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Jan 14 – 15: Amazing Mumbai

January 16, 2012 6 comments

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

http://www.timingindia.com/raceDetails.php?event=scmm12m&bib=3014

Mumbai Medal  BMXA0371 BMWX0192

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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

The Plan

Same, trusted “strategy” – Run:walk 5:1 – 4:1 – 3:1 – 2:1 – 1:1 stepping down each hour.

Objectives:

  • 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. 

The Race

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:

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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:

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————-

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 –

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Good times alright. 🙂

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Categories: Important_Day, Running

2011 Review

January 3, 2012 1 comment

Basically, mixed year as far as running and fitness is concerned.

and now I go randomly…

The ITB injury at the start of the year was a bummer

The inconsistency in my runs, never having a plan, being totally messy with my schedules = a very patchy year

Hated having to cancel Mumbai and Bigsur

The Hyderabad and Munich marathons were wonderful. Totally enjoyed them

Enjoyed the quad workouts

Ah! IIT runs. Beautiful.

Am in 2 minds (at both extremes!) about being part of the ‘organizing team’ of the Chennai Runners half. 🙂

Made some real good friends this year

Still fat.

Categories: Important_Day

MARG Chennai Runners Half Marathon and 10k Photos

November 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Important_Day, Photo, Running

Munich Marathon – Oct 9, 2011

October 13, 2011 2 comments

The buildup

My travel was originally planned from Oct 3-11, and I had registered for the Cologne Marathon (Oct 2) well in advance, and then had planned with a colleague, Marc, to do a slow half at Munich (on Oct 9, but one for which I had not registered).

So, when my travel plans changed (it was first cancelled, and then it was back on, and then there was uncertainly over my visa) and it became evident that the Cologne Marathon was a no-go, it was a bit of a bitter pill. 

Then, the quad workouts were going great, but as a consequence, my running mileage had decreased significantly = after the Hyderabad full, I had just one 21k to show as a “long one”.

I didn’t count much on the travel happening and so put away registering for the Munich Marathon until it was absolutely certain that the travel would happen. I spoke with Marc as well, and he, unfortunately, had a bad knee and couldn’t run – and so I was free to sign up for the full.

But, the travel happened and I did a 10k at Helsinki, around my favorite lake and it set me up for the Munich Marathon.

But, first the Expo – Oct 8, 2011 (Sat)

Reached Munich from Helsinki by 11:30 or so, and made my way to MotelOne DT Museum, via the convenient S-Bahn. But, they had no rooms ready yet (check-in was only at 1500) and so I left my luggage, including my laptop bag, took a smaller back-pack (which had just the GU gels, the book and the registration email), and my passport – and went to the Munich Marathon expo to collect my bib.

The weather had turned bad – it was rainy, overcast and gloomy. It was also quite cold – around 5-6 deg Celsius. Similar weather was predicted for the marathon the next day. 😦

I took the U-Bahn to Olympiczentrum and there was a minor disaster (nice oxymoron isn’t it?) – I got out of the train and almost immediately realized that I didn’t have the backpack with me. Damn. I tried to board the train again, but the door closed and the train started moving. I could see the bag even as I started running alongside the train and signaled frantically to the person sitting by it to throw it out via the tiny window – he tried, but I think it was the book which got jammed and he couldn’t throw it out. I walked up to the security officer outside and told him about it with no real hope of getting it. Thankfully, it was just the gels and the book.

I walked over to the expo at the Olympic stadium event arena and collected the bib – running # 3849. It was every bit the big event expo which I always pictured and wanted to attend. The excitement built up as I walked through the stalls. I bought a couple of gels since I just lost the ones which I had got from Madras. Here are some pictures taken there:

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I also had lunch there – the noodle/ pasta at the expo. I think I spent about 3+ hours there.

Then, walked back to the U-Bahn station and checked with the security officer there – and my bag was there! :-). Unbelievable! Seriously brilliant! They called the driver who walked down, fetched the bag and had it dropped off back at the Olympiczentrum station. Nice! and I had the book and my gels back. 🙂

Got back to MotelOne, by which time the room was ready. Got to the room, settled in and stretched for a bit. Pinned up my bib, got my running stuff all ready and then went out for dinner. Went to this nice Italian restaurant, Bella Italia, for another round of pasta. :-).

Got back to the room, watched some cricket on the laptop and slept early.

Oct 9, 2011 – Sunday: A brilliant Munich Marathon

Woke up nice and early. Had a warm shower to get some blood flowing and had a super breakfast at the hotel. It was still cold and rainy outside. It was around 0 at that time (7ish in the morning), and the rain was icy chill.

I had checked the weather before I left Madras and it was predicted that it would be warm and sunny; Around 20-22 deg Celsius – because of that, I left my “cold weather running kit” – trackpants, thin jacket, gloves – behind at Madras and had got just the normal shorts and t-shirt. Now, the weather had turned bad and I was cursing myself for not having considered this possibility.

I decided to run in my thick, big jacket – it was going to be uncomfortable, but I was a little afraid. I like to run in the cold, and I like the rain, but I was not sure how it would be to run for 5 hours, when it would be both cold and wet. I should have bought a thinner jacket at least at Munich, which I didn’t.

Anyway, made my way to the Olympic stadium again, dropped my bag off (which had a towel and change of clothes) and just sat there watching the runners and taking pictures. Here are some from there:

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The whole road was filled with runners, around 7000 or 8000, I think. The whole event (full, half, 10k) had 20,000 runners, and so I am assuming that around 7000 would have started the full.

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The race started on time at 10 am. There were 2 starts – one for the quick ones and one for us. So, ours started at 10:05 actually.

Within a minutes of the start, once I got warmed up, I knew that the heavy jacket was unnecessary and so removed it, and though I was tempted to discard it, I tied it around my waist just in case it rains later in the race.

The temperature by this time (and it stayed at around this the whole time) was around 7-8 deg Celsius and it was absolutely beautiful, almost perfect, for the run

The first few kms went by and I hardly even realized it, taken by the rush of the start and the flow of the surging runners. I was, as usual, on a 5:1 R;W, but I was so charged up that I was running well before the ‘break’ completed the 1 min – I was probably taking just a 40 sec break.

I didn’t even feel the first 5k go by and was quite surprised when I realized that I had done the 5k in about 30 mins. Pretty decent I thought. Rhythm set in by then and it was all flowing quite well. I wonder how, but in that cold, it seemed almost effortless. Quite early in the race, we were treated to some significant and beautiful Munich sights with us passing through a great arch, and a band on the side of the roads drumming out a fast beat.

This was a bit strange, but the next 5k (i.e. from 5k to 10k) was among the most easiest I had ever done – there was a great rhythm; was feeling light and fluid and having got into the English Garden, I still remember the feeling and it was fantastic. It was such a beautiful experience where I was not even conscious of the time and the breaks were coming too early!

10k was done in just under an hour and I was feeling so good. I had my gels and took one quite early. Until around now, I hadn’t paused at the aid stations, but got some water to down the gel and motored along.

The aid stations were, well, as you could expect in a big-city marathon – both sides of the road, multiple tables serving water, electrolytes and bananas.

There were a good number of spectators who braved the cold and lined the roads cheering us on. Very nice. Danke!

Cut to a 4:1 as planned, but the “1” wasn’t really a full minute. I was still getting off the blocks before the minute was up, but I was so buoyed by the 10k under the hour, that I wanted to keep up the pace, and build the buffer for as long as I could.

But, at around 15k, I had to push to keep the time at a 6:00 min pace, and then started wondering if I was pushing too hard too early. I knew for sure I would not be able to sustain this for long and gave up on chasing the 6 min km.

The Half was reached at 2:08, and while that time was great, it did exact a toll on me. I felt more than a bit drained and was slowing down quite a lot.

Claudia and her husband took the effort to stand in that cold at around the 21 km mark to cheer me on. Really nice of her.

Downed another gel around here, but was not sure if I got the energy surge. Looking back now, I think this patch – between 21 to 30k was the worst patch of the race. I was still trying to maintain a 4:1, but it was getting more and more difficult. I experimented by doing a 2:00 min run with a 0:30 sec walk (and thereby still maintaining a 4:1, except that the break was coming sooner), but that didn’t seem to help. I looked around for inspiration and some motivation, but was only rewarded by the 4:15 bus (and this was really a packed bus, unlike our empty Hyderabad bus) sweeping past me.

The 4:15 bus comprised of at least 35-50 passengers and I could hear them coming up behind me and a huge herd of galloping runners almost stampeded past me and disappeared so quickly. I couldn’t even keep up with them for a few minutes.

I was tiring and I thought my cliff (which usually comes at 27k) had come even by the 24-25k. I was ruing the faster start and at that point, it didn’t help that we were running through the not-so-great areas of Munich.

I cut to a 3:1 soon and found the going still tough. Until this time, I was harboring hopes of a best time (my previous best was a 4:43 at Washington, that was set on Mar 2010 – a good year and a half ago, in similar cold conditions), but I soon got that out of my head. I was hurtling down this cliff and it made more sense to think of how the heck I was going to finish. 30k finally came in 3:10 or something. One more gel.

Quite paradoxically. it was when I got rid of that silly “time target” from my head, relaxed, cut down to a 2:1, started looking around rather than down at my watch – that I got a second wind, steadied myself and from here the race came to me.

Sure, I couldn’t increase the average pace, but I found this patch easier and more enjoyable than the previous bit when I was simply trying too hard.

The 4:30 bus swept past now. You could hear them coming and it is quite a whooshing sound – and I instinctively moved away to let the whole herd past, but unlike the last bus, this one didn’t disappear and I could see them gradually pulling ahead while I maintained my 2:1. When that got difficult, I cut to a 1:1 at the start of the 5th hour despite the PR thoughts that had crept back. 🙂 It was still within reach and I was now convinced that going slow was the only way to go faster.

The last few kms were fantastic actually, because I could really run hard in that 1 min, and then grin, look around, walk about, hi-five spectators – and I was still on course to get a decent time in.

We came back to where we started, and went through into the Olympic Stadium for the finish. What a place to finish – totally spectacular! You come in through this tunnel into the track, and push hard like you are in some games and race to the line. It’s got to be among the best places to finish – it is simply wonderful to run around the track and finish there. Simply super.

Finished and looked down at the watch – 4:38! 🙂

Fantastic. Loved it and soaked in that moment.

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Needless to say – exhausted. Got my food – a non-alcoholic beer, pretzel, an apple and a banana – and slowly, ever so slowly, climbed up those zillion stairs to collect my bag. If there was one thing I could change about this marathon, it would be those stairs. Argh.

Trudged my way back via the U-Bahn back to the room. Got there and some soaking in the cold shower helped me to get me somewhat functional.

Later in the evening, went out and celebrated with Sebastian in a nice pub, once again, grinning and grimacing at the same time. 🙂

Categories: Important_Day, Photo, Running

Back on track!

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Started today – 1st day on the Quad workout and it was totally super! :-).

Jumped out of bed at 4 and 1st thing I did was to check if it was raining! It wasn’t and I was there at Bamboola at 4:45. Just missed being the 1st person out there – there was another dude called Anand Bharthi who just got there before me, and couple of mins, the coaches joined.

The group gathered – most on time and some late.

But, importantly, we started exactly on time (5:00 am). Intro’s happened and some brief talk later (~5 mins) – the “warm-up” started.

There is a reason as to why those are in “quotes” – because they kill. These are not the gentle, swing-your-arms, shake-yourself warm-ups, but some serious workout in itself. Most of them (the high knee running, butt kick running, sidesteps) were perfectly fine – in the good, old mould.

Then came this bit which, even when it was demo’ed by Arv, I winced inwardly – we had to do this big massive leap forward, land on both foot and in one motion – squat and use that momentum to propel forward on the next leap. That hurt. Maybe it’s called a frog-jump, no a frog-leap, because that’s how it felt. Barely had we recovered from it when we had to crawl back. No kidding – actually, get down and crawl back, and that hurt too.

Looking back, this was the toughest of the whole day – even more so than the actual workout. Warm-ups must have taken about 15 mins.

We learnt how to squat. Yeah, we knew already how-to, but it was still good to listen and get it right. I don’t know if I got it right completely, but it tallied with how I thought it should be done. This describes it perfectly anyway. Learning squats – ~10 mins.

Then came the actual workout – which involved doing 50 knee-push-ups (well, the others did full, proper push-ups, and those who can’t – did the knee push-ups). Obviously, I can’t even do 20 knee push-ups and the penalty for that is to do 20 high-knees and 20 sidehops.

Here is where it got extremely embarrassing. I was somewhat very nicely positioned (by default, not by design – I fell into the group which could not do proper push-ups) in between these 2 girls, and was busy jumping up and down, doing my high knees, when almost shockingly – I let go of this horrifyingly loud fart. Normally, when this happens, most people (at least runners) would ignore it and continue totally oblivious of it. In fact, runners wouldn’t even break sentence if they were talking. But these 2 girls looked at me and stared – and I actually muttered “sorry” while I continued my high knees, wishing the earth would open up and cursing the chenna and sundal that I ate yesterday.

This workout was timed as a benchmark and I think it would have taken about 12-15 mins.

I got as far away as possible from those 2 once this bit was done, this time between the more understanding Senthil and Gauthama for the next bit – which was jumping-jacks. No problems there :-). 4 mins. This was timed too.

And then a little bit of stretches and done – beat, but very enjoyable.

(and yeah – the previous post is water under the bridge already 🙂 )

Categories: Important_Day, quad

Aug 28, 2011 – Hyderabad Marathon

September 1, 2011 6 comments

It’s taken 4 days now for the euphoria to ease. I don’t ‘rate’’ my runs, but now, looking back, if I were to rate my runs, the Hyderabad marathon could easily be right at the top of my all time favorite runs.

The whole weekend was building up to be extremely memorable right from the time I got to the Madras station and scanned the charts stuck on the compartment – and found half the bogie filled with friends. It was fun right from the time the train pulled out, playing games, pulling each others legs and sharing food around. Special mention – Ridhima’s pasta.

I will not much elaborate on how much of my ignorance and Hari’s general knowledge skills were on display that evening.

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Saturday

We (Ram, Senthil, Ramesh and I) soon discovered that the Hyderabad autos and cab drivers are equal to their Madras counterparts in ripping commuters off. We soon reached the vast and spread out Jubilee Hills International Centre (JHIC), but the guest rooms were a huge disappointment. It had peeling walls, a musty stink and was very seedy. If one could ignore the massive swimming pool and the fantastic facilities around that building, a heavily mascara’ed, red-sareed, nose-rung clad ‘escort’ lying in those bedsheets would not have been very out-of-place. It was that bad. The guests staying there fit the place almost perfectly as well – all of them looked like Paritala Ravi’s relatives, wearing all-whites (including those slippers) and smoking inside the rooms.

We immediately scouted around for replacement rooms and found that the rooms in the 1st floor were way better. Maybe those white slippers were not used to hauling themselves up those stairs. Tipped the attendants generously and as expected found ourselves in our ‘new’ rooms soon enough. But that was not before we had walked down to a restaurant called Nandini and shocked the waiter there with the amount of food that we tucked into. Senthil, as expected, was in his element, and surprisingly he found a match in Ram!

We walked over to the expo, at St Mary’s college around noon time and immediately were engulfed by the sea of runners out there. Met all our friends out there and it was good fun. I collected my special edition, pacers red t-shirt and almost felt as if I cheating them right there – I had no hope of finishing under 5 hours. I met some other pacers there and they all seemed so professional, having run several marathons and in times which were way better than the time for which they were pacing. Having clocked a 5:18 in my previous marathon (at Auroville, Feb), my only plan was that my run-walk works at least until the 25-27k mark. No plans after that. I had my back-up anyway – my co-pacer Balaji. I was planning on waving him along at around the 25k mark.

Anyway, back to the expo – a group snap and the interview with Big FM here:

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Next stop – Chutney’s. Apparently, a very well known restaurant, recommended highly by Ram (and by Burrp). It most certainly lived upto its reputation. We swaggered out of there, each of us, having shamelessly eaten more food than what could feed a family.

Later in the evening, having failed in getting hold of TT bats, we went through some mild stretches and then went for a long walk around the posh Jubilee hills discussing topics from the mundane money matters to deep philosophy. The walk created some space and we happily loaded more carbohydrates at what was soon becoming a favorite haunt – Nandinis.

Got set for the race and it was raceday when we woke up.

Raceday

Another cab driver showed off his rip-off skills early on Sunday morning and we obliged as usual.

Reached People’s plaza at 4:30 and it was already a runners beehive. It would have been fun to indulge in those start line games (photos, backslaps, warm-up, find-your-partner) except disaster stuck quite early. Switched on my watch – and it switched off. I switched it on again and it died again. No charge. Brilliant. My only plan (which I had set up elaborately and even tried out) was gone. I just stood there not knowing what I should do next when Shankar and Ramani sir appeared and having understood my predicament, Ramani gave me his new watch. Just like that. Where do they make people like these?

Another small hitch – this was the fancy 405 with the touch bezel and more bells – and I didn’t know how to use it. Every time I accidentally (or otherwise) touch the dial, it seemed to go into some other mode. Dammit! Thankfully, Shankar set it up such that I could see the elapsed time and showed me how to lock it immediately. So, that’s what I had – just elapsed time. But, that was a huge relief.

This was such a nerve racking time that I didn’t even realize that the start was delayed. If anything, I am thankful that the start was delayed.

Off we went, whooping at the start, Balaji on-hand and Ramani sir, Bala and Nitin on board the 5:00 hour bus.

The route is well described here, and I just hope the link remains. The elevation profile is now quite famous, but here it is anyway.

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The 1st hour was super. No big climbs, just running through the city, laughing and holding onto the bus passengers while we eased into a decent rhythm. 5:1 – running a comfortable clip (around 10 kmph) and taking our breaks as usual. Hour 1 – 9.3 kms. On target. Already, we had lost sight of Senthil and the Rocket who had taken off as if they were shot off a catapult.

They were lucky. The route loops back to close to start point and just as we got there, we were swarmed by the half-marathon runners (around 800 of them) who had just been let loose. Well, it was also fun in a way because now we sighted more runners we knew including McKinsey Ramesh, Gauthama and Niranjan (who had better buns to follow).

So, it was a bit crowded at the point when day broke and we turned into that long flyover which never seemed to end. This was a funny flyover – I haven’t seen another like this where it climbs, twists, turns, flattens out, and when you expect it to descend, it climbs again! Huh? Finally, we got down and faced a 2 km hill. But, quite frankly, it wasn’t terrible – especially since we walked the tough patches! 😉

There was this really nice patch when the road goes up and down like a sino-curve which was pretty cool.

But, we had lost a bit of time and I was beginning to get a bit worried if we would meet the 18.2 mark at the end of 2 hours which was the mini-target which I set for ourselves. And there came along this nice downhill which got us back on track and some more.

Running with Balaji is like having a live entertainment cum satire show on the move, where all you got to do is to keep up with the entertainment. The things he does are right out of the mad hat and would be anywhere from just being blunt, forthright and irreverent to downright loony! He would give his comments on a roadside hoarding which will have you in splits. Another time, when a vehicle ignored traffic restrictions and drove onto the road  blocked for runners, he got a group of runners to make a human dam and block the car for a quite a bit of time. He encouraged people on the roads and cars and buses to get off and run with us! But the best was reserved for the 2 video camera men – the one who was shooting at the normal face level had Balaji screaming towards him to plant a kiss at the camera lens ala a football player after scoring a goal. The football stunt itself was directed at the 2nd videographer who had the camera down on the road shooting the legs of the runners – Balaji sprinted towards him and mock-kicked the lens, missed (deliberately) by an inch, but succeeded in scaring the day lights out of that man. Photographers were not spared either and were treated to some Balaji specials. Here is the man in full flow:

Balaji

Great fun running with him.

Somewhere around here, we managed to meet my ‘cut off’ of 18.2k in 2 hours but since we were feeling pretty good, decided to keep going with the 4:1 as long as we could instead of stepping it down to a 3:1. Unfortunately, we lost the people on our bus. Ramani sir had dropped out and so had Nitin. But Bala was looking strong and right on our tail. Got a GU down now and got set for the next hour.

Balaji and I running

At one point, the half marathon crowd ran straight ahead while we peeled away to the right – and suddenly it actually felt lonely! The company of several runners is good – we would nod, clap, talk, push all along and there were a bunch of them, but suddenly it felt different not having them run along with us. As if on cue, the backdrop changed – from a city with IT towers and plush buildings to a laidback village with open spaces, grazing cows and men with lungis.

But it climbed up till my legs screamed despite having switched to a 3:1 somewhere. I got to my cliff which, again was on time, unwelcomingly, at 27k. Dismayingly, I wanted to be here before 3 hours, but we couldn’t make it. We missed it, albeit just by a few mins. This is at a point where I got screwed every single time in my training runs. My nadir. The point when the whole body starts revolting, pushes out demons one after another for my head to deal with. And the road was climbing. Doubts crept in.

The road crested and gave me a half-a-kilometer downhill. Then it veered right, pointed to an aid station and flattened out. I love this course. Another GU. Grabbed a gatorade, shook myself literally and got back into business.

Still on a 3:1 and pushing to make up the time and get to where we wanted to be. It was here that we started looking more and more at watch and then scanning the road ahead for milemarkers, almost willing them to appear. At 3:30, we had done around 31k and it seemed as if we might just make it. Unfortunately, Bala got off the bus here and it was just the 2 of us from now.

Did I tell you I love the course? At the point where the struggle has turned to a battle and pain is the all consuming thought, the course actually forces the mind to awaken to the beautiful environs of the Univ of Hyderabad campus. This place is beautiful. 34-38 kms were inside that campus – fairly flat, tree-lined, with chirping birds and cheering students. We were down to a 2:1 and actually running hard in those 2 mins. Soon, it was quite clear that a sub-5 is going to be achievable. We stepped down to a 1:1, relaxed, enjoyed the run, started joking again and even contemplated going a tad slower so that we would not make it sooner than 3-4 mins before the 5:00 hour time.

The course took care of that again – it exited the Univ and took us through an uphill! But as we got to the top, we had almost gotten to the stadium – 1k to go, 12 odd minutes in hand. Deal done.

Runners with medals around the neck were coming out and cheering us on. They wanted us to sprint to the finish, but all we wanted was to soak in the moment. Unbelievably, there was not so much pain any more. I was still counting down to the walk-break loudly, but there was no one in the bus – there was just the bus with Balaji driving it! It had been his idea to extend the 3:1, and then to extend the 2:1 – he had paced it beautifully.

We laughed, blew kisses like celebrities, waved to everyone and no one, hooked our arms over each others shoulders and sauntered to the finish line – 4:56. Loved the moment.

Balaji and I

[The next hour with all the friends was a blast and so much fun, but having re-lived this finish moment, I got to stop here. Besides, Deepu just nudged me saying I’ve been writing for a while and it has taken me 7 page-ups to get to the top. What a bore!]

CR Group

Photo albums

Shankar’s Picasa album – tagged in a few pics.

Anju Kp’s facebook album – tagged in a couple of pictures, but good snaps overall

Flickr album from Bheemeswara Sarma – #1

Flickr album from Bheemeswara Sarma – #2

Categories: Important_Day, Links, Photo, Running

Getting better, gaining hope and getting frustrated

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The last couple of weeks has been good and bad from a running and exercise point of view. The Sterling club workouts and the running has reasonably good.

Here is a snag from Dailymile report which I think is missing a bar on Mar 7 or 8 for 2-3k which I must have forgotten to enter.

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Those small ones (4k, 3ks) indicates time spent on the gym – and these are mainly elliptical workouts done before either a lower or an upper body strength session => The long ones are pure runs, the short ones are strength sessions camouflaged as easy ones but helps me to track and be consistent.

I think I stretch on most days regardless of whether I ran or worked out. No major ones, but I do stretch.

The running hasn’t been too bad either. There was a scorcher of a run on Mar 5, running a half on a 5:1 and getting it done in 2:06! That was fantastic. The next week (Mar 12) half was also on a 5:1 and got that done in 2:12 – both thanks to Senthil. The 10ks (there are 3 of them there) were all done at an even 6:00 pace or thereabouts.

*That* pain (the ITB one) has stayed out, though I had been racking all over in other places. :-). Quads ache the most, a little on the hams and hips, sometimes the feet – BUT the knee was fine.

So, what the f*ck am I complaining about?

1) I believe that one of the main reasons as to why the ITB related pain stayed out, and the places are aching all over is because I changed my running style completely. I try and try hard to ensure a quick foot turnover and trying to keep my strides per minute as high as possible (aim is to get to 90, but I at least do around 86; It used to be 78-80 earlier). Wherever I read, it is always advised to do exactly that – keep that stride rate as high as possible. It is equally logical that since I am using a different style of running, I am recruiting different muscles than what I am used to and hence they are aching.

Problem: I do not like this way of running. I don’t feel comfortable. This does not come naturally to me. This feels forced and am counting steps, trying *hard*, probably too hard, to maintain a high stride rate and I just don’t like it. I don’t enjoy the runs; I don’t follow the conversation too much; I don’t look around – am just focusing on getting that Mickey Mouse action – a twitchy way of running which is irritating.

So, basically – Yeah, the new style is nice from a ITB pain point of view – but the fun is gone. I don’t like this way of running.

2) The pain came back this morning! It was getting better and better and I had even begun to hope that it was almost healed. But, just for a brief while this morning, I forgot about that high-cadence action and started running like how I used to – and bang! the pain was back. I hated it. It’s been there since early Dec and I think I’ve done my part.

Now, I feel like giving up.  Why not try something else for a change?