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Hi, I’m Meera Velankar, a long distance cyclist. I do marathons and regular training is a must – but the lockdown means I cannot go on roads.
At the beginning of 2020 I was just recovering from bad form and a bad run at Mumbai full Marathon 2020. I had the 10th board exams of my daughter Kaveri ahead, and carried on with the agony of the bad full marathon. I told myself, “Let this get over, let’s train well, and run a good marathon.”
With exams and things going on smooth, with Women’s Day programs/ rides keeping me busy, we reached 18th March 2020. Exams were over. But it was over amid a new fear – Corona virus.
Initially, I was reading and absorbing the news, the cycling rides got fewer, and the social distancing phase was more.
My husband told me to give some more attention to the kitchen, and I felt as if something big was coming our my way like a known ghat section or long uphill ride. The girls were excited as we were planning a family hike, and I had planned very good off season athletic training for them.
But all could see was more news, more masks, more sanitizers, less outdoors, less rides, and restrictions everywhere, from the highway or stadium to campus ground, from the grounds to our flat.
I’m a Microbiologist, and realising the implications, my husband and I started taking more care. We created some zones in our house where we do not take things in, and let them sit for 20 hours near the door, wash milk bags in soap water etc.
Normally I go to the city and buy the best vegetables from Lalbaug and organic stuff from HSR. I also regularly cycle go 20-25 km to the outskirts for Sunday breakfast, so imagine my situation in this enclosed, concrete place.
I’m really not used to the local Fresh Mart inside the society campus (I do not like to buy plastic packed products). So going there with bags, filling my own bags, and being disciplined about going early when fresh vegetables come etc. was beyond my comfort zone. But I made an effort to do that as I’m a bit particular about the raw material I need for cooking. I do think, however, that they gave quite good service in these difficult times.
As a family, we decided to give our cook an off, and my husband Harshad and I made an unwritten agreement to share chores.
He wakes up early and does the morning utensils and breakfast. I only wake up at 12 noon since I sleep late, and am trying to reduce my food intake and sleep more. I take charge of kitchen only after 12, and normally until 9 at night.
I enjoy my time with my girls as they learnt to make sandwiches, mixer/ food processor operations, and making a few Indian dishes. The girls also helped me with arranging utensils, arranging cooked food, and small chores like drying clothes, folding them – all this reduced their screen time!
Harshad loved to draw, so he has been doing some sketching and other artwork.
Art by Harshad
More art by Harshad
The girls too did some drawing, and some cake baking at night with me.
I finally did set up my indoor cycling trainer and mounted my mountain bike. I had no idea that one day I will have to see Nandi hills from my tower rather than climbing it. All these days I have done at least 40-50 mins of workout every day, and as a result of my weight had reduced by a fraction at the end of the 21days – part one lockdown.
Our family are generally very independent people battling their own wars, but we showed great teamwork in everything – from cooking to cleaning to maintaining personal space for everyone in day to day life.
Initially the girls and I also started watching sports movies, then doing workouts, cleaning, and some cooking made it all fun.
Major part of training was done by climbing stairs, ankle weights, kettle bells and other body weight workouts, and my indoor cycling trainer was precious during these times. I started staying very positive and started visualizing the 2020 events and doing some finer planning for them.
Did a lot of variations like planks, squats, HIITS; sometimes volume and sometimes intensity.
As an endurance athlete I see that I perform better when difficult situations arise, so this lockdown made me very calm. Sports teaches you and trains you for such things, when you know you have to run 21 or 42 km, or have to make an all-out effort in cycling or climbing, you just put your head down and try executing that nicely.
I also personally feel that my kids are mentally more strong due to this training of the past 3-4 years, it was always a very cheerful atmosphere, and we often spoke about travel memories, especially last year’s Kashmir trip.
My volunteering story is a little funny.
I got myself added to one group called Water Warriors who water the campus, but either it rained, or I could not find anyone who could tell me where and what I’m supposed to do.
I did have other options like cleaning lifts and delivering groceries on cycle, but I kept thinking about the risk involved for my family due to my volunteering, and could manage to just dry sweep some open sunny area on the campus.
On the social front, I got in touch with my cousins and other friends to know if they are fine. I remembered a few events that I had done in these years, and got in touch many fellow cyclists too.
View from Meera’s home. Pic credit: Nikhil Saxena
I know all this shall pass and I will be free again, cycling away, and at some roadside tea stall and chatting with some villager in no time. Until then eat less -sleep more -burn more, stay amalgamated, and enjoy the campus. And yes if you sometimes see a lady slowly walking on the outer circle during 3:40 AM, remember that she is a highway bound cyclist in lockdown 2020.
Images source: Meera Velankar
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I am an endurance cyclist, mother of two kids and 3 times Limca record holder,
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