Saturday, February 25, 2006

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!

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