Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017 - For Nicola and Amanda!

Today's run was sponsored by Nicola and Amanda! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

Running is many different things to many people. For some, it's about the workout. For others, it's about the social aspect of running with friends. Others run to explore, to meditate, to reach a goal, to grieve, to raise money... If you've read my blog, you know that I run for all of these reasons.

But when I left the house on Monday morning, it was with the sole intent of taking some time to think. I had a potentially difficult meeting coming up, and I needed to think carefully about how I was going to proceed. My legs went on autopilot as I began the Statues 3 Miler route. You can read about other runs on this route herehere, here, and here. My thoughts centered primarily around how the ability to change my perspective and take a fresh look at the path forward might help me. What were my objectives? How might I present that information? I went through several scenarios and soon arrived at the Salt March Statue. Wikipedia gives a good quick look at the Salt March, or Dandi March, but basically it's the story of how Gandhi initiated the literal march as an act of civil disobedience, and began the figurative march to Indian Independence. You can read more about the Gyarah Murti statue on the so.Delhi blog and take a look at a video here.

Typically, upon passing this statue (which happens frequently when I go running), I acknowledge Gandhi-ji with a wave, or a hand on my heart. On this day, I did something different. I stopped. I walked around to the back side for a fresh look. I took a break at the statue and thought about how he may have approached his tough decisions.


The moment was poignant, as I considered this leader, who set out on a journey to the sea to prove his point.


But I also considered the followers. Without their support, the trip wouldn't have made the same impact. His point would surely not have been heard by the British. It was their support which was needed. Gandhi had big ideas and passion and cared about independence, but he thought carefully about how to deliver the messages of his people. People who were widely varied as illustrated in Choudhary's sculpture.


In the end, the Mahatma succeeded in changing minds and inspiring hearts. Renewed in the belief that my meeting was going to go well because I was aided by talented collaborators and representing good people, I continued my run and came across the Teen Murti statue.


The three statues (Teen Murti literally means 3 statues) are arranged in an equilateral triangle. Acknowledging the ironic fact that I wouldn't be allowed to pause and reframe this statue from a new angle since they are all the same, I grinned at the universe and finished my run.

I'm choosing to thank Nicola and Amanda for this run, because they are both involved with me in different groups at school. I've been grateful to share their thinking and I'm appreciative of their desire to help me fund the Campship. As I prepare to leave AES, I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've had to be part of important work. And as I prepare to enter a new school, I'm thinking about what opportunities for sharing thinking I'll have. Which ideas will become important? Will I have a chance to be a leader? Or perhaps, most importantly, how can I be an enthusiastic and supportive follower?

RUN STATS:
Distance - 5.15 miles
Time - 46:27
Temp at 6:30am, 87°F




Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 10, 2017 - For Justin!

Today's run was sponsored by Justin! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

Justin joined AES in August of this school year and has been a consistent running partner since. The thing you need to know about Justin, is that he's fast. And he runs far. You can check out his exploits on his blog - An Incondite Adventure. It's been good getting to know him and his wife Sarah, and the icing on the cake is that they'll be joining us in Minnesota this summer to run Grandma's and the Bjorklund with me, so the donation will personalize even more as they get a taste of Northern Minnesota and all it has to offer!

Since he is running the full, he's always looking for miles. I feel like I've been doing a good job of banking miles this training season, but I've neglected pace, speed and hills. So, when Justin started a Tuesday night text chain looking for a run, I figured it was as good of a time as any to recommit to some speed work. I promised a short, fast one and we took off at 5am.

Lately, I've been running miles that are over 9 minutes. When we left Gate 2 of the school Tuesday morning, the first thing that Justin noticed was our pace. The first mile was 8:04, but it felt even faster than that. I let him know that my plan was to run faster than normal and he pretended to feel like it was painful (but I know that he loved it). Mile two was even faster, 7:32. There was much grunting and groaning and even a "you know, we can slow down." But I refused. I had a few secrets. First, the route. I had planned a special route for Justin's run, one I'll talk about in a bit. Mile three was amazingly another negative split - 7:16. I was dying. I knew that I was going to conk soon, but my second secret kept me going. At the five mile mark, I was going to bail out and take an autorickshaw home. Mile four was finally a slow down and I had to walk. We had dropped to a 7:45 and as we started walking, Justin reached to pause his GPS. "Don't turn that off!" I yelled, potentially betraying the secret of the route. We had reached India Gate and we were making what Justin calls, "Jason Coleman lefts." I guess he thinks it's weird when I suddenly stop in front of him, or turn left at the last minute because I go the wrong way, or am about to make a wrong turn. Jeez. Anyway, as we ran from the center of the India Gate traffic circle back out and turned back in, he knew something was up. 

"The Shamrock!"

He was right, it was the run that I designed for him to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. As the officially crowned King of AES St. Patty's, he commissioned a run from me. I added it to my series of holiday runs, which I've included below. He hosted quite a fete on March 17 this year, but unfortunately, I was out of town and wasn't able to run it. The last mile and a half or the last two petals of the shamrock were significantly slower as we jumped fences, crashed through shrubs and tried our hardest to avoid standing "water" in the lawns of India Gate to complete the picture you see below.





Most of you have seen this, but if you haven't, these runs led to a feature the MapMyRun blog. Find it here - http://blog.mapmyrun.com/american-expat-maps-route-art-explore-new-countries/.

The Run, Run Rudolph Reindeer Race
The hard work and sacrifice ...
... yield great results. Turkey Trot 2016

I, as promised bailed out as soon as the shamrock was finished. Justin ran another 5 miles home. He swears to me that he slowed down, but I don't believe him for a second.

Riding home in style

RUN STATS
Distance: 5.55 miles
Duration: 42:18. Blistering 7:37 pace!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 6, 2017 - The 4th Charge of the British History Half Marathon

Today's run was sponsored by Isaac, Adam, Brianne, Scott, Justin, Jacinta, Nathan and the other AES Runners! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

It's not easy to write a sentence that can fully introduce the importance of my running group. Over the years, the AES Runners have challenged me, supported me, indulged me and more. They've trained me up for my first half marathon, my first marathon and more. They've (almost) always said yes to my crazy ideas for runs. And they've pushed me to create a monster - The British History Half Marathon. And they've consistently opened up their wallets to donate to my causes. This year alone, AES Runners past and present have donated over $600. Amazing.

The British Half Marathon was born in 2014, from a desire to do a long training run on new territory. It occurred to me that a point-to-point run could take us pretty far from home. A 13 mile line on a Google Map brought me to the Coronation Memorial and the BHHM quickly started taking shape.

You can read all about that inaugural version here. It's also referenced pretty heavily here. For various reasons, 2015 and 2016 never got write ups. Here's a quick look at last year's event.


If you're paying attention, you can see it all. A bus, over 20 runners, historical monuments, note cards with "fun facts." It's all there. The only photo missing is the one from the end. The one showing my stitches. I'll come back to that.

Here's a video of this year's event.

video

The British History Half Marathon has grown into something special around here. The preparation begins early, with runners of all abilities training and me writing emails. An excerpt:


Depending on your side of history, Mangal Pandey either bravely became the first martyr of Indian independence or foolishly presented himself as a bhang and opium-induced traitor and mutineer as he attacked Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry and later, Sergeant-Major Hewson with musket blasts and talwar blows.  
Either way, he turned his musket upon himself and discharged a round into his own chest. It wasn't enough to kill him though, and he was hanged without recourse. 
On 6 May 1857, the 34th was was disbanded "with disgrace" for failing to perform their duty in restraining a mutinous soldier and their officer. It's widely regarded as the start of the Indian Rebellion. Or, depending again on your side of the story: the Sepoy Mutiny, the Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurrection, or India's First War of Independence.
Almost 100 years later, on 6 May 1954 Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, CH, CBE, became the first human being to break the sub-four minute mile. 
An auspicious day then, it would seem, for the Fourth Annual British History Half Marathon.
Save the date 6 May 2017, history buffs and runners. More information will be coming soon.


Early bird registration begins today.

Yours,
Rao Bahadur Jason Coleman, Receiver of 17 Gun Salutes, HEIC, Event Organizer

You see, indulgence. And support. This is what the AES Runners have allowed me to become. A fake running event organizer and armchair historian. But mostly, a writer of silly emails. Another excerpt:

InclusivenessThere will be at least 19 of us running! While not the largest fake running event that I have ever organized, it's still a big group! Please be mindful of the fact that there are many different people with different paces and abilities on the road. More than anything, everyone wants to participate. This is a slow-paced race with lots of built in stops. 
Water, First-Aid, Emergency TransportationAs we will be running through a city of almost 20 million inhabitants, we are never far from any of these things. That said, there is no official support. Make sure to bring a phone, camera, battery pack, water, money, energy gels or anything else that you might need to be on the road for 2 1/2- 3 hours.
Indeed the 4th charge was an inclusive and participatory event. 20 runners showed up at 5:45am to collect my ridiculous home-made bibs, Indian Tricolor wristbands and board the bus to the Coronation Memorial. The fact that the runners were now a captive audience allowed me to read some notecards and set the scene for today's run. The Mutiny of 1875, or the beginning of the War for Indian Independence. See the 2014 post for more details on the history, today I'll concentrate on the run. 

As always, our arrival at the Coronation Memorial attracted the attention of North Delhi's early birds. More surprising to me though, was the sheer number of people out and about at 6am. The park was full of people! And statues of old, dead British guys. Among them was King George. Another note card from me (think elaborate descriptions of Durbars) and we were off and running. For the 2017 edition, there were several veteran runners. Memories of years past were flowing as quickly as the water from my Camel Back the year it exploded at the beginning of our run.

The first two miles of the run are not pretty. There's a strip of junked out cars, some olfactory delights and once, a steam roller that was laying fresh blacktop that we had to dodge. The first real point of interest beyond the Memorial is Delhi University. Sneaking through the gates ("Entry Restricted"), there was talk of monkey attacks (looking at you Alexa) and a quick stop to pose with Gandhi (because, India).

The first scheduled stop occurs at the Flagstaff Tower. This windowless castellated tower was the hideout of the few surviving British once the mutineers tore through town. I grabbed this pic from my elevated vantage point. I love it and everyone in it. They inspire me.


They also allow me to read them notecards, so it was a quick summary and an quote from everyone's favorite British-Delhi-Historian, William Darlymple and we were off again. But not for long. I quickly spied a group of men doing laughing yoga and insisted we join in. It was simply wonderful. It was not the first time I've spied these hysterical yogis doing their thing on a run, but it was the first time I've joined in. I've been emboldened by my impending departure and want to catalogue as many memories as possible. Today would definitely allow me to do just that.

Next stop was an Ashoka pillar from the 3rd century BC. At this pillar, I turned over my docent role to Laura, an actual history teacher. She regaled the group with enthralling history and I made a joke about erection.

Continuing on toward the Mutiny Memorial, memories of years past began to creep in. Like the first year when we cajoled the guard to let us in. And the second, when we knew he would. And the third. It was like visiting an old friend. Here the history took a decidedly revisionist bent as the cards examined the very nature of history. Who's story is it to tell? Can it ever be told accurately? Had we really already run five miles?

The next section has historically been where my "half-marathon" gains notoriety and extra miles. This year, I was bound and determined to not get lost or add too much extra milage, so I kept tight track of our turns. By now though, the route was feeling pretty familiar.

Stops at an old city gate, a powder magazine and The Red Fort were the locations of the first goodbyes. Among the great things about city running is the ability to jump in an autorickshaw at any point and rest tired muscles and cruise home (reasonably) comfortably. The signage advertising a magician at The Red Fort was a source of much revelry and we were off again.

Our revelry was soon squelched when we passed what could only be understood as a dead body. Questions and curiosity sobered us all as a brave runner went back to check it out. After what seemed like an eternity, there was a twitch and a rise of the chest, assuring him enough that there was life left in that body, but how much and toward what future was uncertain. The next mile was a quiet one.

By now we had run almost nine miles, so a break for drinks and mental decompression was quickly organized. At a busy intersection in the alleys of Old Delhi, our drink stop allowed for a lot of gawking. And almost got us run over by motorbikes and chicken trucks. Oh, and don't forget the van full of goat heads.

From Old Delhi, the route almost runs out of Mutiny material.There's a mile long section in the hot sun over an overpass (re-included in this year's run due to last year's inability to cross the train tracks any other way, adding an extra mile). There's a stretch of the Janpath and things start to look familiar. It's our Delhi, the Delhi of India Gate runs, the Kessel Run and countless other pounded pavements from countless runs with the group.

The last (almost) scheduled stop comes at the Secretariat, center of operations for the Indian government. Although it was not created when the events of 1857 took place, I like to stop to look at the quote written over the entrance:
“Liberty will not descend to a people. A people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed.”
In seeming fully disrespect for the people of the country that they had violently overtaken, the British inscribed this scolding. However, it turned out that the people of India would get the last word. Not only did the overthrow the Raj and declare independence, but they left the inscription so we can still read it today.

The last last stop on the BHHM was added this year. It was a stop to commemorate the spot where I ran into a pole last year and almost broke my nose.
I stumbled for three steps, tried to keep running and continued staring at my GPS. Feeling like I had been punched by a prizefighter, my only thought was, “Get the group back home.” Then a more rational idea emerged. “You just ran into an iron street sign. Look up and take a moment to assess.”

Despite my efforts to plan a memorable day of running and learning, The Third Annual British History Half Marathon had taken a distinct change of course. What had started as a successful edition of a run that takes colleagues and parents on a guided history tour of one of the world’s most dynamic cities had turned into a dizzy, bloody mess. “Stitches?” I asked.

“Stitches,” came the reply. On my way to the hospital, I reflected on our running group.
I wrote those words as the introduction to my recruiting profile last year as my family made the difficult decision to leave Delhi. We've been here for nine years and it's been amazing. Our running group has been a major part of my life and I'm going to miss everyone in it beyond belief.

Thanks friends.


RUN STATS
Distance: 14.2 miles? 15.2 miles? Certainly not 13.1 miles.
Duration: 2:44:33? 3 hours?

My GPS Stopped half way, so I have two workouts for this run, and the stats are off.






Monday, May 8, 2017

May 3, 2017 - For Chico and the Gang!

Today's run was sponsored by Chico! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

This dedicated run had to be this classic. It's the kind of run that needs to be run with a friend, so when I met Laura at the gate and she suggested the Back Door Five Miler, I couldn't have been happier. It's a classic route that sneaks its way through not one, not two or three, but four places that seem like you shouldn't be allowed to go. I last wrote about this route almost three years ago to the day!

The first back door is the best. We ran through the open gate on the back side of the Safdarjung Railway Station. "Just act like what you're doing is totally okay," is the mantra of this run. Unfortunately, the entrance was the easy part that day. A huge, fat mama monkey was with her baby on the stairs to the bridge that took us over the tracks. "What do we do here?" I asked. "Just go," was Laura's nervous reply, followed by, "Don't look at it." Obviously, I've written this post, so you know I made it. The bridge leads right to the platform and before we knew it, we were like the sultry muse of Prince's Raspberry Beret in reverse as we ran out through the in door. In door.

Running to the train station for Harry Potter themed 9 3/4km race

Back door number two is behind the Leela Hotel. Over the years, this has slowly turned from a small door, to a bigger door, to no door, to what I expect will soon become a full-fledged road. Can't stop progress I guess.

The third back door is the rear entrance to a sprawling government employee housing complex. Complete with bungalows, apartment towers, underground parking and their own park and shops, New Moti Bagh feels like it could easily be in Anytown, USA. It's always a trip running there, but today was special. The back door wasn't just the normal red and white barrier arm, but a full-fledged locked metal gate across the whole entrance. Having arrived to the seemingly impenetrable wall just behind a man on a bike, we decided to wait. He pounded on the door, we all waited. The gate was opened and we cruised past the guard, no questions asked. "Just act like you belong here."


The final back door is a door in the fence that opens to a private walkway between the Railroad Officer's Bungalows and a golf course. It parallels a public park and actually offers vertical rise in a mostly flat city. It ends at another bridge over the tracks to another government housing development.



RUN STATS
Distance: 6.24 miles
Duration: 57:49




April 26, 2017 - For Melissa!

Today's run was sponsored by Melissa! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

This write-up is so late in coming that I'll actually dedicate two runs to Melissa. Thanks for your generosity, I appreciate it

The first run was actually in March!




Melissa, the generous donor behind this post, was visiting Delhi. As our incoming Middle School Assistant Principal, she was in town getting to know the school as part of the transition visit. When I heard that she was a runner, I couldn't resist the offer to play tour guide, so I volunteered myself to guide a morning run. Probably not fully knowing my history, she agreed. Since she was staying at the Claridges Hotel, I decide to take a loop around Nehru Park, meet her at her hotel, hit the tourist hotspots near the hotel and finish with a half lap of Lodhi Garden.

The run was an immediate introduction to urban Delhi running. Monkeys and dogs were our companions as we headed toward the Gandhi Smriti. The Gandhi Smriti is the location of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. It's now a flashy "high-tech" interactive museum and a taciturn preservation of his few possessions, his simple living quarters and an immortalization of his final footsteps. Gandhi was assassinated in the garden of the Birla House by a Hindu nationalist that opposed his stance on Pakistan and his doctrine of non-violence.

The spot where Gandhi-ji was killed. Notice the footprint, the path traces his last steps.
Flashy Interactive Museum!
And, oh yeah. We had tea with his granddaughter. (far right)

Our run continued past another commemorative site, the site of the assassination of another famous Gandhi (no relation), Indira. Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India and was actually the daughter of Jawarharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister (who's death site is just down the road from hers!). She was assassinated famously by Sikh bodyguards who were retaliating for Gandhi's ordering of Operation Blue Star in 1984. The house is also now a museum. I still haven't visited it, but writing this post reminds me that I only have a little time. I think I will make this a mission.

We continued running, chatting the whole time, discussing the relative merits and dangers of running in a mega-city. It was as we were crossing the street near Safdarjung's tomb when it happened. I came pretty close to getting hit by a bus. Granted, it was starting from a dead stop at a red light, but it was close enough to encourage me to have a quick discussion with the driver and to (probably) scare Melissa off from running in Delhi entirely! Tranquility was restored when we arrived to Lodhi and took a leisurely half-loop in the city's idyllic heart.

RUN STATS
Distance: 7.43 miles
Duration: 1:01:32


April 26, 2017

This was the run that Melissa actually sponsored, an early morning run after a night of wonderful rain! It managed to cool things off a little, but not much. I met Justin at the gate and we set off on an hour-long run where I thought I could show him some new spots and mix it up a little bit. The first hit on this route was the pedestrian over-bridge that crosses the train tracks near the Chanakyapuri Railway Station. To call this a station is a bit of an overstatement. It's really a platform. As you can see, the station itself looks like it hasn't been used in a while.


This run features a few up and overs. First the railroad tracks, then up and over the Ring Road. We continued on through what has been a rough patch in the past, but is now absolutely terrible. Tons of construction, ripped up roads, into bright headlights...and back to the Rao Tula Ram Marg and a dash across the Ring Road at ground level.

From there, I had the idea to try to "sneak in" the front gate of New Moti Bagh. I've never tried to go in the front gate, so I thought it would be worth a try. The guards greeted us with "Good mornings," as we passed through the gate and it was a success! We took a lap around this strange anomaly of a planned community with amphitheater, parking garages and private fruit and milk shops and headed out the back gate.

Then it was all business as we headed home. Running with Justin keeps me honest. He likes to run fast. I know I slow him down, but I like to think he likes the company.

RUN STATS
Distance: 7.23 miles
Duration: 1:01:04



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017 - For Ted!

Today's run was sponsored by Ted! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.


Today's run is for a former AES Runner, secretive donor and all-around nice guy. My students might call him a lurker, because I haven't heard from him in forever, but he's checking the blog and making a donation - but they've given on the intricacies and nuances of our language. I call him a friend.

Here at school, we ask the following question a lot: What does the research say? Friend or lurker? Well, researchers have been trying to convince us that social media is fooling us into believing that having hundreds of friends is normal, let alone possible. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested that humans ability to keep and maintain friendships was correlated to brain size. 150 was the number he suggested, but he divided that 150 into layers. The closest layer contained 5. A study conducted by Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences suggested that the respondents to their study had only two. Research from 2016 reported on the Huffington Post confirmed Dunbar's findings.

All of that seems like bad news for those of us in the world of international teaching. Falling out of touch is easy as people move in and out of our schools and our lives. We follow each others' blogs (peep Ted's gap here sailing blog here!), see each others' photos on Instagram and Facebook, but it becomes easy to slip away from each other. Facebook can make us believe that we're keeping up on each other when snippets fly through our feeds, but it's not the same.

But do you know what?

I'm okay with it.

Because the friends that I've met since I made the decision to come abroad are the greatest people I've ever met. I know that they're there for me. That they'll help out. That they'll meet up in Bangkok, or Buenos Aires or Brooklyn. And more than anything, that we'll pick up exactly where we left off last time without skipping a beat.

I miss Ted, and Amie and the kids. I miss the time we spent chatting on our runs. Truthfully, I've been thinking about two of them a lot lately. Amie and I spent about 5 minutes one day running laps around a traffic circle near the American Embassy waiting for the group to catch up. I think about it almost every time I pass that circle. And Ted was always willing to join on long, hot runs. I saw a map of the 2014 edition of the British History Half Marathon (the first running, btw), and remembered how Ted joined me for an extra few miles to bump it up to a 20 mile training run despite the fact that it was blazing hot at the end of a really long run. Like I said earlier, an all-around nice guy.


As the school year winds down, I'm thinking a lot about how great it's been to have friends step up with no hesitation to run with me. In the dark, in the rain or on hot April Tuesdays after work. That's what I did today. It was Kate's morning to work out, so I squeezed in a run after school.


It was hot. It was hazy. It was Delhi on an April afternoon. But knowing that Ted had taken the time to donate was enough to motivate me. Thanks for helping to make the Ty Taylor Campship possible, friend. I appreciate you, no matter what my silly students might call you.

The route was a classic. School to the Salt March Statue, to Teen Murti. A loop around Kautilya Marg and a loop around Nehru Park.

RUN STATS:
Distance - 4.93 miles (I really should look at my distance before quitting my workout - .07 miles more!?)
Time - 41:22
Soundtrack - Ana Tijoux, Vengo






Monday, April 24, 2017

April 21, 2017 - For Dr. A!

Today's run was sponsored by Dr. A! Thanks so much for continuing to help fund the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship Endowment. We're getting so close to fully funding the endowment, I appreciate your help! Soon, YMCA Camp Miller will be able to send a deserving camper to camp for free every year in honor of an amazing man.

There was a request for a specific run from Dr. A after her generous donation to the Ty Taylor Memorial Campship - a run in the heat, or a run in the rain. Well, Dr. A, you get heat. You also get an international destination run, given the fact that you're the most well-traveled person I know!


Although I abandoned my running group in Delhi, and was away in Bangkok for the weekend, you can see that our temps were about the same. Of course, I had the luxury of almost two extra hours of sleep, but c'est la vie. So, Dr. A, here's your hot one.

As I write this year's posts, I'm ruminating on the fact that not only do I want to capture the experience of a run, but I'm also looking back on 8 years in India and 15 in Asia. On the first day of June, we'll say goodbye to #thisplace and head onward to Ghana. Surely new adventures await, but the awesome task of saying goodbye to what has become home looms.

In Bangkok for the weekend, knowing I had to dedicate a run, all other considerations (laziness, the pool, breakfast) were outweighed as I laced up, filled my Camelbak and headed out the door for a longish run. The route was easy. In 2015, Bangkok become something of a second (third?) home to our family as Kate moved into an apartment waiting for our son Amos to be born. I grew to know the streets. In reality, Bangkok has been a destination for us for years. Thailand is a go-to vacation spot, Bangkok, the closest spot for "big city-therapy." It's comfortable. It's predictable. It's always interesting.

So, Saturday morning, I took off from my hotel on Soi 11 and plied the early morning streets of Bangkok.


Up and over a pedestrian bridge across the lifeline of Bangkok, the Sukhimvit. Even at 7:45am, the famous Bangkok traffic was beginning. Today's route would take me across the busiest parts of town to the back alleys, the vast parks and the canals that make the city famous.

Skirting the edge of Chuvit Garden, I headed toward Benjakitti Park. The trip from Soi 10 alley takes you across this charming bridge to the park. No traffic, no noise, the city slipped away.


In all of my city running, I've always been amazed by just how quickly cities can dissolve to quietude and peaceful back alleys. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know this about them. I also was thinking about how confident I felt about today's route. It was known to me. I've done it before and I was able to just run. It got me thinking about how much I'll miss Bangkok after we leave. Benjakitti is a cool park in the center of the city. A large lake and running/biking paths all around.


It's an oasis of sorts, of course in the full sun, it was brutally hot. I tried my best to run in the shady spots.

Even at 8am, the sidewalks and streets of the city were busy.


Bangkok is a city that lives and breathes on its streets and as I ran past the various ice cream, chicken on a stick, pad thai vendors and other shops that were busy setting up, I was saddened to think about an article I had just read forecasting the demise of its street culture. It would seem that Bangkok is "cleaning up" its sidewalks and sidewalk woks in an attempt to "improve hygiene."

Pondering, I head to Lumphini Park. As I've written before, Lumphini Park was the  temporary home of anti-government protesters. Today though, all reminders of the conflict were gone as the park was replaced with joggers, tai-chi practitioners and a lovely man playing "When I'm Gone" on a harmonica connected to an amp as hids companion on the bench laughed and an old lady danced away.

When I'm Gone, indeed. The universe has a way of connecting to you when you're on a run. Luckily, I know that I have one more Bangkok trip in me before I head off and away to a new continent. For now, I'll keep my baht, I'll pack my shoes and I'll have at least one more run in my favorite urban playground. Pictures.



The thing about getting too nostalgic, of course, is the fact that one never knows what's going to happen in the future. Although it was 14 years ago that I left Northern Virginia for my around-the-world adventures, it wasn't long ago that Dr. A was sitting in my living room in New Delhi. The world works in mysterious ways.

RUN STATS:
Distance - 6.86 miles
Time - Around 70 minutes?