My 1st Running Anniversary

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In 2008, I wanted to train for half and full marathons. I had even bought 2 books from the US and made an excel based plan after reading. Started executing the plan but got a niggle in my knee and there wasn’t anyone to talk to or discuss, so got worried about being injured and dropped the running plan. Life went on playing Lawn tennis and then long-distance cycling till last year. ( in terms of sports/fitness)

My daughter, Neha and her husband, Yogarshi started running in the last 2-3 years. Nitish, my son, also got into running. I used to observe their running, give kudos, and encourage them as they were crossing running milestones. Last year, during a group family call, Neha motivated me to get into running and send a link to the “Couch to 5K” podcast. My old dream revived in a way and I started running exactly a year ago. The initial run was 1 min run-8 min walk, but slowly in 4-5 weeks, I could run for 6-8 minutes at a stretch. It was a rainy season, so there were gaps in running and then I decided to do Everest Base Camp Trek which took a month ( pre, trek, and post) to come back to normal routine. From November, I became more serious about running and continued with week 4 of “Couch to 5 K” plan. I used to repeat weekly program for one more week ( instead of a just week ) so that I can build a strong base.

In December, we visited New York and that became a turning point for my running. I ran with Neha, Nitish, and Yogarshi in Central Park. I observed so many of my age and more elder running, moms running with their kids, dads running with infants in the creche. It was so motivating! In a month, I made a plan to run 5K before I leave New York in early Jan. I worked on the plan and ran my first 5K on 2nd Jan 2022 in Central Park! It was so rewarding and satisfying.

After coming back to Pune, I continued running but I started feeling the need for a like-minded people group to discuss, chat with, and be part of a running group. In Feb, after doing some research and talking to a few folks, I joined Atul Godbole’s Motiv8Coaching. I started enjoying being in a group, our weekly group runs, and Sunday’s long runs. The structured program which Atul gave me, helped me quite a bit in improving my running and fitness.

Considering the progress, I changed my registration for Pune Marathon to 10K from 5K! I ran my first 10k on 27th Feb, 22 with the timing of 69 minutes! I was thinking that it will take me 75 minutes but I did much better than that.

In the last couple of months, in my long runs, I tried and learned various options for maintaining electrolytes and carbohydrate/sugar levels, hydration, etc. Now at the first year anniversary of running, I could long run up to 15 km and in my 10Kms Time trial, I could run 10 km in 59.51 minutes, which is a very big achievement for me.

I really thank Neha, Yogarshi, Nitish, and Vidya for their encouragement. For Vidya, it was a big change as I get up at 4:30/5 am for my runs and sleep early but she encouraged me. Also, special thanks to Atul for the consultations, small but important tips, training plans, and for motivating me.

What has been changed in the last year due to running?

  • More conscious of food, sleep, and hydration
  • Consistency in strength training
  • More energy throughout the day
  • More positive feelings and a sense of achievement
  • A lot of “me” time during running
  • Improved health parameters

Everest Base Camp Oct 2021

This was my first solo trek. After covid waves, the travel was getting opened up so I decided to go for ​the ​ EBC trek which I wanted to do for a long time. Based on some research on the internet, I zeroed down to “Himalayan Wonders” as a trek operator. After all the detailed preparation, I reached Kathmandu on 3rd October. In the evening, I met rest of the members of the trek team with whom I am going to spend the next 8-10 days. 

The next day, I spent some time sightseeing Nepal. We saw Shri Pashupati Nath temple and Buddha Stupa. We were staying in Hotel Jampa in Thamel during our stay in Kathmandu. The Thamel area is very much a tourist place and all kinds of hiking & mountaineering gear​s​ are available at a reasonable cost. Most of the folks who are going on expeditions or coming from expeditions stay in this area. It is a nice hotel and I would definitely recommend it. 

We had the following itinerary. 

03 Oct: Early Arrival Day
04 Oct: Kathmandu: Arrival Day
05 Oct: Kathmandu to Lukla Flight ( 2860 Mtrs) and Trek to Phakding (Trek Start) ( Height: 2610 Mtrs)
06 Oct: Phakding To Namche Bazaar (3440 Mtrs)
07 Oct: Namche Bazaar: Rest And Acclimatization Day
08 Oct: Namche Bazaar To Tengboche ( 3860 mts)
09 Oct: Tengboche To Dingboche (4410 mts)
10 Oct: Dingboche: Rest And Acclimatization Day
11 Oct: Dingboche To Lobuche (5030 mts)
12 Oct: Lobuche To Gorakshep And Everest Base Camp, Ebc To Gorekshep (5116 mts – 5364 mts)
13 Oct: Gorekshep To Kalapathar And Pheriche Or Panboche
14 Oct: Pheriche Or Panboche To Namche
15 Oct: Namche To Phakding And Lukla (Trek End)
16 Oct: Lukla To Kathmandu Flight
17 Oct: Kathmandu 
18 Oct: Depart Kathmandu

The first day from Kathmandu to Lukla & then to Phakding is very interesting. The plane from Kathmandu to Lukla is very small ( 20-25 passengers) and it takes off /lands depending on weather conditions in Lukla. We were waiting on tarmac for 3 hours before we could fly. Thankfully we reached in 30 minutes without any weather issues at Lukla. The flight after our flight took off but had to return back to Kathmandu due to bad weather at Lukla and thereafter any flight could not take off for 2 days due to weather in Lukla. From Lukla, we had to trek for 5-6 hours to reach Phakding. The trail is beautiful with lots of greenery and waterfalls. The trail is a roller coaster and net, we go 300 meters down to Phakding from Lukla. We stayed at “International Trekkers Guest House” in Phakding. 

The second day of trekking from Phakding to Namche Bazar is very steep. It is about a 6-8 hours trek and also significant height gain in a day. The gradient is high but the trail is full of nature – lots of water falls, rivers, mountains around, greenery. We also need to cross 5-6 rope bridges, the longest and highest is Hillary Bridge. We took a one day break at Namche for acclimatization . Namche is a beautiful village with cafes, bars and shops. This is a popular acclimatization stop of all trekkers going for Mt. Everest expedition. In Namche, we did one acclimatization trek to a nearby peak. We were beginning to feel cold in the night in Namche. This was the last stop where we could take a bath. 

The fourth day was from Dingboche to Tenboche. The initial part was a good trail apparently made by a person who is now 90+ years old. He was there and asking for some help to make the trail. The later portion was a big down road and then a huge gradient to climb to reach the destination. Tengboche has a Buddhist Monastery which was built a few centuries ago. It is a must see place in Tengboche. In Tengboche, it was getting very cold in the evening and in the night, we had to get into our -20 deg. centigrade sleeping bags. 

Day 5 was from Tengboche to Dingboche. From here, the tree lines started to disappear and thin air was getting experienced. Slowly and steadily we reached Dingboche after a 5-6 hours of trek. Now the terrain is completely different – completely barren and covered by snow clad mountains from all sides. From here, one mountain peak is always with you – Ama Dablam. You can experience beautiful angles of Ama Dablam as you trek Tengboche to Dingboche and onwards. We took one more acclimatization halt at Dingboche and did one acclimatization trek to a nearby peak. Now the nights are very cold, absolutely freezing. Dingboche has many tea houses which are very big. Due to covid, there were not many passengers. All tea houses had common toilets. You have to leave with it but it is much better than staying in tents. 

Day 7 was from Dingboche to Lobuche. Again, the trail is completely barren with hardly any tree. All surrounded by snow clad mountains. The sun was also harsh so we had to completely cover our faces and use sunglasses. On the way, a metrological observatory has been set up. Also, we saw memorial areas of all Everest Mountaineers who died in their expeditions to Mt. Everest. We could see the memorial of Scott Fischer , the famous mountaineer who climbed Mt. Everest several times but died in bad weather while waiting for his fellow team member to climb Mt. Everest. 

The next day , the 8th day, is from Lobuche to Workshop to EBC. We started out early in the morning but due to bad weather, I went back to Lukla and back to Kathmandu. Others took 5 days to climb down but I went down by Helicopter. The road from Lobuche is full of sand and big rocks. we had to be watchful as there is a high possibility of injury. In the morning, our guide checked our SPO2 level and mine was highest !! The helicopter ride back was thrilling. We could see all the trails, mountains and rivers which we crossed while coming to EBC. 

Given a chance, I will definitely go one more time !! It is a lifetime experience that makes you humble, and understand the power of nature.

Leh Ladakh Trip – Day 6 – The last Day ( July 2021)

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We had decided to explore local culture and food on the last day of the trip. We went to visit a place called Stok. Stok is a village in the Leh district  It is located in the Leh tehsil, in the Indus Valley 17 km southeast of the Leh town. The village is home to the 14th century Stok Monastery, with its 71 feet (22 m) high seated Gautama Buddha statue, constructed between 2012–2015 and consecrated by the Dalai Lama on 8 August 2016. Stok’s 19th century palace is the current residence of the former royal family of Ladakh. Within the palace, a museum contains the shrine, crown, ceremonial dress and jewellery of the Ladakhi king.

After seeing the palace museum, we went for lunch to a local Ladakhi’s family’s house. The host lady and her kids made us feel like home and served us delicious Ladakhi Meals. We had these – Butter Tea, Chhaang ( Tibetian Wine), Tangtur, Khambir, VegMomos, Soup and Stew

In the night we went to a nearby Tibetan restaurant and had Thukpa.

There is no way we can come back without doing any local shopping in Leh..

Leh Ladakh Trip – Day 4 & 5 ( July 2021)

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After a nice breakfast, we started around 7 am for Pangong Tso Lake which is at the height of 4225 Meters. This lake is 134 Kms long and spread over part of India and China. 

We were not sure whether we will be able to reach Pangong Lake as there were news of flood in the Shyok river due to the melting of glaciers in the region. The part of the road goes through the Shyok River. After reaching a point of making a decision on the road to take, we decided to take this route: Nubra Valley – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso (Lukung) . This route requires crossing 2 passes Wari La and Chang La. This can be very challenging for the driver and also passengers but we were fortunate to get a good driver who agreed to take this route. 

As this is a longer route, it took almost 13+ hours to reach Pangong. On the way, we stopped at Chang La pass & Tangste for tea. On the way, we saw a lot of movement of military vehicles which is understandable as the India & China border is very near. We talked to a couple of military personnel about life in Tangste. As per them, almost 8 months in a year, the area is very cold & full of snow. They have to eat ready-made food. Only for 4 months, they get a hot cooked meal. We gave some of our Maharashtrian delicacy – Puran Poli to them. 

We reached Pangong around 9 PM. We just had a quick dinner and went to sleep in our tents. Throughout the night, it was raining heavily but fortunately, it stopped in the early morning. 

Our eyes opened to a very beautiful morning. The sky was clear and blue. We were surrounded by snow-clad mountains and we could see a blue watered Pangong Lake in front of us. We could imagine how it is extremely difficult for military personnel to patrol the borders 24×7 and all 365 days. 

We started back for Leh around 10 AM and reached Leh around 6 PM via Chang La pass. 

Leh Ladakh Trip – Day 3 ( July 2021)

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Today, we traveled to the highest Motorable Road in the world – KhardungLa (5,359 m  17,582 ft). It is near to Leh and takes about 45 minutes to reach there. The height gain from Leh ( 11483 ft) to KhardungLa is significant in a very period of time. We were advised not to stay there for more than 20 minutes due to the possibility of altitude sickness. Before we reached KhardungLa, we had to take an inner travel permit from Leh so that we can go to Khardung La, Nubra Valley, and Pangong Lake. At KhardungLa, we saw a big crowd who all want to take photos there. There was significant snow even if the time is peak summer. Fortunately, no one from our group experienced any altitude issues at KhardungLa. 

After passing KharundLa, on the way to Nubra Valley, we had lunch at the shack. We were trying to find a place to rest but we could not locate a single tree till we reach the Nubra area. The views on the way were magnificent – all deserted high-altitude mountain ranges !! 

After 2-3 hours, we reached Shanti Stupa about 10 km before Nubra Valley. The significance of this stupa and monastery was that Dalai Lama had visited it about 3-4 years ago. From Stupa, we got to see the beautiful canvas of Nubra Valley. 

Once we reached Nubra Valley, we checked into our camp – Summer Castle Camp. This was the best place to stay ​​ during our entire trip. The food was excellent and the services were good. It is located near one of the water streams. A lot of vegetables were being grown. A lot of birds were also making their presence felt. 

Leh Ladakh Trip – Day 2 ( July 2021)

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On the second day, we went to some of the places close to Leh. We were lucky to get a good driver “Dewa” who is a Tibetan refugee. His father came to India in 60s. He stayed with us throughout the trip. 

First, we saw the “Hall of Fame” built by the Army. It is an army museum and has a lot of information on Ladakh, Indo-Chia war, Indo-Pakistan war, and the recent Kargil war. We can get a glimpse of the difficult life of army personnel in such a difficult terrain of Ladakh. Ladakh is high altitude desert that is frozen for 6-7 months a year. Summery is very short but harsh. Even if the temperature is the mid-20s, due to UV, it is very harsh. The roads can not reach the border post, so the army personnel has to carry their few months of a ration on the back to their border posting. Very though !! Your respect for the Military grows many folds after a visit to Ladakh !!

After visiting the “Hall of Fame”, we were on our way to visit the confluence of Zanskar and Indus River. Indus rivers originate somewhere in Tibet and then flows to Pakistan via Ladakh. At confluence, we clearly saw 2 different colors of the two rivers. In the winter, the river freezes. There is a famous chadar Trek on the frozen river. 

On the way to confluence, we also saw a Sikh Temple ( Gurudwara) operated by the Indian Army. It was very clean and the army was making sure that prasad ( graced food) is available to everyone. 

On the way, we had our packed lunch. It is very difficult to find good restaurants on the road in Leh. This is due to seasonal traffic and tough weather conditions for most of the year. It is better to carry your own food, which you can pack from Hotel.

In the evening, we went to Leh city for some shopping.

Leh Ladakh Trip – Day 1 ( July 2021)

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TR #44

We arrived in Leh very early morning from Delhi. We started getting a glimpse of Ladakh as we approach Leh Airport. Leh Airport is in the valley and is surrounded by all Himalayan ranges from all sides. Leh is at the altitude of 3500 Mtrs from Sea Level hence acclimatization is very important after arriving in Leh. We rested for the day, drank a lot of water (3-4 Ltrs), and took Diamox ( You need to start Dimox a day before) to overcome altitude sickness. This helped a lot and no one from our group faced altitude issues. Our first stay in Leh was in Hotel Reeyork near to the market. The Hotel is good and the staff is also nice. Initially, owner , Timple, was quite apprehensive about giving us rooms as he had some issues with the tour operator, Thrillophilia, but later he realized that we are good tourists. In the evening, we roamed in the City market. We forgot our sunglasses so bought those. Sunglasses are a must in Ladakh as sun lights are quite harsh. We also saw Old Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa in the evening.  Leh Palace is constructed in 1600 by Sengge Namgyal. It is a mix of Muslim and Buddhist architecture. Shanti Stupa was constructed by a Japanese Monk in 1991. Both the places are worth visiting. 

The market is also very nice and looks more like European Style with only a walking Plaza. Lots of local apricots sellers were there and we tried these. They were sweeter than what we are used to. 

Book Review – Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

This is an excellent book written 60 years back but the contents are relevant even today. Rachel talked at length about how DDT ( which is still common use in some parts of the world like India) ​, ​​ pesticides​  and other ​chemicals used to control insects ​affect the lives of all other plants and animals including humans. She also gave some references to the linkage of cancer with the use of the chemicals in our farms that produce meat, milk, grain, fruits, and vegetables.  More research is now available on this topic. If it is essential to control the disease, other biological options can be explored first before using chemicals. The chemical usage has to be also local instead of using mass chemical application techniques like using low flying airplanes. It is very essential for all countries to make laws to limit & monitor the use of chemicals. It may be possible in 1st world countries but in other parts of the world, it is a very big challenge. More efforts need to make to educate the population against the ill effects of chemicals on our farms.

“पाण्याचा झरा”

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आज वेताळे च्या डोंगरावर १४ trees च्या वनीकरणाच्या प्रोजेक्ट ची पाहणी करताना एका गोष्टी ने लक्ष वेधले तो म्हणजे एक एकदम छोटासा झरा. एप्रिल च्या तडपत्या उन्हात बोडके डोंगर गवत वाळल्यामुळे पिवळे पडले होते आणि त्यात हा जिवंत झरा दिसला, म्हणून जास्त नवल वाटले. हा झरा डोंगारावरचे आदिवासी ( ठाकर ) पिण्याचे पाण्यासाठी वापरतात. झरा इतका छोटा आहे कि एक बादली भरायला २ तास तरी सहज लागतील. हे आदिवासी लोक वाटी वाटी ने बादली भरतात ! एवढ्या कष्टाने पाणी भरल्यावर नक्कीच काटकसरीने वापरात असतील.

कल्पना करा की आपल्यावर अशी वेळ अली तर ? आपण तर पाण्याला गृहीतच धरले आहे. घरात २४ तास पाणी पाहिजे. पुण्याचं उदाहरण घेतलं तर प्रत्येक माणूस सरासरी २००-२५०० लिटर्स पाणी वापरतो . आपल्याला पाणी मिळवायला काहीच कष्ट लागत नाहीत कदाचित त्यामुळे आपल्याला त्याची किंमत कळात नाही. आपण सर्वानी विचार केला पाहिजे की पाणी कमीत कमी कसे वापरता येईल.

नक्की विचार करा ! आपण पाणी वाचवले नाही तर काही वर्षांनी आपल्या पुढच्या पिढयांना नक्कीच संकटाचा सामना करायला लागेल.

Book Review – Land of Seven Sisters by Sanjeev Sanyal

Land of seven rivers: History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Very good book to get an overview of Historical India to the modern India. It is amazing that some traditions from ancient India continues in Modern India. Indian are proud of their civilization ! Many Indian know that India was a rich country once upon a time but I doubt how man will know India’s GDP was 33% of world GDP !! Patilputra and Nalanda were world’s famous Universities and students from all across Asia used to come to study. Overall very good read !!

Some highlights from the book

“The genetic data as well as fossil finds suggest that the Bengal tiger came to inhabit India fairly recently, perhaps no more than 12,000 years ago.”

“India is the only country in the world where both lions and tigers co-exist. As discussed in Chapter 1, tigers evolved in East Asia and probably entered the subcontinent around 12,000 years ago. Soon, they had spread across the subcontinent.”

“The single most important factor that allowed this boom in trade was an understanding of monsoon-wind patterns, a discovery that Greek sources credit to a navigator called Hippalus. The discovery allowed merchant fleets to sail directly across the Arabian Sea rather than hug the coast”

“According to Angus Maddison, the country accounted for 33 per cent of world GDP in the first century AD. India’s share was three times that of western Europe and was much larger than that of the Roman empire as a whole (21 per cent). China’s share of 26 per cent of world GDP was significantly smaller than India’s12. He also estimates India’s population at 75 million (compared to today’s 1.2 billion).”

“Over the next few centuries, hundreds of thousands of Indian slaves—particularly from West Punjab and Sindh—would be marched into Afghanistan and then sold in the bazaars of Central Asia and the Middle East. Unused to the extreme cold of the Afghan mountains, they died in such large number that the range would come to be known as the Hindukush meaning ‘Killer of Hindus’.”

“When Vasco da Gama landed in India, it had a population of around 110 million. At that time, China had an estimated population of 103 million, the United Kingdom 3.9 million and Portugal just 1 million.9 India was still a major economic power with a share of 24.5 per cent of world GDP”

“Around 1500, the Chinese economy bypassed the Indian economy in terms of size for the first time. Moreover, per capita income in India fell below the global average. After having lagged behind India for centuries, most European countries enjoyed higher per capita incomes by 1500”

“At its height in the early sixteenth century it was probably the largest city in the world.” ( VijayNagar – Now Humpi)