Monday, February 19, 2007

Team Asha Rocks Austin! - Part IV

Hi All,

Here is the fourth part! This is not the last long email you will have to endure because we might have one more of the 'Team Asha Rocks Austin' series after Sunday.

I . Team Asha's Heroes
II. Asha Austin Meetings
III. Inspiration that humbles
IV. Race Day Info and funny moments

I. Team Asha's Heroes

Radhakrishna Gowrishankara
This is the third year for this Team Asha veteran. He is like the stuntman in the group. We can only watch and get entertained. But, dare not try it ourself! He probably does the least bit of training in the whole group! Its become second nature for him to just come out and run on 'race day'. Sometimes, he brings things into perspective and shows that it just isn't a big deal afer all. He is a dedicated Asha vounteer stewarding the Jigani school project with Asha Austin. On Sunday, this born athlete will inspire us all as he finishes the half marathon!

Rajiv Rammohan
With two young kids to take care of, Rajiv and Aparna already have a marathon life style! The rigors of work and family did not deter him from his dedication to the cause. He turned up for almost every training session, got involved with Asha by attending meetings and gave his all. Unfortunately, luck had its say at the end and he had to face a rather serious injury concern related to a 'stress fracture'. This got diagnosed rather late and he has been advised not to run for 2 months. But, he has almost reached his fundraising goal, will be out there volunteering and cheering for us all - a true hero!

Rathi Vijay
Not many of us would have seen Rathi often, as she lives way up north and for the most part trained on her own. She has amazing energy and enthusiasm for the team. She has almost reached her fundraising goal. Her efforts are truly inspiring. If we consider that she is doing this in spite of some serious health concerns that came up a while ago, I just am clueless to put in words her resolve and commitment to the cause. Her friends are travelling from all over the country to cheer her through the race. We are proud of what she is doing and all of us will be there to cheer this hero across the finish on Sunday.

Sanjay Tumati
Sanjay signed up and commited to run the full marathon with Team Asha. Unfortunately, he faced injury problems very early in training. He tried coming back to training after the injuries, but more injury concerns plagued his return. Finally, he had to drop out. But, I am sure that he is commited to the cause and we will most probably see him back with us next year!

Savitha Sridharan
Savitha, a returning Team Asha runner signed up and commited to run the half marathon with Team Asha. This is a rather busy time in her life both in terms of family commitments and work. She was out there to help all the runners through the initial ramp up. She has not been able to put in enough training and will not be there on Sunday to run. But, she will be there for the rest of the team. She has already decided to do the Dallas Half and given her dedication and commitment, I am sure she will reach the fundraising target too!

Shilpadhar Bharkam
Shilpadhar and his wife have a loving kid and the second one is coming soon! With obvious family commitments and work assigments, it would been easy to give up. But, he went through every training session with dogged determination! He was one of the few runners from Team Asha who trained with the intermediates. Unfortunately, a bad knee injury played havoc with his training. Massage, cortisone etc. did not help and the doctor finally advised him to keep off. Being the dedicated person he is, he will be out there cheering for us on Sunday and will be back running with us soon!

Sriram Sambamurthy
Sriram is doing his Ph.D at UT. I don't think I need to explain what it takes to be commited to a doctrate! Under all the pressure of school,conferences etc. Sriram still found time for Team Asha. His training did not go all too well with the India trip in December. One of the few marathon runners for Team Asha, he has swept past injury concerns and just decided to be with Team Asha and go the distance on Sunday. Its a story of true grit! A silent and humble person by nature, he doesn't talk a lot about the efforts he puts in and rather concentrates on the cause. On Sunday, Team Asha will be there in full force to back this wonderful runner!

Srujana Doddi
Srujana has crossed her fundraising target and is actually close to doubling it! Modest and soft spoken, she has silently made a tremendous effort in terms of both training and fundraising! She is one of the more improved runners in the team. She had a share of her own injury concerns, work assignments etc. that could have very easily thrown her off track. But, she stuck to being committed to the cause with a lot of determination. She has been prompt in her responses and was always there in every team gathering! She has given a lot for Team Asha and on Sunday it will be our turn to give!

Vijay Balasubramanian
Vijay had just moved to Austin, when he signed up to run the half marathon with us. His work in AMD does take a lot of commitment and odd hours. A new job, settling down in a new place etc. did not stop him from putting in hours of training with Team Asha. He blazed through in his fundraising efforts and is close to reaching his target. Unfortunately, an injury very late in the program upset all his plans. He has been forced to keep away from 'strain' for a while. But, being an energetic and committed volunteer, he will be there the whole day on Sunday to cheer us all. We all knew that this hero of Team Asha is not going away from us!

Vishvjeet is one of the few runners who signed up to run the full marathon. He was regular in training and was also doing the easy runs regularly. An urgent india trip and family emergencies messed his training schedule. When he came back, he had to face injury concerns and on top of that had already missed a lot of long runs. Its amazing as to how he has not let go in the face of these blocks and still decided to run on Sunday. After he discussed with the coach and physio, he decided to do the Half Marathon. On Sunday, as he crosses the finish line he will inspire the rest of the team to keep giving to the cause.

Vivek Shah
Vivek was running with Rogue. He couldn't resist the temptation to join Team Asha and joined us late in the training. He has already soared in his fundraising efforts and is close to reaching his target! He was regular with his runs and has been committed to the cause he has signed up for. He put an amazing effort in 3M and I am sure it will be much better at AT & T. As he mentions in his runner page, running is the most simple exrecise one can get and just comes naturally to some of us. It will be no surprise if vivek's natural instincts for running takes him to record times on Sunday! Team Asha is proud of this hero!

Go Team Asha!!

II. Asha Austin Meetings
Q. What is an Asha Austin Meeting ?
A. Its a weekly meeting of Asha Austin volunteers held every Sunday at volunteers' homes. We discuss different aspects of the organization - Projects/grassroots efforts, Social issues, treasury, events, fundraising, publicity etc. As you all know there is no hierarchy and its a flat organization. Anyone can call for an agenda item to be discussed in the meeting.

Q. What really gets discussed ? Can I get an idea of it ?
A. We try and post the minutes of every meeting we have on the website :
Browsing through the minutes will give a fair idea of what gets discussed.

Q. I want to attend an Asha Austin Meeting. What should I do ?
Please let Sais ( ) know. We will add you to the Meeting notice. We usually meet every Sunday at 2 P.M.

III. Inspiration that humbles
Athletes who did amazing feats, Individuals dedicating their lives to social causes, Individuals showing amazing resilience in leading a normal life given their backgrounds..and now what ?

A phrase often quoted by Coachji Vinod :

"I have met my hero and its me"

I don't have interesting links to post here. I don't have interesting stories to write here. Because, you have it in you already.

When you came into the info session on that day, it could have been very easy for you to turn away. When you had the doubt about reaching your fundraising target it could have been very easy to turn away. When you had that first injury it would have been so easy to turn away.

You are the inspiration that humbles us!

The one simple phrase you need to remember when you run on Sunday is "I did not turn away and will not".

Flashback from last year :

IV. Race Day Info and funny moments

If you need help and want someone to run with you, please let us know. Also, if you know of friends who can run with Team Asha folks on Sunday, please let us know. Don't be shy, its your right :)

Let Vinod ( know.

After race Parties!
There will be refreshments at the Tent. So, please don't go away. We even have heaters in the tents to make you stay with us. Its an amazing feeling to have people cheering you on as you cross the finish line. If you finish early and can stand for a lil' more while, please do cheer our folks across!! We would also organize a Post race party the next weekend, when you can be better dressed!

Funny moments

With me around there is of course no dearth of it!

In the first year, I did an amazing feat of planting my car literally on a huge rock at 'The Rock'. All four wheels of my car was in the air. After almost half of Austin had a good laugh before I got towed out of that!

Our A+ coach, Gaurav was taking notes as Steve was giving suggestions to take care of his injury concerns. A+ was not happy and kept asking him questions - Finally, Steve volunteered to cut his legs off so that he doesn't have all these problems!

I am sure each one of us had a lot of fun through this program. We have memorable moments that make us feel happy. Try reflecting on it and Sunday will be a huge party!

If that doesn't help, try doing this runner stretch :

(For Team Asha)

Team Asha Rocks Austin! - Part III

Hi All,

Here is the third in the series.

I . Team Asha's Heroes
II. Proposals to Asha Austin
III. Inspiration that humbles
IV. Dinner Reminder and Race Day Info

I . Team Asha's Heroes

Mansi Shah
Mansi was a 'roguette' before she joined Team Asha. She was inspired by the rest of the team to be a part of the effort. There was no way that we could have refused her enthusiasm! She has been holding on to her training well. The long distance that she has to travel for work, training and back home not withstanding she has been very regular for all workouts. She has 'blazed' ahead in her fundraising efforts and is really very close to reaching the target. On Sunday, I am sure it will be no different as she makes Team Asha proud!

Meghana Malur
I think I won't do justice to the amazing efforts she has put in without numbers! Being a student she had signed up to raise $400 and what has been her fundraising effort so far ? $3036 !! More than 7 times what she set out to achieve! She is Team Asha's Champion! I hope she accepts the invitation to give a lecture on fundraising to the next year's team. Her dedication and commitment to running was no different. She turned up to workouts regularly with the rigors of graduate school not withstanding! She has reminded everyone that crossing the finish line on Sunday doesn't mean a lot unless we fundraise.

Mihir Anandpara
Returning Team Asha Runner. Mihir's enthusiasm and energy has no bounds! He loves what most of us dread the most - Hills! In his own words its just 'insane' to be a part of Team Asha -BTW 'insane' means 'too good' :) An austinite for years, Mihir has been the mainstay of Team Asha for the last couple of years now. He is always there to help out the team - be it running or otherwise. On Sunday, he will be one of the few runners who go out to do their first marathon! We hope he gets all the hills he wants!

Mohit Sood
What chances would you give to a runner who gets injured twice - back to back ? Here is a marathoner who is going to inspire us to do our best despite what our mind tells us! Mohit had an injury early on in training and had to take time off to recuperate. Once, he was ready to get back to training, he hit shin splints! But, this time he was not taking 'NO' for an answer. Mohit again is going to be one of the few marathoners from Team Asha. It sure is going to be inspiring to all of us when he crosses the finish line on Sunday.

Murali Narasimhan
He works for 'Catalisis Health' and volunteers for both Asha and Vibha. His in-depth understanding of experiences working with projects, guides Asha Austin many a times. He has been actively involved with the 'Right to Education' bill and has been Asha's main resource person in this regard! Murali has been involved with the organization of the program as well. Thanks to his efforts we will have a lot of volunteers at the 'Asha' water stop on Sunday. He has been training at the North side location and has put in all the hardwork to be at the startline on Sunday.

Neena Richard
Neena has a full time job and a family with two kids to take care of! Many of us are worried about the time we can spare given all that we do. But, I have never heard her mention time as a constraint for anything. I am amazed as to how she wonderfully balanced a full time job, family and the training. She is one of a kind! Neena is also one of the more improved runners with Asha. She has come a long way from where she started out in terms of running. The sheer grit and persistence she has demonstrated for the rest of us, has inspired our team many a times!

Nivas Durai
The chances that you saw him running at the workouts is going to be slim, because he is most probably done already :) Though he is very modest about it, he is Team Asha's fastest runner ever. There is nothing wrong in being fast! He had again back to back injuries - Shin splints and then ITB issues when he came back to running. A lot of travel on the job didn't help a lot too. He came out to cheer at races and was always there for the rest of the team. There is no denying the fact that all of Team Asha is proud of him - not just for the 'lightning' speed, but for the amazing efforts he has put in for the team and in fundraising for the cause.

Praveen Kalamegham
Praveen is an active Pratham volunteer. He is one of the silent performers in Team Asha. His hetic work related travel schedule meant he couldn't turn up for a lot of workouts. This did not deter him from training on his own. He did a lot of runs at the places he travelled to. It really takes a lot of dedication and commitment to be able to train alone. The same qualities also reflect in his fundraising efforts - he has already crossed the target! We as a team truly do recognize his amazing efforts and humble silence! On Sunday, as Praveen crosses the finish line the whole team shall shout out for him!

Pritam Kulkarni
The first to reach the fundraising target! She was so fast that most of us hadn't even started to fundraise then! She had to do a lot of travelling to get to the workouts down south. But, she has been as committed to training as she was committed to the cause. She has already started making plans for her next goal - San Diego Marathon! We all know that she is for sure going to rock the 'Rock N Roll' marathon there. She is again one of the silent performers in the Team and has put on a sterling effort both in terms of fundraising and running!

Priyavadan Kumar
Sports and being fit is not new to him. Priyavadan is part of the Texas Cricket League and has also represented Austin in major matches! With crazy work schedules, visiting family etc. training did get a bit off and he also had to face injury concerns. He got back to steady running only last weekend and ably supported other runners doing the Surfside half marathon. Being a Team player is not new to him and he has been providing a lot of support and encouragement to the rest of the team. On Sunday, as he crosses the finish line, I am sure the rest of the team would give back to him!

Go Team Asha!!

II. Proposals to Asha Austin
What is a project proposal ? What questions do you ask a grass roots effort ? Proposals and documentation are very important aspects of how we work with a project - it furthers our relationship with the efforts at the ground and promotes transparency of our work.

Here is a sample proposal :

III. Inspiration that humbles
We have been inspired and humbled by amazing athletes and amazing lives of dedication to a cause!

Sometimes the whole idea of 'giving' / 'doing' creeps in a 'feel good' factor for those who do it. Did we really support an effort to feel good about supporting it ? or did we take the effort to see that the support did bring about a positive change in the lives of the people it reached out to ? Here are a few stories about a few lives that we touched - these stories are a source of immense inspiration and humbling too. The kind of odds they had to face to be here is not something we can easily imagine.

I state below from my own learning at Asha Austin :

Sheela from Seva Chakkara Samajam
Brought up in the orphanage, sheela always looked out for all the other children in the home. After graduating from her MBA, she had many options, but decided to give back to the organization. She is one of the main co-ordinators at the orphanage now.
(Details chanegd to protect privacy)

Asha Austin had supported the efforts of Seva Chakkara Samajam earlier -

Shailaja from Prasanna Jyothi
Shailaja is in the last semester of her Engineering degree in Civil engineering, with the Bangalore College of Engineering. She is actively looking for jobs that will get her placed. She has similar interests and goals as any other student of her age, but she comes from a different background. She was raised in Prasanna Jyothi, one of the Asha supported orphanages in Austin.
(Details changed to protect privacy)

Stories from Banyan
There are amazing stories from the banyan that inspires us to take on life and contribute in whatever way we can - here are a few :

These are just few of the efforts that Asha Austin is involved with. There are a lot more inspiring stories in every project. I strongly encourage you to take some effort in going through the projects to learn more about the wonderful work they do!

IV. Dinner Reminder and Race Day Info

Today at 6:30 P.M is the Team Asha Pre-race Dinner! Please do plan on being there on time!

Water Stop
Look out for the Asha water stop on the course. We will be at around Mile 5. Please don't plan on staying there for the party :) You will be amazed at what that Asha T-shirt can do for you when you get there ;)

Pankaj (510-637-8512) has been doing a wonderful effort in co-ordinating the water stop. If you have any questions let him know.

Cheering on the course
"Go Team Asha!!" you are going to hear this so many times that you are going to mumble this in your sleep!

Really, we plan to be of support to you in whatever way we can and make sure that we notice you! Its going to be a huge crowd on race day and as always make sure you stand out. I think it comes naturally to the Team ;)

The real plans could be a guarded secret from the runners!

If you have any questions please let Gaurav (650-450-3541) know. He has been pitching in with a wonderful effort to co-ordinate the whole cheering for the Team!


Team Asha Rocks Austin! - Part II

Hi All,

Here is the second one! I have also added some important race day info that you need to keep track of.

I . Team Asha's Heroes
II. Phone Call to Siddamma
III. Inspiration that humbles
IV. Race Day Info

I. Team Asha's Heroes

Disclaimer: This effort is purely to introduce each runner to the Team and give a glimpse of their efforts. It might not bring forth all their sacrifices, troubles and splendid efforts.

Chandramouli Narayanaswami
Chandar's tryst with running started when he came cheering for the Team Asha's first year. He is a natural runner and did amazingly well right from the start. He liked to run races that raised funds for the underrivileged. His die-hard spirit and determination is sometimes astounding. His training didn't go too well, when he faced an injury at his peak. He was forced to take time off, but knowing his ability to bounce back, it would be no surprise to see him fly through the finish!

Charanya Ravikumar
Charanya works for dell, volunteers for Pratham, Austin Tamil Sangham, Omkara ..and I am not sure if there is an end to the list! Amazingly with all the juggling around of roles, she still managed to attend training regularly. What was even more surprising was that Charanya and Gayathri reached their fundraising target in just a few days after they started !! She seems to be setting an example for every aspect of the program!

Chirag Gandhi
One of the younger runners in the team. Enthusiastic and regular, he keeps the spirits alive wherever he is! His training has been progressing well and he did an excellent job of handling himself well through the training - i.e. not overtraining, going out too fast etc. He is always there to lend a helping hand to the team. For those of you who don't know, he did a half marathon at the surfside beach last weekend and looks like he is hungry for more!

Dhanashri Garud
Dhanashri is one of the earliest registrants for this year's program. She was really regular from the start (including the ramp up run) until she had to face the 'hip' injury. Then came the long India break and major happenings in life :). All the crazy schedules and injury did take a heavy toll on the training and she was forced to drop out this year. But, given her resilience we can surely expect to see her back again in full flow next year!

Divya Padmanabhan
Well everyone in rogue know her as the 'Girl who twisted her ankle'. On a dreadful trail run, she went down very early in the training program. But, she handled it real well and rested it enough to come back from injury in amazing form! She is again one of the more improved runners in the team. While, she is not saving $$ for AMD by fixing critical bugs or not running, she also volunteers time for Asha and other local community outreach efforts.

Dwarak Rajagopal
Dwarak is a regular in the gym and running was a new passion. He went through Team Asha's ramp up program, was regular in training and probably lost track during the holidays. Balancing a demanding work schedule, injuries and doctor visits takes a lot of effort. He has weathered through all these storms to stand strong at the start line. His enthusiasm, ready smile and helping nature makes him quite popular in the team!

Gayathri Bhandarkar
Dedication, committment and planning - She had all that and more! It was truly amazing as she kept on training regularly and knocked off long runs one after the other. The fundraising efforts deserve a special accolade! Balancing tough work schedules at AMD, she always did find time for the team and was prompt in responding to calls for help/information. Gayathri and Charanya are already planning on triathlons - well we all know that this duo will surely beat the odds in anything!

Itisha Tyagi
She is Team Asha's inspiration! The only girl from our team who trained for the marathon. She was dedicated and very regular in her training, yet the element of luck had the last say with her injury during the last stages. She felt so bad when she heard from the 'doc'/'coach'/'physio' that a full marathon was not going to be possible and she had to drop to a half. She is a hero and on Sunday she will remind us of what 'courage' is. There is no reason to feel bad, rather through this process she has inspired the team and the ultimate goal has already been reached!

Jinesh Karia
Jinesh almost bagged the prize for being the most regular from the ramp up program through the training. But, his marriage spoilt the track record :) Seriously, his commitment to the schedule helped him a lot and he is one of the more improved runners in the group. The last few weeks in India have been hectic for him and what did he do within a few hours after arriving at Austin ? Ya..he went out on a run! Watch out for jinesh as he puts in a wonderful effort on Sunday. A few records might fall!

Mahesh Subramony
He seems to radiate enthusiasm wherever he is! Behind all that constant entertainment lies a very serious effort that deserves special mention. Mahesh had health problems that stopped him from training full fledged from September. He started training only days before the Motive half. Yet, he walked, ran and trained through half marathons, runs in beaches of kerala and made it to the start line fit and strong. He ran a half marathon last weekend at 'Surfside' beach and he has more planned - simple things like back-to-back half marathons! He inspires us all with a truly amazing effort!

Go Team Asha!

II. Phone Call to Siddamma

Have you wondered how Asha Austin volunteers keep in touch with the efforts in India ? Obviously, we can't get a site visit done every month! So, we do tele-conferences and minutes of all calls are recorded on the project website - infact every correspondence and information regarding the project is recorded.

Sanjeev, long time Asha Austin volunteer co-ordinates the fellowship for Siddamma -

Here is minutes of a phone call made in May 2006 by him -

III. Inspiration that humbles

We talk about athletes who inspire us. We talk about amazing feats driven by respect to humanity. Yet, there are some other stories that just leave you spellbound, makes you question what you do - yet, spurs you on to do whatever little you can do are just willing to do...

Here are the inspiring stories of people we are close to, about lives dedicated to service ..

(Note: Each of these efforts are supported by Asha)

The story of Siddamma -
(Written by Sanjeev Ranganathan - its the spotlight on our newsletter)

The story of Stanley and Parashu -

The story of Vandana and Vaishnavi -

The story of Nandlal -

IV. Race Day Info

Packet Pick-up: Friday 3-8 P.M, Saturday - 10 AM - 6 PM.

Please do remember to do it. DO NOT plan to pick it up race day morning - there are going to be thousands of runners and it gets crazy. You will also miss the wonderful expo! Its an experience on its own.

(PS: ONLY ppl in the north who find it too difficult to drive down, let your friends know or give Santhosh (512-431-5105) a call to pick it up for you)

Asha Tent: There will be a big Asha Tent between Congress and Brazos on 2nd Street. We will all meet there before and after the race. The tent will be open from 5 AM till everyone gets done. Please do plan to be there by 6:00 AM. DO NOT drop off bags at the tent. Instead, make use of the race organizer's drop off - its safer and less troublesome for everyone.

(For Team Asha)

Team Asha Rocks Austin! - Part I

Hi All,

This is going to be a four part series of mails. Looks like there would be so many runners that it would become too long in one email. These emails give a glimpse into the indominatable spirit and amazing efforts of each Team Asha runner. So, please do read it.

I . Team Asha's Heroes
II. A day in Shristi Special Academy
III. Inspiration that humbles

I. Team Asha's Heroes

Anita Iyer
Anita is an enthusiastic Asha volunteer who helps the chapter grow in many ways. She makes wonderful use of her free time and volunteers for hospitals in underdeveloped areas in Austin. She is very humble about her running and even as she ran with us, was always worried about slowing us down! Her dedication and commitment to the cause is amazing! I am sure she is going to be silent about her sacrifices and troubles, yet finish in style on Sunday.

Anjali Deolapure
Anjali attended the first few training sessions with Team Asha. Unfortunately, due to a road accident her training didn't go as well as she would have wanted to. Further injury concerns forced her to drop out of the program. But, we all look forward to having her back with the Team next year!

Arun Radhakrishnan
Team Asha's DJ/Stand up comedian/entertainer/party host, Asha Austin's brain stormer, he takes on multiple roles with great ease. He has also been volunteering actively to help with the program and other responsibilities at Asha Austin. He had some ITB issues late into the training and is not in the peak shape he was at a couple of months back. But, he is prepared to take on the race on Sunday and in his usual style has probably laughed his injury away :)

Arvind Rao
Being Asha Austin's Treasurer is not a simple task, given all the paperwork and deadlines to be met. He also had to take care of emegencies at home, present a project proposal, deal with 'trouble' at work and train for a marathon. All the unexpected happenings did take a toll on his training. Due to injury concerns, he was forced to drop to a half/marathon from a full marathon. On Sunday, he will be doing the half marathon and for the team he is a hero to have braved the storms and still make it!

Ashay Ronghe
One of the few runners (5 to be precise) who will be doing the marathon on Sunday. Lively and energetic, he always makes it quite an experience for others who run with him. Like most of us he had to go through rigors of work, training and injury scares. But, he held on to do enough long runs to take him through. He is an inspiration for the rest of the team for holding on to plans! A marathon is no mean task and yet he is going to make it look easy!

Ashwini Gopinath
Sweltering heat, freezing cold, crazy winds - nothing stopped her from attending the runs that she wanted to do. She stuck to the rules and simply followed what the coaches said. The results are here to see! She is probably one of the most improved runners in the Team. Always humble, she keeps referring to herself about being slow. Nope! Its not about speed - Its the determination and dedication towards a cause. In Coachji Vinod's words : "Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue despite it."

Atanu Bhattacharya
Atanu has been in Austin for a while and works for Si Labs. When Atanu started with the program, he was worried if he could make it to the finish line. I am sure that he is already looking forward to many more finish lines right now :). His training has been on and off for the most part. But, he has put in more than enough effort to be there at the start line this Sunday and make it through the finish. With Team Asha's pacers and cheering groups we will also make sure that its more than a pleasant experience for our hero!

Bharath Iyer
Consistency is the key. Just keep doing it week after week and stick to the schedule. Bharath is again an improved runner who made us feel bad by making it look real easy :) He has put in an earnest effort given all the prior commitments. Actually, he went beyond and even helped us with aspects of managing the program itself. Always there to lend a helping hand for other runners with the Team, Sunday will be his day and the Team will be there for him in full force!

Bharath Kumar
Bharath started out as an Asha volunteer. He had just moved from TAMU to Austin and was looking forward to volunteer. Hmm..running was never the plan, at least thats what he insisted on. I guess he just got sucked into it :) Here he is now, probably one of the fastest runners with Team Asha, he demonstrates how much one can improve if you are passionate about the sport, really enjoy it and believe in the cause it supports. His dedication and commitment is contagious and I am sure there are going to be many more 'runner geeks'!

Bhavishya Goel
He was not even sure for how long he was going to be in Austin! Bhavishya is actually on a business trip from India. Fortunately, he has been here long enough to be a part of making this a wonderful team. With all the unexpected scheduling, his training did get a hit, but he has pulled things together admirably to be there at the start on Sunday. Here is another hero who will be giving his best like always for a cause he truly believes in.

Go Team Asha!!

II. A Day in Shristi Special Academy

What do volunteers look for in a site visit to a grass roots effort ? How much learning really happens ? How is life for a kid in that school ? These are probably questions that sometimes come up - but, you might be too shy or just don't have the time to ask an Asha volunteer.

So, here is a sample of the answers - Gaurav Agarwal had visited Shristi Special Academy about a year ago and here is his site visit report :

III. Inspiration that humbles

Sometimes certain actions made by individuals makes you feel so humbled and irrelevant that you might even question what you do, yet the same action inspires you to not take for granted the opportunities you have and put it to best use for all ...

The Hyots - An amazing story that inspires, yet brings you down to your feet. There is also a short video clipping.

( For Team Asha )

Team Asha Rocks 3M!

Hi All,

Temperatures of 37 F, felt like 28 F with wind chill. In 'desi' terms around 0 deg C!!

We had a wonderful cheering squad who braved all the rough weather to keep the team going! A big thank you to Rajiv, Aparna, Chirag, Arvind, Gaurav and Pankaj. Each one of us have many commitments related to family, work and life in general. It takes a lot to wake up so early in the morning on a 'Sunday' and be just out there sparing time for the team! You guys made it a memorable experience for all of us and spurred us on to the finish!

( Thanks to Pankaj for co-ordinating the whole cheering effort for the team. )

Here are the stars of the show though :)

(In reverse alphabetical order, for a change ..)

( )

She is part of an elite category within Team Asha! Being a mom in itself takes all your time and resources (If you have any doubts, you can check with my mom on how much I troubled her!). How about being a Marathon Mom? While, Syona an adorable future Team Asha runner kept her mom busy most of the time, Vivin stealthily carried on with her running, with no complaints or cribs. She switched from AT&T to 3M as her target race rather late and frankly speaking we were a bit worried! But, she finished in style and made us all proud! Vivin and Ram long term Asha volunteers once again showed us why they are part of the reason Asha Austin trudges along year after year!

Sharanya Rao
( )

After moving to Austin, running would have probably been the last thing on her mind! But, today she ran the longest she ever has! She finished an half marathon for a cause that she truly believes in. All through the training she was worried how she will do on the D-Day and she did amazingly well today! Sharanya is not just a Team Asha runner, she is an active Asha Austin volunteer and has been attending meetings regularly. It was rather obvious that the enthusiasm and initiative would ebb into the running too. The training and silent dedication to the schedule ensured that she cut more than 10 minutes from her expected finish time! She declared that she doesn't talk much while running. I guess, she meant she lets the running talk. In her own words - 'We don't run for that piece of metal they give us at the finish, we run for the kids'.

Minesh Shilotri
( )

Every class in the school has these bunch of guys/gals who sit in the last bench and have a lot of fun. They take it easy, but finish strong! Minesh probably slept through most of the long runs in the entire training program (Sorry dude! Had to quote you!). Minesh missed a lot of the training and the maximum distance he had done before was about 4-5 miles. But, it takes a lot of courage and determination to not back down with all this. With a nervous start all of us are worried how he is going to shape up at the race. Yet, he seemed to suggest he wanted more at the end of the race! It truly was a committed performance today from him. Team Asha respects the die hard spirit that he demonstrated for all of us today.

Khushbu Patel
( )

Can any one of us imagine being in pre-med school at UT, with atleast 5 courses every semester to handle, a student job and find whatever time if possible to train for a half marathon ? I am still kind of amazed as to how she managed it! With a rigorous schedule to handle at UT, she made light weather of all the troubles and kept on with the training as much as possible. The longest she had done before last week was 6 miles and today she did much faster than expected!! Through the whole race, it looked like she was just taking it easy. So, that probably means this was just a start! Khusbu has been more than a Team Asha runner - she is a long term Asha volunteer who took the intiative in representing Asha amongst the students of UT and garnering support at UT.

Arvind Viswanath
( )

The target was 1 hr and 54 mins and Arvind failed miserably in reaching it and could only do 1 hour and 57 mins :) . Well, atleast he says that. This guys is too good with his running and I am sure that he is going to kick some ----- if he wants to. With a job that requires a good amount of travel, it really does curtail options of training. But, I have never heard Arvind complain about it! Rather, his involvement with Asha and its efforts has been on a steady rise! If you don't believe me, let me introduce you all to Asha Austin's new chapter co-ordinator! Yep, he leads by example. The very first meeting he attended and heard about the marathon program, he signed up to be a part of it! His initiative and spirit of volunteerism didn't stop there. After the first meeting he attended, We know of almost no meetings that he has missed! Arvind really means a lot for Asha Austin in terms of dedicated volunteers and is amazing inspiration for the rest of Team Asha!

Finally, come the crazy runners who didn't have 3M as the target race, but did it for the heck of it!

Gayathri, Charanya, Manasi, Mohit, Vivek and Ganesh - Here are ppl who are on their way to their targets and 3M was an important milestone! They just didn't make it a training run and were there to cheer us all till the end! I am pretty sure they are going to excel in their target races!

(Note: If I failed mentioning anyone's contribution to Team Asha's 3M efforts, please do bring it to everyone's notice and mail the group.)

Go Team Asha!!


Team Asha Rocks Sumart!

Hi All,

One more target race down for Team Asha this year and we rocked the race like always! As Ganesh and Gaurav mentioned, it was a true team effort that got us this success!

Ashwini,Arvind, Roopa, Murali, Arun, Ashwini, Sharanya, Arvind,Savita,Sandhya, Salil, Mahesh, Dwarak, Divya,Itisha,Venkatesh, Priyavadan, Anita and Bharath were the ultimate support team!

All this would not have been possible if not for such care and affection showered on us! It really felt like a Formula One pit stop, every time one of the runners reached the AID station. Many thanks to the pacers who ran with us (some of them distances that they have not done frequently and that too after their early morning scheduled runs!)

There are so many things that we could keep discussing about. But, I would like to focus on just the effort that each of the wonderful runners have put in - because, as always everything else revolves around it.

Sanjeev Ranganathan

Sometimes, I really think I shouldn't comment on something thats way beyond the league! But, being a witness to this extraordinary effort, I feel I need to let the team know. Sanjeev, never planned to run the 50 miler until just a few weeks back. The original plan was to train for the 50K. He had recurring groin problems, he fell down trails, had cold/fever bouts, back pain and got lost in the wilderness for more time than any of us have ever been off course! It was a tremendous effort on saturday, when he gave his all to reach the cut-off of 9 hours for the third loop. When he did come in a little over 11 hours at the end of his third loop - nothing was lost - He was an inspiration for the whole team in so many ways and thats not new to him. Here is an Asha veteran that we all would be proud to know.

Anita komanduri

Silent, humble and almost unnoticed - The mother of all efforts is sometimes lost in just its humbleness! Many a times she has taught us how not to make a fuss about any of these efforts. She finished her first ultra marathon strong and in style! I know I am going to get it from her for this - keeping all gender sensitiveness in mind, I just can't avoid proclaiming Team Asha's first woman ultra marathoner! She had serious ITB problems and that even stopped her from completing some of the training runs. Running mountains in Bandera really didn't help it a lot. But, we all knew that she was going to bounce right back! In about 8 hours she finished her first 50 km run and made us all proud of what we are doing.

This is probably Sanjeev and Anita's last race with Asha Austin's marathon program. They were one of the reasons why Asha Austin even has a marathon program. Wishing all the best for Sanjeev and Anita's life ahead in India. We shall as always look upto them for inspiration and direction.

Ganesh Krishnamoorthy

Shameless copy paste from what we wrote about him last year -

"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

It somehow still holds true. He was determination personified, when even a 'stupid' disqulification rule that stripped him of his bib no. couldn't stop him from doing what he set out for. A bad fall in the trails even before the first half of the race ended meant a lot of blood loss, less energy and lots of pain. He spent aboout 12 hours and 30 minutes on the trails trudging along and never ever giving up! I don't think anyone could have convinced him about dropping out even as the race infrastructure was brought down. I have not seen anything like this before!

Vinod Viswanath

Asha Austin's one and only 'Coach ji'. The marathon veteran showed us the way all these years and it was no different on saturday as Team Asha moved into the realms of 'Ultra' running. Intermittent training and a lot of travel didn't really help him get a wholesome training program. But, it was never a complaint or an excuse! As always he kept the spirits up and gave us all the invaluable gems of advice that just comes with experience. Though he probably wasn't too happy about his time, I am sure he is going to set it right pretty soon - maybe within a year :) If you are happy that Asha Austin has this wondeful program, here is one person you might want to thank for sure! This is probably Vinod's last run with Team Asha when in Austin. Rather than feel worried about a future without coach ji, I think its upto all of us to make the dream live on and make the program a sucess year after year!

Gaurav Agarwal

A+ - for those who don't know, it means planning, perseverence, commitment and dedication. He held everything together for all us crazy ultras - he took care of almost every area - food, travel, race plans etc week after week! Meticulous in his planning and execution, he made it all very easy for us. He had some bad cramps towards the end of the third loop. He had some health problems even the next day. I was joking about the 'royal' treatment he got after the race - but, the truth is he made through this crazy ultra marathon in 10 hrs, given all that he had to go through! Team Asha is in safe hands as gaurav gives his 100% to a cause that all of us believe in. It takes a lot of effort to organize, sustain and pour one's efforts into a program of this magnitude - Gaurav has led by example on each one of these aspcts. He is an inspiration to all of us and Team Asha looks foward to more races with A+!!

Santhosh Padmanabhan

Yep! I get to talk about myself :) ..The truth is, I was just 'plain' lucky. I never had to go through anything that others had to go through. But, for the encouragement and support from wondeful Team Asha friends on the trails supporting us, it could have been a lot different. I had a memorable experience - not just because of 'my own race', but with people travelling long distances to just encourage us all!

Many thanks to all the runners of the team for being with all of us through the way!


Team Asha Rocks Motive!

Hi All,

November 12, Sunday 2006 - Team Asha conquers the first 'Target Race' of the season! Every runner out there today did a great job! This is one of the most hilly race courses ( ) in Austin and yet it was no match for our runners!

Here are the Team Asha runners who successfully completed the 'Goal' of finishing the motive half marathon :

Ajay Taparia -
Ajay is doing an internship at Silicon labs and heard about the program through his roommate, Venkatesh and Asha volunteers. He had no qualms in commiting himself to the challenging task of training for a half-marathon and fundraising. He was so good that he even did a 10 miler way before others in the program did it ( actually, he got lost :) ..). His commitment to training, patience and determination made him a winner as he passed the finishing line today!
( )

Venkatesh Acharya -
Venkatesh is also doing an internship at Silicon labs. Lively and full of enthusiasm, he kept the team in good spirits in the training sessions. He is also known for his great cooking abilities - his speciality being delicacies from Karataka. Just a week before motive Venkatesh's training had a 'hiccup'. He had to deal with shin splints. But, he put up a brave fight today and carried himself along in his own characteristic never-say-die attitude! He was literally limping in the first few miles! He was not sure if he could run. But, he ran through the finish line today to be one more Team Asha veteran!
( )

Pankaj Kalra -
Pankaj is doing his internship with Sematech. He had volunteered with Asha when in UC, Berkley. He dropped into one of Asha Austin's meetings and didn't take long to decide that he will be running for Team Asha! He was regular and commited to his training. At a time when Asha Austin is in need of volunteers, Pankaj's efforts as a volunteer is very helpful. Today as a Team Asha runner, he again gave his 100% towards a cause he believes in. Even after the back breaking hills of motive today, there he was for the usual 2 p.m. Asha meeting!
( )

Congratulations to the three of them for meeting their goals! Team Asha encourages and eagerly awaits their wonderful sprint across the finish line with the fundraising efforts. Great job guys !

Marathoners -

Arvind Rao
Itisha Tyagi
Sriram Sambamurthy
Ashay Ronghe
Mihir Anandpara

Team Asha full marathoners have reached the half way point in their training with motive. All of them finished strong and are ready to take on any hills now! The training does get tough from here, but when the going gets tough, Team Asha gets going !

Other Team Asha runners Ganesh, Sanjeev, Vinod, Gaurav and Santhosh had a nice run too!

Mahesh Subramony finished his first half marathon at motive. Due to unexpected reasons he couldn't join us all earlier in the program. Today he finished the half marathon displaying amazing grit and determination!

Congrats to Asha patrons Chandu, Lalit and Karthik for finishing the half marathon!

Our heartfelt thanks to the tireless cheering through out the race!!

Thanks to AshwiniG, Arun (and his drums!), Anuroopa, Sayli, Bhavishya, Bhavishya's friend, Salil, Nivas, Dwarak and Divya.

It requires a lot of effort to get up from the bed early on a cold sunday morning and shout out for the team for hours ! You guys are amazing and we owe it to you!

Thanks to AshwiniT for patiently dealing with all the registration, organization, cheering efforts and also for coming out to support us!

If you thought its over, you are mistaken, its just started! We have three more big races to go!

Sunmart Ultras - Dec 9th
3M Half - Jan 31st
AT&T Half & Full - Feb 19th

Hopefully we have more of Team Asha come out to root for its runners in all these races.

You run so they can read.

Go Team Asha!!

(For Team Asha)