Saturday, December 29, 2012

Abuse of Women - some of what you could do?

I have linked to various posts in the past about self-defence for women and pretty much each such post has been made when there was an instance of a rape in India.

Sadly, today is yet another occasion.

This collection of solution ideas by Prem Panicker is perhaps the most educated one I have read. There will be others. Support such work.

While the above is perhaps the way to go in the long term, on a daily basis, what could you do?

  • Don't put up with misogyny/abuse of women in the workplace or at home or any place you visit. The next you see your colleague, friend, spouse, parent etc display such behaviour, express your displeasure. Do not patronize the source of such behaviour - be it a business establishment or a person. Adopt zero tolerance. At least on this one account, I can claim to have done something. I don't associate with people who I know to have abused someone I know. Boycott such people. See what  a difference simply ignoring that person/isolation/just having nothing to do with such a person will make.
  • My own experience at this is not extensive. Am I/have I been guilty of being discriminatory against women? I hope not. But if I have been or if I ever am, point it out to me as emphatically as you can. And by the same token, next time you see someone (incl. me) abuse a woman because she is one and not for another reason, kick them where it hurts. Shins are a good place to start.
  • I have had women I run with or coach harassed by general public. The women have been mostly unflappable and civil about it as long as the people doing it, kept the harassment verbal. But I don't think even this needs to be tolerated although I have heard of women on the run, having their bottom pinched. I have personally been witness to an auto-driver come threateningly close to a woman I was running with. I shudder to think what may have happened if she had been running alone. On that occasion, we actually decided to let it be since we thought picking a fight was not worth our time. I am disappointed with my decision. I hope to not do so in the future. While verbal abuse may not necessarily need to be physical, I believe that punishment/action against verbal abuse should be a good deterrent against future such or worse behaviour by the origin of such behaviour. Know that section 502 of the IPC can be invoked at the very minimum. For worse conduct, section 298 A and B may be also relevant. Call the police, support the registration of FIRs against such people. Go to courts and police stations. Spend time in supporting systemic action against such people. Show some spine. As some people have written, apathy is our general malaise. Watching such events occur and then sighing over them is WAY poorer compared to taking some action when you could help make a difference. ACT
  • I am very happy to report that when I joined Infosys, our very first session in employee orientation was on sexual harassment (Grievance Redressal Board or GRB as it was then called). I think it set the tone. While it didn't/doesn't obviously make the incidence of sexual harassment/abuse zero, it does lay the groundwork for a better future and victims becomes more comfortable to voice their experiences and help prevent future occurrences. Make sure your colleagues are comfortable to report such experiences if ever they were the subject of such abuse. Demand a forum/mechanism from your employer to do so, if they don't already have one.
My first step at following my own advice has been to keep this post free of any language which shows gender-bias and insensitivity. I hope to extend this further into life.
I have tried in the past to keep my speech free of expletives and managed well. But I keep lapsing into using them to express myself. I hope to remedy that to some extent and avoid gender-specific abuses even in casual speech, in the future. Lets see. It is a start.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Runalyze This - Episode 3

Have you heard the latest episode of Runalyze This?

Click here for the SoundCloud link or here for the iTunes page.

Do let me know your comments.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Books in 2012

  1. The Map that changed the World by Simon Winchester
  2. Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert 
  3. A Step Away From Paradise by Thomas K Shor 
  4. Tibet -a history by Sam Van Schaik 
  5. The Red Market by Scott Carney 
  6. Infinite Vision by Pavithra Mehta & Suchitra Shenoy 
  7. A Shot at History by Abhinav Bindra (with Rohit Brijnath) 
  8. Run the Edge by Tim Catalano & Adam Goucher
  9. Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
  10. Duel in the Sun by John Brant 
  11. Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore 
  12. Steve Jobs by Karen Blumenthal 
  13. Ganesha on the Dashboard by V. Ragunathan et al
  14. Moral Materialism by Joseph S Alter
  15. Pyong Yang by Guy DeLisle
  16. Serious Men by Manu Joseph
  17. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
  18. Better by Atul Gawande
  19. The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
  20. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
  21. Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose
  22. India means Business by Kaushik Dutta et al
  23. Quiet by Susan Cain
  24. Complications by Atul Gawande
  25. Conversations with Mani Rathnam by Baradwaj Rangan
  26. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  27. The $10 Trillion Prize
  28. Heart Smarts Guts Luck
  29. The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri
  30. Open City by Teju Cole
  31. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
This is a "work-in-progress" post as of date (as I am not yet thru the last 2 books but will be done in about a week's time) but I might get another book read at best in the next 3 weeks.

This year has been a mild disappointment as I have had more time to myself but have not managed to read as much as I did last year. Hope to be better in 2013 and not just at reading books :)

And unlike in previous years, I will actually recommend my book of the year. At the time of making this post, that book is no. 26 on my list above. I loved it. It is mind-blowing. Barnes is very, very good in this book. More on that in a separate post.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

California International Marathon 2012

I have never felt as satisfied with a performance in a run as I have today, when the final result was not what I wanted.
I had discussed in the previous post about how the weather was a big variable. The weather turned out to be the bogeyman today.

While I am saving up a detailed write-up for my book as well as avoiding some effort since I have to leave for India in about 36 hours, here is a brief update on my race.

While I had started my Garmin and was ready by start time, it locked up just before the actual start and I couldn't get it to locating satellites till about mile 5 and couldn't be bothered.

Head winds+heavy rains lashed the CIM course like nobody's business for the first 2 hours or so and then eased off to light showers and some gusts by the time I reached mile 19. The hostile weather knocked me so much that I had sore quads by mile 9 itself. While I was hoping they would ease off by mile 15 when the course became less rolling, they eventually led to a mild hamstring strain on my right and weirdly enough strained my right achilles tendon also!

Since I didn't have the exact time required to go under 3:10 when I hit the 20 mile mark in 2:20:48, I ran based on pure clock time and used mile splits to stay as much below as 8:00 min/mile as I could. However the race clock seemed to be a minute ahead of mine and that eventually hurt me.

Also when I hit the 24 mile mark with 18 min to go for 2.2 mile, I was too scared that I would pull one of the 3 things strained above (esp. seeing the no of people clutching sore calves, hamstrings and quads in the last 6 miles) that I ran quite conservatively. When I turned to the finish with about 100m to go or so, which is when the clock, kept on the ground (WTF!) came into sight, it was already past 3:10 or so. I ran and crossed in 3:10:17 although the official clock time shows 3:10:23 with chip time as 3:10:08.

There was no way I could have made 3:09:59 which based on BQs for the 2013 race should have gotten me in. I was just in too much pain to pull anything and hence scared to push any more.

When I finished I didn't know my actual chip time - with the Garmin snafu mentioned earlier as well as usual not running tangents.

When I got to the hotel, there was some short-lived excitement with 2 friends as well as my bro telling me that I was at 3:09:56 as per the race's unoffical results, but then that had changed by the time I checked to reflect the 3:10+ time.

I am happy that I ran this time in such weather which means that I should be able to run significantly under this in better weather and on a flatter course than CIM, which has some rolling sections.

Berlin 2013, here I come.

Apologies to all those who have mailed/called/tweeted/messaged on FB asking for an update on the race. Will talk to you all by turn soon. Till then, bear with me.

Thanks to Arun and Anil for a memorable trip to Sacramento. Thanks to all those who have supported my effort in various ways incl. the lady who warmed my filter coffee at 4 am at the Hilton Arden West and then told me her daughter runs too. I wish her daughter a PB too. God bless your goodness.

So ist das Leben

Update: For all those who wanted to get a sense of how windy/rainy CIM 2012 was check out the pics at http://bit.ly/RmXoLL HT Anil

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Relief at the end of training

I am set to run in the California International Marathon 2012 in less than 24 hrs from now. As I was taking my shower, I was considering how I feel about this weather situation at the start of my race as well as at the finish. Admittedly I am bugged since 20+ mph headwinds with heavy rain is not the ideal weather for a PB.

I have laboured for about 2 years now in the quest to beat my times, with training (I have been running for over 11 years now). My 1st salvo was a surprising success at the Avenue of the Giants Marathon 2011 when I dipped below 3:10 in a race meant to be a tune up for the race at R'n'R San Diego 2011 five weeks later. I pulled a hamstring in that sub 3:10 attempt at around mile 17 and never recovered for San Diego. I hated the race as I pulled both hamstrings in San Diego somewhere b/w mile 18-20.

I then put things together again for Grandma's earlier this year but the weather was unusual - 68F at start, rising to 73F by mile 17 or so and then dropping off towards the end of my race. I finished in a painful 3:20 (painful since I was chasing 3:08) and had chosen Grandma for the supposedly flat course and cool weather.

And now this!

CIM is a popular qualifier for Boston aspirants but it looks like the weather gods don't like me. But then you know what happened to NYCM 2012.

And I know that I am not racing a marathon till Berlin 2013, which gives me another attempt to sneak into Boston 2014, if all things fall in place.

All of this is to just emphasize the fact that whatever the result, the end of the training period is primarily accompanied by relief. You may be happy for a few days/weeks etc if the result is favourable but you are relieved whatever the outcome. And if you are a long distance runner, your perspective needs to be one of a long term too. Else you are still weighed down by ego and other petty matters. And each race has only added to my knowledge of what could help me get faster. Until last year I was beset by performance anxiety where I worried not being fast enough to run a sub 3:10 once I get older. That is bunkum. I am much faster than I have been ever before and I already know how to clip another min or 2 from my current times. As long as you train and stay focussed, you will improve. If the weather is good, you will do well. If not, train again. Bring on Berlin!

Breathe easy - 1 step in front of the other.

Good Luck to everyone running the CIM, SCSCM, Shanghai Marathon, Wipro Chennai Marathon and anyone just having a run!