Friday, February 16, 2007

A Birthday To Remember

What a wonderful day February 16th turned out to be!

It started with a relaxing massage around 9:15 a.m. By the time Kathleen left it was about 11 a.m.

I promptly gathered all my running paraphernalia and headed to REI to buy a couple of hand bottles for the run. These are shaped a bit differently from conventional bottles, i.e. more ergonomic, and that's what they proved to be as I found later on.

I reached Rancho San Antonio at around 1:20 p.m. I waited for Anil and Bharti, a friend of Anu's, to show up. Anil had called me around noon and wondered if we could run 47K since I had turned 47 that day. I readily agreed.

The 3 of us started running around 1:40 p.m. and headed up the PG&E trail. The intention was to run part of the way up PG&E, descend on the Coyote Trail, go up Upper Wildcat, descend using Rogue Valley and then head up the Chamise Trail all the way to Black Mountain and back. A half mile up PG&E, just before getting onto the Coyote Trail, we asked a couple to take a picture of the 3 of us.

Bharti proved to be a tough cookie. Never once did she complain even though the trail got very steep in parts.

We soon found ourselves on the Upper Wildcat Trail and then down Rogue Valley. Bharti's Garmin kept beeping, reminding her that she was overshooting her upper heartrate setting. We soon found ourselves climbing the very steep Chamise Trail. This trail must have a 15-18% gradient in some spots. The first mile is steeper than the second mile, culminating in the left turn going up to Black Mountain. Bharti put on her brave face and climbed all the way up to the left turn.

This is where we stopped for a drink and a gel and to decide if we wanted to go the next 6 miles up to Black Mountain. This is where Anil, who is normally game for any distance, asked if we could run for only 20 minutes up the trail! It was about 3:35 p.m. and he expressed the concern that the Park would close around 4:30!!! I was surprised to say the least but decided to go along with his request. He and I ran ahead while Bharti trudged a few hundred yards behind us.

We promptly turned back at 4:00 pm. We made it back to the parking lot by 5:05 p.m. That's when I spotted Anil , Shaunak and Sameer near the restroom. I yelled out to them, pleasantly surprised. that's when the rest of them popped out from behind a car singing "Happy Birthday" at the top of their voices. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement!!

The celebration was short but very moving. Deepa, Shishir, Renuka, Lily, Suchu, Anil, Sahunak and Sameer had showed up, cake and all, to celebrate my birthday. I felt loved and cherished!!

Bharti ended her run there (after 14.5 miles) while Anil and I continued for another 75 minutes for an additional 6.5 miles.

The day ended with a beautiful dinner with two close friends, Samanvitha and Pallavi, in Amber (Santana Row).

What a birthday!

Friday, February 09, 2007

B2B - Belize to Bern (with a stop in San Jose)

Boy! It's been a long time since I've posted to this blog.

Blame it on the 2 weeks, over Christmas last year and New Year, in Belize (Central America) and a week long trip to Bern in Switzerland 2 weeks ago.

What a beautiful place this is. My second trip there in the last 3 years and it's still enchanting. Hearing howler monkeys in the middle of our last night in the jungle was definitely the highlight of this trip.

The temperature never dropped below 70 degrees F and running there was just superb.

We (26 adults and kids) spent the first 4 days in the jungle, in Ian Anderson's caves Branch Lodge ( A little insect repellant and out the door I went on my early morning runs, alone or with friends. The roads were empty of people and vehicles and the sun's rays peeking through the lush trees lining the roads presaged a day full of new adventures.

(Early morning run with Arul, the picture taker, and Anu)

The last 5 days were spent in Ambergris Caye, famous for it second longest Barrier Reef in the world.

The runs here were along a narrow trail hugging the water. My longest run here was an 8 mile run, the last 2.5 miles of which were run with a plastic bag of groceries in hand.

My trip to a customer in Bern was rather sudden but not so much that I did not have time to pick up warm clothing.

I ran 5 days in a row there, with the longest run at 11 pm on Thursday, Feb 1. It was moderately hilly near my hotel and I enjoyed the steep climbs in the 30-32 degrees F weather.

Having visited Bern in Sep 2005, I was familiar with the roads and pretty much had my pick of routes I wanted to run on a particular day. Most of the runs were done wearing 3 layers on my torso, 2 gloves (one inside the other), a skullcap and running tights.

Started the month running in 70-75 deg F weather and ended it in 30-32 deg F.

What a difference!