July 28, 2015

The Run Of Raramuri Tribe !!!!!!


"Raramuri !!!!" . This is one event where I got attracted to the very unique name and the finishers medal rather than the actual course. Even though this event is in its seventh edition I came to know about it quite recently from fellow runners. Raramuri refers to a tribe in North America who are renowed for their long distance running ability especially over mountains, canyons and so on. Hence inspired with the same spirit of long distance running, this event was organized on an overcast July morning (18th July), on a track which mimicks traversing through the hills and canyons which an actual member of the raramuri tribe would have endured.

That is how u look when u are eating banana and
suddenly a photographer clicks ur image :P
In this event I was all set to run my second half marathon that too after a huge gap of 3 years. The last half marathon I had participated was for KTM in the year 2012. And surprisingly both KTM and Raramuri runs are considered to be the toughest marathons in the vicinity of Bangalore.  Rough track with lots of stones and the sun had made KTM a worthy adversary, but on the other hand steep climbs and drops has made Raramuri to be in the same league of tough trails.

The run started at sharp 5.30 in the morning which was a big boon for all the runners since by the time the sun was out, most of the participants had completed their race. There were close to 500 odd half marathon participants, 50 odd full marathon participants and 200 odd 10k participants. With an initial warmup session near KSIT college , Kanakpura road we were let into the track which initially follows the pipeline road, which comprises of huge drops and climbs unlike any other topography one would find in the vicinity of Bangalore. Hence within the first 8 kms itself, I was huffing and panting and taking breaks, which would not have been the case if the trail was through flat terrain.

With Finishers Medals
After the initial 10k which follows the pipeline road, we where let into the BSK 6th stage main road which goes through the Turahalli forest, one of the green lungs of Southern Bangalore. The initial part of the race was like a lot of unceasing concentratic waves whereas the later part of the run was like a single big wave of going down and coming up. With all these elevation variations, my knee started to complain near the 14km mark and after that point it was just pushing towards the finish line enduring the pain. Since even the organizers were well aware of the difficulty level, they had provided well stocked watering stations every 1.6km and this did help a lot of runners and at the end of the day there was no major untoward incident. Even the race director was out there on the field providing medical aid to the runners !!!!.

I completed my run with a time of 2 hrs 18 mins 4 secs and surprisingly this was 14 secs quicker than my KTM timing !!!!. I presume I could have shaved close to 10 mins of that time if my knee was not giving any trouble. Overall a race which was satisfying, well organized and fun to complete.

Elevation Profile


Official Stats

Half Marathon
Finished- 02:18:04
Bib: 228

Rankings
Overall 132/270
Male     122/239

Splits
Start            5:32:21 AM
5K               6:00:46 AM  (00:28:26, 5:42 min/km)
14.5K          7:02:08 AM  (01:29:48, 6:12 min/km)
Finish          7:50:24 AM  (02:18:04, 6:33 min/km)

July 14, 2015

Encounters Of Duathlon Kind, Dwithiya !!!!!



I always get my best "in action" shots while participating in a duathlon, dont know the reason why !!!!. Probably all that cycling gear hides the fatigue and projects a cool looking demeanor. I took part in this event when it was introduced for the first time in year 2013 which comprised of cycling on top of the electronic city flyover which was a novel experience. Once that was done and dusted I was reluctant to take part in the same event being conducted in the same venue in year 2014. since it dint excite me enough. Now in year 2015 when they shifted the venue to Uttarahalli road , literally my backyard, it was too good for me to resist. Hence registered for the event, which by the way was free of cost for me, thanks to Bookmyshow and my wife for having accumulated all those points in my credit card :P !!!!!!.

So early morning of June 14,  dragged myself out of the bed and reached the venue (RNSIT, Uttarahalli Road) on my bike at around 6.15. As with the earlier editions, it had a 2.5km run followed by 18km of cycling and finally concluding with a 2.5km run. One thing I love about these lesser known events is that the crowd is very manageable and doesnt look very overwhelming. Ofcourse the quality of competition is still very good and one is always compelled to push and go that extra mile. Initially participants of the 10k were let into the circuit after a warm-up session. Then it was our turn and we were let into the circuit at around 6.45am. The initial run took us to a backroad flanking the institutes boundary wall. As expected the 2.5km run went like a breeze. This was followed by a quick changeover to cycling gear and then again back to the track. The cycling track took us to the wide and empty roads of BSK 6th stage where one has to constantly face the headwind. Even then, there are certain sections of the track where one could just vroom up and go, but while returning it would be the complete opposite with steep climb and headwind to bother. It was in the same section that I have recorded my top speed ever riding my bike at 54kmph a couple of years back.



Anyway returned back to the holding area and changed gears to running mode. Now this is the most painful transition in a duathlon, of getting back to running after a thrilling-adrenaline pumping cycle race. Initially the legs would not budge at all and it takes some time to get back to the rhythm. Anyhow completed the race with an overall timing of 1 hr 12 mins , but unfortunately 4 mins slower than my younger self. Probably the circuit was much tougher, but with such a small difference it is very hard to tell. Overall still a fun race.

PlaceBIBNameTimeCategoryRun 1T1BikeT2Run 2
28232Nithin Uliyar1:12:24Duathlon Individual Men0:11:350:00:590:45:540:00:440:13:12

July 2, 2015

Hyderabad : A Boiling Cauldron Of the Modern and the Traditional


There are a couple of reasons as to why I have intentionally mentioned the term "boiling". The first reason being the dates on which we had planned to visit Hyderabad, the divided states of Telangana and Andhra were enduring one of the worst heat waves witnessed in the recent past. And the second reason ??? well let me not reveal that part just yet :).


Light Camera and Action
 Well generally speaking Hyderabad is not a typical tourist destination. If asked randomly about the places of tourist interest to a random person the only thing that would come to their mind is the Charminar and if that person is more informed probably Ramoji film city. Truthfully there are only a couple of other things which would interest a tourist and they are the Golkonda fort and the area around the Husain sagar.

:P
We had 3 days in hand to explore this city and we made sure we explore Ramoji film city on a friday so as to avoid the weekend + summer vacation crowd one can expect during this time. With an overnight bus journey which took around 10hrs from  Bangalore we landed at the MGBS bus stand. The journey was pretty good considering very good road connectivity between these 2 metros. We had booked room in Grand Elite Hotel in Abids area which was around 2 km from the bus stand, and pretty much the heart of the city in terms of connectivity. The hotel was good and VFM for the discounted price provided via goibibo online portal.

Mythological Set




Day 1 we got freshened up at the room and directly left towards Ramoji film city.  This film city is touted as the worlds biggest integrated film city, and is situated at around 30 kms from the heart of city. We had booked an OLA cab from the city and the driver was constantly cribbing that this is totally out of city limits and not within the purview of the OLA services, but still in the end he dropped us there. After collecting the tickets which costed us 900/head we entered the film city after a 15 min ride from the main highway which is provided free of cost by the buses operated by the filmcity. Once inside we went through a lot of film themed shows such as Action studio (wherein they show how movie processing is done), filmy dunia(where one hopes on to a tram ride which takes through different miniature movie settings from around the world) and ramoji towers (where there is 4D kinda show with floor shakes and wind blows). Frankly these shows were okayish type, nothing spectacular.





After this we went to a show "Lights camera and action" which was good. Here against a black and dark backdrop artists played around with props which glowed under the black light. The show lasted for some 15 mins and we enjoyed it. But one complain to the organizers was that the hall was stuffed beyond the seating capacity and people without seats would stand around inconsiderate to those people whose views they were blocking. After having lunch we attended another show which was "Spirit Of Ramoji" which gave a Bollywood award night feeling to us.





Apart from that there is a kids section with certain shows specifically targeted at them. A total of 3 thrill rides were available when we were there and this part was quiet enjoyable and thrilling. A bus ride is provided around the park showing the different gardens ranging from Japanese to Mughal. Also during this tour the guide takes us through different movie sets which have been setup for the shooting such as train station, airport, mythological court setting, london street, delhi street setup and henceforth. After this tour the tourists are let into a bird and insect park, which included a lot of colorful and beautiful varieties.





Since this period coincided with school vacation there was a special summer program going on which included shows in the evening by various artists such as acrobats and dancers from around the country. Some of these performances were quite jaw dropping and impressive. Around the closing time there was a carnival parade and it was just ok. But after nightfall this place is beautifully illuminated with lights and one must not miss them when visiting this place. While returning back we stuck a deal with a taxi guy and he dropped us to our hotel room without much of a problem.

Birds Eye View Of The Fort
The next day we explored the amazing Golconda fort. This is a very interesting place to visit for history and architecture buffs and hiring a guide to take one around is highly recommended even though they are very expensive. The guided tour lasted nearly an hour and half and he took us explaining all the nook and crannies of the place. Some of the most amazing places of interest include clapping at the entrance which can be heard very very clearly at the palace situated on top of the mountain, talk about medieval intruder alarm system :). Other places of interest was their water system, as to how they got it from a lake a couple of kms away, how they pumped it up the mountain, how it was protected from the poison arrows from enemies so on. The other most fascinating place was the huge queens room wherein whispers facing a corner can be heard crystal clear standing diagonally across the room, and this in a room which was nearly 30-40 ft in dimensions. The nawabs had specially appointed Turkish architects to design the entire place, making it all the more interesting for a visit to Turkey.



Darbar Hall At The Top
After wrapping up our tour of the fort we went to watch a movie at Prasads IMAX in order to escape from the afternoon sun. The screen was huge but got to know that since the format used at this theater is not digital and off late all IMAX movies are released in digital format, the movies showcased in here are not in IMAX format till the technology upgrade takes place. Even then movie was enjoyable (San Andreas- disaster movies look the best in big screen :P ). From here visited the Birla Temple which is quite serene made up of white marble and giving some great views of the surrounding places including the Husain Sagar. But all electronic items are banned in here and have to be deposited at the entrance.

Hussain Sagar and Necklace Road
The next plan was to visit the Hussain Sagar and Lumbini park. Right outside the temple there was one board mentioning drop to this location for 20 bucks per person in a taxi. If you ever see such a board. run like hell, because this is a big tourist trap. Once inside they would tell that they would be taking us to a pearl shop and even after our protests our driver took us there. So we just went in and came out in a fraction of a second and this kinda infuriated the driver, since he would have lost the commission. We got really pissed off and there was a verbal argument and just then he almost hit an auto and it resulted in a physical fist fight with the auto person and our cab driver. During all this melee we quietly slipped off and walked away from the cab :P. Anyway we walked and reached the park and it was terribly crowded, with it being a weekend. But apart from that it was a pleasant thing to sit around the banks of the Hussain Sagar lake. By nightfall it started raining hence the laser show which is showcased at this place was cancelled and we took an OLA cab who took a very circuitous route around the lake giving us an unwanted tour of the necklace road. With so many experiences during the day I somehow felt Hyderabadis were generally more short tempered and aggressive when compared to an average Bangalorean. Just my unbiased observation !!

Hulk In Museum
Day 3 of the trip we first visited the humongous Salar Jung Museum. The official museum showcasing the collections of the numerous generations of the Hyderabad Nawabs. There were rooms after rooms of exhibits and one gets really exhausted going through all of them. Frankly in about 3 hours, we visited only about 50-60 % of the museum. The most notable of the exhibits was the "Veiled Rebecca" statue which was just stunning even for an non-art enthusiast. And the most over-hyped exhibit was the musical clock wherein for every hour a doll of some sort comes out and does some activity/dance, and to watch this there were close to 200 people waiting. Frankly it was just a waste of time with it being similiar to any other cuckoo clocks :P.

Veiled Rebecca. Even the "veil" is carved from marble



After getting exhausted at this place we went to the icon of Hyderabad , the charminar which is situated in the heart of old Hyderabad. The older part of hyderabad is a chock-a-block with traffic, narrow roads and people. The charminar which was at the centre of the road was quite stunning amidst all the chaos surrounding it. One can climb up the minar to have a view of the surrounding place, but the queue was quite long and we decided to head to a much calmer place. With a couple of more hours to spend we headed to Snow World which was a fun place near Hussain Sagar lake. My wife really loved this place and its especially enjoyable to those who are seeing snow for the first time in their life. This place is just a giant freezer converted into a theme part wherein they spray powdered ice. One can indulge in various activities such as snow fight, snow slide and dance once inside. With this our Hyderabad trip came to an end. We took an evening bus back to Bangalore.


Snow World

June 17, 2015

Marathon Mania : 4th Time Unlucky !!!!


With this being my 4 edition of running at TCS World 10K, I couldnt get something which I had easily won during the past 3 editions. And that is nothing other than a free Nike t-shirt !!!!. Hence 4th time unlucky :). Predictably in this edition I couldnt achieve anywhere close to my best timing of around 52:40 mins, but still I managed my second best circuit timing, which didnt deserve this sort of treatment. So there is just one conclusion, more and more people are getting drawn into the world  of fitness and hence more is the competition level year on year. Time to pull up my socks !! :).

But frankly speaking running TCS 10K has become a bit of a bore, eventhough the weather was great with overcast clouds. Running in the same circuit every year can become a bit tedious. With an exception to this event I always look for marathons in which I explore some new circuit/route and very rarely do I return back to run in the same event unless ofcourse I do get a free Nike t-shirt which of late has become quite difficult as you might have known already :P.


Stats

Category30 YEARS TO LESS THAN 35 YEARS MEN
Rank1063 / 7737 Finishers
Category Rank202 / 1537 Finishers
Gender Rank1028 / 6606 Finishers
Split@2.7 Km00:14:52 Avg. Pace 05:30, Avg. Speed 10.9 Kmph
Gender Rank : 1100 / 6606 Finishers , Category Rank : 210 / 1537 Finishers
Split@3.6 Km00:19:00 Avg. Pace 05:17, Avg. Speed 11.37 Kmph
Gender Rank : 1064 / 6606 Finishers , Category Rank : 200 / 1537 Finishers
Split@4.6 Km00:24:33 Avg. Pace 05:20, Avg. Speed 11.25 Kmph
Gender Rank : 1060 / 6606 Finishers , Category Rank : 208 / 1537 Finishers
Split@7.25 Km00:40:00 Avg. Pace 05:31, Avg. Speed 10.88 Kmph
Gender Rank : 1056 / 6606 Finishers , Category Rank : 205 / 1537 Finishers
Split@8.6 Km00:47:59 Avg. Pace 05:35, Avg. Speed 10.76 Kmph
Gender Rank : 1059 / 6606 Finishers , Category Rank : 206 / 1537 Finishers
Net Time00:54:58 Average Pace 05:30, Average Speed 10.92 kmph


May 15, 2015

24 Hours !!!

Bad memories are hard to forget and even harder to do so when you make its mark permanent by writing a blog about it. Since in the end this story had a happy ending I could muster the courage to write and tell the world about it . Well this is a story of how I went through one of the toughest days of my life in recent memories. Technically speaking I am not a sitting duck when you consider ways to con a person, but the recent turn of events baffled me and I was in for some rude shock.

So on a friday evening when we were heading towards Kerala via Mysore got a message that Rs 48,000 has been drawn from my bank account from some unknown person in London !!!!!. Now such sort of a thing takes it own sweet time to settle in and when it did I was in some sort of a mild shock :P. I was literally robbed by some unknown person but without being at gunpoint. Welcome to the 21st century where robbery doesnt happen in a physical manner but in the whole bad-shady virtual world.  So first thing first, called by bank call centre and blocked the cards and later on tranfered the remaining balance to my brothers account. From then started a month long battle to retrieve the amount back from the bank since according the banking laws the customer is not liable if there has been no negligence from his side like revealing his card and pin details to any third party.

After reaching Mysore called up the call centre person and discussed with her the course of action. The first step in such a case was to file an FIR and upon further probing got to know that there is a 50-50 possibility of getting my money back. If one checks in the internet one finds hundreds of such cases which have not been resolved by the banks. Hence had to take a resolve to follow up with my bank till this case is resolved and even mentally preparing myself to go to court if need arises. So the first obstacle was to go to the nearest police station and file an FIR. Now this was an effort in itself. The place where we stayed was in middle of 2 police station's jurisdiction. So they made us run from one station to another. Once the location was settled the ASI/constable were asking us to go and lodge a complaint in the place where the crime has happened. How in the world can I go to London and file a complaint !!!!!! The non-officers have no idea whatsover on how to deal with a cyber crime and moreover when they came to know that I was a software engineer I became their prime suspect :D, heights of laziness :D.

Anyway once the inspector made his presence in the station things got sorted out with him being very well informed and finally was able to book an FIR and submitted a copy to the bank. In the end it took me half a day to file this, thankfully it was a Saturday. After this another topping to our miseries was when the rental car we had hired from zoomcar brokedown without any warning. Hence the remainder of the day was spent in calling up their call centre guys waiting for the road assistance guys to show up and them trying desperately fixing the car and finally giving up and calling the tow truck. With this turn of events had to take a bus back to Bangalore.

Thereafter the next 1 week I spent following up with my bank and the zoomcar guys to get back the  refund. From zoomcar I got the refund in around 10 days and from the bank I got in around 30 days after repeatedly threatening them of court case and compensation for mental torture :P. Anyway alls well that ends well. And off late I am seeing a lot of similiar fraud transactions happening in London from accounts of various Indian banks. There must be some nexus wherein the data from the card is passed to the gang members in London, who create a clone card of some sort and withdraw the money.

The only solution to this so far is
1. Ensure to get a chip based card. Normal magnet strip card are nowadays easily cloned. Ask your bank for a replacement.
2. Ensure to cover when you punch in the pin number at an ATM or merchant counters.
3. Dont leave a lot of liquid cash in your account. Create an FD for short/long term if you are unaware of any other means of investment.
4. Keep your eyes open for any anamoly in the ATM card reader. There are various videos that are being circulated wherein an addon device is attached to the ATM card reader and which stealthily reads the cards information.

Better be safe than sorry ;) . 
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