Durshet Forest Marathon, August 2017- Sounds of Cicadas

After the wonderful time at Prabalgad and Matheran I skipped the Nio Run in Pune as planned. Felt it was a bit too soon and decided to have fun with friends at the final IDBI Federal Promo Run at Thane instead 😊. Now it was time to gear up for the Durshet HM. Had already heard it was another tough though beautiful route and looked forward to enjoying the serene scenic beauty.

My family decided to join me yet again with the Father-Daughter Duo registering for the 5k. We set off on Saturday itself and reached the Durshet Forest Lodge for Bib Collection. It was nice to see Dolly Dsouza and Ganesh Bhagwat as they arrived at the same time. Salaj, Pradeep and Shalini were gonna come down directly on Sunday morning.

Bibs duly collected, after snacking on Bhel and Chai we took off for Hotel Cafe Sagar in Khopoli about half hour from the Venue. The next morning we arrived just in time for me to get off and locate my friends while Hubby and Kiddo found parking and came in later. Within minutes it was time for flag off as we all assembled at the Starting Line for the quintessential Selfie. At precisely 7 we were off whooping and waving as we ran together down the slope out of the gates 😀.

After the first kilometre on the road, we took a right turn and ran inside towards the village making our way forward. It was really humid with absolutely no signs of Rain and we started picking up water from the beginning itself. In fact Salaj was a bit disheartened when he got Frooti at the Water Station at the 3rd Kilometer. Running comfortably ahead chitchatting, waving and smiling I teased Salaj as he posed for the Flying Drone J. Thrilled at the sight of Enerzal at the 4th Kilometer we literally grabbed it along with water 😌.

A little further along we passed by the River where some women were washing clothes. Soon enough we crossed the 10k U-turn and moved forward crossing the bridge shouting out and cheering the fast runners running back after our first U-turn. Energized we moved together climbing up the Rocky uphill portion as we quickly turned back to descend strongly. I moved a bit ahead running along with Rajesh Mallya from Malad. He told me he had just done the Bangalore FM the previous weekend and was taking it easy today. The only reason he was running slowly along with me 😛.

He decided to slow down further after a bit and I moved ahead hoping for Salaj to catch up soon. I was enjoying the lush green surroundings despite the sultry weather with absolutely no signs of rain. It was fun running to the rhythm of the musical Cicadas in the Forest 😊. I kept looking out towards the Cloud covered Forest ahead as I ran past catching a glimpse of the cascading waterfalls in the hills. Making my way carefully through the slushy patch ahead I ran on waving at the Physios and high fiving Kiran Chaturvedi as I went.

Drinking and pouring water on my head I ran forward cheering and shouting out as Speedsters Manoj Rane, Amit Yadav, Amit Kumar et all passed by. Further ahead met Sayuri Dalvi who told me it was just 500m for the U-turn. Grinning and cheering her I moved on meeting Sunil Lahigude as he descended down. Walking a bit on the steep climb I picked up water again as I ran down after the final U-turn. Spotting Salaj I shouted at him to come quickly to join me.

I moved on running cheerfully spotting a walking Paddy going up the Incline. Further on near the Slushy patch encouraging other Runners I made my way back. Spotting Kiran I jokingly told her to join me and later shouted in full filmy style “Mujhe chodke mat jaao” as she passed by in the Support Vehicle 😝.

Further ahead as I ran through the Village was greeted by Loud Applause as a group of small kids cheered for us 😃. Crossing the 10k turnabout Sign I ran past the river waving to toddlers sitting near the Well. Feeling strong I ran ahead grinning at the sight of a Runner Mom glaring and telling some Runner kids and adults to get out of the water and head back. Overtaking a few runners I ran further smiling at the photographers and thanking the volunteers as I went.

Soon enough I reached the final 250m before I hit the road. With just another kilometre or so to go I felt charged passing some more runners and volunteers manning the Traffic. Quickly I turned inside the gates of Durshet Forest Lodge running up the final ascent just in time to join my daughter posing along with a bunch of Elite Runners as Hubby Dearest clicked us 🤗.

Though she didn’t enjoy this Route as much as Matheran and wasn’t in a mood to run Kiddo had stood Third in kids and unexpectedly won a Plaque stating “I’m a fast runner too.” 😎. So proud of her. I managed to finish in 2:09:49 and stood Second in Girls Open Category. Already looking forward to more masti at Stone Ridge Valley at Nashik.

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Matheran Endurathon 25k, July 2017- Family Run-cation

Once I started running at more and more events from 2015 the idea of Runcation came to mind. After all what could be better than enjoying a holiday with Family and Friends with a Run thrown in to boot 😃. Somehow due to all our busy schedules this was not possible though we did manage to club our Family vacation up in the North East with the Kalimpong Run in May 2016.

This year Salaj and I signed up for the Runbuddies Monsoon Marathon Package with something similar in mind. We decided to have fun along with our families at Matheran. We were especially all gung-ho after our wonderful experience at Prabalgad in June.

Unfortunately, I was down with slight fever and severe chest congestion just a couple of days prior to the event. Immediately started on all possible remedies and rested as much as possible deciding to take a call regarding going to Matheran closer to the weekend. I was particularly feeling the pressure since Hubby and Kiddo had also registered for the 5k 😯. Luckily though still feeling weak, I was in Recovery Mode from Thursday.

The weekend arrived and post lunch we took off for Matheran by Cab. Getting off at Dasturi Car Parking we ventured inside heading towards Ashok Hotel for Bib Collection. By now, I was wondering what had prompted me to sign up for this 😑. It was tough enough walking leave alone running the next day. Based on the training involved and our respective Family Vacation plans we had registered for 25k instead of the 50k that we had been contemplating earlier. Thank God, better sense prevailed 😌. In fact, I would have happily switched to the 10k.

Finally we reached Ashok Hotel. Somehow it seemed like we had been walking pretty much forever. It was good to see so many familiar faces and meet Runner Friends chattering away to glory. Spirits revived after collecting our Bibs and some much needed hot tea, we trudged off to Hotel WestEnd to meet Pradeep, Salaj and family. Settling in we friends hung out and relaxed together watching the kids play together. After a quick dinner we turned in for the night deciding to leave for the Venue at 6am.

Sunday morning we all gathered at the Venue. We had fun meeting and greeting everyone followed by some quick photographs after all who knew how the After pictures were gonna be 😂. After the announcements particularly warning us about the overzealous Monkeys that were prone to snatching stuff from our hands and Zumba session, we moved towards the starting line-up.   Precisely at 7 we were off down the steep decline, making our way over the jagged slippery stones. Salaj and I ran together with the only goal of returning back in one piece 😀. Running and walking we moved together on the trail joking that we better be extra careful as no one would be coming to pick us up.

Soon enough, we reached the clearing at Sunset Point. After a quick hydration break we ran onwards looking down at the cloud filled valley even spotting a waterfall or two. We ran along comfortably making our way carefully through the slushy mud, jumping over jagged stones and broken branches as we went. Walking wherever required we maneuvered our way forward crossing Echo point and finally reaching the serene Charlotte Lake 🤗.

Shouting and waving to Nikhil Shah we ran across the bridge crossing the 10k U-turn wishing we had opted for it. Admiring the Beautiful Sorroundings we ran forward reaching a huge puddle around the 6-7k mark. Gingerly walking by the side we proceeded ahead waving to Arvind Bijwe as we went along. It was good to see the 50k Runners making their way back on the opposite side. Spirits boosted we ran Cheering, Hi-fiving and Shouting out to each other. Further ahead at the 10k mark we were greeted by loud cheering and clapping by the volunteers 😃.

Proceeding to the Turn Around at Paymaster Park via Adamo Resort we joked about simply taking off to our Hotel round the Corner 😉. Cheering the speedy Runners on the opposite side we reached the U-turn and gained momentum as we ran down the slopes. Now it was just matter of putting one foot after another and tracing our steps back to the Finish. We kept moving from one water station to the next drinking and pouring water on our heads. Conserving our energy by walking on the uphill slopes had helped in a big way and we ran back comfortably. Salaj kept complaining about the jagged stones on the downhill sections which restrained our momentum though. Poor fellow had already stumbled a couple of times in his Sandals.

Cruising by the Charlotte Lake after crossing the earlier humongous puddle and we were almost home free. Overhearing some shopkeeper shouting about Fresh Bhajiya jokingly I asked Salaj if he wanted to stop and have some with Chai 😉. Just then while having Lime juice, glucose biscuits and peanuts at a Water Station, we caught sight of Sanjay and Abhijit inside a shop ahead 😁. Running ahead passing by a few runners and we made our way through the walking tourists. Taking a last glimpse at the breath-taking scenery and bidding adieu to the verdant valley below, we reached the final Sunset Point.

Refreshed after another quick water break we ran-walked the last vicious patch through the forest. Sipping some Kokam at the last Water Station I ran ahead to catch up with Salaj as we proceeded towards the Finish Line. Someone cheered “Just another 50m to go” but what a 50m it was 🙄. Striding ahead quickly I reached the clearing and dashed across in a final speedy burst to finish strong amidst loud cheers and claps by Family and Friends 😊.

Boy, was I happy to see their glowing cheerful faces. They had a brilliant time at the 5k. Thankfully it hadn’t rained at all throughout saving us from an even more slippery challenging terrain. Turns out Kiddo had run throughout finishing first 😎. As for me, I managed to finish in an unexpected 2:54:11 getting First Rank in Girls Open Category. Guess, all the Consistent Training paid off 😊. Best part though was when the next morning my sleepy-eyed Kiddo asks me when she could do her First timed 10k.

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First Monsoon Marathon Prabalgad, June 2017- Singing Naaaa Running in the Rain

Enticed by the positive feedback and glowing inputs from some Runner Friends, Salaj and I decided to do the RunBuddies Monsoon Package this year. After discussing we registered for the entire package of 5 Running Events spread over 4 months from June-September. Training continued in the Summer months with bit of diversion during our vacation trips here and there. We were going to enjoy these Races at the different scenic locations thoroughly with no time targets as such 😊.

After a short dry spell, the Monsoon arrived in all its glory just a day or two before Race Day. Pouring throughout the previous night it continued that morning. As Salaj said as we drove, “Raining not only Cats and Dogs but Cows and Buffaloes too” 😁. Leaving at around 4 we drove to the Venue- Atasa Resort, Nere reaching way before time by 5:15. For some reason we thought Race would begin 6.

Initially there were only a few of us Runners sitting around chit-chatting. It was nice to meet Hiral Thanawala, Jane Dsouza and Michael who had come by the Organizers Bus from Mumbai. Poor fellows had left from Borivali at 2 to catch the 3 am Bus from Dadar TT. We had a hearty laugh about us funny Runners- We want it to Rain during the Run but not at the beginning in the Holding Area. Oh yes, we don’t want it to pour to hard, a slight drizzle pretty much throughout is nice though 😉. Talk about being oh so undemanding and running anytime anywhere 😂.

Soon enough Runners started poured inside after the initial trickle. It was good to see so many familiar faces from Pune and Mumbai. Meeting and Greeting each other we all moved towards the Holding Area near the Swimming Pool with the Mountains in the Backdrop. Oh my, it was beautiful. Luckily the Rain Gods obliged and it stopped Raining as we all got ready to run.

After the short Zumba Session, Announcements and singing the National Anthem we moved towards the Starting Line Up. At 6:45 we were off and running making our way ahead through the Resort on to the Roads ahead. It was more or less straight 10.5k and back. After about 1k, I was surprised to see Purnendu Nath moving ahead from behind me since he had been way ahead along with the other speedsters. Just then Amit Yadav came from behind and told me they had taken a wrong turn L. Disadvantage of being over-speedy I guess 😅.

It had started to rain again. I ran on enjoying the drizzle, looking around at the lush green surroundings. Admiring the numerous Snake Gourds (Padwal) hanging from their creepers in the nearby fields I moved on. Just ahead I came across the carcasses of a snake and some frogs, probably run over by vehicles in the dark. Reality intrudes even in the midst of Joyous Nature doesn’t it 😔?

Cruising comfortably I moved on drinking water and Enerzal from the strategically placed Hydration Stations every 2k. The Route was fabulous rolling up and down every now and then as we ran towards majestic Prabalgad. I moved ahead enjoying the weather and scenery, bowing my head in gratitude at the Gamdevi Temple on the way.

At about the 8k mark I met Kamlesh Shrikhande from Pune. He said his shoes were getting heavier thanks to the Rain and Puddles. Told him to just look around and he’d forget everything else 😃. I was happy to run together chatting away. It was good to meet another FB friend, Gagan Khatri from Ulhasnagar as we moved further.

Just then we spotted Amit Yadav on the opposite side and we were thrilled as we knew the U-turn was close by. Puru told us it was 750m and just ahead Sunil Lahigude told us 300m for us to the turn as he ran past. Now my favourite part had begun. Yup, had a splendid time cheering and shouting out to other runners as I ran back.

Kamlesh and I moved ahead back and forth and chatted whenever we ran together. Turned out we had quite a bit in common. From running at more or less the same pace, we both ran for Breakfast and had even been Flamingo watching at Airoli and Bhigwan respectively 😊.

I moved on enjoying the greenery around, listening to the Ribbit Ribbit of the frogs, Pitter Patter of the rain and distant clap of thunderclouds. Thanking the volunteers as I went ahead, bidding adieu to the Snake Gourd Fields I entered Nere Village.

With about 2k or so to go, I cheered Jane who was doing 15k as I moved ahead. Upping the Ante I ran on crossing Kamlesh encouraging him to push in the last bit. I ran splashing through the puddles and almost wading through some deep ones as I moved cautiously when I almost twisted my foot 😑.

Finally entering the Resort, I was greeted by the sight of a Police van passing by with the cops cheering us on. Just ahead Sunil Lahigude urged me to pick up pace and I promptly complied. It felt wonderful to cross the Finish Line amidst loud cheers and applause. I had finished First in Girls Open Category in 2:03:47 😊. We friends had a total blast clicking pictures, monkeying around, dancing and swimming in the pool 😎. Oh Yes, the First Monsoon Marathon totally lived up to its name.

 

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IDBI Federal Life Insurance Stadium Run, June 2017- Round and Round we Go

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After a family vacation up North- seeking blessings at the Golden Temple, witnessing the presence of his Holiness the Dalai Lama himself at his discourse at Dharamshala and bidding Adieu to the Majestic Himalayas at Dalhousie; it was time to head back to Amchi Mumbai just in time for the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Stadium Run Relay at the Mumbai University Grounds.

D-day arrived sooner than we knew it.  Our motley group comprising of Comrade Sandip Dhuri, Shantesh Kaushik, Pradeep Rajalingappa, Sandeep Gupta, Anjali Tiwari and I were all set for some fun and frolic that Saturday evening 😊.

I was gonna run in the 7-9 pm slot after Shantesh. Setting off around 5 with Hubby and Kiddo in tow we reached Marine Lines around 6 by Cab. Unfortunately, despite the Google Maps location, we were unable to find the Venue 😨.  None of the people around seemed to know either and we kept going around in Circles. Frantically I called Capt Dhuri who told us it was right next to Wankhede Stadium. Getting off, I enquired with the Security who told me it was on the other side. I quickly walked towards the Entrance getting hassled by the minute 😑.

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Finally I entered the Ground, all sweaty and overwhelmed, just after Vijay Kamath called asking me where I was. Rushing in with hardly 15 minutes to spare I ran along with Shantesh who told me to collect the Bibs from his bag in the Baggage counter. Greeting some friends I ran to the Baggage Counter.  Quickly I managed to find the Bibs frantically trying to pin mine on. Luckily Seema Rajesh helped me out 😇. Thank God for super friends.  Feeling bit calmer I moved towards the Starting Line.  I felt slightly better when Renata mentioned she had faced the same issue regarding location 😀.

We started our run almost immediately, just as the 5-7pm slot Runners finished.  Getting my bearings, I moved ahead greeting friends running along with me.  Cheering the 12 and 24-hour Ultra Runners I moved ahead.  It felt good to see everyone after so long 🤗.  After a few loops of the 400m track, I found my rhythm and ran comfortably. Waving to friends, grinning away to glory, teasing, cheering and shouting out to each other we were having a blast 😁.

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Round and round we kept going.  The Sun had set and halogen lights shone brightly on one side of the track.  After about 7k I started drinking and pouring water on my head.  Alternating with Fast and Up was a must what with the high Humidity level.  It felt wonderful whenever a cool breeze blew.

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Seeing my team mate Anjali, I shouted out telling her to take the Bibs from my Orange bag at the Baggage Counter.  Capt Dhuri also turned up straight from Office to support and cheer us 😀.  Between them they managed to locate the Bibs.

Soon, the first hour was almost done.  I had managed to run about 10k+ as planned.  A loud crashing noise behind us caused Joison and me to turn to watch a big branch snap and fall.  Joking that the Organizers were making sure we ran faster, we grinned and continued ahead.

In the second half, I counted the loops more diligently taking hydration breaks every 5 loops to help keep track.   The moon and sky looked gorgeous.  Checking out the trains every now and then, I would gauge which ones I would be able to catch or miss 😂.  Smiling at our wonderful photographer friends Amol, Tashi, Rahul, Gaurav and gang I ran on teasing Gaurav that he must be fed up of seeing and clicking me 😀.

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We carried on with other Runner friends cheering and encouraging us all the way.  I kept asking them to run along but nobody obliged 😉.  Hubby and Daughter dearest were back from Marine Drive cheering me on to the Finish 😎.  They were counting down the minutes along with us.  It was fun to run a short distance with her right alongside me 😄.

It was getting tougher and I was really looking forward to finishing.  24-hour Runners Sanjay Bhingarde and Abhishek Sharan pulled my leg about my diminishing pace 😂.  Poor fellows had several more hours to go 😏.

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With about 10 minutes or so left, Jayraman encouraged me to do 2 more loops.  Running further, Sunil Handa prompted me for another Loop too.  Nodding Yes, I pushed myself to run faster and finished Strong.  Boy, was I glad to stop 😅.  Happy to have achieved bit more than my schedule target of 18k.

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With Captain Dhuri leading from  the front, Our team- Powai Runners managed to run 286 laps covering a Distance of 125.8k standing a joint 11th in the Team Relay- Slot A Group.  Not bad at all for a bunch of us Fun Runners.  Cheers to Friendship 🤗.

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AweTism Run, April 2017-Autism Awareness, “When U becomes We”

 

Every year since 2013, Sayuri Dalvi; Awesome Runner and Mother of a very special boy, Vihaan, has her running event on the Eastern Express Highway to support the cause of Autism Awareness- An attempt to an inclusive society. A much anticipated fun 10K run that I was eagerly looking forward to finally being a part of this year 🤗. All of us friends registered for it together especially since it was so close to our home ground.

There were plenty of posts on Facebook towards the build-up of the Awetism Run which was on 2nd April, the World Autism Day this year. Particularly looked forward to the snappy yet insightful teasers posted by Gaurav Chaudhari, a brilliant way to spread Autism Awareness. Immediately after the ICT run we collected our customised bibs and were set for the Awetism Run the following Sunday.

That morning there was plenty of joy and excitement in the air as 500 odd runners gathered together at EEH near the Vikhroli flyover for this special event. There was plenty of backslapping, chatting and laughing as we mingled around. Finally we had to be herded to the Starting point where Sayuri took the annual Selfie after which we were off and running 😎.

We had to run two 5k loops which were interspersed with more than adequate hydration stations. Moving ahead I met Digant Patel and we ran together steadily as he had no real target time 😀. Chattering about his recent pacing experience we ran together waving to the Volunteers with Cameras. Had a wonderful time cheering everyone as we went along. It especially felt brilliant when we got to run a short distance with super-fast Joison; of course that’s cos he was doing his extra slow run 😌 😂.

Encouraged by Prakash Wani we turned for the second loop. I moved ahead running steadily smiling at all the happy faces around. Unfortunately, since we were on the west side of the EEH did not get to enjoy much scenery though I kept glancing across the road every now and then 😥. The friendly faces around kept me going though especially the cute Coco, Anand Kane’s dog who was also doing his first 10k along with us 😊.

It was a pleasure watching the speedsters in total concentration mode as they breezed ahead. I ran on along with a youngster who decided to keep pace with me for some distance. With less than a kilometre to go, I told him to move ahead and watched him spring forward easily 😊. Soon enough, I crossed the Refreshment zone and ran ahead towards the Finish Line to be greeted by Prakash Wani who told me I had finished 4th in less than 55 minutes.

After collecting the beautiful medals, enjoying breakfast we had a wonderful time chitchatting with friends and of course clicking photographs together. Soon, the Podium Finishers were called and presented their colourful trophies amidst loud hooting, cheering and clapping. What better way to start the day especially in support of such a worthwhile cause 🤗.

 

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ICT 10K Green Run, March 2017- Feeling Hot Hot Hot

After the PKDM Marathon, Salaj suggested that we do the ICT Run at Matunga. The Nominal Registration Fee of just Rs. 200 was a huge factor to entice us all besides getting the chance to run on a different route. All gung ho; Sachin Singh, Anupma, Salaj, Sunita and I piled into Sachin Gupta’s car as we set off for Matunga. Amongst the cheerful banter we arrived in high spirits at the Venue sooner than we knew it 😊.

Meeting and Greeting other Runner friends and pulling each other’s legs we proceeded to the Holding Area Ground. After a quick warm up and glugging down some water we moved towards the Starting Line Up. The Organizers announced there were to be Staggered Starts spaced out by 5 minutes based on different Age Categories.   Salaj, Sunita, and I moved ahead towards the Starting Line while Sachin stayed back with Anupma to pace her.

After a brief delay, while we sweated out thanks to the sultry weather, we took off a few minutes after 6 am. I ran ahead making my way through the crowd while Salaj paced Sunita. Bowing my head at the Gamdevi Temple, I felt better after hitting the Main Road as the crowd dispersed allowing easier movement. A little ahead, it was good to meet Ajinkya Desai who I waved off as he was targeting a way faster timing than mine 😀.

Moving on I faltered at the Water Station and decided to move ahead without stopping. I ran ahead shouting out to Sukhi who was doing his regular long run. Energized I moved on past Della Towers running straight ahead. Reaching the next water station, I quickly picked up a water glass. Drinking some and pouring the rest on my head I ran ahead feeling refreshed. Quickly I reached the VJTI road and knew that I was close to ICT. Sure enough I waved to Michael Dsouza as I started on my second 5k loop 🤗.

Grabbing some Enerzal at the next Hydration station, I ran comfortably on to the main road watching the traffic cruise by. Smiling at the cameras and thanking the volunteers I felt great as I ran ahead. One of the volunteers, Suyash waved and said I was the first Girl he saw. Feeling optimistic I moved ahead shouting out and cheering other fellow runners. Soon a young girl in Red overtook me running very strongly ahead. After the next water station another young girl in Blue raced past. It was a pleasure watching them run. Just then, I saw a flash of Green as young Vishal of Garmin Fame overtook me 😌.

Running comfortably, I carried on hoping to continue at the same pace till the end. It felt wonderful to see Yogesh Yadav and Praveen Srivastava as they shouted the Finish line was just ahead. Flashing a smile at them, I ran on passing the volunteers just in time to see Michael and Tashi. Waving at them and Grinning away to glory I turned left wondering where the Finish Line was. As soon as I crossed the Green Mat I was told I was done by the volunteers who asked me to proceed into the Ground 😄.

Catching my breath, I moved inside grabbing and gulping down several glasses of water. Boy, was I glad we were not doing a 21k. I congratulated the two brilliant Runner girls who earlier overtook me. It was wonderful meeting other Runner friends and clicking pictures together. After some Masti and Chit-chat our Gang proceeded back home stopping only for some much needed Udipi Breakfast.

On reaching home, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from Girish Bindra. He told me that I was Third in my Category and I promptly sent him pics of my Bib and Photo Id. Finally got official confirmation regarding the same on Tuesday. I had managed to finish in 54:36 this time.

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PENNANT KALYAN-DOMBIVLI MARATHON MARCH 2017- PODIUM PALS

Once the SCMM fever had dissipated, we friends started thinking about planning our next event. What with the Mumbai Road Runner Awards Night on 4th February, I decided to forego the Navi Mumbai HM on the 5th. Instead, Salaj and I registered for the Pennant Kalyan-Dombivli Marathon on 12th March, especially when we saw that our friend Bijender Vats was the Race Ambassador. Later on Salaj’s wife, Sunita also decided to register for the 10k. At the last moment, Anupma ended up registering too for the 10k thanks to the Spot Registration that opened up🤗.

Sunday morning we set off together happily chattering away in Anu’s car. We were enjoying the fabulous weather along with the sight of the gorgeous moon as we listened to the Old Hindi Classics playing on the Radio. Crossing the Airoli Toll Naka, Anu actually had the gall to ask the fellow, “Hum Runners se bhi Toll loge, waise bhi paseena bahaayenge.” He actually smiled and let us go without charging toll. Must have been another Runner😉. Bursting into peals of laughter we drove ahead towards Dombivli.

 

Soon enough we reached the venue. We were pleasantly surprised to meet Elite Runner Idris Mohamed. Clicking a picture together we proceeded inside the KDMC Sports Complex. It was good to see so many familiar faces. Mingling, chatting and laughing together we waited for Gaurav Bharadwaj who had kindly collected our Bibs for us😊.
Bibs pinned on, after a brief warm up, Salaj and I proceeded towards the Starting Line-up.

We felt like Stars as we stood on the Red Carpet just adjacent to the Starting Line😎. As the clocked ticked towards 6 am people started saying there would be a delay since the Chief Guest hadn’t arrived for the Flag Off. Fortunately, just a minute later Bijender himself announced and Flagged us off. We took off running upwards and out of the Ground.

We had to do a 7k loop three times since the Route had to be changed at the last minute thanks to a mini Cyclothon of a local school. Basically our expected flat route ended up being one full of plenty of slopes. However, there were hydration stations practically at every 2k with enthusiastic volunteers guiding us throughout😃.

We proceeded cautiously with me constantly telling Salaj that our third loop has to be the just like the First. Having gauged the route in the First Loop, we ran ahead confidently in the Second. I joked about the special welcome with flowers for us when we saw the Roadside Plant Sellers setting up their stalls a little ahead of the KDMC Ground 😋. Admiring their lovely hues, we ran together comfortably chatting all the way. Soon we reached the road outside Evonik Industries that I christened the Frangipani Route courtesy the beautiful Pink and White Frangipani trees lining the road.

It was good to meet and cheer the 10k runners as we moved on. Soon enough we caught sight of Sunita. Closely following her was Anupma who was running with the 70-minute Pacer, Vishwanathan Iyer. All smiles, shouting out to the fantastic KDR Gang who were cheering us Salaj and I comfortably ran together completing this loop just as easily eating Dates given to us by fellow runner, Chitu Shetty.

Last one to go we shouted and waved elatedly to Michael as we ran ahead cruising comfortably. Both of us were feeling good and ready to up the Ante. There was absolutely no sign of fatigue whatsoever. All gung ho we parted ways with Prakash Wani who was pacing the 85-minutes Bus and shouted “Jo Hoga, Dekha Jayega” as we ran downwards towards the Frangipani Route with about 4k to go. Overtaking several Runners we moved ahead together in style along with Chitu.

It felt fabulous when Salaj said that our 19th Kilometer had been our fastest of the Day. Now it was just a matter of wrapping up as we took the last U-turn and proceeded towards the Sports Complex. Waving and Cheering 3-hour Pacer Gaurav Bharadwaj we ran strong. Salaj went ahead and I followed close behind. We got a bit confused towards the end wondering where to enter. Luckily the Volunteers pointed us ahead and we took the next right turn into the Ground to be greeted by loud cheering and applause🤗.

I accelerated further as I descended onto the Red Carpet grinning away to glory as Bijender announced my name. Yes, we had done it. I finished in style completing in 2:02:54. We received our medals, enjoyed the yummy hot breakfast, met and congratulated friends, posed for the quintessential photographs whilst dancing to the Zumba numbers😁.

Just as we were ready to leave the KDR Gang helped us check out our Ranks online. Unbelievably, Sunita was Fifth in her Category, Anu was Second in her Category  and I was Third in Mine.😊😎 All of us practically jumped around and danced with joy. 🤗 It doesn’t get better than this. Cheers to us Podium Pals.😇

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SCMM FM, January 2017- Mumbai Meri Jaan

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Every year, pretty much all the Runners not only of Mumbai but the entire country register and train for this prestigious event. The third Sunday of January of the coming year is blocked right after the earlier year event is done 😁.  After all this is the one day, when roads are blocked for traffic and hordes of people all descend together to run 😊. The Police fraternity is there in full force along with the volunteers as well as enthusiastic citizens- Men, Women and Children all out to cheer and support the runners🤗.

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This year, we were all particularly gung-ho about the fabulous weather thanks to cold front in the North 😇.  Everyone had wrapped up training and looked forward to D-day having collected our bibs at the Expo.  Unfortunately, the Weather Gods decided to act all moody and the day before was all warm. Yup, it’s almost like SCMM is synonymous with lousy weather 😑.  This year it was no different either.  It was hot and humid as all of us Full Marathoners arrived at Azad Maidan.  We deposited our luggage and moved around meeting and greeting other runner friends eventually moving towards the Holding Area to our Starting Line-Up B.

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Sooner than we knew it the Start Time was announced as Salaj and I moved together towards the Start Line. We started our run about 2 minutes after the Gun Time. Running comfortably turning at Flora Fountain we saw Samuel and Shilpa Rao who shouted out to us from the MRR Cheer Zone 😃.  Shouting and waving we moved forward running comfortably together.  We had decided to try to go pretty much steadily throughout. Moving on we met and cheered other friends as we took a U-turn towards NCPA. It was really hot and we were already sweating within the first kilometre 😔.

Feeling a little better as the road widened and the crowd dispersed a little we ran along enjoying the view of the enchanting Queen’s Necklace. Unfortunately, the bands at different places on the stretch were still setting up and we had to make do with the odd bit of music from stray speakers. Thanks to the Humidity we started picking and sipping water right from the beginning. Fearing cramps we kept a hawk’s eye out for ORSL. Despite not wearing glasses, Salaj spotted the ORSL stand being set up across the divider on the other side of the road near Wilson College 😌.  Cutting across we quickly picked up two packets and sipped one as I stashed the other in my pouch.

Moving ahead I joked about taking the train passing by. Jayraman also joined us at the Signal and we had a hearty laugh as a guy on the pavement told us we could get Chai there 😂.  Cracking jokes and laughing we moved on towards the Peddar Road stretch when we started seeing more Elite HM Runners followed by our Amateur fast runners. Cheering them we moved on to be greeted by the fabulously lit up Haji Ali Dargah.

Beaming at Ashok Sir near the Mela junction we carried on together.  Steadily we ran reaching the Worli Sea face. It was an amazing sight as we saw loads and loads of runners ahead. We joked about avoiding running fast as there was no space to move anyway.  I was particularly amused by a poster saying, “This is just too much work for a free Banana.”😂

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Salaj stopped for a loo break as Jay and I moved ahead spotting and cheering our Half Marathoner friends across the road. At last we arrived at the much anticipated part of our route. Yes, it was our one chance to run on the Bandra-Worli Sea-link. Unfortunately, today it was foggy blocking the gorgeous sea view 😛.  Spotting ORSL ahead I asked if I should pick it up and was surprised as Salaj answered in the affirmative. Didn’t realize when he caught up. Further ahead caught sight of Kirit, my college friend’s brother as he clicked pictures on the Sea-link. It was good to catch up and click pictures together as we ran along together for a bit admiring the beautiful sunrise 😊.

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As Salaj and I moved together towards Mahim Causeway I was stunned to see my Hubby and Kiddo there to cheer me 😮🤗. This was a huge surprise especially since they had been out till the wee hours for Durga Jasraj’s Concert-Prahar. Needless to say we were recharged having drunk some Enerzal from a lovely lady, ended up running a bit too fast for a few kilometres and felt it by the time we reached Shivaji Park. That’s when it started feeling difficult to run. Luckily we were greeted by several citizens out in full force to cheer and support us 😇. Picking up a banana on the way, I ate it slowly walking for a bit. Further ahead I was surprised to catch sight of an ex-colleague and friend from Hiranandani Hospital, Alfred Sir who shouted out my name as I passed by waving wildly 🤗.

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It was incredible seeing so many unexpected individuals. Bowing our head at Siddhivinayak Temple, declining the Limca offered by Krunal and Babu; Salaj and I moved together towards Worli Dairy yet again catching sight of Ashok Sir clicking us 😯.  Reaching the Worli Sea face I felt rejuvenated as I cheered fellow runners on the other side. There was an extra zing in my step as I ran along not realizing when I left Salaj behind. Moving on quickly after taking the U-turn it was brilliant watching the Elite Runners zoom ahead like a whirlwind.

Enjoying the sea-view I moved further  feeling good as I moved to the rhythm of the Lezim dancers near Mela and crossed over passing Nehru Centre and Atria Mall.  Thoroughly enjoyed singing along to Hawan karenge Hawan karenge with Lalit and group as we ran along merrily together 😀.

High fiving kids and thanking the amazing people who had come out to support us I was joined by Chander from Delhi at the Haji Ali Stretch. He was totally floored by the enthusiasm and infectious atmosphere of Amchi Mumbai. Told him he would get to enjoy even further hospitality at the Peddar Road ahead. Needless to say we were greeted by the sight of people out in full force cheering loudly, equipped with biscuits, oranges, bananas, dates, salt, chocolates, enerzal, water, volini. You name it, they had it as had been the case pretty much throughout from Mahim Causeway 😊😎.

That’s when we met 4-hour pacer Mani who had cramped earlier and had to pass on the flag to someone else 😥. Teased him about forgetting about Mumbai weather after relocating to Pune. Further ahead we passed by Sayuri walking and chatting with Babu and Ash Nath who was running easily along with someone.  Walking a bit together as we shared some ORSL, Chander and I chatted amiably as I urged him to go ahead. He insisted that he would run with me comfortably and then take off ahead in the last 4k.

Sooner than we knew it, we reached the Babulnath stretch where we met 4:15 pacer Dinesh Heda walking. He too had cramped and had to pass on the flag to someone else 😥.  Finally, we crossed over on to the Chowpatty stretch. Chander moved on and I followed steadily as I enjoyed walking through the cooling zone. Pouring water on my head from the beginning had been a huge help and kept me strong 😊.

I kept running ahead looking across to the other side admiring the beach and the crowd. I felt pretty good and was determined to avoid the wall this time. Suddenly I heard someone shout my name and saw Kiran who clicked my pic.  Thanking her I moved on to wave and smile at Sudarshan , Gaurav, Alok amongst others.   Enjoying the music of different bands and watching some performers stationed at different places on Marine Drive, I ran along practically dancing to the sounds of Dumadum Mast Kalandar 😄.  I kept watching the Dream Run participants as I moved on and finally took the turn towards Flora Fountain.

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Pepping up as I approached the MRR Cheer Zone I smiled and waved to our awesome MRR photographers Michael, Neha, Yuga and others. By then I was just gearing up to finish strong as Rajendra passed by telling me I had just 500m to go.  Spotting the Blue Carpet I increased my pace and managed to wave and finish strong.   Yes, I had done it, achieved my target of 4:30 in style 😊. To top it all, later Sunil mentioned that he spotted me on Star Sports in the same frame as the Elite Woman Winner.  Talk about brilliant timing 😊😎.

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Master and Maestro Together, January 2017- Different Strokes

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Couple of weeks back, Hubby dearest came across the event- Master and Maestro Together.   This was the initiative of Mr. Mohite and the Sa Va Ni foundation. Being a huge Sachin fan, besides being a music aficionado, he naturally jumped at this opportunity to witness both these Greats- Ustad Zakir Hussain and Sachin Tendulkar together for the very first time. Needless to say; asking me whether we should attend since it was a school night, was simply a formality 😀. Obviously, he had to get the best tickets available right 🙄. I mean wouldn’t it be blasphemous to even contemplate buying cheaper tickets.

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Monday evening Kiddo and I chomped down our dinner and packed some sandwiches for Hubby as we took off for the Shanmukhanand Auditorium at Sion at around 7:20.   Thankfully, we didn’t get stuck in traffic and arrived for the show on time 😌. We quickly collected our tickets and went inside to our seats. Settling down, we saw Anjali Tendulkar just a few rows ahead. Looking around we spotted other Celebrities including Taufiq Qureshi, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Adar Poonawala, Ajinkya Rahane amongst others. In fact I realized the guy seated right in front of us vigorously combing his hair and beard was singer Roop Kumar Rathod 😂. Then again here; we were all the same, together to enjoy the magic of Zakir and Sachin.

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After a slight delay, the program started with Stand-up Comic and Commentator Vikram Sathaye welcoming and introducing the various dignitaries and sponsors followed by felicitation of the Master and Maestro. Obviously they were both welcomed with a standing ovation and shouts of Sachin Sachin as Vikram announced in style just as a foreign Commentator on the Field 😁.

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The evening started with a flourish with a performance by Late Ustad Sultan Khan’s son, Sabir Khan who played the Sarangi beautifully along with Ustad Zakir Hussain. Zakir in his usual entertaining style also emulated the sounds of the Damroo and Conch Shell, movement of a Deer in the forest as well as sounds of a Train besides issuing us a musical invitation for the event; too bad we had already bought tickets for the show 😉😄.

This was to be followed by the interactive session between the two Greats with Sunandan Lele playing the Third Umpire. Right before, they started we were pleasantly surprised by a rather sweet, encouraging phone call from Lata Didi who expressed her regret for not being able to attend and bestowed blessings on the two. Of course, we were thrilled the voice of our very own Nightingale 🤗.

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Sunandan Lele started off asking questions to both Sachin and Zakir. It was great fun to listen to them at their candid best narrating various anecdotes and giving us super insights. Zakir in particular was truly the master of Oration as he held us spellbound with his words just as he does with his music. He told us about how Ustad Allah Rakha had recited Tabla Taals in his ear instead of whispering prayers as is their custom as he hoped the newborn would learn to worship Goddess Saraswati following his father’s footsteps. He mentioned about the only time that soft-spoken Abbaji was angry was when Zakir broke his finger whilst keeping wickets. The Great man went on to say that it was the Audience which makes them while what they do is just like anyone else doing their job 🤔. He also extolled about the fact that they are far from perfect because once achieved it would be time to hang up your clogs. He also emphasised about how one needs to practice all your life in order to keep improving. These were just some of the golden nuggets of wisdom that he shared. As Vikram rightly said, “If Zakir was the Foreign Minister even China would side with us” 😇.

Sachin of course was totally grounded as always, telling us about how it was his brother Ajit who detected his spark and pushed him into pursuing Cricket so as to channelize his naughtiness in the right direction. He said that his famous straight drive was not so incredible. It was simply developed due to his childhood practice of having to bat straight across amidst the two buildings in Sahitya Sahawas to avoid getting out as per their rules. Luckily, Coach Achrekar also made him practice similarly. He mentioned how Achrekar Sir always downplayed his achievement and focused on correcting what had gone wrong ensuring he did not get cocky 😮. He believed in praising by virtue of buying him bhel or vadapao or a cold drink on the way back home rather than saying it in so many words. The one time that Coach had hit him 😥was when he skipped practice to cheer his school team and was told that he should be the one playing whilst everyone cheered for him.

Besides having many other things in common it was amusing to know both Zakir and Sachin are in the habit of ironing their own clothes as they prepare for their respective performance😄. Both impressed upon us the virtue of discipline and prior preparation rather than last minute frenzy. In fact, Sachin gracefully admitted that the least he could do for his country was to totally focus and go and give it his best shot particularly when wearing the Indian Jersey.

Sunandan went on to narrate an amusing incident post Sir Donald Bradman’s birthday celebration when Anjali went along with Sara to a Vendor to pick up a Newspaper when Sara pointed to Sachin’s pic and exclaimed “Baba, Baba”. Hearing this, the Vendor promptly told Anjali, “Dekha Madam Desh ka baccha baccha Sachin ko jaanta hai”😂.   Sachin then promptly narrated about the time when during one of the News reading sessions in School the teacher mentioned about Sachin Tendulkar starting his own restaurant. After the reading, little Sara promptly put up her hand and innocently said “My Baba’s name is also Sachin Tendulkar” 😁😃.

When asked about Sledging, he mentioned about a funny incident when Alan Donald was bowling to Dodda Ganesh who didn’t understand much of English or Hindi and kept saying Yes Sir Yes Sir. Sachin told him to keep playing straight as Alan would throw bouncers at Sachin and not him. Irate Donald then pointed at his forehead and told him that he should watch out for the next ball that he would get him. To which Dodda who didn’t understand a word simply kept smiling and said Yes Sir 😅. Needless to say, a highly amused Sachin who knew exactly what was happening told Donald that he would try to explain his inputs to Dodda.

After the verbal jugal bandi with Ustad Zakir making hilarious comments every now and then and Sachin keeping up his end at ease they moved on to the last segment of the program. Zakir played a tribute for the Master with various photo clippings like a collage displayed on the screen. This was followed by a short performance by the Master on the Slit drum along with the Maestro. Sachin jokingly concluded that it was a good thing Zakir didn’t pursue cricket cos then he could have been forced to play the Tabla and this audience definitely wouldn’t be here 😁.

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The evening finally concluded at around 11:30 with another Standing ovation and shouts of Sachin, Sachin…Zakir, Zakir… Nobody was ready to leave though and the Organizers actually had to announce that everyone should go. Hubby along with my cousin who knew Mr. Mohite tried to meet Sachin by pushing my kiddo to get an autograph on their souvenir bats. Smartly, Sachin had already left estimating the crowd. The trio had to be satisfied with an all Access pass souvenir and a pic with the Rock behind the Master– Ajit Tendulkar 😊😎. All in all one amazing evening.

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Tirumala Mulund Half Marathon, December 2016-Run for Literacy


Last Sunday on 18th December there were quite a few Running events happening in Mumbai as well as in nearby places.  Pinkathon, Thrill zone, Tirumala, Adidas Uprising, Daman Marathon, Panchgani Ravine Run and Matheran Run to name a few 😯.  Man, we  Runners are really getting spoilt for choice aren’t we 😎?

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I had no intention of participating in any event post VVMM the previous weekend.  However; when Vivek Soni asked me if I would be interested in pacing so close to home, I couldn’t resist.  Especially as I could do it without disturbing my SCMM Training Schedule much 😃.  I was to pace the 2:20 Bus.  Luckily I even had another 2:20 Pacer, Nishant Gandhi for company 😊.

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Sunday morning I reached well within time to be greeted by the sight of lot of Runners gathered at the Venue.  It was good to meet and greet other friends as I took my Bib and Flag from Himanshu who very sweetly had collected it on my behalf 🤗.  Bib and Flag in harness firmly in place we moved inside for the energetic warm up session.  Looking at the numerous flags around we joked about there being more Pacers than Runners 😉😆.

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Soon enough, we moved towards the Starting line up.  The route had been changed at the last moment for political reasons 😒.  We were to repeat the 10k route twice instead of going to the Eastern Express Highway as per original plan 😮.  Thankfully there were relatively less number of Runners thanks to their distribution at various events. Considering the relatively flat route, Nishant and I decided to just wing it and go more or less consistently at a pace of about 6:30 to 7 minutes/km and adjust after gauging distance in the first Loop.

Post 6 am we were flagged off and we ran ahead amidst loud Cheers.  It felt good running together and even managed to get passenger Hrishikesh on board 🤗.  Poor fellow didn’t really have a time target so I insisted he stick with our Bus 😉😁.  We comfortably ran together as Nishant got Uddhav to join us well.  Crossing the JNM office, Pacer Bijay also joined us.  With hardly any passengers we were happily enjoying our easy run together.  He kept us entertained telling us about many Incredible Runners.  Looks like They Inspire 2 is coming up real soon 😃🤗.

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There were plenty of Volunteers and Hydration Stations stocked with water and Fast and Up; albeit really diluted at various points.  And of course loads of photographers as well to ensure everyone ran a bit faster on spotting the cameras 😉😂.  We ran on LBS road turning on to the Mukund-Goregaon link road and further on to the P K road bylane reaching the 5k U-turn.  It was good fun shouting out and cheering the Runners on the opposite side before heading back to the Start point.

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Soon enough we reached the last turn near the Petrol Pump maneuvering through traffic.  It was good to wave out to Michael who was ready and waiting as we turned to go back for our second loop 😃.  This time the sun was up and traffic had also increased.  The traffic police and volunteers did a fantastic job of making way for us Runners.

Moving ahead smoothly, we ran comfortably watching the fountain at Johnson and Johnson, chit-chatting about FM training and pulling each other’s leg 😁.  In fact, Darshak who was doing his 15k regular run that day decided to join us and do more after listening to our constant banter 😁😂.  This was pretty much becoming a no pressure run with us joking about stopping for Cutting chai 😁. Reaching the U-turn we actually stopped ate Banana and had Fast and Up before finally running again.

Realising we were a bit too relaxed Nishant and I increased our pace and moved ahead.  The last 3k was soon turning into a Tempo Run 😮.  It was particularly challenging making way through the kids and others running 3k and 5k distances.  To make matters worse was the relentless traffic.  Something we should have factored in initially and covered more ground when it was more relaxed😒.

I followed Nishant as we made our way back to the Finish Line.  Quickly reached the final junction and crossed over at the signal.  I just stopped and tapped on the car bonnet as a lady car driver almost drove on my foot despite the red signal and traffic police 😯😥.   Cutting across I raced across the Finish Line with Nishant’s Dad running along.  We ran and finished together grinning away to glory 😊😇.

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It was nice to see Darshak and Hrishikesh follow us bit later.  Happily both had achieved their PB’s 🤗.  After the quintessential photo session and meeting friends I took off for home.  On the way, got my timing message.  I had managed to finish in 2:21:14. Yup, getting there 😅.

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