Let me be ME

Posts tagged ‘motherhood’

Bull’s eye- Kirti Virmani

Kirti Virmani

SR titleholder, winner at several cycling races, Delhi International Triathlon 70.3, second position, a podium finisher at sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, a woman who stood firm against society norms, mother of two, here is Gurgaon based. 42-year-old Kirti Virmani 

House chores to running shoes

I was born in Bhiwani, Haryana. After completing my M.Sc in mathematics, I got married in 2001 soon after I had my first child. Due to domestic responsibilities I could not move out and work; hence I got absorbed in household chores. In 2007 we shifted to Gurgaon from Yamunanagar. I was keen to have another child, but I suffered from secondary infertility. I went through IVF and delivered a baby girl in 2012. It was a long gap between the two children. I had put on a lot of weight, and the entire IVF process drained me.

I was on a roller-coaster ride managing two kids with a significant age difference, and hence the demands were also different. I had nothing more to do other than kids and home. The responsibility was exhausting. I wanted an outlet to release my stress. It was disturbing to see myself in the mirror, as well due to post-pregnancy weight gain.

While strolling my kid in the morning, I used to see girls running in a group. I observed this every day and more number of females during weekends. Upon asking, I came to know about Pinkathon. 

I gladly joined the group. I also started with power yoga to slowly get back the lost energy.

I joined the running group firstly to have a social circle of like-minded people and secondly to build up my running stamina.

I was loving this change and welcomed it enthusiastically. I didn’t need an alarm to wake me up, but I was up on my own and before the house buzzed with activity, I was back fully charged up to carry out the daily chores.

“In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves.”

Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wheelspin

In July 2015, I joined Gurgaon Road Runner(a running group). I was a newbie into running and a slow runner as well while the group had avid runners in it. I felt out of place.

I switched to cycling. 

Cycling gave me a good kick. 

I felt liberated while cycling.

First 200 km ride to Jaipur

Within a few months, I felt stronger than before and ready for my first 50 km ride. I took around 3-4 hours to complete the ride, but I was cloud nine. There was no looking back after this. 

In 2016, I did my first longest ride to Jaipur of 200kms and Timber Trail of 300 km.

Around the same time, someone from the running group proposed a cycle ride from Manali to Leh. Alok, my husband, always came in as the most vital support and accompanied me in all my rides. I had never done any long-distance ride without him. Although he too started running and cycling just for fitness but was not keen to join the Manali-Leh ride.

I had a tough choice to make here. 

He encouraged me to go ahead with the ride, and I mustered the courage to pack my bags and embark on this epic ride.

Manali-Leh Ride

I could not complete the ride as I missed Alok all through and to so much magnitude that I fell sick. I am grateful to all my teammates, especially Nitin Yadav, who took care and accompanied me all through on that high altitude.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

Walter Winchell

I made friends for life during this trip, and I shall always remain indebted to them.

Once back from the trip, I registered for the Golden Triangle tour(Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Delhi, 750 km in 3 days). It was a great learning experience for me. We rode in the dark, lost our way, boys chased us, managed punctures, and so many other thrilling adventures.

I also completed my SR series (Super Randonneurs) in due course of time. Till now, I was clueless about the types of bikes available in the market as I did the SR series on my 17kgs of hybrid bike.

I started gathering podiums in many races, and my cycle wheel was spinning in full glory.

The tri entry: better late than never

In the desire to add variety to my workout, I thought of learning how to swim. I started with properly guided coaching classes from July 2019 and attempted my first sprint triathlon in August 2019. I grabbed a podium in this race. Going ahead, I registered for the Olympic distance in October. The point of botheration here was that the event was in a 16 meters pool while I always practised in a 5 meters pool. On the race day as expected, I panicked due to the depth of the pool. I composed myself and requested the organisers to allow me to settle down. Once calm, I started the swim. I completed the race beyond the cut off timing, and I swim DNF. I am grateful to the organisers to not stop me from finishing the race. I knew my weak point now and scope of improvement as well.

In February 2020, I attempted the 70.3 distance triathlon organised by Delhi International Triathlon. DIT will remain an exceptional race to me, firstly because of the distance and secondly I completed this race under immense mental stress. I was reeling under tremendous pressure when I stepped on to the start line, I started to vomit at the 11th km in the run course but was determined to finish it. Seeing my family and friends at the finish line was a great reliever.I stood second in the race.

I took a significant decision and registered for Ironman 70.3, Austria in May 2020. Although the race didn’t take place due to COVID, I was adamant about overcoming my fear of open water. I enrolled myself for Open water swim sessions in Goa and was looking forward to training under proper guidance.

Neither the races nor the training happened, but the making up my mind to attempt the race has filled me with lots of self-confidence. The races also helped me in strengthening my mind and get over stress and anxiety quickly. 

When God gives you lemons, squeeze them into tequila.

I remember the days when I was soaked in household chores and responsibilities. I had no time for myself and gave every bit to my home. During a crisis in my husband’s business, we were left with mere survival capital. I pitched in and started working to contribute to the household. My husband never fails in mentioning that the best thing I did during those hard times was, to stay back.

After all the years of struggle and tough times, both me and Alok have stood as the strongest pillar for ourselves and our children.

My husband encouraged and supported me in my passion, and I left no stone unturned to churn the best from every possibility.

I waited patiently for I knew that the cocoon will take its own time to crack open and the butterfly will be out in the open.

Tough times don’t last, tough people, do.

For all the women who are feeling stuck or are unable to muster the courage to stand for themselves then remember, no one else will do it for you. You have to take that first step and keep moving ahead, the universe will conspire to make it happen for you.

If I can, then anyone can become an Ironman: Charanya Ravikumar

A computer engineer to a social sector professional, a lazy participant in school P.E., to an accidental triathlete to a full ironman finisher, one of a very few  Indian woman in the world to finish 140.6, a mother of two and wife of an aspiring Ironman, an Indian by heart and birth, here’s a big cheer to Indian-born, Singapore-raised, and now Texas-based, Charanya Ravikumar

The first half marathon

I was born in India and then immediately moved to Singapore. I completed my basic education in Singapore and moved to the U.S. for higher education.

I was the last bencher whenever it came to participate in any sports activity. I was way more into debates and drama than anything sporty!

When I came to the U.S. in 2001 for my undergrad, I got hooked to the American lifestyle pretty quickly and by the time I had realized it, I had already put on the “freshman 15 (pounds) and more! Staying or eating healthy was just not a priority.

After the completion of my professional education as I started working with Dell, the work environment made me conscious about my weight. 

I was grappling with the thought of shedding those extra pounds but couldn’t find a way out.

I came across Asha for Education, a non-profit that would  train running aspirants for half marathons and marathons in order to raise funds for kids back in India through its Strides of Hope program. I was always keen to contribute and create awareness of issues impacting kids and what better way than running!

“The marathon is not really about the marathon; it’s about the shared struggle. And it’s not only the marathon but the training.”

-Bill Buffum

I trained hard to reach my first half-marathon finish line in 2007, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the sense of community, and that finisher’s high made me immediately sign up for my first full marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC.

“When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.”

Haile Gebrselassie

Discovering a new love!

Marine Corps Marathon which I also did in 2007, was a scintillating experience. The course runs along many of the iconic national monuments of Washington, D.C.The event focuses on strengthening community spirit, promoting good health and showcasing the organizational skills of the United States Marines. For these reasons, it has well earned its nickname as “The People’s Marathon.” There were Team Asha runners from across the country, and it was a great feeling to run together.

In due course, I did seven marathons, never repeating a course and using the run as a great way to explore a new city and collect some fancy medals as well. 

Around the same time, a friend had signed up for a Sprint Triathlon relay and wanted a swimmer. I was supposed to swim 800 meters, and I readily agreed. Swimming was a part of the school curriculum, so it was not a big deal. Well…not until I reached the race venue and got to know that the swim was in a lake and not in a  pool! 

Once I got into the water though, my nervousness dissipated and it ended up being a beautiful experience. I even bumped into a friendly turtle! 

While I waited for the race to get over, I got to experience the race environment. The energy, the adrenaline rush, and the camaraderie was palpable. I was as excited as a child would be going to Disneyland for the first time! 

“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps”.

I started participating in sprint distance triathlons and did two-three races a year.

I had found my new love!

70.3 and the Full Ironman plunge

I was working at Dell, but the work didn’t excite me, so as soon as I could, I left my job and started volunteering for various causes. I also ended up pregnant at this time and before I knew it, my baby boy was six months old, and I was wholly engrossed in mom duties and also dealing with the postpartum phase.

I had made my own decision to leave work, take care of my baby and volunteer, but I was not happy. I felt like I was not doing anything meaningful and my postpartum body brought me back to my post-college days.

With no child care support, it was tricky to figure out how to start incorporating a workout routine. 

You will find out a way though if you put your heart to it.

I came across a club called Stroller Strides in the vicinity where the workouts took place around the baby’s stroller. I enjoyed those sessions, and it was a stepping stone back towards my fitness journey.

Meanwhile, I also started going for some spin classes and started getting back into form, slowly and steadily.

In Jan 2014, I learned about Ironman Galveston 70.3 coming up in April 2014, and enthusiastically I signed up for it.

I trained on my own as I wasn’t aware of proper training plans or other nuances. Managing training between nursing, and tending to the baby and household was a challenging task, but I managed to finish in 08.29hrs, just a minute below the cutoff!

If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the Triathlon must have taken him completely by surprise.

P.Z. Pearce.

I decided I would train better and come back and do the same race next year, but I got pregnant instead and only managed to come back three years later in 2017!

I had a baby girl now and my older toddler boy to manage along with the training, and I also started working full-time! 

It takes a village to raise a child; well, mine took a vineyard(pun intended)

It was a herculean task to train while managing full-time work, taking care of the kiddos, and trying to have a semblance of a social life!

It was my first experience training with a coach and a structured training plan. I had a lot of inhibitions with interacting and communicating with my coach. I would feel guilty if I missed a workout. I also hesitated talking about issues like cramps and periods (not being able to talk openly about periods is not an issue in India alone but all over the globe).

I attempted the race again and improved by only 45 minutes. I had hoped to do a lot better!

Don’t think about the start of the race, think about the ending

Usain Bolt

But I had a fire in my belly. 

I wanted to improve. 

I wanted to emerge stronger. 

I wanted to be more than just a wife or mom or employee.

I decided to push myself toward the ultimate triathlete goal, I signed up for full Ironman.

Quitters don’t tri. Triathletes don’t quit- The full Ironman.

– I firmly belive in this quote

I knew that I wasn’t the strongest or fastest athlete, but I also knew that I was not a quitter.

A full Ironman requires total dedication and sincere hard work. I was ready to give it my all.

I needed guidance and a structured approach and a coach I was completely comfortable with. My friend Tim from my local Tri club was aspiring to be a coach, and I readily agreed to be his guinea pig. Tim’s plans were completely structured toward accommodating my crazy schedule, but at the same time planned well to move me from strength to strength toward my goal. I was completely comfortable discussing my shortcomings, and scope for improvement. I accomplished my training goals one week at a time.

With six months of dedicated training, I attempted my first full Ironman, Ironman Texas, in 2018 and finished in 15:56:58.

Neither the training nor the race was easy. Well, if it was easy, then why would I have attempted it?

On the race day after the cheering and hugs from the fellow participants and family, I headed for the swim course. As I started my swim, the next wave entered the water, and I was surrounded by a swarm of swimmers. One swimmer almost pulled out my timing chip, and I had to get into the treading water position to fix it, and in the process gulped a lot of the nasty water. I was very conscious all through the swim course about my loose timing chip and stopped many times to check on it. Almost midway, I could feel my stomach churning, but there was no way I was stopping.

I finished the swim in 1:37:04.

The bike course started fine, and I was on target as planned. My stomach was still churning, but nothing serious. Twenty minutes in, I took a sip of my electrolyte drink and immediately threw up. My stomach wasn’t accepting anything, and I kept throwing up. When I reached mile 62, I tried to have a jam and cheese sandwich and kept praying that I shouldn’t throw up anymore. Miraculously I didn’t. It was a significant relief. I was slowly regaining strength. I also found a photo of my kids my husband Vish had packed for me with the sandwich, and it surged me with instant energy.

I finished the bike course in 8:07:19, a whole hour more than I had planned for!

The 3-loop run course though was an absolute delight. I loved the crowd support, constant cheering, nutrition stations with fresh watermelon, and the overall positive energy. I loved seeing and high fiving my kids, husband, parents, coach, teammates, colleagues and friends who had all shown up at the race.

I felt like a rockstar.

I wasn’t tired but was enjoying every moment of the last lap. I was gliding and could feel the energy flow in me. As I approached the finish line, I saw Coach Tim and handed over my water belt to him, and he passed me the Indian flag.

I crossed the finish line holding the flag up, high and rising. I finished the run in 5:45:52

During my entire race, I wasn’t bothered about my overall finish time. I was careful about meeting the timing cutoffs of course, but I was committed right from the beginning to enjoying my race and giving it my best!

To be a triathlete means that one has adapted body and mind to endure a challenge that motivates yourself and all who know you.

The last 30 seconds were the most incredible moments I had ever experienced in my life, second only to giving birth to my 2 babies!

Inspiration and support?

Several incidents inspired me to take up this sport. 

Truly, Triathlon is not about the finish line but the guts to begin.

Memories go back to my first relay sprint triathlon where I was awestruck by the energetic environment. Volunteering once at Ironman Texas also made me see the grit and determination of the athletes.  Vish and I volunteered at one of the last water stops, and witnessed athletes of all ages, sizes and shapes making it to the finish line.

In a recent half-marathon, I  saw a group of women who were over 60 years old, holding hands and crossing the finish line. Their energy and joy were infectious and reminded again why I indulge in these sports. Training for a race and crossing the finish line with your buddies is just an exhilarating feeling – I will take this over partying any day!

With so much inspiration around us, it is easy to tap into your own potential and take that first step, be it towards going to the gym, signing up for a 5K, or even showing up at a Stroller Strides workout with your baby.

Once you motivate yourself to take that initial step, things will start to shape up and fall into place.

For any activity that involves a woman stepping out of the house, it is infinitely easier when there is complete buy-in from the family. Living abroad, there is no concept of “house-help” here. Everything has to be done on our own. Although daycare facilities and childcare at gyms are more readily available here than in India, the support and understanding from family is still a must.

When a person desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.

Paulo Coelho

I have been asked many times about the need to indulge in triathlons with a small baby or two small children, questioned about leaving my children alone with my husband while training  etc, but thankfully never from my own family. My husband Vish has always been 150% onboard with my goals from day one.

He understood my passion and my desire to do something for myself – in this case to participate in endurance sports.

He is a born athlete and an avid runner. He started to learn to swim after we met, motivated to do triathlons as well. He would have completed his first Ironman this year if not for COVID. We have run throughout our travels, including doing a half-marathon during our honeymoon!

Our kids are used to seeing one parent missing on weekend mornings and question us if we choose to sleep in. We love setting a great example for our kids, and they are excited to do their first kids triathlons down the road as well.

Dream

I have done the distances I’ve wanted to do, but I would love to continue becoming a stronger athlete.

I would love to participate in races all over the world, including India!

I also want to see more South Asian women participating in endurance sports.

It puzzles me that I see so few women who look like me at races despite living in a country that has top notch facilities for athletes – and have found that a lot of the barriers  that women in India face are present across the diaspora as well.

Down the line, when I can devote the time and effort, I would love to work with young girls and women and encourage them to take up endurance sports and see what they can all be capable of! Women can and should be able to do anything they decide to do!

A strong woman raises a strong family.

“You don’t have to be so tough that it doesn’t hurt; you just have to be tough enough not to quit.”

asserts Charanya

Curvy and Cheeky ,Attitude knows no boundaries: Ami Paneri

Ami Paneri

An IT professional, progressive runner, determined triathlete,self-motivator, nothing weighs her down-both figuratively and literally, a total novice in the athletic world, cycling lover, mother of two- Ami Paneri from Mumbai.

Motherhood and the aftermath

I was the eldest of the three siblings, always an obedient and studious girl. I loved playing with electronic items more than dolls, thanks to my dad. He worked in ISRO, and gadgets were a significant part of family discussions. I was an outdoor child. Playing in the wild, running on trails, and burning the skin under the sun were my favorite things.

I learned cycling on hired Tobo bikes and got my first personal cycle in grade 6. It was a prized possession.

Since then, the cycle was my mode of transport to school and then to college as well.

I completed my MSc, M.Phil, and secured a gold medal in computer science.

In 2007, I got married and shifted to Mumbai from Gandhinagar. I started working as an ERP professional.

In 2008 I had my first child. After six months of maternity leave due to several reasons, I could not join back to work. I was loaded with heaps of responsibilities of a young child, mother in law, and self. 

I faced the most challenging time between 2009-11; the postpartum phase.

I was irritable all the time and was piling on weight. My health was deteriorating. I had lost interest in everything. There were regular tiffs and arguments at home.

I was missing myself.

In 2011 I had my second child. I weighed a whopping 90 plus kgs now.

I gradually started with regular gym and weight training. I loved that one hour in the morning, all to myself.

Motherhood is joyous, but it can also be overwhelming. Everyone congratulates you on having a baby, but no one warns about the aftermath, mainly postpartum depression.

says Ami

Gaining back the confidence 

It’s told that I speak “heavy” words, but now I was proving it correct. I was so heavy that I became self-conscious all the time. I would avoid going to public places, meeting people, and would avoid the gym at the “crowded” time. I would avoid arms workout at the gym as the bulge embarrassed me.

In 2011, my husband participated in the SCMM Dream Run, and I went along. The electrifying environment zapped me. 

I wanted to be there- running.

I wanted that zeal and energy- and I had none.

The best thing that happened during this time was, I got back to work. It was a welcoming change. I was happy to move out and sort my routine.

In 2013, I participated in SCMM half marathon and somehow managed to drag myself and reach the finish line in 3.37 hours.

I realized what it takes to run and finish.

I had no idea about training, so I started running independently. I managed between kids, work, and home.

In 2015 I participated in the SCMM half marathon and finished in an abysmal timing of 3.58 hours.

I didn’t progress but digressed. I was missing out on something, but couldn’t figure out what.

In 2016, I joined Pinkathon. I was incredibly body-conscious and would run before the sunshine to hide from the eyes watching an overweight female trying to run.

Pinkathon helped me realize that many like me are struggling with body shaming and the social stigma attached to it. I had lots of co-sisters sailing in the same boat. I gradually gained confidence and started running in a group.

“You’re so much more than the numbers on your plus size lingerie”

In 2016, a friend organized Wada Duathlon and asked me to participate. I was thrilled. I got my cycle, and long lost love was back in full form. Cycling is my childhood love, and once I am on my bike, I am the happiest person around.

I gradually started coming back to my happy and confident form.

In 2017 I participated In Wada Duathlon yet again and stood first.

In the same year, I did my first 80 km ride to Kharghar with the Malad cycling club.

Ah! I was flying.

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930), author of Sherlock Holmes

The Ladakh Marathon: in quest of a timing certificate

In 2018 My husband registered for the Ladakh marathon and I wanted to participate as well. After booking the flight tickets with an overdose of excitement, the reality came crashing on me.

I didn’t fit the eligibility criterion. I did not have a required timing certificate.

Viv came to my rescue. What would I ever do without his meticulous training plans?When I shared my desire to participate in the marathon, he gladly welcomed my thought and encouraged me to train hard.

Myself and Sopan at the Ladkah Marathon

I participated in several 10 K runs.

I was chasing races and timing. I was desperate.

And finally, from 1.40hrs, I managed 1.18hrs for a 10K run.

Whatta delight! I had the timing certificate, and I was going for the Ladakh marathon.

I finished the marathon and it was a great confidence booster for me.

Trying the Tri

Our training group, MMA(Mad Menon Academy), is always buzzing with interesting discussion. This time the term Triathlon caught my attention.

Further, it was revealed that Triathlon is a combination of three sports, swimming, cycling, and running one after the other.

As I mentioned, heavy is my second name, so I took this “heavy” decision to participate in the Kolhapur triathlon 2018.

The primary issue was – I didn’t know how to swim. Swimming for me was splashing in the water and nothing more.

My husband ,Sopan became my teammate. I would take him to a 25 meters pool and ask him to stand at a distance of 15 meters, enough for me to push myself from one end, float, and then hold me to start the same process all over again until I finish the entire lap.

I would also refrain from putting my head down in the water.

Shankar Thapa came as a guiding light. I gradually improved my swimming from 15-100-500-700 to finally 1000 meters.

With all the training and hard work, I was still not losing weight.

As William Blake said, The true method of knowledge is an experiment. So, I did what all it could take to shed the extra kilos. The catch here was that I was following google knowledge, and in this process, I compromised on my immunity.

I had worked hard, but I was not in good shape, health-wise.

Still, with firm thought and the belief to reach the finish line I, along with my husband, headed to Kolhapur to participate in the first Triathlon.

We both panicked in the open water swim, and it was a DNF.

Kolhapur Tri

In February 2019, I participated in my home turf, Gandhinagar Triathlon. It was a pool swim with a uniform depth across the pool. As I jumped in the pool, I panicked yet again. The lifeguards prompted me to pull me out, but I requested them to give me a few minutes to regain my composure. 

I was angry with myself. I took a deep breath, asked my mind to shut up, and firmly told myself, “Ami, this can’t happen again-just; go for it,” and I swam through the entire distance.

I finished the Olympic Distance in 4.21 hours

I had to complete the unfinished battle. In November 2019, I participated in the Kolhapur triathlon, this time for the Olympic distance.

I finished in 4.29 hours.

I shall continue to work hard under my coach’s guidance and will try to improve in the upcoming races.

Curves and the social stigma

I have faced enough questions about my weight. I have hidden under large clothing, covered my arms, and ran alone not to expose myself to the world.

I hid for a very long time.

“If losing weight was easy, we would all be skinny.”

Steven Magee

Participating in the running and triathlon events, with the support and encouragement from the family, fellow runners, and coach, I accepted myself as me. I can now run in broad daylight, wear cycling shorts, and swim in a bikini.

I have overcome all body shame, and here I stand beholding my confidence firm in my gait, and yes, I still use “heavy” words!

You are beautiful because of the light you carry inside you. You are beautiful because you say you are, and you hold yourself that way.

Mary Lambert

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

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

15 years itch

“Slap”
another, “slap.”
and, one more!

The child standing in the corner is stunned, hard-faced and cold
but the mother, the mother, is hard and cold too.

Why was the child punished?
He wasn’t fast enough to finish his meal or some other unsubstantial reason.

The world sees her as a heartless, cruel mother with no love for her child. She should not be a mother in the first place.

Who is this mother?

This mother was ME.
And the child was Sid.

What was the reason for this behavior? Sharing my experience here,

The month of June holds a special place in my life. It is a month of my birthday as well as my first child Sid was born on 22nd June.

I was so thrilled when I knew that I am pregnant that I went announcing it to everyone. I took my pregnancy as the most precious thing. I talked to my baby, heard Garbh Sanskar, went to pre-natal classes(sometimes), and did what it took to make my pregnancy look like a most sought after event.

With advancing pregnancy, my need to be loved, been taken care of, and nurtured increased. There was a significant gap here.

After the water bag bursting, terrible labor pain, and finally, a C-Sec Sid was delivered. When I held him in my arms, I had all the love for him. I promised to raise him to the best of my ability. I promised to give what it takes to be his shadow until he is on his own. I was oozing with first-time motherhood syndrome.

We were a riot

Sid and I made an excellent company. We played, laughed, ran, danced, and did everything together. I loved singing and dancing to him so that he eats one bite (he has been a troublesome eater). Everything was beautiful. I was enjoying my motherhood, and I had no time for anything else. Then came his stage of running around and throwing a little more tantrums. I was exhausted. With no significant help at home, Sid took my lot of time and energy.

Sid The Kid


I tried to get back to work, attempted a lot of gig things, but things didn’t work. Sid demanded more from me. The pressure to get back to work and contribute to the household was immense; I kept trying but in vain. I was frustrated, not understanding and accepting that the child needed me more than anything else. With no one to share, talk, or discuss my feelings, I aimed my negative feelings anger to the soft target- my baby. I was wild, angry, screaming, adamant, violent, and a very very bad mother.

Sid turns fifteen on 22nd June, and it took me 15 years to confess about my behavior back then.
It took me 15 years to admit that every moment I felt like a bad mother.
It took me 15 years to work on myself – still working.
It took me 15 years to realize and understand that neglecting postpartum depression is a disaster.
It took me 15 years to build up both physically and mentally.
It’ll take me several years more to move out of the guilt for being so harsh on my child.

If you have any pent up emotions, then speak up, talk it out, write it, it helps a lot. Unaddressed and unexpressed feelings will only lead you to depression and anxiety and can take a nasty turn, too, read here. Don’t do it, please!

We evolve with our children.

Thank you, my baby, for my Sid, to make me realize my weakness and strengths, and thank you for making me a Mom.

Admit and confess to your children because we love them a lot and will always do. Happy motherhood.

Do listen while you tuck your kid a little too much in you

If you wish to share your guilt and just want to be heard then reach out to any of the means as below:

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

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