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The icy salt water syndrome: The open water experience

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No matter how many times you swim in the ocean, how many times you do a triathlon/Ironman, there is always something new to learn with regards to sea swimming. Such is the might of the ocean. The waves can intimidate and humble you with its capricious moods, currents and tides. This is the reason why I try and attend every open water session/clinics. 
Cowell Beach at Santa Cruz holds a special place in my heart. I tried my first open water swim here in August 2017. It was quite an eventful day, considering how I was traumatized by the freezing temperature. My anxiety levels had increased double fold. I was in panic and almost on the verge of giving up my triathlon dream, thinking that I wasn’t quite cut out for an open water swim. I did manage to enter the waters again thanks to encouragement given by the race director Penni Bengston and Coach Rajeev Char from Team Asha. 
Even then I couldn’t bear to put my head inside water. The thought of not being able to see anything petrified me. A…

Book Review :26 Marathons

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Book review
Title: 26 Marathons Author: Meb Keflezighi Genre: Memoir

26 marathons in 15 years. 

This book traces the journey of  4 time Olympian Meb Keflezighi from 2002 to 2017.  Divided into 26 chapters which is the marathon distance in miles, each chapter is dedicated to the race he's competed in. He describes his experiences and lessons learnt from every event. 
He thrives on the philosophy of running to win. With this he doesn't necessarily mean securing the first place but getting the best out of yourself in every run.  He begins his running career in 2002 with the New York City Marathon and goes on to participate in the Chicago Marathon and several editions of the Boston,Olympian, London and ends his career with the 2017 edition of the New York Marathon. 
Meb's tumultuous journey sees him through his visit to his birth place Eritrea, the tough life of folks in that place, his training regimes, struggles, injuries, illnesses and self doubts and winning streaks. 
The …

Win/Jeet

I stood at the beach for my very first open water swim. It was cold and windy. I shivered despite wearing my wetsuit that was supposed to keep me calm. When I entered the waves, it felt like I had landed in an ice bucket. The water was freezing. Coming from India, I was accustomed to only warm waters. How on earth do folks in California swim in such cold waters? I thought. 
When I put my head inside the water, my heart rate shot up. I gasped and spluttered unable to take the cold. I almost gave up my triathlon dream and walked back to the shore. I was coaxed by the coach to give it one more try. I was coaxed by my husband who said I wasn’t a quitter. 
I hesitantly walked back to the waves. I took a deep breath and calmed myself down as the coach asked me to. Slowly I began swimming my strokes and in time I swam about 400 meters amidst the waves. 
I still had that fear towards open water swimming. At that time I recollected a certain phrase which kept me going. ‘Dar ke aage Jeet hai!’

Hug

Whenever I hear the word hug, I recollect that scene from Munnabhai MBBS where the main character gives a hug to an old sweeper as an expression of gratitude for the latter’s thankless job.  It showcases how a small gesture like a hug can work like magic. Probably that’s how the term ‘Jaadoo ki jappi’ was coined. 
I recollect one such instance that occurred to me during a triathlon camp last July at Santa Rosa.
It was peak summer and the heat was unrelenting. We had to bike on the Ironman 70.3 course. It was a tough hilly route where the elevation gain was about 1000 feet.  With no shade on the course, it became an uphill task to pedal up those monstrous inclines. With every pedal, I could hear my legs pleading me to stop. My heart rate shot up and it felt like my lungs were squeezed out of air. My throat was parched and no amount of water seemed to be enough that day. 
The hills seemed never ending. I marveled at other bikers who seemed to conquer these hills with ease. ‘Humans of s…

Saying cheers post a run: The beer run experience

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Complimentary chilled beer? Post a 10-km run? The offer was too tempting to resist. I came across this post about a city beer run on Facebook on a Saturday morning when I had finished a 2-km open water swim. The run was to be held the next day. 
I scanned the details and found that the bib collection was just 15 mins away from the place of my open water swim. Thankfully the race wasn’t sold out so I instantly signed up for it in the car while my hubby drove me down to the packet pick up.





The run was scheduled at 11 noon. Being peak summer, the temperatures soared mercilessly. It wasn’t any different that Sunday.  I reached Coyote point recreational area which was 30 minutes from where I lived. It was a familiar place as I had come for an open water session a couple of weeks ago. The lush green picnic area overlooked the pristine blue pacific. The waves were friendly and calm for a change. Families and dogs splashed in the water merrily. 



I stood near the start line waiting for the run to…

Come home Papa: Book Review

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Title: Come home papa
Authors: Scholarship-winning daughters of truck drivers
Genre:Short stories  When we think of a truck driver, an image of an uncouth illiterate flashes in our mind. They are often viewed as a menace and blamed for several accidents on highways. Yet there exists a difference facet to them which is explored in this book.
‘Come home papa’ is an initiative by Mahindra Trucks and buses Ltd and Tell me your story to bring to light the road safety measures that need to be incorporated. 
It is a collection of short stories written by the scholarship winning daughters of these truck drivers. Its an attempt to look at truck drivers as fathers who toil for long hours to provide for their families. At the same time, it gives an insight into the hazards faced by them during their journey on the road. 
The stories consist of horrifying escapades that involve truck drivers' encounters with robbers, natural calamities, accidents due to drunken driving, getting caught by the p…

Pillow

As I place my head every night 
On this fluffy ball of cotton
I am transported to a different world
Of rainbows, castles and the sun. 

Sometimes it’s pixies and fairies
Sometimes its wizards and witches 
At times I am flying or falling 
Dancing or singing without any glitches. 

I am dining with the exotic species 
The March hare and mad hatter
Cheshire Cat, hobbits and elves
Engaging in a friendly banter. 

I am sliding down the rainbow
Riding on cloud nine
Casting spells of perfection 
Everything seems absolutely fine. 

My feet have wings
To soar far and wide
Away from the reality
As I go on a fantasy ride. 

The pillow is my key
A token to a world of dreams
How I wish I could stay forever 
In a world so surreal and full of cream.

If not for that tiresome ring
That jolts me back to reality
My pillow is my companion 
That ensures my sanity.

Every night after a long day
Of mundane routine and chores
Kudos to my fluffy little companion 
That keeps life from being a bore.

BYE

Written based on a word prompt. Something close to my heart..



It was in January 2003 when I saw him breathe his last. He had endured so much pain battling between life and death. Days went by and there wasn’t a day when I hoped that he would regain his consciousness. 

Just a few months ago,my parents had asked me to accompany them while visiting him. “Your grandpa would like to see you.” “Some other day,” I replied as the young adulthood inertia kicked in. Little did I realize that ‘some other day’ would never come. 

Instead it was a phone call a week later that informed me about his fall. He had hit his head and slipped into unconsciousness. He was still breathing and was taken to the hospital. The doctors kept him clinically alive before they asked us to take him home. With a full time nurse, he was placed in one of our rooms with a ventilator. 

Prayers and hymns were chanted. I hoped that he would finally wake up from his deep slumber and joke with me as he used to. That day never arr…

Educated: Book review

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Title: Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Genre: Memoir 

Educated by Tara Westover is one of the best memoirs that I have read so far.

This is a true story of a little girl who grows up amidst the mountains in Idaho. Her family is rather queer and does not believe in education or treating ailments in hospitals. Her father is quite radical in his views and her brother suffers from bipolar condition that makes him quite violent.

Out of frustration, Tara begins to educate herself and manages to get admitted in Brigham Young University (BYU). For the first time she learns about significant world events like the civil war and holocaust. As Tara delves deeper into her academics, she finds education taking her across the world and to places she only dreamt of including Cambridge and Harvard.

‘Educated’ describes the struggles with a little girl trying to survive in a world different from the one she was exposed to. It’s also sort of a coming of age story. Dealing with themes of family, loss, education…

Not every run is for a medal: The ADA 5k run experience

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It was sometime around the month of February when Doc (Kumar Janardhanan)- one of our runner friends from Chennai told us about the ADA 5k run. It was a run organized by the American Diabetes Association scheduled on June 9th2019. Doc said he was coming for a conference and said that the run would be a good chance to catch up. Amit and I signed up immediately and the registration was free of cost. 


We were up by 3:00 am on June 9th. Partly because of the India-Australia cricket match, tracking our friends at the Comrades runners in South Africa and partly because we had to be at San Francisco city by 5:15 am for our bib pick up which was at a place called Pier 32. 


One of the best things about being an early morning runner is the sights that you are treated to. It’s an entirely different world and nature paints a vivid picture. Streaks of pink in the sky are reflected in the ocean. The sun slowly begins to peep out of the clouds. The radiant glow of yellow illuminates the sky ensuring t…