Sunday, July 30, 2006

After a weeks break it was back to running. Felt a little rusty today and initially it was an effort to get my strides going. But, after that I managed to do a comfortable 10kms run in 1hr 2min. I will aim to do 30km a week from the coming week.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I have been taking a well deserved break after the Thane marathon. My legs took some pounding during the run plus have been having a hectic schedule. Looking forward to my Sunday run, hope my legs feel good. If all goes well I will start my preparation for the Singapore marathon from next week, need to get into a routine and improve my weekly distance covered.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Surprise.... Thane Half marathon on July 23, 2006

I got to know about the Thane Varsha state (rain) half marathon on this Saturday. (Thane is almost like a suburb of Bombay, though its technically a different city). So I did everything possible to get myself enrolled for it, so that I could get myself a reality check on my mental and physical fitness (or the lack of it!!)

The organizers have some really weird rules for registration; they wanted a medical fitness certificate as well as an actual medical checkup while giving the race bib. I requested a friend of mine who was participating in the marathon, to try and see if he could get my registration done. But despite lot of attempts on Saturday, it did not go through. I still decided to give it a shot by going there about 2.5hrs before the start and after a long wait and argument/convincing, I was lucky to get my race bib half hour before the start.

This was the 17th Thane marathon and it was organised by the Thane municipality. It does not have any sponsors and a huge chunck of the participants in the half marathon (their were 10 other categories, for kids in different age groups, senior citizens...) were from the rural parts of Maharashtra (Bombay is the capital of Maharashtra state). An overwhelming majority of them were wearing shoes with barely any cushioning, and some were even barefeat, but they were extremely fit and were serious runners who had been running all their life (quite a few of them doing times of under 1.30hrs for the half marathon), no fancy 100+dollar shoes here. It was a very different atmosphere, compared to the what I was used to at the other marathons (ones with huge corporate sponsorships!!), this one was more like a festival and the organizers were simple guys (no fancy race directors, champion chips, not one digital clock…. the list goes on), but these guys have been organizing the marathon for Thane residents, for the last 17 years and they knew how to organize one mean marathon in a simple, clean, low cost manner, minus the frills.

Since this was suppose to be a rain marathon, the rain gods did not disappoint. It was drizzling for the first half and after that it was pouring. I am one of those, who loves running in the rain and even I had a tough time managing the hard almost piercing rain and strong winds. The route was very beautiful and the crowd support was amazing, much better than what I saw for the Hutch Delhi half marathon. I ran the first 8km well, but after that my lack of fitness started to show up (I have not run more than 12kms at a time for the last 3-4 months!!) I had a tough time between 9km -16km, it was a huge effort, as I started to feel mentally exhausted, and the innumerable steep inclines made things very difficult, so after 12kms I started walking the inclines and running down the slopes and on flat ground and I slowly started to get the feeling that I would endup walking post the 15km mark. But I was able to maintain this routine till the 17.5km mark and as soon as I saw the 17.5km board, something happened to me and I got into some sort of sublime rhythm (and at this time it was pouring very hard and I was barely able to see anything in front of me). I maintained this rhythm till the very end and managed to recover a lot of the lost time and finished the run at a good 2hr 11min 54sec. Considering my level of fitness, the wait before the run and the rain, I would rate it as one of my best efforts! Though, had it not rained on today, I would not have been able to run anything close to the 2.12hrs.

I would like to congratulate the Thane Municipality for the fabulous event they have been successfully conducting for their city, to help promote fitness and running among children (they had managed very good participation from local schools for the various children’s categories of 5 and 7km distances)

Its late evening now and my legs are feeling quite alright, so I guess I have got the best start for my preparation for the Singapore marathon. I need to quickly get to the level of fitness, to be able to do a half marathon every Sunday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Registration for Singapore marathon complete

Yesterday (which was the very first day of the registration process, July 21, 2006) I managed to register for the full marathon of the Singapore marathon. I have got a confirmation from them, so the process seems to be complete.

So, now its time for me to step up my preparation for the marathon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Banned and back again....

Claim to fame - My blog was blocked in India for close to 5 days (so what if it was a mistake made by the regulatory authorities & ISPs!!).

It feels really wonderful to be able to access my blog and also post on it, after an agonizing long wait. I am sure everyone knows about the stupid steps taken by ISPs in India (overshooting their mandate by blocking popular blog sites in India). The government (DOT) directed the ISP to block 17 specific websites and blogs, but our extra smart ISPs, decided to block all possible alternatives of accessing the controversial blogs (by blocking the primary site itself, instead of limiting it the specific pages of the controversial blog - the straight forward way). Most of us were blaming the government (including me!!) and DOT for this blunder, but now it appears the ISPs are to be blamed for it. The government needs to punish the ISPs for overshooting their mandate, they need to demonstrate that their knee jerk reaction & incompetence will be severely dealt with (including a strong monetary fine)

I could not run during the week, as had to catch up on a lot of things after getting back to Bombay, but did managed to run in the morning and tonight (Friday) for 5.5kms each. I will follow it up with my Sunday long run.

Will post on my Bangalore trip over the weekend... with some pictures

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bangalore city.....break time

I have finally been able to post on my blog after three long days. Since I am in Bangalore on a holiday I have been accessing my emails from a reliance webworld (its one of the most reliable cybercafes in the country, about 30million of the 40 million Indians accessing the internet use cyber cafes). But somehow it never allowed me to access my blog, thought I was able to access all other sites (except any blogspot ones), not sure why this was happening.

Past one week has been quite eventful and at the same time very relaxed, guess I needed the break.

The weather in Bangalore has been very pleasent. I finally managed to run on saturday and sunday, did about 5 and 10kms respectively. Both the runs were effortless, as the weather was amazing, althought it was an effort to get up in the mornings. Wanted to run again today, but just could not manage to get up in the morning.

I will write more about my experience in Banaglore when i get back to Bombay, I have lots of things to tell about the city in general.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bombay (Mumbai) bounces back....

Yes, Bombay has bounced back on the very next day. The attendance has been close to 80% at work(and this turnout is more than what it was after the recent downpour in Bombay). I guess that is the best way to fight terror for an average citizen. Things are almost back to normal - trains, buses, offices, schools, everything is functioning like any other day.

More pictures from yesterday night...

Truck, buses, cabs & private cars, being stopped by locals, to accommodate people who were not able to get home by train at Mahim & Matunga (West) junction. Close to one of the blast sites. 10.20pm

Matunga Road over bridge connecting east to the west, was packed with people waiting to find some mode of transport to get home.

Another picture of the bridge in the night mode

Packed buses taking people to the western suburbs. Locals giving water to stranded passengers, stuck in traffic jams at Dadar TT area. 10.50pm

Another picture of a packed BEST bus (the efficient public transport of Bombay)

Local residents of Matunga (east) giving water, tea, biscuits to stranded bus passengers. 11.00pm

This went on till late in the night...... Spirit of Bombay lives on.....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombay strikes back with a vengeance...

Let the pictures tell the story first....

Average citizens setting up stalls distributing water to people walking back home. 10pm at Mahim

Local residents stopping buses, cabs and cars, to ensure that the average Bombayite can get a ride home.

Citizen protection wing, Mahim branch was in full action!

Traffic cops out in full force directing traffic at Dadar Plaza area.

I have enjoyed the selfless hospitality of Bombay on a few occasions (during the Bombay Marathon & during the July 26 floods), but nothing was close to what took place today. I returned home from work a short while back, I started at 10pm from Mahim and reached home close to 11.20pm.

And I had the pleasure of witnessing the hospitality (first hand) of residents of Bombay, who had come out in full force to support the public traveling by buses, cars and those who were walking. The normal reaction would have been for people to have be scared and to sit peacefully glued to the Telly in the comfort of their homes, viewing non-stop coverage of the calamity. But not for the Bombayite, he was not scared and he was going to fight.

Many of us have an impression of Bombay being a cold city, people being selfish.... But today it proved to be otherwise and am sure that tomorrow the entire city will be coming out of the homes like any other day, carrying on with their daily routine. That is the best answer the city can give the terrorists.

I have never felt so proud of my city, today everyone was out supporting total strangers, and this included the poor, the rich, kids and senior citizens, all going out of their way to help make his fellow citizen feel a little more comfortable, who is trying to make his way back home in jam packed traffic (esp. for the western suburbs).

I will be posting some more pictures tomorrow.....

Serial blast rocks Bombay, 7/11

This is the blackest day for Bombay, 8 bomb blasts rocked Bombay around 6.20pm on July 11, 2006. This is bigger than the 1994 serial blast and its hit at the heart of Bombay - its train service.

Most offices in Bombay close at around 5.30pm and the trains carry the maximum load between 6-7pm. Average compartment has a seating capacity of about 60seats, but during peak load about 200-300 people are packed like sardines. This blast took place on the western line (Central and harbour line are the two other lines). Reports of bomb blasts have come in from between Mahim (close to my office) and Matunga in north-central Mumbai, Khar, Jogeshwari (both in north-west Mumbai), Borivali - 2 blasts (north Mumbai), Bhyandar and Mira Road (in Mumbai north, in Thane district). The exact names of the stations are not certain, but its pretty much certain that its about 7 locations and 8 blasts. But the number of blasts are still not confirmed and its based on television reports. There are over 100+ people dead and many more injured.

Certain important observations -

These blasts took place on western rail network only.
They were all in trains moving in one direction, from the central business district (Churchgate) moving towards the suburbs.
They all took place in the first class compartments (their are two classes, second and first class), in a train with 12 coaches about 2 are first class coaches.
They took place within a gap of 15minutes or so, which meant the planning was detailed and meticulous (to have planned and synchronized this attack would have required a few months preparation). This means it is not related to any other incident (like the Shivaji park one or the Bhivandi incident)
Although most reports say that it was done using bags that were left in compartments, I tend to believe that this could have been done with suicide bombers (the quick succession seems very difficult without it), plus these were done in moving trains.
No terrorist group has claimed responsibility as yet.
To put the total number of casualties in perspective, let as assume that about 8 compartments would have been carrying about 2000 people (8 blasts and about 250 people in each compartment). So it would be safe to assume that about 50% of them would have been injured in some way and about 15-20% of that would have died in the blasts.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Scoop pictures from Shivaji Park incident on July 9, 2006

Police posing for the cameras (the place was buzzing with TV crews and press photographers) 9.30am

Police negotiating with the Shiv Sena workers to remove the road blockade. 9.30am

Sainks adamant on continuing their protest. 9.40am

More pics of the protest. 9.40am

Senior Shiv Sena party workers blocking the road in front of Meena Thackery statue 9.40am

The statue of Meena Thakery which was desecrated by anti social elements (ground zero) 9.45am

The smoke (from the burnt luxury bus) was visible from a distance of 100meters. 11.00am

A luxury bus being torched by the Sainks in the background, this took place despite having a very tight police cordon. This incident was followed by firing of tear gas shells by the police to disperse the crowd. 11.00am

Shops down shutters at Dadar TT for fear of being vandalised by the Sainiks. 11.10am

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Violence in Bombay, Shivaji Park area...

I started my run at the regular time of 8.30am and reached a place called Dadar TT around 9.30am, the day felt like any other Sunday, there was no rain, but the weather was pleasant, though a little humid. From there I ran to Shivaji Park (part of my regular route), which is a kilometer away from Dadar TT. And this is when I realized that things were not normal, as there was a huge traffic jam and nothing was moving. As I reached the area outside Shiv Sena Bhavan, I saw some Shiv Sena worker doing a rasta roko (road blockade) and I thought this was some symbolic protest by the workers for some communal tension in Bhivandi (in a town close to Bombay) a few days back. And I immediately reaslied that this was the time to go clicking with my camphone, I tried to capture the rasta roko from all possible angles. Suddenly I found someone tapping me on my shoulder, asking me to move from the middle of the road towards the footpath. When I turned I realised that it was a CNN IBN correspondent (I think he was Anup Gopalakrishnan), warning me that the situation would turn violent as there was a possibility of some stone throwing by the workers (and I quickly controlled my excitment of being a citizen journalist). I quickly moved from that place, and hence was unable to take pictures on the basic mode (which give pictures of 30-40kb at 640 x480 resolution), which would have allowed me to directly email the pictures to my id and post it directly on the blog. I took most of them on high resolution mode of the phone (1280 x 960 resolution with 300-450kb size) and will have to wait till tomorrow morning.

As I started to move towards my regular Sunday coffee shop toward Shivaji Park (its a park which has a perimeter of about 1.25kms) and it is here that I found out the actual reason for the protest, it was because the statue of Meenatai Thakary (wife of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thakeray) was desecrated by some anti-social elements, to flair communal tensions. Even here the Shiv Sena workers had stopped traffic. They where quite calm and requested the police to allow them to protest and assured them that this would be peaceful. Everything seemed under control and I proceeded to my coffee shop.After about an hour and twenty minutes when I returned from the café, I realised that things were not back to normal, as I saw a huge cloud of smoke from a distance. As I went closer, I realised that the workers had burnt down a tourist bus as a mark of protest. But things still seemed very much under control, as the riot police was in place in full strength.

Later I realised that the police had opened fire some time back and luckily I had missed the tear gas shelling done by the police after the workers burnt down the bus. Ref. picture which I will be posting tomorrow.I decided to quickly get out of the area and moved towards Dadar TT and that is when I realised that all the shops had pulled down their shutters, for fear of being targeted by the Shiv Sena workers. I managed to reached home safely and found out from television reports that Shiv Sena had asked all shops to down shutter in Dadar area and some other areas and some areas in new Bombay. Both these areas are strongholds of Shiv Sena and they have successfully enforced the bandh (to stop all commercial activity and force shops to down shutters).

I completed the 11km run in about one hour ten minutes and was good for more, only if this incident had not taken place.This was my first brush with protest and violence and now when I look back at the incident, it was a pretty scary situation & could have gone out of hand.

Things are slowly moving back to normal.... Will be posting my pictures of the incident on the blog tomorrow morning….

Eight glasses of water myth

Benedict Carey says:

For years we've been admonished to chug eight glasses of water a day--for our skin, for our weight, for general good health. But--surprise!--experts say that advice might not hold water.
Talk about a drinking problem.

Doctors say. "The notion that there is widespread dehydration has no basis in medical fact," says Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Doctors from a wide range of specialties agree: By all evidence, we are a well-hydrated nation. Furthermore, they say, the current infatuation with water as an all-purpose health
potion--tonic for the skin, key to weight loss--is a blend of fashion and fiction and very little science.
Consider that first commandment of good health: Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This unquestioned rule is itself a question mark. Most nutritionists have no idea where it comes from.
Kidney specialists do agree on one thing, however: that the 8-by-8 rule is a gross overestimate of any required minimum. To replace daily losses of water, an average-sized adult with healthy kidneys sitting in a temperate climate needs no more than one liter (about four 8-ounce glasses) of fluid, according to Jurgen Schnermann, a kidney physiologist at the National Institutes
of Health.
Try confusion. The way it's almost always stated, in books, magazines and newspapers, the 8-by-8 rule specifically discounts caffeinated beverages, such as coffee. This is flat wrong. Caffeine does cause a loss of water, but only a fraction of what you're adding by drinking the beverage.
That is to say, one cup of coffee equals about two-thirds a cup of water--if you're not a regular caffeine drinker. Regular coffee and tea drinkers become accustomed to caffeine and lose little, if any, fluid. The same goes for tea, juice, milk and caffeinated sodas: One glass provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water. The only common drinks that produce a net
loss of fluids are those containing alcohol--and usually it takes more than one of those to cause noticeable dehydration, doctors say.

Thirst Is Your Best Indicator
Robertson says that this mechanism almost always kicks in when we've lost between 1% and 2% of body water. "There's no evidence that this 1 to 2% decrease is harmful in any way," he says. "Thus, there is really no need to 'prevent' this slight decrease in body water by
drinking a specified amount in the absence of thirst."
"If you're a normally hydrated person, like you or me," says Dr. David Rish, a dermatologist in
Beverly Hills, "then drinking extra water is not going to do anything for your skin. If your skin is dry, and you're hydrated, the best thing to do is apply lotion."

Using Water as a Diet Aid
Perhaps most cruelly of all, there's no good evidence that drinking water significantly curbs
appetite. "I think that's mostly an invention of the diet industry," says Carolyn Katzin, a nutritionist in Brentwood who runs the American Cancer Society's nutrition program in California. "A better way to get water is in fruits and vegetables."
A couple of liters of drinking water certainly fill the stomach, researchers say. But you're just as hungry shortly thereafter; and once all that water flows under the bridge, you tend to eat as many calories as you would have without guzzling.

My personal views on the article -
My views differ a little, though I agree to most of the things mentioned in the piece. The suggested quantity not really applicable in the Indian context, where we have about 80% humidity most of the time. Plus each human being is different (similar to the 8hrs a day of sleep myth), so there is no common standard available. I believe the writer is a little biased against water, it definately has a lot of benefits which have not been highlighted by the writer. Try searching for benefits of water on the net and you will find contradictory research reports on benefits of water (from improving chances of cancer survival, helping diets, benefits during pregnancy......)
As regards me, I drink close to four liters of water a day and am doing quite good with it.

Latest inputs on Singapore marathon

Race details from Fang Hau's blog - http://jasonlfh.blogspot.com

"If you are unable to attend the race entry pack collection on the 24th,25th and
26th of November, the following arrangements are available:

1) Overseas
runners who arrive after the race entry pack collection days can collect their
Race Entry Pack at the Race Secretariat, located in our official hotel where
overseas runners are welcomed to collect their race entry packs. ( Information
on the official hotel will be released closer to the event.)

2) You may
authorise your relatives, friends or representatives in Singapore to collect
your race entry pack on your behalf. Authorisation forms will be made available
closer to the event date. More information will be available on our website
prior to the collection date.

Hope to see you at the start line this year!"

These details were sent by the race organisers.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cup of coffee

I had a good early morning run in the rain. It was raining throughout the 33minute run and I really enjoyed it. My next run will be on Sunday morning.
I though I should share a picture of my favorite cup of coffee, which like always I shot with my camphone. This picture is without any special lights (and has been shot at the cafe)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bombay downpour pictures (July 4)...

The above two pictures are from King Circle area.

Matunga central area

The above three pictures are from Matunga Road station area.

Picture clicked using my mobcam on July 4, 2006 at 3pm.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rain, Rain all around....

I did manage to do my first weekday run today. Thanks to the rains I got home early today from work and was able to manage my run. I had some good well deserved rest late afternoon, so that I would be fresh in the night for the semies. I had to walk for about 4-5kms in the afternoon, to get home from work and used this time to capture some interesting pictures on my mobcam. I have found a software which allows me to transfer pictures from my mobile to my email address, via gprs, but that is giving some trouble so could not do it immediately today. I should be able to upload them from work tomorrow. It will give you a good idea about the water logging problem and its impact on traffic and lives of people.
I do feel that Bombay over reacted today, by shutting down offices by noon and plus the fact that 40% of office goer did not even dare to venture out of their homes. And the way the weather is behaving, tomorrow is also likely to see equally heavy rains.
Coming back to my run today, it was one of the most enjoyable, fun and relaxed night runs I have had in a very long time. Its a pleasure running without the fear of stray dogs! I happened to see just one stray dog during my run today v/s about dozen plus during a usual mid-night run. I hope to repeat my run tomorrow as well before the second semies.
Am looking forward to Germany beating Italy today and following it up with winning the finals on July 9!!
I had a good run on Sunday morning, did my 10km in 1hr, 4mins. It was raining throughout my run and which ensured that my body temperature was normal (& kept exhaution at bay). I am just waiting for the worldcup to end, so that I can get back to running regularly, so that I can take my Sunday run back to 15-20km levels.
Its been pouring for the last couple of days in Bombay and there seems to be no end to it in the foreseeable future. Not that I am complaining, Bombay does need the rains (we need to fill our lakes, so that we have no water shortage in the coming year). Its just that the Bombay municipality has not learnt from the previous years experience (26/7 as its popularly known) and we are having water logging with the very first major showers of the season.
I don't think I will be able to go for my weekdays runs during this week (except maybe on Friday), as I need to catch the semis late in the night, might decide to run in the night if I am able to catch sufficient sleep during the evenings....