It’s been a while, and a few things have happened as usual.
Auroville has come and gone. I was plagued with doubt and indecision, swung this way and that and finally took the easy way out – ran a 10k, almost token-like and tick-marked Auroville. I justified it to myself saying that such weekend getaways with Deeps and kids are rarer than races nowadays. Certainly, it was a fun weekend and I enjoyed it, though a small part of me feels a tad guilty that I ditched a shot at the long one. Ramani sir, notwithstanding his injury and lack of long runs, proved that the muscles that matter are typically higher up in the body.
The quad has been fun – more emphasis on swings, squats and presses. Arv the coach, has been on my case – We actually met 1-on-1 and had a long chat about my current state, improvements that need to be made, goals and stuff. No major surprises there – upper body and core.. you know what I have been lamenting about.
But, he asked – I argued – finally relented – and agreed to go gluten-free for 1 month. Yup, 30 days of gluten free diet. What I didn’t fully understand was what all it entailed me having to give up – all breads (sandwiches, pizza etc), rotis (chapatis, nan, parota etc), pasta.. Ok – you know what – all that is really not a problem. I have a problem with 3 things that I got to give up – beer, whiskey and upma! But, it’s just 30 days and I’ve said ok. It’s already been a week and I haven’t had any serious withdrawal symptoms. . It just feels funny drinking vodka at parties.
Then.. hmm.. yeah – the beginner runs have been fun. .
RI haven’t been running much of late. I need to get into a routine, fitting in runs and the quad sessions. Here is what I think I should do starting from Monday => Nothing – Quad – Run – Quad – Nothing – Quad+Run – Run. Hope I can implement that.
It’ll be interesting to see how this barefoot running trend evolves. It is quite well documented that the Chris McD’s Born to Run has literally kicked off this rage and I’ve been swept in it as well.
But , all is not well with stripping your feet – I am injured now with a persistent and irritating foot pain. Having said that, it is also my fault because I did not follow even rule #1 of transitioning to barefoot.
But, here is what happened, for the bloody diary and then we’ll talk about what it means.
- Nov 28 is when the Vibrams arrived – that’s a good 2 months ago
- Since then, I have used them on all quad classes (Dec was the off month – so 12 classes). So, just working out, moving around in them,
- Runs – I think I have ran about 5-6 times in them; Almost every time it was the nice and easy 5-6ks on Saturdays that I used to get comfortable in them. The most I went on one of these runs was a 8k – very nice and very comfortable.
To be honest, I loved the feel of the vibrams; the lightness of the feet, the ability to wriggle toes and rather bizarrely, I liked their ugliness. . I always loved the saturday runs and thought that the Vibrams had a part to play in those.
So, a Sunday back (Jan 29 – 10 days ago) – I ran the classic on my bright-blues – 17k in a nice, slow, easy, chatty 1:56 min run with Yash and felt great even during then.
Then, back home – it stuck. A dull, nagging pain on the outside of my left foot; at a place where it had never pained before. No pain when I sit, stand or (obviously) lie down, but pains when I walk – even a 10 feet walk.
Picking a random picture from the net to show where it pains (this is not my feet –
Mine is on the left leg (unlike the picture) and probably an inch or so below where the thumb is placed.
This persisted right through the week and also when I attempted the next Saturday run. I was hoping that it might ease out when we run, but I was wrong – it grew increasingly bad and I was forced to stop at 2k and was limping badly during the walk back to the car.
Been about 10 days now, and the walk-limp has considerably eased out. Now, I can walk about for a while with no pain, but I have not tried running yet.
I am kicking myself for having run a 17k when the previous longest was 8k. Obviously, I am an idiot. But, once I got this, I started reading more and more on the net and there are a number of people out there injured having run barefoot (or improperly transitioned to those).
Closer to home – Shahid and very recently Ramesh Seshadri have suffered as well.
I would like to read and write a lot more about this, but let the Auroville weekend pass- I would like to listen to Barefoot Ted and surely there will be a lot more barefoot runners this weekend. Lets see what they have to say.
Loved the run yesterday. Going into it, there was talk and then expectations set around a “fastish” run ranging from a sub-2 to 2:06 and the “worst” time being talked about was a 2:10. These are scary times.
Check this – Krishna had done a 2:03 a few months back and clearly wanted to go much faster. Preeti was his pacer and the half is her turf. Painter had a 1:45 assigned..
Anyway, I was going to give it all, and that is exactly what I did – really pushed hard as much as I could, enjoyed the whole run and totally surprised myself with a 1:56:change for the 20.4 km run. I guess, I would have finished at just over 2 hours or so if the 700-800 mts were added. Loving it!
Couple of things that I was thinking about after the run, back at home, while chilling out (with my beer )
The half marathon distance is a beautiful beast to tackle and is immensely satisfying. You are running somewhat fast – and – you are running long. You can’t go all out and you can’t hold back much either. It pushes you right to the edge, but you won’t die (like in a full). A sub-2 is massively challenging, almost tantalizingly within reach for a typical 6:00 pace runner and yet so elusive.
I am not going to accept yesterday’s race as a true sub-2. I could do the additions to time to compensate for the missing distance, but fact remains that 20.4 was what was done in 1:56. It is best that it remains that way, because I still have the sub-2 target to chase.
Then – the race atmosphere.. the whole event in general – the friends, the sweaty high-fives, the medals, the group photos, the banter – it’s just so much fun!
I don’t know why I am so obsessed with maintaining this double diary – there is this log on dailymile which is more than good enough, but God knows why, I still want to write this crap down.
Maybe because I can’t write on dailymile that I felt like an idiot when I woke up at 0830 on Sunday (Jan 22) morning having argued with myself, slept in and missed the Sunday run despite having promised at least a couple of people that I will come.
Tuesdays are the *benchmark* days at the quad when lightbulbs are supposed to flash as we *see the progress* week-on-week with the bread and butter of these workouts – the squat and the push-up.
- Squats are ok. I can just about squat 20 reps with 24 kgs. Just. (notes - I found it easier to use 2 x 12 kg kettlebells which balances out the weights a little better than holding a single 24 kg kettlebell)
- Push-ups are still NOT ok. I am frustrated with the lack of progress on my upper body and core strength. I still can’t hold a friggin 20 sec elbow plank and I still can’t do 1 proper, good form push up. Can you believe that? I can’t do a solitary, proper push-up.
Wednesday was supposed to be the ‘easy’ day – a “skill” day where we learn a new move and the focus is not on killing it. But it was super tough! Diagonal displacement was the move today and many of us knew it earlier and I was pretty much wiped after I did some 50 of those (25 on each side).
That’s it – because Jan 26, the YMCA Republic Day Half Marathon deserves a post just for itself.
Typically, the week after a big event, especially a marathon, would be spent lazily, still soaking in and gloating about that experience, eating more than ever, partying a bit and basically doing everything but getting back to any kind of training.
Not this time though.
17 Jan (Tue) – went for my quad class and though I bailed out of the hard ones, I am glad that I went. I actually enjoyed the slow 5k + 5k bike ride. Madras has this nice chill nowadays and it’s brilliant.
18th Jan (Wed) – Krishna called for a 2k x 4 flyover killer, which thankfully turned out to be a gentle, chatty run. Very nice.
19th Jan (Thu) – Nothing; Skipped my quad session and stayed put. (Excuse – Deepu’s birthday and she was also a little sick)
20th Jan (Fri) – 100 mt hill sprints with Krishna. Just 2.5 kms net, but busted at the end of it.
21 Jan (Sat) – This is today. Was paired up with one of my favorite quad-mates (Bharathi) and we did some KB swings and some Thrusters. Followed that with a nice, easy 5k (in 35 mins), chatting all the way with Ramesh Seshadri.
Been pretty good. Doubt if this will stay this way for long, but it’s great while it does.
Krishna has an super plan going with which he is going to crack Auroville. As usual, I am trying to hitch a ride on his caravan.
What an outstanding and awesome weekend.
Let’s get this out up front – I ran the Mumbai marathon on Sunday at what I think would be as close to my limit as possible and finished in 4:41
Medal photo – courtesy Srini
Long version – coming up.
(to be honest, typing this whole thing out is going to be tiresome, but I just got to put this down)
Saturday – getting set
Will keep this as short as I can
Shahid picked me up, drove to the airport and we met ECR Siva and Krishnakumar there. Krishna was going to be running his first full – and we scared him. Scared him big time – with horror stories of the heat, cramps, peddar road, pain, wall and more. He had started running in Aug 2011, did his 1st half in about 3 hours and so we felt obliged to pass on our collective wisdom and by the time we were through, he was a nervous wreck . Super guy. Flight was fun and uneventful.
Drove to the (un)expo. You can see Krishna below, with a heart-rate of about 140 sitting in the car; Shahid, Siva and me in the rear seat.
It was one huge – empty – hall! The bib collection and chip validation went without a hitch.
Met Manish Suri, Balaji and his 79 year young friend, Janardhan, as we were coming out.
This lovely man, Janardhan, ran the full marathon on Sunday – If I can run a marathon at 79, I wouldn’t ask for too much more.
All of us had lunch at Kamat, close to the bib-collection place (I am not going to call it an expo any more) and then we split and all of us went our way.
I checked-into Garware Club, which is located inside Wankhade stadium. Wow! . That place reeks of cricket history and the rooms were fantastic! + this place is just 2 kms from the start point
Almost the first thing I did was to dump my bag and take a walk to see if I could get inside the stadium and take a look at that hallowed turf. The Ranji match between Rajasthan and Mumbai had just gotten over on Friday (damn), but the security still let me in.
Surprisingly, the whole ground looked quite small. No wonder that little man hit all those sixes here.
Unpacked, pinned up the bib, tied on the timing chip, set-up my Garmin and watched TV until Shameek (with who I was sharing the room) came in by around 1730. We had planned to meet up with Shahid and Vilwa at 1915 and go for dinner.
Which is exactly what we did – we had a big, awesome-tasting, pasta (what else?) at Gaylord not too far from where we were staying. Did some shopping (bananas, gatorade, water, band-aids etc), got back to the room and I crashed early – I was fast asleep by 2145.
Sunday – Race Day
Alarm went off by 0330 and we literally jumped out of bed. This is becoming almost a race-day superstition, but it surely is helping me – I took a long, hot shower! No kidding, it helps. I got warmed up, literally.
It was nice and cold outside – I would say around 18ish Deg C. As planned, met Shahid and then Vilwa and we walked to the start point, rattling away and keeping the butterflies as quiet as I could.
The start point was a beehive and real good fun – met up with all our friends – 4 of us, Preeti, Saad, McKinsey Ramesh, Bala, Ridhima, Balaji, Janardhanan, Krishna, Srini (Teach4India), Siva, Abhjijit, Puru.. Real good fun.
Paired up with Srini at the start and actually missed the start!! We were just chatting and walking along when we suddenly realized that the race was on .
Whooped and away we went.
Same, trusted “strategy” – Run:walk 5:1 – 4:1 – 3:1 – 2:1 – 1:1 stepping down each hour.
- Bare Min – Finish
- Will be very happy with – a 4:59:59
- Bonus – will take anything lesser than the above
Wanted to do 9.3k in the 1st hour, +9 in the 2nd, +8.7 in the 3rd => Get to 27 (my cliff) by end of the 3rd hour which will almost guarantee me a finish under 6 hours.
Hour 1 – 9.6 kms – Strong start
Srini is an awesome dude. Couldn’t have picked a better guy to run with. Almost in awe of him. We ran (ok, run-walked) together for more than an hour as we wound around Marine Drive. I asked Srini to point out any significant landmarks around the place – and so went by Brabourne stadium, Wankhade stadium, <some beach>, <another temple>, the ugly Antilla – and the 1st hour just went by. We were cruising; no problems; All systems ok and very pleasantly surprised to clock 9.6k at the end of the 1st hour.
Hour 2 – 19.1 kms – Lovely patch; cruising along
It was somewhere around the 13-15k mark that we finally caught up with the 5:00 hour bus led by Amit Sheth and Neepa. I scrambled around that bus, partially skipping a break to put some distance between me and them (because in a run:walk, I could get stuck behind them while we passed and re-passed each other and it was a pretty packed bus). Srini opted to stay close to them and waved me along.
I was on my own as we headed into the Bandra-Worli sealink, just as the sun was coming up.
Here are a couple of pictures which I am stealing from Srini:
Yup – it was that beautiful.
I guess this was the best part of the run which I totally enjoyed. Still cruising, still feeling good, nice rhythm, flat roads, good views, quite cool even now and slightly ahead of where I planned to be at this stage.
(There was one steep banking on the sealink which hurt my knee for a couple of mins; or at least I thought, there was this banking – but I checked later with Shahid and he didn’t feel anything and later when we drove down that road, we couldn’t see it either. Ah, anyway, that was just a small twinge that worried me for a few mins, but it went away)
End of Hour 2 – 19.1 done.
Hour 3 – 28 kms; Feeding off the Bombay magic.
The route, which was great until this point, became less interesting; plenty of buildings on either side – but it showcased the awesome “spirit of Bombay” = There were so many people who lined up on either side; most of them offered water, biscuits, juices or simply stood there and cheered the runners along. It was just so good to see so many spectators who had come out, waving, whooping and giving us so much energy to feed on.
Half came at 2:12 or 2:13. I was on a 3:1 by this time.
I guess I hadn’t noticed the race organization that much so far, but now that I was beginning to tire a little, I became cognizant of how well organized this whole race was
- police manned all intersections
- one half of the road (if not both) was completely assigned for runners (no stray vehicles nor animals)
- plenty of aid stations (they had said one every 2 or 2.5 kms – it certainly seemed way more than that) and never did I go thirsty or wait too long for a water bottle
- aid stations had these mini-water bottles which were quite comfortable to carry; there were a number of garbage bins and the roads were being swept and cleaned through the race
- Km sign boards were placed every kilometer and it synced well with my garmin – in fact, by now, I was counting down – run (3)-walk (1) –run (3) should give me a km at least
Towards the end of this hour, I was tiring and tiring rapidly . My cliff was rapidly approaching and I was finding it difficult to run the whole 3 mins but still pushing gamely.
I saw Preeti running along, looking great and since we were crossing each other, I could see the km sign on the other side of the road – 31k. I was like – nice! She’s ahead by ~20 mins and at this rate she could be in the 4:10 range; I also saw Mckinsey Ramesh ahead by around 2k or so.
When I cut to a 2:1 at the end of this this hour, I was still quite happy to have done 28k. 28k in 3 hours is not bad at all – for me, that is. I remember wistfully thinking that if only I had the energy to keep going like the first couple of hours, I could finish in under 4:30. Obviously, that was not going to be.
Hour 4 – 36 kms – The struggle
This is the hour I dread. The struggle, the pain, the questions and the real reason as to why we run these marathons. Trudging along on a 2:1, using all those tricks – counting steps, picking out significant landmarks (mainly lampposts) to reach in those 2 mins, getting-to-that-babe, keeping sync with someone’s footfall – just to keep pushing and moving.
The elite runners rushed pass. Phew. I barely saw them.
Then, I met Vilwa. . That poor man had taken his wrong inhaler and had a wheezing problem early in the race. He called his friend to bring him one, but missed him at the place they were supposed to meet. He was struggling a little when I met him, but he picked it up and started pushing me from then on. . Meeting Vilwa at that point was the best thing that could have happened to my race.
Peddar road arrived. Everyone struggled running up that monster of a hill. Not us. Ha. We walked. . In fact, I was glad that hill came because it gave me a good 3 min walk break!
Besides there was a nice long down slope after that which got some momentum back.
If I remember right, we just (just about made it, or just fell short – but matter of meters either way) got to 36 at the turn of that hour.
The next 41 mins – 42.2 – kickass
Once we got onto a 1:1, almost as if on cue, we turned back into Marina Drive for the final stretch.
Vilwa picked it up on the runs and I matched him. Then, I picked it up and we kept going higher. I don’t know where we found that gear and that energy, but it was simply awesome. This was so beautiful. Yeah – we could run only 1 min, and then had to take a break, but that 1 min – we ran. We really ran. No shuffling, no trudging, no pushing-along – we friggin’ ran.
But, we needed that one min walk desperately. We tried going longer on one of those run patches and it felt horrible. Why struggle, lumber and plod when we can run strong and make better time this way? We passed so many people and kept going. A good rhythm set in and we were grinning and laughing as we ran and walked. It was fun.
Look at the stats – 21 mins running + 20 mins of walking – we did 6k.
It was an awesome feeling when we pushed through and finished strong. Done – 42.2 in 4:41
I loved it. I don’t think I could have squeezed out any more time from me. I gave it my all and just for that, this race is special.
The only thing I would change in the organization of the race was the mess at the finish. Like someone said, they treated us like cattle herding tired runners into a bloody spiraling corridor to collect our medals – why didn’t they just hang it around our neck at the finish?
I didn’t like this – this is at the finish to collect our medals:
But then, once we did, met with all our friends and it was so, so fantastic to meet up with all of them.
Preeti - Awesome, awesome run. 4:35. Looked great and would have finished much faster if not for a calf cramp at 32. Better times are surely ahead. Congratulations! . Delighted for her.
Shahid – On a 4:1 right through. Totally cool, measured and well paced run. Targeted a sub 4:30 and finished at 4:34. Looked great at the finish.
Krishna kumar - we scared him, but he was awesome. Grit his teeth and ground out a 5:58. Super guy actually. Very good natured, pokes fun at himself and very happy for him.
McKinsey Ramesh – 4:43. A PR for him. Didn’t meet him at the finish. He had trained hard for this one and it showed. Ran a strong race, and now intends to get stronger. A potential quad-mate.
Rocket – 4:34. She’s the cool one. She probably took it easy in the beginning and then picked up later on. Almost everyone said that she passed them at some point in the race. She looked fresh enough at the end to have done another race if she wanted!
Bala – 4:58. A bloody hero. Literally. Had a bad, bad fall at 10k, big gash on his forehead, ignored the Dr’s who wanted to stitch him up, continued running and finished in 4:58 – and I met him on Tuesday running a ‘easy 10k’!
ECR Siva – 5:14. Works for Johnson’s elevators, but took the stairs up inside a police station to take a pee and cramped up on the way back down!! Beat that for a story.
Balaji and Janardhan – 7:00. Serious respect. Again – 79 year old man! Wow. I mean – we know other 70 year olds and people much younger than that and how they are. 42 kms. That’s really something. And what does it take to stick and coax a man to the finish. Big respect for Balaji too.
Shameek – 5:17. Steady & strng. 1 mre case of Crmps whch hit hm but gud finish. Smiles. Damn. I can’t write like him even if I tried hard.
Srini – 4:51. A PR for him too! You can see that he totally enjoyed the run. Even more in awe of him now.
Sudha Mani – 7:00. Her gtalk status “I am Marathoner!!” says it all for this gritty lady who had a knee replacement just a few years ago.
Vilwa – 4:41. This man
made saved my race. If not for him pulling me along, I would have probably hauled my sorry ass to the finish after the mats were pulled out. Thanks a ton, Vilwa!
Now, the speedsters –
Jacob (3:39) and Abhijit Shome (3:25) – For these comrade crackers, this would have been a stroll in the park. These guys didn’t even need 11 hours for the Comrades; they ate Bombay for breakfast and didn’t break a sweat
Puru – 3:57. Another super guy and another speed king who planned a sub-4/ PR and simply nailed it.
Manish Suri – 2:30 on a half. Asked him at the
expo bib-collection-venue on what his target was – 2:30, he said. He finished 2:30. Very cool.
Anandhaselvan – 3.59. The ‘make a record or break a record’ guy who has actually been running the talk. He is forever running races and killing each one. Way to go dude.
Phew! It’s taken me ages to type out all this. I think I need a beer almost as badly as I wanted one that afternoon. I don’t think I’ll get one now, but I sure did that day. Showered and made my way to the Garware club restaurant -
Good times alright.
I’ve always noticed this – Arv is the form and posture man. He has a good eye and would focus on form and posture. He would rather get people to do lesser but with an increased emphasis on ‘getting it right’. He doesn’t care much about ‘killing it’. If you want form corrected, Arv’s the man.
Today was no different – we went through the drill but with an eye on posture.
I didn’t like the circuit so much though – it had a few that I don’t like:
- Jumps – forgot the name of this one, but basically had jump using the hinge. <Poor>
- Lunges – lunge and twist <Average. Not bad>
- Scorpions – Hate them! <v.poor>
- Push-ups – still knee push-ups! <improving ever so slightly>
We (paired up with Sherrif) did these, not pushing for time, and in reps of 5 each – we got some 5 sets done! That was it.
Came home (by around 0625) and all of them were still fast asleep. Changed shoes, grabbed some water and went for a nice, easy, slow and short 5k around the neighborhood and I guess this would be my last one before Bombay.