Sunday, December 31, 2006

Super 32

Today I had my best 20+km practice run till date. The only thing that comes close to this is the Singapore marathon run this year. What differentiated this really long run from the others in the past was my mental toughness, after the super run in Singapore, I am now mentally lot more confident about doing similar distances, the physical toll is similar to what its been in the past (but of course the recovery is a lot quicker now). I did the 32km run, as planned, in about 3hr 17mins.

If I am able to run similarly on race day (Jan 21, 2007) then a sub 4hr 15min is a definite possibility. This is exactly the run I needed before the Bombay marathon. I hope to follow it up with a 20km run next Sunday/Monday, but that looks a little difficult as I will be traveling on work (so taking out 2hrs in the morning might be a little difficult), but will see what best I can come up with. This will be followed by a 13km run on Jan 14. The new shoes and my legs are behaving perfectly, could not ask for anything more, just need them to staty that way till race day.

Would like to wish all of you a very happy and a fun filled new year. Enjoy.....

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Running is good for building your body's defense mechanism

Before I try to explain the above statement. I have had a eventful week, managed to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Today, did 7.5km on all three days. Could not run mid week as I was down with mild flu and cold, guess that was due to change in weather. I hope to do about 30plus kms this weekend, provided the cold does not come in my way.

Now coming to the positive benefits of running, I have observed that now a days when I am down with a flu, my body is a lot more reselient and the flu does not knock me down totally, I am quite comfortable going through the entire day at work inspite of the cold & bodyache that accompanies the flu. This benefit/ablity is in addition to the other unusual benefits of being able to take the afternoon sun in humid Bombay weather & ablity to alternate (multiple times) between sunny outside weather and cold air conditions inside temperatures.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tough week...

Had a tough week, was only able to run thrice (6km, 7.5km and 6km on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)during weekdays, as I was having some pain in the shins (both of them). I guess my body was asking for some well deserved rest which is long
overdue after the Singapore marathon. It was also time for me to buy a new pair of shoes, the recently purchased New Balance ones were not suiting me (guess their rubber cushioning Absorb technology was not working for me). So on Friday I decided to take some corrective action for my shins, I bought a pair of Adidas Nova cushion shoes. As soon as I tried them, I knew they were perfect for me.

I decided to wear them for my Sunday long run (which was a big risk as all my new running shoes tend to pinch, the first time I wear them for the long Sunday run, even if I have used them for 4-5 short runs before that. But I decided to still go ahead with it, as my shins were more important than having some blisters. I wore them for my Saturday run and then also wore it the whole of Saturday, just to try and get them into some shape for my long run.

I managed to complete the tough week with a good 26km run today, I did it in about 2hr 36mins.The run was quite comfortable and I started at 7.30am for the run, which is around the same time as the Mumbai marathon start time. The weather was pleasant at start but after the first 1.5hrs it was hot and sunny, luckily it was not very humid. I was able to manage the run with 500ml of Gatorade and 500ml of water. I hope to do my longest run before the Bombay Marathon next Sunday, with a 30+km run.

Today for the first time in four odd years I had company during my run. I ran with a friend of mine whom I was meeting after close to 10years (though we were in touch on the phone and email). UT and I used to run at Colaba woods (its one of the few mud tracks in Bombay, all the other are made of brick or concrete/tar), near President Hotel, Cuffe Parade. He is participating in the half marathon. We hope to repeat our run again sometime in the near future.

Monday, December 18, 2006

UTI Bank walkathon for senior citizens

UTI Bank walkathon for senior citizens took place on December 17, 2006 at Chembur, Bombay (Mumbai).

Pictures from Bangkok, Thailand

This picture was shot at the departure lounge at Swarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. It a replica of the Kings throne (atleast that was my impression).

All the picture shown below are from Siam Paragon, Bangkok. This is my favourite mall of South East Asia.

I was trying my hand at some car photography. This is a picture of a concept car/ custom built car of a local designer/company. I do not believe this is car from any of the bigger car brands.

Beautifully shot picture of the Lambo in a glass showroom.

This is the closest I was able to get to a Ferrari. I reached at 8pm and by this time most of the stores at Siam Paragon were shut.

Christmas tree at the main foyar of Siam Paragon.

Some more Singapore pictures

Pictures at Suntec mall fountain. Here they use the fountain water as a screen to project still and animation/motion pictures, acompanied by sound. A very popular tourist spot.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Standard Chartered Singapore marathon inspiring statements.....


1km Just by running, you've beaten 99.9% of the population!

3km Life is not a rehearsal. Give it your all.

5km Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.

7km A champion is someone who pushes even when no one is watching.

9km Only if you risk going too far, will you know how far you can go

11km Aim for the next lamp post. It's just up ahead.

13km Run hard when it's hard to run.

15km Fear is courage holding a minute longer.

17km Run with your mind!

19km Mind over matter!

21km You've come this far, why turn back now?

23km This wall has a window! Find it!

25km The Pain is temporary. Your sense of achievement is forever.

27km Water is just round the bend. keep moving!"

29km Don't let running the 90% of the race go to waste!

31km To fail is to stop moving! Walk if you have to!

33km Many who fail didn't know how close they were to succeeding. You're almost there.

35km Ability is what you can do.
Motivation makes you do it.
Attitude means how well you do it.

37km Keep Going! It can't be worse than this!

39km Earn Your Finisher Tee!

41km It's the last stretch! You can do it!

These were the messages that we encountered during the Standard Chartered Singapore marathon 2006 run. They were very useful and inspiring. Hope the Mumbai marathon organisers will have the same or similar stuff on January 21, 2007

Another good Sunday run.

As planned was able to do a half marathon today, decided to up the pace today and was able to do it in about 2hours.I also started late today (at 8.10am) instead of the regular time of around 7am, to check how the heat would affect me. Early mornings are very comfortable for running, but today it was hard (sunny but not humid).

The silly Mumbai Marathon organisers have decided to give the half marathon more importance by having it start at 6.40 and the full marathon at 7.40am, guess this is the only marathon in the world that give preference to half over full, by making it start one hour before the other (they did the same thing last year as well), maybe logic and common sense is something that is alien to them. I would like one of the organisers to run the full marathon!! (what is the heavily paid and experienced race director Hugh Jones doing (hope I got his name right)

I happened to see participants of the UTI Bank senior citizens walkathon today, managed to click some picture and plan to upload them tomorrow. It was very nice to see so many senior citizens wear UTI bank T-shirt, with catchy slogans written on them, one of them being - If you can read this then I am a step ahead, walking for better health and fitness.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bombay cabbies are the best...

The highlight of the week - I forgot my wallet in a taxi after work.
This happened on Tuesday evening while I was going to a mall with a
friend of mine. I realised that I had lost my wallet half an hour after
I had left the cab. Though I was not sure if I had lost it in the cab
or if it had been picked while I was in the mall.

Luckily for me, I had a photo copy of all the cards (Debit and credit) in my
knapsack, so canceling all of them was a breeze. All the card companies
(HDFC, ICICI and HSBC blocked the card immediately). Though HSBC wanted
me to register a FIR with the cops, to protect myself from a manual
card swipe transaction.(Which I believe is not too fair). Also,HDFC
debit card required me to visit a bank branch and make a fresh
application for a new debit card, and refused to accept by request over
phone or through net banking. Again very inconvenient and absolutely unnecessary.

In addition to the cards, I had lost my drivers license, some other
loyalty and membership cards, cash and food coupons. But my biggest
worry was potential misuse of credit cards (I was sure that the debit
cards were safe as it can be used only with a online machine) and the
trouble I would face fighting with the card company. And this would
have been a reality had my wallet been picked.

Luckily I had taken the cab from a taxi stand close to my office, so the driver who
had driven me would have been a part of the click that usually hangs
out at the taxi stand. So on Wednesday evening I went at the same time
as Tuesday to enquire if any driver had found a wallet and also to
spread the word around. I got a call at my office (I had my visiting
card and office photo Id card in the wallet as well) asking me to
collect the wallet, so by Thursday evening the wallet was returned to
me. I was delighted to get my wallet in exactly the same condition as I
had lost it, but the true delight was the honesty of the cab driver. I
decided to reward him with all the cash that i had in my wallet on that

First week of training after Singapore marathon...

Had a good week, did 7.5km each on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and will do it on Saturday as well. Will try and follow it up with a 20km run on Sunday. This would take my weekly total to about 50km. I hope to maintain my weekly mileage in the 50-60km range. That should give me a good launch pad for the Mumbai marathon target of a sub 4.15hr time.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back in Bombay city

It feels great to be back in Bombay. It was just a week, but I was already missing it big time. I decided to take the week off (only from running), though I had to get back to work on Friday. And today completed the week with a good run of about 16kms (which was quite effortless). I did it in about 1hr 34minutes.

I look forward to a heavy training schedule in the coming weeks. I need to prepare hard to be able to do the sub 4.15hr time. I am quite confident of doing it, if I have no injury during the run that day, as now I believe I have got the mental toughness to do it. I now need to focus on improving my breathing and my conditioning, for the Mumbai marathon.

Visit to Bangkok, Thailand

On my way from Singapore I decided to take a day's halt at Bangkok, so that I could catch up on some shopping. Bangkok is one of the best better for shopping. Plus it has one of the best malls in South East Asia and this means that some of them are better than the ones in Singapore. The most upmarket mall in South East Asia is Siam Paragon, it has a huge collection of ultra luxury stores (incl. Ferrari, Lamborghini.......). It also has another upcoming luxury mall called Centerworld, slated to be the largest mall in South East Asia. I just loved both of them, much more than the Singapore malls, both of them are a must see for visitors to Bangkok, Thailand. The public transport system and infrastructure of the city is lot better than what you would expect it to be. The Sky train and MRT system is very good and efficient, though a little steep for the local Thai national.

Bangkok is not as cheap as one would like to believe, and this is especially true for the locals. Guess that is the fate of any tourism dependent city. The final conclusion I have come to with regards to shopping is that there is nothing to beat India, especially Bombay. And soon one would be able to enjoy the same shopping experience and atmosphere, in addition to the exhaustive choice and great value right here in Bombay.

Pictures from Singapore

Some pictures which try to capture the Christmas spirit in Singapore. Most of the pictures are from Orchard Street, the place that really brings of the true spirit of Singapore.

This picture captures the Christmas spirit on Orchard street perfectly.

The most beautiful Christmas tree on Orchards at the Paragon shopping center (an upmarket shopping center)

One of the numerous show pieces outside the shopping malls on Orchard street

Banner of the weekly flea marketing which takes place in Singapore

One of the numerous life performances which take place on Orchard street, targeted at the tourists.

They were playing some wonderful music (including Cranberries!)

A crowded evening at Orchard street, which was fully decorated and lit

Starbucks at Speciality mall on Orchard street

This is clicked from Boat Quay (pronounced as Ki) along the Singapore river. Other side of the river is a place called Clark Quay. Clark Quay was previously used as godown and warehouse, but recently the Singapore government converted it into a place that hosted cafes and hangout places for tourists (in colonial style), instead of breaking it down and building skyscrapers there. This truely represents the spirit of Singapore, preserving the old while building the new and having lot of breathing space all over Singapore.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My official Singapore marathon time....4h:28m:42s

The organisers have finally posted the time on the website, so my final revised chip time is 4h:28m:42s.
To read complete details of my performance click the link below -

My race time splits are as follows -
Finsher number (Rank) 986, Registration details 01276-IND-FMM-OLC, Bib Number 1376 GIRISH MALLYA Male IND Guntime 05:59:55, My actual start time 06:01:30 7.6km mark 00:45:32 (10.4km per hour) 21km mark 02:03:57 (10.3km per hour) 27.38km mark 02:46:00 (9.1km per hour), Guntime finish 04:30:17, My finish time04:28:42 (8.5km per hour)

Total qualified finishers 6315 for the Men's open category full marathon.

The half marathon time I did at the Singapore full marathon was the same as the one I did for the Delhi Half marathon and this was the main reason for me doing a sub 4.30time. And this also means that a sub 4.15 time is very achievable for me if I get the first half of my race correct.

Singapore marathon 2006 pictures

My picture after finishing the race.

My picture after the race in the resting Pen.

Participants resting in the pen after a grueling marathon.

A local bus having the Incredible India promotion campaign on our race route.

Cheer leaders in the commercial district, towards the start of the race.

This has to be the best picture clicked by me while running. Picture of the commercial district of Singapore.

Separate pen for the Under 5hr participants.

Innumerable restrooms close to the starting point.

The Women's and Men's full marathon winners captured before the start of race. Amos Tirop Matui and Alina Kosgei successfully defend their titles in the Men's and Women's Category and also smash their previous bests at Singapore Marathon and create course records.

The Preparation area between the starting point and the Finishing point sections.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Comparision of Singapore Marathon v/s Mumbai marathon...

Mumbai Marathon which will be in its fourth year has lots to learn from
the Singapore Marathon organisers. Both have the same sponsor (Standard
Chartered Bank) and its high time that the sponsor decided to assert
themselves and ensure that the organisers ofMumbai Marathon (Procam) did a much better job.

Right from frequency with which the organisers used to send newsletters to
people who had registered on the site (well before the marathon
participation registrations were opened), to their response time for
any email or telephone enquiry, to the promptness with with they
confirmed the registration and provided all the related details, to the
efficiency at the race bib collection center, to the gift pack arranged
by them (including a very usefulAdidas singlet with Standard chartered colours and of course the finishers T-shirt), to providing high carb energy gel packets around the 30km mark & tie-up with a sponsor (100plus) to provide energy drink (Mumbai marathon organisers provide Electoral which is not good enough), nice smooth roads and lotsa greenery (shade) and the list goes on.

Procam, organisers of Mumbai marathon are giving the Half marathon more importance than the full marathon, they are starting the half marathon at 6.40am and the full
one at 7.40am, which does not really make sense which ever way you look
at it. Each marathon in the world try to improve the number of
participants and finishers for the full marathon, as the number of
participants for the full marathon is the true indicator of the success
of the marathon. But if the Mumbai marathon continues to be managed by people who do not even understand this basic simple fact, all the sponsorship money (Asia's
biggest marathon or richest marathon in the world) will have no
meaning. Not sure if its actually the sponsors who are forcing them to
take this step, if they are then we need better sponsors! Hugh Jones who was the race director for the first three marathons (not sure if he still is working with Procam), should definitely have know this, but am not sure why he is not doing anything about it.

the one thing that the Singapore Marathon organisers disappointed was
on their inability to give the race completion cum timing certificate
after the race (both theMumbai and Delhi marathon organiser do this
every efficiently from their inception). The organisers told
participants that they would get their certificates by post, by end of
Jan 2007(this is not really on). In addition the organisers here were
unable to post the race timings till Tuesday evening on their website
(so till that time I actually did not really know how I had done, nor
did I have my official time), which again was very inefficient. The
chip used here and in the Bombay marathon is identical and the data for
the same is available instantly, so I fail to understand what took them
so long!

I am looking forward to a pleasant surprise from the Mumbai
marathon organisers in January 2007, I understand that the money they
can raise from the participants is limited, They charge about Rs.150
per registration, whereas the Singapore marathon guys collect anything
from Rs.1300-Rs.2500 equivalent in local currency. But I am sureMumbai can more than make up for it with sponsorship money.

My singapore marathon run....

Before I describe by Singapore marathon race in detail, I should share my experience with the much hyped sports function of my Nokia 5500, this was its ultimate test. All the functions performed well except for the distance calculator. The distance it timed was 45km during the race, but the steps calculator was quite accurate and was close to the 42km 195meters mark (actually its been accurate all through, though the distance calculator has been erratic with its readings). The calorie counter showed 2900 where as in reality it should have been closer to the 2400 mark. So now I have been able to interpret the readings, I just have to convert the steps to give me a accurate reading on the distance.

The night before the race I slept close to 11pm, even though I was trying to sleep from 9.30pm, not sure about the reason, but I must have been a little excited and nervous about my race the next day. I got up around 2.45am as planned so that I have enough time to digest a good amount of food which i planned to eat in the morning. During the previous day I had managed to pile on a lot of easily digestible carbs, including rice, pasta and energy bars. I started the morning with a lot of fluids and a huge energy bar and then followed it up with some toast and jam. I used the time to meticulously take everything that I needed for the race. I left for the race with my cousin (who was also doing the full marathon and this was his first) and reached the venue a little before 5am. Since we had surveyed the venue a day before it was quite easy to navigate through it.

The organizers had done a good job of marking different sections at the venue, including a suitably placed baggage counter and tagging arrangement. They had every thing in place especially an Unending line portable toilets for the participants at the start and everything else to make the runners comfortable. The directions to the start were clear and the volunteers had been briefed well and were giving correct directions. I reached the starting point at around 5.30am and the race started at 6am. They had clearly marked sections, for various set of runners, sub 3hrs, sub 4hrs, sub 5hrs, sub 6hrs and the rest. This ensured two things, one that staggered start would help the faster runners and the second was you would be able to pace yourself with runners with similar ability/goal. The second one is a big plus which I have never experienced in any of my previous runs, it helps you run with the same pack of runners and ensures that you maintain your speed and motivation.

The race went through all the major parts of the city, but the best stretch and also the toughest one was 12km stretch around East park (on the sea shore). The race took you to the all types of places, the commercial district, parks, beaches, bridges and underpasses. To view a virtual tour of the route click on the link given below

The crowd support was good all through the race especially the East park region, which had lot of tourist and locals sitting in their tents (with lots of food and drink) and cheering us. This also happened to be the toughest section of the race from 22km to 34km mark, plus this was on concrete instead of tar (rest of the track was mainly tar, as Singapore prefers tar roads over concrete (Bombay marathon is mainly run on concrete roads, which makes it a lot harder on the knees).

I ran the last 6kms well as I had to ensure that I did a sub 4.30time, and by the time I reached the finish the time on the clock was 4hrs 30mins and 8 seconds, but since I had started later due to the staggered start, I was able to complete it under 4hr 29mins.

I will be posting some interesting pictures of the marathon before the end of this week to bring out the spirit of the race.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rocking time of 4hr 28min 51sec

I was finally able to achieve my dream time of doing under 4hr 30min and I owe this to a friend of mine whom I had promised a sub 4.30 time. And it was just mental strength (and I did not hit the wall this time) which kept me going and after the 30km mark I was confident of doing the time, the launch pad was just perfect.. It was a almost perfect run, everything went as planned. I did the first 10k in 1 hr, next 10k in about 57mins, third one in 1hr 8mins and the last 12 in about 1hr 24min. Only if I had done better with during the 28-33km stretch, 4hr 15mins was very achievable. And this time is well within my reach, I just need to train harder and this will be my target for the Mumbai Marathon.

Everything was perfect, there was no sun throughout the run. It was cloudy all through (which meant 95% humidity all through and I was perspiring even before the race started), which meant higher humidity but was very bearable compared to something like Bombay, where the heat and sun just kills you. The race started at 6am in the morning (which actually is more like 5am, as Singapore has intentionally chosen to be one hour ahead of what it logically should have been. They have done it for commercial reasons as they wanted to Hong kong time, as they did not want to give them an unfair advantage (they wanted both the stock exchanges to start at the same time).

Will write more about my state of mind yesterday and other details of my preparation and the actual run. And also a detailed comment on the organizers of Singapore marathon.

What this time means is that I was able to shave off about 53mins from my previous best. 5hr 21mins was a very embarrassing personal best time of mine and it feels wonderful to now have a respectable sub 4.30 time.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I slept quite late yesterday after the trip to Orchards, so decided to get up late in the morning. And then followed it with a trip to the Starting point of the marathon, which was about 45minutes walk from where I am staying.

The final arrangements were in full force and the organisers were setting tents and arranging the holding area for the participants. On my return I visited Funan computer lifestyle mall (a complete IT mall), one of the must see places for travelers.

I have decided to stay put at home after the morning trip, to ensure that I conserve energy and also to have more time to pile up the carbs and water.

I hope to have a quick dinner and crash out early as I have to get up around 3am tomorrow, so that I can reach the holding area around 5am.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Singapore experience continues..

Today was a little slow, as I was trying to catch up on sleep as I had hardly slept for a few hours yesterday and that was in bits and pieces. Wanted to take it easy today. But I did manage catchup on some malls on Orchard street in the evening (and the Christmas spirit was very much there). It was an amazing experience, with Lot's of beautiful street stalls, street performers, live music and the place was buzzing with tourists and locals. And for a change the city felt as crowded as Bombay! I felt soo much at home. Hope to go again as I have a couple of days after the marathon. I can't really capture the experience in words but it was infectious and something that you would want to catch again and again. Most stores had special offers to attract tourists, especially those who had come for the Singapore marathon (and yes there are 7500 of them!!) and this was the added attraction. The good thing about Orchard street is that its the most upmarket part of Singapore, and this ensures a better shopping experience unlike something like Mustafa in Little India which provides a forgettable shopping experience but some good deals.

During the day I managed to visited one of the other malls close to where I was staying and also managed a nice 3km run in the evening. And yes as expected it was extremely humid, much more than Bombay, the average humidity here is usually above 90% and it tends to rain (more a drizzle)at the drop of a hat.

Life in Singapore...

The first day was quite eventful, I used almost every available mode of transport - Sky bus, MRT, walking, cab and bus, in that order. I also managed to collect my race bib from the organisers who were stationed at Marina Hotel on my way from the Airport. As expected of Singapore, it was very well organised and the whole process was completed in a couple of minutes. I really liked the gift pack they had organised along with the race bib, this included a very smart Adidas singlet using the Standard chartered bank colours, a smart bag and a few other things from the sponsors. Procam, organisers of the Mumbai Standard Chartered marathon, need to come here for a crash course, they would take at least 15 minutes for the entire process, if you come during the non peak hours, you collect race bib from one counter, champion chip from another and the gift pack from the third one.

The efficiency of the public transport system is similar to that of Bombay, though for obvious reasons its less crowded. The number of cars in Singapore have gone up considerably in spite of the harsh taxation on owning them. Maybe its time for the government to hike it further. Also the much hyped cleanliness of the city, has gone down in recent years. You will manage to find a stray can, some plastic scrap & cigarette butts.

In my hunt for the Marina hotel and my cousins house, I had managed to walk a good 4-5kms. Since I was travelling extremely light that was not really a problem. I ended the day by having some adventurous Indian food by the Singapore lake (its like a huge food court having different restaurants). The food was not really similar to Indian food in India, the veg food did a very good job but the mugali food - Kababs, butter chicken (which tasted more like chicken tikka masala) was a little disappointing.

My trip, Bombay - Singapore....

I had a very early morning on Nov 30. Did not sleep the whole night, as I watched India lose badly (again) and got to the airport at 2am and as expected the flight took off at 6.45am instead of 5am. The Bombay-Bangkok leg of Cathy was smooth, thought the flight attendants were not so pleasant and I could see them discriminate between Indian and non Indians. Can't blame them completely for it, as 80% of the flight had Indians and some of them were travelling for the very first time (the people on a domestic Indian flight are very normal and well behaved), but some of the people who were on this flight reminded me of a local intercity bus, badly behaved, with absolutely no manners (not sure what they were going to Bangkok for), and this came across as a big shock. The food was horrible (and that is an understatement), thanks to the travel agent, who had marked me for Hindu non veg food (not sure what that means, but I guess that excludes Pork and beef, which I enjoy). The food was very dry and unpalatable, but I needed the calories, so had to just stuff it down my throat.

I just about reached in time for my connecting flight from Bangkok - Singapore, which was great good, as I did not have to spend any time waiting at that Airport (so the delay was a huge blessing in disguise). But here the experience was very different, the crew was very nice and courteous and the food was amazing (I was wiser this time and asked for a change from the scheduled Hindu non veg to regular non veg food). Over all the experience on this Cathy flight was very pleasant and the flight reached Singapore on time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Am off for my marathon....

The adventure continues..... I realised in the afternoon that I had not done by medical insurance and then had to run from pillar to post to arrange it and finally got the physical document late evening. And this was after getting my passport in my hand just yesterday after the prolonged wait.

I ran in the morning today and comfortably did 7.5km, though I did not run yesterday as I wanted to rest my legs. Now I hope to finish off with a short run on Friday morning.

Hope I don't have any more surprises before I get to Singapore.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

13km final long run..

I completed by 13km run in about 1hr 15minutes in the evening today. Could not bear the way India performed after a wonderful start and the run help me forget that! During the next week, I plan to run on Tuesday and Wednesday for about 7.5km each and will follow it up with a light run on Friday in Singapore, just to get a feel of the weather and pulse of the city.

I have finally got my Singapore visa after a lot of effort, and don't have the energy to run behind the Thai visa and will take it on arrival (one of the few countries that allows Visa on arrival for Indians).

If I have a good run at the Singapore marathon, I plan to write a interesting piece on it (incl. my preparation for it and the important part played by the blog) along with some pics clicked on my Camphone and will try and see if I can get it published in a relevant magazine or newspaper. But, all this is subject to me having a great run next Sunday.

Last long run coming up..

As planned I was able to do another two 7.5km runs on Friday and Saturday. Which makes it a total of 30kms during the week. Now I just need to top it off with a 13-15km run on Sunday.

I decided to postpone my Sunday run from morning to evening, as I had a late night on Saturday and needed to catch up on sleep.

The day has been good, very relaxed and the Tibetan incantations (The meditative sound of Buddhist chants) were very helpful. Its something that really works for me. I had picked up the CD on my trip to Nepal at one of the Buddhist monasteries. This is one of the most popular Buddhist chant CD, containing three chant tracks of about 25minutes each. The only thing you need is a good set of speakers and amplifiers to transport you to another world. Its a very good stress buster. I am planing to rip them into MP3 format so that I can load it on my mobile phone. If any of you are interested in the CD, do let me know.

Plus India is finally performing in the third ODI at South Africa, which was very much required. India need to give South Africa a thrashing, compensate for the disappointing performance in the second ODI.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

So far an uneventful week....

......And that is really good. I have had two good runs yesterday and today, did about 7.5km in about 43mins on both the days. My legs are feeling quite alright and things are looking good, am waiting for the Sunday run to get one last confirmation of my preparation.

My struggle for the visa is continuing, but am finally seeing some progress on it and hope to get it done by Tuesday. Hope there are no last minute nasty surprises. Actually I am quite used to things falling in place right at the very end on most occasion, as the deadline approaches, guess that helps build the excitement and you tend to appreciate things. Am I positive or what..

In the meantime, I am trying to stuff myself with multi-vitamins, cod liver oil, lotsa carbs and everything possible to ensure that I am absolutely fit before the run.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

22km run...

I had a good run today, did about 22km in about 2hr 15min. I was feeling good and was ready for a lot more. The only problem being my left foot pain flared up again after the 12km mark, I decided to run with it and at the end of 20km it became quite bearable. I decided not to push as I did not want to aggrevate it and at the end of 22km I get a feeling that its back to normal. But, the real test will be how things feel tomorrow morning. That give me a lot of confidence for the Singapore run, as I now feel reasonably confident of doing the full marathon with or without the left foot injury.

Next week I plan to use my other set of shoes (used ones) to check if the Newport running shoe is giving me adequate cushioning in the front of the foot. If the other set performs better over the next week (including the next Sunday run of about 20km), I will use them for the final run on December 3, 2006. So next week is going to be crunch time.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Had a good run in the morning, did 7.5km and it went off quite smoothly. My left foot behaved itself and now I am quite confident about my Sunday run. I was very nervous during my run yesterday and was hoping really hard that things would get back to normal. The last thing I want stopping me from doing a good time is a silly injury.
I hope to do anything between 20-30km, depending on how things go tomorrow. Don't want to push myself too hard.

I have now completed the extensive paperwork for my Singapore and Bangkok Visas and hope to complete the paperwork by end of next week.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Today was my first rest day after the foot injury. I hope its nothing which will hold me back beyond a couple of days. Today I managed to walk for about 4 kms in the evening (40mins), and am not sure if its healed but will still take a break tommorrow.

I finally got my renewed passport after all the hiccups. Now its the next struggle, for the Singapore visa, I hate the treatment Indian nationals get from most of the developed world (would love to boycott them only if I could), how can they ask a person for his three year tax returns, six months bank account, credit card copy, return tickets.... for a stupid tourist visa. How dare they?? Guess I don't have too much of a choice (than ranting on my blog) then following their stupid, irrational rules, which make absolutely no sense. Bangkok is a lot better, which offers a visa on arrival. Guess developing countries are more fair and rational.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I have been doing light runs for the past two days, managed to do 6kms on both the days. The lower part of my foot (near the toe) is feeling a little sore and it aches a little when I run, so I have decided to rest it for the next two days and if things get back to normal, I will follow it up with a 20km run on Sunday (don't want to take any chances by doing anything more than that). It happened due to the pounding my legs received during last Sundays run.

During the next two days I will focus on some leg strengthening and stretching exercises and plan my run. I should finally have my corrected passport in hand, hope they have finally got it right and then will have to do the rest of the paperwork for my travel.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

32km run

I did my 32kms in about 3hr 20min, which is quite good given the fact that I was not feeling too good over the last couple of days. And I could not have done it & that too in a decent time had it not been for another runner who was running on the same trail after my 15km mark and he was doing a 26km run and preparing for the Mumbai marathon. He was running at a brisk pace and I had to work hard to keep up with him and this helped me maintain a good overall pace.

Based on my current level of preparation, I have a feeling that I should definitely be able to do my first under 5hr time and if I am lucky I should be able to it under 4hr 30mins, but 4hr 30min is definitely on for the Mumbai one. I will get a better idea of my finish time depending on how I do my next Sunday 30km run, actually I will try and do the same distance next Sunday. Today's run was a good 5km more than my previous Sunday run and there was no way I could have done anything more than that.

I can feel that I am better prepared this time as the recovery is a lot quicker and better and I have not had big strains other than the regular aches and pains after a really long run. Things are looking up and I just need to keep going.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A day before the big run....

I am looking forward to my biggest run before the marathon, I hope to do something close to 35kms tomorrow and this means a 3.5hr ordeal. The weather has improved considerably over the last three days and this was also the reason for me feeling little feverish. I seem to be back to normal now and am hoping that the weather does not disappoint tomorrow. I hope to start as early as possible to avoid the sun (as far as possible). Am a little tense about tomorrow's run, but I also know that if I can do this successfuly, I will have super confidence for the Singapore marathon.

New development on my stolen (and recovered) mobile phone - I got a letter from the cop station asking to me to present myself at 11am today and this was given a day before. I decided against it as I had a hectic work day and there was no way I could be present there at the scheduled time. In the evening I decided to give them a call and enquire why they needed me. There immediate response was that I should then come on Monday, in the morning. I tried to explain that it would not be possible and it was then that I was told that this was with regards to me claiming the phone from the station. I requested that it be handed over to me without going to the magistrate's court (I almost got a feeling that this was possible!) and I promptly got a response that this was not possible without the court order. The good thing is I don't have to visit the cop station now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I have been running regularly for the last three days - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I did 7.5km each on all three days. I have been getting very different readings on my phone for the last three days wrt the distance and speed, the only thing that has been consistent is the reading of steps taken by me - 7000 steps or so.

According to me I am doing 7.5km distance on all three days but have got different readings, but now I have found a way to get a reading which is quite accurate. I need to wear my waist pouch and clip the phone on that pouch, instead of directly on my shorts. Guess that reduces the shake and the readings turn out to be a lot more accurate.

I hope to do about 35km this Sunday, followed by 30km on the following Sunday and finally tapering with 20 on the Sunday before the marathon. And do a weekly distance of about 28kms over 4 runs. Hope I can stick to this. Tomorrow is my break day, as am feeling a little weak (maybe due to the cold) and would like to rest instead of pushing myself and jeopardising my crucial Sunday run of 35km.

I have registered for the Mumbai Marathon which takes place on Jan 21, 2006. There is no news on my passport as yet, guess they have messed up again and I will have to pay them another visit.

I will be posting my review of Nokia 5500 Sport over the weekend as I am yet to figure out all the features. Hope to do it over the weekend.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Its raining in the evening today, So that is a good indicator of the heat and high humidity in the morning. These rains are as unseasonal as it gets. It usually always rains when there is a big cricket match (whatever the season) and today we are having the Champions Trophy final at Brabourn stadium, Bombay. But the good thing is that Singapore would be a little easier than this.

I tried to register for the Bombay Marathon which takes place on January 21, 2006, but somehow the site does not seem to accept payment through any credit card. Will try and do it again tomorrow.

27.65km run...

I started a little later than I had planned and paid the price for it. I was unable to do the 30kms I had planned for the day. The weather was quite hot and humid today, guess the so called Bombay winter has not yet arrived.

I ran for about 2hr 49min for the distance, though I was hoping to run for 3hrs. I also need to change my hydration plan, instead of one bottle of Gatorade and another of water, I need to carry two bottles of Gatorade for these distances, in this weather. The fluids should then be enough for my 3.5hrs run to do about 35kms. That is my plan for next week.

The timing shown by the pedometer today for the long run seemed quite accurate, it did show that I had a speed of 11-12km/hr during the first 30mins or so and after that it settled down around 10km/hr. The only change was that this time I was wearing it on my waist pouch instead of shorts, so will try it again next week to see if the readings are any different.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Have been using the pedometer on my mobile for the last three days, the readings are consistent but they are not accurate. Tomorrow will be the real test when I hope to do 30km, my legs seem to be in great shape but have been having continuous cough for the last two weeks, it just refuses to disappear, hope this does not affect my long run.
I did a distance of 7.5km (and pedometer one of 8.9km)on Friday and 6km on Saturday (which appeared as 6.9km on pedometer), in about 44mins and 33mins respectively.

I badly need to successfully complete the 30km run tomorrow, but the temperature does not seem to be helping my cause, so I will need to start closer to 6am tomorrow. Hope I can execute it.

Will write a detailed review of my Nokia 5500 after my long run tomorrow.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Best Idli place in Bombay (Mumbai)

I recently visited a speciality Idli joint. Its called Udipi Idli House and is located at King's circle (near the flyover) and you can reach them on 3246 0111 for more details. This is the only place in Bombay that serves authentic Idlis - the way they are served in Mangalore(its a rice pancake & is a steamed dish) as it serves idli's with the right mix of rice and urad dal, most place in Bombay serve plain rice idli's. Idli is a very popular south Indian dish of Bombay.

Its a fast food joint which serves a variety of idlis. This includes regular idli, khotto, moudo, in addition to other exotic varieties. The price of all varieties is very reasonable, but the place is usually quite crowded and you might have to stand & eat your dish (plus its a very small joint). They have two other branches which are - Udipi stores, near Matunga, Central railway station and Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding, LBS market Bldg, Matunga station. There is no branch outside Matunga.
Today I went for my run in the morning like any other day the only difference was that this time I had my phone calculating the distance, speed, calories......

I wore the phone on my waist, as instructed, using the clip given by Nokia. It showed that the distance I had run was 8.87kms and the speed was 12km/hr. But according to me I don't think I ran more than 7.5kms, so to verify the distance, I plan to clip it to another holder tomorrow. I get a feeling that the holder given by Nokia is not suitable for calculating the distance while running. Since its basically a pedometer, excessive shake might give wrong calculations. Hope to have better readings tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Was not able to run on Monday and Wednesday due to some hectic traveling (and resultant late nights), but just about managed to run on Tuesday, did about 6kms in 33minutes while in Delhi. The weather in Delhi is a lot better than that of Bombay, I only hope this weather was present 15day earlier.

I now have my Nokia 5500 sports phone with me and will be using it tomorrow for my run. This will be the first time I will have some accurate distance calculations of my runs. Will write more on my experience with it tomorrow. Am really looking forward to it, but before that I need to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Singapore marathon update..

Race kit collection details for overseas Participants
Overseas participants, ie. registered runners who do not reside in Singapore will be able to collect your Race Entry Pack at the Official Hotel of the event, the Marina Mandarin Singapore at the following location and times:
Address: Marina Mandarin,Level 1, Pisces Room, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore 039594
9:00am – 9:00pm on Thurs, 30 November & Friday, 1 December
and 9:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday, 2 December

Overseas participants will also be required to bring along their race entry confirmation slip and a photo ID for verification purposes. Collection of Race Entry Pack during these dates is strictly for runners who reside overseas.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

25km long run...

Had a good run today, did the targeted 25kms in a little over two and a half hours. It was hotter than last Sunday, so found it a little difficult. Am now looking forward to the next challenge of 30kms next Sunday.

The good thing is that I did not feel mentally exhausted & was able to
do the distance without walking in between. My biggest challenge will be to avoid
hitting the wall (this happens at that time of the race when your mind
tells you to switch off and your body tell you that you that it can't run any
further - usually around 33-35km mark in a full marathon) and I need to toughen up mentally to avoid it. My body has been holding quite well through all the recent long runs, without any trouble, so I just need to get mentally prepared to do the entire 42kms without any change of pace (well atleast downward change of pace).

I have a feeling that in the Mumbai Marathon which takes place after Singapore marathon in January, I will be able to knock of atleast another 10-20minutes of my Singapore time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Had two good runs of 7.5Kms each on Thursday and Friday, did both in around 44 minutes. Now I just need to finish off this week with a 25km run tomorrow & that would complete one hell of a calender week, with (20+6+7.5+7.5+25) 66kms, but if I average it out with about 22kms of the previous week, the average would be 44kms for the week, not bad at all.

Am looking forward to my run tomorrow, plan to start at 6.30 in the morning so that I can complete my run by 9pm. The weather is now getting a lot better, so am feeling very positive.

Have fought with the passport office guys and they should have my ECNR endorsed soon. And was pleasantly surprised that they would be couriering it to me, so that would save me an extra trip. Just hope this time they get things right!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hunt for a valid passport...

I had a decent run in the morning today, did about 6kms at a brisk pace of little under 34mins. The weather is quite pleasant these days at 6.30 in the morning, I get a feeling that things are improving and the heat wave in western India is finally receding. According to the latest weather reports, we should have winter from first week of November, which means night temperature of 24degree C and day temperature of around 32degree C. Eagerly looking forward to it.

I just realised that I have only three more Sundays to put in the big long runs, so I will need to do 25km this Sunday, followed by 30km and 35km respectively over the next two Sundays. My legs are holding up quite fine after the two punishing runs on Sunday and Monday with 10km and 20km each, I hope to keep them injury free.

The latest update on my passport, I have finally got my renewed passport by post. I was under the impression that this would be the end of the story. But, my friends at the passport office decided to ensure that I visit them regularly. This time they have decided to give me an ECR endorsement instead of ECNR (Emigration clearance not required). What this means is that I need to take the permission of the Indian Emigration authorities each time I visit a developing country (which means anything other than N America, Europe, SAARC countries & Singapore). This is basically meant to protect the unskilled workers from being exploited by touts & brokers, as they get duped & end up working as slave labour (well almost, basically exploited by their sponsors or foreign employers, especially in Gulf and South East Asia). I should have automatically got an ECNR stamp on my new passport as my earlier passport had it, plus I had given complete detailed of my 20years of education!! So I have now registered online for an appointment and plan to give them a piece of my mind tomorrow. There is no way they are going to make me pay the fees again for their mistake (hope I am able to stick to my words!!). I hope to get the ECNR stamp tomorrow itself. The saga continues...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shiro - the best lounge bar in Bombay (Mumbai)

I had a very eventful and satisfying day today. I started early today, at 6.50am as planned for my 20km run. I did it in little over 2hrs and it was one hell of a smooth run, I only wish I had the same rhythm and frame of my last Sunday in Delhi. I would have comfortably done an under 2hr time. But the main differentiator between the two runs was the weather, not only did I start very early today but there was almost no direct sun (as it was partially cloudy), till about 8.30am (which is quite rare). Also the 20km included the Pedder road climb (for those of you familiar with Bombay's topography) at the very end of the run. To sum up it was one of the best practice runs I have had in a long long time.

I hope to continue doing 20+kms during each of the forthcoming Sundays (going upto 35km two weeks before the marathon) till December. I could not have asked for a better start, just need to keep up the momentum.

This 20km run took me to 'town' (South Bombay), heart of the city, so I decided to catch up with some old friends over breakfast and an extended lunch. The lunch took place at Hard Rock Cafe, which I understand is the first one in India. It lived up to expectations, in terms of music, acoustics, ambience and beverages, though the food and staff (they need better training) was a little disappointing. It is still worth a visit to hang out with friends, but not really for a meal for two. But the thing which really surprised me was a lounge bar adjacent to Hard Rock (at Worli, behind Mahindra towers & Phoenix mills), managed by the same guys who are franchisees of Hard Rock. Its called Shiro and it is the best lounge bar I have ever visited (by a big margin), it’s got the most amazing decor, lighting, the soothing sound of flowing water (real sound), seating, menu........ and the list goes on (Just sitting in that place is amazingly relaxing). In terms of pricing it’s marginally more expensive than Hard Rock (which in turn is similar to TGIF pricing, but better portions). But, it’s only open in the evenings from 7.30pm -1.30am. I hope they decide to keep it open in the afternoons on weekends & holidays, as I am sure they will get decent traffic. Shiro, Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, Mumbai. Tel : 24383008

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Recovery run..

I did manage to do a 10km run today, although it was a big effort as i was recovering from the mild flu; I did it in 1hr 4mins. I had to start later than I would have liked, as I was waiting for the smog to cleanup. Thanks to the Diwali - festival of lights (and sadly lot of noise and smoke), the air gets much polluted and it takes some time for the morning sun to clear up the air.

I hope to make the most of my long extended Diwali weekend break, to log some extra miles and bundle it with a lot of rest. I hope to do a 20km run tomorrow if everything goes well, hope to start very early tomorrow morning. Its going to be tough getting up at 5.30am in the morning on a holiday, as I am spending the night watching Schumacher for the very last time, can't miss this opportunity for the world. I know it’s not going to be possible for him to win the championship, but he sure will go down fighting. He never disappoints….

I hope to get myself a Nokia 5500 as a replacement for my previous phone which continues to be in police custody. This is the best sports phone available in the market (actually the only one), I need it for my preparation, as it would help me keep a accurate tab on the distance and speed during the last one month of my preparation.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The week after...

After my Delhi run, I was able to run for 6km and 7.5km on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that I have been down with Flu. The cough, cold and body ache has ensured that I take complete rest. Past two days were bad but today things are improving and I hope to go for my Sunday run tomorrow.

What I have realised after my Delhi run is that I need to strengthen my upper body, improve on my breathing (oxygen intake) and improve my weekly mileage. So I will be starting off on all three from next week, along with some Yoga exercises.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Timing device & start disappoints at Hutch Delhi half marathon 2006

Till 7.25am in the morning today, I was very impressed with what the organisers (Procam) had done for the second Delhi half marathon. But after that things did not go so well. The race actually started before time, not sure if that was intentional or planned, but this meant that I started about 2 minutes after that actual race & I asssue this did not get factored in my timing. Thank god, I was using my own stopwatch to time my race.

But the bigger issue was the error in timings provided using the timing chip. This was the first time, they were using this new chip in India (its the ankle strapped one, instead of the shoe lace one, can't remember the make/company providing it). Let me elaborate this with my timing which is mentioned as below in the certificate.
8km - 47min 49sec
12km - 1.22.53
14km - 1.47.46
21km - 2.05.50

The big error is the 14km time mentioned above, which should be more like 18km, but still can't understand why the timing device does not take the actual time of my start instead of the official start time.

My Hutch Delhi half marathon 2006..

I had a reasonably good run on Delhi half marathon, even though I did not post a good time. I did the run in about 2hr 3min 30sec, this time was higher than my previous best of 1hr 58min in the first Delhi half marathon.

The weather was hot and dry, which made it difficult, plus the fact that it started at 7.30 in the morning. I start the first 10kms at a good pace and was doing fine and was hopeful of doing a time of under 2hrs, but as the temperature started to increase and the race moved to the wide open stretches that I start to feel the heat and exhaustion started setting in. At around 15km and 17km I just could not run and was crawling. But after I crossed 17km I started to get into a rhythm and picked up pace and caught up on a lot of lost time. But given the weather condition and my preparation I think I did quite well.

What it has also told me that I need to prepare very hard over the next 45days to be able to put up a good performance in the Singapore marathon, and achieve my dream target of 4hr 30min for a full marathon.

Its feel great to be back home in Bombay after a hectic weekend at Delhi. If I do decide to participate in the Delhi marathon next year, I am very sure that I will do a time of well under 2hrs, I just need to prepare a lot harder.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blog featured on Economic Times

Refer to the Blogger park in ET High Flier (specifically - My Indulgence). Economic Times is India's largest read business newspaper.

Mahabaleshwar trip

I had a very pleasant long extended weekend trip to Mahabaleshwar (its a hill station which is about 6 hours drive from Mumbai). I did manage to run on all four mornings that I was there, and trust me this was very tough. The weather was just perfect, clear Sky on most days with bright sunlight, but optimum temperature of around 20degree Celsius and moderate humidity, which made getting up in the morning extremely difficult. But, at the same time it was also the ideal weather for running.

Another special feature was the terrain, Mahabaleshwar is on top of a hill (its actually one of the highest and largest hill stations in the state of Maharashtra & its also the most beautiful), So i had good run climbing a slope of about 1.5kms or so around the Venna lake. On the first two days I ran about 5kms each and on the next two days I did the 1.5km slope twice, about 6kms each.

I followed it up with a run today (late evening) with a 6km run. And I hope to do my last run on Friday morning. Am looking forward to my Sunday Delhi Half marathon, my preparation is nowhere close to adequate but I hope to do a time of under 2hours. And if I am lucky I will break my previous personal best of 1hr 58 odd minutes.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I did 6km run today, the knee seems alright though I do not get the feeling of it being normal. I hope to run again tommorrow. I am off to a hill station over an extended weekend and am looking forward to catch up on some scenic runs & doing inclines. It should be good preparation for my Delhi half marathon.

Hot pursuit - part 2

Today I visited the cop station again after my September 13 incident of mobile phone theft. Actually I was there for police verification, which is a requirement for renewal of my passport.

The police verification process was very smooth and quick, the cops were very polite and helpful. I had taken all possible documents to prove my existence and proof of residence, which meant right from my birth certificate, current passport, Voter ID card, telephone, electricity, Gas connection and what have you... The verification process is quite good, they go through originals and collect copies of all the documents, and the same is verified by a senior official at the station. Overall I was quite impressed with the procedure and if followed properly in all cases, the chances of anti-social elements getting one can be minimised.

After completing the police verification process, I decided to use my trip to check on my theft case. I also needed to collect a copy of the FIR (First information report), basically some proof that they have possession of my phone. On enquiring, I was told that my case hand been allotted to a cop for investigation. He seemed like a nice guy (though overworked) and he gave me complete details of the progress of my case. But before starting off, he congratulated me for being brave (catching the criminals & handing them over to the cops). I explained to him that I was not doing anything with an intent to be brave or model citizen, It was just a spontaneous reaction from my side (something like defending myself), though in this case it was defending my pride. ‘How dare someone snatch my phone in the middle of the road & then walk away with it (ok, run away with it!), I just needed to catch him and nail him.’

He mentioned that they interrogated the two thoroughly to find out more about the gang. They did not get any information on the third guy, I had mentioned. Of the two, the guy who snatched my phone was a juvenile (he was 17 year old), he had claimed that as soon as he was caught, though nobody believed him at that time. This boy was released on bail and his partner was still in judicial custody, as he was not able to arrange the bail and required surety. According to the cop, my case will take anything between 2-4 years to reach its logical end. Also to my surprise it is not classified as a petty case, this was big time theft. Though I tried to tell him that this was an open and shut case as the thief was caught red-handed and he had confessed to his crime. He enlightened be about the Indian judicial system, which takes its own sweet time.

I also enquired as to how I could get possession of my phone, other than having to visit the magistrate with my lawyer & application requesting the same. He was kind enough help me with a couple of lawyer options, who might want to help to regain possession of my phone. So, I plan to give them a call and find out the charges for doing this exercise. If the resale value of the phone (which is 10 months old), is significantly higher than the lawyer charges plus the effort involved in making a personal visit to a remote court in Bombay, I will decide to hire them. Will be giving a constant update on my pursuit….. in the coming weeks…

Monday, October 02, 2006

Did not have a good run today, did about 14kms in about one hour forty minutes, with Lot's of starts and stops, was not just feeling right. Need to get back into a rhythm so that I can get ready for the next weekend half marathon. The knee seems alright while running but have to find out if it stays that way during the day, am keeping a close watch on it.

Waiting to register for the Mumbai marathon, which should start around October 10, 2006.

Online booking for international travel disappoints

I have finally been able to book my tickets to Singapore and this was after having worked on it for over a couple of months, trying to research and get the best deal. I went through various travel sites (India based) and airline websites. The online travel booking experience was a big disappointment, to say the least. Some of the airline sites did not allow me to book an e-ticket for various reasons, this included Sahara and Thai Airways. I was hoping to get the best deal, as I was booking well in advance, especially from Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines (which should have logically had a special fare for participants to the marathon!!).

Coming to the online travel sites, some of which allow you to book online and others direct you to an offline travel agency. The offline agency told me that the fares for November had not been opened by Thai Airways and the only way to book so many months in advance would be through their website. After a lot of hunting, I finally decided to book it last week through the Thai Air website (the reason I chose Thai, was because I wanted a day's stopover on my return to shop for things, so being the national carrier of Thailand, logically it would give the best deal for a Singapore trip via Bangkok) and to my horror I found that the fares had gone upto 25.5K (INR) from a 22k a couple of weeks back. This is when I decided to press the panic button. I took the help of a friend who happened to be a veteran in the offline travel space, to help get me a good deal on the Singapore trip via Bangkok through his travel company. And within an hour he was able to get me a fair of 18.5K on a major Airline which had its hub in Singapore (with a Bangkok stopover), which makes the deal even more special.

The conclusion I have come to after this experience – the online travel websites based in India do not have the skill sets or the technology or bulk buying capability or something else, to be able to give you the best deal on international travel. And the official website of international airlines does not give you the best ticket deal either.

Your best chance of getting the best ticket deal is to use your offline travel agent, preferably someone who is very big – SOTC, Thomas Cook, etc, as the volume of tickets which they buy for say South East Asia or Europe (plus their tie-up with a particular Airline), helps get the best deal for you (but they might insist on you booking your hotels through them, to make it worth their while).

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Injury prone..

I seem to be injury prone. The latest one being a slight pain at certain times in my left knee, and this is in addition to the old right shin strain (which is more or less under control). I want to be a little careful with the knee and hence had decided to rest on Saturday and Sunday. I hope it is just another temporary problem and not something permanent.

The planned trip to Sula Vinyards, Nashik has got postponed indefinitely, so am taking a well deserved break today at home. I hope to do my long run tomorrow and hope things improve by then.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I was able to run this monday after my sunday long run and did about 6km. I followed it up with a run today of 7.5km and did it in about 42minutes. I hope to do another 15kms during the week, as I am not sure if I will be able to go for a run this Sunday. I hope to compensate for it by doing my long run on Monday Oct 2 (its a holiday, Gandhi's birth anniversary).

I hope to go for a day trip to Nashik (about 5-6hr drive from Mumbai) for a wine tasting trip to Sula Vineyards (Nashik Vintners Pvt. Ltd., Gat 36/2, Govardhan, Nashik or visit www.sulawines.com for more details). Looking forward to it, hope it takes place.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I had a tough run today, inspite of starting off at a quarter past seven in the morning, it was hot and muggy. Did manage to do 19kms in about 2hrs. Guess I will have to start a lot earlier to beat the heat. But, what is a bigger concern is that the Hutch Delhi half marathon start at 7.30am, which will be quite hot at this time of the year.

Gateway of India - by day & night

Gateway of India pictures clicked from the Royal Yacht club.

Time Out Mumbai (TOM) completes 2 years

The Time Out Mumbai Team at Taj Lands End, Mumbai

Last week I attended the Time Out Mumbai anniversary bash. It was a well attended and organised anniversary bash. TOM is a wonderfully produced magazine by a bunch of very committed and passionate people of Peprika media. Looking forward to the next edition on Delhi from the team.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How to renew your passport in Mumbai....

I only managed to run thrice this week, though I did manage to complete 21kms over this week. But I actually have good reason for it, as one evening I was at the Royal Yacht club (its close to gateway of India) and the second day was due to my expedition to the passport office.

My passport office visit was required for renewal of my passport, so that I could attend the Singapore marathon. I had registered online and got a date allotted to me one month after. On my allotted date I was advised by some friends to hire a broker/tout who would ensure that I would not have to wait in a long queue (and would need to reach the office half an hour before start) and complete the exercise in under an hour. Whereas some others told me that it was pointless to use a tout, as they are not really allowed to do anything inside the passport office and the only thing they do for you is wait for you and keep a place for you in the queue, and you have to do the rest on your own. I chose the latter, I reached the passport office at 7.30am and had to wait till 10.00am for the counters to open.

Now coming the interesting bit, when I joined the queue at 7.30am I was about 40th in the queue, but by around 8.30am I realised that I was 70th in the queue. I soon realised that many of the people standing in front of me where touts and they where representing their clients, and each of them was fixing about 5 people in the queue. I decided to protest against such moves and soon found like minded fellow queue mates who were equally upset with this and to our credit we managed to put a stop to this. We thought that we had solved the problem, but it was only after we went inside the office after 10am, we noticed that at regular intervals, there were a couple of touts who would come and drop a couple of applications at some of the 12 counters for clearance.

The concerned officer at the counter would then take up these applications in between the applications submitted by people who had come there in a legitimate manner. But the bigger issue was that these applications were not supported by any original documentation and the concerned person was not present in person. (these measures are important so that passports are not allotted to people who are applying for them with an intent to misuse them). I might be wrong in my observation and these applications might have had a valid reason for having come at the counter (out of the blue), but this is how it appeared to me!

My recommendations to those of you who are visiting the passport office for renewal –
  • There is no point in hiring the service of a tout, its just not worth it.
  • Try and be there by 7.30 am.
  • There is no need to come earlier than that and do not be worried if you are among the first 100 entrants, there are about 12-14 counters and many of them come for other issues like ECNR approvals, changes in passport (all of which have different counters in Hall 2)
  • It will take you about a maximum of a couple of hours to complete the application scrutiny and submission process, if you reach by 7.30, it should not take you more than an hour after the counters open.
  • The staff is very strict and sometimes very unreasonable, so even though you are required to bring only two supporting documents for proof of residence, please carry an additional 2 document options. Also carry some spare pictures, the person at the counter asked me to replace my pictures in the application, as he felt that the picture which I had pasted was not good enough (and guided me to a photostudio across the road, which ripped me off) In short, if your application has not been vetted/arranged by a tout or agent, there is a 50% change that they will find some imperfection in your application.
  • Do remember to carry water, fruit and some sandwiches with you, plus some reading material, the wait can get very boring (touts are not the most interesting guys to chat with!!)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Petrol dealers strike is good for Bombay

The petrol dealers strike could not have come at a better time for the city of Bombay (Mumbai). Although their reasons for going on strike are a little silly - how and
why should they interfere with the state government taxation policy on petroleum products. There are a few state run petrol pumps and some company owned petrol pumps which are functioning, but they are in sufficient to meet the demands of the city.

Before I write further, some might believe that I am biased as I use the public transport and I also believe/have faith in Bombay's robust public transport system. Let me state some things which I observed over the last two days - my bus ride to work today was a lot smoother (though the bus was crowded, more than usual), I saved about 10mins or more of travel time, the air felt a lot fresher and the roads looked a lot cleaner. Other than that I also observed that lot of people were using car pools which was a pleasant surprise in Bombay, people were not using their private cars unnecessarily for small errands & unwanted trips.

I hope that this indefinite strike continues for a few days, it will teach us a good lesson on how we can conserve and use petroleum products judiciously. This will also give the car pool movement a big kicker. I hope the state government decides to levy a heavy congestion cess or some additional tax on private vehicles that enter the main city. This will not only help reduce traffic but will also provide additional
resources to the government to invest in the city's public transport system.

I recently met a the guy who started a service called Koolpool in Bombay. visit www.koolpool.co.in to register or call +91 22 39442772 for more details. Its a very safe way to carpool and its supported by a SMS based platform to facilitate the car pool system. Registrations are now open and the service would start soon in Bombay
and some other metros.

Coming back to my preparation, I did manage to run 7.5kms today and did it in decent time of a little over 42minuets. I hope to run four times during this week, followed by a 20km long run on Sunday.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I had a good run today, my best one in a long time. I did manage a comfortable 19kms today in about 1hr 53mins. Plus not too many after effects after the run, had a hectic day today, but not feeling drained at the end of the day. I am already feeling a lot confident about posting a good time at the Hutch Delhi Marathon on Oct 15. This weeks mileage is now 32km(7+6+19). Next week I should be able to do well over 40kms.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Slow recovery..

Continuing with my mid-week incident, I needed three days to recover from the thigh strain I suffered after my adventurous sprint. The sprint caused much more damage than what a competitive half Marathon would have caused. Let me explain what that means - when i run 20+kms the only thing that gets strained my calves and not my thighs, its only during a full marathon that I suffer any kind of thigh strain. So that would give you an idea about the effort I must have put in to cause the strain.

I did manage to run 6kms in the morning today, just to get in better shape for my Sunday run. I hope to start early tomorrow, well before 7am and I hope to do something close to 20kms, only if my the thigh strain does not restart.

Another interesting incident (pleasant one this time!!), was something that made me feel like a mini celebrity. I was returning home after a late evening function at Bandra yesterday night, I was dropped at a kalanagar junction by a friend. I took a Auto rickshaw (Tuk-tuk) from there and as soon as I got the driver had a continuous grin on his face. He mentioned that he had seen me a number of times running in Deonar, during mornings and evening and he had a lot of questions for me - why I was running, was I running twice a day, what was I upto, How was I able to do it, etc.... It felt really good being recognized (for a change), as I was formally dressed that night, compared to my singlet and shorts during my runs!! I enjoyed my share of fame for a few minutes.

Coming back to the theft incident, I am exploring the option of taking back my complaint. Based on what I have studied at law school I don't think it will be possible as a criminal offence is against an individual as well as the state. The state being an interested party, I might not be allowed to take back my complaint, though this is possible in a civil case. Am still hunting for the right answers to sort out this issue. If its not possible for me to take back my complaint according to due process of law, I hope to take the case to its logical conclusion.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Saga continues...

Today was my second visit to the cop station. I had gone there to collect a copy of the FIR, as I needed some proof with me, saying that the police were in possession of my mobile phone (as evidence in the case). The concerned cop could not give me a copy yesterday and had asked me to pick it up today. I could not get it today, as he had forwarded it for further processing & that took longer than he expected. So I will have to go again to pick it up, tonight or maybe tomorrow.

But the scary bit was what he had to tell me after saying that I will have to come again. He mentioned that the case would take a long time (1-2 years) and the only way for me to get quick possession of my mobile phone is to make an application in a court located at Kurla, a central suburb of Bombay. And for this I would need to hire a lawyer, to make the application (along with a copy of the FIR).

Now this is something that I was not prepared for!! Its going to be a tough job making the application by myself, getting a date from magistrate to present myself and then pleading to him, to instruct the police to hand over the phone to me. The time, energy and resources required for executing this assignment is daunting, I almost feel like just writing off my phone. It would be easier for me to wait for the case to complete over the next 1-2years (or whatever duration, even though the phone would be almost worthless by then....) and treat whatever I get off it at that time as a bonus.

All this leads me to the conclusion that the Indian judicial system is not conducive for protecting the interests of individuals, who come forward to uphold the legal system.

It would be wonderful if someone could help me find an easier method to sort out this problem. Even if you can't your thoughts and opinions are welcome....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hot pursuit..

I have never run this fast ever, it was the fastest 100meters sprint.... Let me explain the background.

I was returning home after work at around 8.30pm. My residence is in a lane which is about 700meters off the highway. This lane is usually not adequately lit during the nights, today was one such day. As usual I was using my phone (to SMS) while walking in this lane (I was walking at the edge of the road, facing the traffic), a group of three were walking towards me (I did not notice them) and one of them decide to snatch my phone. As soon as I realised that they had snatched my phone, I decided to chase them (luckily my nap sack was comfortably placed on both my shoulders & I was wearing my new new balance shoes while returning home, as I needed to get used to them as they were pinching me). I happened to catch one of them (the guy who snatched my phone) and bystanders managed to get hold of the second one. And soon it was a huge bunch of people who where all set to beat the hell out of the thief. Luckily a plain clothed policeman was nearby and he controlled the situation. He then arranged for a police van, which took me along with the the two thieves to the cop station. Here I had to register by complaint - FIR (First information report) and the two guys were booked for stealing in a public place.

I tried to protect the thief from the crowd and thought that he would be safer in the hands of the police. Now I will have to wait for quite some time before I get possession of my mobile phone, as its evidence in the case. Also I will have to make an appearance, if the case goes to court. The thieves confessed to their crime in front of the police, but that is not admissible in court, as it was not made in front of a magistrate.

Guess I will now have to visit the Cheeta Camp police station at Anushakti Nagar a few times, to keep a track of the case and obtain possession of my mobile phone.

I did manage to run today for 7kms and completed it in a little over 42minutes. I don't think I will be able to run tomorrow as I will not be able to catch sufficient sleep tonight.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I ran 17.5kms today, it is really tough running in this weather (very hot and humid). I did the distance in 1hr 57mins, which included having to walk for close to 1.5kms as I was exhausted after the first 10kms. Guess its more physical and mental fatigue, thanks to the hot weather, which is taking a huge toll. I hope to start a lot earlier for my next sunday run (7am instead of 8am) and going forward, I hope to do atleast a half marathon on all sundays going forward. My this weeks tally is now upto (7+7+5+17.5) 36.5km.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Had some good rest during the first three days of the week. I had a bad sore throat and cold. I ran on Thursday and Friday (morning and night), did 19kms over the two days (7+7+5). Today was my first night run after the football world cup and I also got to wear my reflective vest for the first time. That reminds me, I need to do my 4am, 20km in September, as soon as I can get back in shape for my Delhi Half marathon. I hope to do 15-20kms this Sunday.

The ugly side of Ganesh chaturthi festival...

All political parties using (mis-using) the Ganesh Chaturthi festival for their petty political gains....

Ganesh Visarjan (immersion) pictures....

Finally the long over due Ganesh Visarjan pictures, taken on the 10day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival... These pictures have been taken at the Girgaon choupaty(Beach) on Wednesday September 7, 2006.

the above exclusive pictures have been supplied by Atul Bandekar