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