Let me be ME

Posts tagged ‘trilife’

Fall, fail, repeat- Sree


A government official, single mother, persistent failure in all the races, never- ever give up attitude, a robust and daring mother, slow in races but fastest when comes to catching a local train here is 53-year old Sree from Mumbai.

A “rough” and high-on-life-girl

I was a super-naughty girl right from childhood. My parents attended to my complaints more than PTMs. Playing outdoors, bruised knees, bandaged limbs were a regular affair. 

In grade 8, while playing in the school, I fainted. I was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with meningitis. I was in a coma for two days. I had many visitors in the hospital, making me feel like a celebrity. It was amusing to know that the visitors were keener to see how a hyper girl can manage to stay in bed for such a long time. .The doctors extracted the water from my spine and shifted me out of the ICU. The doctors termed my recovery as a “miracle”. 

I came home after staying in the hospital for a month.

The doctors informed my parents about the side effects of steroids that I was supposed to take for a year. As expected, I piled on a tremendous amount of weight.

I gradually started going for walks and then enrolled myself into Taekwondo classes. In a batch of 100, I was the only girl. These classes gave me a lot of confidence and helped me grow in the teen period.

I have played all sports in my younger days ranging from kabaddi, basketball, shot-puts, trekking and you name it.

My friends called me a “rough girl.”

I completed my formal education, cleared the SSE exam and got a position in the government postal department.

I got married in 1994 and shifted to Kandivali.

When my daughter was 1.6 years old, I enrolled myself in a nearby gym. I also joined aerobics and kickboxing. I am an over-enthusiastic individual and excited about anything and everything.

It was a tedious task to carry on with all the activities along with house chores, taking care of my daughter and work, but I enjoyed everything.


In 2003, a friend took me to the SCMM Dream run, and the electrifying environment made me participate again in 2004.

In 2005 I participated in the half marathon and finished in 3.40 hours. I was shamelessly happy. 

I continued participating in the SCMM half marathon until 2009.

When days turned dull and dark

I was happily enjoying all my activities, work and motherhood. Life had lots to offer, and I was brimming with excitement.

Things turned the other way round in 2009 when the word Cancer engulfed us. 

My husband was detected with stage 3 cancer. 

Hospital visits, long medical bills and innumerable prescriptions took over aerobics, dance and kickboxing classes.

His health was deteriorating faster than expected due to Diabetes. The doctors asked me to rush him to Cochin to see a specialist. During this process, I fractured my foot, and due to negligence, the recovery period lasted for almost three months.

The Oncologist in Cochin gave us six months, and I got my husband back to Mumbai.

I had to move around hospitals a lot as my husband wasn’t cooperating with the treatment.

Gradually his kidneys failed, and after three days of extensive treatment, he finally succumbed to his illness in December 2010.

All of a sudden, there was a long pause. All the running around and chaos was over. 

At times silence is also deafening.

I took a while to compose myself and look ahead in life. I had a daughter to raise, and I had no option but to say that- “get up Sree, get going”

I joined back to work in February 2011.

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.

my daughter was my sunbeam, says Sree

Sunny days are here again.

BNP Runners

I focussed on bringing my life back on track, both physically and mentally. All types of activities took a back seat until 2014 when I came across a training program for runners at Borivali National Park on facebook. The outdoor lover in me and the enthu cutlet syndrome didn’t miss any detail, and I joined the group. 

I was starting afresh now and was determined to take life my way.

I started running regularly. Running location was closer to my place hence it was easy to manage 4 am runs, come back home prepare tiffins, finish the household chores and rush to catch 8 am local to be in the office at 9.30 am.

I was gaining back my lost energy. I was happy.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt

The Tris, falls, DNF and repeat.

Knowing my excitement level for anything and everything someone in the running group told me about Triathlons.

The only and the biggest worry was- I didn’t know how to cycle.

Clueless about the sport and just out of sheer excitement, I started to learn to cycle in October 2014.

I had innumerable falls, and butts were always sore. I wondered how others happily smile and pose for pics post-ride while I hold my bottom out of pain.

Google came to my rescue, and I discovered padded cycling shorts. Rides were not so painful after that.

I was not even aware of swimming goggles and would end the session with red and itchy eyes.

One of the kids in the pool suggested I wear swimming goggles, and I thank that kid till date.

Initial cycling days

Here’s a chronology of all the finished-yet-incomplete-races

Goa Triathlon, March 2016 

Before the race, I participated in Wada duathlon to check on my cycling capabilities. The race began with a run of 5 km after that I got on to my bike to ride 40 km. I barely managed to ride through that off-road track so much so that the villagers took pity on me and asked me to stop if I was unable to cope. I had to finish what I started and did reach the finish line in five and a half hours. 

Next was Goa Tri. I packed my bag, laced up my enthusiasm, build up all the courage and travelled to Goa. 

On the race day, I started the swim peacefully but panicked after 100 meters when I couldn’t spot any kayak. But within no time a kayak was near me, he asked me if I wanted to quit, and the reply was a definite no. I told him to be around and finished the 1500 meters.

Biking freaks me, but I mustered all the courage and got on to the bike.

After a few loops, a car zoom passed me, and I slipped on the loose gravel. My front tooth broke, my knee bruised and my face had scratches all over. I wasted 40 minutes contemplating whether to continue or not.

Then I thought about my sore bums, winter morning swimming sessions, 4 am runs, and with a deep breath, I got up, rubbed my bruises gently, got on to the bike and continued the bike course.

My bruised knee swelled up substantially by now, and I barely managed to finish the run course.

Again I was the last one to reach the finish line. 

I met my friend Sanjay, and with  swollen lips, I managed a small grin showing my broken front tooth.

Chennai Tri, July 2016

I could manage this race in time without any fall.

Pune Tri, November 2016

I went for this race with the confidence and glory of finishing the previous in time, totally oblivious of the bike route.

I was taken by surprise as the entire biking route was through the ghats. It was a pain-stricken ride, and I finished the race in 07 hours when Half Ironman participants were finishing their race!

After the DNF and abysmal performance in all the races, I was not disappointed it set me thinking where I went wrong.

Then I came to know that there are coaches who guide and train for triathlons. I pondered over to understand which was my weakest sport, and it took me no time to know that I wasn’t good at any.

Shankar Thapa,  my swim coach at present, came to my rescue. I Joined his classes to learn freestyle swim, as I was only doing breast stroke in all my earlier races. I enrolled in online training plans with Yoksa. I couldn’t do justice to my training plans because my workplace shifted and I spent a lot of time travelling.

Kolhapur Tri,November 2018,70.3

I was very well prepared for this race and was quite hopeful to finish in time. After a successful swim, I climbed on my bike. After a while, I had difficulty riding. I then realised that the bike tyres were fixed inside out and I didn’t even check while I was assembling my bike.

DNF(Did Not Finish) again.

Goa Tri, October 2019,70.3

Due to massive undercurrents, I drifted while swimming and the kayak informed me that I was going the wrong way. Although I finished the swim, I couldn’t make it within the cut-off time, so I aborted the race and went ahead to cheer my fellow mates.

DNF(Did Not Finish) again.

Kolhapur Tri,November 2019

First race when everything went fine, and I managed to touch the finish line in 05.30 hours!

Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.

J.K. Rowling

Test me, and I’ll always emerge as a winner.

The days were not easy. No, not at all.

Raising my daughter with the compassion of a mother and responsible shoulders of a father was not easy.

Being whacked on the bums during early morning runs, dealing with rowdy boys teasing my daughter or rushing from one local to another and then hushing back home from work, I have dealt with all.

Fear is a distant emotion for me. I do not fear the unknown for I have seen and experienced the worst phase in my life. I have also battled domestic violence to a more considerable extent.

Best friends; me and my daughter

I also have an accurate observation that I am genetically slow when it comes to races, but no one can beat me when I chase a local train.

My daughter is to get married soon, and I’ll be left all on my own. The thought of loneliness doesn’t bother me as I am ferociously independent. My daughter and I are best friends and best friends never part.

I use my ears wisely.

I had my share of accused and blame games, but I used my two ears wisely. 

The more you listen, the more you give yourself room for doubt.

After my husband’s demise, people were very sure that I would sell my flat and move in with my parents, but I stayed on my own.

I fill each moment with new possibilities

“She is a widow, yet she goes to the gym?.”

“She has started working as well!”

“How will she live her entire life without a partner?”

“Can she be a father to her daughter?”

And many more.

Ignorance is bliss, and it came handy to me.

I take each day as it comes.

I fill each moment with new possibilities, and I aim to live life kingsize.

When it comes to choice, choose yourself

When I can stand up for myself, learn to fall and cycle at the age of 46.

When I can face all my DNFs with triumph.

When I can listen and yet not get affected by whatever the society calls or expects from me, 

then anyone can muster the courage and live a life filled with gratitude and self-respect.

One day I’ll finish Ironman 70.3 within time and will grin ear to ear without a broken tooth.

“The woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things. Choose her over everything.”

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

Tag Cloud