This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recent shootings

A week back, 5 guys tried entering a night club near the university but were denied entry by the night club personnel. They left but came back 5 minutes later and one of them shot the night club personnel using his hand gun. Since I came to Seattle last september, I have read in the news atleast 3 such shootings that happened near a night club and mostly in the same block or area!!! On another ocassion a few months back, a stalker entered a university building and shot dead his ex girlfriend and then himself.
And then the virginia tech incident happened. Imagine having gun-culture in India or China, countries with a population of billion plus. There would be massacres at the slightest of provocations.
Gun laws maybe a political issue in the US, but the frequency of shootings either in schools or at night clubs should be an urgent indicator to both the politicians and the general public that holding of guns legally should be banned. A new gun rolls of the american assembly line every 10 seconds according to one video on the web. According to Wikipedia, 59 million adults in US personally hold a gun. And, roughly half of the US adult population live in households with guns. Why do so many people own guns in US? Maybe its got to do with the history of gunculture in US either for hunting game or for self-defense.
Whatever it maybe, the current reality calls for a different course of action...stricter gun laws or better, banning guns in civilian hands. It's obvious that the use of guns to defend oneself comes at a heavy price... its easy access to kids and criminals alike.

Monday, June 25, 2007


"I am that. You are that. All this is that". So, what exactly is this 'that'?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A case for healthy living

My uncle (mom's elder brother) is a really amazing man. 65 years old, he is fit as ever. What's amazing about him is not just that he walks 2 hrs a day and wakes up at 3 am to do that. What's more amazing is that he is a man of strong will power and has influenced our family's and relatives' lives immensely.
Mama had a heart attack right around the time I was born, 23 years back. He was a chain smoker before that. A simple change in life-style and a strong will brought him back to life and healthy living. The number of days he has missed walking in the past 23 years have been few, which shows his dedication to walking regularly and towards a healthy lifestyle.

I believe there's a lesson to be learnt here. It's not enough to live long. You must also enjoy living in old age.
The argument given by smokers is that we are anyway going to die someday, how does it matter if we die a few years earlier.
The point is not just to live a few years longer, but to live all of these years with a healthy body and mind. A habitual smoker 20 years down the line would have done a lot of damage to his lungs. Agreed, he might have cut down his life time by just 5-10 years, but his/her last few years or decades might just get really miserable due to health problems. Making a life-style change then might have little improvement on the sense of well-being and health.

So at this point, the focus is on living longer and healthier. Let's just look at a few factors that affect positively or negatively the life-span of a human being:

1) Exercise: Some kind of physical activity is a must in today's world because it's easy to get caught up with work and lead a sedentary lifestyle. The human body is an amazing creation. Tweak it the right way and it will become stronger and more robust.
Today, there are infinite choices on the kind of physical activity to pursue:
Gyms; individualistic sports such as running, walking, biking, etc; group sports such as volleyball, soccer, etc; spiritual-physical disciplines such as yoga, tai-chi and other martial arts, etc.

2) Sleep: It's a simple observation that you are less active and alive when you have less sleep. There are general guidelines on how many hours to sleep and the right time for sleep, but I think one should sleep as much as the body requires, which could vary depending on the type of activity being done during the day. And my personal observation has been that the earlier in the night I sleep, the more refreshed I am during the day. Plus, nothing beats waking up in the early morning and taking in a whiff of fresh air.

3) Drugs: Substances that change the chemical make up of the brain temporarily or on a long-term basis are definitely not conducive to a healthy life-style.

4) Alcohol: There's a debate from what I have heard and read on the right amount of alcohol for consumption with some studies showing alcohol in moderation can be healthier, etc. I have nothing further to say here other than that one needs to be watchful and observant of the effects.

5) Stress: Its been said that stress is one among the many pressing health issues that we face today. I term stress as a lack of mental well-being. Stress, though being a mental affliction, can strongly affect the body. Hence it's all the more important to have a healthy level of stress. A steady, stable and equanimous mind, that is not affected much by life's ups and downs is one way towards reducing stress and improving mental well-being.
It's important to know today, how to relax when needed and that too in a healthy way (people give stress-release as a reason for smoking). Meditation and better breathing techniques that form a part of Pranayama would greatly help stress release. I personally used to do the shavasana (corpse-posture) when I used to get really stressed out during my first year in my under-grad.
The basic idea in shavasana is to relax every tiny muscle in the body through auto-suggestion and controlled breathing. It worked well for me.
Also, taking deep breaths from time to time is an effective way to relax and recharge the system.

6) Food: Last but not the least, the kind of food you consume can affect your mood and your sense of well-being, not to mention your productivity at work.
In America, people associate eating healthy food with being 'hippie'. That I think is ridiculous. Healthy food doesn't have to be bland or tasteless. If you find it bland, then you haven't yet learnt the art of cooking tasty food (Hint: Try inclduing spices into the food).

Now, the question arises, if one has the six factors above and other relevant factors (social life - family and friends, etc) under control, how long can one live - i.e. the ideal scenario. Is there a limit at all (of course, pollution imposes a limit)? The longest I have heard a person live is 160 years. Observing the life-style habits of these people should give an indication of what factors have influenced their longer life-span. Infact the following video does just that:

Another video can be found here
Surely, its worth following and living a healthy life-style to be able to live another 100 years!!!
Here's wishing all the readers of this blog a healthy life made through better life-style choices.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Racism or what??

I have just purchased a few groceries from safeway and I am heading back home on my bike, riding close to the sidewalk, when a car slows down by my side, a guy juts out of the window and lunges against my body. A quick second and the car is gone, leaving me fuming and helpless as I struggle to gain balance. Do I call this an act of racism? Do I call it a prank by college kids? Or is it a combination of both?
This is not the first time an incident of this kind has happened to me. This car slowing down business, cracking some cheap jokes and speeding away has had me frustrated a couple of times in the past. But this time it was physical. Is it something these guys have against someone riding a bike? Or is it something they have against non-whites riding a bike, i.e. a racially motivated prank? I am not sure.
But what I am sure is that if this happens again, I am definitely going to take some action.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Federer vs Nadal

Who's it gonna be at the French open final? I am a royal fan of Federer for his amazing shots (remember the one where he got the racket behind and between his legs) and movement across the court and ofcourse for his big serves. A nice compilation of some of the best shots of Federer ever, I found on youtube:

Nadal is more of a powerhorse and a clay god. And Nadal has defeated federer on several occasions in the past. But Federer is a class apart and I am sure he will get Nadal soon, if not tomorrow.

On another note, I was wondering if there is no one to rival Henin Hardenne. She's just a one woman force at the grand slams.

Friday, June 08, 2007

More climbing

Today's session was good. Looks like I am becoming a regular here. Don't know how long that will last. I was able to do stuff which I couldn't the last time. People were a little amazed and puzzled that I wasn't using shoes. I just want to see how far I can go on bouldering(rock climbing without ropes or support on boulders or small monoliths as against free-soloing - which refers to rock climbing without ropes on any structure - big or small) without shoes. But it definitely is fun because bouldering as such is a challenging sport and not having 'climbing shoes' (which are especially useful because they are sticky, prevent scratches from sharp edges and give a better grip for small sharp cracks and footholds) is a disadvantage but also a challenge.

Confidence - This plays a big role in climbing atleast. I found that I am able to climb better in front of a group of people than when I am doing it alone. This maybe because when people watch what I am doing, it gets me focussed as I don't want to goof up!
I think the ideal climber is one who can climb the monoliths easily and fluidly as if they were just walking up the monolith. Infact I am starting to see some similarities between our primal ancestors and the pros at the place :).
To illustrate my point in the previous statement, I have included a wonderfully badass video of Dan Osman free soloing Lover's leap, California. (Ignore the music if it sounds like trash metal).

In the end it all comes together: Hatha yoga or yoga (including pranayama), swimming, taichi, kungfu, gymnastics, rockclimbing, running and biking. Though the goals seem to be different (apparently), at the highest level, all the sports aim at one thing: High flexibility and high strength.
Rockclimbing from my experience, not only develops high flexibility and strength, but it also requires high flexibility and high strength if you want to 'decently manage' some climbing routes!!! To elaborate on this, let me give a hypothetical example.
Lets' say that there are 5 levels in climbing skills with the successive levels being better than the previous level. Then the flexibility and strength of level 2 will not be enough to tackle level 3. In that sense higher flexibility and strength is a requirement for level 3. So you are in effect forced to do some weight training or some thing like that in order to do better climbing unlike in running, where one does weight training(to look good) because running (long distance) reduces muscle mass for efficiency!!

I am not done with running yet, though I haven't run in a long time (months). Running real fast or speed training is an altogether different experience as compared to regular running. Even long slow runs come under a different genre of experiences in life. So the memories of these experiences should bring me back to running, though I am not sure when.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rock climbing near husky stadium

The place is right next to the Husky stadium.
I was actually looking out for a friend who said that he had come by 7 pm to IMA(Intra mural association) building to play racket ball. When he didn't turn up, I did the next best thing, which turned out to be THE best thing!

The place

That is plain vertical!

The plain vertical I was talking about

I went up without much of a hassle. But I was stuck at that place for a minute, as I made some unsuccessful attempts to get down before summoning the courage to do it. Like some one said at that place, its like going to the next level (not really).

Nice moves by an experienced guy.

Gymnastics and rock climbing!

An overall view of the place. Though the place looks small, you can spend a lot of time (months) mastering moves on a single monolith. The experienced climber in the photos above told me that he comes to this place many times a week and never gets tired or bored of doing it. I have tried out successfully (atleast partly) every piece here except the tallest one. It is too technical i.e. not having many footholds and many of them too tiny for my bare foot. If I need to make progress on that big one, I definitely need shoes, but I am yet to replace my worn out running shoes. So it will have to wait. :(

Friday, June 01, 2007

Three things

1) I got my cycle oiled and air filled up in tires and its as good as new (been neglecting it). No creaking sounds from the chain, smooth noiseless transition between gears and last but not the least an awesome riding experience.
2) Tried my hand at free soloing today - Third time so far. Free soloing is rock climbing without the use of ropes. And truth be told, it was fking awesome. Pics wil be posted in due time.
3) I just heard from someone I met at the rock-climbing place that there are some good places at eleven worth and near sammamish river for bouldering. That would probably be a destination that I shall touch upon soon. I mean think about it. Combining biking and bouldering!!! That should be awesomely fantabulous.

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'