Saturday, 29 June 2013

Fountain of youth

If you know me in real life, you know that I talk about my age all the time. I know you are annoyed by my tendency to constantly remind you that I am 39 years old (ha! did it again!) and that I feel my age in my bones blah blah blah. I have a feeling that I am trying to convince myself more than you.

I think I like being how old I am
. I don't mention my age with any sort of regret - no 'oh-my-god-I-miss-being-twenty-years-old' or anything. Its good. If there is one thing I am determined to do, its to grab life by its horns and make something out of it. By and large, I manage to do that - however I choose to define it.

But many a time, I have to sit down and think about things and sort of understand that how much ever I accept it (which I am convinced is better than resisting it), there are some things that time on earth does to you - irreversible changes so to speak. And my mouth may say its all good but the body knows its not the same.

My mum twisted her ankle recently. And no, its not some contagious disease this ankle thing. Nor is it particularly genetically inherited. I hope. She claims to have been sensible with her recovery. But she still has pain from it, and since she is a super energetic over-enthusiastic (especially about exercise) 68 year old, I am convinced that its serious, this ankle thing of hers.

In his youth, my dad used to drive around in a big, bad motorcycle. Not as big and bad as current day ones, for sure, but enough. He used to periodically get spilled from it. The reasons all seemed legitimate enough. A cow suddenly jumped in front of him. There was sand. Whatever, but he dislocated his shoulder a lot.

Many a time he would fix it back himself. Pop it back into the socket. Over the years it wouldn't go back so easily. The doctors had to do crazy stuff with it to fix it. I cannot even imagine the pain. One time he had bazillion ruptured capillaries because of the fixing. It got worse and worse. The tendency to dislocate became insane. And getting it back in place super hard.

I have had my share of (not serious) injuries. The first time my ankle sprained was when someone fat fell on it. It swelled up like crazy. I taped it with a fat crepe bandage and proceeded to my long jump event - confident of my body if not of my performance. Yeah, that was stupid.

I am still there - ignoring injuries, coaxing my body to step it up a notch, denying the niggles. But I can feel everything slowing down. It takes me months to forget them and move on. I still continue to be stupid about these things - I don't know - we both husband and wife are like that - for no tangible reason.

So I guess for all the talking about my age and acting as if its critical that within the first five minutes of meeting me you know that I am going to celebrate my 40th birthday next April (by running 40 kms, I hope), deep inside I still think my body is 18 years old. And capable of bouncing back like that. Got to really work on that.

(Photograph of my taped up calf from a while ago. I want to remind myself of this for the next time I try to do something stupid)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

All about miles

Marathon season is upon us now. Yes, it is summer in Chennai and mostly very hot and humid and sweltering and sweaty. We cannot help that. Every year we train in this weather and I really don't think we are much worse for wear.

I haven't particularly made up specific goals for each of the races in the immediate future this time. Last year was the first time I did so many long races, and while I did suffer a few body breakdown type events, it was by and large a successful running year. I am going to go with that now.

Upcoming are:

Dream Runners Half Marathon Jul 7th, Chennai
Mumbo Jumbo 15km Race Jul 14th, Chennai
Hyderabad Marathon Aug 25th, err, Hyderabad

I have to really make up my mind about a couple other HMs - in Coimbatore and the Delhi one. I ran the Delhi a few years ago and that was my PB till the Dream Runners thing last year, but still I kind of am not motivated to go back there. Coimbatore is a new run and I ought to go (October 2013).

As I say often, the reason I like to run these events is because it gives focus to my training. I guess you could say that I am pretty motivated - and would exercise for the sake of it anyhow - and have done so for years. But having these events upcoming is pretty nice - plus thanks to the awesome group I run with, we have a lot of fun planning long runs and so on.

I think I have learnt a lot about running, especially these past four years. I tell anyone who will listen that I have been running for the past 30 years. Pretty much. I have loved it through all these decades, but right now what I feel about long distance running is a kind of insane love.

Insane or not, I am trying to be sensible about this. Both in terms of expectations from my body, and the time I have on hand to allocate to marathon-mania. I plan to mainly run three times a week - focussing on uphills (sort of), sprint workouts, and of course the long run. The rest of the week has to be strength and stretching (yes, the hated stretching!).

My broad goals going into this season are to become stronger. The kind of runner that has her strength intact even in the last few kms of a race, if not even splits, something close to that. I am not going to delude myself into thinking that I am going to hit Personal Bests this year. But I do think that I have the chance to be a better runner this year, timing be damned.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Adventures & Curd Rice

I am traveling this week. How I managed to procure a visa in time I don't know. I don't remember how the past month has gone by, ever since we returned from our vacation trip, I am completely disconnected from reality. More so than usual.

Anyway I managed to get all things sorted out for this work trip, and got here. Because I wasn't thinking too much and was copy pasting my colleague's schedule, I found that I had at least a half day of free time here, in Brussels.

So I took off on my little 'adventure'. Which is a laughable word to use, I admit. I was sitting in Chennai airport (or perhaps it was Mumbai, I don't recall now), all over the free internet, and discovered that there is a group that does a cycling tour of the city.

Long story short, I couldn't make it to the tour as my flight was a bit late coming in, plus the web-site didn't accept my credit card and reserving the tour (seemed to) require advance payment. The tour guys did write me a couple of emails so that is something that I guess will work, some other time.

So I got to my room and resisted the temptation to immediately head out for a run. I was positive that I would get hopelessly lost. Or something. Anyway it was 10:30 am. And I had free time. So I strapped on a backpack and sunglasses and walked every where.

The Metro thingie is pretty cool and can take you to tons of places. Except that you need coins  (!) to buy the card in some of the stations and that made me have to go to a really disgusting Indian store to get change (and some gum). The couple running the store were so surly. And the store itself, so filthy. Seriously, I was very bummed out.

I got to the station I intended to get to and promptly got lost. I mean, right there, in the middle of the city. Lost. As usual. I was wearing jeans and vibrams, and it was raining gently. Pleasant, almost. So I just walked around pretty much aimlessly. At some point I sat down and drank a beer and read a book on my phone.

I often hear runners insist that getting lost is a good thing. Increases mileage willy nilly. Apparently, I had managed to hit upon the few touristy things that are sort of a 'must do' in the city as well, how impressive! I even bought a few nice souvenirs for the child (and the standard fridge magnet/bottle opener for us). I think she will like my Tintin-themed purchase!! I bought chocolate too, but I have sort of opened it and eaten it. Oops!

Which brings me to the 'food situation' as we vegetarians like to call it. I discovered that each of my colleagues is traveling with his own on-person restaurant. I mean, rajma-chawal, maggi-noodles-in-a-cup, upma, were mentioned in the 'store bought' section. Murukku, sweets, etc. were talked about in the 'home made by wife' section.

I ate a dosa (for Rs. 180) at the Mumbai airport on my way in, at like 1 am or something awful. I was standing on top of the dosa making dude there because I was in a bit of a hurry. And he was so terrible. He threw away two dosas saying that it got broken (by him, with his stupid way of spreading the dough, I must add).

This year's theme for World Environment Day was what? Stopping food wastage right? So much for that. I was really pissed at him. I told him to cease and desist. So he gave me a half cooked doughy dosa. The chutney was super watery as well, like the hostel chutney airspy used to drink from a glass.

So I was telling these murukku colleagues of mine that I don't even bring a single piece of any food when I travel. Never even occurs to me. I like the idea of local food, though I do wish that the menus are in English everywhere, and that ingredients are clearly listed. Anyway the beer is easy to order and always vegetarian so whatever, it works. Am not too bothered. Usually.

This time though, between the dosa and the fact that Jet Airways fed me some of the most disgusting food on the planet of over-nuked airline food, I was thinking. Perhaps I will bring me a dabba of curd rice from next time. Must put it on the list for the next trip!!

Although I haven't managed to do nearly as many fun things as I would like (hello! useful heated discussions and meetings!), I must mention that I have managed to run around the city a few times in the early morning. I enjoyed a run in a nearby park and was as usual very jealous that they have such nice places to run in. Even though there is a tendency to rain.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Morning Blues & Coffees Cold

I may or may not have deleted an entire post here recently. And judging by my really slow, treacle slow posting this year, it was an expensive delete - of sorts. I don't know. Something is going on and I have a lot of draft posts and very few that I manage to finish and hit publish on.

Unrelatedly, I woke up at  a decent hour this morning - 6 am - not the insanely early times I am clocking of late. The household is still asleep. One of those days when we don't need to be up early for our various madnesses.

And I was wondering about this. Every day, when I wake up, I boil milk and make a filter of coffee and make three cups of various beverages for us. I am, I would say, very diligent about this. And I fetch the beverages upstairs to our bedroom.

When child & husband wake up, they have at hand, their respective beverages (after they brush their teeth of course, that goes without saying). Depending on the difference in time between their waking up and mine, these may be quite cold but they don't seem to care.

No one brings me coffee in the early mornings. Like, ever. Never. Sometimes when I am visiting mum she may make me a cup of coffee and have it all ready in the kitchen when I come out. But that has also been a while.

At 6:12 am today, I was wondering if I ought to be sad about this. Then I remembered that I am practical like that. I need what I need. And what I need first of all is a cup of coffee, mixed my way, within 10 minutes of my waking up. The timing is key.

It means I wake up, brush, slide down the bannister (not, don't have one, would if I did, for sure), and fire up the stove. Most days I drink instant coffee in the morning and save the decoction thingie for later. They taste different, in general I like the brewed coffee better (I am a thoroughbred Mysore girl no?), but I like the instant for early morning.

As I grow older, I find myself getting more and more particular about these things. I wouldn't, for example, like to drink a cold cup of coffee before my run/workout. Among other things. This has been bothering me though, I hate to feel like I am an inflexible person.

So today, I have placed a little lid on top of their mugs. So that the heat is retained inside for at least another half hour. I am sure how this helps me feel better, but it does. If they wake up much later today, well, too bad. I will be out of the house, wrapped up in a maroon sari, and being very busy through the day my dears.