Monday, 30 August 2010

Running Tales

sudha inspired me to write a post I was not intending to.

Chennai Half Marathon 2010.

Unlike her, I was fully intending to run this one. I was hell bent on running it, in fact. I had hydration fears - I was telling my husband that he would HAVE to show up at the half-way point with my gatorade. I took one look at him on Saturday and knew I could not ask him to do that, really. He was exhausted beyond measure. He was out the whole day. I went to watch him play basketball in the evening, and was doing stats on my phone, sitting outside. Assists: 0; Attempts: 10; Baskets: 3 (etc.). I was very tempted to play, but had safely worn my sandals. Did not want to screw things up for Sunday, for sure.

The dinner atmosphere was fun with all the boys making jokes. We cribbed about the lack of safety pins (Mumbai always gives us pins!). My hydration fears increased when I saw this lack of attention to detail. We filled up 2+ liters of gatorade in the fridge. I brewed coffee. Went to bed at around 11 pm. I was sure I wouldn't be able to sleep. I rarely do before Mumbai. I was a bit worried about that. Because I can run on less sleep but I cannot do the other things through the day with enthusiasm then.

But I slept so peacefully! I got a full solid five hours of not-moving-an-inch type of sleep. I had not really set a time goal for myself, other than the usual casual one, of coming in within 10 (I came close, sort of. Placed #11 among the Tamilnadu women, whatever it might mean). I am still a bit wary of the Chennai weather. Especially near the beach; running in IIT has one disadvantage that you forget that there is a world out there and its damn sunny all the time. My right ankle, heel, and knee, well they have a lot of conversation usually, and its always best to be conscious of them. Plus, I was pretty irritated with the concept of starting the women's race later. It is a major problem for me because all my running partners are male. Not that I am incapable of running alone, I am, of course, but that was not the goal for this marathon.

Met lot of women there though, a giant shout out to all of them. Sudha, of course, inspiring as always. Anu, and the long haired girl who set such a wonderful pace. My friend from eons ago, VNN, girl, you look good! And the mother-daughter duo (how cute is that?). And the unnamed bare-footed girls who reminded me that its easy to say 'Its not about the bike' when you are a walking hoarding for asics, adidas, and nike, but to put your bare foot on that hot tarmac and to keep your goals, well, thats something else altogether. My (adidas, black) hat off to you all!

After all, the organisation was pretty good. The men and women started together (joyfully I skipped over to where the guys were standing), and, like I always do, I set the pace at the usual 6mpkm. I did intend to up the pace further along, but was not sure if it would lead to something risky. And while it might be my seventh half marathon (Mumbai: 2006, '07, '08, '09, '10; Auroville '10), and the third this year, you can really never tell what going to happen at km 18. Of course, on hindsight, I feel like I should have done that at km 15. We were both going very strong at that point...

It was a very enthu crowd, school kids in uniform, police people smiling, the Free Hugs gang (no, I did not get one from them, felt shy), cameras, that guy on the bike taking my number down every 10 mins, the fantastic beach. I had my voice (and breath) the entire duration of the run. Guns was there at the end (he was ahead by 25 mins or something crazy like that), as were the deshvaasi and his wife, and upon seeing the balloons thing indicating the finish, I gave it my all and sprinted. I was thinking of Kathrine Switzer's knee injury at the point, I do admit, 'my legs feel like champagne flutes' were what I thought. But heck, it was nothing. It was wonderful. This run, I will remember the rest of my life. Half Marathon #7. The sort of run that helps you die happy. I remember every kilometer; and really, have never had such a wonderful time; and no music even, imagine that! I thought Auroville was fun, it was, but yesterday's was really the best run I have run. And really, I am going to die happy because of it.

What did I think about? So many things. Strength mainly, what is my source of strength? Joy. How to live in the moment and be joyful. Perseverance. Which is obvious. I have always been that person who crawls to the finish. Friendship. Gratitude. Love. Song lyrics. (I believe I can fly. I saw a man, walking on the water. Mary McPherson. This is the End. The End.) Bountiful giver, mother nature (the sea, the sand, the waves, the trees, the sun, the rain). What am I without you? And Kathrine Switzer, inspiring woman, painter of nails. Pam Reed, eater of chocolate for breakfast. My family, my bedrock. Myself, slightly idiotic, the rock, the island, always the one to cheer the women (even when they pass me), smiler of inane smiles at bystanders and cops, blower of kisses to the platoon of college girls, Kenny, mildly delusional, majorly emotional...

I dedicate my run to my young friend VV, who registered for the 7, intended to run 12, and ended up sprinting to the finish of the 21. Good job, kid!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Teach me how to dance...

It has been a musical few weeks now. Ever since we opened the box on the new ipod. We are ages behind everyone else in the world, yes, I agree. When I went to the US this time, I brought back a nano for the husband. No, not the car, silly. I don't think he would fit in that one. Its sleek and black and looked lovely in this box for a week or two. Finally we opened it out and fingered the nice apple ear-phones and wondered about it all. It took a nice bout of nagging (from him) for me to finally hook up the ipod onto my laptop, find the iTunes and put some of our CDs in. While at it, I finally also updated the music on my shuffle. I have been listening to the same 100 songs for so many years now (I only use it when I have a solitary long run to contend with, really. Or sometimes at work when my laptop sound thingie acts funny and the UPS from next door is doing its irritating beeping thing).

It feels like a different world now. And I am still not fully updated. I have really very few albums on, so far. As a first step, I put in things that we both like and are likely to listen to, often. Yes, I slipped in the single Janis Joplin album I possess; and hoped he wouldn't notice (and was mildly shocked to hear him say Hey BobbyMcGee to me, in passing when I was humming it). No, you don't want to know what old stuff we listen to. Suffice to say it strongly falls under the category of 'Classic Rock.' Although he did ask me gently enough, I had a good excuse to avoid all the Tamizh - we simply don't own any of the Rajini-Kamal movie songs. The classical (carnatic) I said I would do 'later' - maybe around December, when the concert season in Chennai is enough to send anyone, even me, into raptures about the pureness of the sound of Mohanam and so on. The hindi movie songs, which I might occasionally like to listen to, just to be equitable and fair, I left out as well. See, thats how nice I am.

Anyway that is how I am all over our CD collection now, CDs that we painstakingly collected during our grad school days, penurious as we were. CDs that have, some of them, never seen the light of day. Music that is now hopefully a bit less mortal than before...

And while at it, we hooked up the AppleTV & the ipod connection in the car, so that at all points of time, we are connected. The monster has been found, therefore, asking more unanswerable questions than ever as the lyrics seep into her, slowly.

The best part of it all has been that now we message or email each other bits and pieces of songs which are all extremely familiar of course and it puts our minds back to those days, those long ago, nearly forgotten days, when we first discovered our common music, and then, quick on the heels of that, love and all that jazz.... (No, not jazz, blues maybe, at best).

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Virtues and vices

I am not known for my patience. You can start with the way I constantly shake my legs when I am sitting down. "It feels like being on a train" people who have had the misfortune to sit next to me on a couch have commented. "Its a sign of nervousness" my father used to say (and go on to ask me to calm down and also provide me with handy mental and physical strength side-notes for future reference). My fingers also are always twisting pieces of paper, hand me a paper napkin and I will hand you back a mangled ball of something. Give me anything resembling string and I will braid it. I especially like braiding the funny honeycomb like ends of dupattas and sari pallus (yes, not just mine, but yours as well). And of course I am constantly thinking of a lot of things, most of them useless, of course. "Its exhausting just to hear your talk" people have said, because I am not patient enough to wait to finish Thought # 1 before going on to Thoughts # 2,3,4 and 5; not necessarily connected to each other.

Yes, I am a nervy person.

I am impatient.

I parallel process as if its a disease (it possibly is).

I have at least fifteen windows open at a time on my laptop, and its up to it to figure out how to manage its RAM.

I get pissed off easily. Sometimes I have a flare of a temper (which I am working hard to control, of course), which is like a fuse that goes off in my head. At other times, I have a simmering anger, which is more of a boiling/bubbling of blood in my gut region. I don't like being angry. I don't like feeling all persecuted. I know I should try more active methods to make each day start off (and go on) well, despite the various vicissitudes and so forth (passive methods rarely work for me, obviously). So I,

Listen to some familiar (not necessarily soft and soothing) music.

Close my eyes and think about the monster (for whom I am feeling a love mixed with a lot of pain now; ever since she got glasses).

Close my eyes and think about the husband (who is half the time the reason I lose it so this is not necessarily helpful always).

Read (currently, this delish Gerald Durrell that I am reading is good that way).

Browse (silly things)

Scroll through the photos in my new phone (this is my favourite thing to do of late).

Write angry words so I can let of them after that.

And you know the best feeling? When I let go of my anger and angst. It happens, usually, in a flash. One minute I am seething, the next, its like a board wiped clean, and my brain smiles. And I think in my head "You know what? I was pissed off (at you). But now I am not. I have let it go. I am happy again. I think it was silly, my anger" I love that feeling. It feels like a big achievement. Like an orgasmic mood change it is.

Let me go smoke a cigarette now. :-)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tip Tap Tip Tap

Some mornings, all I want to do is put fingers to keyboard and just type type type away. Whatever comes to mind. I do have blogger's block often, but I also have the opposite of blogger's block, which is this tendency of rambling on somewhat incoherently for a bit, and then hoping some structure, some shape is miraculously acquired by the post. Many things come to mind at the same time, I guess that is the problem with the inverse-blogger-block thing.

I met up with an old friend this morning (no ludwig, don't say anything). It was really good. We used to play basketball together. Things I remember about my innumerable friends is the slightly off-beat, slightly insane things we have done together. In this case, the one thing that comes to mind is that we used to go together and play pick-up basketball games at a local high school in Amherst. Directionally, it was between his place and mine. I used to bring all my stuff to the office, and change in the bathroom and we would go over, play, sweat. It was fun though my body hurt when I went back to my all-in-one apartment and set up the rice cooker with whatever I could lay my hands on in my mini-fridge. By the time that got done my hunger and enthu to eat would both be gone. But it was a life. And it is still a happy memory. What a wonderful basketball court that one was! Soft wooden floor. Super fiber-glass boards. Expressly fast full court game. And a tall friend, and a ride to and fro in his Subaru. Wah! Wah!

It has been a busy week, as weeks go. I feel like I am in the quest for some quiet time. I need to sort through this surfeit of ideas buzzing in my brain. I am excited by them, but also, a bit worried about them. Actually I am worried about not being able to do anything with those ideas. I will be bothered if I find myself, next year, not having ticked anything off that list of ideas. But thats for later. For now I need to make that list, before all the ideas fly away and explode in the void. And prioritize the ideas list above the mundane tasks list (which reminds me, I have to order the gas cylinder for home else crisis will ensue).

Have a wonderful Friday, my friends. Look upon the weekend starry-eyed, grab it by its horns, go on.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hark Back At An Old Post

It was a long time ago

But I can (sort of) do the backstroke. Not well. Not in a coherent manner. Maybe I will get there! And I definitely am where I intended to with the whole backstroke statement back in 2007.

And I climbed a tree - in Germany - in front of a most statuesque looking palace, no less.

We played soccer this year. I wore my ankle braces. I did not die. I did not touch the ball much, but it was a match! It was fun! And then I played another game after just because we all had so much energy. I can play again next year!

no beedis yet. no purple autos yet (now even the Mumbai autos are back to their boring black anyway).