Saturday, September 04, 2021

24hr stadium run - Bengaluru Aug 2021


`In the AlphaGo vs. Human documentary, after the 4th game, a reporter asks Lee Sedol about the God's play - a move #78 that changed the course of the game and got him to beat Google's AI, AlphaGo. He replied "At that point, that was the only move that I could see", although there was only a one-in-ten-thousand chance that a human would have played this.

My wife asks me, "why run the 24 hour, why not 'just' run a 12 hour run, instead?", the answer probably has to be in the releam of Lee Sedol's answer - I can only see the 24hr category. Ever heard of a quarerly sales target being lower than the last quarter? Now you know what I am talking about.

It begs the question - is there any merit in trying and failing? Let's all pick a easier target, shall we? Who needs a boss who is constantly pushing you to get to that stretch target - those 100+ Indian athletes who came home without a medal from Tokyo?

I got to the start line of the 24hr stadium run, for the 7th time, in good shape and spirits. My target was set at a 200km+ run, I was focussed.

The plan was to stay on a steady pace for the first 12hours, cover over 110kms and then keep it steady for the next 12. The run was at the DYES stadium, Vidyanagar, a now familiar location. I got there in time, the usual photo op, etc. The race started on time.

I hadn't planned for a support crew for the first 12hrs, my dad was to crew (crew = crazy runner, endless wait) from 6am to noon or so and Shreya was to take over from him till the finish. Mom and kids were planning to come towards the last 1hr or so.

To my good fortune, my nephew Rishabh (all of 18 yrs) decided to drop by at 7pm and stayed of till morning, offering much needed support.


Within the first few laps, a bunch of us formed a nice paleton including Velu, Geeno. We were at 5:30 pace - the group dynamics of pacing really helped in the first few hours.

With great support from Rishabh, I was able to keep steady pace, around 11kmph for the first 4hours. I was alternating between Gels, Huel, peanut butter & date syrup for the calories.


Although I had taken a day (an evening actually) off from work on Friday, the lack of sleep in the weeks building up to the event took it toll. Despite multiple coffee shots, I was supremely drowsy by midnight. I took a 10min power nap and get back on track.

By I was not 'on-track' pace wise. If you have seen this TED talk on 'Why stories that you tell yourself matter" by Lori Gottlieb (link here), you know the importance of the stories you tell yourself.

By now my mind was conjuring up a story - "I am sleepy, I am slacking on pace, I don't have a chance at my target of 200k". That story kept repeating itself, like the endless loops that came and went. By 3AM (9hours and 80km done), I went for my second power nap of 10mins.

After a bit, for no apparent reason, I was walking on the track with no "will" to run. I put in about 15 - 16 laps per hour, while that make-believe story was now fulfilling its prophecy. "I was sleepy, I was slacking, I didn't have a chance at 200k".

I got to a 101km in 12hours.

If there was another story that was playing a 99k in the next 12 hrs was possibly doable. But my original story now had a sequel - I would save my wife and kids the trouble of coming all the way to support me, save my legs, leave after completing the mandatory 120kms.


My ever-so-supporting dad towed the line. I called my wife, while she was a tad disappointed she was ok with the idea.

I ran-walked another 19kms in the next 2.5hours and called it off.
The final mileage: 120km (300 laps) in 14:47 hours

It still begs the question: Is there any merit in trying and failing

Saturday, August 07, 2021

The Bengaluru 24hr stadium Run 2021 - The prep

Since the last one in Feb this year, which I called 24h of happiness (report here), it has been another balancing act of new job pressures, mileage, long runs, family, strength training and Covid of course.

Chennai Runs

Between quarter closes and late Friday night meetings, I did manage a few notably training runs.

Series of 50km runs in Chennai, waking up at 3am and charting a route, dodging the cops, looking for water in petrol pumps and shirtless and dripping bucket loads of sweat.


Nandi Hills and back

Then, I took another shot at a Nandi hills and back run. I was doing so well when I reached the foot of the hills, but was turned around since "I was doing this alone" and there are "Cheetah's in the forest" and the forest guards turned me back. I made it a 80km run with over 400m of elevation climb in the end.


Lord of the Ring Road

This one was special too - was on my mind for a while. Got the courage to try this. With Jay and Vignesh, started from near Hebbal at 7PM in a heavy drizzle, managed to keep the crazy rain run go on till we got rid of the night traffic till about 10PM. Were welcomed by great weather and broad 6 lane white topped roads till silk board by midnight. I dropped my companions here and pressed on for rest of the IT corridor, running in the now empty dedicated bus lanes reaching Hebbal at 3AM. What a run that was!


UAS 100

Most recently, I also ran a 100 laps around a local UAS ground to get used to the monotonous. The weather in Bangalore has been fantastic and it played out during all my training runs this year.


Spartan Sessions

Strength training sessions, an hour+ thrice a week, were all trying to reach and train all those muscles and muscle groups to come together in a crescendo for the party that is a 24hr run. Coach Umashankar and Devi Prashanth Shetty were really making it count.



I am in great spirits (less than 6hours for the race to start), just need the legs to take me the distance. Wish me luck!




Sunday, February 28, 2021

24hours of happiness

Bengaluru Stadium Run 2021 

“So, What is a business, is it a collection of numbers or sales reports??? As you know David and Jan, it is much more” – Michael Scott in The Office, Ep 16, Valentine’s Day.

And in the same breath, what is running? Is it a collection on personal bests (PBs), medals, distances & pace? I have come to realize during this very challenging Covid year, it is much more.

Running my self-contained loop over thousands of times this year gave me the confidence to bounce back from a nadir in my career last year. It gave me the shoulder to cry to brace the worst news I received in my life – to stay positive amidst all the madness that was thrown at us this year.

Training:

The stadium run had been on my mind. But the event itself was pushed out at least 3 times. I wasn’t training specifically, but did some good running leading up to the event. A 50k almost every weekend, including one on a 30hr fast at Chennai, a quarantine 100k, a fast 66k at the AFI Solidarity run and to top it all – a run to Nandi and back!

Although, I had done almost no speed work or long tempo runs.

Goal setting:

I wanted to erase the memory of my last 24hr run and finish this one strong. And for something that has stayed with me unconditionally, how could I give back nothing but happiness. I had to get off the ‘high pedestal’ of being an Indian team member, of having done 200+ kms in 24hrs, of the baggage of numbers and expectations.

The week leading up to the race day was all about staying positive and relaxed. I had shifted jobs recently, a job at which I want to do well, and didn’t want to take my eyes off the ball. Late nights extended right till the Friday.

Bangalore goes through 3 seasons in a single day – super cold and foggy mornings, to dry and very hot mid-day and pleasant evenings. It was the dry heat that I was dreading. I had resigned to not carrying any targets or expectations, but just to stay on course. I didn’t feel the need for a support crew (last time, I had set up a shift roster for my crew).

The moment of the race happened even before it started – my wife said she would be there for the entire 24h for support. My parents offered to take care of the kids for the night. My dad even made plans to get to the stadium for the last couple of hours. I was a winner even before I got to the start line.

The Jinx:

A day before the race, a routine bike parking exercise, my ankle touches the silencer for a microsecond, peeling off the skin. Exposed wound, prayer and some regret were added to my modest race day kit.

The race day:

The race was not in the familiar Kanteerava stadium, but at DYES ground at Vidyanagar, off airport road. It was an open track unlike the colosseum feel of Kanteerava (which also traps the heat). I was assigned the track #1 meant for “elites”. There were a lot of familiar faces at the starting line, the mood was buoyant. Given the COVID situation, the bib collection, pre-race photoshoot was toned down. I found a quiet corner in one of the tents for a few mins of meditation reflecting on and thanking the Lord for the opportunity to be at the start line.

I had a somewhat sedate start, easily 2 – 3 laps less per hour than my usual. Binay was racing on, Velu was close, Pranaya was clipping, even the girls were running strong. I was keeping steady – 10 in 1, 20 in 2, 30 in 3, 39 in 4, 48 in 5 hours. I stopped for a longish 10min break and power nap at 5AM – 11hours and 90km on the clock. Lack of sleep in the last few weeks, a crazy work schedule, no more 10pm shutdowns – may have had the cumulative effect.

I also had to stop at the aid station a few times to rebandage my burn bruise.

I must have had a gazillion loo stops by this time to the port-a-loo and a horrible sight of a “very popular” ultra runner also peeing at the door of the port-a-loo! I know of some competitive greats who mess-up en route to world records, our man quit and this was super-gross. Don’t worry, yours truly did the right thing – poured some water on that mess.

Ps: there are some memories to forget. I brought up the peeing incident to submit to the ultra runners – we have a responsibility to be role models and have a larger community that looks up to what we do. We owe it to them to behave in a civilized manner. As the sport grows beyond to international venues, let us cultivate these at home, so it becomes a habit.

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” – Albert Schweitzer

But because I was stopping to smell the roses, I had a great time catching up with folks, the ones on my track and those on the other races as well – Aparna, Appu, Shibani, Praveen, Naresh, Jay, Atif and many others. I was able to smile more with all who came out to support – Ashwini’s gang, NEB family, Anand and many others. Thanks!

It was a frying pan when the sun came up. My worst fears came true. I covered a paltry 26kms between 8AM to 3PM, who “runs” at 3.5km an hour. Probably for the first time, I was scared of the heat. At 1:30 or so when I stopped at the lunch tent, my mind refused to go back to track. I told Shreya, who was faithfully by my side, through all of this, that I wanted to nap for a bit. I pretended to sleep for about 10 mins, then got back on track.

By 3PM, I had covered 135kms (contrast that with 186 I had done in the 2019 edition -> link here) and was considering running again (or not). Shreya urged me to try to some running. “Hmm, I thought. Why wait till the last 2 hours, if you can run a bit in the last 3 and spread it out a bit.” And I started to get into a run-walk pattern – run the straights and walk the bends. I did this for an hour of so. My parents and kids came in by about 4:30PM and went straight to the sand pit. I was surprisingly able to keep good rhythm. The joy of being on my feet getting into the last hour was a great high. I started to run more and walk less with each lap. My son (all of 5 years) started pacing me from the inside of the track during the bends. I was able to keep good form too.

The strong finish:

The last hour is the best time in the 24hour – not because of what’s left, but because of how strong you still feel. (alas, I had to miss this last time). I put in a total of 18kms in the last 3 hours, finishing the last lap in a sprint at sub 4min/km (15kmph) pace. I picked up pace in the last lap and was joined mid way by Velu (who ran a monstrous 222km) and we sprinted with joy in those last few strides!

Care about the final mileage, anyone? Maybe one day, happiness will also come with a good quality mileage, who knows, maybe not. But till then, let's enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Church Street First – 12 Hour Run

12th day of the 12th month, 12 runners, run 12 hours - from 12pm to 12am, I was bib #12


I was in Mumbai when I got this call from Dharma, he just started the 12, 12, 12… chant and I immediately agreed, didn’t need a better reason to sign up. The weekend of 12/12 was that of a packed week – quit old job, join new job as bookends, thrown in hospital duties, a motivational talk, a not-so-socially-distanced flight – all in 5 days, where’s the room for a run, you would think.

The more you squeeze me, the more I find a way to wriggle out for a run.

There was some excitement build up – bibs, posters, my pretty face on 6 x 2 flex cut out, etc. I packed a gym bag with some gels, electral, date syrup – my go-to race day nutrition, with some warmers and a windcheater. I had many familiar faces in the 12 member team, having known Ashwini, Shyamala, Dharma, Ramesh, Naresh, Atif & Jay for a few years now. In a last minute addition, Rajesh from racetime.in agreed to count our laps.

The course was simple – run down the Church street cobble path 500m towards Koshy’s and then turn around and run back to the timing mat at the start point, turn around and repeat for 11:59:59

The rest room was inside the Karnataka Pollution (Control) Board building and there was water station at the start point.

Church Street is off vehicular traffic on Saturdays between 10am to midnight to promote a place with “Clean Air” for social gatherings, street food, drinks, live music, dance shows, painting, art work, and running of course. The best part of the run was to weave through pedestrian traffic as the vibes & the feel of Church street changed through the day.

The race started on time, in hot noon sun, with Darshan and Sunil joining us for the first few hours. I set off with Atif for about 3-4 laps, but he then took off. There were just a handful of photo buffs, solo hip hopers on the road then. I managed 11k in the first hour, but was already feeling the heat.


I only remember taking a few breaks to the restroom to pour water on my head to cool me off. The next 3 hours went with 10k, 9k, 8k. 38km in 4hours and the marathon mark in 4:25!!

This was a good lesson for running in the heat. A few things had happened by now. By around the 2 hour mark, the BBMP marshals who were patrolling the street requested the organisers to have us run with masks! Four of our 12 runners found this disgusting enough to quit the race! I realized that there was no real food on the offer. 


My pal, Raghu decided to finish his maiden 150km bike ride alongside me. My dad and mom dropped by 3PM, and left behind some Kadale bele payasa and bananas. Most importantly, the crowds had begun to swell up.

As the sun was getting less hot, the crowds were getting hotter! I had to take off my sunglasses to stay focused on the job at hand.

Church Street was awesome! It had the feel of one of those European Saturday nights and I sorely missed my family and was making silent plans to get them the next weekend. Hour 5 and 6 came and went with some poor mileage - 47k by 5hours and 55k by 6hours. I was also cramping by the 4th hour and had to slow down to ease things off. There were other running friends who stopped to say ‘hello’, have a few drinks. Shuvi, Gokul & gang were busy setting a personal best for the amount of time spent on a coffee table at the cafĂ©.

Then suddenly, just as I was taking yet another U-turn, I heard a familiar voice call out my name. I looked up a wife and family were making their way through the barricades! It was such an amazing moment. Turned out, she heard from my dad that there was no solid food, and so, she had cooked some and brought it along! Truly blessed to have such as supportive family.


I had a great time showing my kids around the various sights – the live music, the lights, the paintings! Then, other friends – Tima, Raagi, Vidya joined the party. The temperatures dropped quite quickly and my support team stayed cozy in the cafes while I was adding to my lap counts. By now, the rhythm was steady, the cramps had eased, but fatigue had taken over.

By the time my family left, I had about 3 hours to go. The 7th, 8th and 9th hours had yielded 5, 7 and 5kms only! Sometimes, you have to stop to smell the roses!

The next 3 hours were about staying on course and getting the job done. I added another 20kms to take the tally up to 94km. It started to nice and cold, the crowds had thinned down, the girl selling roses still shouted “fast”, “fast” as I limped by.

It was great to finish yet another near 100k effort on my feet, still running!


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Run To The Moon 100k

Of Performance and Perceptions

That's a strange opening line for a report on a 100k run, you reckon. What's perception got to do with a 100k run, what's it got to do with running from 1am to noon, what with running on a 1km road, with being tired or happy at the end, with feeling positive or negative - EVERYTHING! Perceptions Matter.

 

These are strange quarantimes - "getting positive" is the most negative thing and I have been trying to find excuses to not "fatten my curves".

So, ever since the lockdown began, I have been running alone on a long 1km road (4th cross road, to be precise) behind my home.


The Kanyakumari to Kargil virtual run (#KANKAR >> report here) helped build the mileage, 2 weeks of over 200km+ mileage. I had continued with some steady 40km+ runs during the subsequent weekends.

 

NEB Sports used the KANKAR template for a moonshot, quite literally - a relay virtual run, all the way to the moon and back! During a casual chat with the NEB Boss, Nagaraj, I offered to run a 100km as a #GiantLeap to finish the Run To The Moon (RTTM). 


RTTM is a 31 day challenge, where runners get to contribute between 2.5k to 10k per day for 31 days. The overall mileage (from the 14000 participants) adds up to the distance between Earth and the Moon (… and back… to home quarantine, of course). The event is raising more than 14 lakh rupees towards supporting Support staff of various sports departments.

 

As the D-day, 18th July, neared and cases rose, the lockdown rules started to get stringent. Perceptions Matter. I'm covidientCubbon park or Nandi hills as possible locations for the 100k were considered and dropped. My initial plan was to run the 100k on empty (with no calorie intake), this plan I dropped too.

 

So I decided to run in the comfort of my locality, a 1km stretch of road, quiet with low traffic, small elevation, up and down, 50 times.

Perceptions Matter - I decided to start early, to give me the comfort of having done significant distance before 6am.

 
1AM to 5AM

The early hours felt like I was on the moon, there was no human in sight!! Running up and down and stopping only to be a “Super Spreader”. No no, not the virus, the Peanut Butter on Brown Bread, my top of the hour snack. I kept to a steady pace of about 10kmph. Perception-related challenges in my current job kept my mind busy. In 4hrs, I had covered about 40kms, some stray dogs as spectators. By 6AM, still running alone, I made 50kms in 5h:03

 

Perceptions Matter. The idea of this run, was also to show “the art of possible” so far as fitness is concerned, during these “unprecedented times”. In an attempt to get as many involved, I had short Covideo streams updated on Instagram (follow me on @ultrabhat NOW) and FB.

 

By 7AM, this got a few runners from my side of town to drop by and provide support and cheers. The runversations, selfies and pics slowed things down a bit, but was very refreshing. Thanks for coming!

This 2 hour slot was the busiest. My kids came to visit and wanted to run a bit with me. By 9 am, I was done about 73kms.

 
9AM to 12 noon Finish

Perceptions Matter, but Performance, perhaps more!

By 9AM, there was no more fanfare. I was alone once again, this time I had the sun for company for the remaining 27kms. I was still running steady – walking the short uphill every loop, but running the rest. But just as my energy was waning, Shreya brought me curd rice (I sent her back for seconds).

 


Then I had Santosh and Shilpa come back again by 11am to pace my last 13 km or so. My Dad and another runner, Naveen joined my swelling support crew. My kids got on their bikes and we polished off the last few laps in style.

 

Pic credits: Ramesh, Naveen

While I get back to worrying about Perceptions and Performances during my work week, I’m happy to have rediscovered my Passion over this weekend!

 

Not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured counts.

 

If you still want some counts, the stats are on Garmin Connect (https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5253339689), I particularly liked the Heart Rate vs. Elevation

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Lockdown Dairies

How I engaged the physiological (stomach), the physical (my body), the mental (my brain) and the metaphysical (my soul) during these lonely times.

On March 21st, I waved my family a double good-bye, with both hands, little did I know I would spend the longest time away from them, ever – 72 days. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I went into a transformation, while he grew a beard, I grew a Mohawk!
As the goalpost of their return kept shifting from Lockdown 1.0, to 2.0 and so on, I took up multiple “projects” to keep myself engaged.

The Physiological – “that which is related to the physical upkeep”

For most of my basic requirement of food, I relied on my mom, lunch was the only time when I would get to talk to them. I ate there and brought home the sambar for my rice + egg burji dinner. But I did a few experiments in the kitchen – including baking a banana cake for my 40th birthday! The pic does no justice to how good some of these tasted!


The Mental – “that which is related to the brain”

The easiest project was to pick up a popular series such as the “Family man” (talk about irony here) and binge watch. I admit, I got a prime membership and watched 6 episodes, mostly out of curiosity. But dropped it, when I saw how easy it was to get hooked to this.

I then tried to learn the Vishnusahastranama, got till about mid-way. But I completed 2 certification programs for a data mining course. It did come down to the wire during the 2.5 hours exams that I had to endure, right down to the last question to decide if I would cross the line. In the Dhoni style, I hit the last ball for a six! Binge learning, way better than binge anything else!

The Physical – “that which is related to the body”

I took a long break from running after the Bengaluru Ultra in Dec, nearly 10 weeks of ZERO mileage. Just when I was getting back to running, COVID hit us. 

Not the one to take “lockdown” as an excuse, I continued to run responsibly – alone and in a 1 km stretch of a road that goes nowhere, near home. I put in mindless runs of 5km, 10kms, 30 mins or 1 hour runs just building an aerobic base. It was too early for me to take part in the quarantine backyard ultra – a great concept in these times, details here.

But when NEB sports and Sunil C came up with the Kanyakumari-Kargil relay run (#KanKar), I was ready. The plan was simple – each member of the Indian team for the 24h and the 100k runs as much as she or he can, each day from 21st of May. You log the mileage, the total team mileage for the day is marked on the Indian map, from Kanyakumari, all the way up to Kargil. The goal was to complete this 3815kms in 15days, to get the sponsors to contribute to charity. Each day of early finish, will get more money into the charity pot.

Of the 22 runners who began, the cyclone Amphan, the over 40 deg plus weather in Delhi and the seal down orders in Mumbai, meant no running for a few of our athletes.
Namma Bengaluru had no such issues – the evening downpours ensured that the mornings were cool till about 8AM or so. I was looking to log some consistent mileage, my wife and I decided that 30k should be doable. From day2 onwards, I stuck to a routine – wake up at 4:15AM, start the run at 5, run for 2.5 hours or so, 25kms. Notably, all my runs were done
  1. In the 1 km long road, up and down 12 times each morning
  2. In about 2:27mins to 2:40 mins
  3. In the same set of singlet and shorts (washed immediately under the shower to rid of the Novel C19)
  4. On an empty stomach, only sipping from a 1 liter water bottle once every 4kms
  5. While passing a set of morning walkers and runners - with a nod, or a wave or a good morning!


The evening “recovery” run was almost always 6k, somedays I ran a couple of kms more. En-route, I logged my best weekly mileage ever at 223kms. As we approached Kargil, well before schedule, on the 10th and the last day, I decided to take it up a notch, ran a 4:15 full marathon distance, again on empty, same loop, same singlet, same “hi”s and “hello”s!

My mileage count for the 10 days
Leaderboard
May 21
May 22
May 23
May 24
May 25
May 26
May 27
May 28
May 29
May 30
Manoj
307
12
32
34
31
31
31
32
31
31
42

What was truly remarkable was the fact that my injuries did not flare up, especially the high hamstring injury that has been irritating me since the last 24hr run in Bangalore. My recovery was fantastic. I continued to have early dinners, slept as early as I could, sometimes as early as 8:30PM, this must have helped the rejuvenation. More importantly, I enjoyed every single run, barring a few patches. I told my sister one day “there will be difficult days. To do the right thing on a day when you are not totally up to the task, is what endurance is all about.”


… and finally,

The Metaphysical – “that which is beyond the physical, of the soul”

The truth is – I missed my family. And there were days of a weird sadness. But thanks to these “projects”, I pressed on, going from one distraction to the next. But what gave me most joy, was this one. Inspired by my friend, P, who drew a mural on her wall at her home in the bay area, I decided to give a go to draw my kids portrait on their room wall. I tried a few things, lots of innovative hacks, youtube vidoes, photo prints on transparencies, but eventually drew this with charcoal. They haven’t seen this yet.

After 72 days, they will be back tomorrow, the look on their faces will touch my soul.

Hope this has touched yours too.
Stay strong, Stay safe. Remember, now you got to wash your hands before you dig your nose! Cheers!


Update 12/06/2020:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Stumbling upon the Joy of Running Bengaluru Ultra 2019


For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. - Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark

2019 has been a weird year of sorts for my running. I got PBs in 24h, 50k Ultras and many intermediate split best times too. I became a running coach and a motivational speaker. But somehow I “feel” I haven’t been enjoying running as much as I did in my past. And then, I read “Stumbling upon happiness” by Dr. Gilbert (blog title inspiration! and all italics sections in the post are from the book). Awesome book, I will try to take you through my recent Ultra marathon Bengaluru journey with excerpts from the book.

I was the ambassador of the Bengaluru Ultra, so I was of course automatically signed up. But I was thinking I would be “happy” to race this fast flat ultra easy distance, after all, I had gone past this distance many many times this year.


Prospection and Emotion


Prospection can provide pleasure and prevent pain, and this is one of the reasons why our brains stubbornly insist on churning out thoughts of the future. But that is not the only one. People find it gratifying to exercise control. We all steer ourselves toward the futures that we think will make us happy, but what does that word really mean?

In Part II of the book, “Subjectivity,” Dr. G tells you about the science of happiness. The word happiness is used to indicate at least three related things, which we might roughly call emotional happiness, moral happiness, and judgmental happiness.

Happiness, then, is the you-know-what-I-mean feeling.


And talking about judgmental happiness - Our remembrance of things past is imperfect, thus comparing our new happiness with our memory of our old happiness is a risky way to determine whether two subjective experiences are really different.

Comparing with the Possible

Dr. G says we derive support for our preferred conclusions by listening to the words that we put in the mouths of people who have already been preselected for their willingness to say what we want to hear.

Exactly, both D and Ath agreed the previous weekend; that I was in perfect shape to run a low 4hour for the 50k! I listened to the words that I put in the mouth of this preselected sample, lol!

The bottom line is this: The brain and the eye may have a contractual relationship in which the brain has agreed to believe what the eye sees, but in return the eye (ear) has agreed to look (hear) for what the brain wants.


So basically, my brain has tricked me by “filling in memory” of my last ultras to making me believe I will be happy. 

That when people make predictions about their reactions to future events, they tend to neglect the fact that their brains have performed the filling-in trick as an integral part of the act of imagination.

The details that the brain puts in are not nearly as troubling as the details it leaves out.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that the gritty details of running an ultra that are so salient to us as we execute them were not part of our mental image of running it, when we imagined it a month earlier, but what is surprising is how surprised we are when those details finally come into view.

Yes. After having completed the first 2 loops 12.5kms each, in 60mins and 64mins, the legs start to feel like they have lead inside them. How could I have not remembered this feeling from before; What *was* I thinking?


Looking Forward to Looking Backward

The psychological immune system defends the mind against unhappiness in much the same way that the physical immune system defends the body against illness.

A healthy psychological immune system strikes a balance that allows us to feel good enough to cope with our situation but bad enough to do something about it. So, I ploughed on, slowly, rationalizing that will still get me to finish in under 4.5 hours!

This is profound: we will feel better soon as we begin to discover facts that support this conclusion (“I went out too fast for the 2 loops, didn’t I, Ath?”), but the process by which we discover those facts must feel like a discovery and not like a snow job. If we see ourselves cooking the facts (“If I phrase the question just this way and ask nobody but Ath, I stand a pretty good chance of having my favored conclusion confirmed”), then the jig is up and self-deluded joins jilted in our list of pitiful qualities.

Net-net, don’t try to cook this feeling, sitting on your couch on a Sunday morning. You gotta be out there to “discover” the facts.

Indeed, in the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did, which is why the most popular regrets include not going to college, not grasping profitable business opportunities, and not spending enough time with family and friends. (and, if I may dare add – not running 50k ultra marathons!)

Let me now try and explain the run itself, but first, a caveat.

Explanation robs events of their emotional impact because it makes them seem likely and allows us to stop thinking about them. Oddly enough, an explanation doesn’t actually have to explain anything to have these effects—it merely needs to seem as though it does.

Outside Looking In

Experience and our awareness of the Experience are generated by different parts of the brain. Apparently, it is possible – at least for some of the people some of the time – to be happy, sad, bored, or curious, and not know it!!

Was I happy when I finished, and not know it??

So when Sunil asked me as I was crossing the finish line (clock reading 9:12:52AM, 4:42hrs after the start), the world’s most familiar question “How are you?”, did I not know my own heart?

Go to your bosom;
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know. – Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

The Way We Weren’t

Where do I go from here?

The fact that the least likely experience is often the most likely memory can wreak havoc with our ability to predict future experiences.

Apparently, the way an experience ends is more important to us than the total amount of pleasure we receive—until we think about it.

We show a pronounced tendency to recall the items at the end of the series far better than the items at the beginning or in the middle.

Because we tend to remember the best of times and the worst of times instead of the most likely of times, the wealth of experience that young people admire does not always pay clear dividends.

You will remember feeling as you had expected to feel, and not as you had actually felt.

All convoluted - the problem with this error of retrospection is that it can keep us from discovering our errors of prospection. Our inability to recall how we really felt is one of the reasons why our wealth of experience so often turns out to be a poverty of riches.


Reporting Live from Tomorrow

I quickly cancelled my plan to run from Bangalore to Mysore the next weekend, and rationalized why I should not run the Chandigarh 24hr run and by extension not be on the national team again.

The Inescapability Trigger

We are more likely to look for and find a positive view of the things we’re stuck with than of the things we’re not (and more likely to achieve the positive view of a bad experience than of a very bad experience).

The show will go on, and in 2020, I will continue to lead you to mindless long posts, I am stuck to running, and if have come this far, you are stuck with my posts!!

May you soon stumble upon “Happiness” in 2020