Saturday, November 29, 2008

Terror in Mumbai


Praveen Swami has a well-researched article from a terrorism-security framework:

India's strategic deafness & the massacre in Mumbai

Progressive publications have been silent on this issue thus far. Have they no perspective on this? They seem unable to provide even basic answers to pressing issues that trouble average folks, like security. Terrorism, though not a major killer in numbers, has a much greater effect psychologically because, like Bush says, of the 'hopelessness' offered by it. A rather indifferent article by Tariq Ali conflating ideological pet themes with real ground issues that connect tenuously:

India's leaders need to look closer to home


William Dalrymple has a sober informative article relating how normal and middle-class Kashmiris and other South Asian Muslims become emotively resentful of India's treatment of Kashmiri Muslims.

Mumbai atrocities highlight need for solution in Kashmir


And Pakistan, poor Pakistan. At the end of all this jingoistic barrage, helpless to protect its image, and helpless itself against the same forces at work, Pakistan is really paying a big price for its misadventures of the past. Pakistan has already faced more suicide bombings than any other nation including Iraq this year, and is caught between a barely restrained marauding force (US) and further alienating and radicalizing their own citizenry. Even as the Mumbai street battles were winding down, Pakistan faced yet another suicide bombing killing 6 security personnel.

Indian jingoism, barely separated from Hindu righteousness, is threatening to unnecessarily and unhelpfully escalate an already terrible situation. Political leaders are proving no more than opportunistic by feeding red meat to the raving dogs of war...

Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
...neighbouring nations would have to face a cost if they allowed their territory to be used to launch attacks on India...

Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Minister of India
...prima facie evidence indicates elements with links to Pakistan are involved...

Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat
This is for the first time Pakistan has allowed use of sea routes to further terrorism against India

Never mind the absence of evidence thus far. What a shame.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why am I running?

I am training to run the Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler race as part of Team Asha. My target race is on February 7, 2009, in the Huntsville State Park, Texas.
This is my first 50 miler ever! Infact, it is way longer than anything I have attempted so far. Training has been fun but hard, and has involved a lot of commitment in time and effort for my first 50 miler. I am doing all this, as I keep reminding myself on runs that keep getting longer and harder, for a cause I absolutely love and support. I am running as part of Team Asha this year to raise funds for the wonderful and deserving schools run by Gramin Shiksha Kendra in rural Rajasthan.
The schools provide a high quality of education thats relevant to the local community in order to bring about meaningful socioeconomic change. It is a very thoughtful effort by a few committed and talented educators to make a real and qualitative difference in the lives of the impoverished rural community. They promote learning based on fun and child-centric activities. Teachers employ innovative teaching techniques and educational materials tailored specifically for every child to learn effectively and thoroughly. Local knowledge and cultural expertise is incorporated into the syllabus so that the children have a broad curriculum that they can relate to easily. More importantly, it also grounds the education of the children to the success of the local community. I passionately believe that the success of this initiative can provide a good model of education that can be replicated across various rural and urban communities all over India!
For this initiative to succeed, it needs your support! Learn more about this exciting project here.
I have pledged to raise $100 for every mile I run in my race. All the proceeds from my runner page go towards supporting Gramin Shiksha Kendra. Please contact me to sponsor my race and help me reach my fundraising target as I strive to reach my 50 mile distance.

My runner fund-raising page where you can DONATE is here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Warda Cardiac Run 25K

The Cardiac Run race happens every year at Damon Nolan's Bluff Creek Ranch in Warda, TX. The ranch has pine forests, open grasslands and even an oil rig! The 25K race consists of 2 loops of 12.5K each, with about 325' of elevation change in each loop. The course is mostly runnable except for a few small but steep hills in each loop. There is one aid station in each loop apart from the Start/Finish area.

The 25K this year started at 10am, in bright but very windy conditions. For the first 3 miles, as my muscles were warming up, I felt some pain on the outside of my right knee. The pain however went away soon and I hit a comfortable stride after the first aid station.

Joe P. who was on his second loop of his 50K run caught up with me here and we ran together for about 3 miles running at a fast but comfortable pace. At around mile 6 though, as Joe and I were running astride, Joe's brand new shoes caught some mesh and sent him tumbling over my way. Joe was fine though and just got up and ran hard again!

As we pulled into the S/F area at the end of the first loop, the clock showed 1:17. After a minute replenishing gels and water, I started out on the second loop feeling more comfortable. And knowing that this was my last loop helped to push a pace that was definitely among my best for long runs. I finished the second loop and the race at 2:28, doing a negative split by 4 mins from the first loop. Quite easily, a personal record for me.

After the race, I walked into the ranch house, and had some wonderful food prepared by Damon. Joyce, Jeff and Robert also joined us here and Damon regaled us with stories about the ranch and activities in the ranch. After a while, I walked out to the finish area, and saw Joe finish in 4:59! A fantastic time, and then soon, Savi also rolled in for a personal record for her. Ganesh had started earlier and finished and left for San Antonio for a marathon the next day!

A wonderful race set up informally with very friendly volunteers and the good running conditions made it a memorable and enjoyable experience. The trails and the informal atmosphere reminded me a lot of my first trail race, the Rocky Hill Ranch 25K. I appreciate all the hard work that Damon and his folks put in to make this a great race for all the runners!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Running in the rain

Running on technical trails immediately after it has rained or even while it is raining can be challenging and fun. Yesterday, a few of us from the training group (Kelly, Jason, Charlene, Bob and myself) did a nice 5.6 mile loop starting at the Hill of Life and through Cedar Chop and Powerline. We slipped a few times on the slick and shifty rocks, stomped through puddles of water and kicked wet mud out of our shoes at each step. It was fairly warm and very humid, and the added challenges of night running on wet trails, made it quite a hard workout. Fun nevertheless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rocky Raccoon 50K

This is a good race put up by race director Paul Stone. The course is on flat but beautiful trails in the Huntsville State Park. The 50K consists of 2 25K loops, with many aid stations along the way. I had some issues with abdominal cramping and nausea starting around mile 10 and lasting nearly until the end. Nutrition, like in Palo Duro, turned out to be an issue again. The current theory for my nutrition woes has it that I had more salt (Succeed caps) than I needed. Despite all that though, I finished in 6:35, another personal best time for a 50K. The race was fun, and it was good to meet all the HCTR folks at the aid station and elsewhere - Naresh, Joe, Robert, Joyce, Diana, Henry, Dawn, Marcia and others.

Running to death

It appears now that we actively seek death whatever we do. Death just doesn't happen, we race towards it in so many ways. Its like the different 'yogas' (of B'Gita) you can do to reach salvation:

I am impressed. All I can say has come of age: 'they have now discovered that death happens'. Quite profound.