every day. The skaters were just arriving and setting up shop.

I had a surprise waiting for me when I was on the way back to Lighthouse, a man stopped me and asked ‘Pehchaan Kaun’?  At that time of the day and the place I was in the usual suspects are runner friends, but, this is not their way of addressing me. I ventured a guess Kumar Janardhanan as the person resembled him. I really felt ashamed after Sridhar Ak identified himself. He is my school friend and we were neighbours to boot, but, in my defense a gap of nearly three and a half decades and me not wearing my specs were the extenuating circumstances. We had a ‘Bharat Milaap’ scene much to the amusement of the fellow walkers. Must catch up with him soon!
My eyes were now skinned for the expected anytime Chennai express! We reached Lighthouse and turned back for the second loop at 5:41 AM. I knew Sundar could catch us quickly if he comes later. Just before we reached the Gandhi statue, the Doctor asked me to go at my comfortable pace and that he would complete his run at a relaxed pace. I needed no second invitation and pressed on the gas. I was surprised to meet Sridhar running towards me from the opposite side and we exchanged a high five.
The second loop was done at a fairly steady clip. A heavy footed runner joined me soon after and asked me if I run marathons. Having accepted my word for it, but, showing disappointment at the fact that I did not run the Chennai marathon and do not plan to run the Mumbai also. He turned into the inner road probably having me declared a ‘Ranchod’. I was faced with the questioning glances from the army friends who were searching for the Doctor next to me. The skaters crossing me multiple times in a beautiful formation was a good diversion during the run. I crossed many cyclists today, but, am not able to recognize them individually because of the headgear and speed at which they whizz past. I reached the Gandhi statue at 6:38 AM and went on till Lighthouse, after a short break, I started back at 6:40 AM. The quick pace of this loop was quite exhilarating. The Chennai express seems to have had a late night again and must have conserved for the weekend.
I have been crossing a girl who comes running from the opposite direction dressed in salwar kameez with a bottle in one hand. This happens just before the Kalyani hospital and I thought she must be carrying some medicine for some near and dear one. The next day I thought she was trying to catch a bus. Today I observed her closely as thrice could not be a coincidence. I found that she was running with a small water bottle in one hand and a phone in the other. I found this she was only running with her les and the entire upper body, particularly, the arms were stiff. I stopped and gave her unsolicited advice to get a dress with pockets if she has to carry something and run with free swing of arms and shoulders. She took it quite sportingly. I reached home at 7:20 AM and felt good about the pacy run today.
Look what the eldest member of the group has done to us. A bunch of slow and steady runners have starting pursuing speed, but, I think it’s all for the good. It goes with the current theme of loose federalism and not imposing from the center. Will I get the elusive Full tomorrow?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Train race at Marina

Chennai express has been erratic of late. Claiming her daughter’s nightly antics, Sundar Purush rescheduled his arrival by an hour to reach Lighthouse at 5:45 AM. Hubli Passenger started from Sterling Road station at 4:04 AM to meet the Kakinada Express at the Lighthouse at 4:45 AM.
It was a humid starlit morning and I had worked up a decent sweat by the time I reached the intersection of Haddows Road and Uttamar Gandhi Salai, my usual strip tease point!, I am sure Gandhi must be smiling in his grave!
Today Balu, my friend of the flyover was conspicuous by his absence. The couple (The RK, Nargis kinda pair which walk together in their running dress) have not been coming for quite some time now, hope All is Well with them. I seemed to have woken up my friend Venky from his night dreaming.  The chukka coffee vendor called out his ware a bit too loudly when he crossed me outside Saravana Bhavan, more I think to make conversation than with any hope of getting any business from me.
Reached Lighthouse at 4:44 AM by my mobile. Not finding Kakinada Express at the terminal, I took a minute off to catch my breath. At 4:45 AM, I started to slowly run towards Napier bridge with the hope of intercepting DrAvk Mohan.  A visibly hurt Kakinada express met me a well before the Gandhi statue, as if the Shatabdi has been blamed for lack of punctuality. The clock opposite Gandhi statue chimed 4:45 to confirm his punctuality. After I had fed the cow, I initiated today’s Run pe charcha seeking to know the Doctor’s diet (i had obliged him with my dietary secrets the previous day, we old people are boring!). I had also been surprised by how little he ate when he had come home or dinner the other day. His Spartan diet combined with the amount of exercise he does is a medical mystery for the AMC to investigate.
He complained of late night calls and of having slept after 11:30 the previous night. He was also quite labored in his run today, I am sure the strenuous ride to find Pulicat lake in the heat must also be affecting him. I tried to hustle him so that we could be back at Lighthouse by 5:45 AM to be in time to receive the Chennai Express.
As if to disprove the Doctor’s complaint about lack of physical fitness among the uniformed men, today a large number of them were out to mark attendance with him. As usual the children of all ages ranging from six to sixteen were whirring past us on their skates to egg us on. Despite of my trying to press on the pedal, we were no match for Sundar who hungry after a day’s bunk had reached opposite the Queen Mary’s by the time we reached there. We made him turn around to retrace the path to Lighthouse with us.
The Doctor was seriously struggling and added to that his comment about having been late to office the previous day gave me the temerity to suggest that he break near Munroe statue so as to give him some time for a power nap before office. From my own experience I have realized that we become increasingly adamant with age particularly about the length of the run planned for the day. This we do all the while constantly mouthing the adage that we should listen to our body, he was one step ahead and would brook no cut in his run ration planned for the day.
Seeing the enthusiasm of us oldies, Sundar became conscious of his small portion of the run and informed us that he would run a bit faster and cover the added distance from War memorial to RBI and get back to catch us in time at Lighthouse. This set off a race between within the three trains. I wanted to not let Sundar catch me before the Gandhi statue and Dr. Mohan wanted to complete the planned run.
I reached Gandhi statue at 6:46 AM a full four minutes before Kakinada express steamed in and well before the Chennai express. Taking a quick leave of the good Doctor, I tried putting in as much distance as possible with the Chennai express. Sundar caught up with me after the Saravana Bhavan a little before the flyover. He again set off for the diversion via the Poes garden promising to catch me before I reached the colony gate.
Amidst all this chasing, I found it liberating today as I always felt that by making Sundar run with us we are seriously cramping him for his need for speed. He caught me at the strip tease point. We ran together from there till I reached the colony gates at 7:31 AM. Sundar has promised to run with a weight jacket from next time on when he plans a curtailed run. All in all an entertaining day of run today!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Kakinada Express tangos with Hubli Passenger

Have once again fallen behind in my daily missives, now the dates and incidents in the runs over the last few days are sufficiently jumbled up in my head. Now any of those have to do something special to become a supplement in a daily narrative and have lost the relevance to a post by itself.
To build up consistency, mileage will follow, I have started starting for my daily run at 4 AM since last two days. The idea was to do two loops and get to 32K quota of daily run! Yesterday, I did it behind Sundar Purush’s back and today Sundar himself requested me to carry on with the promise to meet me in my second loop at Light house at 5:45 AM. DrAvk Mohan (he is being nicknamed Kakinada express from now on!) with his child like enthusiasm was very keen to start early. We fixed the meeting place at Light house at 4:45 AM (each doing about 6K to reach there!)
Ashwin Govindasamy had called me yesterday asking me if he could run with us for his easy paced running, the speed merchant wanted the stability of middle overs of Mohinder Amarnath from us oldies for teaching him patience for the full marathon. For the benefit of readers, it is relevant to mention here that he runs HM at 1:28. I was feeling conscious when I started for the run at 4:07 AM today, I felt like a Maruti Alto going to go and get hitched to a Ferrari. I had asked him to meet us at Lighthouse at 4:45 AM.
I have seen this phase in Hubli when regular passersby stop asking you the questions about why you run, etc. They instead knowledgeably tell something to the effect that ‘this old man runs every day’ to the tune of ‘What do we do with a problem like Maria’ to their partner. With this kind of incident happening increasingly, it seems, I have been finally accepted in Chennai. A gentle wave of hand, a smile has replaced elaborate verbal greetings. My friend Venky was holding forth with his gang of followers outside the ATM (almost on the road!) when I crossed him. After my wave to him, I could hear the old story being upstaged by my exploit (he has the older version of my route which was to RBI and back!).
As I turned into the Beach road, the clock opposite Gandhi statue chimed the time, 4:45 AM. Hubli passenger was almost on time to Lighthouse. Kakinada Express was stretching itself in preparation for the run. We started at a leisurely pace after he was informed that Chennai Express has promised to meet us at Lighthouse station at 5:45 AM. Implicit in this was the exhortation that we should complete the 10K loop in an hour. There was no sign of Ashwin and I thought of calling him, but, the struggle in the darkness with my mobile dissuaded me.
I stopped to feed the first cow I met, she was the same one which was the receiver of my affection of the previous day. Now, this lady is quite aggressive and believes in going straight for the cover. I carefully removed the banana peel and after safely putting the cover back in pocket, fed her and petted her.
We both were missing the enthusiasm of the young Sundar and conversation hung in the air many times between us. As a result we ran quietly to the accompaniment of the thuds of the feet and the sounds of breathing. We runners can judge the partners comfort from the breathing rhythms while running together. The good Doctor got lot of attention from Army colleagues who seem to have come out in large numbers today. I like the way they exchange greetings by the subtle stiffening of the back and arms. We also got charged by seeing the smiling faces of young skaters whizzing past us in their slithering snaky formation. The familiar parental escorts have now started recognizing me and we exchange smiles.
The clock chimed when we crossed the Gandhi statue meaning that we have done the loop in a little over an hour. I was expecting to meet the Chennai Express as we did the previous day well before hitting the Gandhi statue, but, seeing no sign of him at Lighthouse, I knew that he must have chosen the warmth of the bed to the solo run.
The second loop was in better light and the Doctor was pleased to have seen the GOC crossing us on the Mount Road. I hoped that he would have seen the Doctor on the run. More socialization with the Army runners and walkers and we were back on home stretch. We reached the Gandhi statue at 6:45 AM completing a pacy double loop. We parted on the other side of the road promising to meet ‘at the same time at the same place’ as today the next day also.
The return run was comfortable and my left foot was now getting used to the road without the protective tape. I finished the run at 7:29 AM, a 3:22, 32K run. I hope the quartet performs on the Beach road tomorrow!