Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thoughts on runnning ultra marathon

I had shared this email with my colleagues and friends at work. Most of them liked it. So thought to post it over my blog as well (A lot of quotes in my writing has been taken from the book "Born to Run" and"What i talk about when i talk about running").

I have just settled in the last seat of the flight from Singapore to India. Fortunately the flight is light booked and my request to give me the last seat (and no passenger for the next two seats) was accepted. I have three seats with me. My whole body is cringing in pain as I settle down in my seat. Feel like a dead meat without any handle. Even the beautiful smile of the airhostess is not bringing smile on my face. Will be giving chocolates to my colleagues tomorrow morning and they will ask WHY… what’s the occasion ??? Well why don’t I pen down my thoughts in the flight. There are no free lunches in the world. So to enjoy the chocolates, they need to read the email.

After running few full and half marathons, I always thought what could be my next challenge. What could be the next test of my endurance level something to test my ultimate endurance. There I was, on the early morning of 22nd September (Saturday), 2012 at the McRitchie Reservoir in Singapore standing with a crowd of 200-300 runners all ready to test their endurance/persistence levels. The weighing machine read 63 kgs (not bad I had lost few kgs in the past few months). Filled my hydration bag, put my first aid box into the hydration bag, synchronized my watch with GPS and I was all ready to test myself to the extreme.

0-20KMS: A slow start as I need to conserve energy. This race is not about burning energy but conserving it. A brisk walk for 2 kms before my leg muscles are heated and I start with a brisk jog. The weather is good and I am enjoying it, chitchatting with fellow runners as I walk, talking about few of the good books on running.

20-40kms: At the 21Km mark, I told myself, Well you just completed a half marathon. Well done boy!! 3hrs and 5 minutes, good I am not running fast and I am taking it easy. It’s a bit cloudy and that’s a good news for the runners. Need to keep thinking of good things in life, small joys of life as runners call it, to keep one motivated and to keep the mind and body delinked.

40-50kms: My pace is slowing. A bit intentional and a bit of fatigue effect. At the 42 km mark suddenly something struck. I have just completed a full marathon. Thought of all the happy and satisfying moments every time I completed a full/half marathon (small joys of life). But it was different today. A parallel thought was slowly taking over. I have never run beyond 42 kms in my life. This is the first time I am going beyond it. This was the Straits of Gibraltar, beyond which lay an unknown sea. I had no idea what’s stored after this. I felt the same fear that sailors of old must have felt. The sun was slowly coming out from the shadow of clouds trying to show us its strength and might. As if it has just fought a war with clouds and it’s time for the Sun to reign supreme. My frequency of sipping from the hydration bag was increasing with every kilometer. Took out my cap to cover my head and kept moving. Things were turning bad. “Hi young man, how is it going? Feeling good.” Saw a man in his 70’s slowly catching up with me. Oliver was from Malaysia and goes to every part of world to run ultramarathons. He was the inspiration I needed at that point. “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running”. I had read this sentence in a book on ultramarathon, Oliver was living testimony for the same. Jogged few kilometers with him to reach the half point (50km mark). Had some jelly, bread and peanut butter and few pieces of watermelon.

50-60Kms: The Sun god is angry and not ready to give any respite to us. I need to save energy and may be just walk till the mood of Sun god changes. Good thing is that I am on the return leg now. Met a bunch of runners who were running in a group. They were enjoying the race. Oh God this is what I was missing. I was not enjoying the race and I was thinking too much about the distance. I need to enjoy the run. “Are you a vegetarian?” Jen a fellow runner who must be in her 30’s and seemed to be a pro, asked me. “Yes….”, how do you know? “You have a glow on your face.” With so much of sweat and dust on my face she could find a glow which no one had ever seen. I smiled and knew she was just flattering to motivate me (felt happy, small joys of life). Thought of asking her for a dinner but that would have been extra joy for that moment (don’t be greedy, be happy with small joys). I was not able to keep up the pace with them for long and slowly saw them vanishing in the horizon.

60-80kms: Took a good break at the 60 km mark. Shoved off few water melons, banana, potato chips. The salty taste of the potato chips felt awesome. I felt the salt permeating to my entire body to the tip of my nails. As I was lying motionless at the checkpoint, everyone started clapping. Turned my eyes to see the important runner. The next sight was truly inspirational. SBR.. “Singapore Blade Runner”, a man with one leg running the ultramarathon. Couldn’t stop but get up and clap for the indomitable spirit of this man. He sat down next to me and just muttered..”Bro, hang in there. We are 60% done”. I smiled back, with a respect for his willpower. The next few kilometers were crucifying. My leg muscles were tightening, like a piece of old hard rubber. Thirst kept coming back like the dark hearted queens of the night. I could feel few blisters and that was the worst news I could get. My body was rebelling. Like a bike going up the slope with jammed wheels, I was fighting with myself. Different parts of my body began to hurt. Knees, thigh, ankle, every part was trying to take centre stage and scream in this competition called PAIN. They yelled and complained that they can’t take it anymore. All I did was a quiet walk/jog for a bit. Like a manager negotiating with rebellious factory workers, I tried to talk to each part into showing some co-operation. It’s just a little far guys, you can’t give up on me know. The left knee out rightly rejected my proposal. Finally took out my knee cap to give the left knee some extra perks. “But why I am doing this. Am I going to win some medal, am I going to be a star after the finish, am I going to get some benefits at work or in personal life. NOTHING .. then why I am doing this”. I had no answer to the question posed by my body. It was not a good sign the Body was taking over the Mind. The blisters were now hurting. I could feel the pulp/extra mass in my feet. “No dude, you can’t quit.” My mind and body were talking. For the first time in my life, I felt they were two different entities. “ Well let’s take it one at a time, what about reaching 80kms first and just focus on 80. Nothing more. I put up a deal on the table and cajoled/persuaded my body in accepting it. “Only 80 dude, after this no more. If you put me into more, I am going to rebel like hell. You better know it” my body responded while accepting the deal. 100 IS NOT EVEN HALF DONE TILL YOU DON’T REACH THE LAST 20, these quotes from a book were turning so true.

 To all my banker friends, Just to explain what I was trying to do. Imagine a company “Xrun” producing 42 units of a product called “Run” every year day in and day out. Suddenly one day the company decides to produce 101 units of the same product “run”. What would be your reaction? Oh it’s a very risky proposal we should not be looking at this proposal. Well it was risky for the company “Xrun”. But any ways in the new production I was not allowed to take any external Debt. All that was allowed was one’s “Sweat and Equity”.

80-101KMS: Sat for 15 min at the 80 Km mark. Thinking of the journey. I had started at 7.00 am in the morning. It was already 11.30 pm in the night. I was on the road for past 16.5 hrs. My body relaxing, knowing that it has respected its deal and it was time for me to go no further and respect my words. ‘But didn’t I come here to be an ULTRAMARATHONER. How can I quit at this juncture.” My mind was slowly bringing the body on the negotiating table. The body resisting all attempts of the mind. “Dude come on, you do it every Sunday morning, right from Kurla, to BKC to Bandstand to Carter road and back. It’s your normal job. It’s just another 20 which you would have done it so many times”. The body still resisting. At this point I did something out of world. At this point when I am writing my thoughts I don’t have any clue what came in my mind then and what happened to me. I took out the scissors from my first aid box , took off my socks and just tore/cut through my blisters. Put on some bandage, changed into a new pair of Anti Blisters socks. I need to show to the body “Who is the boss?”, it’s high time now. Stood up and told my body.. lets go. The legs were giving up, so I was using my arms more. Swinging it up and down to gain momentum from the upper body. The pain was crucifying. “Make friendship with pain and you will never be alone in life”. One of the books on ultramarathon had this as a starting point for one of their chapters. I knew the mistake I was doing. I was fighting with pain and that was the mistake. I made friendship with pain at that moment. Pain became a part of me. With the blisters gone I started jogging at a brisk pace. I could now smell the finish line. Like wild sea grasses flowing freely with waves in the ocean I was now jogging at a good pace with pain at my side. It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that I was in a different world where there was nothing. Like a saint practicing the oldest art human kind acquired, I was enjoying my run. Is it called the Running Nirvana ?? I don’t know. All I knew was I was not in pain, I was not thinking of anything else but the few yards ahead. The road marker read “Reservoir Road” and for the first time in more than 19 hrs a genuine smile crossed my face. YES I AM THERE.. I DID IT..

 Went straight to the weighing machine, not bad I had just lost 4 kgs. My leg muscles are as hard as week old cafeteria bread. As I sat down with my legs in the ice tub, there was no profound sense of proud. It was just a happy satisfied feeling of achieving something… Will like to wrap my knees and legs in cotton wool and give it some rest before I hit the road again…

 Now that I have taken few minutes of the busy BANKERS , please come and enjoy the chocolate at my desk… Offer till it lasts. In the time of so much stress around let’s build a healthy team (portfolio).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Media: -- Please give me a break from Rahul

“When I went to present updates on the preparation of Commonwealth Games, Rahul Gandhi asked me – How many medals is India going to win”… Suresh Kalmadi

“Rahul visits Leh to empathize with those affected by the landslide”

“Rahul travels in a local train in Mumbai”

“Rahul ate in a dalit home and spent time with dalit families”

.. Thanks god the media doesn’t cover how and where Rahul completes his ablutions. I am perplexed and sad to see media’s addiction to this name called “Rahul”. In the four sentences above, if I replace Rahul with Ramu, Raman, Ronit or Raunak, I don’t see any difference to the merits of the sentences or the act behind it. To all the sycophants of Nehru Family present in the so called oldest national party, can’t they give us a break? I am not a political person and unfortunately never voted in any election. I don’t have anything against Rahul Gandhi, but my single question to the Rahul coterie is “What has Rahul done to grab so much space in media”. He is a Yuvraaj , he is the next leader of the country…. He may move Mount Everest, but till he hasn’t or till he hasn’t tried for it he is no one but a common man in the 1.1 billion population. His only claim to fame is that he is the son of Rajiv Gandhi. It feels sad to see how the oldest national party doesn’t even think of making a leader from within its ranks.

Congress has given a lot of good things to the country. But if I have to point out the sin’s, sycophancy and death of meritocracy comes first in my list. These are two viruses which have plagued the whole Indian system and no one but only CONGRESS is responsible for it. I was reading the case of Anderson’s exit from India or rather contrived graceful farewell from India. I am not a lawyer and can’t comment on the merits of this case. But then again the whole of congress party in one voice is more focussed on disassociating Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s name from the case rather than looking at the intricacies involved. Arjun Singh and congress for the time being has easily blamed it on a person who is no more. Arjun Singh will be happy to take the blame on him if time comes and project himself as a martyr saving Rajiv’s name. This will ensure that his son and daughter bag congress tickets in the next general election. Yes for Congress “Martyr” means anyone who has done anything remote to save the name of Nehru family. Even Narasimha Rao’s son could only issue a low key clarification that his father should not be the only one blamed for it. Everyone except the then Prime Minister of India was involved or knew about Anderson’s exit. Not sure what should citizens of India make out from it. No wonder, no one till date has been convicted for the 1984 riots. Inherently this does convey a message; you are saved if it’s in the name of Nehru Family. Nehru family also knows this well. The two thumb rules the family follows and smoothly passes on to the next generation:

1. Open your mouth even once against the family and you will never hold any plump post. E.g. Arjun Singh, now sidelined and to some extent Mr. Pranab Mukherjee (the only reason he will never become prime minister). Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy , you will never become a congress chief minister from Andhra Pradesh. You should have learnt something from Mr. Ashok Chavan. Every son doesn’t get the chair as an heir to his dad’s/mom throne.

2. Take some outrageous decisions and impose it. This ensures that congressmen remember the power you possess. Make Mrs. Pratibha Patil the president. God knows how many Indian’s knew her before she became the president.

It would be an interesting fact to know how much does the congress spends on building the brand of Rahul Gandhi and saving the image of Nehru family. Some time back I read a small article that the father in law of Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi committed suicide. It was a small article printed in the remotest corner. All my sympathies and respect to the family. The reason-- family issues. I am happy that it was not made news in the media. But then can I request the same media to show the same sympathy to any other political leader’s family. I am sure in case of any other similar instance, demand of inquiry and issues and comments from every guy in the street will be published in the media.

I have never seen a picture of Rahul Gandhi visiting a restaurant or a pub or partying or when he is watching world cup or with his girl friend (if he has one). I don’t believe and will never believe that he is oblivious to all these. Two questions come in my mind:

1. Is the media being paid to keep quiet?

2. Is there a team spending crores and crores to show us only clippings they want to be published and use or abuse of the government machinery to monitor the same.

I am waiting for 2014 to arrive sooner than later so that the whole buzz around the word Rahul stops when he becomes the prime minister of India. When we no more talk of his visit to Dalit families and Mumbai local visit. I hope he delivers something worth to be covered in media. Or else the sycophants will have to work overtime to cook stories as he will no more possess the privileges of a rising star.

Random thoughts of a wanderer's mind

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Thought: 4 years since MBA

I was speaking with Sumeet today (MBA friend) and realized that it was more than 4 years since we all started the MBA. July 2006... and now its July 2010.
I guess a lot has changed for all of us.. Bachelors got married and married have kid and some looking forward (marriage & kids). I was just retrospecting and went into my thought process as of 2005 Dec, when i was applying for MBA.
To some extent i was more focused and more confident then..
Focused that i have to do MBAAAAA... and confident that will crack some hi-fi job (though now when i think there was no strong reason for that confidence).
But as the saying goes.. its good to be confident.

Now why i am writing all these.... 3 reasons to name a few
  1. I am full vela (no work) and have nothing better to do, so thought of writing something (will never match Saurabh's eloquence or vamsi's depth or Umang's reasoning (Ref: MBA friends)
  2. I have met a lot of MBA's after i completed mine and unfortunately/fortunately found them more confused and illusioned.
  3. Wanted to check on all of you.. feel the pulse as of now.. and will be interesting to know everyone's thought.

The beginning

Some of us started on the correct career path, got the boost we needed, the correct industry.
Some of us made some compromise (place, salary), because of the time constraint. But the good thing was everyone more or less landed in their preferred industry.
Some of us waited, waited in hope and then got something.. wouldn't say too bad.

The earth has revolved 4 times around the sun since MBA and almost 3 times since the smart souls started showing their skills to the corporate world.
Hmm.. time does fly.. But i don't agree, because these 3-4 years doesn't look too less to me atleast. It certainly looks to be a hell lot of years/time. Few people may differ and as MBA taught/or to me consulting taught we agree to disagree. Simple logic:
Agree: Who didn't have a smooth riding and still trying to jump in the right orbit rather than rotating in the periphery or running in a track parallel to your dream track.
Disagree: People who had a smooth riding. Are in the right track.

Well, well i am just trying to discuss the professional side. I know every one's personal life has a big role to play in this as well. But being an engineer and some bit of maths/analytics still left in me, i wouldn't make the equation more complex by adding more variables. I would just keep it a first degree or max second degree equation.

Partners, love life, breakups, left in middle without any reason.. too complex to be handled here.

Where do we stand now:
Again few categorization:
Level 1 : Well settled, doing great (professionally as well as personally).
Level 2 : Doing decent in life. Holding on and almost there.
Level 3 : Thought they were in level 2, but suddenly they realized, No No.. they were wrong. The party has not ended and the fun still continues, the fight is on.


Level 1: Don't need to think too much (little thinking is needed in this world where you can miss a life time in a blink).
Level 2: The most confused. Should they end the fight and stay where they are. As one of my client said to me one day: "Any ways all the smart guys are not consultants or Bankers".
Level 3: You don't need to think about future. If you can handle your present, feel happy and have a pint with close friends.

Consoling reasoning's/logic:
Before MBA, you were fighting in a different league, probably B-Division. Now you have come to A-Division. The rules of game have changed.
The stakes are higher now so the wait has to be long.
Its a long term bond/loan. For some its front loaded but for some its back/end loaded. But the final returns are going to be the same.

Action (Be true, dig deep to understand what kind of person you are before actions) :
Action 1: For people who can still change their career and still thinking:
Develop core skills. Now that's tough to define. But something which you can do and show right in the face of someone. Something which is objective and not a road map/strategy on UFO. Get in the core rather than being in the periphery.
Action 2: For people for whom success is nothing but what you have achieved professionally (most of us fall in this category though we may tend to disagree):
Only if action 1 is not possible, do any shit but in a big brand. Cleaning the loo in a big brand is more recognized than having a coffee in the front desk of an isolated world.
Action 3: For people who have achieved a lot or for people who are mad enough to take risks and risks:
Leave everything and do what you want to do, there is no right time and that means there is no wrong time (but yaa only if you have the balls and means to do it). Everyone has the ambition and i guess the balls as well but there are always parameters in life which sits on your control panel which you cant CONTROL. So Action 3 becomes very subjective depending on the individual's status. And Yaa i forgot only if you get a chance/role to do what you want to.
Action 4: For all kind of people only if you believe in philosophy:
Stop competing with the world. Well this is philosophical. Think of you as the only person in the universe and all others make no difference to your life. Their achievements are just non-concerning news for you. How much do you need and compare it with what you have? and for some seconds you do feel good on what you have. This is tough and almost impossible to execute but if executed you are the happiest person in the world. But then happiness tags itself with success but the reverse is not true.

This piece of writing will be described as follows from different people depending on where they are in life:

1. Reality based on observation and discussions with a lot of people.
2. Piece of shit from a frustrated person.
3. General "Bakwaas" (shit) without no start and without an ending
4. Random thoughts

Signing off: To me its random thoughts based on my multiple discussions with people at work, over a beer, while running and sometimes just listening to discussion on the next table. I wanted to write something for a long time and so this is.

Now you guys will be thinking why i wrote this and why i am putting you all through this treacherous and boring act of reading it.

Good that means... you read it. enjoy it, even if you didn't like it.