The Marathon Drive

“The miles is the goal” says Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) in the movie “Up In The Air”. He is talking about the frequent flier miles he aggregates on living life out of a suitcase, as he travels across the states in air. When I say “the miles is the goal”, I am on the ground and I refer it to the miles I accumulate for my monthly runs :).

I owe it to my elder brother Yogesh, who inspired me to take up running as a sport. I was never a runner, per se. The two sports that I played in my school days were tennis and soccer. And it does involve running, lots of it. These sports took up a back seat when the academics came into forefront, reducing the once passionate sports to once-in-a-blue-moon events.

I took up running after I bid goodbye to the Midwest weather and landed up in a cheerful spring in Texas. Running was completely new to me. I started off by walking, and then to brisk jog – discovering that my shoes, my sheen and heels were not in the right shape to get me running.  The greatest challenge for the first two weeks was to run a distance of 0.25 miles (0.4 kilometer).

Last year, I went on a month-long trip to Pune (India), my home town. One day, on an early morning run, I was stopped by a very old man. I had seen him run the previous day. He asked me if I was training for the international marathon (held in Pune every December). I said I was not. He said “You should try. I am hoping to better to my record for 10K race. My age is 73”.

Last month, I ran the half marathon distance (13.1 miles = 21 kilometers) in 2 hours 1 minutes 33 seconds. Series of long and short runs helped me to achieve this milestone.

Every month, my target is complete 100 miles. Depending upon the time I have, my travel and weather outside, I plan runs and reach the goal. I am often asked by my family members when will I be able to complete a marathon. I don’t know. It took me a year to complete the half marathon distance. Perhaps, soon.

Two books have helped me understand different aspects of running. The book “Born to Run” by  Christopher McDougall is a non-technical, non step-by-step guide and yet an informative read about human origins of running to the latest ultra-marathon species called Tarahumara Indians. “Running with the mind of meditation” by Sakyong Mipham offers another compelling view of running practiced in conjunction with meditation.

Nike+ app is a good way to record your running activities. Its fairly accurate, comes on Android and iOS devices. I would love to connect with fellow runners. If you are using Nike+ app, can add me to your friends list.

Based on the app usage, I have created a concept for a running app. I am sure it will undergo iterations, I am presenting the first draft.

Running App Concept - Page1

Running App Concept – Page1

Running App Concept - Page2

Running App Concept – Page2

 

The travel bug

Raise your hand if you love to travel :). Both for work and pleasure.

Being a designer has taken me to new places like US, UK, Malaysia and India. I love to travel.

Its easy to travel in India, my native country. The modes of transport are easy to understand and arrange. Same is the case with UK – great country for public transit. Malaysia is good too. It is in US where I struggled with – by using public transit. The fault was entirely mine.

I was in California after a good gap of 7 years. I should have started driving the car in US by now. It was my second visit to the country, longer than the previous one. The right-to-left wheel transition was a bit baffling to me, initially. I tried driving once and then gave up the thought. I relied on friends to tag along in their cars on weekend outings and sometimes choosing the VTA trains to roam around.

Weekend agenda was simple – explore new places. The downside of using the public transit was time – a simple journey from San Jose (CA) to Gilroy (CA) is a 40 min drive. A public transit journey (combining train and bus) taken around 2 hrs.

Back then, we did not have smartphones. The iPhone was 1yr old. Google was touted to release its first Android device. There was no blazing internet on the phone that we have now. No question of maps on phone.  It was July 2008.

On one of the weekend trips back to home, I missed a bus. Me and my friend waited for the next bus to come, which did not arrive as per schedule. The printed bus time-table at the stop told a grim story of weekend bus gaps. There were relatively less number of buses plying on the roads on weekends.

I thought, we are in the one of the most advanced places on earth, i.e. California. How come we do not have any service / tool / application that helps me travel with public transport? Mobile apps were just beginning to appear on devices. What I was thinking as a concept was a mashup of public transit data, mobile phone capabilities and real time information.

In 2009, I sketched a concept – a public transit app that any tourist, or any city dweller can use to travel. The app is called ‘Ghumiyo’ – a slang in Hindi language, which translated means “travel”. Notice the template I used 🙂 – The Nexus One and the HTC Sense skin used as the Android launcher. 

Here is the app I designed:

Ghumiyo_1

Ghumiyo_1

Ghumiyo_2

Ghumiyo_2

Ghumiyo_3

Ghumiyo_3

Ghumiyo_4

Ghumiyo_4

Ghumiyo_5

Ghumiyo_5

Fast forward to today – I now live in Texas and I drive a car :).