Sunday, 26 April 2009

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Sunfeast 10k 2009: More news

For an event which once boasted of being the world's richest 10k (now, they say it's the world's premier 10k), the Sunfeast 10k organizers are putting up a poor show.

First off, their website is designed in such a convoluted way that you can't find the information which you are looking for. For example, say you want to find out what are the different race categories. How do you go about doing that? I clicked on "Race Profile" only to find two useless links pointing me to the "Race Director" and "Awards and Accolades". After a lot of curious mouse-clicks, I finally came to know that the race details were actually under the "Registrations" link! But even that page didn't outline the required details such as when will the race start? The "Sitemap" page shows nothing but whatever links which they already show on the left pane!! I mean come on! How lame is that?

Finally, I gave up and relied on Google to find out the race timings. And again, this year too, the Open 10k race is going to start at 9 AM. Bangalore is being blessed with some mild evening showers of late, but till now it has been one of the hottest summers. The late morning start for the race will most likely make it tough.

The route is the same as last year's. There is no baggage store being provided by the organizers. The timing chip has a one time non-refundable cost of Rs 200.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Trip to Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebidu

Saturday was a long day: starting at 4:45 AM in the morning and ending at 12:00 AM in the night. I and few others from office went on a one day excursion to Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebidu.


We saw the world's largest monolithic statue of the Jain god: Gomateshwara Bahubali. The temple, where the statue stands, is on a small hill and you have to climb around 700 steps to get there. At the end of it my fragile companions, limbs shivering, were left tired and breathless.

Belur and Halebidu

Visited two famous temples: Chennakesava Temple (Belur) and Hoysaleswara temple, (Halebidu). Both of the temples were built over generations by the rulers of Karnataka. The immaculate, highly detailed stone sculptures which cover the temple walls were awe-inspiring. Many of these stone sculptures depict figures from mythological stories and it was quite interesting to listen to the guide describe them.

More photos here.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Sting Handshake

The Comrades Marathon is an ultra-marathon held in South Africa. It's a race covering a distance of 90 KM. But it's not just the distance which is mind-numbing, the race has time cut-offs at points in between the race. If you don't make it in the given time, you are out of the race. Not only that, the race circuit closes in 12 hours. Training for Comrades is 6 months long and requires you to run 1 marathon and 3 ultra-marathons -- yes, the training plan assumes that you are an experienced runner.

Tanvir is planning to run the Comrades Marathon in 2010 (all the very best to him). I heard about Bruce Fordyce while watching one of the youtube videos which Tanvir had linked to in his post.

Fordyce has won Comrades a record 9 times. One of the gestures which he used to perform in the race, was called the "Sting Handshake". During the last phases of the race, Fordyce would come from the behind and give a handshake, to whoever was in front, and overtake with ease.

From Daily News:
Bruce Fordyce gave Hosea Tjale and Mark Page his trademark handshake in 1987 and 1989, a gesture that sucked the life out of both of them as he then disappeared into the sunset and added another win to his collection.

For me, the Sting Handshake is more like an iron-fist in a velvet glove.
Passing is not a game, it's a statement. Passing another runner says, I am better than you.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

One long run

There is a butterfly hovering over a pink bougainvillea. Through the trees I can see the sun hiding behind the clouds. Rob Zombie's music is blaring in my ears. It's so loud that I can't hear myself breathe. But I need to get distracted.

This was the week's last run and was turning out to be the hardest. Our group was running in GKVK (now called UAS -- University of Agricultural Sciences). The place is an agricultural university, just outside city limits -- on the way to Bangalore airport. The campus has a nice long scenic trail, covered with trees, flowers and shrubs. One loop of the trail is around 10 KM.

It was 3 KM down in the second loop when my legs started feeling sore. At the end of the first loop itself I had doubts whether I could do another one. I pushed on. Endorphins kicked in. The pain went away, but it was also a signal to stop.

Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body when we perform strenuous activity. They are what you call analgesics or the body's pain-killers. These chemicals are supposed to be the reason for the runner's high. The problem with them is that they sometimes cause injuries. Because endorphins inhibit pain, you might actually end up ignoring some serious discomfort, which will then come and bit you back later.

I had decided to abandon the second loop midway and was taking a short cut back to the starting point. Of course, I was still running.

Never gonna stop now ... never gonna stop.

I look at my Garmin, it says that I have run a little over 16 KM. I stop. There is a nice breeze, the trees are doing their dance and I have a smile on my face. For the first time in my running history, I have done over 60 KM in a week (64.8 KM to be precise). Pleasantly tired I walk to the parking.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Sansa Clip Saga -- Part 3 (Finale)

As promised by the Sandisk customer support, my new Sansa Clip arrived a few days back. It has got a capacity of 8 GB, wherein the one which went bad was only 4 GB (they didn't have 4 GB stock)! I have taken it out for a couple of runs and its working perfectly fine.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Trip to Kerala

I had a nice short vacation in Kerala. A cousin was getting married. Everything went off well, and I had some nice South-Indian food. Salient points from the trip:
  • The journey was by train and I enjoy trains. But even more than that I love the upper berth. It's like your own make-me-invisible-sunglass (a la Mr. India), from where you can see everyone and everything, but others can't see you. I was cosily reading a book on top, while at the same time eavesdropping on other people. Sipping on the convenient tea and coffee all the time.
  • I stopped over at Palakkad to spend time with my grandfather. Apart from other things and lectures which I got to listen, he expected me to set right a malfunctioning Hit aerosol insect killer, because I'm an engineer. I couldn't.
  • Kerala is HOT right now. You know the kind of hot wherein taking a bath is really of no use (that doesn't mean I didn't). Nights don't give any respite either.
  • After Palakkad, my next stop was Cochin -- the place of old times, college times, good times, bad times (though mostly good). Cochin is a place which doesn't really change. It's a place where you can give someone directions just by saying "It's opposite Pizza Hut". In a place like Delhi or Bangalore there are like a gazillion Pizza Huts, but not in Cochin -- there's just one. Joints really don't open up and if they do, there are only one or two. The opening of CCD or Barista there was BREAKING NEWS. Us college students used to throng there. When Subway opened up shop there, I got to know of it all the way up in Bangalore through some juniors of mine -- it was a BIG deal there. Things close down at 9 PM -- you won't even get autos. Sundays is a holiday for all shops; even most restaurants close down. But it has its own nice quaint qualities.
  • The wedding festivities were spread across three days. I got to meet a ton of relatives. I also ended up feeling old. There were so many cousins of mine who had ... well ... grown up. I found myself up saying "Oooh! Look ... you have grown up so much. When I last saw you, you were only this much". Then I would remember ... "What the heck am I saying? NO NO NO NOOOO".
  • I wanted to visit all our old college hangouts. But I could only go to Cocoa Tree (it still has the post-it wall, but didn't have the ones which we had put) . Cocoa Tree is one of the old Cochin coffee shops. We used to like going there at late nights -- it's open till 2 AM. I sipped on a cold coffee while munching on a chocolate brownie (Side Note: Fitness Fervor people, no, I did not put on weight.).

  • While on the train back to Bangalore, I was all nostalgic.

Design our money

The Indian Government wants to have a new symbol for the good old "Rs". Not surprisingly a lot of countries have special symbols for their currency. I guess we just didn't want to be left out. The government has asked the country for help, so maybe even a two year old's squiggles might just turn out to represent "the historical and cultural ethos of India".

But it's not that simple. Interesting points from the government notice.
  • Interested persons may send their entries, along with a bank draft of Rs.500/- (Rupees five hundred only) in favour of the Pay & Accounts Office.
  • The symbol should represent the historical & cultural ethos of the country as widely accepted across the country.
  • The final selected symbol shall become the intellectual property of the Government of India and the designer shall not have any right over the same.
  • Five entries shall be shortlisted for final selection. The shortlisted Designers would be required to make a presentation to the Jury and would be awarded a prize of Rs.25,000/- each.
  • The Designer of the finally selected design will get a prize of Rs.250, 000/- and would be required to surrender copyright of the design to the government of India.
Economic times has done its own designs and is asking its reading audience to vote for them or contribute their own. Next I think, news channels will do the same and ask their audience to vote through SMS. Maybe MTV can make a reality show, auditioning artists and designers. It will have drawing tasks, puking tasks, kicking your own balls task. There will be vote-outs, people bitching about each other, bitch-slapping each other, giving out the choiciest of Hindi gaalis. Aaj Tak may end up covering the reality show. Who knows?

Practically speaking whatever they decide the symbol to be, it's not going to be the "$". So well, I can't really type it from my keyboard with a simple keystroke. I guess I will stick to using the good old "Rs".