Triathelete and CEO, Anuradha Vaidyanathan is a geek but loves being outdoors. Ahead of the Hyderabad Marathon 2012, she talks about her passion for sports
The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2012 couldn’t have asked for a better brand ambassador than Anuradha Vaidyanathan, the first Asian triathlete to compete in Ultraman contest. She also completed the strenuous Ironman challenge in 2009. Anuradha is now the CEO of PatNMarks, a company that deals with Intellectual Property. Armed with a doctorate in Electrical Engineeringfrom University of Canterbury, she also taught at Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, and at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Excerpts from an interview:
How and when did you get interested in running? Do you come from a family that is inclined towards sports?
I first started running during my Engineering days at Purdue University. I ran a 3K loop and thought I might die of a heart attack. I slowly built up both distance and frequency of runs. My dad used to bike 25K, one way, to watch movies. He grew up in a small town in Tamil Nadu and the only theatre was 25K away. And my mom, like many women of her generation, is supremely active from morning to night. Even today, both of them love walking and going to the gym. I took up running as a sport when I won my first 20K road race in New Zealand. I think that was the cornerstone of several big life decisions.
Even today, there are misconceptions about women and older people participating in marathons.
Those myths are no longer true; in the last 5-7 years more women are seen at the races in India. When I was an amateur, I took up the sport to escape the ordinariness of my day-to-day life — pollution, poverty that I saw everyday on my way to work, greed, corruption, etc. Running also gave me a great way of staying out of stuffy shopping malls or watching TV.
We can look at many examples in India — Fauja Singh (who is running at age 100-plus) and the Hyderabad Marathon participant Randhir Chauhan, who is 60-plus. At the Mumbai Marathon this year, I saw several older ladies running the full marathon (42.2K).
I believe Indians are obsessed with the wrong metrics in sport, rankings, age and gender are just a few things that seem to distract us from the real qualities a long-term athlete needs — passion for the sport.
You were the first Indian to qualify for Half Ironman World Championship and complete the Ultraman. How did you train?
I mostly trained alone but, since I was doing my Ph.D in New Zealand at the time, I had a great set of friends and the support structure to get me through my seasons without injury. The Ultraman was a culmination of five to seven years of training.
What is it that you love about running, swimming and cycling?
I love being outside. I am a geek but I am connected to nature. Running is my oldest friend, no matter where I am, good roads, bad roads, good weather, bad weather, I can always run.
Cycling was born out of necessity. It was the cheapest transport to get between classes, home and the grocery store. My friends believed that cars are for old people and that the young and able should try to be environmentally conscious and self-reliant. And what better way to see the world than from the seat of your bike?
Swimming is the love of my life. I used to be terrified of the water but I overcame the fear. Swimming is relaxing in the solitude it brings.
You completed your Ph.D in record time. How did you balance academics and sports?
There is no such word called “balance” —most of my pursuits are demanding and require long periods of intense focus, so much so that every thing else fades in the background. I was always a good student so academics came easily to me. I managed to do a good job because I was exposed to new ideas and part of my work dealt with Intellectual Property. Yes, I did learn to be efficient with my time because I had two difficult goals, finishing a Ph.D and sport. I have lived without a TV for over 15 years now and I don’t have a need for external stimulation to focus on a task at hand.
How far would you like to go in sports?
I think I have another seven to eight years to go in sports as a career. I have a target of winning an Ironman title before I retire.
What’s the kind of support that you receive from your husband?
I met my husband while we were teaching at IIT. He supports me unconditionally. In a household with two working people, the trick is in taking up responsibility. No task is too small or too big for either of us. We don’t have a maid so we do all the work by ourselves. We are both children of hardworking parents from small towns/villages so this choice of lifestyle is the most natural to us.
Like every married couple, we have our occasional arguments. He is a Punjabi and I am a Tamilian. So neither of us can understand what the other is shouting about anyway.
What prompted you to associate with the Hyderabad Marathon?
I am happy to be associated with the Hyderabad Marathon for many reasons.
The Hyderabad Runners is one of the oldest running groups in India. Being volunteer driven and non-profit makes this marathon a shining example for all other groups in India. This group is also pioneering an effort to introduce running in schools, which is a grassroots effort to build a fitter society.
ARE YOU RUNNING?
The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon (AHM) 2012, organised by Hyderabad Runners group, is scheduled for August 26. You can participate in full marathon (42.2km), half marathon (21km), relay marathon or take up the corporate challenge.
For details, visit www.marathonhyderabad.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To register, attend AHM expo to be held on Saturday, August 25, at hotel Radisson Blu, Road no. 4, Banjara Hills.