Running for charity…

Many people generally ask me why do I run for charity?
Would it not be easier for me to just donate some money and be done with it?
You would still be contributing for a cause…

I think it is really a very personal choice on how you would like to contribute.

I would like to list down my reasons for running for a charity –

  1. Running for a purpose
    I always loved to run. A couple of knee surgeries completely crushed my confidence and the fear of not being able to run ever again was very real. In times like this, my journey to start running again was very slow and sometimes demotivating. The idea of running for a charity was a very major motivating factor for me. I ran my 5K after my surgery in 2010, followed with it up with a 10K in 2011 and a couple of 10Ks in 2012. I ran my first 21K on Nov 11, 2012 raising funds for Singapore Heart foundation. I will run my first marathon on Jan 20, 2013 for CanKids (India). It gives me a purpose that allows me to look beyond my incapabilities and work towards achieving something for a bigger purpose.
  2. Helping spread the word
    There are a lot of people doing many good things. All these people need help. There are a lot of people who want to do something and help in some way. They just don’t know how to go about finding the right charities etc. I just try to make it easier to help people get closer to the causes that they want to contribute.
  3. Running for a charity pushes me to train hard
    Sometimes my laziness rules over me and somehow I cannot get out of my bed to go to train. Running for a charity helps me wake up in the morning to train because I know I owe to all those people whom I am running for. I also owe it to all those people who contribute to the charity I am running for.
  4. Reaching a wider audience
    A friend of mine pointed this out to me. I might donate $50 for a charity.
    But by running for a cause, if I get even 10 people to donate for me, I can actually end up raising 10 times the money.
    It makes me feel good that all this will go for a good cause and of course, more the merrier.
  5. Making new friends
    I meet a lot of like minded people who run for charity or are there just to cheer the runners. Some of them are people who I will never come across in my life otherwise. I am grateful and sincerely appreciate their presence and inspiration in my life.

To cut the long story short, I run for a charity, because I can and I want to!

If any of you want to contribute to my upcoming races, please leave me a comment here…I will get back to you on how to contribute…

Thanks all for reading! Keep fit!

First shopping trip for a trek…

Last June, my husband Amit and went for our first trek to RoopKund in the Indian Himalayas. It was a 5 day trek and we signed up for the trek through IndiaHikes. There are too many experiences and memories from this trek and I have made a promise to myself that I will document everything I can. I hope this will help other novice trekkers like me (even at a cost of everyone discovering my complete ignorance about trekking gear)!!! 

I would like to limit this blog to my first ever trek gear shopping trip. I will be coming up with the gear reviews and my learning as a novice trekker on how to select gear in my upcoming blogs. 

We started preparing for our trek in June 2011 from February 2011.  I had to leave for a trip to Amsterdam in early March 2011 for 2 weeks. Amit promised to do his research on trekking gear and give me a report when I am back. I was happy with that but I did tell him that I would be happy to go through his choices but the final decision on what to buy for myself would rest with me. February flew by and so did March. I was back from Amsterdam and found myself looking at Amit’s list. I was not sure about the list. To be frank, I did not think we need to go to stores that sell hardcore trekking equipment because in my mind we were not doing anything major and it was just our first trek and I was not sure if I would ever want to trek again.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I made my own list of requirements for my trekking backpack after researching extensively on the internet –

  • It should be comfortable
  • It should be light
  • It should be 65L (As mentioned in the IndiaHikes list of things to bring)
  • It should look good (yes – this was a requirement when I started)
  • It should be a backpack custom made for women 

I could not believe my luck when I saw the department store in my neighborhood stocking trekking backpacks (Yes! They were stocking Trekking Backpacks for a limited period). They satisfied all my criteria and the colors were so cool that I could not decide what to pick. I wanted to help to make a choice. This is when I saw a big smirk on Amit’s face. He told me, “All of them look great. But before you pick one of these, why don’t we check my list out? Let’s just go to each of the specialty store mentioned in my list and if you don’t find anything better you know where to get your backpack from!” We also zeroed in on a deep violet backpack at the department store.

The next day we set out to go to all the stores that Amit had shortlisted. I am not going to name names here but the first 2 stores we went to was a major disappointment and it was also very heartbreaking for me. I am overweight and quite insecure about it. At every moment in those stores, I was worried that one of them was going to tell us, “fat people don’t trek or something to that extent”. Thankfully, it never came to that. Most of the cases, we did not get much help, and I was 100% sure that I am going to be a proud owner of a deep violet backpack from the department store (at least the staff was friendly)!

Amit told me, there is one last place in his list that he would like me to have a look at. By this time, I was quite depressed, but I wanted to get over with it. When we reached Camper’s Corner (yes, that was the last store in the list, and I guess Amit wanted to save his best for the last), we were greeted by extremely friendly staff.

Chris was the first one to approach us and asked us if there is something he can do to help us. I started explaining to him that we are planning to go for a trek and we are planning to buy a backpack. He showed us the choices they had and also explained to us how to go about checking if the bag was comfortable, he also helped us by adding some weight inside the bags so that we have idea how will the bags behave when weight is added to it. During this extensive demo of the bags, at some point Calvin and Sam joined the discussion too and gave some tips and pointers. We found our bags – Mine a Gregory Z65 and Amit chose a Gregory Baltoro 65.  After choosing the bags, we moved on to apparel, trekking poles and trekking boots. I still clearly remember our first conversation where Sam explained to me with a lot of patience that you don’t need 5 sets of pants for 5 days in the mountains. Just one will do 🙂 We ended up completing most of our shopping for the trek that evening.

Some lessons learnt on our maiden trek gear shopping trip –

  • If you have decided to go on a trek and have started preparing for it, stop judging yourselves because no one else is judging you.
  • Even if it is your first trek and you are not sure if you will ever go for a trek again, it still helps to invest in good, at least decent equipment such as backpacks and trekking boots etc.
  • Research, research and more research – try and find out more about your trek, find out if there is an option for some help in carrying your main stuff so that you can just carry a day pack, find out more about the weather during your trekking period – for example, it is going to be raining through your trek, it makes more sense to buy a waterproof backpack rather than buying a water resistant one with a rain cover.
  • Ask for advice – sometimes people assume that you know what you are looking for and do not want to be pushy (maybe that’s what happened in the first two stores we visited). Most people working in stores selling trekking equipment love the outdoors are more than willing to help you. Be vocal if you need help.
  • Do not be too rigid about your requirements, your comfort is more important that the color and the looks of the product that you will be carrying. For example – I was looking for a bag made specifically for females, when I started trying the bags, I realized that bags for women were typically for the ones who are petite and I felt a bag for men was better suited for my shoulders which are quite broad. The choice is quite personal and let comfort be the first thing on your list.
  • Budget – you might be surprised that trekking gear and apparel are quite expensive (if you compare them to their counterparts that will not be used in a rugged environment). Remember that all these products have been built to last. The quality of these products is very good and the quality justifies the cost. Look at it as an investment especially if you plan to go on more treks in the future.

I will soon be back with reviews for all the gear we have been using so far on our trek.

Until then, keep trekking all!