“When I first saw the racing arena, zooming cycles, training jargons, and high energy at the event, I was almost hypnotised. I never imagined that such a world existed. I made up my mind that I’ll be a part of all these high adrenaline events.”
Meet 47 years old Dr.Uma Vinod. Ahmedabad based Ophthalmologist and a mother of two boys. First rank holder of Gandhinagar Triathlon 2018 and winner at several cycle racing events(you will not find her on any social media although)
As Dr.Uma says,
I got married immediately after my MBBS and completed my Post Graduation in Ophthalmology.
I was soon engrossed in all motherhood duties, work, and house chores—a typical story for most married women.
The race euphoria
In 2012, I participated in my first half marathon and finished in 3.45 hours. I was at cloud nine that I finished the race.
In 2014 I witnessed a cyclothon in Ahmedabad. I was aghast to see the zooming cycles, the cheering crowd, and pumped up, high energy athletes. I was stunned by the entire event. I never imagined the existence of such a world, as if it was a parallel universe.
In the same year, I registered for a super sprint event. The main reason to register for the event was – Milind Soman(blushes).
The race briefing was an eye-opener. I heard the terms like wet-suit, cadence, cut-off timing, and several other jargons that seemed like french. The trainers talked about cycle gear ratio and cleats while I came to participate in the race on my son’s bicycle!
For the event, I got my first BSA “thin” tire bike assuming it’ll make me go faster. Only thin tyres don’t make you win a race but training and effort do.
With all the learnings of the previous event, I got my first road bike and participated in a Duathlon in 2014. I stood first!
By now I was in deep love with cycling.
I started participating in cycling races and winning too. I was utterly mesmerized by the sheer joy of zooming on the bike and winning as well.
I was a hypothyroid patient until the age of 40, but then I decided to lead a healthy life and gifted myself a significant weight loss.
Do it, because it makes you happy.
In 2015, I went to Manali-Leh biking, and as it is known that the route is not for the lesser mortals. I was surely not the one. It was a life-changing experience for me. It was my zen moment of putting all the elements of the body together and strengthen the mind.
I was gaining expertise in cycling, but my running was still lacking. I started with proper training in 2017. Guided practice, along with a proper diet, helps a lot in improving the training performance.
In 2018 I participated. in the Triathlon in Gandhinagar. Due to fewer women participants, the organizers kept an open category for women 18-55. I stood first in the race!
I then registered myself for the Berlin Marathon in 2019. I was hesitant to go on my own, but my elder son persuaded me to travel. Technology and I don’t have much of a friendship. To navigate the phone to find a way or even to use google translator is tough for me.
But I did. Because it made me happy, very happy.
Women in endurance sports- lesser lady
Is it a new discussion? I face the same set of questions each time,
- what fun do you get in killing yourself in training?
- You are always either running or cycling, do you even spend time with your family?
- Why are you going alone for your races, take your children along too?
- How will your family manage without you?
I’ll miss cooking a great meal over the weekend, but I’ll never miss my training, this gives me a title of – lesser lady.
I mostly train alone and do not share that moment “ME” with anyone. It is my meditation. My alarm buzzes at 4 am and I go out for my run. Being dark at that hour, I can’t go far for the practice; hence I run in loops at a stretch in front of my building. I have informed my guard that if I don’t turn back within time or he hears my scream, then he should run to trace me.
Male dominance and raising boys
I have five males in my family: husband, father-in-law, father, and two boys (18 & 15).
I am a working female, and along with my training and work, the house responsibility doubles up. There were days when I could not prepare the meal, and my boys made their tiffin and went to school. In the growing years, my children understand cohesive existence. They also see that I have a liking towards sports gadgets than fancy clothes.
There was a point where I was fulfilling all my duties as a mother, wife, daughter, professional, but I wasn’t doing anything for myself.
It was a tough call to prioritise my liking over everything else. We live in a society where women are meant to be more focused on home, but
I believe that when you don’t negotiate you’ll never be taken for granted.
Today my elder one is studying in IIT Kharagpur and is in the college squash and running team. He is a swimmer as well.
He says, “mom, sports gave me recognition.”
He prefers a girlfriend who loves cycling!
My younger one has already completed a triathlon and is looking forward to more.
What lies ahead?
I aim to improve my race timings and keep winning as a mother as an athlete and emerge as a more robust version of myself.