What kind of runner are you?


Haruki Murakami (Pic: courtesy operatic.wordpress.com)

On the way I passed a few other joggers, about an equal number of men and women. The energetic ones were zipping down the road, slicing through the air like they had robbers down their heels. Others, overweight, huffed and puffed, their eyes half-closed, shoulders slumped like this was the last thing in the world they wanted to be doing. They looked maybe a week ago their doctors had told them they have diabetes and warned them they had to start exercising. I’m somewhere in the middle.

This is how Haruki Murakami, famous novelist and marathon runner, describes himself in What I talk about when I talk about running. You realize it’s a self-effacing assessment only after you finish reading his memoir. It reminded me that I’ve long wanted to create a catalog of the different types of runners – a diverse group that’s somewhere in the middle. Here’s a partial list:

  • Pic: courtesy runnerimg.com

    The let-me-tell-you-everything-that-happened-last-week runner who is

  • Definitely not the same as The Talking Runner (subject of next week’s post – The Talking Runner is a parallel to PG Wodeshouse’s Oldest Member and RK Narayan’s Talkative Man)
  • The Loner Runner
  • The listener-who-won’t-talk Runner
  • The Chic Runner
  • The I-run-so-I-can-eat-whatever-I-want Runner
    • Very different from I-run-so-I-am-a-finicky-eater Runner
  • The Group Runner
  • The Social Media Runner (who shares details of every single confounding training run)
  • The Social Runner (runs occasionally, rarely forgets to bring a camera and never misses the post-run breakfast)
  • The Bottle Carrying Runner (whether it’s a 30k training run or a race, you’ll never catch this runner without his trusty water bottle)
  • The Gear Toting Runner (iPod Nano, heart rate monitor, waist pouch laden with fluids, head and arm bands, shades and running cap, maybe even a running jacket)
  • (And of course) The Barefoot Runner

What kind of runner am I? During my Chicago running days (a scenic route alongside Lake Michigan from Diversey Street to Navy Pier — sometimes even upto Balbo Street), I was a Loner Runner and always had the Walkman preset set to  93XRT (rock station). Water fountains at regular intervals meant I never needed to carry a bottle. As I trained for my first marathon (training routes were Sunnyvale and Los Altos roads), I shed the Walkman but remained a Loner Runner.

My last 4 years in Bangalore have been low on solo running and high on group running — probably the single biggest driver for my increased monthly mileage and increased race participation. However, m solo running roots are very much intact  — still quite comfortable with solo 30k+ runs. My gear toting waxed in my initial Bangalore years and is now on the wane — currently at Garmin, sweat band and bottle for 20k+ training runs; cap and Gu gels get added for the race. My Social Media runner persona was probably at its peak in 2010 (Facebook’ing all my long runs and tweeting just about every other training run). Thankfully, that persona has undergone significant attenuation.

On a somewhat related note, I was really happy to read about Bubba Watson winning this year’s Masters. I loved this quote from his post-win interview “The thing is, golf is not my everything.”  That’s exactly how I feel about my running these days. I’m really enjoying running, hope I’ll continue enjoying it for decades to come but… it’s not my everything.

So what kind of runner are you?

A sense of satisfaction… and accomplishment


Pic: courtesy nicolenewtonportfolio.com

“You stink”, yelled my 7-year old nephew when I tried to give him a goodbye hug. “But I showered barely 2 hours ago”, I protested. Of course it was a different matter that I was packing stuff into suitcases, creating piles of junk, and loading suitcases into the rental car in preparation for the drive to Manhattan. So maybe (just maybe) I had broken into a sweat. Sorry Rohan! Will be more careful next time around 🙂

On the drive to Manhattan I reflected on the toil and sweat (and maybe a little bit of tears) that went into our 25-day moving/vacation saga. Apparently we had to work really hard to pull off this ulaari 🙂 So what am I talking about? This is a tale of five garages (in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Basking Ridge), Salvation Army, Goodwill, Hertz Car Rental, and a Manhattan condo.

As you already know, we had decided to sell (or donate) practically every household article with the exception of the following:

  • Our clothes (really a subset since we earmarked a good chunk for Salvation Army)
  • Subset of Sanat & Amrit’s toys. Thanks to their sweet cooperation, it was just a suitcase full of toys.
  • 5 year old Power Mac G4.
  • MacBook, Canon TX1, Western Digital & Iomega USB drives.
  • * 15 boxes of books (after giving away about 4 boxes)
  • * Photo albums
  • * Squash racquets
  • * Didgeridoo and flute
  • * Poonam’s wedding outfit & related paraphernalia
  • * 4 boxes of CDs (plan was to sell them at Rasputin Music but we ran out of time)

The point of liquidating everything was to avoid the need to ship any “container” to India. Which meant that the short list of articles above had to fit within the baggage limits for 4 passengers. A cursory look is enough to say “No way!”. There were 2 constraints we were dealing with: 1) No shipping container, and 2) Cross-country road+train trip with a flying departure from JFK (not SFO).

Solving for the first constraint involved a lot of logistics but was straightforward. We just had to fit our top-priority articles into 8 check-in bags (= 6 suitcases + Mac G4 + Mac G4 Monitor) and carry-on bags. All the articles prefixed with (*) were thus not traveling with us. So we had to find a temporary home for them. The thinking was that after settling into our new apartment in Bangalore (after ‘finding one’ i.e.), we would have them shipped to us piece-meal. The 15 boxes of books went to my cousin’s garage in San Jose, the wedding outfit & related to a friend’s garage in San Jose, music CDs, squash racquets and a few unsold Craigslist items stayed in my sister’s garage in Cupertino, the didgeridoo, photo albums and flute went to our friends’ house in Pleasanton. So far so good.

Solving for the second constraint required some creative thinking. Since we were driving a Toyota Camry rental car to Chicago, we knew how much we could carry with us. This worked out to 2 large suitcases and all of our carry-on baggage. The 2 computer boxes and the rest of our clothes etc. we packed into 4 Home Depot shipping boxes and sent them via parcel post to my cousin’s house/garage in Basking Ridge, NJ. As it turned out, the night after we vacated our just-sold house we spent a good chunk of time in my sister’s Cupertino garage sorting through our remaining stuff (which was still a lot). We managed to generate 3 additional boxes which my sister also shipped to our cousin’s house in NJ.

After prancing around the country for a few weeks, we arrived at my cousin’s house in Basking Ridge. There was the little matter of buying 4 suitcases from Jersey’s Little India (read “Edison”). And finally moving the stuff from the shipped boxes to the suitcases which was a walk-in-the-park for phenomenal Tetris player Poonam. We also managed to generate 2 additional suitcases which we couldn’t carry with us. Enter another dear friend from West Orange, NJ. He volunteered to bring these suitcases to Bangalore later in the year – cool!

The final logistics hop was to get all our baggage from Basking Ridge to my other cousin’s condo in Manhattan which we achieved in two separate trips. And finally (yes, really this time) a Super Shuttle ferried all our luggage to New York JFK airport – this was the most straightforward trip of all. As I reflect upon the above, I cannot help but feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment for pulling it off.

P.S. Perhaps I should named this post “The Great Social Move” or “The Amazing Race”. What do you think?