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(TraveLog#16)-Keep close to nature’s heart, wash your spirit clean- Offbeat trip to Karjat Villa

Karjat, a picturesque small town approximately a 2:30hour drive from Mumbai is a quick escape from the monotonous city life, to let calm overtake the chaos. While Lonavala and Alibaug are among the most popular destinations for quick getaways near Mumbai and Pune, Karjat is an undiscovered gem that offers a range of experiences for everyone. Be it exploring history, adventure trekking, taking a workstation to unwind in nature or celebrating at beautiful private villas in Karjat – this quaint town beckons you for a weekend getaway near Mumbai.

After a year of missed celebrations, the thought of sharing loud laughs with school friends is so comforting. If you are considering a much-awaited reunion, make it a themed-one, where nature adds to your ambience. 

Bodhi Villa

We booked just one place called “Bodhi Villa” for a week end. Bodhi Villa is equipped with 5 bed rooms, a large drawing room, kitchen and beautiful porch. We decided to drive down so began our journey at 8:15am. A distance of 94km- 2h30m drive. With a coffee break for 15m at Panvel, headed Expressway to take first exit towards Shedung. We negotiated the road well with lots of bends and gradients and finally reached destination @11:15am. The first look of villa was “wow” covered with green trees and lush lawn.

We eased out slowly into villa after we filled our stomach with local favorite “Vada Pav”, “Sweet Sheera” and tea with ginger and lemon grass. Soon settled down in one of the biggest master bed rooms for a chit chat. The highlight was open to air shower in this master bedroom. It was raining in between making weather pleasant. A view of dark rain clouds of surrounding hills layered themselves in a blanket of green shades with waterfalls designing them was mesmerizing. We did not know how time passed and soon it was time for lunch with nicely cooked Biryani (chicken cooked with rice). Onion / Potato pakoda while it was raining was like icing on cake. We ended the day with lots of chit-chat and light dinner to get to the bed.

The morning was more pleasant after rain in the night. With another shot of

Ulhas River

ginger/ lemon grass tea, we were ready to roam around and go to Ulhas river banks. Yet another experience of nature at its best. The river has two streams converting into one. The white water, villas on the bank, green mountains at the back- everything was picturesque which made us clicked many pictures. Spending lots of time with nature, we returned back to grab our local breakfast poha, upma.

Villas along the bank of river

We freshened up after another dose of chit-chat, Kadak chai, we had our lunch. We ordered typical local food- Tandalachi (made up rice) bhakri, pithale, bharale vange (stuffed brinjal) and hot and spicy thecha (Mixture of chilies, garlic and coconut) and was mouth watering.

We set up our return journey at 3:30pm.

This was a perfect destination planned with school friends. If you are looking for relaxing weekend with nature, enjoying local food, Karjat (Bodhi Villa) is ideal place. The cost of trip will be around 35k for villa (can be booked for around 15 guests), food cost around INR 1500/guest and travel cost. The hill station is connected via rail and road (and Mumbai airport as the nearest airport), and is also the gateway to Matheran—a quaint hill town in the vicinity.

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(FitBlog#62)- A sweeter comeback – A road to Full Marathon 30th July 21

It’s Friday and time to write another blog. After resting for more than 1 week and couple of walks, I am ready to test a shorter 5K jog.

You know you are a runner when you get mad and that an injury keeps you from running, not that it damaged your body.🏃‍♂️

A normal start of the day and wet roads after early morning rains as usual. Feeling excited and anxious both. I decided to start with a walk followed by brisk walk before I change my gears finally to jog. Hopefully this will give time to asses my hamstring well, I thought so.

No tightness in hamstring so I decided to get into brisk walk mode for new hundreds of meters. The boost in confidence made me relaxed and got into jog. A slight discomfort to begin with, slowly stated easing out.

I did not want to take any chances so I decided to switch between brisk walk and jog. And that helped to complete 5k with a incline at the end.

I am glad to see my sweaty tee again. What I can ask more but to be happy with today’s effort as it will surely help to boost confidence and get back to action from next week.

Don’t try to rush the progress. Remember – A step forward, no matter how small, is step towards right direction.

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(FitBlog#61)-Injury is not the process of recovery but discovery- A Road to Full Marathon – 28th July 21

Today is Wednesday. Exactly one week back, during accelerating for 10k run, I got my left hamstring pulled. Running is a high-impact sport. It wears and tears on our bodies, even as it makes our bones stronger and muscles more resilient. While getting injured is not inevitable, if you run for years or decades, you are statistically likely to endure a running injury that requires time off of running.

Getting injured stinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite runner logging 100k per week or you are training for your first 5k; being sidelined is physically and emotionally hard to deal with.

I felt tightness in my hamstring, make me walk funny, not able to bend. I tried with a short ride thinking I won’t be using hamstring, but it was a wrong thinking. It is always better to rest completely to assist faster recovery. The duration of your time off dictates the rate at which you return to running. Essentially, you can anticipate spending an equal amount of time rebuilding your mileage as you spent off running.

As suggested by TimTim complete rest and heat pads ( As per article read: new theory suggests ice pack delays the arrival of pro-inflammatory macrophages responsible for phagocytosis or removal of damaged tissues) helped me to recover much better. I did not do any adventures.😁 The mind is ready for more mileage after injury than the body is. So patience is needed.

Rehabilitation process can be slow and will depend upon severity. But

Returning to Running after Injury: Tips and Sample Plans to Build Back Your Running Mileage Safely
The plan

important part is to start slow. That is why today it was a easy walk to test. I realized walk at home and on road are different where you need to negotiate gradients and unevenness of road. I felt a minor tightness which eventually faded away as distance increased. Evening I am working with Pranayama, lower back stretches and Shavasan.

The walk of 4k gave me a nice feeling, confidence to move on. Tomorrow as well have planned an easy walk too. I am on right path.

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(TraveLog#14)- Land of Strawberries- Travel day 1

Mahabaleshwar. A beautiful place with beautiful heart. A place which makes you feel cold even in summer. A place with feeble network and lot of time for yourself.

We listed down places to visit around Mahabaleshwar and planned of our own, 3 nights/ 4 days trip to Mahabaleshwar, one of the hill station in Maharashtra. We booked MTDC resort as I heard good things about it from friends. The online reservation process for a cottage was easy. We chose month of November as weather would be perfectly pleasant. It’s not 5 star place but neat, clean and away from city if you are a nature lover.

We started at 6am from Mumbai to drive downNH4, 8 hours, a distance of 265k. in our Hyundai Verna. This journey on NH4 pass through Lonavala- Pune- Shirur – Wai – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar. There are many signboards which guide you to Mahabaleshwar. Tourist gets attracted towards because of breathtaking valley view, nature, adventurous sports, historical monuments. This place is also known for its Strawberries production.  Another popular hill station, Panchgani, is just 20km before Mahabaleshwar.

Our first halt for breakfast came at Food Mall after Toll Plaza. It’s decent place, you should try out local breakfast served here. (better than other food joints). Or you can try out Mac D or Starbucks if you are a real lover of it. There is also ample place for parking your vehicle and you cab also refuel your vehicle. We crossed Pune as per plan. A minor accident at toll plaza after Pune made my front number plate cracked.

At MTDC resort

After we took a right turn at Shirur, we tool another small halt for refreshing and now had to drive through Wai and began our climb in Pasarni Ghat towards Mahabaleshwar. Being Saturday, it was rush of cars delaying our journey to reach MTDC at 2pm. A cottage will cost you around 5000/- per night.

This was my first visit to MTDC resort. The location of the resort is in the center of a forest just making ideal to stay. All the rooms are spread out. So

there is lot of space. The whole property is vast and maintained very well. Network coverage is very poor nor Wi-Fi available in the rooms. Breakfast is not included in tariff but premise have two restaurants. After check in we decided to have lunch @restaurant. Local food ordered bhakri (local Indian bread version)and vangyache bharit (vegetable made of brinjal) was delicious to our surprise. A good lunch will costs you around Rs.200-250/ person.

Our cottage at MTDC

We decided to hire local car leaving ours at resort to reduce driving stress and cover most of the places around. Post lunch just relaxed a bit.

We decided to walk down to sun set point which is just 2k away. Sunset Point is one of the most popular viewpoints of Mahabaleshwar. It’s an example of how nature surprises you at every step if you adore it wholeheartedly.

Breath taking view from Sunset point

This is the place from where people can view the magnificent sunset over the valleys below at Mahabaleshwar. A narrow road leads to this point. Enroute, you come across a signboard about Tiger Path Ride. We returned back after enjoying breathtaking valley view with Sun set. Sun sets are the proof no matter what happens, everyday can end beautifully.

Finally, day ended with light supper at their restaurant.

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(FitBlog#60)-Showing guts against gusty winds-A Road to Full Marathon – 24th July 21

It’s Saturday today, a long run day. But feel, I am not 100% fit to take a long run, needed an extra day to recover from hamstring soreness. Hence after talking to TimTim, decided to swap Sunday ride with run knowing I won’t be using hamstring so extensively in my ride.

Plan: Though weather looks ok with no rain prediction between 5 and 8am, I thought this is perfect window for my ride. 30k, that’s distance I thought, slow start and then take a call.

I took a peep out of window at 5:15m to find no rain but roads were still wet. I set to go in the dark. First few k’s I was much slower than my usual speed, testing how my hamstring behaves. And good news is it looks ok. There were water puddles some part and potholes due to very heavy rains earlier this week and I was cautious.

As I headed towards Juhu, I felt gust of winds on me as strong getting stronger as I touched Juhu beach. (I checked later on, was 37kph). This time cross winds making difficult to hold the balance. I changed to lower gear so as to reduce the resistance and efforts. Overcoming my dilemma, I decided to head towards Worli as against initial plan of looping at Linking road. Experienced a light drizzle on Linking road. Is riding in the rain a case of mind over matter? Getting caught in the rain is never as bad as beginning a ride in the rain. Wet roads can be lethal. Traction between tyre and road is reduced and corners quickly become enemies. So too the dreaded pothole. Caliper brakes and rain are about as useful a combination as frozen hands and a puncture

Not many cyclists today, but many runners on Shivaji park stretch. As k’s were passing, I increased speed to maintain at around 25kph which was good against wind. I turned back from Worli. No relief from cross winds as yet. Finally I took a hydration break at Juhu beach and ready for the final lap. Instead of taking main road, I decided to ride to Vile Parle and enjoy. Finally ended 37.4k.

What went right:

+Got over mental block to ride after hamstring soreness, rain. How I wanted badly a good ride. +Did 37k as against 30k planned. +No issues with hamstring.

What can be improved:

-Need more rides to get back and improve the speed. This is possible as monsoon is likely to get ease out. -Want to improve endurance.

Things want to do differently

(!)Stretches for back, shoulder and quads (!)Protein shake and egg breakfast (!)Relax and light stretches in the evening

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(TraveLog#12)- Some feel rain, others get wet. Rainy day thoughts

Rain is a word that is often used pejoratively. “Oh, it’s raining again,” we always mutter. Weather forecasters look sad and with an apologetic shake of their heads inform us of the bad news – more rains or thunderstorms. From washed out birthday parties to sodden days at the cricket pitch, we all seem to dislike the rain.

When laying down on my bed, thoughts roll down in my mind. Sometimes I find difficult to see the rain as anything other than a nuisance. I love sunshine. It’s easy to forget what a precious resource water really is and how lucky we are to live in a part of the world with an abundance of it. But there are instances when I love rain.

The atmosphere created by monsoon season is probably one of the most comforting and fun filled.

I have small garden around house. As we all know water is life blood for garden. My garden can happily handle a few weeks of overcast skies and drizzle, but take away the water for an extended period and small plants start to hunch and bend. But with rain, all of it become green and give a fresh feel in mind. For me, it is the color of life. Any green is a beautiful green. I always like to fill my lungs with the smell of soil emerging with first rain on it. This year I see bloom in the garden. The pretty pink roses, red lilies, colorful hibiscus, red bunch of flowers of Exora and yellow bitty over the fence, all make eyes filled with joyful colors.

One thing’s for sure, I train regularly, you won’t be lucky enough to always enjoy blue skies and sunshine. Running in the rain is actually enjoyable. You’re not going to melt into a puddle… You get wet, so what? Once your gear is wet, you might even find yourself taking pleasure in stomping through the puddles, watching the other runners or cyclists you might pass and giving them a little nod to say “well done, you’ve kept up the motivation too”. I really enjoy watching people walking in rain with their umbrellas and trying very hard not to get wet.

There are times when it rains pretty hard in Mumbai bringing the city to halt. Some of those times, I love to be in the bed, reading, writing blogs and just chill by sipping hot ginger tea and listening to my favourite music.

There are many thoughts which make me lost for a moment and I get up with fresh mind.

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(FitBlog#36)- First run after lockdown – A rusty one- A road to FM

I spent entire lockdown time with focusing on strength workouts & Yoga. It’s been 1.5 months now. Clearly missing my cycling and running stints outdoor.

Today is 24th May, when I resumed my running with a short run of 5k. I wanted to avoid people on street so started early at 6:30 am and decided to take MIDC route. It has been a ritual for me to do extensive 10-12 mins warm up before I begin.

The objective of run was to hit the road and enjoy. Desire was to keep a pace between 6:30 & 7m/k hence did not set Garmin on HR. With positive mind and enthusiasm, I moved on. I felt rusty legs as if I am taking efforts to run. In the past, I ran @5:15 pace comfortably but was different today. Took of with pace of closer to 7m/k.

Harder to run. Was it a mental block or really I was struggling? Whatever it may be, I decided to push through with a hope things will improve. The situation remained for 2k’s before started to feel better with improved pace. I decided to maintain this pace.

Weather was not really conducive with sweat factor of 37degC. I could not resist temptation to go beyond and ended with 6.5k. The HR was higher than expected. It indicated that re-conditioning is required with more patient runs in aerobic zone to regain cardiovascular fitness..

The pleasure of hitting the road was immense. More than that was the feeling to get back on track. What is more important is to continue with consistent efforts, staying motivated and I am sure we will be on track again for my FM!!

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(FitBlog#34)- In quest of preparing for my first full marathon

I have found that when I feel grateful that my body can support run, my lungs work to get oxygen, I have got better. I notice it feels easier. It may not actually be any easier, but my perspective of it has changed. Instead of dreading a hard workout I feel gratitude that I have the opportunity to work hard and get stronger. My next ambition is to run a full marathon and prepare for Tata Mumbai Marathon 2022. Personally I feel I should be able to run under 5 hours but let me be patient in targeting it after seeing how the training goes.

Running a marathon is one of those epic milestones. The distance is a challenge, especially that second half. What it takes goes well beyond being physically prepared.

My training started with TimTim from March’21. We started with 10k run @ 5:45 pace, 15k aerobic runs which increased to 20k by month end for slowly building miles and 2 stints of strength workouts with core building exercises and stretches. The difference than last year was now addition of Yoga. I used cycling twice a week over distance 50/75k as cross training activity. Inserted a mobility workout to help with joint mobility.

I did focus on cycling to improve speed and endurance. I spent time in learning technique of activating core to improve speed. First thing I could see as an improvement in cycling was a increased speed over 10% for 75K ride. For many segments now I was able to now ride over 30kmph speed.

Unfortunately like last year, lockdown hit Mumbai. Hence I was confined to indoor training activities from April 15th. This gave me once again excellent opportunity to use this period to build strength. This year in the lockdown, I increased yoga sessions with Pranayama helping me to improve flexibility, relax making hit lower Av.HR during workout.

I guess this workout routine will remain till lockdown gets over and I hit road back. And I am quite eager to do that.

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(FitBlog#32) – I love chilly winds hitting my face when I ride

I love cycling, no doubt about it. But there are some days I hate getting out of bed. Today was that chilly morning, blanket accepting me as one the layer. But the feeling to be on saddle overtaken than to remain in bed. And I woke up at 5am. I am habitual to keep everything handy so that I can get quickly on saddle.

Not only it was chilly but bit windy as I set my ride. In winter I use face mask to cover my nose and ears as I am sensitive to pollution early morning. I planned ride to NCPA. As I start peddling, cold breeze hit my face. Quickly, I negotiated the first bumpy part and I took off. The breeze started becoming a bit stronger as I started approaching Juhu beach. When you start outdoor activity, your body produces heat and make you feel better. Juhu is place also you start seeing few cyclists. And today certainly number was less.

At Bandra turner road, I saw a group of cyclist waiting. I always like pro cyclists, they help you to get your adrenaline flowing to push your self. Its fun. I met couple of them at Shivaji Park and enjoyed ride with them.

Some part of NCPA route always excites me. Worli Sea Face promenade- stretch of around 3.5k is one of them as roads are empty and you can push to the limit. But today I needed to push a bit through head winds dropping my speed a bit. And further slowing me down with dumper traffic at Haji Ali. This made me irritated as those thick skinned drivers moving slow and not giving space to move ahead. With other riders finally managed and headed towards Pedar road. That’s another part of route quite challenging due to its climb of Cumballa Hills. This is not only challenging for cyclists but runners as well. There are few iconic and historical monuments enroute fascinates you. I slowly climbed up and turned right towards Marine Drive. This stretch is too like Worli sea face. Dream route fascinates cyclists full of newbies to pro in all age groups. Even kids learn riding here. It was cool breeze again coming over Arabian Sea. Still was dark out there. Actually Marine drive is C shaped boulevard. This 4.5 km long road flaunts the Art Deco architectural style through its buildings and edifices. It’s almost 6:50am now. But Marine drive is awake and alive with many morning walkers, runners and cyclists. Beautifully rounded, accompanied by the waves that steadily hit the rocks. It is about to rise and break through the morning mist. I turned back from NCPA and and my gaze falls on the Air India building, which is one of the landmark.

It was awesome view to see lights glowing still over the entire length of Marine drive. Munched couple of dates to get energy, I started my journey back. On return I decided to climb Walkeshwar. Its steady climb for almost 2k long and you need to push to reach up to Rajbhavan.

Finally I started my journey back home @7:15am. Need to climb Kemps Corner flyover and then Pedar road. But finally descends bringing me back to Haji Ali, no dumpers and I sneaked to Worli Sea face.

It was steady ride for rest of route and finally reached home @8:30am. Finally completing 63k in 2hours30mins @25k/hr.

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(FitBlog#31)-Smashing sub 2 HM target convincingly!!!

Celebrations

Hard work puts you where the good luck can find you Weather started to improve and becoming better with cooler mornings and less humid. Today is 30th Jan’20, “Time Trial Day” for half marathon. All good things happening for the purpose. Kartik agreed to pace me yet again. Is this positive indication? I murmured, this is the time I need to beat my sub 2 target.

Strategy is what not to do As preparation, I increased hydration with additional 1 liter of electrolytes a day before. Carb loadings throughout the week by means of potatoes, sweet potatoes, aloo paratha, raagi sattu. These small things always prove critical on your run day. After a bit discussions, we decided to pursue same route to as last time as we mastered road in terms of elevations, turns. We delayed our start by 10 mins. It was decided that I take the lead, pace the run with Kartik as back up. Kartik is seasoned runner and perfect to fall back to push me in case need arises. The run is required @ pace 5:43m/k for sub 2. So we set up a plan to run @5:35-5:40m/k pace. This will give a cushion at the fag end of run knowing pace drops a bit for me. You need energy to run, so carried dates soaked in rock salts, energy gels to refuel mid run with electrolyte.

You don’t have to be great to start but start to be great With carb b/f, warm up, walk, jog for around 0.5k, we began our run. First 2k were decline and as always helped us to set up pace slowly. Kartik did not get much chance to warm up extensively but thank god got into rhythm quickly. We gradually picked up pace from 5:40m/k to 5:23m/k @5k to complete first 5k in 26m54s. This means we were cruising @average pace of 5:31m/k, faster than required. We decided to stick to this pace as we found it comfortable. I had my first date at this point. Kartik’s friend also joined us @4k but left @8k.

I was keeping eye on pace, while Kartik on distance. We were chatting to ease out while on run. I remember Kartik’s asking me “How am I feeling?” “Just good. My feelings will burst exponentially when we do sub 2”. I replied. Kartik wanted me to run entire 21.1k distance without walk breaks.

Distance covered was slowly and steadily increasing, we crossed half mark moving over from Juhu to Linking road. We decided to head towards Bandra joggers park and then to Carter road with looping Khardanda and back on Linking road. Kartik helped me by holding my water bottle (as he says dumbell) till I had shot of energy gel @11k. The next 5 (11-15k) was done in 27m54s. This means we were holding to our pace well.

Link road was quiet without much traffic as usual. My Garmin girl was re-affirming the pace we were into. As the end of link road I had another date with 13k down. The run on Carter road reminded our MRR runs on first Sunday of the month. Kartik asked if we should try incline but honestly I did not want to experiment today. We passed through Khardanda with dried fish smell filled in lungs. This part was tricky. Murphy’s law, narrower the road, heavier the traffic. I followed Kartik here and negotiated this part. I felt a bit drop in pace but was sure to pick up again.

15k down and back on link road. Good thing average pace up from 5.32m/k to 5.31m/k again. At 17k, I had another date to give me some energy for last part which is always tricky for me. With 10 miles in 88m13s, Kartik said we are surely going for sub 2 even if we run just under 6m/k. When you see your target in sight, you feel good but still task not done. We just kept on maintaining pace and may be we target 1h56m.

Incline with right turn to Juhu, I said I am going to be slow over incline, on which Kartik said ” You are doing good, simply maintain pace”. Breathing was little heavier and started taking deep and relaxed breaths. Soon incline over and this proved a good point to maintain my pace because the moment you slow down, you lose your momentum.

Glory awaits you at the Finish Line We were now 2k away from finish line. Kartik increased his pace. It was difficult for me to match him but tried my best to fight the last battle. I always read run the last part of race with heart, and today I was feeling it. Running reminds you that how strong you can be in your weakest moments. With last splits done in 5m18s and 5m13s we crossed line in 1h55m with pride, smashing sub 2 target by over 4m. What an achievement!! With hi-fi, Kartik congratulated on this feat.

We celebrated with coconut water @Juhu beach and done stretches.

Some unique feats today, we ran entire 21.1k without a single walk break maintaining pace well and that too with negative splits.

The message, “Dear TimTim, you pushed me out of my comfort zone, you train me till I moan (core crushers), but at the end everything falls together. After my sub 2, I feel stronger and better. Thank you for pushing me beyond my limits to make sure I live my dream.” And thank you Kartik, who un-conditionally agreed to pace me (just coconut water after run…hahaha), pushed me so that I complete my sub 2. As I always say “We are incredible team”!!!!

To hear nothing but breath, to feel nothing but heart beats, to feel so much like hell, running is close to heaven. This is Runner’s High!

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(FitBlog#30)-What a surprise run today!!

It’s not about being the best. It is about being better than you were yesterday.”

Another time trial is on cards for 30th Jan, so already into a taper. Workouts intensity already reduced. Today is 21st Jan and I am suppose to have my tempo run workout – 1K warm up run, 8k tempo run @5:30-5:40 pace and finally 1k cool down. The set pace was exactly the pace I need to run for my upcoming time trial if I need to get my objective of sub 2 half marathon.

With warm up, brief walk, I began a jog before I set my Garmin with an idea to get into rhythm with warming enough for smooth transition into desired pace.

I planned to be around pace of 5:50-6m/k for my first 1K, so that I can change gears smoothly. The initial decline helped me with that. My idea was to keep pace around 5:30m/k so with inclines I can keep average below 5:40m/k.

Often weather plays a vital role. Surely pleasant today with comparatively lower humidity. Clearly benefitting to get into pace better than expected; this pace not making feel tired nor was slow. I stopped looking at Garmin frequently and started running as per body feel.

With Garmin beep, so happy to see 6k down in 32m35s. Till this point I never thought of bettering my previous best which was 56m20s. But the situation now made me think to give a push for a PB. This means 23m45s to get 4k which was surely a possibility. I was still feeling good.

Slowly I up my pace a bit, with still no traffic on road, helping to move swiftly. Next 2k done in 10m49s. Finally negotiated incline associated with last k. With 10k beep, Garmin display mentioning –PB for 10k….. 53m56s. Yes, very right, in persuasion of sub 2 HM, I smashed my previous best by over 2m.

Extreme delight, I dedicate this PB to my mentor and coach TimTim who made it possible.

Some takeaways: Don’t be afraid to be alone sometimes. This will help you to understand your body more. Let me tell you my best runs have come when I ran alone. No pressure to finish helps you to enjoy run. Train hard, be consistent, results will follow. Start slow and increase pace steadily with negative splits. Knowing your route well help you to plan well. Celebrate finish. Analyze your run. Recover well.

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(FitBlog#29)- Planning for the ride- story of my 100km solo ride – Part 1

It was a while ago, I did my 100k (century) ride. More over I never did it alone. So always it was back of mind. Before I have my next time trial, after discussing with TimTim, I planned it for 31st Dec. We wanted year to end with a bang!!

So, what is so special about a riding 100k? It’s just a number, isn’t it? But when you can say, “I just rode 100k!” you can take pride and stand up straight. Pedaling 100k is a “milestone,” no matter if it’s your first century ever or not. 100K ride needs a plan just like any other long distance running activity. So what are steps ?

Set up a goal: Set a goal of something that is actually achievable. Make sure you complete it within the desired timeframe. You have to be ready to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to achieve something great. Learning from previous rides, I set a target of completing 100k in 4h15m. This means almost 15% being faster than my previous 100k. Know your route: Chalk out a route in advance so you know what kind of terrain to anticipate and what gradients the route has to offer. Remember you can’t avoid up hills. Knowing landmarks on the way to stay on track is also essential. It’s worth knowing how much traffic to expect on the way in and on the return journey. Doing this is basically going to keep you mentally prepared so when you’re actually on the ride you know where to ride more, or less aggressively. I planned to start latest by 5am so that I can be back by 9:30am. This was to make sure I don’t bump into heavy traffic while returning back. The route chose was up to NCPA which is 31k and thereafter making 5 loops of Marine Drive totaling to 40k before I start my journey back for another 31k. Most of the route was with mild inclines except Pedar road where I had to negotiate uphill. Also I was aware of the fact that I was going to hit the traffic for last 10-15k which will slow me down. Hence I planned to compensate at Marine Drive. Nutrition: It cannot be stressed enough as to how important hydration is, always carry sufficient water with you, in the case of a 100k carry two bottles and mix in some electrolytes or hydration solution. A failure in doing so can lead to extreme fatigue, exhaustion or may be cramps. Sip small quantities of water every 30 minutes or so during a 100k ride especially. Pack well: Your meals before your ride are again very important as it is essential to fuel for the upcoming hours of riding. Make sure you ingest healthy amounts of protein and carbs the night before the ride. Carry sources of good carbs to fuel you and eat after every 25k. I always rely upon bowl of muesli and either sweet potato or banana. TimTim suggested to carry two sandwiches- one with peanut butter and other with cheese and energy bars to consume a portion after every 25k. Dressing up right: Cycling is a relatively low-impact sport on your legs. But over the course of 100k, you’re going to feel every bump on that road through your hands, shoulders, neck and butt. Wear a good pair of padded shorts, and change your position and posture as needed to relieve pressure on certain areas of your body. It’s more mental than physical: It’s easy to feel frustrated or defeated when you’ve been biking for 25k and are only 1/4 of the way done. Push negative thoughts out of your head by focusing on the rider in front of you, enjoying the scenery or singing to yourself — anything that’ll keep you going. I was lucky to have met with few pro cyclists at Marine drive. I put my attention to compete them so that I keep on going. Be confident and have fun: You’ve prepared to go big, so get out there and prove you can. Having self-confidence, trust in yourself and knowing your limits is key when facing a new challenge. Ride safe, smart, and in tune with your body. If you’re riding comfortably and feeling good, you’ll have a great time out there – Enjoy it!

So did I successfully completed my ride ? What time I took? For the answers.

Watch out for my next blog “fun on the wheels”…. till then happy times on saddle

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(FitBlob#28)- Disappointing ride on 6th Dec, No matter how bad your day is, your bicycle ride will make you feel better!

This blog is going to be shorter. The word disappointing ride sound uncomfortable. Honestly I always like smooth, clean rides. I like being able to corner at speed. 

I just completed easy run of 12k a day before on 5th Dec. Planned a 50k quick ride next day. This wasn’t a long ride. Just enough to be in taper for my upcoming half marathon time trial. My legs were fairly fresh. My expectations were quite high from this ride. I started early morning at 5:30am. Plan was to go up to Worli and make couple of loops to make 50k tally. I was comfortable in riding over speed of 26kph to complete in less than 2 hours.

Everything was happening as per plan. Sailed smoothly over first 13k. The first disappointment came when I reached Mahim Causeway. The road was closed due to digging work. I just got off my bike to walk for couple of minutes on foot path just as other cyclists did and back on saddle.

As I peddled for couple of more k’s. The next hurdle came with another road closure to which I tried to take a diversion but landed into another one just like a trap. This has left me very frustrated and I decided to turn back.

In spite of this, it was always back of my mind to complete my half century ride. I knew completing my ride as planned will make me feel good at the end. So turned towards Carter road and headed towards Bandra fort ( a bit bumpy road) and then couple of loops between Bandra and Santacruz on Linking road.

Somehow managed to complete 50k (54k in fact) ride with a speed of 24.6kph.

No two rides are same. You will only learn to enjoy good rides when you sometimes have disappointing ones. What was more important is to keep going and enjoy yet another ride…..

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(FitBlog#27)- In quest of my sub 2 half marathon – Never forget about what it means to keep chasing your dreams

I am writing this blog to not only share my experience of time trial with you but also to myself. With all the hard work behind me, still I was feeling a bit nervous and excited even though I must have run many half marathons. Honestly it gave me a feeling like a student just before exam.

It’s 12th December today, though no rain, humidity expected to be in 80’s with pleasant morning. I woke up at 5am to begin around 5:45am. As planned had bowl of muesli with milk and pieces of boiled sweet potatoes as usual. Putting on my favourite Nike shorts, tee and Asics Gel Nimbus, did 15 minutes of extensive full body static and dynamic warm up. Carried 6 dates ( I removed seeds for ease this time ) soaked in rock salt over night, energy gel and hydration bottle with 2 fast n up tabs. I was ready to go.

I set Garmin on run mode. With brisk walk and jog for 200m I started my run in dark, the breeze hit my ears. I re-affirmed my first target of 5k in 28m. First couple of k’s were slight decline and I decided to take an advantage. with 1k down, I got into rhythm and its a good sign. After 2k, I started my run now on good road. I looked at Garmin, it was 11m04s past and on target. Time to munch my first date and a sip of hydration at dot 4k. No traffic yet. Soon, 5k over in 28m9s. I was happy so far.

Soon I was about to approach Juhu stretch of 5k as always I find it as breather. You always find lots of runners and cyclists on this stretch. I had a surprise. I met my cycling buddy, Sandeep. Nice of him to give me call out. Thanks Sandeep for pushing or pacing (haha) me for some distance. Made my emotions high, with lots of energy flowing.

Its time to have my second date at 8k, done in 46m55s. Good thing I was holding desired pace nicely. With Garmin prompting 10k down in 58m19s, I knew now the real battle is going to begin. I kept my head and shoulders high with positive vibes. My pace dropped a bit but still under 6, I said to myself keep going. Sometimes self talk motivates and help bring back focus. Another date @12k and gulped energy gel @13k bringing me back on track. I was pleased with 15k in 1h27m24s. This means still on track for 2h05m.

In the past my pace dropped in last 6k affecting my overall pace. But today I wanted to change that. I murmured to be strong mentally and keep pushing. I now decided to count what k’s are remaining rather what I have completed.

I decided to take my first walk break @17k for 10s so that I can have a go for final 4k. This proved to be a good decision. It took 17m45s for next 3k. Dates and energy gels ensured that I did not have a bonk. No feeling of tiredness and legs were moving still nicely.

1h45m9s, that was my time for 18k. I was doing better than target. This means 20m for 3.1k which was easily achievable. I had to take decision if I should still target 2h05m or push myself to better it, This was an excellent opportunity to come closer to 2h target. I decided to push for 2h02m target.

I ramped up my pace a bit to hit 20k mark @1h56m39s. Some strange electric current started flowing through my body giving me goose bumps as I pushed for last k. I kept a close watch on distance and finished 21.1 in 2h01m09s. This means I smashed my target by 4m and previous best over 7m. I was not able to believe. Second thought came in that if I would have pushed a bit more, I would have completed my sub2. But that is fine, there is always next time. Back home, full body stretches and focused on recovery.

I was happy about today’s run. Thank you TimTim. Your systematic approach, training and hard work made it possible. We are the Perfect Team!!

Some positive learnings: Know your objectives and build plan accordingly. Be honest, consistent, systematic and keep belief in your planned workouts. Be mentally tough to execute it. Nutrition, hydration plays vital role. Follow judiciously. You may get feelings of hollowness on rest days. But, recovery is very crucial and respect rest days. Add variety in workouts to build strength, stamina, mobility and its gradual process. Taper period is critical before race day. This could be a topic of debate. Sometimes, running alone can be better as you know your body best, so you can adjust pace as per plan. I even could focus on my run better. It is always important to take a stock of your feelings. There is no harm in revising your target up or down.

Areas of improvement for me. Even today my pace dropped a bit after 10k even though I could maintain sub 6. I need to work out to be more consistent in splits. This will help to focus on 1h59m. Next time trial I should carry 2 energy gels, this will improve timings for sure.

When I started, running sub 2 HM seems impossible, then improbable. But soon inevitable.

I quote – “Wake up with determination and sleep with satisfaction”.

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(FitBlog#26) – In quest my sub 2 half marathon – A runner must run with dreams in his heart (Emil Zatopek)

Sometimes looking through a new lens is all you need to have a breakthrough in running.

It is so much to share about my time trial experience, hence I am going to write in 2 parts. How did we approach the time trial and what did happen on time trial day.

It has been almost 10 months now I was training for sub 2 half marathon with TimTim. So far I was successful in improving my time by almost 4 minutes over TMM. Though the last time trial I have taken, I clocked 2h08mins against target of 2h05m. I was a bit disappointed but honestly weather was ugly hot and humid. But PB is always PB irrespective of conditions.

Defining the purpose: We (TimTim and me as a team) decided to have our time trial on 12th Dec. It was important to approach with concrete plan and execute to perfection and then leave the best to happen. I want to again attempt 2h05m. What was different this time was, I had a bit of more experience of long distance aerobic / interval / tempo runs behind me. Also we incorporated strength workouts with complex movements, more core crushers. Cross training (cycling) also helped me to be stronger.

Taper: It is important to prepare yourself for your time trial with 3 weeks of taper. So we gradually started reducing intensity of workouts in first 2 weeks. A significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance. This means gradually reducing the exercise over a short period of time and then stopping completely when leading up to competitions. This allows glycogen levels return to peak. Metabolic enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones, depleted during training, return to their optimal ranges. Muscle and connective tissues repair and strengthen.

Last week before time trial was crucial and we made lot of changes. Workout intensity: The workout intensity was lowest ever. Did 10k and 7k easy runs aiming HR less than 145. No strength workouts but couple of restorative Yoga sessions for relaxing and stretching muscles. Also I learnt to respect rest days. Fuel it right Nutritional Changes: Important to know what you eat and when you eat. With increased carb loadings on daily basis 1 week prior to race, you can completely stock your muscles and liver with glycogen. I used a bit more rice intake, added boiled potato / sweet potato chats in snacks. 2 bananas per day works well for me. A simple dinner like aloo parathas / pasta can make huge difference. Hydration: Consumed regular quota of around 3 to 3.5l of water during day with fast n up Mg/Zn tab before sleep to relax muscles, improved immunity. I was expecting around 2l of sweat loss on run day so sipped 1l of electrolytes throughout the day 1 day prior to run. Sleep and more sleep: Runners get excitement, night before D day. So sleep is likely to get disturbed. Hence, important to catch a bit extra throughout the week to build sleep bank. Weather: Though week began with pleasant weather, but started raining couple of days before. Was it going to be a spoil sport again? Plan: Since I wanted to have a feel, I decided to run alone instead of with pacer as last time. I was confident to pace myself as per situation and need. I need to run throughout sub 6 pace if I have to complete in 2h05m. This has never happened to me. I always drain and pace drops a bit after 15k. But this time I was more prepared and trained. After lots of thoughts, selected Juhu- Bandra route. It is important to visualize route in terms inclines / declines, turns so that you are better prepared to pace. Equal splits, was it going to be a reality this time? Pace it right: It was important to keep sub 6 pace throughout 21.1K to achieve target. So I decided a plan to complete 5k in 28m, 10k in 58m, 15k in 1h28m, 20k in 1h57m and 21.1k in 2h05m. I never did this before and hence immense focus, mental toughness is required to achieve this. But I was determined to achieve this. Nutrition pre and during run: If I have to achieve constant sub 6 pace, means I need constant source of energy. With bowl of muesli with milk, pieces of sweet potato prior to run, a date soaked in rock salt every 4k and gel mid run, planned to replenish it. This was very crucial to avoid bonk after 15k which I experienced in my last time trial which slowed me down. Right mindset -Train for the mental toughness: You need a lot more than strong abs and legs. What I am talking about here is mental toughness. I was prepared for all the emotions I might experience during the race. Eliminate the variables: I decided to start just early enough so that I get enough sleep and also avoid traffic.

And finally, I learnt from my previous effort, when you do a time trial, keep in mind that it might be slower than your actual real potential, and that’s okay, I think it always will help you in your training, So try to keep an open mind and enjoy it for what it is.

I was so excited and hoping for the best on time trial day. Read out what happened on race day in my next blog.

“Running long distance is 90% mental and 10% physical” – Rich Davis

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(FiTBlog#11) “Running the triumph of desire over reason.”

“I Believe Friends are Quiet Angels who lift us to our Feet when our Wings have Trouble Remembering how to Fly.” ~ Lorraine K. Mitchell

Well, as promised, I am bringing second part of Maharashtra Police International Marathon 2020 blog. In previous blog I did write about century ride with Maharashtra Police. After this curtain raiser event took place a running event on 9th Feb. Almost 15000+ runners participated in this inaugural event.

Our hard fought medals: with Shubhangi

Timtim and Shubhangi decided to participate in 21 K and me in 10 miler since I already did 100+ K bicycle ride just a week before and TMM 3 weeks back.

Thanks to TimTim who collected our kits and handed over on Saturday morning during our stretching session followed by soothing walk in cool water of Juhu beach. The kit was a nice back pack very useful for bicycle rides. I was just recovering from Diarrhea and was not sure if I should still run or not. Immense loss of water and electrolytes from body was the biggest concern for me. Finally, my heart said yes and I decided to give it out my 100% !

After I began mentoring from TimTim, this was my second race after PJHM and I was excited run!

The race start was 5.20 am from Bandra side of Sea link. I woke up at 2:45 am and with routine preparations and I took a ride to Bandra Station. The organizers arranged free bus services from Bandra station 3:30 am onward which dropped us 1 km away from start point. It was amazing atmosphere with road flocked with thousands of runners walking charged up. But sadly, the rest room facilities were not enough with long queues as many outside participants from Maharashtra Police lined up to use. At start line, I met many colleagues from Siemens runners group. We did our warm up together and we were excited to cross the start line.

The race route was super. And the run on the Sea Link was fun as always with darkness, breeze, sound of waves and illuminating ropes and then passing through Worli sea face, Haji Ali, famous (or infamous Pedar road ?) and taking turn towards Marine drive via Babulnath and finishing at Gate way of India. The 10 miles distance (approx. 16.1 km) was not so difficult for me but Diarrhea took a toll on me. I tried to re-hydrate over the week. Just kept my fingers crossed ! With wishing Siemens colleagues the luck, we were ready to go. Standing at start line, I was ready to attack this challenge with 100%. I frequently kept on murmuring to myself to focus and enjoy. My game plan was to keep a consistent pace throughout race -just below 6 m/K. I decided to follow 1hr30m bus and I started well with him till 5 K. Humidity and post diarrhea has soon started showing effects on my body and soon I have to give up following 1 Hr 30 min bus. I reduced my pace and got hold of Enerzal and bananas to re-energize myself but I kept on struggling to get 5:30 to 5:40 m/K pace and in process sadly lost my rhythm.

And when I was about to complete 5 K, I was lucky to meet Shubhangi. She started encouraging me. Many times someone helping you, motivating you, helps to keep your spirits high. Though I struggled to get back to my pace but it gained my rhythm. We started encouraging each other. Soon we crossed Haji Ali ready to climb Pedar road. Pedar road climb looks difficult to many runners but this makes a one of the wonderful stretch for me due to many volunteers standing and clapping for you. You can be slow and steady here with covering up lost time during declines. Soon we completed the climb and started our descend towards Kemp’s corner. I kept on sipping water / electrolytes and munched couple of Glucose biscuits in struggle with hydrating myself.

Thankfully, there were good numbers of water / electrolyte stations along the way and the support was excellent, especially from Mumbai Police themselves– cheering and clapping for us, this was also one of the reason why I was holding with positive sentiments.

We reached Marine drive and completed around 10 K. Now, I was tired, cramps in legs and struggling to run. I had to resort to walking breaks after every 1/1.5 K. I asked Shubhangi to move on as I did not want to spoil her timings. But she decided to run with me, pushing me. That has helped me to fill with positivism by processing out negative emotions. I felt that time, probably gels would have helped me a bit.

“Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder.” -William Sigei.

Soon Air India building was in sight and we were charged up to run our final 2 K. I always desire a strong finish and today was not exception too. With bringing all left over energy, we both pushed ourselves and crossed finish line with pride. It was truly amazing feeling to take well deserving finisher’s medal from Mumbai Police.

Pain is temporary, pride is forever

When I watched my Strava, it was not so bad timing. 16.1 K in 1hr36m. We clicked pictures and moved to take our goodies bag with breakfast, a hand towel. The entire event was managed so well except the breakfast counter. However there was another counter near exit gate which was then closed by now for starting of 5 K. Honestly, I filled my heart with great pride to pull through, thanks to Shubhangi. she was like an angel. Such experiences gives you more satisfaction.

“You don’t have to be so tough that it doesn’t hurt, you just have to be tough enough not to quit.”

The overall experience was good and hope improvements/ iterations will make event much better next year.

On the way back we met TimTim. It was amazing to learn that she completed her half marathon in 1hr38m. Truly she is a champion !! We shared our experiences while returning back from Churchgate station. I was feeling so hungry that Shubhangi and me had our breakfast in restaurant @ Andheri before proceeding to our homes.

So many people crossing the finish line of a marathon look as happy as winners. They have tears in their eyes. The sport is full of winners.

Conclusion:

The positivism, strong determination, self belief and passion can pull you through from difficult situations. There are many examples in running community of helping each other and today I witnessed it. Truly my angels helped me to make my run memorable. Thanks TimTim for showing the way……

“The marathon is not really about the marathon, it’s about the shared struggle. And it’s not only the marathon but the training.”
-Bill Buffum

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(ƬraveLog#2 ExploreIndia) Malvan-The hidden gem of Konkan coast

Day 3 | Tarkarli beach & Malvan beach - YouTube

We (my wife and me) had been to Kudal (Dist. Sindhudurg) few occasions. But Malvan always eluded us. Finally, firmed up plan to visit Malvan. Just to mention Malvan is a town / taluka in Southernmost Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra State, India. It is right place if you love fish, adventure, leisure and history. It’s popular gateway for beach lovers with its lonely shores, clear water and silky white sands. Carry couple of swimming costumes if you are keen in sea adventures. It is quite offbeat place that not many know of.

Being coastal town, Malvan experiences a warm and humid weather with refreshing monsoon. The best time to visit from October till February.

Day 1: Explore Kudal

You can travel either by car/ train (Kudal) or by air (Goa). Easiest way is travelling by train-Tejas Express to reach Kudal around mid-day (around 8 hours journey from Mumbai and 2.5 hours from Goa) while enjoying Konkan scenic view. Breakfast is available on train or you have option to pack your own food. We planned to spend one night in Kudal, visit my native place and temple and then head towards Malvan.

Checked in Hotel Lemon Grass is a better option that we booked online @ Rs.2500 (Executive room). Clean, cozy rooms, polite hotel staff, delicious local food they serve and complimentary Wi-Fi make it my deal. In the evening we took a casual walk in Kudal market which is just a whisker away and is good place to find local stuff for foodies. We ordered typical local flavored prawns curry and rice in Hotel Lemon Grass.

Date 2: Relaxing at Malvan begins

Kande pohe, sheera, upma for breakfast that’s what we like. Post breakfast we checked out and hired an auto for full day till drop at Malvan @ Rs.1200.

Kaleshwar Temple

First, we visited temple devoted to God Kaleshwar, considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. This temple is extremely famous for its grand Maha Shivaratri celebrations. The Kaleshwar shrine is no modern discovery. Its foundation origin dates to a period 700 – 800 years old. Simple yet very attractive interiors and surroundings makes you cheerful. It’s must visit place.

Dhamapur Lake

We planned our lunch at another authentic place, Hotel Pankaj @Nabar Wadi, Kudal which is popularly known as Kamat Bhaujinchi Khanaval. Simple place for homely food. Surmai (King Fish) thali, Khekda (Crab) Thali, Mori (shark) Mutton, Prawns fry, Khekda(crab) Masala, Tisrya (Clams) Masala, Solkadhi (spiced coconut juice) are highly recommended. After lunch we headed towards Malvan.

Kudal Malvan road, Karli River

Kudal to Malvan 28 km scenic drive. With rice fields, greens and coconut trees both sides, you cross Karli river. You tempt to get down for a click. On you way we recommend to visit serene Dhamapur lake. It is one of the biggest lake of Sindhudurg and actually a earth filled dam. With around 90 minutes ride, we reached Malvan. Most of the tourists stay at Tarkarli

Mayekar’s Holiday Home

which is commercialized place and a bit crowded. However we preferred to stay away from crowd at lesser known Chivla beach. There are couple of good resorts and I booked Mayekar’s Holiday Home costed me Rs.2500/ night. It was a typical village house located right on Chivla beach with all amenities in the room.

We recommend spending at least 3 days in Malvan. We took a short relaxing walk on the lonely beach. Chivla Beach is a divine site that offers

@ Chivla beach

much more than the beautiful views as it is clean, pristine and peaceful and is an offbeat attraction in Malvan region.

Sun set @ Rock Garden

Evening we decided to spend at Rock Garden. Adjoining the Chivla beach, it offers tourists a fairy tale view of the sun coming out of the sea. Best time to visit either during the dawn or the dusk as this is when one can relax in the tranquilizing aura of the place. Unlike other gardens this garden is unique in its nature since there is no sand but a carpet of huge rocks and green lawns.

Typical Malvani Thali

Jai Ganesh mandir built beautifully by Jayant Salgaonkar 2.5 km away from Rock garden you can certainly add into your itinerary. Malvan is well known for sea food prepared in Malvani spices. Hotel Chaitanya owned by Walke is one such place situated in main market. Not only fish preparation, Kombdi (chicken) Vade, Malvani fish curry, Mori (shark) Masala, Malvani Mutton Curry it serves also veg preparation like kelphulachi, nir fanasachi and shepuchi bhaji which you won’t find in other hotels.

We also discovered another peaceful and simple Ganesh temple near to Chivla beach. We liked so much that every evening we made point to visit.

Day 3: Relive history at Sindhudurg Fort

It was so relaxing to take a morning walk on beach. You can see picturesque view of fishermen going into see for a fresh catch. Morning breakfast, we ordered local food Ghavne which is prepared from rice flour.

Sindhudurg Fort

Today we planned to take a tour to historical Sindhudurg Fort that occupies an islet in the Arabian sea. It’s beautifully built by Great Maratha King Shivaji Maharaj that can be seen from the  Malvan beach. There are ferries that carries tourists from Malvan beach to fort and return. It’s a strong fort with a great design. It is saddening to see fort is destroyed in the war with Britishers. Many sweet water tanks and other structures are still intact and well maintained. One can spend around an hour inside the fort roaming and enjoying the beautiful sea around the fort. There are many stalls inside the fort for refreshment and temples inside fort. The main entrance is concealed in such a way that no one can pinpoint it from outside shows great thinking and the revolutionary mindset of its engineer. It was said that when the fort was built, Shivaji Maharaj asked his killedar about prize. But killedar insisted that Shivaji Maharaj should leave his foot and hand impressions. You can see those impressions. My take is use services of guides to relive history other wise these become only stone structures to see. Hotel Bamboo is restaurant just few minutes away from Chivla beach is good for typical Malvani food. Crab thali cost you Rs. 250 and served with 4 crabs.

After meal, we returned and relaxed on rooms. It’s just worthwhile to roam around market. This town is also popular for the wide variety of mangoes, popularly known as Malvani Hapoos or Alphonso. Malvani khaje is also popular sweets in the town. You can buy local spices as well.

Date 4: Travel does not become adventure until you leave yourself behind

We reserved this day for water adventure sports activities at Tsunami Island, Devbag. As the name suggests, island appeared in the year 2004 when tsunami waves hit the Indian ocean and is a small stretch of sand that is visible only during low tides. It is located on the delta of Karli river. To add some flavor, we hired a Kinetic 2-wheeler and rode up to Devbag beach.

View of meeting point of Karli river with Indian ocean is mesmerizing. You can

opt for variety of sport like Parasailing, motor rides, banana rides, etc. Also, under-water sports like scuba diving are available where visitors can experience actual fishes touch. Visiting Beaches without trying out the breath-taking water sports is not a fair deal; hence, it is highly recommended for you to tryout. It was fun doing Dolphin point is very close to Tsunami island and visitors are taken by boats to the point. Near to delta point, you can also see a hill shaped as crocodile. If you are hungry then you can buy ukadiche modak (sweet), vada pav, panhe (appetizer juice made from raw mango) at Tsunami island.

At Devbag Beach

While returning, we detoured to visit Devbag. It is a piece of land that just out from the mainland of Malvan into the sea. As you drive right to the tip of Devbag, you can see the Karli river flowing on one side to meet the sea and the vast Arabian sea on the other side.  One of the must-do’s is taking a boat ride that starts from the Karli river leading up to the point where it meets the sea, known as the ‘Sangam’ and then into the open sea to spot dolphins. It is encouraging that new generation of Konkani prople is preferring to settle down in Konkan and helping tourism to grow.

We returned after lots of fun. Meantime we could found out one place in Malvan where you can get good home-made ukadiche modak near Jai Ganesh Mandir. We packed some to take back home.

Evening we once again decided to visit Chaitanya and once again we enjoyed food.

Day 5 Exploring Konkan

Sagareshwar Beach

We wound up our stay at Malvan. While returning via Goa airport, we stopped at some quiet, untouched beaches like Vengurla, Sagareshwar, Shiroda, Redi, Mochemad. 

The Sagareshwar beach is home to the quaint and ancient Sagareshwar temple of Lord Shiva.

Conclusion:

You can plan a perfect Malvan trip for 2 @ Rs.22000-25000.

Malvan is a perfect destination to unwind after a strenuous year at work, with its clean and calm beaches and unadulterated coastline. The waters in the beach reflect the sky, and the sight can send your heart skipping. Be it a relaxed vacation or an action packed thrilling holiday or a vacation for you to walk down the alleys of history. Malvan has something of everything to keep you excited during your holidays.

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Covid 19 lockdown – Silver lining of Positivity

“Being hopeful and optimistic for the future has been associated with better mental health and wellbeing.”

The infectious disease originated from China soon reached India too. We were hearing stories about what was happening in China. We never imagined the situation we will be in. Soon lockdown was imposed here too. So far, many citizens had never experienced such kind of situation except the older generation when they went through experience of black outs during Indo-Pak war in 1971. And, so, many reactions, emotions started emerging out.

Humanity is going through unprecedented times. For many of us, initial period of lockdown came as a shock. Slowly people started beginning to adapt to the situation. In terms of adapting, one thing I am aware of is how much negative news connected to Covid-19 is out there. And how much we are increasingly trying to avoid it. The Corona virus lockdown and news, along with the uncertainty and the ambiguity, can have negative impact on our mental state. Yet staying positive is a core ingredient in the recipe of successful coping in a crisis.

Ok, so we’re not in control of what’s happening. We might be stuck indoors for some time, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our lives have changed radically, but what we can control is ourselves and how we adapt. Are there positive things and stories in this crisis that we can relate to? I think and hope there are.

I always believe that you’re stronger than you know. It is easy to be engulfed in the hopelessness that the pandemic brings with it, but hope goes a long way. Hope is what keeps us going. Get hope from your past resilience. You have got through so many things in the past because of your strength, and you will conquer this as well.

While some people have been safe in the relative comfort of their own home, others have faced difficult and upsetting situations.

During this period, people had to set and adapt to non-standard working hours or work from home culture to accommodate family and other personal commitments. By doing so, people have demonstrated that there is a work/life balance to be had that can suit personal circumstances, whilst also ensuring productivity and delivery for the business and our clients. With attitudes already starting to change in the last few years, will Covid-19 become a catalyst for further progressive change?

Your usual routines probably went out of the window a few weeks ago, right? But there are some activities you are still doing that can give structure to your day like taking daily exercise, sticking to your regular mealtimes and sleeping patterns. You might find it helpful to create a weekly picture calendar and put it up somewhere everyone can see it.

As a result of less travel, there is less stress. Enjoy ‘me’ time and getting to do things you never normally have the time to do. Develop hobbies, skills which also improves mental health & wellbeing. If you have been thinking of getting fitter, take up yoga or Pilates, or join a functional workout class from home. Many yoga and fitness trainers are offering classes online currently, follow them on their social media pages to find the best option. What’s more, the fitness and aerobics videos on YouTube can be real fun! At the time of anxiety, practice breathing slowly and deep. You need to do an activity for 3 weeks for it to become a habit, they earlier said. Even though that has been disproved, fitness experts will vouch for the fact that you can see the effects of in this time. I say, “build a new body”.

With factories closed, comes less CO2, NO2 and PM2.5 emissions. This has a wider impact towards climate change and zero carbon policies, which most organizations are now targeting. I read a news few days back that due to cleaner air, people from Jalandhar could see peaks of Himalayan ranges from 140 kms. Also, pre-mature mortality rate due to PM2.5 has come down drastically. The air also feels cleaner and brighter and healthier. The positive impact on the environment unquestionable (just lean out the window and hear how the traffic noise is reduced) and has the potential to reduce journeys and demand peaks on public transport networks. Which bring more sustainability.

On the line…. Online!! There is change in the way we use technology. We are realizing that not all meetings require to be held face to face and we are now starting to use technology to its full potential. Basically, we are working smarter to achieve the same results. Whilst face to face will likely always be a requirement for several key meetings, there is an opportunity to consider if this is always necessary. In the post-Covid-19 world, “no contact” might become the standard. Sanitary- and gadget-makers are working hard to bring out products that work on sensors, and tech companies like Apple and Samsung are trying to bring out phones that could work as virtual debit cards. Organizations may no longer need as much office space. Perhaps we will see the traditional desk space drop away and replaced with touch-down spaces and agile zones where we can collaborate with colleagues.

It’s time to avoid junk food, impulse snack purchase and focusing on healthy food. That is required to build immunity. Warm water with turmeric, black pepper and honey is simple way to build immunity, While, turmeric having antiseptic property, black pepper helps to digest turmeric. Develop passion to cook healthy food like greens and salad dressed up with toppings. It’s easy to make and tasty too. My salads, and my wife’s cooking, have benefited greatly from the opportunity to make more from less, and with the luxury of putting time into our culinary pursuits.

In this crisis, many people are re-learning how to slow down. This gives us more time to notice what is around us, especially walking around our local community. For example, birds, trees, other people, quieter roads, or interesting buildings. There are also far fewer cars on the roads. When we step outside, we now hear a mixture of silence alongside birdsong and people talking. Cherish it! Unless you signed up for a Vipashyana course, it is unlikely that you have experienced true quietude!

With the supply of commodities shrinking up, this is a good time to re-evaluate what you should consider essentials. Most of us have acquired too many belongings that complicate our life. Try and figure out what you really need and what you don’t. This is a good time to do some trimming. Rest assured, the experience will help you gain a completely different perspective on your life.

Savour the small moments even during lockdown. The smell of coffee, the feel of the warm shower on your back and so on. When you stop to take in these moments, rather than let them rush by on auto pilot, you are giving your brain a chance to process the pleasure, which boosts your serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter that helps elevate your mood and make you feel calm.

All these past days, many of us were too busy with work. Many of us are finding staying at home an opportunity to strengthen family relationships through cooperative activities and shared entertainment. And just see how much you will cherish these moments later. Take the time to hug your kids or partner, look them in the eyes, have long conversations with them – all of these gestures promote closeness and also boost your oxytocin, which is a hormone that bonds people and also has a calming effect on your body. “The family that reads/streams together, stays together.” Yes, we miss going to the movies, concerts, and theatres, but there’s lots of good books, movies, and shows available in the home.

By tuning into these silver linings, you can potentially change your brain chemistry and build up your energy stores to help you cope with the other aspects of your day that have been made more difficult.

With the increasing COVID-19 scare, people have started maintaining personal hygiene. Habits like these not only prevent us from catching any disease but also keep our surroundings clean. Many are encouraging online transactions now.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and this is your chance to thicken that lining and take charge of your mental health so that you come out of this experience stronger. I feel many of us will never forget the positive things those are emerged affecting our health, lives.

Ultimately, the meaning of work has changed for many people. We are remembering that we do not just work for money. Some of us will have realized that our career is part of our identity, a purpose or a symbol of independence that may not have always been appreciated. Life after lockdown will never be the same, but do we really want it to be the same?

If you do not come out of this lockdown with either a new skill, developed hobby, more knowledge or with better fitness, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline. It does not matter your passion, hobbies change. Whatever you pursue, put everything in it.

Finally, I would like to end with quote:

“Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.”

—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

(TraveLog#15)-Land of Strawberries- Travel day 2

We woke up with sound of monkeys jumping on the roof of our cottage. Just came out in porch to find a gang of monkeys. With typical Indian breakfast we planned to go to Pratapgad Fort which is @22k from Mahabaleshwar and has to be approached in car.

The fort is open for all days of the week from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM.

The Entrance: Limited car parking is available at the base. The Road on the left side of parking goes to the steps of the Fort. At the entrance, you just wonder looking at a very narrow place under a rock, how did 100 soldiers were hiding to attack on enemy during battle with Afzal khan. After climbing few steps, we reached Mahadarwaja (Main Entrance) which is built between two bastions.

We hired a guide to get a different perspective to visit and understand and visualize history.

History: Pratapgad Fort is a popular tourist spot in Mahabaleshwar. Pratap means Valor and gad means fort. The fort has a rich history with many battles fought. One of it is the great battle of Pratapgad between Shivaji Maharaj and Afzal Khan won by Shivaji Maharaj. The name given is from the great valor of Shivaji Maharaj in this battle. Due to the geographic location that made the fort very important to the rulers. It was always engaged in politics and military tactics and campaigns. There are 2 small rooms which were used by guards. One of the Guardroom has Cannon.

The Fort: The fort is divided into two parts- the lower fort and the upper fort. The upper fort which is a rough square shaped fort is built on the crest of the hill. The fort is surrounded by sheer cliffs that drop up to 250m. This part is located in the northwest part of the fort. Fort is guarded by tall towers that are

Afzal Buruj

10-12 meters high. The lower fort is located in the southeast is around 110m wide and 320m long. It is also surrounded and protected by bastions and towers which are almost 10 to 12m high. There is also a tower named Afzal tower named after Afzal Khan whose head is supposed to be buried underneath the tower signifying victory. It is made to protect the approach towards the fort. There is a museum atop the fort and also a shop selling some antique handmade items.

We went to the top of fort first. After climbing many steps, we had butter milk, lassi and sugarcane juice from the stalls on the fort run by ancestors residing on fort. As per locals, this place was used to be a palace of Shivaji Maharaj. This point is a topmost point fort also known as Bale Killa. From this point, the Koyna Valley offers a spectacular view. There is Kedareshwar temple

Canons

which has magnificent Shivling. From the castle tower, there are large mountains visible at first. And each of these mountains has a unique feature.
At the rear of the Kedareshwar temple are the ruins of the palace of Rajmata Jijabai and of course, there is an equestrian statue of Shivaji Maharaj in the middle of the garden on the right. There Is The commander has a sword in the temple, and it has Sword has six dots indicating Sword commander had killed six hundred men in battle. There are several canons kept outside temple. Each weighs almost a ton. And guide told us Maratha warriors used to carry them on their shoulders.

Pratapgad Fort Information -Hambirrao Mohite's Sword
The sword of Maratha Commander

This fort is Private entity and taken care of ancestors of Shivaji Maharaj.

There is a man-made small pond on the Pratapgad Fort. The Maharaja has a long vision, no matter how long the fort is surrounded by an enemy for the purpose of no shortage of water.

Summary: The place is perfect for sightseeing and the best choice for tourists who love to dwell amidst nature. The best time to visit this fort is during winter seasons. One can also visit this heritage site during holidays. It comes under Maharashtra tour department and is promoted by Maharashtra tourism.It is a famous tourist attraction with the following things to see:

  • ·        Rahat Lake
  • ·        Bhavani Temple
  • ·        Bastions
  • ·        Entrance of Bale Killa
  • ·        Statue of Shivaji Maharaj
  • ·        Watch towers on the fort
  • ·        Beautiful Sahyadri Mountains
  • ·        Afzal Buruj 
  • ·        Afzal Khan’s tomb

(TraveLog#13)- Blood group “Tea” Positive

Ask any Indian if they like tea, and almost 80 per cent would answer affirmative. Every street corner you walk to, you will find a tea stall, and almost every time, they are literally crowded with connoisseurs and casual drinkers. These tea stalls opened up quite early in the morning even before the other shops do. There are so many local renditions of the drink in India like Kadak Chai, Masala Chai, cutting chai and so forth. 

I will not say, I am 100% tea lover, but at times I prefer a good tea to sip. The monsoon clouds on the horizon and the hot cup of tea in hand have always mesmerized me beyond description. A hot cup while watching the rain beat down is a much romanticized monsoon experience. Some heavy rains, a cup of tea and you, that’s what makes a perfect monsoon.

I always prefer I strong taste of tea. There are some flavors which always attracts me. One of them is Kashmiri Kahwa. This tea is smoked which offers the an exotic experience. This is a rich blend and includes some nuts and fresh spices. The warming sweet aroma of cinnamon will uplift and lead you on to savory and woody flavors of the green tea. Another flavor is, home made ginger tea. I prefer to make this tea myself. I have done some experimentation with recipe so as to maintain strong aroma of ginger. Small portion of lemongrass makes it more blissful.

The feel of Kadak chai is even better when you sip over a hard day. I cherish the taste of such tea @Aurangabad @tea stall after tiring day at caves and fort. Served with spices(with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom), tea was poured in transparent glass. Even Kadak chai mid way between long bicycle ride always give energy for rest of the ride.

It’s rainy day and probably it’s time for a cup of hot fuming tea, what you say?

(FitBlog#59)-It’s time to exercise, I am walking funny from last run! A road to Full Marathon- 22nd July 21

Another day, time for another blog. It’s Thursday morning, rainy morning! My legs are very sore after yesterday’s run in high gear, making me walk funny.

It was high gear run almost after 7 months. I did run half marathons with much better pace than today. But I realized that I have not made my body ready for it. Lesson learnt!! You never realize you have a muscle group in your body working efficiently, assisting you to run until it gives out.

I did apply ice pack, used foam roller and some stretches for hamstring muscles to relax. Thinking in my bed what should I do for my strength workout today, got up at 6:45am. I knew keep moving will help to be better. With this I decided to focus on upper body workouts for biceps, triceps, shoulders, back and chest. Today I decided to experiment with bands and weight together to add on some spice. Also used mini band for leg raise, side raise and banded walk to shed some lactate.

Stretches like cat-cow, child’s pose, Makarasan, cobra pose, Shalabhasan, Sphynx pose for lower back, shoulder and back helped to recover followed by Pranayama.

Honestly it was good decision to move on with strength workout helping for energy to flow in the body.

Hoping to recover back with ice pack, relaxing and light stretching in the evening.

(FitBlog#58)- Time trial 10k – A road to Full Marathon – 21st July 21

It’s Wednesday, heavy rains with thunderstorms predicted in the morning. To run a time trial for 10K, I need just one hour window without much rain. I checked weather forecast, there was exactly this one hour window between 6 to 7 am with minimal rain. So need to fit the run in this window.

It was almost past 6 months, I did time trial. Lots of thoughts came into my mind especially about pace. What will be my pace ? What should be the best ideal pace for first time trial? Will I be able to hit sub 1? Or what target I should run with? What should be my plan? Finally I said, let me run with a pace of 5:40/k pace which will be safe bet. Let the pace be around that and take call in last 2-3k.

Had a piece of boiled sweet potato and a bowl of muesli with milk, before I stepped on the road. With a walk followed by easy run, I set my Garmin on run mode. I decided to take Juhu route for the reason that there are minimum turns.

As I picked up pace to be around 5:45/k, realized gusty headwinds needing more energy to run against it. Though, it was drizzling, it was tougher to run zigzag just to avoid water puddles. Soon after 3k, got into rhythm to pick up and maintain pace. As I approaching Juhu, wind gusts were very intense. I said just continue with this comfortable pace. I had to hold on to my cap couple of times to make sure it does not fly off.

Surprisingly, I did not find a single runner on road today. With 6k done, I turned back. At this point, I felt a small tightness in my left hamstring. I just dropped pace but did not feel a concern. But pace dropped from 5:30/k to 5:45/k by 9th k. A bit of concern and I decided to up my pace to finally close 10k in 56m.

What went right

+Achieved pace of 5:40/k as set in spite of adverse conditions. +Maintained fairly equal splits.

What can be improved

-Gave a feeling of rustiness – hard effort after 6 months. -Though I met my set pace, it was hard effort. -Had to put more energy against the wind making the run harder -Never has sore legs even after 21.1k time trial which I did @5:30/k pace but today had sore legs after run. Need an ice pack on hamstrings. -Pace was lower than 21.1k run early this year and also 10k. Need improvement.

Things want to do differently

(!)Protein shake (!)Stretches focusing on hamstring, glutes (!)Rest and hydrate well to recover.

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