Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Race Calendar


March 18, 2018 - NYC Half Marathon

June 24, 2018 - IRONMAN 70.3 Mont-Tremblant Fundraiser

September 30, 2018 - IRONMAN Chattanooga Fundraiser

November 4, 2018 - NYC Marathon


October 29, 2016 - Randall's Island Run the River 5k (27:02) Strava, Pics, Athlinks

November 6, 2016 - TCS New York City Marathon (4:39:00) Strava, Official Results (bib 55102), MarathonFotoRace Recap, Fundraiser

January 22, 2017 - NYRR Fred Lebow Manhattan Half-Marathon (2:38:04) Strava, Official Results (bib 2096), Photos, Instagram

February 25, 2017 - NYRR Al Gordon Brooklyn 4 Miler (58:08) Strava, Official Results

March 19, 2017 - United Airlines New York City Half-Marathon (2:16:03) Strava, Official Results (bib 20879), MarathonFoto, Fundraiser

April 1, 2017 - Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4 Miler (36:21) Strava, Official Results

April 23, 2017 - 9/11 Memorial 5k (37:09) Strava

May 6, 2017 - UPMC Health Plan/ UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5k  (28:33) Strava, Official Results, MarathonFoto

May 7, 2017 - Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon (4:33:50) Strava, Official Results (bib 3791), MarathonFoto, Season Recap, Race Recap, Fundraiser

June 1, 2017 - J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge (41:42) Strava, Official Results

June 17, 2017 - NYRR Queens 10k (52:31) Strava, Official Results, Pics

June 24, 2017 - Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Run 5 Miler (52:05) Strava, Official Results

June 25, 2017 - Achilles Hope & Possibility 4 Miler (39:44) Strava, Official Results

July 23, 2017 - San Francisco Marathon (5:23:06) Strava, Official Results (bib 50569), MarathonFoto, Pics

August 20, 2017 - France Run 8k (46:21) StravaOfficial Results

September 24, 2017 - New Balance Bronx 10 Mile (1:25:00) StravaOfficial Results, Pics

October 8, 2017 - Bank of America Chicago Marathon (4:27:48) Strava, Official Results (bib 38712), MarathonFotoFundraiser

November 18, 2017 - Knickerbocker 60k (7:50:35) Strava, Official Results (bib 356), Pics

January 4, 2017 - Walt Disney World 5k (1:47:49) Strava, Official Results (bib 22461), Pics

January 5, 2017 - Walt Disney World 10k (2:19:56) Strava, Official Results (bib 22461), Pics

January 6, 2017 - Walt Disney World Half-Marathon (4:04:15) Strava, Official Results (bib 22461), Pics

January 7, 2017 - Walt Disney World Marathon (7:30:34) Strava, Official Results (bib 22461), PicsFundraiser

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pittsburgh in Pink

To read my season recap, please click here. This post is intended to be a trip down the memory lane for the weekend of May 7th. I do not guarantee the absence of life-lessons though.

I had arrived in Pittsburgh knowing that I hadn't quite had the kind of training season required to run a marathon, leave alone a hilly one. Basically a good patch of runs from March 3rd to April 10th, and then a fortnight of agony and anxiety, with limited amount of exercising. The best thing I could do was to rest my body the week of, and run without any pressure whatsoever. I did.

Running for a cause, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in honor of Elizabeth, my American sister, added extra meaning to the race, and staying with our Mom Gail throughout the weekend ensured that I was never short on inspiration (or as we like to call it, runspiration) and that my nutrition stayed absolutely perfect. The weather played its part too, and what unfolded was a dream, a run I doubt I could have executed even with 16-18 proper weeks of training. Less is more at times.

Sunday morning, Gail dropped me off in Downtown where a little walk brought me to the bag check area. Temperatures were still in the low 40s. With the race supposed to start off in 15 minutes, I started dressing down. An elderly gentleman co-marathoner walked by, suggesting I keep things on for another 10. So right he was. I could sense the contrast between NYC and a smaller marathon such as Pittsburgh. Not so formal and strict, no big waits anywhere. I reached the start corrals by 7:10 and got to begin running at 7:38:41 am. I didn't know anyone and could only see one familiar cap around - a purple Team in Training, so I wished her luck. It was a bit chilly, leading me to keep my arm-warmers on, and I just never took them off because they were from the NYC Marathon, and served as an instant reminder that I had done it once before, I could do it again. I just had to BELIEVE. Ok, I did not want to trash them either.

Beam them up, Scotty

At the start line

As soon as the race began, I could see that this was going to be a marathon to be done by myself. At NYC, there were teammates running the race too, and for example, I had asked Deb to slow me down if I reached her in the first half. I had had the comfort of knowing there would be coaches on course in the tougher stages of the marathon. Everyone alongside was going the same distance and hence, I could in some sense establish fellow runners as checkpoints of my own pace and progress. In Pittsburgh, there were half-marathoners and relay teams mixed in, and I wouldn't know who was doing what unless I over-took and looked back at their bib. Too much effort. Let's just go out and do my own damn thing. No one to compete with. No time goal. Just me and 26.2 miles to a finish line. Come on!

I had at the back of my mind memories of how I had felt in the later stages of NYC, how I had slowed down from an average pace of 9:55 in the first half to 11:23 in the second. In the interim, I had run two half-marathons, both negative splits, and I knew that it felt nice to achieve one. Doing it at a marathon though - uh, well, we'll see once I get to the mid-race hills.

The first 4.4 miles took me through Strip District, a flat bridge (the David McCullough) and around PNC Park, registering an average pace of 11:05/mile. I know this exact number only because I have the results in front of me as I write. Out there on the course, I wasn't looking at the clocks. Strava was registering my run, but it doesn't get the distances exactly, and hence I wasn't relying on my tracker to know my speed. Plus, I didn't want to know. Just me and 26.2-4.4=21.8 miles to a finish line. Another 2 miles and I was close to the West End Bridge, chewing my first Gu, in good shape, feeling fit.
On to the West End Bridge
The next mile turned out to be quite an eventful one. A heavy gust of wind uprooted a road-side entertainment tent and swung a pole right into the lady running in front of me. Had I been 2 seconds faster, it would have been me taking the hit. It just wasn't her day, it was mine. Sorry gal. Soon enough, we went down a steep hill, turned left, and again left, making a U-turn only to climb that same steep hill on a parallel road. I could not fathom why the organisers would make us do this. Couldn't you have added an extra 0.2 miles of flat land somewhere else in the city?!? But it was what it was. Did it, went on with it. No qualms. Just me and 18 miles to a finish line.

For 3 miles there on, we ran along the Monongahela river. I remember seeing an array of Army personnel cheering us on, and high-fived every single one of them. Because when you don't care about your finish time, you can afford to do fun stuff!! I was slowly and steadily inching closer to the big hills at mile 13, and a subsequent meeting with Gail.

This I feel is where I made my smartest decision of the day. I pre-poned my Gu by a bit, made sure I wasn't dehydrated or low on electrolytes before hitting that big hill, and crested through it. It rose 200 feet within a mile, and yet, had zero impact. Somehow, I just wasn't losing energy. Maybe my reduced training had been a blessing in disguise and left my body much fresher and stronger. Or maybe it was just psycho-somatic that after going through so much pain the entire season, I wasn't ready to feel it any more. Whatever it was, it worked wonders. 

The half-marathon mark came up in 2:20:32, although during the run, I only knew that it must have been somewhere between 2:18 and 2:20 from the few times I had seen the course clocks and the numbers I vaguely remembered. For comparison's sake, my NYC time was 4:39:00 which meant that if I could do a negative split, I would have a PR. This was the first time I got thinking about matters of speed. Before hitting the mile 14 marker, I met Gail, my biggest cheer-leader, along with Todd, a good friend from my Pittsburgh days. Being a runner himself, he told her I didn't look like I had gone 13 miles already. And I like to concur. The pacing, the no-goal plan had worked well so far. I was feeling good, and more importantly, happy to be just out there, able to run, and run for a cause. It also helped that I was running close by Carnegie Mellon, and I remembered joking with a few friends who had been there, that the marathon would look easy compared to what a Master's in Computer Science from CMU puts you through. 

My American Mom

I had heard of the generosity of the cheering squads in Pittsburgh and that was to be on full display in the next few miles. There were people offering orange slices, bananas, beef jerky, candy, beer, and what not. Unfortunately, I'm a stickler to Nothing New on Race Day and could not accept any of these. But it was heart-warming to see such gestures of kindness, which reminded me so much of my own days in the city, how I had met two of the best friends ever - Gail and Hugo, and so many other fabulous kind souls.

And then around mile 16-17 came my favorite memory of the day. I needed some fluid and at the upcoming Gatorade station, I could see a little girl, maybe 3 feet tall, holding out a cup. The runners though, weren't taking hers, maybe because they were tiring off and did not wish to bend. Me, eh, I was doing fine, feeling great, feeling grateful, so I approached her. And off she went jumping up and down, shouting Yay, telling her parent (most likely) that I took her cup, all while I slowly walked ahead, gulping down my dose. Over dinner with some good friends and folks who had helped our campaign, I would recite the story, and someone remarked - Maybe it was her joy that seeped into you, and got you to finish so strong. Who knows? Maybe it did. Thank you little girl for making my day, nonetheless.

By the time I reached mile 19, I could feel a little twinge behind my right knee, and a heavy bladder. It was also a bit uphill, and I slowed down deliberately, knowing that the toughest miles were still to come. And as fate would have it, just as I was running by a line of 4 occupied porta-johns with no waiting lines, one of them opened up, and I had my chance - 30 seconds in and out, and it even had hand-sanitizer and tissue paper available. Those things are a luxury in NYC. Alright, on to the last 10k, gaining speed, the average at 20 miles was 10:35/mile, which meant I was beating my NYC time. Again, I didn't know it exactly back then, but going by how good I was feeling, I knew it wasn't a distant possibility. Just me and 6.2 miles to a finish line.

By now, the course had become almost deserted. The half-marathoners had left us way back, the relay folks were few and far between, and with only 3439 marathoners around, our density wasn't high either. All of this meant that I could run at whatever pace I wanted, where I wanted. I could pick the shady side of the roads, under the trees, away from the sun, didn't have to worry about collisions while over-taking. I was definitely not feeling as great as I had at mile 14, but still, much better than I had at mile 20 in NYC. It was here that I brought out my mantra - reading out the poem If to myself. And when I do it, I replay the first and last paragraphs in Federer's voice from this video. I heard him say - If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that's in it. My eyes welled up and I know I'm being a bit crazy/narcissistic here but I did really think to myself - mine is the earth, mine is this course, mine is this day. That surge would be enough to soar me through to a 7:14 negative split, and a 5:10 PR.

At mile 24, we undid the 200 feet we had gone up earlier, allowing me some faster times, and a further push towards the negative split. In the next mile, I ran past the pacer for the 4:30 group, and it saddened me that he was walking, possibly with an injury. I couldn't imagine how he must have been feeling, having taken up a duty earlier, and knew that there wasn't much I could do for him. Getting closer to the finish line, I could sense that I could go full-blast and Strava would later tell me that I ran the last 2 miles in 16:49, that's 2 minutes per mile faster than my average pace. At NYC, I'd started getting emotional too early (mile 25.5 I think) and this time, I was trying to not repeat that. The marathon helped by placing the finish line around a corner, so it wasn't visible until the 200 yards mark. 

But boy did I realise something as soon as I did that corner. No matter how strong I wish to be, I can't resist crying at the sight of a finish line. And out came the tears, pew pew pew.
Sunglasses are a good tool for hiding tears
And then came the finish. Oh, that glorious finish. Just me and a finish line. So emotional, so beautiful, so rewarding. I wasn't physically exhausted that bad, but the season had taken its toll on the mind, and I collapsed on my knees, wishing I could sit there, and shed out my tears all day long. Damn you spotters for whisking me away against my wishes. 

I knew it had been a PR, I knew it had been a negative split. From a pure statistics point of view, I loved how my cumulative average pace across checkpoints never slowed except for that 1 second during the tough hills of mile 13.

I know I have written a lot about this in my season-recap but I'll briefly re-iterate just how much this marathon meant - the highest point in a season of incessant lows, an affirmation of the spirit, a stern reminder that no matter what comes my way, the love and strength of my support system will always be enough to break down all barriers. On the course, I was running by myself, but alongside in spirit and in my heart, ran everyone who had inspired me to not quit. It turned out to be a dream run, but even if it hadn't, I would have been just as happy, just as over-whelmed, and just as grateful to the people I have the honor of calling my friends.

What's next - On July 23, this trio takes to the streets of San Francisco, rolling through 1600 ft of elevation gain over 26.2 miles including the Golden Gate Bridge. It's been hugely inspiring to me in person to see these two wonderful people make leaps and strides, progressing steadily towards their first marathon, and I hope if you're in the Bay Area, you'll come out to cheer us on.

Until then, stay tuned, and have a great summer. Adios.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We live on

The Tuesday after my second marathon, a co-worker who runs sub-3 marathons asked me what was next. He was surprised that I would choose to make New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco - all hilly marathons, the first three of my life. According to him, I could just go out and run 4 loops of Central Park if I wanted my tracker to record 26.2 miles. And that a marathon should be registered for, with the sole intention of achieving a Personal Record (PR). He looked at me and remarked if he was missing something. I joked - "you're missing a heart, buddy".

This was a marathon from the heart. It took heart to go through the season, and it took heart to finish.

The seeds were sowed in October 2016 when I had started looking up to Roger Federer's first Wimbledon triumph in the build-up to my own first marathon. And then, during a conversation with my first coach (Noa), I had brought up the thought of emulating his yearly Grand-Slam tally with my marathons, if NYC didn't devastate me. And it didn't! And so, the search began. Proper spacing, marathons that I would like to do, places I'd like to visit. It culminated with a list of 3 cities - Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Chicago, over dinner with my 3 coaches - Christine, Deb and Noa.


December and January saw me running in Barcelona, Mumbai, Bhilai and New York, the final one - the Fred Lebow half marathon leaving me with a bad right knee. A week later came the 18th, the Slam we'd all (alright, except for Djodal fans) been waiting for, for 4.5 years. And I just had to celebrate, to let my emotions out. So, off I went - on an 18-miler on a bad knee, a run that would open the floodgates of Deb's fury and have her unleash on me an 18-day penalty. Little did I know that at the end of the penalty lay an even bigger fury - that of fate.

What transpired over the next 3 months is an experience I'll never ever forget, one that will likely shape the rest of my life, for good or for worse. On the 18th of February, 2017, while mentoring a robotics team at HSCT Bronx for the upcoming FIRST Robotics competition, I felt pain - abdominal as well as testicular, accompanied by vomiting. Thinking of it as a gastro-intestinal issue, I took a subway home and went to sleep. And if the President wasn't already a bad omen to begin with, I woke up with a swollen testicle on Monday, the President's Day holiday. The next day, I saw a urologist, who diagnosed epididymitis, a bacterial infection. Another 15-day penalty on running and exercising. A course of painkillers and antibiotics took the pain away soon, and brought the infection down, leaving me in good shape to re-start running.

I'll skim through the rest of March - some good runs, the longest being the NYC half-marathon, where I did a negative split enroute to a 22-minute PR on the 13.1-mile distance. Things were going well at work, I'd started seeing a woman named Nikki, and we bonded well over our first date. Life would soon turn upside-down, put me on a roller-coaster that twisted and turned so many times I lost track which way I was going, whether I was in free-fall. 

On April 10th, during a follow-up with the urologist, he became suspicious of something else going on - the *something* being testicular cancer. A sonogram revealed no blood supply - hinting towards the events of Feb 18th being a testicular torsion, or to put it simply, a murder of the ball. While the chances of having cancer had me shit-scared already, the alternative didn't help much either. Living with a torsioned testicle meant that my body could start producing anti-sperm anti-bodies that could render me infertile, and also placed me at a higher risk of undergoing another one - an event that would make me Lord Varys. And while I do envy the wisdom of his mind, I would rather not want to emulate the rest of his body.

3 days later, the same urologist suggested I have an orchiectomy, i.e., a removal of the testicle, along with an orchiopexy, i.e., surgical attachment to avoid torsion, in order to solve both of the above-mentioned issues. To put things into perspective, barring a total blood transfusion at birth, I have never had anesthesia, surgery or even a fracture. This was going to be a huge decision to make.

In the week of April 24, I sought a second opinion. This urologist was much more certain of cancer, and that sent all the jitters through me. Testicular cancer is one of the aggressive kinds, and if not treated on time, can spread to the colon, lungs, and in rare circumstances, the brain. It is highly curable, which is the good part. I've heard and read so many people's stories of breast and blood cancers via my two marathons, and desperately did not want to be unaware of cancer in case I had it. An MRI revealed no signs of neoplasm, which came as a huge huge relief. But I left with the dilemma of going with a surgical removal, or waiting-and-watching, the latter being recommended by the second urologist. Another round of consultations with my closest friends, both urologists, and my primary-care physician, and I decided to stick to the plan.

The health issues were taking their toll on me in a lot of different ways. There were nights when I would stay awake for hours, checking to see if my healthy testicle was in the same position it had been 10 minutes ago. Any slight discomfort in the groin, and I would wake, sit upright, see if any vomit was coming up. (Vomiting is one of the symptoms of torsion.) Although we were quite certain of a torsion being the reason, I couldn't get over the fact that 25 is not the age when it happens to folks. According to these researchers, it is a surgical emergency affecting 3.8 per 100,000 males younger than 18 annually. Wiki puts it at being most common at birth and during puberty, and happening to around 1 in 4000 to 1 in 25000 males per year before 25 years of age. Believe me, I'm not hitting puberty these days. The other possibility was of course, cancer. It's something that can't be ruled out just because a test doesn't reveal anything. I remember thinking to myself if I should quit running, and start going for Tour de France, in case I did have testicular cancer. If you didn't get this connection, consider reading It's Not About the Bike, My Journey Back to Life. It's an amazing book. You're welcome for the free publicity, Lance

Even if I had had torsion, why me? 1 in 25000, and it had to be me!! Add to it the fact that I suffered from it while mentoring high school kids, while trying to do something good for society. It was disturbing, to say the least. In the 400 days I had been at Bloomberg, I had devoted 465 hours of my time to volunteer projects with the Philanthropy Team. I know, #humblebrag, but it's ok, Roger does it too. In the next fortnight, I started backing out of projects I had registered for. I would go to a session where I was supposed to teach Python coding to some kids for 1.5 hours, but would sneak out within 30 minutes because I had started associating my misfortune with volunteering. Now that I look back at those weeks, I feel as if I was living in an annulus of positive energy, but immediately surrounding me was a ball of negativity and pessimism, an invisible sphere that I didn't have the will, time or energy to claw through.

With it came a loss of focus at work. I would stare blankly at the screen, looking to google for articles on torsion, cancer, infertility, etc. every opportunity I got. I no longer wanted to think about complex problems in math and logic. I love my job, and I love the people I work with, but I couldn't help but perform at a much lower efficiency level than what my potential dictated (more like dick-tated throughout April). I could feel it, and on the 20th, when I opened up to my manager about everything that was going on, he confessed he'd been feeling the same about me. Dating didn't help elevate my mood either. We would go out to dinner, and only one of us would have a credit/debit card. I would drop her off at a subway station, only one us had a MetroCard. I would visit her place, one of us would start having back-ache. When we'd started off, she'd talked about how much she loved philanthropy. At this point of time, neither of us was doing any good for society, but one of us couldn't because they didn't have time left after work, shopping, manicures and pedicures. I'd hoped she would be the person I could talk to about anything but I never even felt close enough to tell her what I was going through. If you're reading this, I apologize for not sharing my deepest troubles with you, and if you feel that it was my fault we split.

During this time, I did get a few things right. I started talking to people. It was actually my favorite British-woman who first advised me to seek a second opinion for the surgery. She also calmed down my anxieties about whether having just one testicle would drive a good woman away from me. Dear pretty Brit, if you're reading this over a breakfast muffin or night tea, I still wish you were 25. I had of course, kept my parents and best friends abreast of the latest developments throughout. I spoke to the people I'm closest to at work, both on the Machine Learning and Philanthropy teams. I can't thank my teammates enough for bearing with me when I would show up to work at 2pm, post-MRI, and with my mind somewhere else. My wellness coach at work was always there to advise me, and clear my doubts about surgeries, nutrition, and the American healthcare system in general. Two of the most amazing people I've ever met -  both fellow TNT marathoners and big-time fund-raisers, conversed with me and helped keep me stress-free. Everyone was just so, so supportive. My 70-year-old American Mom even offered to come down from Pittsburgh to be by my side on D-day. I realized something very important - the people who care about you don't cringe if you have to keep repeating the words testicle, scrotum, balls, penis to their face.

And if you thought I wouldn't mention tennis among the things I did right, then you must not know me yet. During those toughest weeks, I started reading Andre Agassi's autobiography Open. It begins with the following:

One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I do not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it for ever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force. —Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother, July 1880

I wouldn't say that reading this was the sole reason I opened up to people, but this and many other such excerpts from the book affected how I dealt with my scenario. And so did this gem:

Arthur Ashe, 3-time Grand Slam champion, was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood received during a heart surgery in 1983. One fan of his asked - "Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?". Ashe replied - "The world over--50,000,000 children start playing tennis, 5,000,000 learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach the Wimbledon, 4 to semi finals, 2 to finals. When I was the one holding the cup, I never asked god "Why me?". And today in pain, I should not be asking GOD "why me?".

Now, I know I'm no Arthur Ashe, however much I might dream of winning Wimbledon someday (Roger, can you do it again instead of me, please? Thanks.). But I do recognize the privileges I have had growing up, the opportunities afforded to me, and that my pains are a minor setback compared to what millions of other people go through.

And if you thought I wouldn't mention Federer among the tennis-related things I did right, then I don't even know what to say. One fine day, Deb came in to Bloomberg to drop off some medals (love the bling, btw) and I thought I would show her the NYC Marathon photo-book I had created.

She went flipping through the pages, and stopped to read something. I took a peek, and it was this:

Best snippet I ever wrote
It felt as if I had written that snippet last September, knowing I would need it most right now. I had surely been using Roger's brilliant comeback this year as inspiration to myself - that if I really wanted to come out on top, I would. 

One last thing was the decision to not give up on running. I had to make a choice - either go right into the pre-surgery procedures, have the surgery and miss the Pittsburgh marathon; or postpone the surgery to after. My primary urologist and surgeon assured me that running wouldn't worsen the situation, and that the chances of a second torsion, even though higher than normal, were still vanishingly small. I remember executing a fantastic tempo run the morning after learning about the torsion and then the fastest mile of my life the next Tuesday. I did not always have much time or energy left after all the visits to doctors, MRI, sonogram, blood tests, but I tried to not go completely blank in taper mode. The Wednesday before Pittsburgh, I would visit a counselor for the first time in my life. He informed me that running releases serotonin, a feel-good hormone into my blood stream. After nearly half an hour going back-and-forth, he said to me - "It's going to be very hard to put you into depression", a statement that stands testimony to the strength of my support system - parents, best friends, American family, running family, wellness coach, the Machine Learning Team, Bloomberg's Philanthropy team, Federer, the superb doctors I met, and each and every one of you who's inspired me one way or another to never give up.

And then came the Pittsburgh Marathon, whose recap you can read by clicking here. To give a brief overview, we raised 1513$ for the Susan G Komen Foundation, and I ran the two halves in 2:20:32 and 2:13:18 respectively, combining together for a 5:14 PR from a less-hillier NYC course. For now, I'll leave you with this picture of me at the finish line, simply because I love it so much!

Why am I writing all of this today? Partly because I had the surgery earlier in the day (May 17). It went well, and I'm supposed to take rest for a day or so, hence have lots of time on hand. But I'm writing this largely to make an appeal. If you're going through an unhappy stretch in life, if you're feeling stress or are undergoing depression, please talk. Talk to the people around you. They won't mind. If they do, then you've surrounded yourself with the wrong people. 

Remember that ball of negativity that's tough to claw through? You don't have to do it by yourself. Ask for help. It's much easier when your friends in the positive annulus lend a hand and pull you up. If no one else listens, TALK to me. And if you can run, RUN! And most importantly, do not lose HOPE. Find something to BELIEVE in. (I'm not making this up - my anesthesiologist today was named Roger, pure coincidence?) Life is so much more than one bad phase. LIVE!

I'll conclude with an excerpt from my favorite last paragraph ever amongst novels. Gail, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I'm spoiling Shantaram for you:

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for a truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. We live on.

Ok, sorry, I lied. That wasn't the ending to my post. If you're feeling generous right now, and/or thankful for the people you have in your life, and/or just tired from reading and wishing I would stop, please consider making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and helping others live on, via http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/wdw18/VSingh
Note that every dollar you donate will be raised 2.74x, owing to a year-long (18+19=) 37% self-match in celebration of Roger's 18th and 19th, and a subsequent full match from my generous employer.

EDIT - The above fundraiser was active in 2017. If you'd like to support my efforts towards the IRONMAN Chattanooga 2018, please consider making a donation to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation via this page.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to every single person who has knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the state of well-being I am in today. I couldn't have done it by myself.

Yours truly,