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SD does 21- Dr Contractor’s blog post

Dr Contractor covered the entire story in his blog post at

Blood (literally) and sweat en route to running 21.1 km.

Imagine this :

It’s the Friday before your first marathon on Sunday, and you are out on your last training run, to keep the muscles warmed up and ready for the big day. On the last 50 meters of the run, you hit an obstacle on the road, and go flying forward and land directly on your face and knees.

To make matters worse, you are on blood thinning medication, which does not allow the flow of blood to stop. If that was not enough, imagine you have asthma, and a history of epilepsy which can make running hard. And to top it all, you have had open heart surgery two years ago and have never run after your school days. And did I mention, you are 68 years old!

Before you cringe any further at my imagination, let me remind you that truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and such a person in flesh and blood (with a little loss of it :) ) does exist and this unique individual is Surendra Dasadia.

Every year more than 70 heart patients from the Cardiac Rehabilitation department at the Asian Heart Institute participate in the Dream Run of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon to prove to themselves and to society that heart disease is not the end of life, but is a new beginning. To further drive home the point, another 15 or so participate in the half marathon. Each year, several Dream Runners want to ‘graduate’and move to the half marathon, for which they consult with me in the month of July. Last year, there was a ‘fresh’ batch of 6 patients wanting to upgrade to the half and Surendrabhai was one of them.

Let me be honest and mention at this point, that I was in mixed emotions about his participation. On the one hand, his enthusiasm was palpable and that to me is the most important ingredient in endurance training, but on the other, I was skeptical about his ability to ‘go’ the distance, especially to run it. He had started jogging for the first time for a few hundred meters in June of 2011. To make matters complicated, he had an epileptic attack a few weeks later and had to be hospitalized for it. At this point I tried to dissuade him from participating and could see that he was clearly dejected. My heart went out to him, and we arrived at a compromise, that we would take a week at a time, and make a final call closer to the end of the year.

In mid September, he joined our friend and chief motivator, Mr. Venkatraman (who is an inspiration himself) for outdoor runs at the MIG club. At the end of this post, I have copied the training plan Venkat put him through, for those interested in following his progression. Surendrabhai was remarkably regular in his training, both at cardiac rehab and with Venkat for the outdoor runs. Day by day he progressed, and by early January he looked ready and raring to go.

On that fateful morning of Friday, Jan 13, I got an SMS from Venkat which informed me of Surendrabhai’s fall, and both of us were very concerned, about his injury and health. Surendrabhai was also very concerned- not about his injury, but about the fact that we may ask him not to participate !

Participate he did, and he finished in a very respectable time of 3 hours and 14 min, and what’s more important is that he stuck to all of Venkat’s pre-run commandments.

1. Complete the distance,
2. On foot and
3. Enjoy the participation

There are many kinds of heroes in this world, from whom we can draw inspiration. You have the swashbuckling hero who runs into a burning building and rescues a damsel in distress (do they exist outside of the movies ?), and then there are the quiet ones, who look just like you and me, but what differentiates them is their sheer determination to rise above the ordinary. Surendrabhai is a shining example of the latter and exemplifies the words of Rudyard Kipling, in his epochal poem, IF.

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, “Hold on!”

We will continue to draw inspiration from him as he climbs greater heights.

Filed under: SD does 21 Tagged: Asian Heart Institute, Dr Contractor, P. Venkatraman, YouTooCanRun

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