Mt Whitney Hike-2017

Having been to the Mt. Whitney hike once in 2016 (we did not end up getting to the summit.), we wanted to retry again this year. So, me and a buddy of mine (2 of the original party of 4) decided we would apply for the lottery, and try doing it if we got permits.

We did end up getting permits, so we decided to do it over two days – 7th and 8th of July. It’s a pretty standard 2 day itinerary. Get to trail camp on Day 1, and then try to get to the summit and back on Day 2.

Back in 2016, a lot of things had gone wrong. While we were setting up our tents (thankfully at the trailhead), we found that the REI rental tent had a broken pole, and we did not have duct tape or a pole stub (the thing you can use to patch aluminum tent poles). So we had to go find a hotel for the night, and buy a tent the next morning before starting on the hike. Needless to say, that meant a pretty late start. Also, while climbing up, I had somehow accidentally dropped one of my crampons on the trail. No crampons = no day 2 climbing for me. I would have gladly stayed back in the tent, and have the others complete the hike, but they did not want to, and hence we turned back from Trail Camp. Also, this was in early May – so there was way more snow on the trail. In fact when my other friends attempted it a week before us, they did not have any existing footprints on the chute to work with.

Come 2017, I had learned a few lessons from the previous hike.

(a) Climbing 6100 feet from 8360 feet is very different from climbing the same from sea level. Sure, it’s over 2 days, but still as you get higher, it gets harder to hike.

(b) Carrying a lot of weight in your backpack is also very different when hiking at altitude. I have been comfortable(ish) carrying ~45 pounds on a Grand Canyon hike. Carrying the same on Mt. Whitney was a terrible idea.

Considering I did not want to make the same mistake of carrying a lot of weight, I spent considerable money in trying to lighten my backpack. I think I was able to bring it down to ~30pounds with water added to the mix. Which is 2/3rds the weight of 45 pounds. Considering I was carrying a 2 person tent, 6.6 pounds of water, food for 2 days, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a summit pack, dry pack, clothes and crampons and ice axe, this was pretty ok. I might have been able to drop another 2 pounds with some more sacrifices. My friend did carry the bear canister, and Jetboil in exchange for the tent 🙂

Pack and pack contents:

  • Boreas Bootlegger – with all 3 packs. One to be used as raincover, one for the second day summit, and one regular. This was a little heavier than maybe carrying my Bergans Helium 55, but I would have needed a separate rain cover, and a separate summit bag.
  • North Face Hyper Cat sleeping bag. (20F < 2 pounds, Synthetic). Not only is this a light bag for the temperature rating, but it also packs down really small. Also, please don't use down if you can help it. Down is made from plucked Goose feather, and sometimes, this is borderline cruel.
  •  Klymit Static V Insulate sleeping pad (1 pound 9oz for 4.4 R value) – This is perhaps where I will try to cut a pound the next time. There are pads that weigh ~1pound for a lot more money of course.
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 HV tent. (<3 pounds for a 2 person freestanding tent is pretty impressive.) The tent did feel a little compact – both me and my friend are 5'11" and not really skinny. This was a little cozy with both sleeping pads touching, but considering it was cold, we managed fine. For warm weather, might want a roomier 2 person tent. But with the tent staked correctly, it withstood rain and hail at trailcamp.
  • One set of thermal inners, one Columbia fleece jacket, one pair of extra socks, first aid kit, toiletries, Maglite flashlight, energizer head lamp. Couple of trash bags (for waterproofing needs, trash …etc)
  • Platypus 3L big zip hydration bladder.
  • Marmot Precip rain jacket and pants.
  • 2-3 freeze dried meals + 2-3 trail mixes + 2-3 cliff bars.
  • Black diamond crampons, tent stakes, black diamond ice axe, Komperdell hiking poles. Yaktrax.

I think that was pretty much it. In terms of what I’d leave behind, I’d definitely leave behind the yaktrax – which were of no use whatsoever. I’d also leave behind the flashlight.

In terms of fitness, I think I was in worse shape compared to the last time over! So much for learning lessons. I think going into the first week of June, my training was coming along well, when I fell sick with a cold/allergy. The ensuing 3 weeks was mostly spent recovering from the above, and then trying to recover from a horrible dry cough that wouldn’t let go, costing me valuable preparation. I tried training despite the cough, but the coughing fits that followed were not fun!

Day 0:

So we landed in LAX on a Thursday, and drove down to Lone Pine, picked up the permits, went crampon renting, and bought a few miscellaneous stuff from one of the store at lone pine. Had breakfast at Dennys on the way, and lunch at a burger place in Lone pine. We then headed to the Base camp, which was full of mosquitoes! Had to buy a bug repellant which I had left behind, since I did not see bugs the last time. After setting up the tents – (I had taken a second 1 person tent, since I didn’t want day 0 tent experience to be tight as well. We were going to leave it in the car anyway), we had an early dinner at the Whitney Portal Store – burgers and fries again, and went to sleep around 6pm.

Day 1:

The plan was to start at around 4 am, which might have been a little early. We finally ended up starting only around 6:30 am, since we had to pack the tents and stuff, and my backpack was so small that things had to go in in a particular way for everything to fit – so I basically had to pack things in the morning after folding up the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad from the previous night.

We mostly kept going with very few breaks. We took a break every 2 hours or so. Once we got to within a mile of Trail Camp, there was snow on the trail, and at this point, people just start walking up the snow straight instead of through the actual trail (which is also covered in snow).

As we got close to trail camp, there were signs of dark clouds and possible rain approaching. At this point, I realized the pain of putting my backpack into a dry bag and then attaching the strap system to it. If it were to every suddenly start pouring, I would have a difficult time doing this.

Once we got to Trail Camp, which I believe was around 12:30 – 1pm, we searched for a good spot, found a great spot to pitch the tents, pitched our tents, unpacked some, made our meal, and had the meal quickly. At this point, we decided to go to sleep early around 3pm or 4pm or so. As soon as we got into the tent, and changed clothes and stuff, it first started raining and then pelting small sized hail. This was of course accompanied by lightning and thunder. I was later told that some people were still trying to get to trail camp when the showers started. The only thing I was worried about was the hiking poles and the ice axes we had placed nicely at the head of the tent 🙂 Hopefully it wouldn’t attract any lightning or else we were toast. It rained/hailed for about an hour and when I walked out the tent, the area surrounding us was covered in hail/snow – so was the rainfly of the tent. Considering this was a lightweight backpacking tent, thankfully the hail was not any larger, or it would have done some damage to the tent.

I finally went to sleep some time around 4-5pm, only to have to wake up later to have to pee, frantically trying to find my socks and shoes :).

Day 2:

We had spoken to a few people that walked down before we started the hike. One person informed us that the switchbacks were mostly not covered in snow, and if you got to the cables section, it was mostly no snow after that to trail crest.

Also, when we spoke to others who had returned to Trail camp while we were there, some reported having taken 5 hours to get to the summit.

Figuring it would take us at least 4.5 hours, we wanted to leave around 2am so we would finish the hike while there was still light. Unfortunately, we woke up at 3:15 am, and by the time we started it was 4:30 am. Still pretty early, but 2.5 hours behind where we wanted to be. We started walking up some footprints towards the chute. Once we reached the point directly below the cables, we could see a steep slope lead up to the cables – we decided to climb it in the hopes that from there on, we could remove out crampons and hike normally. This climb was pretty ok, but we had to hoist ourselves up near the end of the cables section. Slightly treacherous if you ask me. Then we removed crampons, and started walking the switchbacks. while it was true that most of the switchbacks were snow free, there was snow in portions, and where there was snow, it was pretty steep – I guess that’s the point of the switchbacks :). We decided to boulder over rocks instead of walking over snow at those points – something that took a lot of energy. Once we got to the last few switchbacks, it was mostly covered in snow all the way to trail crest. Did not put the crampons back on, but walked carefully and slowly with ice-axe in hand.

At 7am, 2.5 hours after we had started the hike, we still had a little ways to go before hitting trail crest. Post this point – refer images below, was covered in snow.

We finally reached trail crest at 8am. 3.5 hours after starting in the morning. Pretty slow going.

In retrospect, the chute might have been faster. The dry section of the switchbacks was too small, to get any benefit out of it.

By 10:30, a full 6 hours after starting in the morning, and 2.5 hours after stopping at trail crest for a while, I had reached the hill on which Mt. Whitney is, but had absolutely no energy left to do the last 0.4 miles to get to the summit. 14,157 ft. Another 400 ft to go. 🙂 The point is shown on the image below.

I turned back after sitting and contemplating for some time as to what to do. I thought it was safer to not deplete the last ounce of energy I had so that I did not make mistakes while descending.

Mt.Whitney Hike

In the meantime, my friend had gone onto the summit, and returned back and joined me on the trail back to trail crest.

We reached trail crest around 12:30 pm. 8 hours since starting the hike in the morning. At this point, I knew I did not have the energy to take the switchbacks down, but also was a little scared to glissade down the chute. But it was decided that we were taking the chute down anyway, because we had to get down quick, and we didn’t have a whole lot of energy to hike down. After hiking down the steepest part of the chute, which to me was scary – I slipped a few times – hadn’t worn the crampons, because it was slushy snow anyway. thankfully planting the ice axe firmly in the ground was reassuring, and probably saved me from plummeting down.

Once we got to the less steep section, my friend glissaded down first. And only after I found him alive and well at the bottom of the chute, did I start my glissading down. It was reasonably well controlled – a little faster than it should have been – because of the slope – but also, I was digging in the ice axe (pointy end), with all my might to slow myself down. 🙂 Finally got to the bottom of the chute, and literally walked as fast as we could to the tent.

We got down to the trail camp around 2:45pm. 10 hours!

I wanted to rest a while before doing anything else, so I just lay down outside the tent for some. We then prepared our meal, ate it, and slowly started unpacking the tent, and packing the backpacks. I think it was 4:30 pm once again before we started hiking down.

On the way down, we stopped once we reached Outpost camp, and then not once afterwards. The moment you stopped, you’d have mosquitoes feeding on you – so it was better to just keep going.

I finally finished the hike at 9pm. My friend was ahead – so he probably finished 15-20 mins before I did.

16.5 hours of hiking. I still wasn’t really tired in my muscles though – just an overall sense of weariness. The other thing that killed me was my waist belt had come undone while trying to tighten it – so the 30 pound pack was kinda killing me on my shoulders on the way down.

We went to our hotel, had baths, and then dug into a large pizza! I slept like a log for the rest of the night.

For me personally, the second attempt has also been unsuccessful. Having a cold/allergy 1 month before the hike, and not being able to train for it for an entire month leading up to the hike thanks to a persistent cough for which I saw 4 separate doctors, was debilitating in terms of my preparation. While my overall fitness levels were perhaps ok, not training for 3 weeks to a month definitely costs you some fitness.

I think the next time I attempt it, it’s going to be later in the season, and most likely a day hike.

 

Velocomp Powerpod Unboxing and Review

You can find the company website here

And you can find a Kickstarter page (no longer active, but has a nice intro video. Since posting this, the intro video is also available on Youtube.) here

So, I ordered a Powerpod from Velocomp Thursday (May the 4th), and this afternoon I received an email from the company saying the package was out for delivery! Whoa! That’s pretty fast Amazon Prime-esque delivery times. Actually maybe even faster considering it was delivered < 48 hours after I placed the order. I walk up to my mailbox and the USPS person handed the package to me. Really impressive.

This is what the box looks like from the outside,

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The packaging is very minimalistic – which I actually like. Also for a small company starting out, this is to be expected.

Now, I was considering a Pioneer power meter, and I wasn’t discouraged by the price so much as the fact that I owned two bicycles – and one of them is a Campy Athena Crank. So, I was really undecided on (A) Which bike to get the power meter for, and (B) How do I get power data if I ride the other bike ? Anytime I have to make a decision that involves more than a simple yes or no, I just put off the decision making way into the future. 🙂 Enter the Powerpod, and the fact that it can be used on multiple bikes easily, and I was immediately sold.

How I chanced upon the Powerpod was, I was reading an article that Apple might be working on a patent for power generation based on a wind sensor, and someone in the comment section pointed out that someone already had a fully baked product out there that did the exact same thing. I google the company’s name, and voila, DC Rainmaker has an article on it. Now, I was kinda introduced to the Wahoo ecosystem by reading DC Rainmaker’s posts as well, and that has worked out marvelously for me. I love all of the Wahoo items I have. I love the heart rate sensors, the speed and cadence sensors, the Wahoo Elemnt. I even briefly owned a Kickr snap, but did not enjoy riding on a trainer.

Back to the Powerpod, I am unboxing the product as I type this post. First things first – I am slightly disappointed that the usb port does not have a rubber cover to it. I am wondering now if this is going to be waterproof. I remember reading in DCR’s article that he it can be ridden in the rain without issues. I might have to fashion some kind of rubber washer for it, or maybe just stick some black electric tape over the usb port.  {Since writing this post, I contacted Velocomp, and they assured me that the USB port and the wind port are both waterproof. In fact, I did earlier read in the comments section that you just rinse them out if they ever get dust on them. I feel more confident now that this will work in rain and such without problems. } However, they did have a picture showing which way the connector needed to go. Considering established companies like Gopro can’t get this right, (not for the USB cable itself, but for the battery and SD Card) I guess, you need to give them points for it. The usb is also micro-USB which is what most electronics products come with. They could move to USB-C and that would take the hassle out of the connector not being reversible, but not a big deal, considering this is for charging and not data transfer. I meant to say not massive amounts of data transfer like video from a camera, but I have been corrected that the USB port is indeed used for data transfer, when you hook it up to your computer to get advanced raw data analysis. 

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I already have a K-edge Wahoo/Gopro combo mount on one of my bikes, and noticed the Powerpod comes with another mount. Considering my Campy bike is EPS and has very less cabling in the front, I think I’ll use the regular adapter with this.

Instructions:

  1. There is installation instructions stuck to the inside of the box.
  2. The rest of the instructions are printed out on paper and included in the box.

Btw, I put the Powerpod on charge just a while back, and looks like it is fully charged and ready to go.

You can find the instructions here

I skipped two pages of advanced instructions for now. I’ll get to that at a later point in time.

Pairing to Speed and Cadence Sensors:

I own Wahoo speed and cadence sensors – so I’m going to proceed to pairing the powerpod with them. Ok, so I brought the sensors alive, pressed on the button for 4 seconds, and it blinked green, followed by solid green, followed by orangish blinking ?? Did I actually pair it ? I’m going to try again.

Ok, it seemed to do the same thing again. Blinking green followed by solid green, followed by blinking amber/orange. I guess it’s paired. We’ll figure it out. Took all of 5 minutes really. The sensors did pair correctly, so, there was no cause for concern there really.

Folks over at Velocomp tell me that,

  1. Blinking Green – Searching for sensors
  2. Solid Green – Speed sensor paired.
  3. Orange 3 flashes – Cadence and or heart rate strap paired.

Ah, so that’s what it was – I tried pairing the Speed and Cadence sensor at the same time. So, the Solid Green was the Speed sensor getting paired, the 3 Orange flashes was the Cadence sensor getting paired. 

Apparently, pairing a heart rate sensor is also supported, and is valuable in gathering useful data. I’m going to check this out as well.

Pairing to my Wahoo Elemnt bike computer:

You’re supposed to do this from the Elemnt. Ok, I was able to go the menu, Sensors, Add Sensor, and it took less than 30 seconds to pair to the Elemnt. It’s now added to the Elemnt. The Powerpod has a Solid Yellow light on, indicating that it is now ready to be calibrated.

At this point, I need to take a break to clean my bicycle 🙂 It’s the weekend you know. I think once I have it spotless and lubed, I’ll attach the Powerpod to it, and go ahead with Calibration after that.

Ok, here’s an odd thing – while I have shut down my bike computer, and wandered off into corners of the internet, the Powerpod’s LED is still solid amber. Looks like it needs to be calibrated 🙂 How do I shut this thing off ? Ok, apparently if I go about wandering the internet, it should power off in 20 minutes. …. And it did shut itself off – no worries there.

… … …

Calibration:

So, I attached the Powerpod to the K-edge mount a day after I started with the process, and turned the power button on, and started my Wahoo Elemnt up. I initially did not see any indication of anything going on, but as soon as I started riding, the Watts started going from 0-100, which was basically the calibration completion process.

One of the issues is with my particular bike is even with the K-edge mount, a couple of cables still end up touching the power meter. Considering this is a 105 bike, and does not have cables in front of the hoods (like Tiagra, Sora …etc), I am a little annoyed by this. I am also a little worried about if this will affect actual power numbers. I haven’t tried the provided mount yet – that might actually be better in terms of nothing contacting it.

Folks over at Velocomp were kind enough to suggest that I either use a zip-tie or actually trim the cables – which to be honest, is a very reasonable suggestion. My bike does have unnecessarily long cables!

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Test Ride:

So, as the caibration was going on, this was my test ride 0. When I see the ride on Strava, it has power numbers. You’ll see “Weighted Avg Power” instead of “Estimated Avg power” and also Avg and Max power numbers. Fig below shows a workout with power numbers, and another for comparison without the power numbers.

Endomondo showed no power data whatsoever. Apparently, there is no support as you will find in their forums. Bummer. Now, both my Strava and Endomondo account are not Premium. I am sure with a Premium Strava account, you’d be able to see Power charts and such.

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The Wahoo Elemnt App did a nicer job of giving more details for free.It has, Power Zones, Power Metrics, Power Curve (which for this ride is bogus), and Avg and Max Power per Lap.

I am interested in it recording the power numbers with both my Wahoo Elemnt, and possibly also my iPhone. I’ll see how the data from the two compare. (Ironically the only app that will let me record view the power numbers on my iPhone will also have to be a Wahoo app, since I do not have a premium subscription to Strava.)

More after a few more rides, and collecting some meaningful data…

 

GoPro Hero 5 Black – Data overlay

Ok, so I bought a GoPro Hero 5 Black to capture some videos. I am not really into high octane action sports, so this is really for my own consumption/documentation. That said, it would be nice to capture some of my bike rides and some of my hikes just to be able to share with Friends.

One of the reasons I bought the GoPro is I am not invested in the Garmin ecosystem. And while Garmin’s G-metrix is definitely better than GoPro’s data overlay’s, I don’t think I necessarily need cadence, heart rate and power data on my videos. I think for my purposes speed and elevation suffice.

I had the camera mounted on a K-edge Wahoo/combo mount – so it was out in front and you won’t see the handlebars, or the brake cables …etc. I really like this mount. The second reason I bought this mount is I could also use it with a Velocomp Powerpod.

The camera itself worked well – I was able to shoot 1080p videos at 60fps, and it shot more than an hour. (close to 70 minutes). There are minor quibbles I have with the camera as well, but nothing as infuriating as the software. For instance, simple things like making sure the batter and the microsd card go in only one way, or at least have a picture saying which way it goes in, is a minor thing, but goes a long way in terms of user experience.

The software experience on a Windows 10 laptop was miserable. (A high end windows 10 laptop – a Lenovo P50 with Nvidia Quadro M2000M and Intel core i7).

First of all, the Studio app in itself was really sucky. It frequently got stuck, and refused to let me work continuously on it for more than a few minutes at a time. Other than this, it was actually quite ok to work with – I got the hang of things, and was able to edit a hour long video to a 7 minute video. It took me forever though! thanks to all the constant hang.

Next, I found a good workflow with the Studio app – I was able to splice the sections I wanted, put it together with free music …etc.But then there is no option to do the data overlays from within the Studio app. At this point, I had finished editing the video I wanted.

Gopro’s second Quik app gives you these controls, but I could not get the clips I edited on the Studio app to work with Quik for data overlay. Horrible! And when I asked Quick to overlay data on one of my raw videos to see if I can then edit that, it took forever for the conversion. I gave up at this point and decided, the overlays were not worth hours more of my time.

I need to double check on how much time and storage this takes up, but it seems like a badly thought out software.

The other thing that’s horribly thought out is, I’d like to see a GPS map of my entire ride, and highlight the portion I have completed. When the videos get broken out into howmanyever 4GB videos (every 17 minutes in my case), it just shows that segment in the map – which is pretty useless and lacks context.

I am going to close out this post with however cool Gopro thinks it is as a company, it needs to execute the details well, and get a level of polish to the products where it is intuitive to use. I am not at all surprised to find their share prices are taking such a huge hit. They have been resting on their laurels, and deserve to be kicked on the rearside to get their act straight.

/rant

errr, but maybe there is no point to ranting about ideas unless they are fully formed and fully thought through. But then again, that wouldn’t be a rant now, would it ?

/endOriginalRant

Ongoing rants:

What does it take to break a mans’ back – bad posture, that’s all really. 🙂

I thought of a couple other parallels to ideas, but they sound crass in my head because they don’t translate well, (well, not a linguistic translation) so I’m going to have to look for better ideas than that.

I thought of a neat little piece/rant which I thought encapsulated an idea real well, but then have no recollection of what it was. Dang it!

So, I was thinking – let’s say you and your apartment co-dweller have a disagreement on the thermostat temperature. You want it set at 76 and he wants it set at 74. You try explaining why 76 is the right temperature, but to no avail. So, you let things be, and agree to let him set the thermostat at 74. Half way through the night, you feel cold, but you agreed to setting the thermostat at 74, so you don’t do anything about it. Let’s assume your friend starts feeling cold at the night too. If he changed the temperature of the thermostat to 76, that would be conceding that he was wrong, but it would solve the problem. If he let the temperature stay at 74, both are cold and nothing was really achieved, except of course, there is no way for you to know that he is cold. But knowing all this, I still have to leave it to his judgement to decide what to do. Because after all, maybe he feels warm at 74 🙂 You do however hope that if he did indeed feel cold too, that he would do the right thing and set the temperature right.

Mirchi Run – Chennai – December 2014

Pre Race:

Having run two half marathons in 2014 (Peoria – Going the Distance and The SF – 2nd Half, and having missed one thanks to the common cold), I was looking to run in India when I would be there for a short vacation towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, some of the bigger name marathons in India did not coincide well with my trip plans, and I was searching for a decent event with at least a half marathon distance. I finally found “Mirchi Run” which was organized by Radio Mirchi, and the date fit me perfectly.

In terms of training, this has been the race I was best prepared for – considering I had enough long runs under my belt, and also had a pretty consistent training regiment – even if it involved a lot of runs on treadmill because of the weather outside. But then, you take a 24+ hour flight, go home and binge on good food for a week, and you pretty much negate all of the training 🙂 A couple of days before the race, I was cleaning some shelf of mine at home and when I got up, my knee gave me such a sharp intense pain that I was genuinely scared. Thankfully, wasn’t much of a deterrent.

Organization:

The event was pretty badly organized, but if you factor in the registration costs compared to some events in the US, some of these can perhaps be overlooked. I think it was either Rs 1000 or 1100.

  • Strike 1: was that the distance they measured and guided us through was not 13.1 miles. Yikes! I had half a mind to keep running till I heard my GPS tracker tell me I was done, but traffic was being opened up on the roads, and it didn’t look particularly inviting after that.
  • Strike 2: There was no official timing. 🙂 When I asked the organizers during packet pick-up where the chip for timing was, they were not even aware of such a thing. I got redirected to multiple people, the way a cricket balls fielding responsibility is redirected by multiple Indian fielders of the yesteryear, only for them to tell me that the timing would be done manually. What a bunch of hooey! I am not too bothered by this since I am not fast enough to have the official time do anything for me, and I track my own metrics anyway.
  • Strike 3: There was no good course map, nor any information of the aid stations …etc. All you have to do is open up a popular marathon website and pretty much ape them on these. There were aid stations though – which was at least better than some events like the SF marathon in 2014.

Packet pick up was the previous day – 27th December 2014, and the packet included a Bib, a pretty yucky looking t-shirt (which I haven’t worn, and wouldn’t be caught even sleeping in.)

Ok, the coolest thing about the packet has to be that the bib number I got was H-007 .That was sweeter than winning the event. 😀 Imagine how cool it is to get a bib number like that. If I got it in a major event I’d be over the moon.

The race was at 5:30am on the morning of 28th December. My dad was nice enough to drop me off at the race. There were some RJ’s on stage trying to do some kind of exercise, which was funny really. (Thankfully I did not know any of them.) Jothika was there to flag off the run – I’m sure that’s what avid runners care about! But other than such PR stunts, it was a pretty decent race overall – there wasn’t any elevation to speak of, and I have never before run on the Marina in Chennai. (Actually, I haven’t even been to Marina all that much.) The weather was as nice as can be expected for Chennai – a little humid, but perfectly cool otherwise.

I had a pretty decent race overall, except for the left knee niggle which after mile 10 made life extremely difficult. I think I was headed for a PR (personal record) in spite of that,(which is not much considering my previous finish times have been pretty pathetic 🙂 ), but thanks to the distance being miscalculated, I wasn’t able to.

Race Stats:

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Pretty pathetic miles 11 and 12.

Post Race:

This was ridiculous. There were dancers on stage and stuff, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. They did give a sandwich and maybe some juice – which I can’t find fault with really. Alas, to add to all the other goof-ups, there was no finisher medal. Sure, I don’t care for such baubles too much, but when it is promised, it should be delivered. They did come good much later by mailing the medal to my address – so yes, they did ‘deliver’ on their promise. 🙂 So, it was ok I guess. My dad took me to a nice restaurant where I had a lime soda, (the price of which was 40 Rs – which I couldn’t digest.) after which we headed home.

My aim is to run a half marathon in every continent eventually 🙂 Unfortunately thanks to the DNF, I’ll have to run again in India – there’s always a next year, and I’ll look forward to running in a bigger event.

Reading

The “About Me” page on Goodreads pretty decently encapsulates things about my reading and reading habits, but they have a word limit in there.

However, here’s an interesting aspect I’ve never talked about to too many people. I never touched a “serious” book. What do I mean by that and why the choice ?

Well, let’s see – I always lapped away at Fiction – you know, the fast paced, ex-CIA no longer with the Government kind of books, or in some cases even slower books, more drama, definitely stirs some of your emotions, (other than just getting your adrenaline pumping.) and has some kind of a message of what’s right and wrong in this world, and all that kind of stuff.

I consciously avoided self-help books because, I always felt it was a bunch of hooey. If people could read books and be successful, first you wouldn’t need so many books, and second, everyone would be successful. Any school kid with half a brain should, simply by observing the world around him know that, that is empirically not possible, and hence you should run while you can, when you see these books. I am not saying people cannot be marginally more successful, or for a small set of people, it will totally change their lives – it might. I’m no shrink – I don’t know what rocks those people’s boat.

But by saying serious, I didn’t mean self-help books. I meant the really good books – they books that made you think, about the problems of the world, about grand philosophy, about what’s really right and wrong – about challenging everything you’ve been taught and thinking beyond. I consciously didn’t read any of those books – I certainly had the opportunity to, had some good books suggested to me, had the interest, but I didn’t.

It might sound stupid when I say why. As a teenager, I knew that I didn’t want to know of these idea, I didn’t want to think about them – I didn’t want to challenge myself intellectually – to become serious, to mull about the world’s problems. I just liked myself the way I was, and didn’t want my ideals to by influenced and shaped by great works. I wanted to find out who I truly was, before I went about reading these books, and letting them shape/fine-tune my thoughts and actions. I always believed that these books changed you in some irreversible way. Once you read them, there’s no going back. You can’t go back to where you were, a week later and forget all of the ideas in there. Looking back, maybe it was a good idea, maybe it wasn’t. My life might have turned out very differently – can’t say for better or worse, but definitely different.

But, now having read book after book of fiction, I think, I finally crave these books, I want my ideas to be challenged, I want my perception of what is right in the world, and what is wrong to be challenged and broadened. Of course, it is a serious undertaking. And unless you do something useful with the way you have processed the information, maybe it’s of no use to anyone. But I think I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I’ll maybe even write down my thoughts on how it goes.