Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Running shoes

TL;DR: Flat footed, heel underpronating and toe pronating, mildly bow-legged runner purchased a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Will let you know about the performance.

My faithful Reebok Verona Supreme 2 tore yesterday, and it was about time too. It didn't trouble me for the most part, but I did have some issues with it, for instance, every reasonably long run caused pain in the arch. And thus began my quest for the perfect running shoe (for me, obviously).

I am posting this because I have spent the last 4 hours on this quest, and perhaps this will help someone.

The first thing I did was to search for shoes that suited runners with a flat foot. Most websites blindly suggested "Motion control stability shoes", whatever the hell that was. I checked out a bunch of them, and I liked what I saw. Mainly because the shoes predominantly had a wide midsole, and the most common problem I've had with shoes in the past was a narrow mid sole causing my foot to pull the canvas under my shoe. This often caused my foot to slip sideways if I tied my laces for a snug fit, and forced me to tie them too tight for my comfort. So all was well, and I was about to order when I realized I kept coming across this term called "pronation". The shoe was supposed to be extremely good for flat footed people and was supposed to help them with overpronation. On further research, I realized overpronation was when the runner rolled the foot along the inside of the foot.

I had my first and only DNF earlier this year caused by an injury. Since then, I have carefully analyzed my running and have tried to find the perfect stride that keeps my feet happy. And I remember that I felt most comfortable when ran in a mid foot stride and rolled my foot along the outside. I have been running that way ever since, and haven't faced any injuries. Most sites said the simplest way to check pronation was to just take a look at the sole of the shoe but that was difficult since the Verona Supreme(VS2) has an extremely awesome sole that didn't wear out even after 1.5 years of running. I initially assumed since the VS2 has a high arch support, it probably forces me to roll my foot on the outside. I was proved wrong when I checked my almost brand new formal shoes (which have no arch support), and the midsole and heel showed a slight wear, predominantly along the outside. So I was an underpronator. A flat footed underpronator.

The next half hour of search didn't lead me anywhere, and mostly left me feeling like this.
Wisdom of the Ancients

A friend suggested Runners World search, which asked me a set of elaborate questions. One good thing was they asked me separately if I was flat footed and about my pronation. But it is a shoe finder after all and most of the results was either for flat footed overpronators, or for high arched underpronators. The one shoe that seemed to achieve a decent middle ground was the Scott eRide Trainer 2, but that was apparently cramped in the toebox and that was a strict no-no for my broad feet.

During the search on RW, I found something else that was interesting. RW defined pronation not in terms of how the foot rolls, but in terms of how one pushes off the ground at the start of the stride. Overpronators were supposed to push off mainly from the large toes, and underpronators from the smaller toes. I went back to my brand new black shoes and realized that the sole, near the toes, was worn more towards the inside-center and not outside. So my stride landed midfoot, rolled back and forward along the outside, but pushed off closer to the larger toes.

I spent the next five minutes wondering what I had done to offend the running gods so, and planned to give up, when I chanced upon a post by one Ms. Lenni on RW forums. She had a similar problem, only she was a complete underpronator. And she mentioned that she had it checked and it was unusual, but occasionally happens to runners who are bow-legged and flat footed. The long comment thread subsequently helped me find so many people with such unfortunate combinations, a high arched overpronator, a knock kneed underpronator, someone who was an overpronator at the heel but pushed off his little toes, and finally, someone with exactly my condition. The cause of my troubles is that I am ever so slightly bow-legged! He recommended a select few, and after careful thought, I ended up with Saucony Men's Echelon 4 and ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Since barefoot running is prescribed by a lot of experienced runners, and since I don't really have the patience to do this all over again in a year when my new shoes wear out and the shoes in the thread have newer models that suck, I am purchasing a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3, because it is a minimalist shoe. If it doesn't work out, hello barefoot running!

Monday, 5 May 2014

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Although I have one more month at IITM before I officially graduate, handing over the responsibilities as the institute water-polo captain made me so very aware of how little time I have left here. And of all the places in the institute that hold memories so close to heart, the pool is probably the one I am going to miss the most. If home is any place where you belong, the swimming pool at IITM was definitely one for me. This is the farewell letter I sent to the institute water-polo team.

Hi all,

My tenure as the captain of the institute water-polo team has come to an end.

Being a part of the team has always been a matter of great pride for me, and it has been a great pleasure and honour to have served the team from this position. Devika, Anand, and Satra have been chosen to take up the captaincy positions for the next year, and I am very confident that they will do a great job.

The past year has been a wonderful year for the sharks and for me personally, and I would like to thank every one of you for the experience and the memories. More importantly, from where I stand, I see a new team full of promise and enthusiasm, and for that, I thank all the juniors. My biggest wish is that, someday, the sharks will win the treble, and with the enthusiasm and the talent in the new team, I won't be surprised if that comes to fruition in the immediate future.

Go Sharks!
Sincerely,
Bonus, Insti Goalie da.

I thank all the people I have played with; especially Prabhat, for teaching me the sport and showing me that there was a sport I could be good at. And Veena and Amrutha, for all the moral support and love - from the early tense moments owing to inexperience and to the recent tense moments owing to experience; almost every match I didn't fade on stage was probably because of either of them. And lastly, I have to thank Superman, for being the unknown adversary I always had to be prepared for.

When I look around at the current team and the people who are graduating along with me, I can't help but recollect the quote from Troy. But in my head, it sounds like this -

If they ever tell my story let them say that I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Crunchy, tamer of lob shots/ Roja, tamer of center forwards/ GPS, tamer of power. Let them say I lived in the time of Tokas.

Friday, 18 April 2014

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez


I was introduced to Gabo with "The handsomest drowned man in the world". I remember the short story leaving me feeling so very empty, much like now. Today, when I heard of the great man's passing, memories of when I read the handsomest drowned man came rushing back, and it somehow seemed very apt.
When they spread him out on the floor they saw that he had been much bigger than any other man, for he hardly fit in the house, but they thought that perhaps the ability to continue growing after death was in the nature of certain drowned men.

And
...because they would paint the fronts of their houses with joyful colors to eternalize the memory of Esteban, and they would break their backs digging springs from the rocks and sowing flowers on the cliff s, so that in the dawns of the coming years the travelers on great ships would awaken suffocating on the aroma of gardens on the high sea, and the captain would have to come down from his quarter deck in full uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star and string of war medals, and signaling the promontory of roses on the Caribbean horizon would say in fourteen languages: look there, where the wind is now so gentle that it stops to sleep beneath the beds, there, where the sun shines such that the sunflowers don't know where to turn, yes, there, is the village of Esteban.

I am at a loss for words, so I shall borrow, for one last time today, from Amrutha. "He gave me Solitude. He gave me Love. He brought me as close to catharsis as one could have. He showed me beauty through language. RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the greatest writer to have written in the twentieth century".

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Dream


He lay awake, struck, it would seem,
Never before had he encountered so chilling a dream
He woke up with a start, he couldn't scream.

The earliest dream he could remember
was of the maniacal laughter of the murderer
And as his friend's face bled red
from the blow across his head
He woke up to find he wet his bed

He dreamt of the mob that pushed him back and forth
Of the gun shots fired all around
And of the infinite fall into nothingness

He dreamt of being tossed into a furnace
The smell, sound and nausea from burning epidermis
And the black as his eyes melted in a lingering hiss

He had even dreamed of the unknown
Voices that shriek, whisper and moan
Blindfolded, he dreamt like the sightless
Apprehensive about what was to happen next
He was to face the thing he dreaded most
But always woke up before, fearing the worst.

Today was the most horrifying of above all
He dreamed of her, at least whatever he could recall
The dream wasn't anything new,
It was a dream he never outgrew,
of the stadium, the grass, and the early morning dew.
The softly spoken word, the stolen glance,
Her earrings played with the sun rays, by beautiful chance
Her face illuminated by the light of dawn
And the words from the previous night's fight, withdrawn
Usually, he moves to kiss her, but is held by the brilliant brown in her eyes,
and as her eyelids close, gently and gracefully,
the picture blacks out and the dream dies.

Today, it was different, he woke up scared
For something like this, he was unprepared.
He knew he would move on to a better place,
Her memory in his mind, will slowly be erased,
and the thoughts meant for her would somehow be replaced.
The stadium was there, just as he knew
So was she, right on cue
Green grass and sky so blue
they were the solitary two
He was almost in a blissful trance
And as she takes his hand, he steals a glance

Of all the memories he could misplace,
he never imagined he would forget her face.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Things change. Sometimes its all way too fast.
Too many things you have to do. Too many more things you want to do. You concentrate a bit on one world of yours and the others come crashing down. And by the time you fix that one, you are already falling behind elsewhere. Give something up, says everyone. But you don't want to. For only you know how important each one of them is to you. You start convincing yourself that you can actually do it all. You build things up in your head. You gradually stop trying so hard. But you still proudly boast of things in one world to the people of another. More admiration. More ego. No one knows who you truly are. You slowly forget who you truly are. You see people around you run and fall. And you are so proud that you never fall. Of course you never fall, for you never run. The ones who fall, grow. You see the people around you grow and assume you are growing along with them.

Believe me, someday, someone you look up to will see you and say how they are so amazed that you can manage to do so much. And then, as suddenly, you will realise how empty you actually are and your whole world of lies will crumble upon itself. Then fear will come. Worst of all, you will be left alone, for your ego has already pushed away almost all the ones who care, and will never let you seek help from the ones who somehow still manage to stay.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Harry potter and the deathly hallows - part 2.

Well, it sucked.

I mean, the special effects were all great, but seriously, Harry and Voldemort engaging in a fist fight is really not Harry Potter for me. To be honest I really did not expect anything good after watching the trailer, but I never thought there would be parts of the movie which made me doubt if it was a spoof.  And a really bad one at that. Featuring sound effects by gaptain Vijayakanth.

Being in a school hostel where there was no internet access, no tv, no movies, no nothing, books were really my only escape. And this kind of fantasy was just awesome because it becomes so much easier to wonder if it could all be possibly true. I have read all the books in the series so many times and have had infinitely many discussions with 3 other close friends of mine that at some point of time, I was pretty sure there was nothing anyone could ask about the books that none of us knew. So having been that guy, I knew every single dialogue that had even the slightest importance. And when scenes with such dialogues were terribly altered and such dialogues themselves were killed with over-acting involving gaptain-laugh, I was very much pained.

I accept that there were a few scenes in the movie which were pretty awesome, and that the movie really did justice to prince's tale. The scene in which Mcgonagall calls the knights to defend Hogwarts castle was simply awesome. The build up to the battle was fairly good and so were all the scenes of Harry reading Voldemort's mind.

The changes in a few parts were indeed necessary since there is just too much to be said, but some scenes in the book were written just for the movie!! For instance, the scene in the great hall where Parkinson asks the people to give Harry up but they all stand up, wands raised, to declare their support for him instead. I mean, the scene was just FTW in the book!!! Also, how hard would it have been for Neville to just pull the sword and chop off Nagini's head instead of giving the sappy speech about Harry living in their hearts? And I understand the side-characters dont get as much importance and so I am even ok with the zero mention of Percy, but Fred's death? It was one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the book and was totally neglected. The awesome thing about HP is that, in addition to the story, the characters are awesomely portrayed and have emotional depth. The movie was no way anywhere close. Especially Molly's "Not my daughter, you bitch". I mean, when I read it in the book, I felt pure joy for Sirius was finally going to be avenged. The scene in the movie was so so bad and the lack of importance to Fred's death and the seriousness of battle between Ginny and Bellatrix did not help things. Also, Voldemort actually slapped Lucius in the movie. And Hermione hit Nagini with a stone. With a frigging stone!!!

So yeah, the movie was probably decent for someone without much knowledge of the book, but it sure sucks for someone who has spent much time with it. To me, it was not a farewell of any sort. I had my farewell four years ago. I am just happy that they don't have any more books to kill.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Nagiri Exploration

This weekend was one of the most amazing weekends ever. My new found hobby of trekking is fast turning into a passion.
Well, my intern requires me to work on every Saturday except the second and  I had been wanting to go on a trek ever since my first one to Nagala. I was hoping a good one would come up on the second weekend. Well, it did. And what more, it was exploration trek! And it had the names of people in CTC I was raring to meet in person!!
The first day, we climbed up to some 800m to a peak. After many moderately steep climbs and long walks, we got to this viewpoint to have this view.

Then no one was sure where to find water, so we started from there in search of water. Luckily, Peter had some idea on where there could be water, and trekking along for another km or two, we reached a small stream and a super-flat amazing camp-site where we planned to stay the night. We made the fire, had dinner and found places to sleep. There had not been much sun during the day, the views had been simply amazing and we had just found a place with water where we could have a long rest before the descent the next day. I felt the gods had been smiling on us.
Well, in half an hour, the gods just decided to rain on us. Just like that. And it rained like hell. We scrambled under the tarpaulin sheets and were just sitting there hoping that rain would stop so that we could have some sleep. All the clothes were wet and it was getting cold. Finally the rain subsided for a while and before it started again, we had pitched the sheets as tents, put a few sleeping mats together and crashed for the night.
The next morning, the sun shone bright and  a couple of people who were injured the previous day started off on an easy trail back to the base while we started off on another adventure of checking out a couple of valleys. Well, lets just say I am not a big fan of heights. So naturally, I find ascending easier than descending. The decent started normally and was going along well till we reached the valley. It was damn steep and the rain the previous night just made things worse by making the rocks loose. We proceeded along this moderately steep descent till we reached a place where we couldn't proceed along the valley as it was a vertical drop. We had to go along an alternate route.
On both the treks I have been on so far, there is some point where I feel "Damn, why did I even sign up for this". I felt so at this point. This is a very important feeling for me as this is the point where I learn a lot and this is the point where my physical and emotional limits are reached. This is the point where all my fears are at their worst but I still know that there is no other choice but to confront and fight them and proceed forward.
We proceeded slowly along the wall of rock on the side till we reached a place where there was a bit of foothold to climb down. This I don't remember how I crossed. What I remember is that when I did cross this point, I felt I had left a tiny tiny bit of my fears behind. I felt I was a better trekker then than what I had been at the start of the trek. The sense of achievement is one of its kind.
We had reached this spot and had lunch. I learnt that one half of the descent was over.
We started again after lunch and trekked along another moderately steep path till we reached a pool much to the delight of everyone. We had been longing for a dip as it was really hot. After that break we started again and moved a short distance where we came out on one side of the mountain. We had the most amazing view of all the peaks on this side of the mountain.

 We continued to descend along this side of mountain and made good progress with the help of the tall grass. Me and couple of others almost encountered a colony of wasps on a wrong turn before finding a way to get back to the path the others were taking. We reached a stream after the long descent and started following it. I was trailing behind a lot and was beginning to have a head-ache. There was not much water too. I continued along after taking an aspirin and proceeded to reach the trail that would get us out of the forest. Everyone regrouped there and walked further along to come out in the clearing a little further. We had the complete view of the path we had taken and of all the peaks of Nagiri. The trekking was officially over. What remained was a long walk of over 10 kms back to the village where we had parked the cars. We cover that in good pace and managed to reach the village. Atleast that was what we thought. But on reaching the village we learnt we had taken a wrong turn along the way and had reached an adjacent village and that there was no transport to the first village directly. So Peter and Nagin started back on foot to get the vehicles and we sat back and relaxed in this village. We started a couple of hours after that and reached chennai around 11 pm Sunday night after what has been a very adventurous 2 days.
Every trek is just unbelievable for me and here I am, sitting on a Monday evening with almost every inch of my body fatigued and with infinite cuts and bruises on my arms and legs, and still already yearning for my next trek and hoping it would be as good as this one.