Let me be ME

Posts tagged ‘#TriLife’

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

Robotic surgery specialist ,a gynaec delivering babies and a tough IM finisher: Dr.Ashwini

Dr.Ashwini

A busy gynaecologist ,performed Mumbai’s first gynaecological robot-assisted surgery, a podium finisher at Kolhapur triathlon, Turkey Ironman 70.3 finisher, someone who juggles between delivering babies at the clinic and her training, mother of two, here is 47-year-old Dr. Ashwini from Mumbai.

Family of doctors

I come from a Maharashtrian family where education was the utmost priority. My mother is a gynecologist herself, and I have seen her managing work and home with precision. 

I was always a sincere, “accha-baccha,” and was awarded the best student medal in grade 10. 

My single focus was to be a gynecologist even when my mother warned me about the hard work followed by long working hours.

But I was determined about my career goal. My elder brother went to KEM to be a gynecologist, and I followed his footsteps.

I was a table tennis player in my childhood, but never an athlete. In the later stage, I loved going to the gym and was always fitness conscious.

I went to KEM and enjoyed my tenure in learning medicine. I married my classmate, and I am blissfully married for 23 years now.

Dr.Ashwini during her pregnancy

I started with my private practice immediately after my post-graduation, and I had no time for anything else. My kids were born in 2003 and 2006. I had multiple duties to address now.

I had excellent live-in help, and I knew my babies were cared for well. And hence I could focus on my work. I could manage breastfeeding by expressing milk to be given to my babies in my absence.

Work-home-work: juggling

My mother and mother-in-law both are working women, and I am very proud to mention how beautifully they have managed their work-life balance. 

Although I had generous support that enabled me to focus on my career, but due to long work hours, I could not attend to my kids as much as I would have wanted to.

When my daughter was ten months old, my full-time help left. My clinic was from 7-9 pm, and I was returning home at 10 pm.

I had to take a tough call here. I had self-talk and concluded that my children would grow only once; my work will go on.

I decided to manage my work timings according to their schedule and shifted my evening clinic hours to morning.

“There are choices to make at each point in life, but choose what makes you proud.”

says, Dr.Ashwini

The Tri-game

In 2011 two of my close friends did a half marathon, and the distance attracted me.

Very next day, I was out in the neighboring park to try out running. Not even 500m and I panted, as I had run at full speed. An unknown lady who must have been 60 years of age was watching, and she approached me and asked if I aimed to run. She then offered to teach me and showed me how to run slowly and steadily without getting breathless. And I was then able to run 2 km efficiently.

SCMM 2014

I joined a running group called Run India Run. I did my first half marathon at SCMM(Standard Charted Mumbai Marathon) under the able guidance of our excellent and inspiring Coach, Mr. Samson Sequeira.

I was in love with the outdoors now. We were blessed to train at Juhu beach, which is serene and beautiful in the early mornings. The morning training at the beach with constant encouragement and support from the rest of the group started on a positive and lively note.

In 2014 just a month before the SCMM, I incurred a stress fracture.

I was extremely disheartened but I still went to the expo and collected the bib.

I was restless the entire night before the race day, and seeing my state, my husband told me to go and run on the condition that I do not return further injured.

I jumped out of the bed as if I was waiting for some push; I went ahead and finished the run.

“Deep desires find their way.”

believes, Dr.Ashwini

I then enrolled for 42kms. I developed hyperactive airways due to smog exposure in the winter months and had to take inhalers to be able to train. In two out of three full marathons that I attempted, I had bronchospasm despite the inhalers. I still completed the distance, though I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do so, being a doctor myself. I realised that this was becoming counterproductive.

By this time, a couple of my friends had done the Half Ironman, and the idea of doing three different sports back to back intrigued me. I decided to try my hand at it.

However, I had never trained in swimming. And I had hardly cycled in childhood, and never after that. After the SCMM, I purchased a hybrid bike and enrolled for swimming lessons and enrolled for my first Duathlon at Vasai, where I stood fourth.

I started learning to swim and cycle for races at the age of 45. After the Duathlon I attended a Tri camp to understand what a triathlon was all about. Most of the people there were experienced and talking about cadence, BRM, and what not! It was like Greek and Latin to me. I felt entirely out of place.

I joined swimming lessons keeping the Goa tri in mind, to be held in February 2018.

Swimming and cycling were a substantial uphill task for me. I had to slog in the pool and put in lots of effort. In November, I tried to swim in a 50m pool and came out completely exhausted. Till Nov end, I was unable to swim 1500m in the pool. And here I was eyeing the Goa tri, where there was a sea swim! (quite ambitious).

I was determined to overcome this incompetency and gave it my best.

And one beautiful November morning, some magic happened, and I could swim the pool’s distance. I was amazed at this miracle.(well, thinking about it later – it was my ardent effort of not giving up)

Cycling was another challenge. I was terrified to ride on the road. I was scared of the traffic, potholes, being run over and falling. It took me three years to finally think of cycling as fun! Before this, it was nothing but stress for me. But with consistent practice, I grew in strength.

After completing the Goa tri, I registered for the Kolhapur triathlon in Nov 2018. I stood first in my age category and managed to shave off a good 30 mins from my Goa timing.

For both Goa and Kolhapur triathlons, I trained under Dr. Kaustubh Radkar, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

It was now time to take a plunge in the Ironman race. I registered for Turkey 70.3, and under the strict guidance of Viv Menon, I started my disciplined and structured training. Ashutosh Barve helped in a big way to improve my freestyle swimming.

The race in Turkey was a remarkable experience. The water was cold, and I struggled with headwinds during the bike course. But by God’s grace, I completed all the three courses of swim, bike, and run successfully. All credit goes to Viv and Ashutosh for making me worthy of this medal.

It was a delight to see my family cheering for me at the finish line. I was genuinely grateful to complete the race, but I couldn’t cherish the moment the way I had imagined it. 

My partner in crime, my best friend, with whom I had trained for all the races, had two punctures on the bike course and couldn’t complete it. She was genuinely happy for me, though, and I hugged her with teary eyes.

Next race, I look forward to crossing the finish line together with her.

Managing the clinic, training hours, and children were challenging, but then it had to happen, so it did.

I remember episodes when I have rushed to the clinic for emergency delivery calls and came back home to finish the remaining cycle training.

Learnings at 45

There is a learning in every race. I have grown from a person who didn’t know swimming, was scared of cycling to a successful finisher in Turkey Ironman 70.3.

I recall a childhood episode where I was in the pool with my cousin, splashing about at the shallow end. He jokingly dared me to jump into the pool’s deep end (15 feet) from the first-floor diving board. Without hesitation, I went ahead and jumped. He was shocked and scared, as I didn’t even know swimming. “Giving-up” and “turning away” from challenges doesn’t come to me easily, I keep fighting until I attain my goal. This one incident pulled out the fear of open-water away from me.

Last year, I thought I would try to do the same thing. Now I knew swimming, and there was nothing to fear! But believe it or not, I walked to the edge of the first-floor board and couldn’t muster the courage to jump! I turned back on two occasions.

As children, we are far more fearless and daring than adults who are gripped in uncertainty and anxiety. Childhood experiences can translate into valuable life lessons. Skills like swimming and cycling when learned as a child remains for life.

Dr.Ashwini

I have also come across people who have labeled my race participation as a mid-life crisis. It is difficult to explain the finishing line’s joy even when I haven’t won the race.

“The more you explain, the more they will ask. Put your heart into your dreams; the questions will wither.”

be firm,stay firm and belive in yourself

Mother, gynecologist, working women, athlete- what’s the Gyan for women audience?

Mother– As a mother, you’ll always have unending responsibilities. You have to be the strongest pillar of the family. It is vital to find some me- time, however. Take care of yourself first to be a caregiver to others.

Gynecologist– Women need to do weight-bearing exercises, including strength training for better bone density. Strolls won’t help to make bones stronger.

Medal hanger designed by Ashwini herself. She says, if you want it then earn it

Please get back to the routine soon after childbirth. The best time to lose weight is during lactation when you can actually eat 500 calories extra and still lose weight if you exercise a bit. So start working out, and you’ll be back in shape quickly.

Working womanIt is imperative for a woman to be financially independent, whether she needs to contribute to the household or not. A woman must have an income of her own. Children of working women are usually well adjusting, confident, and independent.

Athlete– Discipline commitment and hard work, my training has made me A better human being with lots of patience. 

I can prioritize my work and other obligations. I have started oil painting again and joined music classes too.

My approach towards personal and professional life is more organized and structured.

Never think that you are too old to learn a new skill or start your journey on fitness. It all boils down to only one thing-

How badly do you want it, and how hard are you willing to work for it?

if you want, you will- Dr.Ashwini

I would say take the plunge, and soon you’ll be on the racing track!

DHUNTE REH JAOGE-A WINNER WHO IS FAR FROM SOCIAL MEDIA FANFARE: DR.UMA VINOD

“When I first saw the racing arena, zooming cycles, training jargons, and high energy at the event, I was almost hypnotised. I never imagined that such a world existed. I made up my mind that I’ll be a part of all these high adrenaline events.”

Dr.Uma

Meet 47 years old Dr.Uma Vinod. Ahmedabad based Ophthalmologist and a  mother of two boys. First rank holder of Gandhinagar Triathlon 2018 and winner at several cycle racing events(you will not find her on any social media although)

As Dr.Uma says,

I got married immediately after my MBBS and completed my Post Graduation in Ophthalmology.

I was soon engrossed in all motherhood duties, work, and house chores—a typical story for most married women. 

The race euphoria 

In 2012, I participated in my first half marathon and finished in 3.45 hours. I was at cloud nine that I finished the race.

In 2014 I witnessed a cyclothon in Ahmedabad. I was aghast to see the zooming cycles, the cheering crowd, and pumped up, high energy athletes. I was stunned by the entire event. I never imagined the existence of such a world, as if it was a parallel universe.

In the same year, I registered for a super sprint event. The main reason to register for the event was – Milind Soman(blushes).

The race briefing was an eye-opener. I heard the terms like wet-suit, cadence, cut-off timing, and several other jargons that seemed like french. The trainers talked about cycle gear ratio and cleats while I came to participate in the race on my son’s bicycle!

For the event, I got my first BSA “thin” tire bike assuming it’ll make me go faster. Only thin tyres don’t make you win a race but training and effort do.

With all the learnings of the previous event, I got my first road bike and participated in a Duathlon in 2014. I stood first!

By now I was in deep love with cycling. 

I started participating in cycling races and winning too. I was utterly mesmerized by the sheer joy of zooming on the bike and winning as well.

I was a hypothyroid patient until the age of 40, but then I decided to lead a healthy life and gifted myself a significant weight loss.

Do it, because it makes you happy.

In 2015, I went to Manali-Leh biking, and as it is known that the route is not for the lesser mortals. I was surely not the one. It was a life-changing experience for me. It was my zen moment of putting all the elements of the body together and strengthen the mind. 

Winner at Gandinagar Tri 2018

I was gaining expertise in cycling, but my running was still lacking. I started with proper training in 2017. Guided practice, along with a proper diet, helps a lot in improving the training performance.

In 2018 I participated. in the Triathlon in Gandhinagar. Due to fewer women participants, the organizers kept an open category for women 18-55. I stood first in the race!

I then registered myself for the Berlin Marathon in 2019. I was hesitant to go on my own, but my elder son persuaded me to travel. Technology and I don’t have much of a friendship. To navigate the phone to find a way or even to use google translator is tough for me. 

But I did. Because it made me happy, very happy.

says, Dr.Uma

Women in endurance sports- lesser lady

Is it a new discussion? I face the same set of questions each time,

Dr.Uma in one of her training sessions
  • what fun do you get in killing yourself in training?
  • You are always either running or cycling, do you even spend time with your family?
  • Why are you going alone for your races, take your children along too?
  • How will your family manage without you?

I’ll miss cooking a great meal over the weekend, but I’ll never miss my training, this gives me a title of – lesser lady.

Dr.Uma in her training session

I mostly train alone and do not share that moment “ME” with anyone. It is my meditation. My alarm buzzes at 4 am and I go out for my run. Being dark at that hour, I can’t go far for the practice; hence I run in loops at a stretch in front of my building. I have informed my guard that if I don’t turn back within time or he hears my scream, then he should run to trace me. 

There will be questions, allegations, and stereotypes to face, but the choice is yours, either pay heed and remain in your cocoon or be a butterfly. What will you choose?

asks, Dr.Uma

Male dominance and raising boys

I have five males in my family: husband, father-in-law, father, and two boys (18 & 15).

I am a working female, and along with my training and work, the house responsibility doubles up. There were days when I could not prepare the meal, and my boys made their tiffin and went to school. In the growing years, my children understand cohesive existence. They also see that I have a liking towards sports gadgets than fancy clothes.

There was a point where I was fulfilling all my duties as a mother, wife, daughter, professional, but I wasn’t doing anything for myself.

It was a tough call to prioritise my liking over everything else. We live in a society where women are meant to be more focused on home, but

Elder son at IIT Kharagpur

I believe that when you don’t negotiate you’ll never be taken for granted.

Younger son after his first Tri

Today my elder one is studying in IIT Kharagpur and is in the college squash and running team. He is a swimmer as well.

He says, “mom, sports gave me recognition.”

He prefers a girlfriend who loves cycling!

My younger one has already completed a triathlon and is looking forward to more.

Mothers are the first and most significant influencers, see that you prove this to yourself first.

believes Dr.Uma

What lies ahead?

I aim to improve my race timings and keep winning as a mother as an athlete and emerge as a more robust version of myself.

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

Trailthon: Why and How?

Out there, there ain’t no black and white. There’s only fast and slow. Nothing matters, not color, not money, not even hate. For those ten seconds you are completely free- Race

First Trialthon,Kolhapur,Nov’2018

Why a Triathlon?
Because I can. Isn’t it?
It started over coffee when I met Mehul one fine evening in May 2018. He suggested that I should enroll in Kolhapur triathlon. I looked at him aghast wondering- REALLY !!!
He discussed the race casually. Of course, he will be casual as he is avid is all the sports and also an Ironman.
But what about me? Good at none.
I thought to give it a shot. I surfed the website and realized that sprint distance registration was over. Hence, I enrolled for Olympic distance and again asked Mehul, “do you think I can?” and his reply was as usual, “oh yes! It’s not tough.”

Preparation; aka “maar jaega tu”(you’ll be dead)

I had to streamline my work out and get into further strict discipline, so I needed a coach, and unanimously I landed to Viv. His weekly training plans left me breathless, exhausted, muscle sore but extremely satisfied.
I followed sensible eating, adhered to the training routine,my gym instructor Sagar framed my sessions as per my training plan; I tweaked and adjusted the plan with my travel and kids schedule. Trust me it’s sturdy and tough to burn the ass on the cycle trainer and also teach geography for the test.
It was equally tough to deny all weekend late nights, skipping social dinners or even casual chit chat. I had to time my training along with home, kids, work, travel and all of them equally demanding. The wine and single malt connoisseur in me also took a back seat.
Uffff!!! Sipping nimbu-paani on Friday eve because I had to train from 4 am on a Saturday, who would ever make such a sacrifice other than a crazy head.

Here I faced two vital challenges,

First, to keep myself motivated every single day
Second, to follow a hard training schedule along with other significant responsibilities

Tackling the first one, to keep myself motivated every single day
Setting a goal with a motive to raise the bar higher and higher kept me motivated. I also believed that I am doing this for myself and not for anyone else. Training left my mind numb, and I focussed my entire energy in one direction. It was my meditation.
Also, getting into a circle of energy of like-minded people and seeing their achievements, struggles, hard work was motivating too.

Home trainer to manage kids studies as well

Managing the second one, Time- management
I started getting up early before waking up boys for school. At times I trained after I dropped them to school and was at the work desk by 10 am. I also managed cycle training while I was checking their homework or revising for the exams. During my travel, I never missed the gym and running.

Toughest-part ; aka Phatt jaegi

Me with Sheetal and Nimesh

November 2018, I was all set for my first triathlon and excited, anxious, nervous, running cold, parched throat, dizzy, etc.
On the day of the practice swim in the open lake, it took me several minutes to plunge or not. Finally, I managed but swam along the support rope for a very short distance. Tried several times but could not achieve the full length.
I suffer from Acrophobia(fear of heights) and during this process realized that I also suffer from Thalassophobia(fear of water, dark, uncertainty).
I studied a lot about it, talked to therapists, read several self-help books, and nothing helped, just nothing.
I had a DNF (did not finish) in Kolhapur triathlon. I could not swim even 100 meters on the race day.
I had to take this phobia in my stride, and I always believe that nothing is more powerful than the human mind.
Sheetal came to me as a guiding angel and introduced me to Nimesh, swimming coach who took groups for sea swims. I had an anchor now.

Open Water Swim group

I distinctly remember when I went for the first time for the open water swim — the night before I was crying, praying, meditating endlessly.
I got up at 4 am, took a deep breath and drove to Uran which is a two hours drive from my place. The sea was low that day, and I swam only until where my feet touched the ground. Nimesh was very cooperative here and encouraged me to swim further but I couldn’t.
The second attempt was better than the first one. The third attempt was very confident where I jumped into the middle of the sea from the boat and swam till the shore. That day the sea was very high with waves pushing me here and there, but I managed the swim.

I was now somewhat sure of swimming in the sea for my next race.

Second attempt, Abu Dhabi Triathlon March 2019

Last minute decision to get the wetsuit

Just a few days before the race Deep asked me to check with my coach about the wet suit and Viv gave a thumbs up. Now the issue was on how and where to get the wetsuit? Here Parul came as a savior; she not only helped in selecting but also guided on handling and renting. It gave me lots of confidence in the open water swim.Check the link herehttps://www.buttersport.com/

Challenges during the race

Trail Swim in wetsuit

I landed in Abu Dhabi feeling drained. Next day I had my trial swim. I took a while to jump in the water, but then I finally tried the sprint distance of 750 meters and was now happy and confident to swim through the whole length the next day.
I was back to the hotel with a terrible throat ache, and by evening I was down with a fever. I rinsed and gargled with betadine. Salt, disprin and a combination of all too. Could not eat anything or even sip water. I was terrified about the race now.

Bib collection day
Biking in swimming goggles

Got up much before time moreover who slept that night, popped two paracetamol and off I went to the venue. I was trembling by now.
Running nose, fever, body ache, and cold wind, nothing was in my favor.
At the holding area for the swim, we were starting in waves of four, and I had no waiting time at all, no time to ponder, regret, mull but to jump and I did.
I had a very poor swim, but I was determined to finish the full distance and not give up.
Once out the sea, I ran to T1 to get the bike and realized that I had not kept my glasses (I use high power glasses for the swim and run), I had no other choice but to wear my swimming goggles and bike.

I chanted my mantra which I also tell my boys, “Kadam bade hain toh rukenge nahin”

Finished the bike lap and hushed for the run. By now it was hot, and I dragged myself for the first 2kms. It was the last lap, and I was not ready to give up come what may. So I held my chin up and jogged –run-jogged and finally sprinted in the last km cheering to myself the way I do for Sid for his runs. I remember cheering loudly,“Sid, ho Gaya beta. Almost done, darling. Just 500 meters left, we will not give up. Run darling run. Mamma is right here with you.”


Once I touched the finish line, I sat down and cried my heart out(har baat pe hi rona aa jata hai), definitely for I finished but also that I did not give up.

I never will.

Popped two paracetamol pills, packed my bike(thanks to mastermindhttp://www.mastermindbikes.in/welcome.html and team here) and flew back home with a determination that next race will be better than this.

Trialthon doesn’t build character, it reveals it

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