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.