Thursday, 30 April 2015

Promise broken

            My wife has been a generous fan of my writing, but, that does not stop her from being a dispassionate critic. In fact my wife and daughter (Biscuit, my going on seven years Labrador for those not yet introduced, does not complain!) frequently complain that I am getting repetitive and I also felt the same about my blog posts recently. I promised to take a break from posting about my daily runs. I could only hold myself for a day, i.e., yesterday. I met a bindaas youngster today and am breaking my promise to my wife (and I have taken her permission for it!).
            It must have been a case of getting the time wrong in the darkness that I hustled Biscuit to hurry up whenever he lingered on at any place for deeper analysis of any particular spot or a detour from the normal route. When I finally got him to his room and started for my run (even Shanmugham, our milk provider also was early today!) I was in for a surprise when the mobile showed 3:57 AM under the streetlight’s glare. I was tempted to go back and give Biscuit another small walk, but, waking up people at that hour could have been dangerous for my physical well being, I shall have to make it up to Biscuit sometime over the extended weekend!
            It is not my usual habit to quibble over an early start, but, this one is significant as I sensed company when I reached Uttamar Gandhi Salai. The youngster was running strong and we only got to run alongside when he came to the right side of the road after Gemini flyover. I initially thought that he must be one of the Chennai runners on a long run, but, when I broached the subject of running with him, I was pleasantly surprised.
            Now is the time to introduce Mr. Avinash, he has completed his XIIth and is doing a Crash course for the Common Law Admission Test, today being his last day of the course and exam being on 10th of May, 2015. There are two interesting aspects to these details;
                        Our idea when we were that age of celebrating after a course is completed used to be a few extra hours in bed, a movie etc., but, this guy, who stated that he was an athlete in school upto Xth class before he got sucked into academic pressure of +2 and professional exam coaching, his idea of celebrating last day in Chennai before going back home for Law entrance exam in a week is a long run (he is from Nagercoil and is staying in a hostel in T Nagar!), gets out to run before 4 AM in the morning! What’s happened to the youngsters nowadays!
                        How he chose Law as his career is also interesting, he says there were enough Engineers and Doctors in his family and anyway the brick and mortar and the like does not interest him, he wants to try out a new field and Law should be lucky to have him. Tribute to his confidence is that even when he was told that he was running alongside the father of a graduate from the prestigious Law school from Hyderabad, he had no questions. He believes in crossing bridges only when he gets there. I liked his attitude!
            He was clearly unfit from two years of only mental activity and was profusely sweating and panting when we reached the Gandhi statute. We parted after exchanging names. Rest of the run has nothing much to write home about except my interaction with Col. S K Singh, new friend I made during running the Island ground loop (I remember he told me he was the Chief Engineer with the Army). Today, owing to my earlier start I met him on Sivanada road on him second loop and I told him an orderly was hosing water on the concrete floor and he should do something about. He said, it was recycled water, but, still it should be used for watering plants/lawns and not concrete floor. He promised to inspect the place when he got there on the run! I finished my run at 7:27 AM, a leisurely 3:30 32K partly due to a very humid day and a relaxed feeling because of the early start.

            Having broken the promise of not posting, a gist of yesterday’s run would do no harm I guess! I ran a 3:27 32K (4:23 AM to 7:50 AM) with a meeting with a Rajasthani couple at the lighthouse. One more state gets representation in my circle. I did not bore them with my Jaipur connection which I would inflict on my next encounter.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Break ke Baad

            With a long meeting in prospect for the day, running would be essential to survive. I walked out of the lift dressed in my running gear and Biscuit leading me by the leash like an opening batsman going to take first strike. I took the first few steps on the road with the nimbleness of a ballerina. Biscuit’s enthusiasm and manageable sole condition meant a pleasant stroll. The show was spoiled by a Poclain truck’s jarring sound. Biscuit detected it much before I sighted it and did a Kejrawalisque dharna refusing to go in the general direction of the sound. In the end he got a curtailed walk despite it being a lovely weather for a walk. The ‘I’ in the Diva signboard was blinking in a self effacing manner probably giving me a lesson in humility.
            I started the run at 4:14 AM, the guard who was woken up by a bunch of insistent mosquitoes who had got the better of his mosquito net draping and smoke filled surrounding witnessed my stretching disinterestedly.  The music lover guard was deep in slumber giving the IMD office atmosphere a somber look, probably, mourning the nature’s devastation in Nepal.
            A young boy of that indeterminate age which is bordering on manhood and could fool the labour inspector of underage employment was sitting at the edge of the pit where his elders were working underground to restore severed communication connections. He gave me an interested look and before he could decide whether to talk to me, I had crossed on to the Uttamar Gandhi salai.
            Today the Hubli passenger was challenged by a policeman under the Gemini flyover. His loud call to me sounded as would have the London policeman’s ahoy before pinching one of the Bertie’s innumerable friends for d. & d. as PGW would have eloquently put it! His question asking ‘Runningaaa’ sounded to my guilty conscience as ‘Thaniaa’ (meaning drunk?). The Gandhi in me rose in revolt and I walked up to him and offered to be breathalysed. He got apologetic and explained that he knows me from having met me at two of his earlier postings on Beach road. He only cautioned me to run carefully. I started on my thesis of why I run in the middle of the road and in the face of approaching traffic. He seemed to appreciate my logic, just hope he passes the good word among his colleagues! I feel like telling every other person who asks me this question, ‘Dobaara Mat Poochna’!
            Today my thoughts on the straight stretch on the Cathedral/RK salai was on why people treat barefoot runners as if they are handicapped, I think it comes from our oriental veneration for sages who slept on a bed of arrows or the muslim mendicant who used to lash himself during muharram profession. We seem to revere people who torment their bodies to realize their souls. To me barefoot running is a matter of choice for its being easy on the body (except the soles!) and one which makes for faster recovery after a long run!
            Reached Gandhi statue just shy of 5 AM. By the time I had acknowledged Srinivasan of the loud and elaborate Namaskaram fame and the walker recovering from paralysis (who comes with his attendant in khaki!), the clock had struck 5 AM.
            Today the dog with the skin with sores was not to be seen (hope he got deliverance from his pain!). When I crossed the Labour statue already bedecked with some flowers and an eager crowd of photo seekers celebrating in advance of the impending ‘May Day’. As I crossed the road near Anna square police station, I could spot the Jesudas couple nearing the Napier bridge. I tried running hard to catch up, but, they have put in an insurmountable lead.
            On the Swami Sivananda road, I spotted the Kurma avatar of a tortoise majestically crawling through the main road oblivious of the traffic. I wanted o rescue him and deposit him on the footpath, but, the fear of touching the soft parts (I was ok with the thick skull!) kept me from doing the rescue act. Luckily two walkers came from the opposite direction and I requested me to help put the tortoise on the sidewalk. One of them readily did the needful, I got credit for my good deed for the day!
            As I crossed the temple opposite the Munro statue, I was reminded of my friend of the foot path of the previous day, he seems to have chosen a different haunt to get his eight hours of beauty sleep today. On my second loop which I was executing in the reverse direction, I crossed Sundar going in the opposite direction. Our young friend of the Sunday run was following him closely and I crossed him on the Sivananda Road.
            The beggar with an artificial leg squatting outside Anna square police station asked me if I was in my third loop as I crossed him. I corrected him that this was the first loop. He again asked me the same question during my second loop and I had to tell him my appetite for a working day!
            In my second loop from light house I crossed Sundar who was alone and running on the pavement instead of the inside road. I stopped near an advertising banner near Labour statue giving contact details for updating one’s name in the Electoral roll. As I tried memorizing the telephone and the website address (which I was sure to forget within the next 10 mts.!) the young runner of the previous day came and stood next to me. We ran together for half a Km after which he decided to break loose. By the time I reached Gandhi statue by 6:50 AM, he had put in an unbeatable lead. I stopped following his red T shirt.

            I started after a break waiting for the red signal at Gandhi statue and imagine my surprise when I found the boy drinking water at my regular water point. He was more surprised than me and gave me a respectful look. He then asked me to lead him on at my pace till my house as our route was common till that point. We kept an even pace for the rest of the distance and it was 7:34 AM when I reached outside my gate and bid him bye after showing him the location of my house. So, with a 3:20 32K, I can enjoy the day at office!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Marina Medley

            Battering the body took by pursuing speed made the Hubli passenger revert to its USP. I decided to run at a leisurely pace this Friday so as to conserve for the coming weekend. I left for the run at 4:09 AM.
            A Santro standing askew with its full headlights on at the Haddows Road facing a tree with a crowd of onlookers made me stop with concern. The guy who looked like the driver spoke clearly meaning it was neither a case of drunken driving nor one of sleep deprived driver. He politely refused the offer of calling an Ambulance. The verbal disagreement I had with the walker near Gemini circle (the one who addressed me as Mappilai!) which I call the Mukkalaat turned to Mulakat after the guy addressed me as ‘Partner’ today.
            The next encounter of import today was when a person tried to attract my attention by calling out to me near the Subhas Chandra Bose statue on Beach Road. Stopping and retracing my steps, I realized it was a visually challenged man who wanted help to cross the busy road. I helped him cross and in the process learnt that Triplicane MRTS station opens out on Beach road there. My good deed for the day done!
            It was light when I returned to the Beach road. The dog which has serious skin infection and has shed most of his fur and is so weak that he is not even able to scratch himself was standing pathetically. It makes one feel utterly helpless when one encounters so much pain.
            The run was relaxed and completed at 7:28 AM.

            On Friday evening, nature put up a magnificent Sound and Light show. Now I understood why ‘Mahaul banana’ is derisively called atmospherics. It had very little of water to show for all its chest beating. But, the Corporation made a decent puddle of it at most places on the route and wet roads were a comfort for the soles when I left at 4:14 AM on Saturday.
            This also meant that there was enough of loose gravel on the road, the particularly bad stretch was the stretch on College road connecting Sterling Road to the Haddows College Road. I winced as I ran and would have put Basanto dancing on broken glass pieces for her Hero in the movie ‘Sholay’ to shame. The strip tease was restored to the Uttamar Gandhi Salai intersection!
            When I was in my second loop of the Island ground loop on the Swami Sivananda road, I had the company of young kids warming up for their skating. It was nice to run with them and their cheering. On the Mount road, right under the nose of Munroe majestically astride his steed, when I turned right to salute Ganpati bappa, I found two Military policemen trying to awaken a prone person. Not liking the tone of it (Munroe a foreigner Civil servant who was an empathetic administrator would have winced at how today’s native police are treating their own people!) I went to enquire. One of the Policeman had passed his verdict without getting down from his steed (read motorbike), the other was trying to wake up the person. I went and tried to do an impromptu breathalyzer test on the charged person. He was not guilty, he actually pointed to his chest and that too on the left side and complained of pain. I told the policemen to leave him alone and asked the pujari of the temple to talk to him in his language and get to know his residence. We got him on to the pavement away from the harm’s way. He was not there when I came in the reverse direction for my third loop. The pujari told me that he had some water and walked off. He had no sympathy for such stragglers as they lie around the temple and defile the place.
            The sick dog was looking worse today and I wished he could get run over so that his miseries could end, maybe, animals don’t take short cuts like suicide. I was confronted by a person who had met me at the Anna Nagar Tower Twisters anniversary celebration asking me about the next day’s anniversary programme of T Nagar runners. Though I had an invitation, as I was not familiar with the location, I had decided to give it a miss. I must be frank, I did not want to forego my full marathon on Sunday second week in a row. Too much exposure is also not good!
            I finished my run at 8:52 AM, a 4:28 marathon!

            A little sore from the previous day’s run, but, determined to get a full for the Sunday, I was at the gates at 4:26 AM. There was no rain the previous night meaning a Sun drenched final hour run was in store. This also however meant that the roads must be cleared of the loose gravel. The guard opposite the complex opposite the Regional Metrological station was enjoying his communion with Vasundhara Das seductively belting out ‘Vasigara-2’. I felt like I was intruding on his dream. He looked up to greet me.
            In my first loop from Light house to Napier, I met Jhansi Rani’s husband who was returning after completing his walk (they had actually vanished after my encounter a few days back and I was worried I may have given them too much Gyan!). It seems his wife had gone to her parents place and he was hurrying back for his Sunday Mass!
            Today’s highlight was when I met @Sundar Purush accompanied by a 16 year old youngster with him when I was in my second loop on the Flag staff house road. The boy it seems has been running for a year and does 30K on weekends and is going into his 12th standard. Now, that makes it two kids within the last two Sundays who are into their 12th and their parents have no issue about their taking up a strenuous sport of long distance running. I did my bit in counseling in asking him to control his mileage so that it makes him alert, but, does not put him to sleep. We ran the third loop and the stretch upto Labour statue together. It was nice to see three generations or say ‘Kal Aaj aur Kal’ running together. They took the parallel road from Labour statue. I still had two loops from Napier to Light house and back after this stretch to make my full quota.
            I was accosted by another runner when I turned for my second loop opposite Queen Mary’s college. He works for Hindustan UniLever and we ran  one loop together to Napier bridge and back to light house. His Garmin gave verbal update with speeds as 5:30 to 5:45 per Km during the run together. He said that he runs a half marathon on weekends. We parted at Light house.
            I struggled through the last loop and I was deadbeat when I was crossing the policeman standing outside the Commissioner of Police’s office. I needed a drink of water and my system could not survive till the AVM pit stop. I asked the policeman (Mr. C Prakash!) if I could get a drink, he gave me a jug full from a well stocked can and the usual interrogation of my motive for run started. He said if I can run 42K, then I could regular marathons. I asked him what I get if I join events, he said ‘Medals’. I give him my philosophical take that a satisfying solo run in worth more than any medal and that I will get photographed with him when I meet him next with a load of all my medals! It is difficult selling running for running’s sakes to non runners.
            It seems that the entire city wants to know why I run every day. I was asked the same question by the parking attendant at Saravana bhawan near the AVM kalyana mantapam pit stop. He asked me what I get by running so much and what is my aim. I told him I wanted to do back to back marathons on
weekends even after I turn 100! I know he must have taken me for a mad cap!
            I finished my run at 9:03 AM with both feet crying for rest. The programme for the day was shelved and I just slept the whole day.

            Monday blues

            I woke up with a pain in both my toes today and I took a break from run and am regretting it. Will make it up tomorrow!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Meet Jhansi ki Rani

We have always felt emotionally manipulated by Biscuit whenever he is able to make us lock into his eyes. Yesterday’s news item reporting a study that dogs produce the motherhood harmone oxytocin (responsible for maternal bonding!) confirmed what we knew all along. We have now decided not to look him in the eye when he tries to get our attention for wheedling out some eatable from our plate. The dirtier side of this harmone was reported in another news item where cattle owners in Ghaziabad were arrested for using fake oxytocin injectibles on cows for enhancing milk production, now that should qualify as mother of all greed!
I started my run at 4:16 AM today. What dominated my thoughts during my run today was human obsession for the exterior looks be it clothing, body shapes or appearance. I was also agitated by the insensitive remarks addressed to one of the fellow runners about   her medical condition which makes her not have any hair on her head.
I realized that what attracts us in the first instance is the externality like clothing/appearance, but, if the interaction is long enough and relationship lasting persons are able to transcend these external layers and relate to the beautiful soul inside. I am always amazed by the absolute devotion in the eyes of old wizened couples for each other which cannot be explained by physical appearances.
This maturity however comes with age. I remember how I used to get petrified when barber used to extract a little more from my crowning glory under the watchful eyes of the father and I used to dread facing classmates the next time. Recently, my barber having gotten carried away while giving me a Gandhi cut and encroached on my manliness (read my moustache and frenchie!) leaving me looking like a dressed chicken. I must admit it took me a week to come to terms with my new look. Now it has been found okay and made my new approved hairstyle!
Why the thoughts of obsession with physical appearance dominated my thoughts during my run today was how runners of all appearances look beautiful when they are running with a smile. I have found running to be a great leveler of caste, creed, gender and appearances. There are only two kinds of runners, the one who enjoys his run and one who plods. The latter over time realize the joy of running and graduate to the former!
I have been writing about this lady whom I meet on the Sivananda Road and whose progress in running has been notable because of the lady’s current physical state and her determination. Today her husband stopped me for a discussion, the lady also joined us. After the usual questions about age/diet, the conversation turned to her inability to control weight even after being very frugal in eating. I told her that some people like me are lucky in being able to consume anything and still not add weight while others seem to attract weight even by seeing food. I told her to just try to enjoy the run and that the duration would gradually increase and weight would definitely come down. When one consciously tries for it, it does not happen! I also told her that she is being featured on my blog as an inspiration for running. She jogged on happily. I may not have got her name right but my wife agrees that it could be Jhansi Rani (I would call her that, anyway, for her sheer determination!). Her husband all of 70 years and sprightly praised me that he wants to run like me and I returned the compliment by saying that I would thank god if I can maintain a figure like him when I reach 70 (Join the Mutual Back Scratching Society!). I met my silent companion of yesterday coming in the opposite direction with his partner and we exchanged huge smiles.
Today Jesudas and his wife were late and I met them on the Napier bridge. On my second loop in the reverse direction I crossed Sundar Purush​ much after the Munroe statue. The police patrol vehicle occupants gave a guard of honour from their position outside the DD building.
In my return from Napier bridge to lighthouse, I had a friendly competition with a young boy who valiantly kept up for almost half a kilometer before gamely dropping back. I am sure he will come back in the coming days. While this battle of the ages was on, a young lady quietly crossed us and put in a good gap and was not showing any signs of letting up. Now, it becomes very delicate to show that you are trying to chase and beat a young woman! I quietly kept running steadily, but, with extra effort hoping against hope that she runs long enough. She started showing signs of letting up when we were almost nearing the Gandhi statue. Once I could sense her slackening, I slowed down and was very relaxed while overtaking her so that it is not seen as aggressive. She looked like a strong runner and I can look forward to more duets. It is a nice feeling competing serenely on a long run and both winning and losing give equal happiness!
I met Sundar before the Venkateswara temple and the young boy and the lady had surely increased my average pace in the first loop. Even with a relaxed break at the Napier bridge in the second loop and chatting with ‘Jhansi Rani’, I was at the Gandhi statue at 6:52 AM. All the speed running which is not in the nature of Hubli Passenger meant a tired me! I took a longish break at the AVM water point and thankfully the cooler dispensed water which was just right for my parched throat and steaming head! I got an invitation to hitch a ride by an autorickshaw driver near Sangeeth Hotel (No, not Perumal!), guess I must be looking deadbeat! I politely refused and showed him by pressing on the accelerator to show him that I have enough gas to reach on my two legs! I finished my run at 7:32 AM, a 3:16 32K!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Company for the Hubli Passenger

 A chance remark by the security guard at the colony gate whether Biscuit would run away if he is taken off his leash set me thinking. More than his running away I am worried about his getting scared of the vehicular traffic and running on to the road. In the morning walk today was tempted to take him off the leash for a while, but, desisted.
 Run commenced at 4:08 AM and the humid weather meant an earlier strip tease as I entered the Haddows Road. The dogs of that stretch not accustomed to the skin show did not seem to resent it.
 The Dog with the weather vane tongue was coming with head bowed low and tongue almost touching the ground, ominous signs! Mr. Srinivasan of the elaborate greeting (Namaste with a loud clap!) accosted me as I got on to the pavement near Gandhi statue. Cow feeding is now getting to be routine with the first come first served principle becoming the accepted allocation method among the cows. Two skinny buffaloes did seem to complain about step motherly treatment!
 The first loop around the Island ground was in darkness, the return loop got me nice company for the entire stretch. First came a jawan who caught up with me from behind near the war memorial and when I saw him trying to overtake, I quietly stepped on the gas. We ran in step silently till the intersection of flag staff road to Mount road where he broke off. He did try to cut loose but we parted with smiles of mutual respect exchanged. Next immediately came a tango with a Marathi jawan who called me Thata (for grandpa in Tamil) in heavily accented Tamil. I asked him to speak in Hindi/English. After exchanging distance run and age, he informed that they had to run 5K every month as qualifying PET. The cut off times are 27 mts for below 30 year olds, 30 mts for upto 40 year olds. He effortlessly broke away as we turned into Sivananda Road and I could just follow him in awe. The police patrol jeep parked near the Doordarshan Kendra from which the constable waved did restore my ego! I crossed a smiling Sundar Purush​ near the Munroe statue. We were again to cross near the Venkateswara temple a second time.
 I met Kannan Vc​, the birthday boy as I was getting into my second loop. I wished him on the auspicious occasion. I completed the run at 7:30 AM making it a relaxed 3:22 32K for the day. The fantastic performance by the Indian contingent at Boston is heart-warming and of special mention is barefoot 3:30 by Thomas Bobby Philip​. Congratulations Team India!

Monday, 20 April 2015

A very eventful weekend

Acute pain in the left heel on Friday last brought nightmares of exotic injuries of runners. I did an ostrich and hoped that it would go away after a day’s bunk. Thankfully the weekend was low on mileage though not on excitement. The offending foot is better even if a bit tender!
Ginger walking around barefoot for Biscuit’s walk on Saturday morning confirmed that the heel was better, I was however, favouring my right foot and that could play up when the distance becomes more. I settled for a 32K to go it easy on my foot. As usual the only concession for any physical ailment is a cutting down on pace.
I left at 4:14 AM and kept a constant and mindful toe strike particularly on the left foot. That does have its drawback, the landing has to be softer as the toe portion is tender and even a small pebble has devastating pain potential when landing on the toe!
The weather was indeterminate with easy temperatures, but, made worse by humid and muggy conditions. I was feeling lighter in my pocket, but, heavier in my heart as I had no stock of banana peels to carry for my four legged friends.
I observed that I have been reporting timings from two different sources, start time and end time by my mobile and the Gandhi statue timing by its clock. It was 5 AM when I crossed the Gandhi statue and I felt guilty of my irregularity as I crossed the old man recovering from stroke who comes with a walker and a khaki clad assistant in tow. As if to mock my having come empty handed the cows seemed to be out in full strength.
It was nice to be running the Island ground loop after a long gap. A lady on the very heavy side was bravely running at an even tempo, her husband was following her on foot at a distance. The distance she ran could be only a few hundred meters, but, the stride was comfortable and I observed as I crossed her that her breathing was even. My sardar friend who has his mouth covered in having his moustache and beard in braid greeted me with an elaborate wave to be replied back in fauji perfect ‘Jai Hind’ from me.
Today must be the day of couples starting their run from the usual staid walks, another couple was attempting a short jog in tandem only to exchange smiles as we crossed. To start running is but a natural extension to regular walking and the twilight dawn does encourage one to experiment. Hope the spirit endures!
The thing with girls running from opposite direction is that in most cases I let the other person throw the first wave/smile (my idea of a no first use nuclear doctrine!). There is this girl who is a good runner and wish regularly every time she crosses, I mention her as she has a character role to play on my return journey.
It was 7 AM when I had completed my mandated two loops and was ready for the return journey. As I crossed the Mylapore junction, I crossed a big car parked by the side of the road, as I crossed it from the right hoping that no big vehicle comes from behind, I found this girl holding a full water bottle with the door open and flagging me down to have water. Now, I am not sure if this was the same girl who regularly crosses on our run.
I politely thanked her and told her that I don’t need water now and I would have some at AVM kalyana mantapam. As I was busy with this exchange Mr. Perumal (Auto driver whom I had introduced some episodes back!) stopped in the middle of the road and came out to talk to me. The exchange with him ranged from my job, salary, age and finally the purported ignorance of the girl in offering me water when I was on the run. He mentioned that he was 55 yrs and wants to run himself. He shared his place of stay (he had earlier mentioned as Auto borne, but, has since shifted to pavement outside Hotel Sangeeta). Finally, he reluctantly left after exchanging information on our star-signs, he seemed disappointed that I did not share his! It is amazing to see how much people share with you when you bare all and run! On my part I cannot imagine sharing so much of my personal information with even a friend/relative what to talk of an Auto driver. Running does strange things to you.
I finished the run at 7:41 AM, a little hobbled on my left leg and a bit stiff on both legs, but, reasonably better than what I had feared. My next day was to be attending the first anniversary celebration of Anna Nagar Tower Twisters. This was a promise to my dear friend Sathya Balan​ on which I could not renege. I was also a little relieved that this meant a shorter run (the longest event was 10K in their Anniversary celebration!).
Festive mood at Anna Nagar
I looked up Google maps and took directions from my daughter and collected the keys to the bicycle to make it in time for the morning event. On his part Sathya had confirmed my participation the previous evening itself.
When I came down at 4:30 AM after having sent Biscuit back after his walk for his second innings of sleep, I was comfortable with the time available as the reporting time was 5:45 AM and the distance was 7KM only. Bicycle and me have been a deadly combination in the past, today the villain was my eyesight (without the spectacle) and the darkness. Try as hard as I did, even in the light of my mobile, I could not open the number lock with which the bicycle was chained to the garage door. I even thought of seeking Shanmugam’s (our milkman!) help, but, decided otherwise.
Instead on waking up the household, I pocketed the keys and decided to run the distance. I thanked myself that I had started earlier. As a mark of caution with the strays on this new route, I kept my shirt top on even though it was getting very humid. I had to confirm the route with an ATM guard and morning walker at the Anna Nagar roundtana till which point I had a home run. I reached the start point at 5:06 AM much to the surprise of the organizers.
The place wore a festive look and the white markers were like the rangoli markings of an auspicious occasion. People had slowly started streaming in, the leg pulling and joking among the volunteers and participants was like what goes on among relatives in a big fat South Indian wedding. Soon I met Venugopalan Arunachalam​ sir and Sathya and I must have kept them from their work. Venu Sir was looking very happy much like the patriarch of the family proud of the size to which the family has grown and in the achievements of the members.
The age range of members present were from a three year old to 80+, it was more and more looking like the scene of a wedding. The picture was complete when a young boy brought his grandfather to be enrolled for the tenderfoot program (program for initiating people into running!) and a girl bringing her MIL for the same purpose. What better way to bury the MIL-DIL hatchet than both coming back tired and satisfied after a heavy running workout in the morning. Shahul Hameed​, Bib Bala, Harishankar Krishnaswami​ and many stalwarts from other chapters of Chennai runners had come to join in the celebrations. I addressed the group and told them to enjoy their runs and not hurry through to full marathons and Ultras without savouring each run on the way.
I agree for flag off only if I am allowed to run also. I had a good run with Shahul and Hari and the most impressive runner was a young boy in red T shirt whom we could not catch till the end. The whole road was cordoned off and the place wore a festive look. People finished the run and lingered over the refreshments in groups in the park and outside. I did not want to leave ,but, the rising sun and the 7K back in increasing traffic was what made me get away. It was like a visit to  family wedding for me. Here is wishing all the best to the Tower twisters and many more years of happy running! I returned home at 7:25 AM a little less than three hours after the start with only 24K to show ,but, with lots of fun and frolic!
Today’s run was again the usual 32K and I took 3:24 (4:14 AM to 7:38 AM)! Except for a run in with a morning walker near Gemini, who addressed me as 'Mappilai' and wanted to talk to me. I am usually talkative and don't mind a break, but, something in his tone put me off, the run was uneventful. I stopped, told him that i did not like the way he addressed me and that i would talk to him after a week if he is still interested and if he shows some politeness. I must control my temper!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Commemorative run

            It took the anniversary of the momentous occasion of the anniversary of the first train run in India 162 years ago to get the Hubli Passenger back on rails after a gap of nine days. The last run was a marathon squeezed in last Monday (the 6th April, 2015) before I had to move in to the hospital with wife for one of her planned surgeries. Even though we were back home last Saturday, fever contacted during the last few days of the hospital stay my run drought kept prolonging. Finally, I eked out a run today.
            Frankly speaking, I never thought I would be able to stay off running for the entire hospital stay, It was like de-addiction time for me, particularly with the Internet connectivity also being on ration. The final test came when I went with my daughter for her participation in Pinkathon last Sunday. It was like a recent quitter being invited to be a part of a booze party, when so many people young and old were running on Sunday. I also cheated a bit and ran for a few stretches wherever my health permitted.
            The energy and the enthusiasm of the Chennai women during the Pinkathon was infectious. The parents with toddlers in tow were on the sidelines of the holding area coaching their wards as if it were a competitive exam and their future depended on it. The real joy was seen when the kids were out of the zone of influence of the parents gaze and they ran with gay abandon like only dogs and kids know how to!
            The fever continued to recur and torment me even after Sunday and the wait for a run was frustrating. So, it was with a resolution to get in a run irrespective of the length and time that I lined up at the gates of the colony at 4:17 AM.
            Weather was not as good as the previous day, but, still a lot cooler than when I last ran. The body and feet were not in rhythm and the run was labored, there was some shortness of breath too. I was afraid if I would have to face the ignominy of cutting short the run and walking back. This fear slowly receded as I used the ploy of reducing the pace whenever I felt the breath going awry. A comment from a bus-shelter as to where I run every day had me retorting that I have not run for nearly ten days. I reached the Gandhi statue at 5:00 AM, a full 43 minutes.
            I met Jesudas and his partner and we have been meeting after almost 2 weeks as they were out right from Good Friday. My absence was noted and speedy recovery wished by the friendly couple. Today, my target was initially kept at 12K to Gandhi statue and back, which was increased to 18K by including one loop to Napier bridge and back. Met Sundar Purush near the Perumal temple and a smile on his face was welcoming and reassuring.
            Feeling good with myself, I stretched my luck and did one more loop to Napier and back, the key was a slow pace. I did not want to get back too early to wake up people at home. My return has been taken for granted and not many interruptions for enquiries were there. Familiar waves, including, from my mendicant friends meant all was well. I did not stop for water at the AVM Kalyana mantapam as I was not thirsty.

            It was 6:59 AM when I reached the colony gates with both legs like jelly after a 24K run in 2:42. Trusting my body and feet to recover ad strengthen by tomorrow and more so for the weekend.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

I had to sneak in this run

                An important engagement required my being back in the hut by 6 AM. Having discounted out the “no run’ option, only two factors remained to be decided, how soon can I start and how much can I run! It was like a rain affected match with the super-computer crunching out the results of the Duckworth-Lewis formula. If I left before 4 AM and restrict the match to 22 overs (one loop of 10K on Beach!) I could make it in time.
                Biscuit obliged with a clinical performance, refusing to be drawn into a slanging match with the stray dogs who seemed to have overrun the pitch. Biscuit sure has become responsible after his foray into the blog with a decent meaty role. We were back home by 3:30 AM beating the milkman by a big margin.
                Hubli Passenger left before time at 3:39 AM with only a bunch of strays giving a send off. The policemen both at the Sri Lankan deputy high commission and on the intersection between Diva showroom and Cakewalk caught napping. Shanmugam, the milk packet distributor, was silently working at collecting the goods unmindful of my departure.
                The Suited mannequin at the Tailorman outlet was looking down on the few sleeping Mango people wreathed in bed sheets. Three  of them were sleeping sharing a auto backseat cushion for pillow, giving a whole new meaning to ‘putting their heads together’.
                Knowing the reduced mileage planned, I was in a dilemma whether to go for the shots early (read speed!). Finding that the traffic was not any less as compared to my usual outings, I stuck to a steady pace. The policemen near the Poes garden intersection were sleeping. The temporary structure with lots of Amma’s pictures purportedly for dispensing water in summers was deserted, it did come to life for a day on the Ramnavami. I must stick to the secular charity of AVM rather than these seasonal religious offerings!
                I crossed my friend Dog going towards Beach and in much better control of his breath and his tongue fully in cheek. I crossed Gandhi statue on the way back from Lighthouse at twenty minutes past Four AM. If I thought the early hour would mean an empty stretch to run, I was surprised to see many runners already coming from opposite direction. Earlier starts to beat the heat surely would not raise any eyebrows in this city which never sleeps, the home resistance is what needs to be worked on!
                Today one boy did to me what I had done to the girl yesterday. He overtook me and I couldn’t catch him till he stopped on his own. The dogs waiting for the gravy train near the Labour statue were listlessly lolling around. I witnessed the mobilization of the hungry dogs and how they call each other out when I saw Dr. Kindella’s assistant on the tricycle with his precious charge on the back.
                Today the recipient of the banana peel trophy was an early bird cow sauntering near the Anna square police station. Her affected walk due to the oversized udders seemed to be blaming the humans for their greedy tampering with the nature.
                The old couple who are regulars near the Periyar bridge sorting the garbage were busy at work. The Mount road stretch was in total darkness. The army men were squatting in a row near the war memorial in their full gear waiting for the start of the run. Owing to only one loop, I may not meet them in their run today, I wished them as I passed them. It was five minutes past five AM when I stopped at Napier bridge for a break.
                I met Jesudas and his partner coming from the opposite direction, surprisingly they did not comment on the change in schedule of the Hubli Passenger. Neither the Venkateswara temple nor the SengudiNeeradi Amman temple were open for the devout when I crossed them. It was twenty minutes past five AM when I reached Gandhi statue. I was on course for reaching home by six AM.
                The return run was interesting in that I crossed lot of runners going towards the TTK flyover. It was like a regular run event with so many participants. Only the first two, both ladies, reached the bridge approach before I caught up to them. I did not break for water at my usual joint as I was not sufficiently strtched today. 

                I was at the colony gates at 5:59 AM and in time to avoid giving any anxious moments to my better half. A 2:20 hour 22K meant arrears of 10K in the bank to be made up during the week. I know I am in business as Good Friday holiday means opportunity for an extra Full in the week!