Running My First Half Marathon

IVS Half Marathon

IVS Half Marathon (Photo credit: midwestnerd)

 

STANDING IN A CROWD of almost 4,000 runners, I shook my legs, hopped in place, and bit back waves of panic. That’s what everyone says you’re supposed to do with panic–bite it. You wallow in praise, cool your temper, gird your strength, but panic extrudes like doughy ropes from invisible portals that you have to nip off with your front teeth before they engulf you in giant debilitating wads. It was a few minutes before 8:30 a.m., and I was about to attempt the first 13.1-mile run of my life. While strangers on all sides bumped lightly against my shoulders, I lifted my head and closed my eyes and tried to picture the finish line–visualize the finish line, that is. You bite panic and you visualize finish lines. If you can. Though I had visited and looked it over less than 12 hours prior, in the moments before the race I could barely recall what it looked like. Then I remembered we were promised an arch with fire at the end of the course. Fire I could visualize. And so I thought with a starry burst of excitement–I’ll run until I go through the fire.

 

Talkers talk and walkers walk. Although walkers occasionally talk, talkers almost never walk, and they certainly don’t run half-marathons. After almost four years of consistent running, I had become a talker. In a wild week of random optimism, I’d impulsively announced in the pages of this magazine and to almost everyone I knew that I was ready to tackle a half-marathon. Before you’ve ever run or even begun training for a half, it’s easy to talk about “tackling” one. Inevitably, you realize both real and metaphorical tackling of any kind are thoroughly useless. You realize early on that you must run a half-marathon plain and true, leave the helmet at home and tackle nothing. (Bite panic, visualize finish lines, run half-marathons.) When people asked what half I planned on doing, I’d tell them it wasn’t important which one I chose. Important was that I’d finally decided to talk about tackling one.

 

Continue reading on Runner’s World…

 

 

How Stress Can Help and Hurt Running

For 17 years, running was Neil McDonagh’s life: His high school career led to a scholarship at Georgia Tech, where he hit times like a 4:04 mile. Postcollege, he earned up to $8,000 annually in prize money from road races, which complemented his job coaching cross-country at the University of West Florida.

The problem was he was almost always stressed, losing sleep weeks before a race, wondering if he was on the right training plan. Finally, in 2009, after training his hardest and still struggling to race well, he acknowledged to himself: This is not fun.

McDonagh took three months off. When he hit the road again, it was with no watch, no goal. And the strangest thing happened. He found himself happy, euphoric even. McDonagh kept running for pleasure, and after six months of feeling like a blissed-out mystic, he ran a half-marathon in Mobile, Alabama, without a watch or race strategy. The result? He set a two-minute PR and broke the course record with a time of 1:08:47, winning the race by more than nine minutes.

Many experts say not all stress is bad–it can sometimes boost performance. Yet McDonagh’s experience illustrates how running can thrive when it’s free of pressure and anxiety. The trick is to find a happy middle ground.

Continue reading on Runner’s World…

 

 

 

Rod Laver: The next point

“The next point – that’s all you must think about. ”
Rod Laver

Rod Laver

Rod Laver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This one’s for Jeanne: In praise of a thoroughbred mother

Meat Loaf

 

If Jeanne had been a racehorse she would have commanded a hefty breeding price. My mother was sired by an Australian cricket captain and she then produced two of that breed and a third son, Trevor, who also wore the baggy green cap.

 

Meat Loaf might have been happy with two out of three, but not Jeanne. All the same, she wouldn’t be impressed by me saying she was worthy of a high fee. She was happiest with family and friends around her, having a good time. You know your mother loves you when she admits: “If any of you three boys ever commit a murder I’ll still stick by you.”

 

Continue reading on Cricinfo…

 

No performance anxiety, Sachin?

 

TEST CRICKET AT THE SCG

TEST CRICKET AT THE SCG (Photo credit: RubyGoes)

 

Dear Sachin,
What the heck are you doing, man, playing in silly Tests against New Zealand when your skills are so badly needed in the Rajya Sabha? Who watches a Test match against New Zealand these days when far more interesting and exciting matches are being played every day in Parliament?

 

Did you see that fantastic bouncer Arun Jaitley sent down to Chidambaram the other day? The man has been bowling brilliantly, he’s even better than Ashwin. The crowd has been completely bowled over by his balls.

 

It was also a treat to watch Manmohan Singh play a captain’s knock. Singh’s only claim to fame has so far been to occupy the crease, so his shots took everybody by surprise. I guess he had no option as the Opposition was playing bodyline against him. The poor guy had ultimately to retire hurt to Iran. Singh’s forte actually lies in bowling, where his Invisible Hand can deliver a mean googly.

 

You must come and watch the ladies play, they’re a sight for sore eyes.

 

Continue reading on HindustanTimes.com…

 

 

 

A leader cannot be an armchair strategist

Leadership, someone said, is about sizing up the situation and constructing the appropriate response. In my view, this is an apt description and nowhere is it more relevant than in the field of sport. During my long and cherished career representing the state and the country at the highest level, I have been fortunate to be part of teams that have been led by some exceptional individuals; in the twilight of my career, I also had the opportunity to lead the team myself. There have been substantive lessons on leadership that I have absorbed along this journey and here are some of them.

Read more here…

Edited version of original image depicting pop...

Edited version of original image depicting popular Indian cricketer Anil Kumble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)