Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Jaldi Five

I feel like I invented this "Jaldi Five" though I have seen others use it recently (including my husband, further reinforcing my belief that I am responsible for it). And no, it has nothing to do with Bingo or Housie or whatever that awful thing is (I hate it, not the least because I am super unlucky at the game).

It was last year, as I was training for the Mumbai Marathon, my first full marathon. Super nervous. The boys kept telling me it was going to be okay. But I didn't (don't) believe them. They all think I am some sort of monster who is capable of anything. Or maybe they just are having fun at my expense.

My agenda was fairly simple. I read all the online training plans (the free ones, of course) and had my long run strategy clarified neatly. I originally wanted, ambitiously, to follow an intermediate training plan from Higdon, but after I found that any speed work immediately resulted in knee pain, I down-graded myself to the beginner one.

I ran 10-12 kms couple days a week; and a long run in the weekend. I was so nervous about not being able to do the long runs (and consequently the marathon), that I usually ended up doing the long runs on Saturdays - get it out of the way. But this was also the day we had our IIT training sessions. So I ran from home to there and impatiently waited for people to assemble, then I ran with them and so on.

It was terrible to do this the first few times, and I quickly learnt that this wasn't working. Then I begged friends to long run with me and KP, Ramesh and others joined me, and on Sundays we did legitimate long runs, where in we just concentrated on that. I took walk breaks, I run:walked, I worked hard on the mental game, and we ran 30km in the Shahid Ultra to Mahabalipuram.

That was it in terms of the longer runs. On Wednesdays, I gave myself a nice treat. On the cards was a simple 5km run. I allowed myself to run to AU and back or to Boat Club and back. I concentrated on moving my feet a bit faster, and while I did not do a great job overall (including in my long runs) in maintaining a steady pace, in my 5k runs I did consistently hit 27 mins.

I recall on the day of Deepavali, which happened to be a Wednesday last year, I woke up and was glad to see everyone at home still asleep. I figured no one would miss me if I returned back home jaldi jaldi. So I took off amidst the crackle of crackers and the whoosh of flower pots from the early risers. My feet took me to Anna University, the roads completely devoid of humans (or dogs).

That particular, solitary, short run is the most memorable one. I felt ready then for the day, the marathon and life. The Jaldi Five doesn't really add enough mileage meat to the week, but its a quick run, and with a 27 minute goal, not a super tough run.... After a long time, today I managed to do exactly this, and, as I am only slowly upping the miles and getting back on track now, was pleasantly surprised to manage the same time.... 

Monday, 26 November 2012

There and back

I had a military maneuver like Thursday, last. I often complain that in time of extreme craziness, life leaves me alone. Some are busy, some traveling, some sick, when I need them. But in the years of accepting the insanity that creeps into my life every so often, I have learnt to (I think) make do with what I have. 

The child is grown up, somewhat. I delegate tasks to her and try not to get frustrated when she goes off into her dream world and forgets. I feel free to call in a favour; request a car; leave clothes behind on the bed. But most of all, I have learnt to not blame the busy, the traveling, the sick, for problems that are clearly mine, and of my own doing. 

I left in a trail of smoke (sort of) to Mysore and we had a good few days there. It felt like I was on borrowed time because of the things that I sort of Had To Be Doing this past weekend, in Chennai. For the marathon, for the course I am teaching, for a meeting we have later this week with collaborators from abroad. 

I am a little out of breath from everything. But I am happy. The child is happy. She hung out with her (second removed maybe third) cousins and really enjoyed herself. Her cut lip healed and looks fine now. Her appetite seems recovered somewhat from last week's levels. We discussed the Gerald Durrell earnestly, to her father's chagrin, and agreed that Larry was even more irritating than Leslie. 

I enjoyed running in my home town. I took the husband on day 2 through my favourite routes. He said that I hardly seem sentimental about the city, when clearly, its a place that one should be over pouring with poetic verse about. Well, I try not to think about it. But when I run there, its sheer bliss. I run through the University grounds, and hit the lake area, and I just feel so content. 

"Do you feel like a few more miles?" he asks me, as we troop back near mum's apartment. "Always" I reply, but we stop nevertheless and enter the tiny, squeaky clean place with cool floors that will always be more home than even my much-loved gigantic new house. We rush around getting ready, and I pin up my sari and close up the suitcase and move on. 

Of course I love the place with all my heart. Its my haven. To be enjoyed rarely and in small doses. Its not where I want to live right now. I want to live here, on my bullet train. And when the nerve synapses get ready to explode I want to get away and stand there in the middle of a run, ignore all the men trying to size me up, and stare at a gnarled old tree spreading its branches over the Geology Department. 

But now I am back. The things That Had To Be Done, haven't gone away. Instead, they have grown horns. I borrow a bit more time to jot down my thoughts. But now I feel ready. Its Monday. Its bound to be manic. But I am ready for it...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Long Run Long Overdue

I think I am back in business now. I ran my last race on Aug 26th. It was a tough (for me) full marathon. The flyovers, the hills, tough tough tough. Enjoyable for sure, as there were lots of my friends around, my family was there at the finish and all that. I had decided to chill after it.

I chilled way too much! I was traveling for a fair bit after I returned from the Hyderabad race. I went to Bangalore for a day. Then I went to the Netherlands. En route to Amsterdam, I lost my passport in the Dubai airport. It was a horrid 10 hours before the kindly Dubai police tracked it down for me. I spent another hellish 12 hours trying to rest in a lounge chair.

Then I got myself into Germany, Dusseldorf to be precise. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to manage without German in the train stations of what looked like a super industrial Elizabeth, New Jersey type German city. I took 4 trains to reach Maastricht, in The Netherlands.

I did spend an idyllic few days in that place, conferencing with various Chemical Engineering big-wigs and biking around the city in my spare time. I ran a bit, desultorily, but it was cold (for me), and I couldn't figure out the nice routes easily so I ditched that and enjoyed biking instead.

The pain in my feet started soon after I returned and just wouldn't go away. I cut down mileage, started on strength training, iced it, to no avail. The doctor dismissed it as "metatarsalitis" and gave me some anti-inflammatory tabs and lots of free gyaan, which I was loathe to listen to once he told me he "runs on the treadmill everyday"

My husband yelled at me if I even started talking about running. I was miserable but I hung on. I devised a special circuit training routine in this time period that is an amalgam of a boot camp workout I found online, a Runner's World article I read (RW purchased during that awful Dubai airport debacle!), and just whats possible on my terrace.

Last week finally the pain seems to have subsided. I am still reluctant to say its fully gone. I am still doubtful about its cause (suspect running around Dubai airport wearing work shoes for 24 hours straight). But for now, I am back in training for the upcoming Mumbai Marathon on 20th Jan, 2013.

In our training long runs, we start off together - about 4-5 of us. It usually separates into two groups subsequently. I have run most of my recent ones with Ramesh alongside me, at least up to 20k. Its all good for two rounds of our campus, of 10k each. We take a break at the car at 10k & 20k, eat something, drink something, are somewhat together, at least in pairs.

After that we each have to dig deep inside. Its all lonely time. The last 5-10k that we crank out feels the worst and the best. We each have different pain points then. My thoughts are focussed on distance and I give up on the pace at that stage. I try very hard to think about my feet, how they are landing. I try to veer the mind away from my responsibilities for the day - the grading, cooking, house stuff, class preparation....

The last 45 mins - 1 hour of a long run is the hardest thing ever. Once we finish we joke around again. They all make fun of me and make me out to be more of a hero than ever. It doesn't 'go to my head' don't worry as I remember how I was suffering just a few minutes earlier. We make plans for the next session of 'torture' and shake hands and rush back home to our families....

Yes, I am looking forward to that, call me a masochist if you will. I don't have any particular goals for this marathon (#3). I want to make sure my timing chip works this time. I want to crank out some solid 30k long runs this season (weather is good as well so it will be great!). I want to keep up the strength work and focus on core more (I think its responding, slowly, but surely)...

Friday, 16 November 2012

These charts...

A couple years ago we were at the printer store. We always argue about printers. I usually buy some dumb-ass one at work and use it to death printing assignments and stuff like that. A long time ago, I requested permission to use my spare work printer at home and we brought it and used it for a bit in Mumbai. The same one that I had killed to death earlier so it was like really not super useful.

In Chennai we decided to go ahead and make the purchase. The child was with us. She wanted us to get a colour printer. I hate colour printers, seriously. The damn ink and the colour and all that stuff that runs out every so often. I am OK with changing toners (since I seem to do that for a living at work), but the colour printer stuff is just such a pain.

We argued her down and got ourselves a super nice (non-colour) printer. It has been awesome. It can scan stuff as well, which is useful. It can photocopy, that means, which is not un-useful. It can fax, I believe, though we haven't tried that one out. I hate faxes too, while at it. Its been ages since I used a fax machine and I am just fine with that. Horrid krrrrr sound it makes.

Now, every week, the child has to churn out & turn in these 'projects'. After asking her a billion questions I figured out that this means that you take chart paper. Large size. You make a border. Stick some colourful pictures on it. Bung in some writing. A title. Child's name and class. Simple, right?

I print black and white things out and make her colour them in with crayons. The first few, I played around with the contrast and stuff so it looked decent. And in fact after her crayoning, pretty close to a colour print out. Now I am super bored and do whatever. But I am thinking, a colour printer would have been useful!

She is super upset that her chart never gets chosen to be put up on the classroom wall. She blames me. "I told you to buy a colour printer" she says. Oh well. In the meantime, we plod on. I feel bad too sometimes, looking around the classroom and never finding her charts. I would've chosen her Mars chart, for e.g., because it had a pie diagram about atmospheric composition in it...

I guess its okay. Maybe a bit left of the beaten path is okay... Last night we made a chart about Anita Desai. She used the opportunity to quickly read up The Village by the Sea. I want her to change the last line in her chart, which reads 'I am looking forward to reading The Village by the Sea during my summer vacation'.... 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

November once more

I have been feeling vaguely uneasy. Realised it is because I have not been writing enough. I don't usually have very specific things I write on this blog, as its name suggests, its a bunch of musings. Sometimes they are coherent, most times they are just rambly. Still, it serves the important function in my life of keeping my head straight.

My head definitely needs straightening right now as I am going through a phase of having so much to do that I don't know where to start. I have kept a few things constant in this time of change. One is that, except for a few days in between, I have been exercising. I have kept it at low intensity for the most part, concentrated on using weights, and it has been good.

The other constant has been my class. I don't have much choice in this, of course, but it is still good as it gives structure to my days. I feel like time would just get frittered away into an empty whole lot of nothing (meetings, browsing, talking, worrying), if not for it. I am feeling wistful because the end of the semester is upon us and my teaching assignment for anon is going to be done with.

I wouldn't say that life has been bad. It has been a time of realisation and growth, these past few weeks. Conflictingly, I feel a major pang looking at how tiny the child is when she walks into school when I drop her off. Then when I pick her up and we are chatting about her day (the little runt never asks me about MY day, dammit!), I suddenly feel overwhelmed at how adult-like she sounds.

I know the teenage years are not going to be easy. Already, we seem to hit heads against each other often. And there is the element of her father. Increasingly, that which at all costs I was hoping to avoid is happening. We are parent+child pitted against the other parent many a time. I can delude myself into believing that I am the parent in the combo but thats just not true. It depends on the situation.

The house is almost free of the worker crews. But that is frustrating in itself as there are many small things that need to be done before we can fully settle into it and they are dragging their feet on that. This deepavali, we were hoping, would be the end of it all, but sadly, its not to be. Now I am gunning for New Year's. My husband thinks that ridiculously long. We'll see.

The phone is acting wonky now. I am hoping I can push it for a bit longer. My clothes have all turned spontaneously nasty (and they fit me weird too now that I have reduced workout intensity and running mileage). When my mum was here we bought some cloth and the tailor is working on them now, so thats good.

I am done musing, and need to switch windows and work on a few letters that I am writing to various people. And make up an online feedback form for class that I suddenly feel like. Not to mention those drafts of papers to read. You get the drift. I leave you with a photo of friends, me, child, nephew and niece that appeared in The Hindu recently. You can try to figure out who is who, as an exercise. :-)