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Bala RamananMy facebook profile pic is a huge me, eating a 'huger' piece of cake - and that pretty much sums up 'Bala'. So, this is exactly where this blog and everything I had to say about running should have ended. Of course not. right? My wife Priya is discussing her post-partum weight gain and I am doing the requisite nods at right intervels, and boom out of the blue...

"Bala, looks like you have not lost your pregnancy weight yet".

I go to the 'pretend & pray' mode (pretend - I did not hear; Pray - No one else did) till

" Oh, he's got time, his baby is not out of the tummy yet!"

That pierced the layers of blubber and hurt my ego. I immediately went to what I am best at - sitting on a couch and searching the web - and found " 100 ways to lose weight in 30 days".

After filtering out any idea that contains diet, gym or moderation, I was left with Psychotherapy, tummy tuck or running a marathon. Priya said no tummy tuck; I don't know what all I will tell the shrink; so, marathon it was...

By no stretch of imagination
For all ye uninitiated, running does not just mean running - you got to warm, stretch, run, stretch again, cool, and then run again after two days to recover from the previous run . There is also lactic acid, water, sugar & salt, ice and kneading involved. If you take out just the run part, it sounds more like a baked good recipe.

It all starts simple,

"Touch your toes"
"With your fingers, dummy!"
"ok... there you go!"
"No! stand up!..."
"knees STRAIGHT!"
"what the eff!..."
"AND don't arch your back!"
"alright, I give up!"

AND THIS is only the start, next came the quad stretch where you stand in one leg and the other leg is supposed to hurt and then the trainer went down on the floor; tied himself into a knot a navy seal would be proud of. And, looked at me tauntingly to match that. All I could think was, 'It will be really funny if I tickled you now'.

Dressed to kill
After two sessions, I find out I totally suck - and that is not my fault!All I needed was the right gear.

Of course one needs good shoes (the guy at the sports shoe shop made me run before he gave me the shoe - how sadistic!) running shirts and running shorts, a jacket and a track suit , a hat for the sun and gloves for the cold, sun screen and running goggles, reflective strips in case I ever run in the dark (why would I?), a fuel belt (this I like, if filled properly this is kind of your very own mobile vending machine), a smart phone to listen music to, when running, an arm band to carry the phone and vaseline (No! Not making up that one. that is to prevent chaffing).

That's the hardware part. In the software section, download a handful of apps to measure your speed, elevation, acceleration, azimuth coordinate, and gyroscopic momentum (yeah. made that up) and you are all set - just that you have added considerable overhead to the already unconsiderable weight.

Somewhere at this point thanks to the world cup, I saw Joachim Lowe wearing lucky blue V neck and decided I need a lucky unwashed shirt too. I will just say, the subtitle for this section came from that idea.

Calling a spade a spade
After a couple of months into this you are wiser and more technical.. in jargons. You give a nice name for everything do. If you are breathing, your resting heart rate is up/low/does not exist; just chilling becomes 'resting the leg', and drinking water becomes 'hydrating'. Hurting somewhere is a double whammy - you get to use words like 'IT Band tear' and have a valid excuse for a massage. It might get too complicated at times though. I think the only reason I have not complained of foot pain yet is, I can't pronounce 'plantar fasciitis'.

Fund raising
I should have mentioned marathon training make me do two things that I hate doing. Running, and asking people to do things for me. The deal is I get trained for marathon and raise funds that goes towards education in India. A very noble cause - just that a wrong person signed up to do it. My side of the story is, I tremble, my palms get sweaty and I start stuttering when I go to the bank to draw MY OWN money.

I have done/considered doing all of the below.

- Start walking with a limp and if people ask, go "Oh I got injured training for a marathon, would you like to donate btw?"
- Car wash
- Intersection, card board & marker (you get the idea)

and the net result is I have $21 and a half eaten cookie on my marathon fund. $20 was mine; I stole a dollar from Priya's wallet and my 16 month old dropped the cookie in the collection jar seeing my very forlorn look.

This again pierced the layers of blubber and hurt my ego. So, I decided to do the next best thing I am good at, sitting on a couch, opening my laptop and writing up my experience...

So, if you laughed, go donate. It is not as hard as running or asking for money.

Bala (0.22568 pounds lighter now)

PS1: Team Asha is a very committed group. I have worked with a lot of folks at Team Asha, Silicon Valley and the money you donate goes towards improving education in India. Asha is a zero overhead organization, run by folks like us volunteering (more like you, than me) and they are very passionate about the cause of education. The $2K I will raise will take care of the education and living expenses of about 8 children for an year. Yup... basic education does not cost much in India and yet there are millions of kids who could not afford it. More details here.

PS2: Jokes apart, my running is coming along well. I completed San Francisco Half Marathon and am training for the Oct 31st Silicon Valley full marathon. I have logged close to 250miles this season and finished a 17 miler over the weekend. I have seen a good change in my health and life style. Reach out to Team Ashafrom where ever you are. If they can make me run, you will be a much easier job.