Friday, March 26, 2010

Thanks for Birthday Wishes (Web2.0 shtyle)

Today is my birthday - March 26th. Well, that isn't such a special reason to write a blog :)

But today, I kinda started wondering how "Web2.0" shtyle our wishes are these days. It seems like a seamless progression from the virtual wishing style - e-greetings, emails etc.

Here are some stats on my birthday today that made me say this ...

Facebook: 6
Orkut: 19
Email: 2
E-greetings: 0
Telephone: 7
In Person: 4
With Hugs and Kisses: 3

(Top two are the ones I call Web2.0 - just in case you were wondering.)

Incidentally, this time around I have received a the highest in couple of years :)

So, I think it is fair to say technology is taking us all to new highs in our social interaction.

Anyways, my sincere thanks to all who bothered to remember me.

Hummmmaaannn... so let me drink to that :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chicago Marathon 2009 - feeling is awesome

Yesterday, 11-October-2009, I completed my first official and second marathon at Chicago's Bank of America Marathon event. My last marathon was also at Chicago.

The feeling is AWESOME but it still hurts :)

Akshay's results

Chicago's course map

It was quite cold, as forecasted, when the run began at 7:30AM. Initially, a temparature of 5-10c (35-40f)sounded terrible but then soon it became such a beautiful weather to run. Had to make some last minute changes to my race day preparation so I could check in my pre and post race dress. I wasn't planning to bring anything to the event but good I did. Thanks to my hosts - Kiran, Teresa and Aunti ji - for making my event special and preparing me with carbo loads and reminding me of everything I should take to the event etc.

The gun went off at 7:30 but for folks in open corral, it started at 7:45 at the earliest. i sort of sneaked ahead of the crowd - itching to get going :)

Some good advice prevailed on me to stay slow in the first half and I kept myself on 10 minutes to a mile. The trek was quite nostalgic of my last year run. I was feeling better as I crossed 15-16 mile posts because the last time, i was fully exhausted by this time and the pain was taking me over then. By mile 20, I was starting to feel some marathon heat but nothing compared to last time. I actually started to rev up somewhat now. I was targeting 4:30 time but the break at mile 18 turned out longer than i thought. The queue did not move as quickly as I thought i would. Lost about 5-10 mns there. Had thought of gaining a few minutes but then 24-26 miles wont last as quickly :)

Chicago's last 0.2 mile is a slightly hilyl run over and its a great idea to conserve energy during this stretch and get past everyone as the marathon comes to an end.

Details of the run below or @〈=EN&event=MAR&ageclass=

Person Details
Name Guleria, Akshay (IND)
BIB 44681
Div 35-39
Split Time
START TIME 07:45:13
05K 00:32:46
10K 01:04:20
15K 01:36:23
20K 02:09:10
HALF 02:16:39
25K 02:42:35
30K 03:16:09
35K 03:54:31
40K 04:29:22
Place (total) 21919
Place (Gender) 13976
Place (Div) 2478
Total (Net) 04:44:04
Total (Gun) 04:59:23

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I jumped out of the plane .. at 13500 ft

No kidding. Thats true - I actually jumped out of the plane.

Ok. Don't call my wife - I survived - writing this blog myself :) .

Clue - it wasn't a commercial plane. And well, it wasn't an accident either. But it was like the craziest thing to do. Here is some experience on this crazy thing...
  • Its called SKYDIVING. Tandem skydiving - to be technically correct.
  • go up in the plane to 13500 ft (a little over 4 kilometers)
  • and FALL. Yes. just fall without parachute opening - at 120 miles per hour for about 40 seconds.
  • With parachute from about 5000 ft - which takes about 5 minutes more to ground.
  • And all the while, you have the company of an experienced instructor.
  • The whole experience is simply AMAZING.

Check these links ...

A friend had come over my house this weekend and think he was planning this for a long time. I did not even know about it when he said - skydiving might be a good idea to try out. And I did not have much time to think. I think had i done too much planning, thinking - we would n't have jumped. Anyways, if you are even thinking about it- I would say "Do NOT think - just jump". If you need some inspirational push, here is one from their billboards ... "Work sucks so skydive :) ". So much for inspiration. And if that does n't help, perhaps it helps to know how someone feels about it now - "Wow, that was easy".

Below are some of the logistics to plan for...
  • Make a reservation in advance
  • Low wind days are the best. You wont have to wait at the hangar.
  • The program takes about 1 hour but allow for about half a day
  • Take some snacks as these might come in handy if there are delays in take off.
  • Costs $229 for the jump and $100 more to videograph it.
  • There is brief video and basics session ... about 20 mns.
  • And then instructor briefs you on the specifics of the jump
  • You wait for you plane to fly - hardest time I suppose - may vary depending on your turn.
  • In 15 mns you are up in the air and above 5000ft, you start seing other experienced divers jump in front of you and thats when you are know you are at point of no return.
  • And then JUMP. :)
  • Good luck

Divers waiting at the harbor for the turns..

Plane getting ready to start the show..

And the boarding begins...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My Pleasant Travel Surprise

Dated: 27-Mar-2009
So, here it is..

- i nearly missed my flight the other day i was traveling back to Chicago. When the departure display showed that the flight was 20 minutes late, I was damn relieved.
- i quickly printed my boarding pass - kind of reprinted because i had the check in online. At that quick moment, I noticed the boarding pass mentioned Dinner. I said wow - did they start something like airlines in India. But i did not give much thought to it then.
- I hurriedly made it to the gate and then the weather problem started and the flight was about 2 hours late. I knew the thunderstorm was building up when I started.
- Anyways, I started looking for my boarding pass to locate the group number to board. I could n't find one and I was in for a surprise now. O what is it - it says First!. I said to myself - does this thing really mean First Class !!?.
- I said no way. In my company, even the big boss does not travel first class. Well, not that he can not but its just a equal travel policy, i think.
- Now, i was kind of worried and wanted to verify if I made some mistake somewhere during ticketing process or I do an upgrade during boarding - the dinner thing. They have those upgrade buttons on the boarding pass screen which sometime become default and you may end up doing something like that.
- I also verified the airline agent. She said "you bought this ticket". Its the original ticket thats First class.
- Ok. that was good news. I called up my travel desk to make sure it wasn't me who made mistake while booking.
- And he said so travel na sir. where is the problem? I said boss, i dont have a problem but then I am not the one who charges back from the salary :)
- Well. so that was it. I was boarding my First First class flight. Cool. Never mind the wait due to weather.

More from the flight...
- i dont think there is much of a difference though. But then what do you expect after all.
- Someone picks up your jacket. You have lot of wine to drink and the dinner. Thats not bad at all.
- And then you dont have to negotiate the arm rest :)
- I think more than anything else, you get this urge of writing a blog on such a thing.

BTW, it happened because my company's travel agent gave me an upgrade and i never realized it until i reached the airport.

(I am writing this so you can smile and rejoice the feeling of traveling first class or remember it from your past)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Ventura Hill run

The marathon recovery was not technically over and I found myself itching for some good long run for a while.

The other day when I was in Simi Valley, California, I found a good opportunity to express myself :). I returned from office quite and was getting kind of bored in the hotel's closet (room). Thought I would go out and refresh myself and found the adjacent hill a great hang out.

By the way, it was long - like marathon or anything close - just about 3 miles. Yes, but nice tiring experience because most of it was uphill.

The terrain reminded me of my uphill roads in Shimla. The top - beyond the residential - was a kutcha road to the top. All of it was, unfortunately, not accessible.

I bumped into a "No trespassing" zone. And had to stop there.

But not before I had taken few pictures of the great simi valley. I am not sure if the hill name was really ventura but perhaps it was since the road all the way to the top was called Ventura Park road.

This is the left of the valley.

This is the right side of the valley. Shows my hotel too.

And yes, the quality is not great. The pictures are taken with my blackberry.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally - 26.2 @ Chicago Marathon - Delivered!

Chicago marathon would be a real stretch of imagination for someone who would come out huffing from the gym after 2.62 miles. Its been a real self-flattering accomplishment to write on this blog that..

I have actually completed my first marathon at Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 12th Oct 2008 at 2:18PM.

So, just to help your imagination to see how long really it is..
26.2 miles == 42.16 kms.
To me, at one time, this distance looked like eternity. :)

And this eternity ended in 6 hrs & 1 minute. (full marathon)
Half marathon was complete in 2hrs and 17 minutes. I crossed the start line at 8:17AM and the finish at 2:18PM.

(Pictures @

Here is a mile-by-mile event recap.
- First 5 miles seemed like breeze and then I decided I could do the full marathon. I wasn't sure I would when i jumped into this race.
- But the 13th mile had me thinking if I should call it quits after the half marathon. But this feeling just passed away when I really reached the milestone.
- 15th mile was my first break and now I was starting to feel what marathon really is :)
- On my 16th mile, I was filling myself with plenty of carb to survive the rest of it.
- the next few miles, i managed with 2-3 breaks and running mostly.
- But then started the real fun (pun intended) after the 20th mile. I was really feeling the heat and managed it walking mostly.
- My feet had now started complaining big time now and regretted having joined me in this endeavor.
- 25th mile had the adrenalin rushing in me to last upto the finish line. That did not help the timings much though.

And then finally, there was this great feeling of accomplishment and joy and elation and whatever.

At the same time, plenty of misery - as someone commented - you walk great man and there are so many here like that :). I wish i could take my pictures walking right at the finish line and share with you all.

I compiled an FAQ of questions no one may actually ask me :) ...
Q1.# So, whats the inspiration?
Ans: Just self-fulfillment and my belly :)
And all of you who are reading my blog have inspired me in one way or another. Especially, of course, my family including my brother and bhabhi who coerced me into running the marathon.

Q2# Any slogan for your run?
Ans: This time around, i just jumped in when I realized during training that I actually did 13 miles. So, did not have much time to get something printerd on the gear.
But from next time onwards, I do have in mind to have the below slogan...

Run for your future ... Run for Open ... Run for Linux

Q3# Any message for those getting inspired by this blog?
Well, it would help you to know that when I started running in my apartment gym, 10 minutes of run sound great to me. And at that time, marathon to me sounded like professional running. And i was merely running to keep fit. So, thats where I am coming from to share this news with you all.

Just the belief that you can do it is good enough to be there.

Q4# Your training schedule?
For best results, you could follow It has tips for all - beginners to advanced runners. I did casual running prior to knowing about this website and the schedule was quite ad-hoc at times though I managed to keep my gym fairly regular during my entire last winter. It was quite a chilly experience going out at 6AM during peak chicago winter. (temperature as bad as -10c on few days - with snow all over the car. Its fun shoveling snow from car in chicago). gave me a 16 week schedule, which i had to cut short to about 7 weeks for lack of time. The last to last training week when i completed 13 miles, I got the confidence that it was worth jumping into the race. By this time, the registrations for chicago marathon had dried up (for record, there are 45000 official runners for the event and about 3000 like me), so i knew I have to jump in as a bandit runner but i think thats fine for start. However, registering in the event keeps track of you throughout the race and family has less to worry about you if you finish late. But, most importantly, it drives commitment. So, my suggestion is "commit to it" and it will help you prepare for it.

Q#5: And about your basic aim of running - keeping fit
Thats truly met. I was quite surprised at my last annual check up - which happened last month. For last 10 years, i had BP in the range of 125-130/95-85. This dropped to 110/80. My doctor was a little surprised to here when I told him I had this high for so long. This was the best thing to happen.

Weight - it dropped by just 6 lb. I am sure this reduction rate will double up once I get into routine. For sometime during the summer, I was not quite regular with my exercise routine.

Overall, health scorecard looks good, progress is great. And this is yet another reason for continuing to the next one :)

Friday, October 12, 2007