26 on 26th

October 30, 2008 at 6:41 am (community, running) (, )

On Sunday October 26th I ran my first full marathon 26.2 miles (42 kms) – distance I never even dared to run in my dreams – in six hours 48 minutes!

The Finisher

The Finisher


When I decided to run I was set up with two challenges:

  1. Fund raisingAsha for Education aims to catalyze socio-economic changes in India through education of underprivileged children.  In order to do so I was task with raising $2400. Well thought of raising such big amount made me think thousand times. Asha has reputation of doing this at 98.7% efficiency. That means every dollar we raise 98.7 cents will go to cause which is the best of any efficient charity organization that I’ve heard of! That’s becuase everyone works volutnarily for the good cause.
  2. Running the distance – So as a individual what you get in turn by doing this? Team Asha a premier endurance sports program helps one by training for half and full marathons – distances you never ever dreamed to go.

So  one get chance not only to reap the healthy benefits of running but also great opportunity to give back to community – the satisfaction in knowing that you have been shaping the life of a child for a better world!

Now story in detail…

After completing half marathon, I decided to stop there thinking enough has been done to restore the fitness level and decided to hang the shoes 😀 But I was wrong, there was strong desire in me which wanted to take on next bigger challenge which I knew was impossible for me to conquer – finishing 26.2 miles. Many times I heard from Rajendra and other mentors, race starts after 13.2 miles. It takes four times the effort that one need to put for half marathon. I was asking myself, do I have enough strength to cross this legend mile mark ? And Answer was I’m not very sure and this answer forced me to sign up for the full marathon which was just 2 months away from half marathon.

Fast Forward to Race day…. Oct 26th 2008 Venue: Silicon Valley Marathon, San Jose CA

I was frustrated with cold for previous two days. Was very nervous if I can run the race. Wanted to get an expert opinion. So I did Dial M for Mentor Rajeev. After talking with him I was calm down and got ready for the race. Since we are slow runners, decided to take advantage of one hour early start. At 6 a.m. with 60-70 runners/walkers company I started my march from San Jose Downtown. With perfect weather I was feeling much better and energized.

We had first water stop @ 1.5 miles. Cheerful Asha folks were ready to greet us. Next five six miles went without getting noticed and soon we were on Los Gatos Trail – where we have done few runs as part of our training. Me and Vijay were cruising at our normal pace. Around 8 am we passed by Ekal water stop; Amit was present to give us nourishment.

In next few minutes, all fast runners who started at regular race time 7 a.m., were passing or I should say flying by us. Got chance to cheer for Raghav . Anyways there we are at second Asha water stop at 9 mile mark. Everyone was in party mood wearing fancy costumes. There cheers and smiling faces gave us new energy to move on.

And with this energy we reached Los Gatos School Tracks where we reached the half marathon distance!  By the time we cross 17 miles Sun was rising and so the heat. Till now I already took three restroom breaks just to make sure that I don’t get bloated with all fluid that I was taking.We were eagerly waiting for 19 mile mark, that’s where Rajendra, Adya and all Fremont runners were going to wait for us. Soon we got company of Augustus. Rajeev, Sreedhara were busy taking our best photos. Rajendra, Adya were cheering for us with all their heart. Adya was holding banner saying “Go Aai Go”. It was very good to see them. I was happy to run with Adya. From here Rajendra decided to run with me and Vijay. I was still trying to tag along with Vijay and making my best effort to hang on there. He was trying to strike the conversation but I had no energy to speak. Weakness was taking toll on me. I guess that might have forced Vijay to go ahead. Now I got into company of Rajendra who tried to comfort me. But I was not in mood to listen. I was complaining about back ache, headache and n number of things.

And then we saw our dear Asha gang again. Neelima, Anand, Gargi and others were cheering along the street. Neelima offered her company and Rajendra accepted it very eagerly. Neelima was very kind to me. She made sure that I will take baby steps towards the target. Ensured that my painful back get massage regularly; I get water shower breaks every few minutes. Her talks were enjoyable and it kept me busy along the run. While running I observed that each runner was accompanied by at least one Asha volunteer to make sure that everyone has a strong finish… Now that’s called Teamwork and dedication to your pals. I really want to thank all the Asha volunteers for doing the same.

As we passed 25 mile marker, Asha folks gave us a grand welcome with Jilebis waiting for us. Now I was very eager to see the end. Oh what was that… I can’t believe I’m seeing 26 mile marker. Wow we are there … now I started taking bigger strides. Neelima gave all her energy to me and suggested to go for sprint. And there I’m racing towards the podium along with Rajendra who was trying his best to capture the action moments. Along with that I heard the announcement calling my name as finisher and I was so happy to hear it. Jain and Nerella Family greeted me just after my finish.Yes it’s real now, world has accepted that I had gone to the distance. And a marathoner has born!

Hats off to Team Asha. Without your cheerful squad, I couldn’t have done it. Thanks to Doctor (named by Rajendra) Neelema for giving me the strength when I needed it most. And thanks to our coaches, mentors and fellow runners for helping me reach the mark and be part of elite Marathoners Club!!! Long live Team Asha!!!


Recovery has been very fast than expected. Very next day I was able to start making Diwali sweets. Everyone is invited 😉

Along with this I’ve accomplished two goals that we set earlier before it all started:

  1. Fund raising – We have successfully raised $2400 – amount that we thought will not able to raise specially after Rajendra did raise same amount for same cause last year! Thanks to everyone who has been very generous. Many times we thought running might be easy than reaching the fundraising target. Without your contribution this couldn’t have been possible! Thank you again. You are my heroes!
  2. Running – I’m now certified runner with medals from SanFrancisco half marathon 13.1 miles and Silicon Valley Full Marathon 26.2 miles. Come home to see those shining medals 🙂

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Varsha Marathon

August 6, 2008 at 9:34 pm (community, running) (, )

San Francisco Half Marathon 2008

Run with Big Smile!

Run with Big Smile!

Aug 3, 2008 day started very early at 3 a.m. By 4 a.m. we were at Fremont BART station waiting for the shuttle to take us Embarcadero; our marathon starting point. There were total 22 runners from Fremont. Around 5:10 a.m. we found ourselves into running crowd. With backdrop of lighted Bay Bridge and runners all over the street, atmosphere was very encouraging.

We decided to start our run in earlier wave (5th wave). I had one quick thought; before training started I never ran even one mile and now here I’m getting ready for my first half marathon with high hopes to do it strong to the end with aim of doing it under three hours! (Quite a big aim ha ha :-D)

So at 5:55 a.m. we got a green signal and there we are (me and Shailee) leaping toward our first mile marker. With so many runners around, first two miles passed very fast. Smell of fresh breads from Boudin Bakery kept us going. Along came the Crissy Field. Since we had one run over here few weeks back, it was confident feeling with known road. Thanks to Asha, keeping one practice run here was a good move! Okay so we had our first water stop at 2.8 mile marker. With water break, we were able to run through first hill of the marathon. This time while running down I didn’t had any issues. View of Golden Gate Bridge was simply great and it kept us motivating to go further.

Run on Golden Gate Bridge

Run on Golden Gate Bridge

Around 5 mile marker we were in Presidio neighborhood marching towards second hill. This time I decided to run first half of the hill and fast walk for the rest. And then we reached Golden Gate Bridge. We had lots of fun while running on the bridge. We were cheering for all Asha runners and giving pose to all photographers on the way. I was hoping to see my husband Rajendra who was running full marathon. And to my surprise, I found him running behind us. With few cheers he cruised ahead of us. One interesting thing was lots of ongoing traffic was cheering us with big honks! With round trip to bridge we had finished 9 miles. 4 miles to go… wow! But then as we were going through rolling hills; even crossing these slight elevations were turning into big haunting task. With mouthful of pretzels we saw 11 miles marker. After this things were getting harder. Shailee and me were running for a while but to our despair, 12 mile marker was nowhere in the vicinity. Not good I said! We really started missing our running buddy Anita and all interesting talks that we had. Prateek and cheering crowd gave us some needed fuel to see the much eluded 12 miler. Few struggling moments (minutes?) passed by and we started hearing songs played by band. While running with us Chikita assured end line is closer. Those kind assuring words were very uplifting and helped us to go stronger. And in quick moments we saw the finish line. Now there was no stopping and we gave all our best to cross through finish line. With final beep beep sound, I knew I had finished uphill task. Finishing time was 8:46 a.m. I’ve completed my first half marathon in 2 hours and 51 minute. And there was my coveted prize ….. Half Marathon medal! Thank you San Francisco!!

Thank you Asha!!! Without you I couldn’t have done it. Big big thanks to all coaches, mentors and coordinators squad. Thank you Esther, Aparna and Aditi for spending some quality time with my daughter while I was doing my practice runs. Big thanks to Nerella family for taking care of Adya and all the help.

Will keep running… so the story will continue…

<b>A Marathon Family</b>

Marathon Couple

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