Let me be ME

Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

A Podium Mother- Smithaa Kajale

Smitha Kajale

A civil engineer by profession, winner of several cycling races, 3rd rank holder at Kolhapur triathlon 2019, 2nd rank holder at Nagpur Triathlon 2020, National qualifier at Nashik association championship 2020, a struggler in all the races due to her menopause stage, yet a winner at many, married at 18 and first child at 19 years of age, here is 45 years old Smitha Kajale from Thane.

Air force background and marriage at 18

I was born in Kolkata, and my father was in the Indian Air Force. My father had his last posting at Nashik, and he took a retirement there and joined HAL. I got into Chemical Engineering when my parents decided to get me married as they did not want to let go a suitable and desirable match. 

I got married at 18 and had my first child at 19. 

I continued with my education and completed my bachelor’s in civil engineering.

My second child was born when I was 26 years old. I never walked leave aside, exercising. Being young and occupied with children and work, I never felt the need for any physical workout. 

After my second child, I started with short walks. Even walking a kilometer was a colossal task. My husband and I decided to start with regular morning brisk walks. It was refreshing to walk and talk amidst all the duties and busy schedules.

The casual fitness journey

Going fast forward, when my elder son turned 19, he started going to a nearby gym, and I followed his footsteps. I got into a habit of regular workout and weight training. 

My younger son winning a Gold at time-trial, Guwahati

When my younger son turned 17, he started outdoor cycling and gradually cycling became his passion. His passion did not remain confined to casual cycling, but he started participating in the races. He did MTB Nashik, thane cycling championship, and in December 2017, he won the gold medal at the national time trial.

He then suggested me to start riding. He was sure that I would enjoy riding. 

I was getting bored with the gym. I get bored by the mundane routine; hence I bought a basic cycle and started cycling in December 2018.

In February 2019, I won the First Prize at Navi Mumbai maha cyclothon and a 10k cash prize

In March 2019, I won the 3rd Prize in the open category at Pedal cyclothon

In April 2019, I won the 3rd Prize in the open category at Borivili Cycling association Time Trial

I started loving my finishes and the joy of winning.

It is said that a child gives birth to a mother, and truly my children gave birth to a new me.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

-Anonymous

How Triathlon?

Someone in the cycling group suggested about Triathlon. Triathlon was attractive, and the excitement to do three sports was gripping, but the issue was- I had never run until now!

I then thought and considered the upcoming episodes when my elder was already working in the U.S., and the younger one would leave soon, I would be free from their day to day responsibility.

Our life revolves around our children in motherhood, and they become our first and topmost priority. I was no different. The empty nest syndrome was daunting, and I needed to distract myself.

I decided to take the plunge and try out this new breed of excitement in my life-Triathlon.

3rd Position at Kolhapur Tri

Under the guidance of Viv Menon for triathlon plans and Nimesh for swimming, I participated in the Kolhapur triathlon (Olympic distance) and stood 3rd.

My first experience of open water swim at Kolhapur, and I was kicked, smashed, punched all over due to the massive number of participants.

After Kolhapur, I thought enough of Triathlon, let me now go back to cycling.

Meanwhile, someone mentioned about Tigerman Tri, Nagpur in Feb 2020. My previous doubts vanished, and I registered for the event.

“Sometimes we have one chance, to ride that wave, one opportunity to jump on, take a deep breath and feel the rush of adrenaline. . . don’t miss your chance.”

― Heidi Reagan

A week before the Tigerman event, I came across the Nashik Tri association championship. The championship was attractive, and with a discussion with my coach Viv, I registered for the event.

In February, I knew that Nashik would be cold, and I didn’t have the wetsuit for the race. Hence I started going for early morning swims and bathing in cold water to acclimatize my body.

The race mentioned that the swim would be in the pool, and I took a sigh of relief.

When I collected my bib, I was informed that the swim would take place in a dam(water reservoir). I couldn’t sleep for the entire night.

The race morning was horrifying than the revelation of the previous eve.

To my amazement, there were no ropes, buoys, or any emergency evacuation.

4th position in Nashik district triathlon

Upon questioning, the officials made it clear that the race was a time trial for the national qualifier and is a self-supported race.

I took a while to register this fact. My throat went dry. In already cold weather, I stood there, shivering in a swimsuit.

I prayed and chanted what I could remember and asked my husband to wait for me until I completed my swim and jumped in the water.

2nd position in Tigerman Triathlon

I finished 1500 meters of swim course in 35 mins. After completing the bike course, which was an undulating path and run that happened in scoring heat, I stood 4th

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

–Dale Carnegie

A week after I participated in Tigerman Triathlon, Nagpur and stood  2nd.

Menopause and training

For the event in November, I started training in June 2019. At the same time, I had to travel to Pennysylvania to my elder son. There the issue of menopause started. I was continuously bleeding heavily for week-10 days and changing menstrual cups every hour. Without a country-specific prescription, I could not take any medications in the U.S. hence. I continued in the same state until I returned to India.

I felt weak and lacked stamina. I consulted my physician as the race was nearing, and I had to get into vigorous training.

My blood test reports were not at all satisfying. My hemoglobin was at 8. My physician strictly advised me not to attempt any race, which was just two months away.

“Do not attempt doesn’t fit in my psyche” hence I asked for a solution. He advised for an Intravenous blood transfusion. I readily agreed and went to his clinic after work and got the I.V.

Races during my menopause phase

It is common to get a fever after the I.V., and I got it too.

My husband was concerned for me; he was always intrigued by this training idea and kept asking me,” Kyun Kar Rahi ho?”(why are you doing?)

I recovered the hemoglobin level, but my bleeding didn’t stop.

Thankfully just ten days before the race day, God showed mercy on me, and I wasn’t bleeding any more.

I could say one thing,”der aae durust aae”

Nashik and Tigerman, two consecutive races

On the eve of the Kolahour tri, I went for the bike route recce with my husband, exhausted in just 2-3 kms. I was anxious about the race the next day.

I believe that the mind conspires what you start thinking, I had made up my mind to finish the race, and I did.

From my menopause episode I can only conclude that,

“Leaders bleed, period.”

― Silvia Young, My FemTruth: Scandalous Survival Stories

The family bond

My boys are my pillars of strength. There has been no race when my husband has not been there to cheer, support, and encourage me. My two boys were my initial coach, guides, and mentor. I followed their footsteps in my workout/fitness journey as well as cycling.

What’s next?

I enrolled for Ironman 70.3 in Boulder, USA, but due to COVID, all the races got canceled. I will attempt the race whenever the racing season opens.

I aim to continue on my fitness journey and emerge as a more vital human being mentally and physically.

“A woman’s health is her capital.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Dabang Maa: Sunita Dhote

Sunita Dhote

Mother of two boys, a Fauji kid, Asia book of records holder, represented India in Canada for somersault competition, a college professor by profession, thrice failed attempts for Ironman to a successful finisher, a woman who stood for her passion in a family where the only job of a bahu(bride) was to do household chores. Rendevous with 48 years old, Sunita Dhote from Nagpur.

Fauji childhood

My father was in the Indian Airforce, and I’ve been born and bought up all over India. I call myself as Bharat ki Beti.
My childhood was disciplined and strict. My father used to wake us up (myself and my younger brother) at 5 am, and we were then supposed to take four rounds of the park in the vicinity. Any mischievous act or cheating would result in additional drills.
We learned cycling on hired bikes for a rent of 10 paise per hour. Mistakes would result in thappads (tight slaps).
I was annoyed at that time, but now I understand the significance of discipline that my father instilled in us.
I was into sports right from the very beginning. I got selected for state high jump when Papa was posted in Guwahati. I wasn’t allowed to participate in nationals with the fear that high jump would make me taller, and I won’t get a desirable match.
By the time I reached my tenth grade, sports were just a memory, and the entire focus shifted towards studies.
I did my B.com, M.com, MBA, and Ph.D
I was an obedient daughter.

Marriage and the grind

I got married in a business family, and no sooner I entered my in-law’s place, all maids at home were given permanent off from their duties.
I was a full-time maid now. Right from washing the clothes, utensils, cooking, and every little chore was my responsibility.
I have no regret; instead, I am grateful to my mother-in-law for teaching me patience.

She cribbed and I listened.

This habit taught me how not to react unnecessarily and carry on with your task. She made me physiologically strong- a much-needed trait of an athlete.
It was during my honeymoon to Nepal that I had a glimpse of the golden pagodas. I wanted to run to the top and shared the desire with my husband. He gladly agreed, and within no time, I saw myself running on the trail towards the pagoda. The hidden sports person was still alive. When I reached the top, a stranger shared a message; my husband was waiting for me.

He didn’t climb.

At this point, I resolve that come what may, my children will not be the ones waiting down but the ones who would climb the fastest.

I finished my Ph.D. in 2011 and settled for a job. I understood that it was essential to be financially independent.

Having been traveled all across India with my father, I was a keen traveler but never got an opportunity post-marriage.

During one of the exchange programs, I got an opportunity to travel to Seattle and stay at the Microsoft research center. I loved the experience of being on my own and interact with people across the globe. I was impressed by their discipline, eating habits, and zing for life.
I came back with a determination – I have to take charge of my life. I will not fall into this rut.

The beginning

The group study exchange program to Seattle was a game-changer. Another episode that triggered my thought process was when I was an entrepreneurship faculty, and I talked to the students about passion. I read many autobiographies in this process, and each story had primary learning- follow your passion.

Rotary group exchange program

It filled me with energy and determination.

After my first son was born, I started to learn swimming. I wasn’t allowed to swim in childhood owing to a reason that if I turn dark, then I won’t get a suitable match!

I used to go to the pool nearby, considering all the eyes watching me or even following. I used to hide my swimming costume in a towel, dry my hair, and dress up “appropriately” for this adventure.

“learning and achieving smaller things make you happy.”

chirps Sunita

In 2012, I stood first in 100 meters butterfly championship.

I now wanted to learn more. So, I went ahead and learned about diving.
I was allowed to carry on with whatever I wish to with the condition that children should not be neglected and the house well attended. So, I used to take my children along to the pool. In this process, they also learned swimming (win-win situation).

When life gives you restrictions, don’t flutter in a cage; instead, look for that one little opportunity to fly out.

believes Sunita

Within five to six years, I was a diving champion.

Even now, I was struggling at somersault. I pleaded a child in the pool to teach me. I was 41 years at this point. That child made me do 100 meters of front and roll and said confidently, “you are ready.” I could now do front and reverse somersaults.

I represented India in 2014 in Canada for somersault championships. I was an enthralling moment when my name heard my name, Sunita Dhote, India.

I was beginning to enjoy my life my filled with confidence and joy.

To add to my newly discovered joy, I did solo cycling from Nagpur to Pondicherry of a total distance of 1412 km in 6 days and registered my name in the Asia book of records.

Multiple failures and finally a successful Ironman finish

In 2017 a friend introduced the word Triathlon. With an assumption that it’s just swimming, cycle, and run, I enrolled for Pune triathlon, sprint distance. To my dismay, after the swim and the bike, I couldn’t manage to run.

Being a total novice, I participated in the race empty stomach.
I was unaware of the word nutrition.

The same year I enrolled for the Hyderabad triathlon, and it was a DNF. I attempted thrice and failed.

Three failed attempts at Hyderabad Tri

I kept trying.

Life is all about trying.

says Sunita

The “chipko andollan” movement is imbibed in me; hence I don’t leave until done.

In 2018, finally, I could finish the race in 9hrs 15 mins.

A friend told me about systematic training, planning, and nutrition. I then took proper coaching and participated in the Dubai ironman.

Ten days before the race, I had two bad falls, and my training came to a standstill. But I am a stubborn soul, and I was determined to fly to Dubai for the race.

I swam for the first time in a wetsuit, and the clear water gave a feeling of “patal lok” I clocked my PB in the swim. Cycling was comfortable, and during the run, I followed a strategy to run pole to pole.
Dubai IM finish was blissfully satisfying.

I became the first woman from the Vidarbha region to have completed the Ironman race.

When I came back and showed the medal to my family, my husband had a blank expression, and he could only ask me,” iske liye itni mehnat?(so much of effort just for this medal?)”

Sunita at the finish line

It is difficult to explain your desires and passion, so it’s better to keep the hustle on and move forward.

The training was a tricky part. I used to put a cycle in my car, wear the cycling gear, and cover it with a salwar suit (formal dress).
Once the college used to get over, I drove to the highway, parked my car, and did a three-hour cycle, and returned home.
There were several episodes where I had to manage the timing and surroundings efficiently.

You have to decide what you have to do, then be on it, come what may”

says determined Sunita

Life is about how you face it.

When I did my solo cycling, my elder son was in grade 10. I had a lot of “Gyan” for everyone around that I was an irresponsible mother who has left her son behind in the crucial year.
During a press conference for the Asia book of records, a media person had serious doubt on my grit and daring to do a solo ride. I wanted to reply,”are you scared of a woman being on her own or are you feeling insecure”(pun intended)

Sunita, with her sons


I didn’t allow life to churn me, but I did the other way round.


I sponsor the races on my own. I ensured that I bought up boys with discipline and integrity.
Work colleagues who once questioned my caliber now have the utmost respect for me.
My son does 200 crunches, and we are quite competitive about it(in all humor). He also cooks a fantastic meal.


My nickname is Sona(means gold), and one property of gold is that it glitters the most when it is rubbed hard and rough.

grins Sunita

It is my time to glow, and I’ll ensure that I shine the brightest.

that’s sunita’s promise to herself

Crash queen : Chandani Desai

Chandani Desai

Someone who has never been a sports enthusiast, where mere participation in any of the school sports event was a significant accomplishment, a thyroid patient, “slow performer” as she calls herself, mother of a nine-year-old, a textile designer by profession here is our Crash Queen- Chandani Desai

Why a crash queen?

Forever bleeding knees

Well, there has been no race where I’ve not fallen off my bike. My knees are forever bleeding, injured, bandaged, and bruised. 

After the race, I look nothing less than a wounded soldier who has just returned from the battlefield. 

Now, I’ve come to a consensus that crashing is a good omen for me.

Mumbai express

I come from a family where outdoor explorations like treks, hikes, and long walks were regular affairs.

Pregnancy

While my family post-marriage was the opposite, my husband would not prefer going out at all, gradually, I also got soaked into all married life responsibilities. I was never a high adrenaline person, but I was fit and agile. I was juggling multiple things in one go. There came a moment post-delivery when I could not get off the floor without support. It was demeaning. I didn’t like my state. But what do I do? How do I manage my time? By now, my son started his play-school in the afternoon shift (11 am-1 pm), so in between the drop and pick up I precisely had 45 minutes. I used this time to run at 12noon (rain, shine, or wind), go home shower, prepare his tiffin, and pick him up. Whenever I missed the run, I would climb the stairs.

Satara half-marathon

My building residents thought that I am crazy. Well! I was mad to get back into my fit form and not remain a slug.

I was synonymous with Mumbai express, on time, can’t get slow, will never stop.

I could now run around 10kms, but the city-run was boring. Someone mentioned about Satara run and within no time registered and finished my first half marathon.

This Mumbai express was not stopping at all now!

Crib or join the madness – what do I choose?

In 2013, Pratik (my husband) did his first Comrades. Due to several reasons, he broke his spine and was on complete bed rest. His first question to the doctor was – will I be able to run?

Running is his life, and he was slipping into depression due to his injury.

I was ok with a physically injured husband but not a mentally unstable one.

I had to take a call here to crib about his state or join him in his madness; I chose the latter, and that is how my events journey started.

We started sharing a lot of things in common. I could now relate to the jargon used in training. As I juggled between a kid, work, home, and much more, he understood my pain points and started supporting me even more.

I could now extract time from my Mumbai express schedule and devote sincere efforts towards the training.

The Tri-bug

In 2016 I got to know about Pune Triathlon. Running was getting boring, and the combination of three sports was attractive. I registered for the event and started training.

My schedule was something like this:

  • 5 am get up and go for training 
  • cook breakfast, lunch for the whole family(including extended family)
  • Get Rivaan ready for school
  • board the train to work(missing a local in Mumbai is like, missing your work)
  • leave on time from work
  • pick up Rivaan, drop him to classes
  • cook dinner 
  • train once everyone in the house is asleep.

I was running on a reserve battery. I used to be super tired, drained, but I found myself more energetic than I was earlier because first, I was enjoying the pain, and second it was a feel-good factor.

Pratik came forward to take care of Rivaan and encouraged me to train harder for my first triathlon, which later got him hooked as well.

I came to know about my naive state when during one cycle training session, I tried hard to catch up on my co-trainee, but my cycle wouldn’t move forward at all, no matter how hard I tried. He then offered his bike, and I realised the difference between an autorickshaw and a Ferrari.

Race day was also disastrous. I lost my way during the swim course and swam a half ironman distance(1.9kms) compared to the Olympic(1.5kms). I was screaming mid-way to guide me for the direction. Some kind soul heard me and shouted back to swim 45 degrees right.

I swam in my swimming costume and just wore a cycling tee over it for the bike course. The concept of wet suit or any other gear was unknown until then.

The bike course was not just tough but grueling. The bike course was all on the ghats, and I had trained only on plains. Anyhow, I patted myself that I completed the course without a fall. But this happiness was short-lived, and I crashed yet again.

The last running course was the toughest. I had cramps in my legs right from the start. Someone said, have salt at the station, someone said have gel, I did what I could, and dragged myself.

In the last 200 meters where I was still pushing myself, Pratik cheered me loudly, “go run, the medal is yours. You have only two minutes left”.

I composed myself, pushed as hard as I could, and crossed the finish line.

I sat there and cried my heart out.

Those were the tears of my hard work, discipline, my express routine, Pratik’s injury, my child who saw me training hard, my effort. 

I deserved this medal, yes, the medal was mine!

What led to 70.3?

In 2017 Pratik and I did the Pune International Triathlon together (his 1st and my 2nd triathlon), and the same year we shifted to Dubai.

Fast forward to 2018, while I was still adjusting to the new country, work, and Rivaan’s school, Pratik completed his first 70.3 and went to do his first full @ IM Hamburg. 

It is here where while cheering for him and seeing him cross the red carpet that I got goosebumps and a thought flashed in my mind to do Dubai 70.3 along with him.

This thought came into reality when in India, we went to meet the only Iron couple Kaushik and Vineeta casually over a weekend drink. Within a blink of sharing my thought about doing an Ironman race, they registered me for Dubai 70.3, and then there was no looking back!

Mis(s)-adventures

With the event approaching, I had lots to catch up and get into aggressive training. The training period was strenuous. Being a slow racer and also a thyroid patient, my recovery rate is more time-consuming. 

My legs would ache to give me sleepless nights. Rivaan used to sit on my legs to comfort me, but every single day I would get up with the same zeal and train much harder than the previous day. 

On my first-century training ride(100kms) after 18 odd km, I had a crash (what new?), but this time my cycle wouldn’t/t move no matter how hard I peddled. I kept going and finished the ride. 

I then called up Pratik to pick me up as I was almost immobile. I started worrying about my capability to finish the bike course in the race. When Pratik came to pick me up and had a look at the bike and me, he sensed my worry. 

With a smile on his face, he assured me that I was more than ready for the race. I was puzzled. He told me that the brakes jammed after the crash, and even then, I completed the ride. This effort talked a lot about my stamina and strength.

I was confident about biking now.

Now comes the swim struggle.

I was excellent at breaststroke, but it wasn’t easy in a wetsuit. I changed to freestyle just three weeks before the race. Also developed severe bronchitis.

On the race day, I entered the water with bruised knees and cuts so deep that the flesh was visible—Courtesy-all the falls during the training.

The water was choppy, but I managed to finish the swim course. My Garmin malfunctioned on the event day, and I was unwary of the time. I got on the bike, and as ever a fall had to happen. I got back on the bike and completed the bike course as well. Run was draining.

I panicked about the timing. 

Pratik passed on the message that I had time to finish. Even though I was relieved of listening to this, but I was exhausted.

I saw people older than me running to the finish line, and I silently muttered to myself- you will not give up Chandani, run, go, run to the finish line.

As soon as I saw the red carpet, I sprinted and finished well before time.

Firm your mind, and the universe will conspire to make it happen.

believes , Chandani

Setbacks? Or Sit-back?

I had to come over challenging circumstances for all my races, but I was a tougher challenge. 

Crash during Lockdown

I was determined, and one after the other, things kept falling in place to train systematically.

Crashing is my second name, but I never gave up and carried on with bleeding knees in all the races even then. Just recently, Entirely, out of nowhere, I had a massive crash in a casual bike ride during the lockdown. I had to undergo facial surgery with multiple fractures. It was a tough time to manage in a foreign country and a child back home. He was petrified to see my injured face. 

Back to saddle after the accident

Two months post-surgery, I am back on the saddle again.

There will be challenges and setbacks in some way or the other; the choice is yours to sit back or get going?

To all the women

We, women, are crash queens in our ways.

Stereotypes crash us

Heaps of responsibilities crash us

Guilt crash us

But we have to rise and shine for we are the queens

says, Chandani

Sutli bomb: Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi

This petite looking, a small structured girl is the right synonym of the Sutli Bomb(Jute twine bomb).

Nandita Pranajape Joshi

She is a powerhouse of endurance and strength.

Once a patient of sciatica, backache, irritable bowel syndrome , permanent asthma, several health issues, poor lifestyle-induced diseases to an Ironman Podium Finisher.

Here is the story of Dr. Nandita Paranjape Joshi, a 36 years old, mother of a five-year-old girl, Kolhapur based Gynaecologist and infertility specialist.

As Nandita shares her story,

National level lawn tennis player 

I had a beautiful childhood. There was a strict rule in my house that we siblings need to learn one art and one sport. I chose badminton but shifted to lawn tennis soon.

With the winner’s trophy for Lawn Tennis

I was pretty good at it (collars up) 

I represented Maharashtra thrice and played till nationals. 

Back then, participation in tournaments was a simple affair with non-branded clothing or shoes. I am from Sangli, Maharashtra, a small laid back town, and sports were all about strict training under my father’s supervision. Our relationship during the training was not like father and daughter but as a coach and a trainee, hence there was no mercy.

 Marriage, children and hectic work hours 

Children will always do the opposite of what their parents will tell them, and I was no exception. I did my medicine even when my parents asked me not to. Both my parents are doctors, and they knew the long working hours in the profession. 

I completed my MBBS from Aurangabad and DGO too.

I got married in 2010, and my daughter Nabha was born in 2015.

Nabha was eight months old when I joined back to work. 

Due to stressful work hours, an infant at home, and erratic work schedule, I developed a lot of lifestyle-related diseases. As the medical facility was easily accessible to me, I would do MRIs even for a minute symptom at the drop of a hat. I was in a persistent unhealthy phase. A childhood sports enthusiast was now under medicines and constant fatigue.

The push

All thanks to my brother, who pushed and pursed me to get back on track. With a lot of reluctance, I joined lawn tennis again, my lost love. But lost love doesn’t find existence in the present; hence I shifted to running.

I could not even finish 400 meters in 35 minutes or so. I was huffing and panting all the time. 

My brother made me do a 10K in some event, which I finished in 1.40 hours and slept off for two days. I cursed him with all my heart.

Being a doctor myself, I sensed my alarming physical state. I had to take charge and got into systematic training.

Races and training

A structured training plan helped me get back to my earlier fit and good form quickly. I took great care of my diet, as well. In 2016 I did my first Kolahpur half marathon. 

Things were going fine until I met with an accident. 

I traveled to Spain for a conference where I had a terrible fall. MRI showed ligament tear, and I was completely bedridden.

All my hard work came to a standstill. I had to start from scratch now.

At this point, a friend who was not allowed to travel on her own for the event registered me to the Belgaum Triathlon (sprint distance- 750 m swim,20 km cycle, 5 km Run).

I had no idea about triathlon, I followed the racecourse, and to my surprise stood 3rd! I was utterly clueless.

By now, I had started loving the entire endurance training and registered for Kolhapur Triathlon, Olympic distance(1.5 km Swim,40 km Cycle,10 km Run), and stood 2nd. 

Then came Goa Ironman, first-ever Ironman 70.3 (1.9 km Swim,90 km Cycle,21.1 km Run)event in India, and I enthusiastically registered for it.

I had never cycled 90 km ever before the race, and I seriously doubted my capability.

Podium finisher at Goa Ironman 70.3

Swimming is my strongest point as I have learned swimming in the river, but it was a tough course to tackle even then.

I was utterly exhausted in the last lap when I heard my husband and daughter cheering me, “why are you walking? Run! You are in the second position. Go run to the finish line”.

I was pumped up immediately and finished 2nd in my age category.

Training in a small town and Maharashtra flood hero

It is a challenging affair. I have to be very careful on the route, the hour of the day, and the company during my training. I was advised to dress up like a boy to avoid eve-teasing.

My training gear is either half or full-sleeves t-shirt and long tights.

There is always a lot of questions from the society and even peer group regarding my training. 

At one point, I started doubting myself on my competency to manage my family, especially my child, and focussing more on the training. 

I shared my concern with my husband, and he assured me of going by what I think is right.

As a woman, you have to prove your worth always, and it is pressurising. 

During the Kolhapur floods in 2019, I promptly took charge to rescue the trapped people and saved 50 lives. My name flashed in all newspapers, and since then, there are no questions raised on my training or races.

Personal growth

Endurance sports require strict discipline, hard work, and a tough mind. It sharpens your thought process and decision-making ability. 

After strenuous training and long work hours, I used to get irritated and vent out my anger on Nabha. With a systematic approach towards the training, I could manage my mood swings as well and developed self-awareness.

The field of Embryology and fertility requires precision, accuracy, empathy, attention to detail, emotional strength, and patience, and endurance training enabled me to acquire all these traits.

says, Nandita

I can tackle stereotyping with much grace and confidence. These things don’t bother me anymore.

Want to represent India at the Global Platform

Does hunger continue?

Of course! It will. It has just begun. I aim to work for better stamina and much better timing in all my races.

India lacks pro-athletes in international tournaments; I wish to represent India at the global platform.

Be fearless and independent. Nabha wants me to be the next Lucy Charles, and I’ll put all my efforts into being the best one from India.

Note to my daughter, nabha
Nandita and Nabha

Note to all the mothers.

Extract one hour for yourself for your mental and physical well-being. Each one of us is unique and fighting a battle of their own.Comparison is the worst enemy for growth. Do not compare yourself to anyone, it spills a beautiful relationship called friendship.

If you are happy, you’ll keep your family happy.

P.S: Nandita is also a great cook and a sculptor. She’s been making eco-friendly Ganpati idol for the last eight years at her home.

Snail-paced cyclist to a Podium finisher: Ritu Kudal

Small town to the city of dreams

Snail-paced cyclist to an Ironman finisher

Determination is the second name of Ritu Kudal, a Mumbai based 41-year-old mother of two beautiful girls. 

Bahu(bride)
To a babe !

Pallu (veil)clad Marwari to a girl in running shorts.

Ritu has quite a few finisher medals in her kitty like Dubai 70.3 (1.9kms swim, 90kms bike, 21.1 run) 2020; Kolhapur 70.3, 2019(Podium); Hyderabad 2018(Olympic Distance-1.5kms swim,40kms cycling, and 10kms run), Full marathon 2017, countless half marathons, 10km and 25kms pacer.

Let’s read Ritu’s story in her narration.

How and why?

I studied in Udaipur and was into sports right from childhood. Kho-Kho and running were my favorite sports; I have even played until the state level. I was selected for national and had to travel to Nepal for the race; my mother was in doubt. Firstly coming from a Marwahi community, there was a stigma for girls to participate in sports, and secondly, pursuing sports was not a serious discussion. Even I was unsure, so I left where I started and continued to study further.

Soon I was married, but I am glad that my parents respected my opinion to find an educated match for me. 

I came to Mumbai after marriage and continued to pursue my Charted Accountant course. My husband, Tarun being a CA himself, helped me in the completion of the course. 

I carried on with my duty as a dedicated housewife and managing children.

When my elder one was six-months-old, just to come out of boredom, I started to learn swimming. The oldest student was in the swimming class was 60 years old.

There is no age to learn anything new

First lesson
Ritu with her family

It was during the Ganpati celebration when I was sitting in the pandal, holding my second child in my lap when my elder daughter’s gymnastics instructor uttered under his breath that I look like a Ganpati. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror, and he was not wrong. What had I done to myself? With a chubby body and bulging belly, I surely looked like Ganpati.

Do not neglect yourself after childbirth. Your body needs a lot of attention.

Second lesson

I developed hypothyroidism as well.

I started walking and mild exercising until one-day, I met someone who had completed his half marathon. I was shocked by the distance he covered when I was struggling to walk even a 5K. When my younger one was six -months old, I ran my first 10K Pinkathon race in 2013 and finished in 1.02hrs.

It is always challenging to take the first step but dare to take it, and it’ll make all the difference. 

Third lesson

There was no looking back then. I did the Goa marathon, Kundalika river. Marathon, Stara Hill run and, after four years in 2017, ran my first full marathon with systematic planning and training.

The race moment

My first Triathlon was Hyderabad 2018, Olympic Distance. I chose to race here to test waters, and surprisingly, I stood 4th in my age category. Next was Kolhapur 2019 70.3, and the (OWS )open water swim came into existence. Ah! to face the fear of open water and then to swim through that distance was a tough task. I trained hard and was a podium finisher at the race.

Dubai 70.3 was announced by now, and after talking to Tarun, I registered. A race that I can never forget.

Podium at Kolhapur 70.3

My coach Viv Menon and swim coach Ashutosh left no stone unturned to turn me into a beast by gruelling training plans. My day started very early, and after preparing the breakfast and packing my kid’s tiffin boxes, I used to head for my training. There were days when my body gave up, and my legs ached, but I had a massive target in front of me, and I didn’t pause.

Before the race day, I packed my bike, learned how to mend the puncture, made my mind to travel alone. Yes, it was my first international travel on my own. It was a great accomplishment to get the visa stamped, issue a new SIM card, and manage everything on my own. 

After the trial swim, I was down with a cough, cold and high fever. I panicked as my body was too weak to face a tough race ahead. 

On race day, my swim went well, but due to coughing I had gulped a lot of seawater, I started vomiting while cycling. My left side of the body was almost frozen, and I had severe pain. I was tensed not because of my state, but what if something happens to me? I have children back home.

My mind could not register a DNF (Did Not Finish), and I pushed myself hard to the finish line.

Dubai 70.3

The glimpse of the India flag at the finish line, the sense of victory and achievement took away all my pains, aches, fever, and anxiety.  It was a moment of pride and triumph.

You have to put effort on your own to achieve the impossible.

Fourth lesson

Gratitude

Mom, you can do it

I am very grateful to my parents, who ensured that I get a proper education. I can’t thank my coach Viv Menon, Ashutosh, enough, who pushed me hard and beyond my limits.

Most importantly, I could have never done any of my races without Tarun. Whenever I step out for a competition, I always ask Tarun to put his hand on my head. It fills me with immense confidence and trust. That cheer from my kids,” Mom, you can do it!” kept ringing in my ears all through my racecourse.

Is the hunger over?

No, the hunger to chase the impossible will never get over. Once I was back from Dubai 70.3, I enrolled for the Goa swimathon for 5K. My coach asked me, “are you ready to fail, Ritu?” I replied, “it’s not about failing or timing, but I want to test myself.” I am glad I took a plunge and finished the 5K swim.

Dare to dream and have the courage to chase your dreams. What seems impossible now will become a reality soon. 

Ritu’s mantra

Learnings from being a Badass mommy

Getting married or having kids is no reason to stop you from achieving your dreams. Never stop learning, never stop dreaming, and be happy for yourself and on your own.

Dream Believe Chase Achieve 

concludes Ritu

Epiphany#1

The other day a piece of news popped up in TimeHop (an app that shows nostalgic pics/videos). The story was about Sid’s climb to the ThotongLa Pass. It was back in 2018 when we completed the summit. Read a detailed blog here https://momthyname.blog/2018/06/13/annapurna-circuit-5th-19th-march-2018-hiking-with-sid-to-thorong-la-pass5417mts/ Sid was 12- years old and slightly shorter to me in height.

Sid in “My Powai” magazine

We were climbing towards the base of the summit after an acclimatization day. Sid is a natural climber and runner, and he was so thrilled to be climbing higher that he vanished out of my sight within no time. I was having trouble breathing; hence I was climbing slowly but steadily. When I could not spot him for a long time and the “motherhood-syndrome” activated. I was anxious. I kept asking each passer-by(although there were very few) about Sid, mentioning his looks and clothes he was wearing.
Finally, after a long walk, someone told me that he had seen a boy with a similar description upon a rock.

Sid on the way to ThorngLa Pass
Sid merrily balancing between the rocks

I had my stomach churning and suddenly I could feel the bile rising into my mouth. I was fuming in anger now. I speed up my walk and saw Sid balancing himself between two rocks. His palms tightly gripped on one side while feet on the other. He didn’t even bother to acknowledge my presence, nor was he aware that he has committed a “mistake.” As soon as I reached closer to him, he was excited to share his “discovery”. I reluctantly asked him about it. I was still fuming. He went ahead and showed two giant lizards on the rock and told me that he observed them climbing up the cliff.

Sid’s “DISCOVERY”

At that moment, I had no interest in his discovery or observation; I was obvious to make him realize that he has committed a “mistake.”
He could sense my rage but didn’t pay much heed. He said, “mom, I knew you are behind, and I wanted to run ahead. Above all, I know that this is a linear track, so where would I go? You could have worried lesser.”
I wouldn’t say I liked his comment at that moment. But, now, when I sit and think of it, he was correct, and I was getting hyper.


Last year a similar episode happened on our hike in Sahaydris too during monsoons.. He climbed up the slippery rain-drenched hills, and I lost my breath out of fear.

Epiphany #1: Don’t pass on your emotions to your children. They will learn and grow with the right exposure and experience.

Children are born explorers. They have their wild imagination. They are a gift of nature, and nature makes them learn the most critical life-lessons that no textbook ever can. They have a curious mind, which sadly gets tamed and influenced by us.

Sid wanted to be on his own; he knew where it was heading, he knew I was behind him and was confident that he would not wander anywhere, but I tried to instill fear in him out of my insecurity.


Let your children wander
for nature will teach them
Let them explore and feel
and you’ll see them turning into a gem

Motherhood dare

My dear teen,
You know you are so terribly annoying
That you are dragging me into a phase where I’ve never been.
I am recording, registering and downloading every episode,
In my drive, iCloud and memory with code.
I will take full revenge in this life-time
B’coz, you know Karma will come up sometime.
I will come to your house with a grumpy face
I will not talk or smile and will sit in one place.
I will throw my footwear and clothes everywhere
And mind if you ask me to keep in place
I will scream, roll my eyes, bang the door, and make a disgusting face.
I will leave the bathroom wet and towel on the bed
Dare you question me
Coz I’ll hiss without a miss.
I’ll put all types of demands
And maa Kasam if you deny
I’ll create such a ruckus
That I’ll drive you mad
Once the dinner is cooked
I’ll ask you to order food
Food that I like
Be it pizza or jalebi with malai
You are testing my limits and patience
But god forbid if it crosses my tolerance.
Then it’ll be only Tsunami and earthquake
So behave yourself for heaven’s sake.
No, I don’t want to say,” I love you, darling.”
C’coz currently you are terribly annoying
Karma, my dear boy, Karma
Wait and watch
Wait and watch
For your mom will turn into a witch
I’ll wail and grin as I grow old
And poor boy-your teen will come forth multifold
Revenge…I smell revenge….
Hu..hu..ha..ha..he..he.

Children’s Day: for you, my boys

I started running in 2014
I started running when I had given up on myself, was hopelessly hopeless, overweight, in inferior health form, when my legs used to wobble even at the shortest distance.
I got into proper and systematic training along with a monitored diet from 2017. A disciplined life without a single day of excuse come what may change my entire form for both body and mind.
Today in 2019, when I see my medal hanger, I cheer for myself,” Disha, you didn’t give up- not at all.”


As I write this piece on children’s day, I feel overwhelmed as deep within, and I know that my children are my strength. At every finish line, I virtually see loved ones. I hug them and always raise my arms to be grateful for surrounding me with so much innocent love.


My boys have seen me in my pain,
they have seen me crying,
they have seen me drained out after an event,
seen me sweating,
they have seen me eating sensibly,
they have seen my ice packs on swollen muscles,
they have seen my bruised knees,
they have seen my operated arm,
they have seen my fear of OWS(Open Water Swim) and Sid giving me tips as, “mom, just jump.”

The last push during the labor or the feel of that prick in a C-sec has no match to the smile I waited to see.
All that pain, discomfort, and the agony of that deformed body vanishes as soon as that tiny little thing is handed over, saying “your” baby.
As you both are growing up and I see a little bit of him and me in you, but I want you to grow up as only YOU.
You make me learn and grow each day.
You teach me how to love unconditionally. No matter we fight, scream and have a difference of opinion but you get up to hug me the same way each morning.


I strive to be a better human being each time because I know you are silently watching me.


I strongly believe in human relations, and you are tiny messengers of god himself. Someone who listens to me provides me strength in need and loves me beyond without being judgemental.
I fail several times in your expectations, but still, you never demean me. I have cried so many times in front of you, I have shared my failures with you and you boys stand with me like my most significant pillar of strength.
You boys make me push my boundaries because I know I need to match with your pace and energy; after all, the mother of boys cannot be at rest.


Thank you for calling me mom.
Thank you for coming to me as my babies
Thank you for giving me immense mental strength
Thank you for all fights, bouts, back answering yet ending with cuddles and warm hugs


Thank you, Sid ,Abhi and Tango


Happy children’s day to all of you and hug your kids a bit tighter today as many don’t have this privilege

Bull’s eye

After a very long time, I got an opportunity to watch something other than Marvel, Avengers, or those heavily animated movies. I don’t say that they are all crap, but for the sake of family time, we end up watching what the boys demand.

This weekend I had time for myself, and we decided to go for Sandh ki Ankh. watch the trailor https://youtu.be/-uA-ONin_5M

Bollywood lover in me was wholly engrossed in the movie, and as ever, I also assumed myself as one of the characters in the film. The movie plot comes to life, and whatever goes on screen seems to be happening with me as well.

This movie, Sandh Ki Ankh, is amazingly gripping, talks about the determination, struggle and fight for daily survival as well as personal existence of women living their life under the veil with no permission to express their opinion too.

I have been to one such village in one of my field visits and even stayed overnight at lady sarpanch’s house. I could relate to the situation. Check the video below, and this is the place I’ve stayed. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india-37701026/the-indian-women-refusing-to-wear-veils

The movie revolves around a typical village family and how men treat women. Women are nothing more than the cattle in the house and an object of desire for men. The plot changes when accidentally two grandmothers of the house discover their talent and expertise in shooting. It is quite interesting to watch how they manage to move out of the house to participate in shooting competitions even when they were not allowed to step outside their village all these years. They were now keen to train their daughters for this sport, and then the entire story shows their battle against the taboos and society. They wanted their daughters to lead a meaningful life. 

A life of purpose, passion, and above all, a life that gives them their identity.

“Yes, I’m a feminist because I see all women as smart, gifted, and tough.” ~ Zaha Hadid

The movie shows the daring of a woman. All the instances in the film clearly state the power a woman holds within her. I have always been a firm believer in the power of mind. I also believe in the transfer of energy.

When Sid(my elder son) went for boarding, he was unable to adjust despite being in an experiential environment and very cooperative teachers. It was difficult for even me back home as I missed him on all occasions and family outings. It was terrible. When I met his school counselor, she told me to “release” him

I pondered over it for a long time and realized that my love is binding him, and I am somehow transferring my insecurities to him. I started working on my circle of energy consciously, but somehow he gave up and was back home with us in the family.

Since then, I am very cautious about the kind of energy I am creating around because I know that Sid would be absorbing my vibes.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

The movie also said a similar story. The daughters absorbed the hardships of the females around them. What also came along was intense energy and self-power.

Bringing up children and instilling values is the duty of both parents. Still, as per my opinion and observation (views can vary ), a mother plays a vital role in the emotional well-being of a child.

A mother is a creator, and she has the power of the universe within her. She has the capability of nurturing and forming a complete human being from her own body- so, imagine how much strength she beholds.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” ~ Diane Mariechild

Right now, as I write this blog, I feel actively responsible for my boys. Children learn a lot by just observing. At every point, one has to be careful and conscious of their actions as somehow, children are silently watching us. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that we fake – well! They are smarter, and they read this too. But, we can genuinely try to adopt the same behavior that we want in our children.

“Men are what their mothers made them.”

Whenever I think about “children observing me,” I keep humming, 

Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I’ll be watching you

A man and a woman may differ in physical strength, that’s how nature has done the creation, but the immense mental power a woman holds is unmatched. 

Rani Laxmi Bai – Grit

Mother Teresa – Humility

Helen Keller – Making the impossible possible

Nur Jahan- Only female Mugal ruler

Aisan Daulat Begum – major contributor in creating Babur’s personality

And I can go on quoting several examples, who have played a vital role in bringing in the major transformation in their family and society.

For any mom who feels even for a moment that there is no energy left or you don’t have any vital role to play anymore then please go and watch Sandh Ki ankh, because it’s a reminder to direct my and your energy to hit the bullseye.

Experience over Gift for your children

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How do most people plan their New Year?
Goals: Career, financial, be-a–good-person, slimming, get-married, move-out-of-stinking-relationship, make-a-new-boyfriend and many more goal-a-goals.
How do I plan my year?
Keeping aside, being-a-very-good –woman-goal (which I fail always ), the primary goal is –                                                                        TRAVELa70588cc-4758-4fc1-8bda-ea127e299227
Oh ! How much I crave to be airborne or on my bike or the mountains.
But this year it’ll be different. I’ll attempt to take my boys along to as many offbeat travel destinations that I plan for myself. Although with Arun Jaitley bombarding, bringing them along each time will not be possible I know.
For the first long weekend of the first month of the new year, I came across an event on Facebook, Tour De Chattisgarh. After looking at the itinerary, it seemed perfect for a family vacation.
Why?
1. I was itching to ride and wanted boys to experience the joy of touring on the bike, I have done many, and I know how incredible it is. Check few links here:
a) Passion for cycling
b) Rajasthan Tour on foldie
c) Bhutan trail with Times Passion Trails
3. Exploring another state on bike
4. I got married in Raipur and never visited after that. It was a perfect time to relive the moments.

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We have done five-star holidays, beach vacations, foreign tours, camping, hiking trips with boys but never a cycling trip. An adventure freak mom has passed on some traits to boys too. Hence I thought to attempt this trip with boys.

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Why should you move away from the comfort zone and gift your children experience?

1. Situational obedience (discovered a new word )

Before I booked the tickets, I had to seek permission from the school. Boys were instructed to be on their best behavior and studies until I visit the class teacher. I came out grinning ear to ear from the school gate with a permission letter in my hand. See, that’s why it’s important to obey mom when she asks. Give me a high five here !

2. Being methodical and systematic

Both of them were given a cabin size trolley and instructed regarding the number of clothes, undergarments, footwear, and anything that they feel will be significant during travel to pack. The younger one had not-to-forget-tactics. He kept his watch in the shoes as they arranged the clothes for the next day early morning flight he said, “mamma, I’ll not forget this way.” Nice one!

3. Meeting, making and not “adding” new friends

Mumbai is always on the run and gives less opportunity to socialize. We end up having a handful of people to interact and mostly limited to within the housing complex. While on the trip the boys associated with people not only across India but other countries as well. It was great to know about Giom Tell from Switzerland who is exploring India on a bike. Check his profile you may find something interesting, Giom’s profile

Riding with Alexi Grewal, an Olympic gold medalist was a remarkable opportunity.About Alexi Grewal

Ben’s passion towards creating customised bikes – check his page, Life Behind Bars

The gang of boys from Gujrat riding for the cause “ek bharat,shresth bharat.”

Swati and Tarique ,couple with multi-facet talent and super enthusiasm towards life !

Namrata , Lorraine and myself -mother of two were riding all through this tour. It was great to see that is not just me who makes multiple phone calls back home when on a tour like this 🙂

Observing, understanding, adjusting and knowing people’s habit, the way of living, language and behavior is what we learn hands on .Boys made their own set of friends and were happy  be riding, playing or just chatting with them

4. Discipline without saying “the” word

Every morning we were supposed to report at 5.30 am for the ride (which we never did, that’s another story), but boys were up with my one wake up call. Their dresses ready for the next day and bags packed too. We were riding to different locations each day and bags were supposed to be transported as well. Temperatures dropped at certain places, and Mumbaikars are too lousy when it comes to cold winds. Younger one being asthmatic had sneezing attacks in wee hours but all wrapped up in a blanket they were always ready on time. There was no fuss about early morning rise.

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Sid , all up and ready for the ride

5. Adjusting beyond the comfort zones

We all have to agree that we have a far more comfortable life now than what it used to be in our childhood. I was amazed on how boys adjusted to whatever was available. Although we stayed in Chattisgarh tourism guest houses, they had their limitations. There was no fuss or cribbing about food. Sid, who is such a fussy eater ate whatever was available because I told him to eat adequately to ride well the next day. No hot shower but just a bucket of warm water and they were happy with it wherein Abhi at home loves his hot water shower twice a day. They adjusted to every situation .

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6. Discovering new likings

Sid has always been an outdoor kid. Full of surplus energy and enthusiasm, unable to fix his liking on one thing. So typical ME . While Abhi is a happy go lucky child. Happy and satisfied with himself and his surroundings. This trip gave both of them to do what they wanted to and find their happiness rather than their parents forcing them in some hobby classes in the name of skill building. Children are born with multiple skills, let them explore themselves.

7. Observing relationships

We had solo riders, families with children, couples, father-son duo riders in this trip. It was an excellent opportunity to observe the bond and connect with each relationship. It was amazing to see the confidence senior citizen father had in his young son as they were riding together. I saw Sid from the corner of my eyes nodding his head in approval of this relationship. I also saw him blushing whenever he saw Ben and Stephanie. together,  teenager syndrome is setting in now.

8. Independent decisions

They took small but independent decisions in the entire trip. They chose the clothes they wanted to wear the next morning for the ride, although I guided them on layering up. Picked the food they wanted to eat from the buffet with Sid evidently seeking approval from me on the right quantity(he was riding each day). Deciding the distance and whether to ride or not. Choosing to ride after the fall or not (Sid had two falls).The decisions were small, but they give them immense confidence in being responsible.

I am glad about my decision to take all my three boys on this trip. We were addressed as the tribe called “Charon dishayen” (Char-four, means we family of four and Disha- implies direction, which is also the meaning of my name).

We all learned something or the other from this trip and had an enriching experience. It is important to let children be themselves, take own decisions, get dirty, mess around, get tired, be in the sun, fall, get hurt, above all let them grow the way want to.

I am mighty proud of all my three boys for being together throughout , no tantrums , utterly cooperative and  understanding. I underestimated your hidden trait. Mom is sorry about it but a strong pat on your back Som, Sid, and Abhi.

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