October 30, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon - I finally watched it!!!

Early this year (on Feb 21st) I'd expressed my desire to watch this movie Spirit of the Marathon. I had to wait for 8 long months to get this opportunity. And, a BIG Thanks to my running pal Shahid for having shared the DVD that he recently got his hands on.

Yes, I finally got to watch this movie. I would paraphrase the movie as an Inspiration Bomb to a wannabe marathoner (or, any sportsman). 'Spirit of the Marathon' is truly first of its kind in more than one way -
  • This movie has no actors - there are only runners....including the director Jon Dunham!
  • This movie is not targeted at a commercial audience
  • It's a non-fictional movie -Yes! All characters are real, and they did run the Chicago (and, you get to see it too!) marathon
  • This is not a movie with superheroes! This movie shows mere mortals - first-time marathoners, serial marathoners, Boston aspirants and the world record holders - All of them in one movie!
  • What you see is the reality - Nothing is an act
I foung the Spirit in the movie title to be the key. The movie brilliantly exemplifies the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose - Run a marathon (specifically the Chicago one). This brings out the "Spirit" (as in Esprit de corps) of the marathon.

The movie shows the first-timers on one side and the champions like Amby Burfoot, Deena Kastor, Daniel Njenga on the other side. Jon has beautifully brought out the message that different people run for different reasons. While Leah takes up the sport of running to get over from a broken marriage, Deena (a 2004 Olympic Bronz medalist) runs to win the race. Different people have different reasons to run a marathon - But the result is the same - It increases your self esteem and sets in the sense of accomplishment....of doing something that not most of the world's population does not dare to do - Running a Marathon!

To me, the Spirit in the movie title is like the "Spirit" (sometimes used interchangeably with the word soul). The movie infused a powershot of super-high inspiration and energy into my body and mind, that I felt like I was possessed!

Not sure if this sort of a feeling is because of my love for running or the injury-driven force that has kept me away from the road for a long time now. With my knee pain really nagging me even during a couple of runs last week, I have been a bit depressed.

But I really don't know what took me by force yesterday when I got this DVD home. I set out for an evening 6K run and returned with absolute zero discomfort! This was not a one-time occurrence. I did a pain-free 6K today too! So, yesterday it was the power of possessing a copy of Spirit of the Marathon DVD, and today it was the power of having watched the movie?!!?!

The movie is a very comprehensive one. The Telly Award winner and marathon runner Jon Dunham has covered every single aspect of running a marathon in this movie. From training, to injuries, to family management, to diet, the director has very nicely brought out the nuances from every perspective. He has also covered the pre-race-day preparation! (what to pack before you leave to the starting point).

Overall, this movie is a MUST WATCH! I would strongly recommend any wannabe marathoner (or, any sportsman) to watch this movie. Even non-runners who have always wanted to do something big and achieve something big should watch this movie! The picture on the DVD wrapper (picture on the left) has the finish line depicted with the following lines -
When you cross the finish line, it will change your life forever

Stay Inspired!

October 28, 2008

Is your mentee expecting too much?

Sometime back, I'd written very briefly about mentoring, where I did talk about a couple of good things my mentors taught me. But wearing a mentor's shoe, I've faced this other challenge of managing expectations from a mentee. Some people think that having a mentor is all they need to do to become successful. But, one should always remember the adage -
You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink

A mentor is one who will guide a mentee with the right set of information. But it's up to the mentee to ask what they want. There are times when a mentee asks the mentor to almost do everything (making the horse drink). I did a little bit of searching in the internet and landed up at this simple website called HelpYourselfTherapy.com. They've very beautifully written about "expecting too much". I urge you to read on...


We pick on ourselves when we don't meet our own expectations. We feel sad and angry when others don't meet the expectations we put on them. And even when our expectations are met we don't feel very good about it. We just say: "I expected it anyway."

If we would just stop expecting things we could save ourselves a lot of unhappiness!


It is only reasonable to expect that people will do what they say they will do. This is all we can reasonably expect - that people will keep their word.

Sometimes even expecting people to keep their word is unreasonable. People who break their word regularly aren't trustable. We'd be wise to have no expectations at all about them.


The only reasonable expectations are those that come from agreements or contracts. And since contracts are always between at least two people, making a contract with ourselves is impossible! When we refer to "agreeing with ourselves" about something, we are actually agreeing with the air!

When people make an agreement with themselves they are talking about something that they are trying to change and that they are only hoping will work.

We can say "I'm going to lose ten pounds this year." We say this because we feel a need to set a goal to overcome our consistent pattern of eating and exercising.

It would be more honest to say: "I'm expecting to eat and exercise the way I always do,
so I'm going to TRY to pay attention to these things during the next year and I only HOPE that I will lose 10 pounds."

It's only reasonable to expect consistency from yourself. Everything else is just something you are HOPING for and TRYING to accomplish.



The person who wanted to lose 10 pounds would be wise to:
1) Admit that they really want to continue to eat and exercise the way they always did.
2) Know that they are totally acceptable this way.
3) Experiment to find new ways of eating and exercising that they actually like to do.
4) Keep doing the new things they like to do until they no longer even have to think about it.


FIRST - Know what you really want.
SECOND - Accept yourself as you are. (Picking on yourself only reinforces worse behavior!)
THIRD - Try new behaviors to see if you might actually want to do them.
LAST - Repeat the new behaviors until they are habits. (This takes six months to a year.)


Directly ask people for what you want. If they don't give a clear answer, ask again.
When they say a clear "yes" or a clear "no," accept it.


Then you can't expect anyone else to know what you want either. Nobody can guess what you want.

We learn what we want by reading our feelings well. If you need help noticing your feelings and finding out what you want, that's a therapist's job!!


1) Decide what the other person would have to actually do for you to be satisfied.
2) Ask for these specific behaviors from them. (This usually includes teaching and giving concrete examples.)
3) Examine your standards: (Can you change your standards to make them better for you?)
4) Accept that things are what they are (after you've done a good job of #1 and #2).
5) Be responsible! (For either staying in this situation or for finding a better one.)


Which of these common expectations do you have?
___ "I expect fair treatment at work."
___ "I expect equal work around the house."
___ "I expect help from family and friends."
___ "I expect to enjoy being with my friends."
___ "I expect to be loved."
___ "I expect good sex."
___ "I expect enough cuddling and hugs."
___ "I expect people to be honest ."
___ "I expect people to like me."
___ "I expect people to want to be with me."
___ "I expect people to leave me alone."
___ "I expect children to obey."
___ "I expect my therapist to help me."
___ "I expect children to listen."
___ "I expect children to learn."
___ "I expect my cat to use the litter box!"

Now think about each item you checked and decide how to use # 1 through #5 in the last paragraph to work toward actually getting what you want.

So, just remember one thing - Speak Out! Don't expect an answer without asking the right questions. And....always remember that everything comes with atleast a little hardwork - Don't expect your mentor (or, anyone!) to do everything for you!

Good Luck!! As always, Stay Inspired!!

Traffic Problems in India? Here is a Solution!!!

With the whole world looking to invest in India, and with a slew of automotive biggies launching newer automobiles and two-wheelers for the Indian sub-continent, the 'road infrastructure' problem is getting more highlighted than ever. While the governments work (in tandem with private companies) to address the need for 'better and innovative' road infrastructure, here is a bunch of people from Mapunity who've developed this really useful solution - to 'monitor' the city traffic situation LIVE!

The Bangalore City traffic can be viewed at www.btis.in. This provides near-real-time (with a sub-2 minute lag). Go here to watch the live traffic status across Bangalore City.
Go here to watch the view across cameras at different junctions in Bangalore City.

Now wait! This is not just for Bangalore!! It's being done for Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Delhi as well!! I talked about Bangalore because of two reasons 1) The solution is in a mature stage for Bangalore 2) Bangalore has the worst traffic (and roads) amongst these cities...and Bangaloreans will thank Mapunity folks a zillion times for having given this solution.

Chennai Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Hyderabad Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Pune Traffic solution will be hosted here.
Delhi Traffic solution will be hosted here.

October 27, 2008

Happy Deepavali!!!

Dear Readers,

Wish you all a very Happy and Safe Deepavali!

For my readers who are wondering what Deepavali is all about, here is a quickie - It's an Indian festival of lights, and is one of the major festivals in India. For more information, I urge you to go to the Wikipedia definition of Deepavali.

Though this is a religious festival and different regions in India have a different meaning to Deepavali, this festival has more of a spiritual meaning to it. Read on...

While Deepavali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", a more appropriate significance is "the new year of luck and wealth".

Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (Inner Joy or Peace).

Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Deepavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).

Content Source: Wikipedia.org

October 22, 2008

IBM Software Universe 2008 - A Must Attend Event!

IBM Software Universe is happening on November 11 and 12, at The Renaissance Convention Center, Powai, Mumbai.
IBM Software Universe is the largest business and IT conclave in the country, which we host for our clients every year. Through this platform, we bring our entire ecosystem together to reinforce IBM's true leadership in driving innovation through middleware technologies, that has steered Indian IT landscape.

This event is a 'must attend', and I urge you to sign-up for this event and experience innovation first hand. I'm going to be around and also doing sessions on 11th. Do feel free to get in touch with me for more information.

Some of the event highlights are -

Get yourself registered today!

For RSVP, call Priya on +91 98705 67425

Moon Impact Probe - Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam's brainchild

Chandrayaan-1 was successfully launched this morning from ISRO SHAR (Shriharikota Range). This MOON mission is been closely observed by a zillion people across the world for various reasons. Some of the key aspects of the Chandrayaan-1 mission are -
  • India's first giant leap beyond the Earth orbit
  • 5 'Made In India' payloads (scientific instruments)
  • 3 payloads from the European Space Agency (one of which was jointly developed with India and the other with Indian contribution)
  • 3 payloads from the United States (NASA)
  • 1 payload from Bulgaria
But, to many Indians and young students across the country, this mission will be more closer to heart - It's because, this mission also carries our former President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam's brainchild in it. Yes, I'm referring to the Moon Impact Probe (MIP). So, what is this MIP all about? Read on...

The primary objective of MIP is to demonstrate the technologies required for landing a probe at the desired location on the moon. Through this probe, it is also intended to qualify some of the technologies related to future soft landing missions. This apart, scientific exploration of the moon at close distance is also intended using MIP. The Moon Impact Probe will be ejected from Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft at the earliest opportunity as the spacecraft gets closer to the Moon to hit the lunar surface in a chosen area.

The MIP weighs about 29kgs and consists of the following -
  1. a C-band Radar Altimeter for continuous measurement of altitude of the Probe above lunar surface and to qualify technologies for future landing missions
  2. a Video Imaging System for acquiring images of the surface of moon from the descending probe
  3. a Mass Spectrometer for measuring the constituents of extremely thin lunar atmosphere during its 20 minute descent to the lunar surface
The MIP was totally developed in-house at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of Thiruvananthapuram.

I highly encourage you to visit the ISRO website and take a look at this well stitched brochure about Chandrayaan-1 India's first Moon Mission

Courtesy: Pictures and knowledge from ISRO.org

October 21, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 - India's Moon Mission is Ready!

For long, its been our dream to reach the Moon - Earth's only natural satellite. Tomorrow morning at 5:50Hrs, India's dream is going to come true. Man's curiosity to know the Moon has for been growing ever since the days of the Ramayana and Mahabharatha and before.

ISRO is launching the first Indian Moon Mission - Chandrayaan 1 - tomorrow. ISRO is also doing a live webcast of the lauch tomorrow morning between 5:50Hrs and 6:50Hrs. You can view the webcast here.

I'm really curious to see this and know more about how well it goes off. I just hope the weather cooperates too! Below are some pictures of Chandrayaan-1 and PSLV-C11 from ISRO's website.

Kudos to my ISRO friends!! You guys Rock!! I'm proud of you!

Motionbased to become Garmin Connect soon!

It was in July 2007, when I decided to get 'marry' running to my life. Having said that, I decided to track my daily runs, and found Motionbased to be offering a nice platform. I had signed up for the Motionbased Standard account by paying $95/year. I had to face a lot of questions from my parents on my decision to pay an amount as steep as $95 per year to track my runs.

I think Motionbased heard me! I received an email two days ago from Motionbased with a 'good news'. Here is what the email read -
Hello MotionBased Subscribers,

While we have posted the update on the release of Garmin Connect and MotionBased subscriptions to our MBlog, Forum and the MotionBased web site, we wanted to send you the information directly to you so you would know what is happening with your account as we come closer to the migration.

As you may know, we've been working on building Garmin Connect to replace MotionBased. We're making strides in improving performance and fixing bugs that we hope will enhance your experience. You've been a great customer and we wanted to thank you for making MotionBased the community that it is.

Unfortunately, our anticipated date to complete the migration of MotionBased to Garmin Connect is delayed. We're making sure that Garmin Connect is faster, more stable, and provides an even better user experience than MotionBased. As we ramp up toward migrating over 4.5 million activities that you've contributed to the TrailNetwork, we are making fixes and new improvements to Garmin Connect every 4 weeks. In the meantime, out of respect for your patronage and recognition for your patience, we've decided to grant additional privileges to paid MotionBased subscribers.

According to our records, you purchased an annual MotionBased Standard subscription before September 30, 2008. You will continue to have access to MotionBased Standard and be granted free access into Garmin Connect Plus for 2 years starting from your original expiration date. As a result, you will no longer receive any subscription charges from MotionBased and your account at Garmin Connect Plus will not auto-renew at the end of the free access period.

Again, we apologize for the delays and thank you for your support.

The MotionBased Team

The first thing I did was to calculate "Ah! So, effectively, I've paid $95 for three years...which is $32 a year". Thats not bad at all...especially for the fact that I get to use all the features of Motionbased Standard for three years, an also get to enjoy Garmin Connect Plus for 2 years (this actually costs $40 per year). So, net-net, I've paid $95 and I get to enjoy services worth $175!!! Thats a deal!!

I'm still wondering what are those 'advanced features' that Garmin Connect Plus is going to offer. How different is this going to be from those offered by Motionbased Standard? I guess the waiting period has now been extended to December 2008! That's moved by three months, as opposed to their first planned release on September 2008.

October 18, 2008

Chennai Runners on Chennai Live 104.8FM!!

It was indeed a special moment for Chennai Runners yesterday. Though we've been on many printed media publications (from newspapers to magazines), it was the first time we were ON AIR! Yes, in light of the ECR8 that we are organizing tomorrow, Chennai Live 104.8 FM, a part of the Muthoot Group invited us to their studio in Egmore, Chennai, for a talk show.

This group launched Chennai Live in July this year. The most unique aspect of this FM station is the fact that they are more focused towards rendering 'theme-based' programs to the Chennaiites. They have this morning breakfast show where they do a 'theme-based' talk show with noted personalities on the phone line and the RJ (Radio Jockey) facilitates a discussion around a subject.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
Shahid, Hari and myself went to their studio at about 3PM yesterday. We were welcomed by an every-smiling Sonali, who hosted the show for us. I must admit one thing - hosting a radio show is not a joke! Yes, Sonali perfected the art of talking and more importantly 'steering the discussion' in the way she wanted it to proceed. We spent over an hour and a half at their studio, but it felt like a very short time.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
After a cup of coffee, Sonali lead the three of us into the studio where we were welcomed by the sound engineer (he does a real good job with those bunch of gadgets in the studio!). We were made to sit on one side of the table, while Sonali and the engineer took their seats in the studio 'cockpit' (ah...its the name I gave...looking at the bunch of mixers and other controls). After a brief about how the show would go on and an explanation of the 'technical terms' that's used to denote a break and a recording, Sonali started off the show.
Chennai Runners at Chennai Live 104.8FM
Pretty much in line with my expectations, the show was more like a talk show. We ended up having a lot of short conversations (which is termed as a 'link' in their parlance) which were recorded. We had longer conversations between these 'links' which was more of an informal chat. The show was centered around the ECR8 Run that we are organizing tomorrow on the ECR Road (starting from Mayajaal). We covered almost everything we wanted to - from the ECR8 to our history to our vision, we covered every single topic in this show (Yes, we did even talk about the 'runners and the dog chase' problems!!).

We really missed Ram, KK, Vidyuth and others on the show. It would've been a lot more fun to have you guys in the same room yesterday. Personally, I loved this experience of being on a talk show at Chennai Live 104.8's radio station. I've longed for this experience ever since I've heard the shows on AIR (All India Radio) 15+ years ago. Overall, it was a very good and a pleasant experience!

See you tomorrow at the ECR8!! As always, Stay Inspired!

October 17, 2008

Looking at the Brighter Side - Patience and Perseverence is the Key

Its been a very challenging period for me since August 21st this year. That was the fateful day (the details of the run, taken from my Garmin is on the right side) when I badly injured by left knee due to running with overconfidence. After a few physiotherapy sittings, I was asked to try out running a short 3 kilometer distance. But it was only then did I realize that the injury was pretty severe as I could hardly run after about 3 kilometers. This is when my confidence started to shatter.

I had never experienced a feeling like this before. With my Singapore Marathon training schedule completely shattered (I have a new schedule now!), my confidence level started to slowly reduce (though I comforted myself with optimistic thoughts). There was a point when I was limping around, without being able to climb stairs nor sit with my knees bent in an acute angle. Even then, there was this ray of hope that was always telling me that the colorful side is yet to come.

It has actually been two days now, and I've started to properly run. When I say 'properly', I'm referring to a run that has not resulted in any pain on my left knee. This morning's run (details from my Garmin is on the left side picture) was the best after a very very long time. I was able to do a 6 kilometer run at a pace of 10:47! I feel like a free bird! The joy and happiness with which I finished today's run is something that's really unexplainable.

Though I've motivated a lot of people and kept many inspired, this was the first personal experience in the recent past which has made me motivate myself and keep myself inspired. Should you find something challenging, don't give up! Stay put on and you will see the challenges slowly dissolving into happiness and joy. Always look at the brighter side!

October 15, 2008

ECR8 - You better Run!

Have you started to plan for the weekend? Wondering how to spend the weekend differently? Are you one of those who loves to meet people and indulge in some physical exercise? If the answer is a 'yes' to these questions, then ECR8 is for you!

We at Chennai Runners are organizing the 8th East Coast Road Run (nicknamed ECR8) on the 19th October on the East Coast Road. Here are the details of the event -
Date: October 19, 2008 (Sunday)
  • Start Time: 5:15 am
  • Start point: On Shore resort inside the Mayajaal compound
  • End point: On Shore resort inside the Mayajaal compound
  • Assembly time: 4:30 am
  • Events: 5K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K, 30K, 35K
The registration fee is Rs.250 which will include a buffet breakfast at Mayajaal, Gatorade while you run, Aquafina mineral water, bananas. You can do a pre-registration here. We have a complete medical support system and ambulances that will ply through the course, so you are going to feel totally safe!

Apollo DKV has come forward to be the 'Associate Sponsors' for this event, and Gatorade is our 'Hydration Partner'.

So, what's still stopping you? All you need to do is to set your alarm to reach Mayajaal on the Sunday morning and enjoy the experience! We believe in the fact that running is fun, and I'm sure you'll feel the same too!

Customer focussed Innovation

In a competitive world, companies have been focusing on the innovation or the 'I' factor in every stage of their value chain - product inception, development, marketing, sales and support. In the technology space, organizations and companies have been focusing a lot to infuse innovative thinking into the minds of their employees. But still, we do see a lot of these technology initiatives failing to see the bright daylight!

The key point that some fail to understand and many fail to stick to, is the fact that innovation should be driven by your customer's needs. The "need to innovate" is a stimuli that has to come from the market or your customers. For best results, the process of innovation has to start from the market and end in the market. The terms market and customers can be used interchangeably.

Here is what I use to explain this factor to everyone (including my customers) -
A 'Customer' to me, is like a Holy Cow. Just because I've invented a new shoe that uses the latest of technologies, does not mean that it would make the Holy Cow happy. I need to spend time and understand what this Holy Cow really needs. Technology is always secondary. It's the customer's need that actually drives my innovation

Stay focused and listen to your customers. That is where your future lies!

October 07, 2008

It feels good to be back in action!

After a really long break from running (50+ days) due to my left knee lateral collateral ligament strain, I finally got to hit the asphalt last evening!!! Trust me, I'm running short of words to express the happiness and joy that was gushing when I completed the run without any pain. It feels so good....and I'm happy to be doing this.

With the Singapore Marathon (my first international marathon) exactly 60 days 15 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds away, the level of ramp-up is much higher than what it was 50 days ago. The training plan that put together 50 days ago is now invalid! Based on how my body cooperates in the next 6 days, I'm going to come up with an All New training plan. I know that it's going to be pretty tough (and foolish!) to ramp-up to do a sub 3 hr 30 min completion. Given my bad experience with injury that resulted out of sheer over-confidence, I'm not going to be trying anything outlandish for this marathon.

I'm going to be training to complete the marathon (possibly in less than 5 hours and 30 minutes...is that too high or too low?) Well, my fastest 10Km has been 54 minutes and my fastest 5Km has been 26 (or, 24?..forgot!) minutes. I just landed in Bangalore this morning, and will look forward to sneaking a few runs in the next few days...till I get back to Chennai on 10th.

Nevertheless, the injury was just another brick wall, and I'm happy that it's presented me with yet another brick wall of a a 60 day training plan for my first marathon! Challenges are nice to have. The greater the Challenge, the sweeter is the taste of Success!

Stay Inspired!