Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Update

Personally following things stands out for me, not in any particular order

1. Training for and finishing a Marathon.
2. Hiking Half Dome and Clouds Rest with friends.
3. Hiking Nevada Falls with family on Father’s day.
4. Swimming over a mile.

My learnings with running continued this year. After completing two half marathons last year, logical progression was to go and do a full Marathon. The training for full though was much more intense, you end up running at least half marathon distance every weekend. This requires a lot more discipline. It helps to run in a group. Big thanks to Norm for running at 5 AM with me on two weekdays, and to Dave for organizing long runs. I look back and treasure all the training which helped me in finishing the Marathon in 4 hours and 22 minutes. I had running related injury in September, and could not run for 6 weeks after that. I realized that how much I missed running. This further confirms that I was training at my limits. I think I have to train more smartly and do some cross training to avoid injuries.

Sometimes, there is upside to an injury. I remember, when I injured my elbow in 2008 playing tennis, I started hiking and got hooked. This time also, this injury proved to be a blessing. I started swimming 2-3 times during this injury period, and was able to finally do over a mile of freestyle swimming. This time, I took my cue from Sachin who started swimming after a shoulder injury and now an accomplished tri-athlete. Just like running, I never went to any swimming class or swam in my school days. It gave me lot of satisfaction to be able to do that by trial and error. Prem learnt and graduated from the swim classes at Happy Fish, twice already, he took. It is a matter of time and interest before he start beating me. Looking forward to those days.

I continued hiking in 2011. Hiked Half Dome and twice I hiked Clouds Rest (Chetan, Nitin, Vimal, Prasad and Thomas) in Yosemite. It has been great fun hiking with friends and family. This year, on Father’s day weekend, whole family hiked till Nevada falls; and later I did Upper Yosemite Fall hike. After I completed my Marathon in March, I was struggling to get back to running; and every time, during summer whenever I hiked in Yosemite, I found that it made me stronger as runner.

Promila started Ph D in Computer Science this year at Santa Clara University. Like with anything she does, she started doing it with lot of energy and enthusiasm. I see when I try to learn a new thing, I generally break it into small goals, prepare myself to struggle/experimentation and dig the trenches for long haul. On other hand, for Promila most of new learnings come naturally, provided she has proper environment, exciting group of people to interact and has fun. Needless to say, that she is thoroughly enjoying her back to school time. And it was great to see that she got the prestigious National Science Foundation fellowship to support her tuition.

Promila’s parents visited US this year too, and spent some time together. My cousin, Vivek, came for couple of days, with family this summer. Prem was excited to play with his cousins. In November, I was able to visit India and spent three weeks with parents, brother, nephew, niece and friends. This was a memorable trip, as I was able to catch up with lot of my friends too. Played Cribbage with father and nephew Parth. Parth, 11, now able to play most of online puzzle games and has been doing well on Khan Academy. It was great to see that father was still in overall good physical and mental health. I met Kapil, Ravi, Prem Sagar and Sudhir. Big thanks to Pradeep for organizing our class re-union get together, and great to see that everybody was doing well. There were lot of opportunities in India these days, thanks to growing purchasing power of middle class. I used mobile broadband, able to purchase books (Harry Potter and Chetan Bhagat books, translated in Hindi for parents and few others) from and used very reliable Radio Taxis. The branded products, like Nike, Reebok etc, I found much more expensive in Delhi. There was a lot of demand for them. There is still no or yet there and customer is still not the king.

There was a lot more awareness about health and fitness now. I went to local park for running with my brother (no, you cannot run on the road in Delhi); and for a 5K loop, 3 out of 4 people could beat me. And I was pleasantly shocked that even my brother, Tarun, was faster than me. I had to console myself, reminding that I was just coming out of injury. Of course, there were lot more people walking in the park than running; but whoever were running, were really doing well. I learnt quite a few things from my brother and his group of friends (Aakash and Aditya) who were into fitness. I would incorporate some of the things in my routine to become stronger runner.

This time, I was able to meet and talk to most of my cousins too. Mind you, on my mother side alone, they are 10 brothers and sisters. Since my mother is the eldest one, there is almost a generation gap between me and some of my cousins. It was very refreshing to see that some of my cousins did not choose conventional path (get into Engineering or medicine profession). It was great to meet and talk to Guchhu, who is following her dream, after working as Engineer for couple of years, now enrolled into Social Entrepreneurship at Tata Institute; and doing her first project for Mumbai slums. Some of other cousins are also trying different things, and find ways. It was great to see this change in mindset.

Year ended up with a one week vacation in Dolphin Cove Resort near Disneyland with family friends Maria-Anand-Alexa. We did not end up going to Disneyland as Prem showed no interest in going there. He was more interested in playing with Alexa. He wanted to have Monopoly game for Christmas. And he took this game with him on vacation. Great thing was that Alexa loved the game equally, and both played for hours together, giving us more time to catch up on reading or simply unwinding. Thanks for Maria, we enjoyed California Science Center – Los Angeles (Actual Gemini 11 Space Capsule and Mercury Redstone 2 capsule which carried the space chimp Ham for first time into space) and enjoyed Flying Monsters in Imax.

We visited Fleet Science Center in Balboa park, which was arguably the best in terms of explaining all the interactive display they had. Also we visited Griffith Space Observatory in LA, and were able to see Jupiter and 4 of its 63 moons from one of the biggest telescopes in the world. Griffith believed simply looking at the Universe would literally and figuratively broaden the horizon of the public. This is the quote from Col. Griffith of built this Observatory and donated to the city of Los Angeles – "Man's sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!". Prem learnt how to build a comet and that comet have all the elements which any life form possesses, CHNOPS.

For couple of days, we hung out on Huntington Beach, swam and hot tub at resort. For one day we took the trip to Joshua Tree National Park. This was Promila long time wish to see this park and it did not disappoint us. Joshua Tree National Park comprised of Mohave deserts which is at higher altitude, 3000 to 5000 feet above sea level. Joshua tree, though from Lily family, looked like a cross between Cactus and Palm tree. The name was given by Mormon pioneers in that area as the tree looked like a walking human form pointing towards promised land. Since at higher altitude there is more moisture, these trees can survive. Other features of the park, which we were able to explore, were Skull Rock, Oasis of Mara and Barkar Dam.

In the end, I feel truly blessed, that I was able to run and hike with friends and family despite injuries and improved on swimming this year. Like I mentioned earlier, it is not just finishing the Marathon or bagging another peak that is important; but joy lies in the attempt, in the struggle, in the suffering involved, not in the goal itself.

We wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2012, filled with laughter and joy.

with love (Prem)

Promila - Maneesh