Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be a Hero

We all worship heroes, we all have our personal heroes, we love them, we worship them and secretly we all want to be them - we want to be our own HERO!! No football-lover gets a chance to compete with their football idols and no hockey player has skated with the great names of hockey but as a runner, one has the privilege to run with these everyday heroes who have risen to a challenge unlike anything they have done before. And heroes they will be.  

Every runner runs for a reason - in memory of a loved one, for fundraising or for an organization. I always wanted dreamt of running a Marathon and never really understood completely why I wanted to do it and never took any action to pursue this dream. Then one day it dawned to me; my reason:

I want to be a finisher, I want to prove it to myself that I can do it, I want to go beyond my own limits, I want to be my own Hero!! 

Once I knew my reason, I signed up for the Marathon in Chicago, the city I now call home. While I did that, a great opportunity presented itself - to make this race more than myself and to run for a cause. And I am proud to say that I will be a part of American Cancer Society's DetermiNation team at the Chicago Marathon. 

Be a Hero - My Fundraising Page

As part of the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team, I can achieve things I never imagined I could accomplish. My race victory will help save lives from every cancer in every community. And I'm hoping you'll support me in my efforts and become a hero for someone fighting with Cancer.

It's up to us to change the course of cancer - and I believe in the work the American Cancer Society is doing to save lives. Every day, they're helping people stay well and get well, they're funding and conducting research to find cures, and they're rallying communities to join them in fighting back. More than 11 million Americans who have a history of cancer will celebrate another birthday this year. Please support me with a donation so that together, with the American Cancer Society, we can help save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.








Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Commencement


It's strange in a way and in other makes perfect sense that the Graduation day (last day in School) ceremony is called Commencement - a beginning. But the more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed and made more and more sense. The day was indeed a commencement; commencement of a new journey and a new career.

The excitement was in the air for this day few weeks in advance. Many could not believe where the 2 years went by so quick and I was no exception. Just seemed like yesterday that I was writing this post and sulking about having to move away from Pune and all the friends back home. It just took a little time before Boston became home and classmates became friends for life. 

For me Graduation ceremony was just about black robes and throwing the cap in the air - I was so wrong and boy am I happy for that or what? As a B-school applicant, three years back, I would always look up student commencement speeches of the school I was applying to. It always provided so much perspective into the school's culture and what it stands for. And being the innate dreamer that I am, I dreamt of the podium on my graduation day.

Dreams do come true!! Like many others, I always thought this was just a trap your trainers tell you to run longer or hike higher (how we hate those guys). I never imagined this dream of mine will come true UNLESS IT DID!! I was driving down Masspike when my phone buzzed and I read the sweet sweet email informing me that my speech was selected for the ceremony. I almost ran into a few trucks in the excitement. I had never stopped believing but somehow the belief was a little bit shaken during the 2 years at b-school. But this email restored that belief. Couldn't have asked for a better end to the bitter-sweet MBA journey. 

The day of commencement was beautiful, impeccable weather, sunshine, everyone looked so stunning (I even got my har done for once), families and loved ones and a feeling of accomplishment surrounded us. When I marched towards the venue with the music and cheering along with my classmates, it did feel like we had achieved something special. 

Personally, for me this is a commencement of a new belief in myself, commencement of possibilities and commencement of a life where dreams do come true.  

Thank you all for the kind and motivating words before and after the speech. I felt so very special hearing all your compliments and glad that everyone found something to identify with in the speech. Here is a link to the speech.. 





Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston keeps running

Patriots' day is one of the best days to be in Boston. Today was no exception until.. until the horrific and shameful act brought the race to a standstill. The city might have stopped for a brief moment to soak in what happened but Boston keeps running. Nothing can kill the sprit of Marathons or of Boston.

The weather was perfect, not very hot like last year but not too cold either. A perfect weather to run, to be outdoors and to cheer the ones running the Marathon. The most iconic of all marathons where Boston hosts runners from over 90 countries. Runner who are running for world peace, for their sons and daughters, in the memory of their moms and dads, for raising funds for cancer studies, against hunger and guns and for equality for all. The race is a reflection of human spirit to say the least.

I saw the kick-off of the race online and watched Japan's Yamamoto(46) finish the Wheelchair race in 2:25:28 and yet hardly seeming drained or tired. It was simply inspirational and very powerful to watch him cross the finish line. Motivated, I decided to head out to the race scene to cheer for these everyday heroes of the race. I walked barely a mile to 'Mile 24'.

The scene was breathtaking! 100s of runners one after the other, rocking various costumes, with no costumes, with messages, some waving, few dancing, most focussed but everyone returning a smile when you gave them a shout out. I joined the huge crowd of people cheering and celebrating the race. We kept on going "Run Run Run", "Go Mike", "Go Dave", "Go Cathy", "Go Jen", "Almost There", "No stopping Monday" and "You are my Hero".

One of my favorite guys from the race. He cheered for every single runner till his voice gave up. I tried to  keep up with him as much as I could.


Witnessing the race from so close was very humbling. People of all age, many with disabilities, and few even without limbs kept running. A guy who recently lost his daughter ran in her memory, a woman who lost an arm to cancer ran, a 74 yr old was running his 8th marathon, many wear running to test their limits and to prove they too can do it. Simply amazing!!
Wide spectrum of ages at the race - An old guy totally rocking the race and the Tux while little kids cheer them at the  mile 24!
The free spirit of the Boston Marathon

I stood there for 3 hours cheering and chatting with others around me. We cheered together for their daughters and boyfriends and girlfriends. I hugged random people upon news of their loved ones finishing the race. I high-five-d more people than I ever have but the fact that some of them started to run because you cheered kept all of us going.

A large wave of runners clocking in a under 3 hour finish. 

Slow but very steady and solid. Love his beard!  
A marathon is the place where everyday men and women appear superhuman. It does not need a stadium or many equipment, it takes place on the everyday streets where everyday people run and go from ordinary to extra-ordinary.

Team Noah!

And then suddenly in midst of all this there was an unrest. Everyone seemed worried suddenly. I checked Twitter to find out there was some explosion at the Finish line. I just assumed it must be some construction or domestic small scale explosion. But within minutes we were proven wrong and the word that it might be something more serious spread. My friend and I decided to leave not wanting to get in the way of authorities. As the events unfolded and we learned more about the blasts, it just horrified us and sent a chill down the spine.

Why today? Why the Marathon? Why Boston? So many questions and frustrations. Perhaps the forces behind this sick act wanted to break the spirit of the people, perhaps they wanted to shatter the inspiration that the race brings or perhaps they are just sadists who cannot see a peaceful event that brings people of all backgrounds and beliefs together. Whatever their reason, nothing can ever justify such a heinous act. NOTHING!!

The race might have come to a stop but it served its purpose. We did see the undying spirit of the runners. We were inspired and motivated. Most of all, we did not really stop and we won't. Boston Marathon will be back next year with renewed vigor and hope.

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a

 marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer






  


Monday, February 11, 2013

Mediocrity


A recent Quora question, “What will be the 1st line of your bio/auto biography?” made me think long. Oh yeah, I am addicted to Quora, but more about that later.
So I had various versions going on through my head:
- I had arrived
- At the stroke of midnight, with her usual fanfare, Anagha made an entry.
- And I thought to myself, “Meh so much for the nine month wait”.
- As the clock struck 12, ending the month of May, my life changed, I was born.
Moving away from just the birth clich├ęs, I thought even harder:
- A small town girl, out there to make it big.  (I know, real bad and cheesy)
- If I said I never thought this book would be written, I would be lying.
- I spent a lot of time thinking about this sentence 20 years back.

And then something struck and this was my final answer
"Mediocrity best explains everything that I am but hope it doesn't define me, as I have never ceased to fight it."
Successfully or not is yet to be decided. When I wrote this down, I was pretty satisfied with it. Not because of what it says about me but because it is true.
When we are growing up, we always think of doing great things, at least I did. Don’t get me wrong, I still do but I guess the definition of great has changed. Great is no more becoming famous, earning ton of money and giving to charity or becoming the first Indian woman to win a grand slam (sweet!). Actually it’s exactly all this but not in an overnight-filmy kind of way. More in an enduring and patient kind of way. Not sure if this is true or just a story adult me tells the kid me to justify why we couldn’t do all that we set out for – yet!
But yep, that’s the story; I mean the start so far. What will be your start?