Sunday, December 03, 2006

Its just around the corner ...


I have been pretty bad at updating the posts this year! I am sorry. Too many things happening at the same time. Work has been hectic and so has life in general.

In terms of running, I have many stories to tell, but will probably go into details later. This year the blogging has been sparse. But, I have tried earnestly in bringing forth all information regarding Asha Austin's projects, our funds disbursal etc.

"50 miles" - a distance I have never run before, an expected 9 -10 hours - the most physically gruelling in my life.

I hope to raise funds for the various projects that Asha Austin supports. I have explained through various posts what Asha Austin is all about and the projects we work with. Please contact me with any questions you might have. I will be more than willing to answer your questions.

Before, you make a contribution, here is a disclaimer : Please don't make a donation to make me stop doing 'crazy/insane' stuff. I know what this is about and I am inherently a crazy person. In other words - please DON'T contribute because I am doing it. Do it only if you are comfortable with the cause and believe in it.

I sincerely hope you can support me in this simple effort.

This is probably one of my last posts before the SUNMART 50 Miler on Saturday, December 9th.

Thanks to all those who have supported the cause and to those who would soon...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

But, India is developing and leaping forward...

I got this from a friend while trying to explain why we raise funds for grassroots efforts in India.

Every newspaper carries news about the stock market, the high economic growth and the new IT hub India has become. Outsourced jobs and higher standard of living ....wait..higher standard of living ? For whom ? The common man ?

This needs some more information. Every time you try discussing a serious problem that needs to be addressed or something that needs effort - the candid response is - "India is Shining" - we have world class hotels (forget the underprivileged relegated to slums living next door), we have high paying outsourced jobs that has made India a IT hub (forget how even after repeated attempts the National Rural Employment Act of the government never took off and we still have hunger deaths in rural areas), great market economy and booming stock market (in stark contrast we still have so many farmers committing suicides due to debts and there exists inhuman acts such as 'bonded' labour (a lighter term for slavery) that the Indian government claims to have abolished a long while ago)...and so it goes on...

Is a citizen being a traitor or more lightly put losing his 'patriotism' in recognizing the problems of a country and creating awareness about it ?

Really speaking, I don't know - but, if there are lives and livelihoods of children, women and underprivileged that are at stake, what would common sense tell you ? The answer is most probably the same - what country, religion, caste, race, sex etc. etc. you might belong to doesn't really matter.

Some of these are recognized and accepted by the government itself - Here are some articles :

The Guardian

The Hindu (P.Sainath)

If common sense makes you a traitor, I am scared to know what makes a patriot!

Why concentrate on negative aspects - why talk about only the poverty, hunger and probems ?

We either choose to recognize and address the issue at hand or ignore it to keep dwelling on positives. If "progress" is a "wheel", let this be the "brakes" - but without brakes it gets pretty dangerous because harder is the fall.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is it really that big a deal ?

Running this 50 miler is more than about 'fitness' or 'hobbies' for me. At one level its about challenging my own limitations. But, what keeps me going is the idea of making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged in India.

When I feel tired or when I feel too good about myself - I just reflect on the situation in India - it makes me fly/raise with the 'running' and also brings me down crashing with the 'pride'/'ego' !

for e.g. Based on unofficial estimates (there never is an official estimate on such things) On an average a rural woman in India walks more than 14000 km a year just to fetch water - that makes it 23 miles a day - and thats just one aspect of the hardships that the underprivileged we strive for go through.

So much for my 'Ultra' marathon capabilities!

Then, sadly realization dawned on me that I run not just because I can ..But, I run so that they can live ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Team Asha growing ...

Team Asha

What started as a small dream in a room in UT Austin has been growing in the last few years!

We started with about 15 runners in the last couple of years and this year thanks to the wonderful efforts of the Asha volunteers we have grown to more than 50 runners, each of them training to run distances they have never attempted before!!

Each one of them is a hero in their own right!

Here are some of the photos from events our team has particpated in :

Twister 10K
Long run in September
A few of our runners

Updates from the Banyan.

If you had donated towards my fundraising efforts in the last year, some of it was sent to the 'Banyan' - An organization I have been involved with :
Banyan and me
From the start
Vocational training

I have updated the project website with the latest information and photos regularly -
Banyan Project Page

I will be visiting India this december and will surely visit banyan and post developments for you all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My first ultra marathon.

Yep! Here it is - my first ultra marathon - a distance greater than 26.2 miles, yet its just a training run!

As part of Team Asha I had a great trip to Huntsville, TX (near houston). I took 5 hrs and 34 mins to finish my longest run ever 31 miles / 50 kms.

Among other things I had nipple bleeding (As weird as it sounds, its a known issue with long distance runners. If you don't believe me, check this out ), had to stop for a rest room break because I ate too much and had to sprint at the end so that I can grab my T-shirt and finisher's award.

I am getting real busy at work and blogging has been more of a luxury. Every now and then I plan on posting landmark happenings with my training and about asha projects.

Please bear with me for being inconsistent. I am really trying my best!

So, here are pictures that speak more from the event -

Rocky Rocoon Photos

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bastrop run.

Unlike last year, I am NOT going to post every detail of my 'pains' to you all!

Running is now more than just a 'fitness routine' for me. There was a time when I used to hate it. I used to listen to music to distract myself from the pain/ritual of running.

Now, its a lot different. After last year's marathon, I have been running regularly and its become part of 'life'. I love running as the sun rises, as it goes down or when its not there! The music that keeps me going is just the perturbations that I cause in nature by my running.

In this transformation, one thing that still remains the same is the motivation to run. Fundraising for efforts in India has always been the motivation. If I don't see this happening through my efforts - its like taking the soul out of my passion - running doesn't hold a meaning any longer.

Running the bastrop trails was a wonderful experience. It really brought into focus the difference between trail and road running - Believe me, road running is heaven for the muscles/body, but, trails are made for your inner self :)

During the run at bastrop, I carried a camera along to get you all close to an expeience in the trails ...

Bastrop run photos

Banyan video


Sometimes ...a thousand words won't mean a thing until you see it.

For those who already don't know about it - I am involved with the efforts of 'Banyan' and this video highlights the role of 'vocational training and occupational therapy' in the rehabilitation of the mentally ill destitute women.

Asha Austin supports the Vocational training/occupational therapy unit.

If you have any questions/comments on this video, please don't hesitate to contact me or comment on this blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chicago marathon

47,000 people running, 1.5 million cheering - One of the best marathons in the world. It was an epic event and it was surreal to be a part of such a huge event.

What made it better was my cousin, venkat, was running this as his first marathon! So, there I was doing the chicago marathon as my half-way training run for the 50M. Two years back, I would have never imagined myself doing a marathon as a training run. Yet, there I was and it was pretty annoying to my cousin when I kept referring to it as a regular long run :)

Venkat didn't have the best of training and made through all of the training period alone. I decided that I would not let him alone through out the marathon course.Its a daunting task and irregular/insufficient training makes it much tougher.

The weather was cold as expected. It was the wind chill that was pretty bad. We did a decent pace (11 min miles) till about Mile 14. Then my cousin had some bad ankle trouble that seemed to be there from training too. I then had to play 'kabbadi', put up with curses/abuses from my wonderful cousin!

I had my revenge in the last 300 metres though - I abused and insulted his fitness levels. I made so much fun of him being lazy and challenged him to sprint against me. Then he took off - so did I - We could hear the thousands strong crowd cheering heavily for us!! What crazy whacky guys would sprint each other after a gruelling 5 hr 22 min run! Well we were crazy enough ..and the finish line was a relief!

There was a lot more in the run and my cousin loved it - he will be a returning team asha runner next year! Here is his runner page

The rest of Team Asha did great in Chicago too! Our Austin runners - Anita and Vinod made their PR (personal record) times! Gaurav, ganesh and anurag did pretty good too!
Anurag did a great time for his first marathon!

Here are the
Chicago Photos


So what is 50 about ?

(In no intended priorities :) ..)

When I toss a coin, there is a 50% chance that its heads or tails ..
50 states in the US of A! ..
In the game of cricket, its an important milestone - a half century for a batsman ..
If I keep up with my 'healthy' habits I would reach 50% body fat ..
The speed limit at most of the feeder roads in austin ..
'Its my birthday!!' - fifty cent - what else! ..
2 quarters ..

Amazingly wikipedia has more interesting information ..

50 in wiki

Here is a different take :

For every kid born in this world, there is a 50% chance that its a boy or a girl ..
( Its a different question if you consider what %of boys/girls actually continue to live )

India's children form less than 50% of the world's population below the age of 18 years
(But, the actual % is not too far away - its atleast 40% and of course, is the largest for any country in the world)

Less than 50% of the children in the age group 6-14 actually go to school in India.

In the <50% who can make it to school, less than 1/3rd of the children who make it to 1st grade reach 8th grade.

More that 50% of India's children are malnourished.

Amongst married women in India today, more than 50% (actually 75%) were under age at the time of their marriages.

Interested in more ?

Given all this, '50' is a well known number. How does it matter to me ?

I am training to run a 50 mile ultra marathon to raise funds for efforts in India that would help mitigate the problems stated in numbers above.

I am part of a team that has 50+ runners who are all running distances that they never have run before for the same cause.

For every mile I will run in the 50 miler, my target is to raise at least $100. I am more of an optimist and believe that I am off by a 100% on this estimate :) .. My sincere hope is to raise at least $200 for every mile I will run on that day.

What happened with the donations ?

I am back after a long while.

First off,

I want to make sure that anyone who donated for the efforts know what happened with thier money. Please note that this is an updated report for Jan-Dec 2005. The earlier report published on this blog was for the financial year 2004-05.

Here is our report from our newsletter :

Asha Austin Annual Report 2005

Asha Austin currently supports nine projects from different states across India and has seen a tremendous growth in all aspects over the past year. The chapter strength in terms of active volunteers has more than doubled and $61,520 was raised in 2005 alone. The marathon program ‘Strides Of Hope’ along with the long standing ‘Support A Child’ program has raised most of the funds for the chapter. The same year Asha Austin also set precedence with the ‘Support A Teacher’ program. The commitment of the volunteers has been instrumental in the success of these initiatives. The selfless work of our project partners that brings about changes in many communities in India has been our motivation.

Asha Austin supports development of infrastructure and recurring expenses of Asha Sikshan Sansthan, a school in Reoti village of Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh. We funded vocational training at Banyan, a home for mentally challenged destitute women in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The training is not only therapeutic but also provides an opportunity for them to work their way back into society. We supported the Bharatiya Jan Seva Ashram located in the village of Badalpur in the district of Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. The school aims to sustain free primary education, books and uniforms for underprivileged children. The school also hopes to generate an interest in children for higher education and to convince their parents to send them to school.

Asha Austin has been supporting Siddamma, a grassroots volunteer in India who works towards providing a life of dignity for the Irula Tribals. Her Bharathi Trust Resource Centre is supported by Asha Austin and her work with the communities includes freeing bonded laborers, organizing the communities into cooperatives and mainstreaming the children into the education system by providing motivational educational centers. Our chapter also approved funds for Gramin Shiksha Kendra which runs an alternative school in a village near Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan) and provides meaningful and quality education to 100 children. The chapter supported the education and boarding of disadvantaged and orphaned girl children at Prasanna Jyothi, located in Bangalore, Karnataka.

We also raised funds to provide a permanent home for Seva Chakkara Samajam, an Orphanage in Chennai, Tamil Nadu that houses 99 children. Asha Austin supported Shristi Special Academy which provides structured intervention programs to children with mental retardation, autism or other intellectual impairment through the ‘Support A Teacher’ program.

Asha Austin supported building a laboratory at the school Raja Shivaji Vidyalaya, located at Sawantwadi, in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Asha Austin is currently discussing new proposals and we are looking for a more eventful 2006. We hope to reach out to more lives as we set upon a new year.

Funds Raised:
SAC (Support A Child) program, Marathon (Strides Of Hope), SAT (Support A Teacher) program, Matching/giving funds from companies, General donations contributed, donations towards Work an Hour (National fund raiser), sale of merchandise
Total: $61,520 (Includes funds raised for projects/efforts to be supported in 2006)
Funds Disbursed for projects in 2005:
Seva Chakkara Samajam $10,600.00
Bodh Shiksha Samithi (GSK) $6,131.87
Shristi Special Academy $3,600.00
Asha Sikshan Sansthan $3,100.00
Bharatiya Jan Seva Ashram $2,225.00
Prasanna Trust $4,200.00
The Banyan $1,400.00
Siddamma Fellowship $2,700
Raja Shivaji Vidyalaya $1,500.00
Miscellaneous* $3721
Total $39,177.87
* Funds disbursed for Credit card charges, merchandise, transfer of directed donations to WAH projects, Payment to rogue from registration fees collected from marathon runners etc.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Team Asha De-freezes Freescale!!

Here is the official press release of Team Asha (in Austin)

AUSTIN, TX. February 19, 2006.

It was a cold and icy morning with sub zero temperatures. Yet,
thousands of people braved the extreme weather to run the Freescale
Marathon and Half Marathon. Amidst the crowd were 12 individuals
running, 'come rain; come shine', to support the education of
underprivileged children in India.

Arvind Rao, Gloria Dholakia, Ganesh Krishnamoorthy, Gaurav Agarwal,
Harpreet Arora, Karthik Kumar, Radhakrishna Gaurishankara, Salil
Akerkar, Sanjeev Ranganathan, Santhosh Padmanabhan, Savitha Sridharan
and Vinod Viswanath are all members of Team Asha. They as part of a
16-strong team trained for over five months to run the Austin
Freescale Marathon in February of 2006. Each of them has pledged to
raise at least $100 for every mile of the marathon.

"Crossing the finish line today was a wonderful moment and what made
it meaningful was that I was not just challenging myself in running
26.2 miles but I was doing so to help empower the underprivileged in
India" said Gaurav, who ran his first marathon on Sunday.

"I believe that education is a fundamental right of every child in the
world. By training for and running the marathon, I am raising money
for projects that support child education in India. It is doubly
satisfying", said Savitha who trained alone for the most challenging
part of the training in the harsh winter of Raleigh, NC.

In keeping with the organization's name -- which means hope – the
volunteers want to help segments of the Indian population that would
otherwise lack opportunities, such as mentally disadvantaged children.
Arvind is running to raise funds to support Srishti Special Academy in
Bangalore. Srishti is a non-profit organization, headed by a team of
trained, qualified and experienced special educators who feel the need
today is to provide quality services and well designed and structured
intervention programs to children with mental retardation, autism or
any other intellectual impairment. "I joined Team Asha for the cause
they are striving towards in India and because I saw many of my
friends do it" said Arvind.

Over a million dollars have been raised through such marathon programs
organized by Asha for Education around the country. The Austin chapter
is organizing this event for the second time. Last year the chapter
raised more than $30,000 that supported eight worthy projects from
five different states in India. "Running with the flu made me remember
that great strength finds you when you try to be the strength for
others", said Sanjeev, a long time volunteer with Asha who ran his
first marathon battling a bad flu and is targeting to raise $20,000
for a resource center in Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu. The resource center,
an effort of Bharathi Trust, one of Asha's partners, will provide a
place for the local community to experiment low cost techniques of
organic farming, alternatives to the capital intensive farming that is
pushing many farmer families into debt.

Nearly all the runners in this group are running a marathon for the
first time "Committing to the marathon training program for Asha is
one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I believe one
needs a strong motivation to run and raising funds to help educate
hundreds of children in India has been a big motivating factor for
me", said Salil who had not run much before he started training and
finished the Freescale half-marathon on Sunday.

"I am happy to have had this opportunity to contribute for the underprivileged
in India", said Gloria who was also down with flu a few days before the
marathon and ran the marathon despite a stress facture in her foot. A
mother of two adorable boys, she has been juggling family, work and
running, no small feat.

Asha for Education is a zero-overhead group of volunteers from various
walks of life. It is a not-for-profit with a mission to bring about
socio-economic change in India through the education of
underprivileged children. All donations to Asha for Education are tax
deductible and go directly to the projects being supported in India.

For more information:
Contact: Santhosh Padmanabhan, 512-431-5105,

Web site:

Asha for Education-Austin
The University of Texas at Austin,
Student Organization Center, Box 319,
1 University Station A6220,
Austin TX 78712-0181

Congratulations and thanks!

As I helped our chapter co-ordinate the marathon program this year, I had the opportunity to be a witness to the wonderful efforts of each runner of Team Asha. I sent a mail out detailing how much each runner had put it and their wonderful accomplishments. I also thanked all of the wonderful guys who cheered us tirelessly through the marathon.

You can see all the photos of our team here

Here is the mail -

Hey ppl,

I have a penchant for long emails. But, this one will probably be the longest without an attachment! Read it only if you have the time :) Curse me as much as you want, but, it won't stop me from sending this one out.

"On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"
It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerised as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?"

- Pink Floyd, Momentary Lapse Of Reason

There were umpteen reasons to 'turn away'. All of us are busy with work, our career goals, family and what not. It needed a commitment of time, energy, resources and involved a lot of sacrifices. Yet, each one of you wonderful guys from Team Asha refused to 'turn away' for one simple reason, the cause we all strived for.

The weather today was 'Extreme' or 'insane' in the words of mihir :) . Each one of our team battled against so many odds to make it a memorable finish, an event of a lifetime. But, all our runners are modest. I am taking the liberty to let everyone know of the efforts each of the runners have put in and what they have accomplished.

Anita -
She finished the 3M half marathon in style. She was regular in training and always had a smile no matter how hard the run was :). Though she didn't fight any serious injury concerns, she did face a few troubles during the race that she never made heavy weather of ! She is looking forward to the chicago marathon.
She co-ordinated the whole cheering effort on her own and it wouldn't have been possible if not for her dedicated efforts today.

Arvind -
"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."
- Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

The will to succeed..arvind had loads of it. Nothing dettered him. He was just decided. Nothing could move him from his resolve to finish the marathon. IT band, back problems, knee problems and what not! He was a true fighter. After going through all the pain and suffering, he used to say very sheepishly " Sorry guys! I made you wait.". Yep, we were waiting alright..for this true runner to inspire us to keep giving our best no matter what!

Ashwini -
Being an inspiration for ppl you know is one thing, but, inspiring many others you don't know who see how much you want to put into a goal is just a league apart. She had other conditions that could have stopped her from running. But, she held on and finished the 3M half marathon with a smile. She was in the medical tent after that. But, it always was like a party with her around :)
Many runners with rogue have asked me about ashwini. They wanted to thank her for inspiring them. They said "She had a look on her face that said she couldn't bear the pain. But, it also said I am going to do it no matter what".

As I saw her cheering for us from the sidelines today, it gave me all the inspiration to just carry on and on...

Dinesh -
Dinesh literally limped more than half of the 3M half marathon! He had a severe case of ITB and every downhill was a torture for him. 3M was almost all downhills! Even, when I was walking with him he was in such high spirits and just joking about his predicament! Its very easy to say, "No, this is stupid. I can't take it any more" and just drop out of a race. But, it requires a lot of spirit to carry on against all odds. Dinesh's race will be a chapter in Team Asha's history !

Gloria -
Team Asha's marathon mom! With two adorable kids, a full time job as a professor, I really can't figure out what she eats to get all that energy! I kind of feel guilty that we really didn't get a chance to meet her a lot. We probably didn't take enough effort to go out and support her runs on sundays.
Well, that didn't stop her from sticking to her regular schedule though ! Unfortunately, work and family did take the toll on her training towards the end. She had to fight a few injuries today to finish the marathon. But, gloria was glorious in her finish :) . While we tried hard to find ppl to join Team Asha, gloria had contacted us by email and said she is doing it even without meeting us! She kick started the team asha fundraising too.

Ganesh -
"Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport is about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks."
- Sir Roger Bannister
Ganesh is a returning Team Asha runner. He was on track to a sub-4 hr marathon last year. But, cramps and some troubles hampered his chances in the marathon. This year was not the perfect in terms of training for him because of his extensive research at UT. Yet, he was there with a hell of a cramp and still finishing with a smile! I look forward to running the ultra with him.

Gaurav -
"A+" . I think that sums it all :) . Over the two years of marathon training we have seen, I have not seen anyone more regular ! He probably is the best student rogue has seen too! But, maybe too good for steve's comfort :) . Dude, you cracked a 3:51 in your debut! You better run more marathons and the ultra soon. I view him as the future of team asha :) he is our next 'coach ji'. He provided amazing support and egged on every runner to the finish line every time!

Harpreet -
Harpreet and salil trained alone almost through out the program. They never cribbed about feeling left out. Harpreet had knee trouble during his training. Today he finished at 2:08!! Wow! He came up with an amazing performance after going through all the trouble! He is doing the same with his fundraising too. He is already racing away to a wonderful finish!

Karthik -
Seriously, I never thought he would make it to the start line! But, he didn't care much about the not-so-perfect training he had. His research in UT and doctoral studies did take a lot of time of his training. But, that didn't stop him from doing the runs when he could. In extreme weather like today, he did an amazing job to come in with a wonderful time. He could barely walk when he finished, yet he had his characteristic broad smile and positive energy! I hope he recovers soon from his back pain!

Mihir -
"Insane"..absolutely. He was very regular and committed to the training through out. Unfortunately, his work assignment in china didn't come at a very good time. I am sure if he had been with us today, he would have "enjoyed" the hills! Thanks for keeping our spirits up and making it a party for all of us man! When you do the marathon after you are back in austin, I guarantee that I will be there to see you through the finish line!

Radhakrishna -
Packet pick up means "Packet pick-up"! At times I feel he makes all the trouble that we undergo too simple :) . Without any kind of training, without a bib and a chip on his name, he finished with an amazing time! Maybe he is just born to be an athlete! I am sure he needs no training for his fundraising too ! He is inspiring to all of us in letting us know that in the end it might not be as significant as we think it to be! You rock!

Salil -
Again, like harpreet salil never felt he was left out though he and harpreet had to train all alone with the half-marathon group. Their wonderful efforts got the half-marathon coach pretty excited about team asha! As he crossed the finish line today, he made us all proud! He and harpreet was back at the marathon finish to encourage the rest of us! As always he is keeping steady pace with harpreet in fundraising too! He needed no words of encouragement or pep-talk. On the contrary, I found my encouragement from ppl like him!

Sanjeev -
The best performance of the day. I don't think I know of a more dedicated and commited asha volunteer. More than 5 years with Asha and his dedication has only multiplied by leaps and bounds. The whole week he was battling flu and a very bad cough! His voice changed and we could literally see that he was weak. Nothing seems to stop him from his goals. I don't know where he got the energy to start speeding up after Mile 21! If you guys haven't noticed, anita and sanjeev are trying to reach a target of $20K through this marathon! They need all the support we can give them. This truly was a great display of sincerity and dedication towards a cause one would seriously believe in.

Savitha -
She trained all alone with almost no water stops and runners to give her company. She got lost in the wilderness of north carolina and even that didn't stop her. In her last semester at NC state, with her advisor troubling her for her thesis, she could have just 'turned away'. She chose not to and in the process made us all proud. Now, we can brag to everyone else about this runner who trained alone in the winter of north carolina for a cause she believed in. Once you are back in may, we can start training for the next marathon :)

Vinod -
Coach ji will be moving from austin soon. This marathon was sentimental to him because, this will probably be his last while living in austin. He is the man behind 'Team Asha', the brain behind the concept of Team Asha in austin. Our first and best coach ji! His tips and insight has helped lot of us achieve our goals. I would like to thank him on behalf of all Team Asha runners for letting us be a part of his dream! He ran the chicago marathon in october and just decided to run this one too. He slipped on ice and fell down at the 9 mile mark, hurting his knee. But, he still finished the marathon smiling and made us think about keeping it on! The whole asha running community draws inspiration from this marathon veteran!

Thanks to Lalit and sree for being one of us and congratulations in achieveing your goals under all odds stacked against you!! We look forward to running more marathons with you guys. Your words of encouragement have been invaluable to us!

O.K..if you are still reading this mail, thanks for reading it!

Thanks to all the Asha houston volunteers( Ruhina, Shiv, Lata, Madhav, Meenakshi and Amit) who took the pain of travelling to austin and cheering us through this really "bad" weather. Guys, this is a debt that we will have to repay. As I had mentioned before, you guys really inspired us with your wonderful support and cheering. Thanks a lot for the champagne :)

Thanks to Sanjay, ravi, akshay and all of the Silicon lab cheering squad!! Thanks to karthik, jay, priya, and all friends from AMD for being with us and sparing time for us. Thanks to bhaskar for travelling from north carolina to drive us around and egging us on!

Thanks to Murali for waiting at the finish line with all goodies!. Thans for your patience and wonderful support. Thanks to Sid and Shobha yet again for coming out to support team asha. They were there at quite a few points to support us. Thanks to friends from vibha for cheering us on the course!

Thanks to friends of Gaurav and harpreet for being there for all of us! Thanks to gloria's family for coming out to support Team Asha!

Thanks to all AID supporters. There were just too many and I really can't list all of them! It was wonderful to see familiar faces around! It was great to have you guys supporting all of us. We are indebted for your support and encouragement. Special thanks to kishore for giving company to arvind. He almost ran a half marathon with him! Thanks for extending this wonderful friendship towards asha!

I am pretty groggy after the pain killer, nap and champagne. So, please pardon me if I missed out anyone or really didn't thank anyone enough! I am almost sure that I missed out something! I have spent about 2 hrs writing this mail you better read the last few lines ...

"If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to change a life, run a marathon!"

In all the congratulatory messages and thanks lets not forget what we are all striving for! As of 2:02 A.M on Feb 19th, we have raised $6769 through online donations from 128 donors. This does not include any matching funds and checks collected so far. Way to go guys!! Lets break our record of $30K from last year. Lets go all out to achieve the targets that each one of us had committed to!

Believe me, crossing the finish line today would carry a meaning only when we are able to support the efforts of Siddamma with the resource center, the efforts of Srishti by supporting the teacher salaries, The efforts of banyan by supporting the Vocational training unit, efforts of ASS and BJSA in bringing education to the neglected children of interior India, in supporting the home for disadvantaged girl children in bangalore - Pasanna jyothi, in supporting the community driven alternative education system in rajasthan - GSK and in supporting many more projects that we all have strived for!

Go Team Asha!

I did it.

I took 3 hrs and 46 mins to finish my marathon. All the weeks of training and running hard finally came to an end on Feb 19th, Sunday. It was freezing out there! We started at around 28 F and when we finished it was around 34 F.

You can see my splits and the official results at

Graphic results

Results with splits

I have improved upon my last year's standing by 1 hr and 42 mins!! It was not simple though. I had shin trouble and other niggles through the training. But, I stuck to training hard day after day. On the day of the race, except for a cramp after mile 20 most of it was comfortable. Crossing the finishing line was an amazing feeling! But, this event of a lifetime would be of least importance when compared to the change that it can bring about. I have still a long way to go to reach my fundraising target. Please do support me in my efforts.

Here are photos from the race -

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My Last words ...

hey..only the last words on this blog before my marathon :) .

I had to kind of 'pep-up' our wonderful team too!

Hey ppl,

Take it easy and no tension. If at all you feel nervous think about all inspirational moments in our training. These are moments that were turning points in our running careers.

1. Gaurav misleading savitha on the first long run
2. Savitha misleading karthik in revenge
3. My burnt pasta in our first potluck
4. Arvind being given president's treatment with cop cars and all at the 20 miler.
5. Mihir loving the hills and going "insane" after the tablets.
6. My piece of philosophy of "finding one's own path"
7. Steve getting so irritated with A+ gaurav's questions that he volunteers to cut his legs off.

and so on :)

Seriously, its been a party so far!! At the finish line tomorrow it will be the biggest party of them all!!

We are well trained and are prepared. Don't work yourself up ..just enjoy the party tomorrow ...10,000 ppl running, a sea of ppl on either side of the roads, music bands almost every mile, Team asha support teams at various points, known faces and the whole city cheering for you.

...and of course, when you reach the finish line there will be beer :)

Life like the marathon tomorrow teaches us to focus on positives and keep going. When you think of the legs that ache or the body that says enough... just spare a thought for the underprivileged we all strive for. Is this pain and suffering anywhere close to what they undergo ? Think of the change that this could bring in their lives...

Zatopek said "If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon."...

when we were discussing about a slogan for next year sanjeev came up with one that fits us damn well!

"If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to change a life, run a marathon."

You are a hero because you will cross the finish line tomorrow. You are a hero because the kid in that remote village of india can now go to school.

Go Team Asha!!

Last words..

Our team felt pretty bad about the weather and sanjeev is fighting flu. The change of weather has caused trouble for some of or runners. Vinod, the expert marathoner in our team sent a few last words...


There is a lot of talk about cold weather and winds and visualizing
your race. You have heard about it incessantly from Steve. So I wont
say anything about that.

Au contraire, don't spend too much time thinking about the race. You
have all done your homework and the months of training will help you
accomplish your goal. Think about where you were and what kind of
shape you were in before the training schedule started. Reflect how
you have matured as a runner over the past months.

The one thing you should do tonight and tomorrow is to load up on
electrolytes It is very important to load up on electrolytes
especially in the last 60 hours. No matter what your choice of
electrolytes is, make sure you are well loaded with them. Plan on
drinking atleast about 1-1/2 to 2 gallons of electrolyte drinks
uniformly distributed over today and tomorrow. Also strictly avoid
alcohol (and thats not just for Santhosh).

For the rest, sleep early and sleep long tonight. You have to get up
very early on Sunday morning, and it is easy to not sleep well on the
night before the race. So please make sure you sleep well tonight and
are well rested.

There will be lots of Asha folks out on the course to cheer you on the
day of the race. We have folks coming from Asha Houston as well. There
are excess of ten thousand people running the marathon. The atmosphere
is going to be electric. Soak it all in and just enjoy your run, you
might even miss seeing the finish line go by.

Good luck to everyone. That said, I'll shamelessly paste here what I
had written on last year's mailing list.

It will be over in two days. When you cross that finish line come
sunday, you will experience a joy unlike anything you have ever felt.
Every aching muscle has been reflected in the face not in the form of
a grimace but as a smile and a grin. Wherever you are, whatever life
has in store for you, I know that all of you will succeed. Success
comes not from complaining but from overcoming difficulty by sheer
dint of work and persistence. Courage is not the absence of fear but
the ability to continue despite it. It took courage to walk into that
room in Texas Union in that other lifetime a long time ago. It took
courage to lace up those shoes and head out the door on every run you
did in the past 5 months. It will take courage to cross that finish
line a week from today but I have the greatest of confidence in your
indomitable spirit. The same spirit that saw the pioneers blaze the
path westward a hundred and fifty years ago in this country. The same
courage that saw Tenzing and Hillary climb Everest. The same courage
that saw Leonidas and his men refuse to surrender to the Persians and
choose to die to the man at Thermopylae. In that famous battle the
most courageous was Dienekes who, upon being told that the Persians
had so many archers that their arrows would darken the sun, said
"Good. Then we will fight in the shade".

George Sheehan uttered these famous words - "I have met my hero, and
he is me." Go out my heroes one and all, let us conquer Austin.


A few hrs more...

Just a few hours more for the marathon...very bad news though..unexpected weather - 28-30s and ice rain/ice pellets have been forecasted. Here is a part of the mail from our coach on how we should handle it...

Cold Weather Racing

OK, sot the weather seems to be staying in the 30's for most of the
morning on race day. What changes do you need to consider given this
unexpected change?

Race Plan: It stays the same. No strategic changes to how you approach
the race given cold & possibly wet weather. 2. Apparel: Since we have
been used to warmer temps this winter many of you are probably going
to need to break the "only if you've tried it before" race rule. That
is OK these are unusual circumstances. Everyone has different cold
tolerances & needs different numbers of layers but the basics should
be pretty consistent.

What to Wear

Lower Body: I like half tights for races below 45 degrees but never
wear long tights. You won't need for your calves & achilles to be
covered. they don't get cold except at the start line. I think the
temps will be cold enough to warrant long tights though. If you are
comfortable in them wear them. If you are on the fence, I HIGHLY
recommend half tights...they keep your core warm when you need it.

Upper Body: Layer, layer layer. I think you will all want at base
layer of short sleeved tech tee then a long sleeve tech tee (like the
one you bought in this program. By the way we still still have WOMENS
Large, Medium & Small & MENS Medium & Small at RunTex Riverside. Tell
them you are a Rogue to get the $30 price. We will also have them
available in the Annex on Saturday AM for our workout.)

Once you've got those layers down you will want to layer on top of it
in one of two ways:

• Disposable Outfit - The disposable outfit takes the recommended base
layer above & adds multiple layers of throw-away clothes to dispose of
along the race course. You can layer as much as you want, though I'll
give you a little tip & recommend that you wear a large black thicker
ply trash bag with a hole for the head & arms over top everything.
These are rain protection & really warm. Plus you can throw it away if
you don't want it anymore. Then if there are showers at the start you
have some cover. I recommend that layer from thinnest to heaviest on
top. This way you can slowly peel the layers off & limit the overall
weight of your disposable outfit. It is important that you realize
that you will likely NOT be able to retrieve these clothes after the
race is over. I recommend you hit Goodwill or St. Vinny's. A great top
layer is an over sized hooded sweatshirt...though these can be
difficult to get ahold of.

• Shell Outfit - The shell outfit takes the recommended base layer
above & adds a shell to it...this can be a long-sleeved jacket or a
vest. The quality is not critical because what you are looking for
from the shell is to trap the hot air produced by your body to
continue to keep you warm. If you have a waterproof one, Great! If
not, use the I love vests for the same reasons I love half
tights...the core stays warm but I am still as light as possible. If
you don't have a water proof shell then I recommend that you wear a
large black thicker ply trash bag with a hole for the head & arms.
This is the poor man's vest. I have used this as a shell many, many

• Extremities: These are perhaps the most critical areas to keep warm
during a race. You need gloves & a hat. You can always get rid of them
during the race but you NEED them at the start! I recommend you keep
them with you though. Just fold them over your short's waistband & I
bet you never know they are there unless you need them. I don't
recommend taking your hat off ever in the race. Unless you are just
roasty-toasty, keep the hat on!

A couple of other points:

If it is wet:
- The more cotton you wear the heavier you will be. Cotton loves water
& collects it. This is bad news. You will want to wear tech fibers
close to your body.

- You may want to have a friend or family member meet you at a
designated location after the 10 mile point with a fresh pair of dry
socks. Losing a minute of two to put on dry socks may make the
difference with blisters for some of you.

- Stay on the crown of the road at all costs to stay out of puddles &
standing water.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Photos from 3M.

Here are photos from 3M :

More runs and the final days.

After 3M we did the second half of the Freescale run. Rougue running systems had taken a lot of trouble in designing runs to make us feel comfortable and make it seem like a cakewalk on D-day. This was just an example. We followed the same course we would follow on the second half of the marathon. Doing this would make the course familiar and put us at ease on the final day.

It was an amazing feeling running through the Capitol. Running has become a part of my life now :) ..Well, I don't promise that I will be doing it all my life, though there is a very good chance that I just might. But, every time I do a run, I don't think I will feel bad about it. I have learnt to enjoy running ...and as in the famous words of someone ;) .."Do birds need to learn to fly, do fish need to learn to swim...But, of course I need to learn to run.. "

After the week we did the second half of freescale, we did an easy 7-10 mile recovery run yesterday. It actually felt like I was missing a long run ..o.k I should stop pusng it a lot. I meant it felt much better doing shorter run for consecutive weeks. 7 more days to go and I can already feel my heart pounding!

We had a Rogue party yesterday evening. It was wonderful to meet the running community of austin. Team asha has been very lucky in receiving support from an organization like "rogue". They have the best coaches in texas and were voted the best running club in texas! Steve and ruth could have very well said "NO" to us losers when we approached them the first time. But, they decided to give it a try and I hope we didn't fail their expectations :) ..and I am sure we got what we expected from rogue and we believe that this relationship between the orgs. would go a long way in the future too..Thanks rogue for making us what we are!!

In all this talk about running, training and the marathon I would like to reiterate that none of our runners would be here at this point if not for that one driving motivation that keeps us ticking, put aside injuries, wake up early in the morning day after day and put on those running shoes...the cause we will be doing all this for. I have posted a lot about what "Team Asha" strives for in this blog. If any of you have any questions, please do send me an email and I will be glad to let you guys know more.

When we cross that finish line on Feb 19th, it will only be a job half-done. We hope to raise $100 for every mile we run on marathon day. We need all the help we can get from ppl like you. Every contribution and every small change you can make helps...

Runs after the longest one.

I have been pretty busy with a lot of things over the last few weeks and its been extremely difficult to update the blog ..and of course, I was lazy :(

We had a 10 mile recovery after the runtex to runtex 23 miler as expected! Wow it was so much fun to do a recovery run!

The week after that was the 13.1 mile 3M half marathon. I clocked m PR half marathon at probably a speed I will take a long time to match again! I did about 1:37 for the half at around 71/2 mins per mile. But, the course was a steady downhill course and the authorities had made a mistake while drawing out the course and erred by 0.1 miles :)

But, no ones going to take my PR half marathon from me ;)

As for the rest of the team..

Many of our runners finished their goals at this half marathon. Terrible injuries had revised goals for some of our runners. I am really proud to have these fighters stick on and come this far even in the face of bad injuries. Dinesh literally limped across the finish line because of his ITB. He was limping for more than half of the course! It was impossible for him to go on like this to do a marathon. We didn't expect him to do the half with the injury. But, his resolve to attain the goal was amazing. He did an amazing job especially because of the downhills when the stress on the knees and the ITB are the most!

Ashwini had to face multiple problems with her back, wrists and what not! She took it all in her stride to complete her goal of finishing the half marathon too! All of team Asha was there at the AID station at the end of the finish line. But, it sounded like a party!! With almost all of the guys there and ppl with ice wrapped around their legs it looked like a battle field. But, then there were smiles, jokes and excited chatter ! Yes, it was painful and we had gone through a lot to be where we were and thats the reason we deserved to party :)

Anita, our seasoned campaigner finished her half marathon with no major problems and she made us all proud in doing so! Mihir, Sanjeev, Arvind, Gaurav, ganesh, karthik, vinod and the rest of the runners did great times in getting ready for the final frontier!

A special thanks should go to the Rogue team for sticking with us, no matter how complicated we made things for them :) ..

Photos from Runtex 20 miler.

As you all know I am pretty bad at keeping my blog updated :( . O.k here is the next flurry of posts. Here are the promised photos from the runtex20 miler.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The longest run before the 'end'.

This week was the most tiring week of all in the training. We hit our maximum mileage for a week and a long run. Here is what we did :

Mon/Tue - 6 mile easy
Wed - Hard 5k, >5k, easy pace 'intervals' workout (around 4-5 miles)
Thu/Fri - 6 miles with strides
Sat - 20-24 miles.

We did about 40 miles this week culminating in a 22-23 mile long run! Personally, I did 23 miles at 3:35 . The efforts of team asha was admirable as each one of us put up with the extreme pain to get it done!

As the marathon nears, I am really amazed and am proud of what every runner with team asha is doing. Savitha did a 20 miler all alone in the cold weather of north carolina in pouring rains. Arvind braved the sun and wrong directions in completing 22 miles.

Gloria did her longest run all alone on sunday. I have been very fortunate to be with indivduals who have not made heavy weather of all troubles that they have undergone to be where they are.

When I see the efforts and pains of my team members, my own pain, however small or big they might be, seems to diappear and I draw inspiration from the efforts of my team.

The next few weeks would be the 'taper' before the final exam!! We have started planning for the big one. It would require help from a good no. of friends. Its not easy to get through this challenge without the help of friends and family! While the individual is the one who crosses the finish line, its the team - runners, donors, supporters et. all who have made it possible for us!

As we cross that finish line on Feb 19th, it would not be the ecstacy of standing up to a challenge..rather it would be a satisfaction of making a change however small it might be, in lives that have been ignored and not given the due that they deserve.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this wonderful team and look forward to cross the finish line with all the 'heroes/hreoines' of my team who have made it an experience of a life time!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Recovery is an imporatant aspect of the training. The human body is not used to the kind of abuse it undergoes by a runner :)

After the 20 miler I really couldn't walk properly for 2-3 days. What is the best soultion to recover from a pounding this bad ?

Pour 3-4 10 pound ice bags in the bath tub and open the tap to add some really cold water and then immerse yourself for 12-15 mins.

No..its not more torture to make you feel better :) ..This is the treatment for sore muscles. I did try it out and it did work! I recovered pretty well. The extreme cold treatment treats your muscles well and breaks down the lactic acid build up in your muscles. A shower in warm water just after that lets the blood flow through and thats just what the doctors would order.

We did a 10 mile recovery run this weekend. I know how it sounds..a 10 mile run for recovery!! Well, there is no turning back now and we are doing distances in the 20+ range. Of course, 10 miles would be a welcome respite! Next week its going to be 24 miles - the longest run before the D-day!

I sincerely hope all our team members have recuperated from the tough runs. I know its not going to be a pleasant experience. But, I atleast hope none of us face any serious problems!

Back from vacation and the 20 miler!

As you can see from the multiple posts, I am back from vacation. Actually, I was back home at the start of the year. Lot of blogging to catch up with...

During vacation :

Had a lot of fun and actually relived moments of my childhood :). In between sessions of old stories and a lot of unregulated fun, I could manage just one 40 min. run. I thought it was good enough!

Training :
Back to training in Jan 1st week. My quality workout was excruciating as expected! We had to do 12 laps in the 400 mtr track. All 12 at 5K pace and a recovery of 200 mts after each lap. I walked through the last two or three recoveries and it was not enjoyable !!

On Jan 8th we ran the runtex 20 miler. The longest 'official' race we will do before the marathon! I did reasonably well at approx 2hrs and 52 mins. I lost my chip on the way and not to mention the extremely crazy winds at an ambient temperature of 80 F!! The winds actually pushed the runners back as it was acting against us through most of the course.

What was the highlight ? Not my run..It was the amazing efforts of my team. I am really proud to be a part of the team whose members have time and again proved that nothing can stop them! Arvind and ashwini need a special mention here. They have never run a marathon before and here they were braving 'extreme' conditions that any runner wouldn't like to be in! Ashwini had extreme back pain and had to drop out at mile 10. She really wanted to push further. But, I am thankful and proud of her decision to not take the risk. It really didn't make any sense to injure yourself before the big one. I know how bad she felt and how much she wanted to complete it...

But, nothing is lost. A battle lost for the higher goal is a strategic move and a very sensible move. I am sure she will face no such problems during the marathon. As I had mentioned earlier, the whole marathon effort is not about running fast or creating a record. If that were the case all of us ..even if we run sub 4 marathons are losers!

Its not just about being fast or finishing in a good time. Its about giving your best for a good cause. With that in mind all the members of team asha are true champions! They braved all the tough conditions to get out there and do the deed..

To understand how tough the conditions it is in the words of our coach, one of austin's (maybe america's) best runners..

Why were these runners thankful for the soul crushing “defeat” of the RunTex race? Because they learned a number of invaluable lessons in the race that helped them prepare for their main goal, the Freescale Marathon. Y’all should look at yesterday’s race in the same light. Maybe you needed a spanking, & you got it. Now let’s learn form the experience & start making the necessary adjustments before race day.

Lessons Learned
I was not out at the race but I can hazard a few guesses as to what might have derailed you off the race plan:

•Weather: You can never change the weather, but you can change your race plan to accommodate for hot or windy conditions. In my experience, a heavy wind is the absolute worst weather to run in; it saps your energy, which crushes your will & drive, it raises your heart rate precipitously, & requires a greater effort to run through. The best plan of attack in windy weather is to change your mindset to one in which you try to cut through the wind with as little effort as possible, this is a useful adjustment when there are sections on the course where you can tuck out of the wind but on a course where you are confronted with long stretches facing in to a 20+ mph headwind, your only choice is to adjust your pace to one that doesn’t shoot your heart rate skyward & soldier on. I believe that you can expect a pace per mile differential of between 30-60 seconds when running directly into a brutal wind. One of the posters (a dreaded anonymous poster, use your real name damn it…we’re all on the same team) mentioned that they averaged over 30 seconds per mile slower than MGP over the course of the entire race. This is certainly NOT a bad showing given the conditions. I would have expected much worse, especially if you shut it down over the final 5 miles due to wind & the overall race plan. You cannot expect to maintain MGP in these kinds of conditions.

•Starting Too Fast: Our goal was to run MGP for 14 miles. How many of you were successful in keeping your pace at MGP in the first 5 miles? This is the critical period where you are in dire need of being patient & keeping your long term goal in sight. Once you have gotten through the first 15-16 miles at MGP you can determine if faster than MGP will be feasible. Do not run faster any earlier. If you did & were not successful then you know your main culprit.

•Hydration/Nutrition: You cannot always count on the aid stations to have everything you need to keep properly hydrated & balanced. A day like yesterday is the type that usually gets folks forgetting to stay hydrated. It starts a little cool then heats up quick; it was very, very dry & the wind can make even getting the water into your mouth a struggle. For these reasons you need to have a sound hydration & nutrition plan in place to meet an weather or aid station failure. I recommend that you take electrolyte pills/tablets/capsules with you in the race to ensure that you get the correct balance of electrolytes (at least 2 per hour) & that you carry your own energy gel in case they have only water on the course. With electrolytes & energy gel you can be confident that you have what you need in terms of hydration & nutrition in any race that has water on the course.

•Mental Toughness: This running business is not just about putting one foot in front of the other or keeping on a certain pace, it is about being mentally unstoppable. Until you adopt the attitude of a warrior who will not be stopped in the pursuit of your goal, you can count on failing to meet your goals. Experiencing a race like the one you ran yesterday should have shown you that you absolutely must have your head right before you start the Freescale Marathon. There will be little voices in your head telling you that you cannot go on, that it is OK to slow up, that you are not tough enough to meet the goals you have set, or even that you should speed up now to make up any future failure. Your defense must be fierce stubbornness. An uncompromising refusal to fail. You have to practice that attitude, folks, you have to be ready to go into battle with the course, with the weather, with yourself. You can be victorious if you are prepared.

Post-Race Blues
I know some of you are disheartened by the RunTex 20M. You may feel like your MGP is too ambitious, that you cannot hope to maintain that pace through a 26.2 mile race. If your MGP has seemed to be accurate throughout the program thus far, do not abandon it based on yesterday’s race. The conditions were such that you cannot expect to maintain MGP throughout the entire race. If you were able to hold MGP for 14 miles yesterday, then I can assure you that your pace is right. If you were unable to hold pace through the wind but were able to find MGP on any sections of the course were the wind was behind you or it was still, and then be encouraged. Your pace is still within grasp. Once we begin our taper & you have the 3M race to assess your fitness I think you’ll be recommitted to your MGP. Do not abandon your MGP.

Some of you may have only been able to hold MGP for 6-8 miles or were forced to walk sections of the race due to the wind. Yes, you have reason to be concerned, but do not beat yourself up. Be gentle with yourself & recognize that you finished a race that was 20 miles long. For many of you this is further than you’ve ever run before…you should be proud that you stayed the course, that you were able to keep the principle goal in mind of finishing the race & staying the course. There is absolutely no shame in this. You will be significantly more prepared for any difficulty that rears its ugly head on February 19th in the Freescale Marathon.

For those of you unable to finish, accept it, learn from it & move on. There is work to be done to get prepared for the Freescale Marathon. We still have 6 weeks to work out any sickness, fix injuries, & shore up mental defenses. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

•What happened specifically to take you out the race? You need to assess the damage by determining the cause. Be very honest with yourself on this account. We need to determine what went wrong if we have any hope in getting it fixed.

• What do you need to do to fix the situation? You might be able to answer this yourself, but maybe you need to talk with your coach, perhaps you need to make every effort to come to the injury clinic or see a sports doctor to assess the issue. Get help in determining how to ensure that this does not happen at the Freescale Marathon.

• Are you committed to getting back on track? Without making a decision to learn form your failures you cannot hope to improve. But also essential is determining that you want to meet your goals at the Freescale Marathon. Do you?

If the answer is “Yes!” then you are halfway there. We still have plenty of time to get you where you need to be before the 19th of February.

If the answer is “I don’t know…” please talk with your coach. They have been through all of this before & they are a wonderful resource to help you get back on your feet & excited about accomplishing your goals. The Rogue coaches are more than cheerleaders. They are experienced, compassionate, inspiring individuals who are committed to your success. Let then help you meet your goals.

If the answer is “No!” then send me an email ( & let me know why you don’t want this anymore. After 18 weeks of determination, hard work, focus & commitment I can’t believe that a little more encouragement can’t help you recommit to this process.

What Now?
It is time to get recovered from this event, lick your wounds & wounded pride & search your soul. Then it’s back to work. We have a recovery week this week & then 3 weeks of good quality workouts before we begin the taper process & the goal is in sight. The next workouts are hard but they are designed to begin to really build your confidence & help you tune in that MGP. Make the commitment to keep your eyes on the prize over the need 3 weeks & all your sacrifices will be repaid on race day. I know you can all do that. Yesterday was a good day to die, now just pick your selves back up, wipe off the dust & keep moving down this long road to the Freescale Marathon.


Odanadi is a project that is supported by various asha chapters and AID chapters.
Here are a couple of stories from odanadi...

Kamal Gopinath, a Mysore based former Indian Express reporter,
currently a media consultant wrote two stories, one about Gowri and
one on Pavitra, two girls at Odanadi. Both very inspiring stories of
two children who have weathered all adversaries and are now thriving
in Odanadi.

Gowri: Will to Succeed

Gowri exemplifies the success a child can achieve against all odds if
provided the proper direction and support.

Hailing from a poor family in Bangalore, 9 year old Gowri was sold to
a household in Banashankari, a locality in the hallowed silicon valley
of India - Bangalore, for a paltry sum of Rs.1000 in 1996. The deal
was struck by none other than her father who resorted to the drastic
and beastly move faced with poverty and unable to maintain his family
after having moved into a Bangalore slum from an outlaying village.

Life turned hellish for Gowri after a few months when a child of the
household pushed Gowri down from the ledge. She fell from the roof and
broke her hip. Her 'owners' refused to take responsibility for her
plight and threw her onto the streets as she was 'useless', unable to
even stand properly. A beggary-racket found her to be a good
'investment', exploited her in Bangalore before shifting her to
Mysore. Her head was tonsured and put back onto the streets in the
so-called cultural capital of Karnataka. By the time Gowri's case came
to notice of Odanadi and was rescued in March '98, she was an 11 year
old crippled leper, who had been abused sexually and forced into doing
rounds of Mysore streets, begging for the racketeers.

Odanadi rescued her as a part of its initiative and took it upon
itself as a challenge to make Gowri walk again free of crutches or
support. However, with years of neglect resulting in haphazard and
ugly growth of bones, her case turned out to be a challenge for the
doctors. Many doctors hesitated but Odanadi persisted. Following
Odanadi's initiative, a successful hip replacement surgery was
conducted on Gowri at K R Hospital in Mysore city in 1999. Now, the
Orthopedic presents her case to medical students as a model case study
of a difficult and complicated surgery.

But, Gowri had more woes in store for her. Years in the streets and a
life of squalor had made her an easy victim of leprosy. Fortunately
the disease was in an early stage when she was rescued and timely
treatment provided by Odanadi helped her recover without any
disfigurement. This, however, was an outcome of treatment that lasted
nearly two years.

Being crippled, afflicted with leprosy and traumatized by the
exploitation suffered at the hands of beggary racketeers, Gowri was in
a state of shock when Odanadi rescued her. Patient counselling,
soothing care and emotional support she found at Odanadi under the
gentle stewardship of Stanely and Parashuram instilled in her the will
to live. Her self esteem was restored and she learnt to love life.

Once Gowri showed signs of returning to normalcy, she was put through
the non-formal education apparatus developed by Odanadi with private
tuitions. She successfully passed the SSLC examinations with a 2nd
class and today attends College as a 1st PUC, and holds an Orange belt
in Karate, apart from being one of the young talents in Mysore city
excelling in Bharatnatyam and classical music. Her talent as a theatre
person has been acclaimed.

Gowri amazed everybody at Odanadi and all those who knew her story
during April-May this year when she cycled across mountains, rivers
and forests a distance of 1,500 km over 24 days at a stretch as a
member of the 25 member Cycle Rally team. Today, she cycles 30 kms
every day, back and forth the Odanadi Centre and her College.

Gowri nurtures the ambition to become a nurse and serve the community.

Pavithra: Lost Childhood Regained

Pavithra shrugged off a child marriage and ran away from home to forge
her future

Four years ago, as a 12 year old girl studying in the 8th grade,
Pavithra was married off by her grandmother much against her will.
Apart from shattering her childhood, the marriage only brought her
more misery at the hands of her drunkard husband, a Government
employee. Fortune smiled on her during the November of 2002 when
Odanadi provided her the proverbial shelter she so badly desired after
she ran away from home at Krishnarajapet in Mandya district.

Pavithra, a highly ambitious girl who wanted to become a teacher and
serve the community, was staying with grandmother at Krishnaraja Sagar
when she was married off. "I did not know anything about marriage. He
used to harass me and so I ran away. I did not like the marriage and
wanted to study. Fortunately for me, a good samaritan brought me to
Odanadi when I was wandering around in Dattagalli (a locality in
Mysore)", she says.

When Odanadi, as a matter of routine, updated the authorities
regarding Pavithra's case, they in their wisdom remanded her to a
Government Remand Home. But, this is a period, though it was for a
short while, Pavithra would like to forget. "At the government remand
home, they did not feed me well and I went hungry many a time. When I
protested, I was beaten up, made me do menial jobs like a prisoner,"
Pavithra recounts.

Odanadi lost no time and acted immediately when Pavithra's plight came
to its knowledge. They took up her case with the authorities and
fought tooth and nail to secured Pavithra to their custody with all
the risks involved.

Today, Pavithra, who exhibited the wild will to take on her community
and the mite of the Forest Department with the support of Odanadi, is
a happy young college going girl and a studious 2nd year PUC student.
Her singing ability has won her acclaim and she is a member of the
Odanadi chorus. "I like the Odanadi centre because of the ample
learning opportunities here and exposure to various arts and fields of
activity. I appeal to all those who are facing similar situations like
mine to first talk very clearly with their parents and if they do not
listen, approach organizations like Odanadi and pursue their dreams",
Pavithra advises.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shristi Special Academy

This write up is by vinod. Our unofficial "coachji". He has run 4 marathons and more than 10 half marathons. He has raised funds for Asha many times during these runs.

He co-ordinates the Shristi special academy project supported by Asha Austin.

So, here goes.....

This story starts with a little girl named Deepthi.

An active and alert seven-year-old, Deepthi loves solving puzzles and
playing with her friends. Like any other seven year old, she loves
being the center of attraction in her class and takes a leading role
in participating and initiating activities in her peer group.

What you will find remarkable is the change the past few years have
brought about in her.

A history of birth asphyxia and seizures had left Deepthi weak and
small for her age. Delayed development milestones meant that she was
unable to chew or swallow – she was on milk even at the age of three.
A history of hyper ammonia syndrome resulted in a very monotonous
diet, which further contributed to her weakness. She couldn't walk or
talk or localize visually. Her future looked bleak at best.

This was when her parents brought her to Shristi, in November 1998.

Shristi is a non-profit society, established in 1995 by 3 special
educators with a vision to reach out to individuals with special
needs. With unique programmes designed to enable independence among
the Mentally Challenged, Developmentally Delayed and those with Autism
and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Shristi reaches out to all
age groups. It remains among the few institutions, which caters to
infants and even the severely retarded across urban and rural

The rehabilitation of those coming to Shristi includes therapeutic
intervention with a focus on special education, sensory stimulation,
physiotherapy and language stimulation.

Through an intensive, individualized and child-focused training
program, Shristi has enabled many young children with developmental
delays to go to normal schools, setting them on the path towards a
more normal life. Several older individuals have gained employment
enabling life-changing happiness.

Deepthi joined on one such special Early Intervention programme in
November 1998. The primary goal of her programme was to ensure better
nutrition and feeding practices, as this was the major problem faced
by her mother. Special emphasis was also given to helping her catch
up with her motor milestones, primary among them being walking.

Today at 7 years, although she still has seizures, which are
controlled by medication, she has learned to walk, communicates
through single words and gestures and takes part in all activities of
the class. She eats with minimal help under supervision and is on a
toilet schedule to help streamline her bladder movements and achieve
better levels of normalcy. She is receiving occupational therapy for
her hand functions and through speech therapy will achieve better
levels of communication.

Asha Austin's role is to help Shristi find suitable educators for
various domains: Mental retardation, Autism and Vocational Training.
These educators are specialized to handle mentally challenged and
autistic children at Shristi. Then Asha endeavors to find sponsors for
these teachers and facilitates linking sponsors with them. Asha
follows through by disbursing and monitoring the sponsors' funds. It
works with both sponsors and Shristi in India to obtain regular
progress reports of the children handled by the teachers and build a
strong sponsor-teacher communication. The sponsor can also arrange a
visit to Shristi through Asha and the project coordinators in India.

This program makes it possible for an individual to sponsor partial or
full cost of supporting one teacher at Shristi Special Academy. The
teachers at Shristi are special educators trained to work with
mentally challenged and autistic children. We believe retaining
educators in the system is the way to sustain education, particularly
in the context of special education. Committed though they are,
supporting these educators financially is a necessary part of
retaining them within the system. One can become a sponsor for a
teacher at Shristi for as little as $20 a month.

More details about Asha's support with Shristi can be found at

More details about Shristi is at