Monday, July 28, 2014

Ironman Zurich

Yesterday was my 3rd time volunteering as course marshal for Ironman Zurich. This gets more and more inspiring every time. Especially the part towards the end where you see real heroes emerge, people who finish in 12+ hrs, who are really pushing their limits, are going through mind-and-body struggle and winning. They are the real winners of Ironman. This year I met a couple of people who had come all the way from India for this. I cannot imagine training for an event like this in the heat and pollution of an Indian city, and after that coming to a cold climate like Zurich to run. There was a Japanese guy who walked most of the marathon with a cramped leg. Every time he passed us, he had a goal to make it to finish line by 10:30pm, and I was sure he is going to make it. That is true will winning over body. There was also the usual stream of 50+ years old who can put all of us who are half their age to shame. Many of the athletes you can see were running in a trance, not caring about form or time, but just putting one foot in front of other to reach the finish line. There were of course few graceful exits who had done all they good and decided to give up, and few broken hearts who did not want to give up but were just not going to make it in time. Every year I see this, my resolve to try something like this becomes stronger, right now I am to the point where I want to try the olympic distance which is ~1/3rd of the full Ironman distance, though not with Ironman brand because I clearly have an issue with their brand name :)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Monday, January 28, 2013

Finally gave into fad for shoes

After a long time resisting the fad for five-finger shoes, I finally gave in and bought these (yes in pink!) -
Lets see if there any truth in all the "awesomeness" of these shoes or chappal or whatever they are.

Also spend the weekend doing touristy things - eating at interesting places, all recommended by locals -
Shana Thai
Sakoon Indian
Banana Leaf Malasian
Madras cafe
(2 more to come before the weekend is over)

But I earned it all by going for a 6 mile run on Stevens Creek trail and then hike up Mission Peak ~6miles RT, 2000ft elevation gain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fastest zip through US immigration

Today I was very pleasantly surprised by US immigration, a totally rare event. I was asked just one question - which I answer wrong anyway. What type of visa you have - I said H1 though I have a B1 :), old habits. Then just right hand fingerprint and photo, and you are done! In general it felt like line was moving quite fast, perhaps they are learning from Europe! Of course Switzerland still holds the record for efficiency, out of plane and on the train in under 20 minutes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Me, snow and love

I love snow, I am scared of it, I still love it. Any day I getup and see the rooftops covered with snow, it makes for a great day. This year winter in Zurich did not disappoint, we had feet of snow in December before I left, and there is still some on ground now, and this is just middle of winter. It feels so awesome to be covered in overcoat, gloves, scarf, hat and winter shoes and go out walking in snow with temp under 0C as if its just another day. I am still not so comfortable walking on snow, but its perfect here where elfs always come in the morning and anytime after snow to clear the walkways. Looking forward to doing some snowshoeing this year, and maybe finally take out crampons to try something.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

In US again

So back in US, just visiting, and have a different prospective now. 2 years in Europe and now I can almost see why Europeans keep complaining about US. Still love the office and people, but its outside that I am starting to see differences. People's habit of waste has not changed, and I always disliked it, and dislike it even more now that I can see its not a rich country thing. Like Europeans, they can also learn to reduce waste.
But its other things, like yesterday just sitting in office shuttle and looking outside, everything felt bland. Its like houses had no character, one dabba after other, such a far cry from flower covered houses in Switzerland where each house has its own design. Of course we live in a apartment building there also, but still its somehow made in such a way that it appears pleasing. The colours are so completely missing from landscape here.
Then comes the food. I had always complained about food here, but now it just feels even more bland. No vegetables have any taste, everything feels so heavy, full of idk what, but definitely not taste and nutrition. Its so hard to make healthy choices here, can't just each fresh veggies. People say keeping away from wheat is hard in Europe. I say the opposite. Its much harder here because nothing else really taste like anything. I made the mistake of taking what they call cottage cheese at breakfast the other day, and it literally tasted like cardboard! No wonder I never liked cheese here. I did not know what cheese was! The only cheese they can do is string cheese, yum!
Still a trip to US office is always very refreshing, make you believe in life and friendliness again. People are so nice and chatty :). Starting from shuttle bus driver who wished me good weekend, to car rental pickup driver who told me to drive safe and have fun. The girl at car rental this morning, told and asked my whole life history because we were both in Redmond at some point. She was so nice and friendly, that it made my day, something that can happen only in US.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zurich Ironman

Yesterday for the first time I was part of Ironman. No, not at participant, but as a volunteer. I volunteered to be course marshals. The task - simple, make sure only racers are on track and open the blocks safely to let spectators cross. But Ironman is not just about the run or the bike or the swim, its about endurance, its where racers make personal history. I started around 3:00pm at the marathon course. The beginning was great, there were the strong Ironman veterans navigating the course strong. The course was a 4-10km rounds. There were some racers who were exhausted from second round and I wished they make it, and it was great watching them pass by again still going strong. Then came the rain, like a real storm. The day was literally replay of Zurich Marathon day, rain and shine and rain and storm.

I knew that Ironman is not a race like marathon, its all about finishing, especially the run is a run or a walk or a crawl, probably time to shut down the brain and just keep moving to finish line. I was close to water / food station. I could see some runner's face light up at sight of hot soup, fruits, water. Some hung out, browsed the selection, ate, some just grabbed a handful of something and carried on. Then there were others for who each round was painful. You could see the exhaustion in their whole body. We tried our best to cheer them, tell them they are doing great. By 8:00pm when racers had already been on track for 13hrs., we started seeing the really exhausted ones, those who were in true sense testing their limits. Some runners just had to sit down for a min and we would tell them last round, you can make it! There was one guy who had 2 rounds to go, completely exhausted, thinking that its over. He asked someone - I still have 2 rounds to go, I am not going to make it, am I! It was most likely that he will not make it, but you don't say that, and of course miracles do happen, second wind is true. So I wish he made it, though I don't remember seeing him at the station again. 

There were no more spectators at this time, so we slowly joined in the water/food station. It was run by a group from a Fraungymnastic club. We slowly made our way in and became incharge of a waterbooth. They were all wondering and asking each other who these people are :) Finally someone got the courage and asked us - who are you! It was kind of funny. So we told them we are freewilangers and we were at the pedestrian crossing, but now its all empty so we came to help. Most of them did not know English, so it was great time to practice German. 

By 9:00pm, the final stragglers were pouring in at the station. They still had 2hrs to run / walk the last 10km. We were all cheering each runner, telling them its the last one. By 9:45, all runners had passed our station and were in their final round. So we packed up and went over to finish line. I was hoping to see lot of those who we were cheering in last hour. There was a Malaysian man, somewhat older. I saw him at first round, and second, and then around 9:00pm at the third round. He still had ~10km to go and was barely walking. It was awesome to watch him finish just in time! One guy proposed to his girlfriend at the finish line! That was some drama. In the end it was a lot of fun. The analogy I give, for me Ironman is like Everest. It would be awesome to do it, but I know I can't. Marathon is like Basecamp. So the event at least inspired me to not give up on running and do another marathon next year.