Life is more than running. Life is more than the sum of its parts.
I started writing to create accountability on my training and to reach my goal, which was to finish a really hard race. When that was done, it felt lesser and lesser exciting to write about. I still run but no crazy, over the top events since Fire and Ice.
Everyone’s lives have been pushed upside down lately. Mine as well. But When you have a “this changes everything” experience you feel this needs to be shared. Stay tuned. Or not. I may not share it.
So I am refocusing my writing and publishing about more than running and veganism.
Watch this space for meaningless musings and useless pearls of wisdom.
Navy Air Force Half Marathon in September and Marine Corps Marathon 2018 in October rounded up my year. More details on those later.
There was a small but beautiful New Year’s Eve party at my place.
Before that I got myself this calendar.
Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that I need a new challenge for the new year. What better (read dumb) idea than running EVERY DAY! Thus born #RunEveryDay.
Run every day of the year and have at least 1000 miles at the end of the year and even try to get 1500 total miles for the year. It was going well. 260+ miles until March 25, not a single day went without a run. #Brilliant, right?
I ride my bike all over DC. My mountain racer, GT Avalanche 10. Her name is Heather. DC is supposedly a bike friendly city but there have been some biker deaths lately. Also depending on where you are in DC, you need to decide to ride the bike lane (or lack of one) or the sidewalks. 16th street NW is where “villagers” speed thru, coming into town to enjoy all the amazements this beautiful city has to offer, or speed thru to get back to their homes after trashing my lovely city. No way I ride the bike lane there. Anyhoo, I was crossing the street and on to the sidewalk and I found myself kissing the concrete. Got up, rode back home, went for a 5 mile run. Got back and I was taking off my compression socks, it was wet. From blood. Arm is hurting a lot. And limited mobility. I remember I landed hard on my right hand. Chain ring cut through my right calf. There were a bunch of cuts, 2 of them deep.
Next morning, I go on a 3 mile run. More blood on my socks. Also my doctor later said there might be a fracture on my elbow. #RunEveryDay – dead. 2 days later at the Orthopedics’s office, I got the wonderful news that there is, in fact, a fracture at the head of the radius on my right arm. My right arm is on a sling now.
A few days later, there was a 10 mile race – Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. On a Sunday. The Friday before the race, I had dinner with Amy. She was telling me her injury stories and how I need to be very careful with mine. And that I need complete rest.
Cherry Blossom 10 Milerwas a beautiful race. As it is, every year. I can’t find words to express how cool it is to run through full bloom for most of the race. And it is a flat course. But running with an arm in the sling was frustrating to say the least. But getting compliments from strangers for running while injured was pretty dope.
I am supposed to do speed workouts because I kinda wanna go for time at Marine Corps Marathon this year. But I have not done much to date. Also I never train well.
I have a new friend, who is super young, who is just getting into running. We planned to go for a run together. Our meeting point was about 2 miles from where I was. Also we could not run due to minor leg injury she had. But I ran to our meeting location, at about 8 minutes per mile! Then we walked for over 3 miles. Then I ran back, another 2ish miles at 8 minutes mile! There, I got my speed workout for the week.
I am also supposed to do hill workouts. Which I do occasionally, thanks to a plan Katie created for me. But so far, it is on a treadmill tho. I hate running on a treadmill. HATE it. But I guess it is better than no hill training!
It rained all day in Washington today. Desperate measures, I went to the shitty “gym” in my apartment and ran on a treadmill. About 2.5 miles, a mile out of which at about 7.5 minutes per mile and the rest about 9 minutes mile. Is that speed workout? I’m claiming it anyway.
Marathon training – one of the worst things you volunteer to do.
You know how July 4th happened. On Wednesday. And then New York City happened on that Saturday!
Catie and I will go to NYC. We will run our training distance for the day in Central Park. Then we will explore the city with emphasis on vegan food and drinks. It will be a day trip. Leave at 0600, be back in Washington at 2200. It will be another one for me and a first for Catie. Destination Training, is what we call it. It will be filed under #VeganFoodQuestNYC. There will be more #VeganFoodQuests in other cities.
I had one more goal, as I told Amy at dinner Friday night, to outdrink Catie. Something that I have never been able to do but tried and failed. She can usually hold her alcohol well and me, not so much. So it’s a big deal for me. Shh… Catie doesn’tknow (cheating, I know).
0600. Saturday. Oh wait, 0530. Union Station, Washington DC. We are in the line to board the train that departs at 0600 to NYC. Catie is excited, being her first Amtrak ride and her first visit to NYC. In fact, her first time north of Baltimore, ever! What we were supposed to do, according to the plan, was to keep our backpacks at Amtrak storage in New York Penn station and walk to 59th and 5th and run 5 miles, come back to Penn station, change to non-sweaty clothes and eat at as many vegan restaurants as possible and drink as much alcohol as possible before heading back in the evening.
Right after we got to Penn station, we had a setback on step 2 of our plan, the run. Due to events not in our control, we could not run. No biggie, right? We’ll run in Washington on Sunday. We decided to not cry over spilt soymilk and enjoy the day. After all in we are in New York City and it’s a beautiful day!
by Chloe: First of many vegan food destinations of the day. That breakfast was just amazing.
Quinoa potato hash brown
Tofu scramable with avo
Tofu scramble vegan sausage sandwich on a potato bun
Catie sat on a swing while eating!
Brooklyn Bridge: We walked all the way to Brooklyn Bridge. I have walked and ran across the bridge in the past. But it always is a fascinating experience. Except this time it was packed, I’ve never seen that many people on the bridge ever before!
Urban Vegan Kitchen: One Green Planet and HappyCow told us about this restaurant. I had a feeling I’ve been there before and sure enough, I have. You can add any alcohol to any juice to make your own cocktail there. Sweet, right! Their chickpea hushpuppies are da bom! Since we were not hungry enough, also with the plan to hit more vegan places, we just had the hushpuppies. Lunch #1.
Tito’s with watermelon juice / vegan bloody mary
Jack’s Wife Freda: While we are planning our trip, we came across an article in One Green Planet about the best breakfast and brunch places in the country. Since One Green Planet is a vegan focused publication, we assumed that Jack’s Wife Freda, which was on the list, was a vegan establishment. I really wanted to go there. I was looking at the map to find the location and Catie goes “look across the street”. And there it was, directly across the street from Urban Vegan Kitchen! We went in, looked at the menu and realized it is not a vegan restaurant. We read the One Green Planet review again and realized that they were talking about just this one tofu dish, Mustard seed crusted tofu, on their menu. Sure we tried it. Hands down, the best tofu I’ve ever eaten! Bonus, meeting one of the vibrant bartenders ever, Fitch. She told us to definitely come back as she was shaking a cocktail, incorporating a full body dance move! Lunch #2.
Mustard seed crusted tofu
Bootsy collins / Pimm’s cup no 1
Mother of Pearl: The last stop in our quest. Incredible how everything – food, drinks, weather, our attitudes – kept getting better and better as the day progressed! Mother of Pearl was a fitting finale for an amazing day. Fully vegan Polynesian restaurant. It was so hard to choose what to order! We ordered everything. We had to try hard to finish our third entrèe (nothing to do with the taste, in fact the amazing taste was the only reason we could finish, we were just too full at that point) and realized that one more, the biggest one of our order, is yet to come. I don’t wanna get into the details, it was bad, all the way back to Washington. Dinner#1?
Avocado & ricotta toast
Frozen classic daiquiri
Pickled vegetable spring rolls
Tropical guacamole (fried guac!)
Cherry coke daiquiri
New York weather was super kind to us, with a high of a perfect 69°! Altogether we walked 13 miles in Manhattan. I think that covers the 5 miles that we were supposed to run? No? Fine.
And how am I gonna burn all the extra calories from the week?
On the way back, in the train, Catie says “Did you realize you drank way more than me. That has never happened before, you know that, right?”!
Did she know my secret goal? I know she didn’t but it was killer finish to the best day evuh, that she acknowledged it and that it was her who brought it up after all!
You work hard. You workout 6 days a week with one day a week for rest. Or so you tell your trainers while you workout on your rest day as well, like, biking or yoga or a long walk. Then you start seeing the results. You record a PR on a race. You are in love with your bathroom scale (BTW, her name is “Just”) because she tells you all the good things you wanna hear. Or rather shows you.
Then fucking July 4th happens. You drink. You drink like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Even though you did an awesome 30+ mile bike ride in the morning, the 12 beers and the vegan red wine and the tequila-kombucha combo and the home cooked brunch and the vegan cupcakes your friend brought to the party and the Uber Eats you ordered late in the night – oh fuck – there’s no justifying any of it. Then the next morning, the extra lbs you see is especially bad because when you checked your weight after the morning ride on the 4th it was lightest you’ve ever been since………. high school.
BUT, it was the best 4th of July ever. Thanks to awesome friends. Amy. Chelsey. John.
Also the bike ride was awesome. I had the entire 8 lanes on Constitution Avenue for myself and my bike Ela on my way to Mt. Vernon Trail!
Speaking of independence day, I missed the 20th anniversary of me moving to US from India. It was on the 28th of June. I was planning on partaying it up but, fuck me, I completely forgot about it! The first place I live in US was Baltimore. I still have a soft spot for Baltimore. How ironic is that I now work in Baltimore! My first American friend (big up, Aaron) is still my friend and we hang out a lot!
89°, feels like 98°! Last mile on the 10 mile (flat) course, a course that did not offer much shade at all. I was walking, struggling. Hard. About to run out of water. How far to the finish? About a half mile?
I saw this girl take off and start running while we were waiting for the gun to go off. She had a bib which means she’s in the race. I saw her come back when I was about half a mile on the course. I guess she did a 5K? There were 5K, 10K, and 10 mile options at the race. Later, about a mile to the finish, I saw her running the opposite direction! Guess she’s running another 5k?
Oh, the struggle to finish! A lil over a half mile (ish) to go. Someone taps me on my shoulder, screaming, “come on man, you got his”, as she was passing me. It was that 5k girl.
I got his? I am not so sure young lady!
She doesn’t quit, “come on pick it up, run with me”.
<gulp> Oh! I guess I should.
And I did.
“Extend your strides, run faster”, she goes.
Ohhh kayy…. Guess I could give it a shot……
Whoa! I am doing it!
“Its about a quarter mile to the finish, let’s sprint”.
With my tired old legs in my severely dehydrated body?
“Come on! You can do this. We got this. See that girl wearing fuchsia? Let’s pass her”.
Looks like that girl is about to hit the finish line but what the hell, let’s try. I pushed hard, with her. Sure enough, we passed her, and that was a fucking strong finish!
We hi-fi. We hug. We take pictures together. We follow each other on Instagram.
She’s Matilda. The angel appeared out of nowhere and help me redeem an otherwise sad race, that I was getting ready to file under “pathetic”.
What happened above, happened at Freedom 10 Miler race, at C&O Canal Tow Path, Georgetown. Another excellent race from Bishop’s Events in Washington. It was the hottest race I’ve ever done. 80° at the start and 90° at the finish. With humidity, it was ‘feels like’ 98°. Although the course was flat, it meant nothing, there were hardly any shade throughout the course. But…. it’s been broughten.
This got me thinking. How were I able to find it in me to push that hard when I thought i was done completely and that there was nothing left in me! Moments like that happen a lot, during my races. I always think about Rich Roll’s conversations with many of his guests “when you feel like you are completely empty during a race and that you have nothing left to go on, you are using only about 60% of your capability. There’s more in you to perform”. Easier said than done, usually. You have to find a way to dig deeper. That’s exactly what I did it at this race. With some serious help, that is.
The mission (if I choose to accept) is to find Matildaevery race, every time, at the moments of real struggle. I am on it. I will share how I do that, when I figure it out.
I must. So I will.
I like races in Georgetown because I can take DC Circulator to the race and back. I went straight to Vida and did yoga with my fav teacher, Mario. That was the best thing I could offer my battered and bruised body at the time.
Earlier in the day this is what my bathroom scale told me. I was all set to break another PR but fucking weather had shitty plans for me.
I was chatting with Shan later and learned STUDMFFN8+ (that’s the name of my phone) knows me too well. See the word suggestion!
As usual, I had to go workout with Katie and brag about my race the next morning. It was just the two of us, just like I like. No, there is no dry spot on my outfit. It was 80° + at 6 am!
I can’t remember my half marathon PR. I’m pretty sure that it’s under 1:55 (ish). Anway, it’s been a while since I ran one under 2:00.
When I run, whether a race or a training run, I use apps – Strava, Run Keeper, Nike running, and Charity Miles. All of them. Run Keeper was the first app I ever used, been using it since 2008. So I have long history there. Strava because that’s where most of my friends are. Nike, because I have an Apple watch and also because I think that is the most accurate in tracking. Charity Miles because they give money to Girls on the Run, every time I run! What’s funny though, is that none of these apps give me consistent numbers. Then again, there are some factors that affect the tracking numbers, such as, when the app was turned on, how long it took for the app to start tracking, whether the app was able to maintain continuous connection with satellites etc.
There is a local group in DC that puts out races throughout the year called Bishop’s Events. Most of their Washington races are at the C&O Canal Towpath, at the west end of Georgetown. Yes, trail races! The courses are typically super flat.
Sunday morning, 7:30. I ran the EOD Warrior Half Marathon, benefiting the EOD Warrior Foundation. It was close to 80° at the start, and like 84° at the finish. But at least it was a flat course! My apps kept messing up through the race, I could here the alert “pausing” pretty much throughout the race. Anyway, as I was running past the finish line I glanced at the official clock and it read 2:05 (or was it 2:15?). Hmm… not bad, I thought. I was on the third wave to start, so I must have finished faster than the time on the clock. Good. I walked to the bus stop and caught the Union Station – Georgetown Cirulator home.
Met up with Catie for a post race brunch. Tofu scrambles, roasted potatoes, and beers. I love brunches especially with awesome people.
As always, my watch and my phone were inundated with notifications, mails, texts, Instagram, Facebook. Everything. Ugh.
‘Ugh’ because lately, I have been on a path to bring my phone addiction under control. (Yes, I enabled notifications because it works for me sometimes.) What I mean is, when I am spending time with people I like, I am gonna try not to waste time on the phone. Be present at the present, not disrespect the company. Because, life is short. Your fiends are precious. And time is irrecoverable. There. Pearls of Wisdom for you. You are welcome.
OK OK, back to the story. I was still stealing glances at the notifications that kept coming in. I was on my 3rd(I think) beer when I saw a mail from Bishop’s. I had to see it so I apologized to Catie and looked at the mail. Of course, the race results. I finished in….
wait for it….
Wha…! I drank more beer.
A trail half marathon PR!
Can I get a BOOYAH!!!
Poor Catie, and the sweet waitress Cat at Meridian Pint, they had to listen to me brag, shamelessly, for the rest of the brunch. But they were super nice about it. I:56 is no biggie, in the grand scheme of things. Probably puts me at the top 40%. But this was a power performance, individually. No proper training, and the heat. And it was a trsai race. I hardly ever run trails lately! Also, for some personal reasons. I needed this. I pulled it off. Also, I decided to run this race just 4 days prior! Congratulations Saiju. You are a rockstar. You da man! (See,… bragging…)
And the fucking apps. Of course the numbers on my apps were incorrect! Nike gave me 10.07 miles. Strava 8.69 miles. Run Keeper 10.15. And IDGAF about Charity Miles numbers, the only reason I turn it on to get Girls on the Run some money when I run.
Unrelated: I went to went to Suns Cinema with Amy in the evening and watched The Beaches of Agnes. The movie was not at all what I was expecting but the experience was amazing. Small “theatre” that sits about 30 peeps, with a bar at the back of the hall where I drank the 8th beer of the day!
Bootcamp with my badass trainer Katie every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings is an event I look forward to and try my best to never miss (thru VIDA Fitness). It is a tough workout, every single time, where I typically burn a 1000+ kcal. So early in the morning, the day after the race, I hadto go to bootcamp! Guess what, I burned 1200! How I was physically able to do that? Hey, thanks for asking. Since going vegan, recovery time is just a light suggestion, not at all a requirement.
I should have titled this “weightless” or “weightloss” or something to do with “weight”. But limitless has more drama. Plus that’s how I feel lately.
I go to a group workout, bootcamp, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Through Vida Fitness, the #1 gym in DC. Wednesdays there’s a bootcamp in the evening as well which I just started going to. Yes, 2 bootcamps, 1 day. Typically I burn over a 1000 kcal during one of those 50 minute sessions. Easily. BTW, my badass trainer Katie runs these bootcamps!
About 5 weeks back, I started on a path to eat better. Yes I am a plant based athlete but it does not automatically mean I am a healthy eater. I am one of those *junk food vegans* (JFV)! Yes, it’s a thing. Well, lemme say, I WAS, a JFV. Enter the two new beautiful human vegans. Around the same time! They started “addressing” my bad food habits. Got called out on the following:
I don't like most vegetables (I know).
Love me all the fried stuff. Samosas, fries yumm...
I snack all the time.
Cupcakes and donuts - all of them!
Bread. Bread. Bread.
Long story short, I dropped 8 lbs in less in that 5 weeks. Probably the healthiest weight loss in history. Hit me up if you like to know the specifics.
I drank more beer in that same 5 weeks than the entirety of last year. Honest! Then how…? I know. 4 out of 5 of the recent weekends, I burned 6000+ calories, each (Saturday and Sunday combined). Work hard play hard, right homies? Run, bike, HIIT, yoga, and wait for it….
I’m a Zumba bitch now.
I am not trying to be a role model here. Nor I am trying to tell you anything good about approaching workouts and weight loss. A lil bragging? May be.
This morning, it was 78° – 80° during bootcamp. It was just me at the group class so Katie worked out with me. I love working out with Kaite, my favorite sessions. Something extra in the way she pushes me as a workout partner, from a trainer!
OK OK, back to the story. It was so humid, the heat index must have been 85ish. Plus it was one tough workout! The old Saiju would have burned, like, 1200 kcal but I only burned about 900! Even a minor change in body weight plays a big part in your performance! Truth. On Friday, I ran 3.5 miles with Katie at about 8:40 / mile! That’s a big deal. Yes, I am lighter on my feet, more agile, have more energy. Plus all the beer!
You know I am diabetic, right? I set an aggressive fucking goal for myself. I will reverse diabetes by the end of the year.
Historically I suck at sticking to a training plan. Or a plan. Any plan. Or a recipe. How I supremely suck at baking.
"To save the world, all you have to do is to bake this slab of tofu".
"I guess we are all gonna die then".
I hate training.
Of the 100(close enough, one of these days I need to sit down and figure out the exact number) races, I’ve properly trained for two, my first half marathon and my first full marathon. Both in 2010. Only because Brad was after me, threatening me, like, train or face the consequences. The consequences being we won’t brew beer together or we cont hang out and drink beer together or play Rockband together or all of the above, etc.. Beer. Since then, not because I bloomed into this kickass runner / athlete, it was easy and convenient to, just half-assed thu it all. Including racing a few with notraining at all.
My best time is 4:36 (approx) Not a single marathon under 5 since. Not a single half under 2 since my 1:54. Didn’t consume much alcohol during training for the first half and first full but since then I never let training come in between me alcohol and meself.
I figured improvising with some effective methodologies may make me wanna train; such as
Training others: The best way to train is to train others! But seriously tho, it works.
Races: Find shorter distance races, close enough distance to the training distance for the weekend.
Alternate methods: Fartlek training. Mix it up. The pace, that is. I have inadvertently done some Fartlek training. In fact I have completed a couple of marathons using Fartlek method!
Train, one must.
PS: Oh, I was talking about run training and run training only.