My 2018 reading list

Already on the first weekend of 2018, and I have a reading list for 2018.

Every year I take up a reading challenge which includes one book series and few other books. ‘Few’ maybe 8 to 10 books. This year, I thought I’d change up the challenge a bit, making it a real ‘challenge’. So, here is 2018 list:

  1. A book series (of course)
  2. A book over 500 pages (current read)
  3. A book that can be read in a day
  4. A book of translation
  5. A play or poetry (out of my comfort zone)
  6. A banned book (that would be exciting)
  7. A book from my favourite author (did I say, Tolkien, :D)
  8. A book I’ve given up reading long back
  9. A biography
  10. A book suggested by another bookworm

So, looks like lots of reading in 2018!

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Few bits about ‘HEAT’

That Theoretical Physicist

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As you know the Universe is made of matter and energy. The matter is made up of atoms and molecules. And it is the energy that causes (triggers) these atoms and molecules in motion. They bump into each other or vibrate back and forth and increased the atomic/molecular kinetic energy and thus creates a form of energy called ‘thermal energy’.

Any form of energy can be converted into thermal energy via various processes. Heat is the amount of thermal energy transferred during these processes. Let’s look into few examples:

  1. Mechanical energy to thermal energy: Consider bouncing of a ball. Everytime the ball bounces back from the ground, some of the energy of ball’s motion  (KE) is converted into heat (making the ball warm) and thus slowing it down.
  2. Electrical energy to thermal energy: Most electrical appliances heat up when we switch it on. We know that electrical energy is the flow of…

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Summing up 2017

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Well, 2017 was a great year for running. Clocked close to 3000 km on Strava; 2973 to be exact. It was one excellent year; a number of PBs, podiums and completion of new challenges.

The year started with a bit of disappointment. Taken both Chennai Marathon and Mumbai Marathon challenge in January. Ran both back to back, ruining both runs. However, came back strong in New Delhi half marathon with a PB. Still, that was not good enough. I knew that I could do better. So, I decided to check into a gym and work more on strength training.

It was the decision of the year. Things started working better since then. A podium in Bir Billing for half marathon, few strong summer runs. And then came Hyderabad Marathon. I gotta say I was freaking out until minutes before the race. The fear of DNF and the stories of DNF were on my mind. However, I finished the run strong; not my best timings though. However, that was a confidence booster for the rest of the season.

Bengaluru came and went. Messed it up by overdosing with electrolyte; was cramped up from 28th km. But, did finish the race with a PB and a podium for age category. ADHM was a dream. 2017 I focussed more on the full marathon and ADHM was the only race I could break my HM PB. And I got my PB in style; 1:45:10. I never planned a sub-1:45 race; so, not at all disappointed over missing it.

The season ended with my first international marathon; the Singapore marathon. It was a tough one. However, I surprised myself with a PB – 4:10:10. I couldn’t be happier.

Though there were lots of ups, a number of boxes were left unchecked. For example, a sub-4 finish.

With the important lessons learned over 2017, I am sure I can check those boxes soon. 2018 looks promising. New records to break, new challenges to take up, new places to visit and run; I have already started filling my planner. Can’t wait!


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And a PB from Singapore

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Who dares to grab a personal best from one of the toughest marathons in Asia?

Well, that would be me. Clocked 4:10:10 and that ended up being my PB; shaved off 7 seconds from last PB from Bangalore Marathon.

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PB time!

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon was nothing I expected. I expected a crash and burn situation. The place was humid; and too sunny from 7:00 am. With flag off of my pen at 4:40 am, I expected running in the sun from probably 25th km… which is crucial in a marathon because if you start slowing down from there, you can never pick the pace… that is usually the thing for me; experiences from Bangalore!

Well, nothing of that sort stopped me. The weather was surprisingly better on race day and I had a relaxing run. I could have pushed myself a bit more… but, I didn’t… fear of injury/cramps… I guess that is something I need to work on.

A good finish doesn’t mean the event was so enjoyable and all. The organizers tried their best to keep the runners comfortable. However, there were uncomfortable situations. The runners were made to stand in queues for more an hour (the lucky ones) to drop their bags and collect their bags. The pre-run queue was annoying. I started 6 minutes after the flag-off of my pen. The post-run queue was painful… I almost fainted of dehydration… Organizers apologised of course, but, my runners were left fuming! Also, the ladies were not happy with the event, finisher tee designs… too loose and I look like a hanger with those tees on; I will never wear them for any run :(.

Summing up… my last run of 2017 ended on a happy note… A PB is a PB! Can’t wait for 2018!

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Finish line smiles!


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ADHM… My YAY moment of the year!

 ADHM

It was that time of the year in Delhi. Post-Diwali smog and pollution debates and then came along ADHM… bearing the brunt of the ‘concerned’ health professionals… After days and weeks of uncertainty, it did happen!

2017, to me, was the year of Full Marathons. I have been training for it since February with weeks of training plans. Though I didn’t achieve my sub-4 target, I had hopes on this Delhi’s biggest running festival – a half marathon.

I knew I could break into the sub-1:50, but a 1:45:10 finish was not expected.  I even I surprised myself. I knew I had a cramp coming. I had that feeling since the Bangalore Marathon. It can come anytime and it will ruin my run! I was sure.

I planned to board the 1:45 bus thinking I can finish sometime around 1:46-1:47. I was certain, I won’t be able to race at the end. But, after all the ‘star sports drama’ (another story), I was all fired up. I was going at a pace between 4:50-5:00 min/km and when I cracked a PB for 10k, I was fired up. However, I was aware the cramp that may come at any time. I kept my pace; finished 18km under 1:30. What was left was a race until the end which I did.

In between, the shoelaces failed me. it never happened with my Nike before. There should always be a first time. I might have lost 7-8 seconds there. But, I didn’t matter to me at all. I could have slowed down anytime in between and lost those. The thing that happened after that is I raced and never slowed down during those usual slow-down splits: 18th, 19th! In fact, I raced the last 200m @4:41!

In the end, I ran 130m more; didn’t take the shortest route. Or else, it could have been an easy sub-1:45. That is good in some sense. It will keep me grounded and at the same time will give me confidence for the next 10 races.

I am excited. Excited for the coming races; excited for the Singapore Marathon, which is going to be tough and TMM, which again, is going to be tough and NDM.

Happy days ahead!

 

My pacing debut

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It’s almost 2.5 years of running for me. So far, it has been fantastic – finishing, getting PBs, going places and running. Running in delhi and elsewhere means making fiends with many awesome runners whom we meet during races and sunday runs. I am fortunate enough to be friends with some superstar athletes in the country. They have always inspired me and motivated me to do better the next time.

There are many kind of runners during a race; the fast ones, the champions, the regulars running to cross that finish line, the ones running for fun, the newbies, and so on. I have to mention one special kind of runners – called ‘pacers’ who run along with runners during a race and help them finish a run within a specific target. To me, they are like the superstars of running – the accomplished runners who can run at any pace; slow or fast.

I am not a ‘run with a pacer’ kind of runner. But, i have always known pacers have helped many achieve milestones and PBs. Over the last 12 months or so, i believe i have worked on my endurance and when i was comfortable with my full marathon, i know i can change up my pace whenever i want. That was then i knew i am ready for pacing. I longed for an opportunity to pace in some race and then came the Women 10k 2017.

So, i had my pacing debut on March 5, 2017. Though pacing is cool, it is not an easy job. i was assigned the 70 min bus. it means i have to run with a pace of 6:55 min/km to 7 min/km, which is always difficult for me.

Usually, my slow recovery runs are under a pace 6:30 and long Sunday runs are under the pave 6:00. So, it was indeed challenging for me to run at a pace of 7:00 or anything close to 7:00 which i tried during a pilot run 5 days before the race day. I had my doubts if i would be too fast during the race day and fail in my pacing debut.

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My flag and the pacer tee…

Came race day… Seeing my 70 min flag, so many runners came to me and told me they are going to board my bus for a PB – gave me an added pressure.

So, the run starts. I started running with the people around me, almost at a pace 7:00 mostly because it was too crowded and there was not much space to run faster. When the crowd cleared up and i had a temptation to go fast, i started a conversation with the runners. It helped me have the rhythm and run slower consistently. I even managed to push some people up to the faster bus. Couple of times during the run, i went back and picked up few passengers.

Most people running at the pace of 7 are slow runners or new runners. They tend to stop and walk during the race (i used to do that at the beginning). I really enjoyed the part where i motivated some of the ‘walkers’ to run… at least a slow run.

During the last km, i made few people sprint to the finish line, myself finished @ 69:35 min and then went back and dragged few people to the finish line. It was a good feeling – completing my first pacing duty.

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Completing my pacer duty.

Many runners who finished within 70 min came after the run to click selfies with me and to thank me. Few had their personal bests that day. What more can i ask for!!!

So, bring on more pacing challenges… HM or an FM… i am ready to take on any!!!

2016: My crazy year of running…

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Sums up my last running season…

Years from now, when i look back down the road, i might find 2016 as the year i went crazy… crazy about running…

My 2016 new year resolution was ‘make a difference, do something crazy’… i did lot of crazy stuff… The craziest was deciding to run HM/FM in 6 different cities…

Starting with Hyderabad in August, then off to Bangalore in October, Cochin and Delhi in November, and finally then two full marathons in Jan ’17 in Chennai and Mumbai (back-to-back)… The last bit was the real crazy – back to back FMs… in a way, i screwed up the Mumbai by draining all energy in Chennai even though i bettered by timing…

Well, i don’t care any of that now… I have completed all my goals of 2016 running season… And rewarded well too… Won bronze in age category in Bangalore, won the whole HM run in Chennai, PB in Delhi (HM), 4th in FM in Chennai (there was a prize for 4th position too :)) and ended with a PB in Mumbai… so, the money spent on registration, travel, gear, and accessories… all forgotten…

More than the material and monetary rewards, it is that feeling… that feeling of accomplishment you get when you cross the finish line – i had many of that last year… and i am happy…

As i type this, i am drawing up my plan for next year… yes, more cities to conquer… more roads to explore… season 2017, i am coming… stronger and more determined…

Vaporization vs Evaporation vs Boiling

That Theoretical Physicist

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While working at my previous organization where I was a development editor for school books, I had quite a lot of interaction with school teachers. The topics of these interactions vary from new teaching methods to the content which goes into the text books to various other subject related matter. Mostly, the discussions were on their views regarding the explanations of certain “confusing” topics.

Teachers can be intransigent sometimes. Teachers, especially the experienced ones, usually follow only those books they have started their teaching career with. So, they get upset if the new content in our books deviate slightly from the wordings they are familiar with, or the artwork or diagrams they are used to. There were certain topics where the rewording confused the teachers and they ended up confusing us with their corrections. A set of topic I came across while working on the Physics books was vaporization/evaporation/boiling. These terms…

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Carrot cake to perfection

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Got it to perfection for christmas

After few successful b’day and Christmas cakes, I have somehow perfected my recipe of the fruit and nut cake.  So, this Christmas, I had decided on baking a carrot cake, which I had fallen in love with ever since we started ordering evening cakes from Chaayos, a tea and cake vendor in Delhi.

I searched for a proper recipe online. Finally I found one someone shared in facebook. I modified the recipe as per the availability of the ingredients here in Delhi and came out well. In fact, I had a bunch of testers in my house that day to review and approve. So, here is the recipe for that.

Ingredients:
2 cup plain flour
1.5 cup caster sugar (can be less as per your taste)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cup grated carrots (3-4 carrots)
3 eggs
Powdered spices – 1 clove + 1 cardamom pod + small piece of cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
Few drops of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180ºC.
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Next, add vegetable oil and beat.
  4. Add the grated carrots to the mixture and mix well.
  5. Add vanilla extract to the above mixture.
  6. Now, add a spoon of flour mixture and fold. Once it is used up, add the remaining flour mixture spoon by spoon so that no lumps are formed.
  7. To a tray greased with butter and flour sprinkled over, pour the batter and bake for 45-50 minutes until the top turns brownish. Insert a skewer into the cake; if it comes out clean, your cake is done.

Another year, Another ADHM done…

eade5c4d352e06352c168bb0af3e30d886dddcb8f5dab5eaf760b17c9e7ddb0dEver since I started taking long distance running seriously and ever since I started getting to know the running groups in Delhi, the one thing i noticed was that everyone seemed looking forward to, at any time of the year, yes, the tAirtel Delhi Half Marathon or ADHM… and the count down to the event… starting even before August when the registrations usually opens (i had a count down even for the registration opening day)…

ADHM, for most Delhi runners, is the end-of-the-year point… you plan an year’s run as ‘pre ADHM/preparation to ADHM’ or post ADHM….

Well, after numerous runs around Delhi and strategizing and planning… there was ADHM, last weekend… Last year I ran without much expectations and clocked 2:17:16 (as I type that certificate is in front of me, pasted on my board)… So, they promoted me from line-up F to line-up C.

With a PB (1:54) clocked weeks before the race and I was hoping I could break that…. But winter, and sprains and Delhi weather… and topping all the huge crowd, I couldn’t get my plan right… But still managed to finish within 2 hrs (1:58:27)… People say that is decent enough… They say finishing the race in 2 hrs is a big thing…

On the big crowd… I could barely find space at the start to move forward… There were dangerous runners around, with no curtsey, pushing others….no space for free running… The number will keep on going up year by year, for sure…

Delhi weather… The pollution situation in Delhi after Diwali is just alarming… whenever I got out for a run, I could feel the kind of air I was breathing in… With the situation will definitely go from bad to worse in the coming years unless the Govt. steps in with actions…

What bothers me most is the injury scares…. These days its frequent… may be I push myself a lot… I set a pace and I get upset and I come down that point… I get so competitive with my yesterday’s records… May be it’s the old short distance runner in me… so eager to break records everyday…. So, eager to better the pace…. I ran a recovery run at 5:16 min/km and ppl send me alarming messages… to slow down!!! I know I need to slow down a bit… be less competitive… lots of work for disciplining myself for next year… well, next ADHM 🙂

Whatever the reason I pulled out for not improving my PB, I am signing off the running calendar with lots of satisfaction…. The kilometres ran this year, the hours I trained… the hours I spent on planning… the unhealthy habits I gave up (though there were many temptations)… I am proud!!! Though there needs lots of improvements, I am happy the way I have disciplined myself…

The thing with runners like me is ‘As long as there are roads, we are ready to run…’

Can’t wait for the next half marathon!!! Well, I have promised myself a winter break… let’s see how that will go… 😉