Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The 'Y' Marathon

The 'S' Marathon
The 'O' Marathon
The 'R' Marathon
Record 'R' Marathon
The 'Y' Marathon

The 'Y' Marathon:
Quick Update:
I ran the final Y Marathon distance of 21.2 kms in 2:03mins.

Split timings:
10.5kms in 1:05hours
21.2kms in 2:03hours

BPM Stats:
Average: 147 BPM
Maximum: 168 BPM

Current mood: Humming “Naa hai yeh paana, Naa khona hi heh” from Tum Se Hi!!
The Epilogue
Superman lasts only so long as the endorphins do, and then the pain takes over. By day four, my knees had taken a beating. I had shin splints, knee and ankle hurt, this is not something I am proud of!
I wanted to endure the last one all alone, the perpetual question “WHY” had to be answered. I started very late, 0635 in the morning, completely missing the refreshing sunrise and the almost full moon.
Every step I took for the first couple of kms seemed to take the pain around esp. around my knees to a higher plane altogether, like every little step I had taken in the last 4 months. As I jogged (limped should be the apt verb) down BEL Road, I was asking myself this very question “Why I do it or why I cannot not-do it”
Why I do it or why I cannot not-do it
Because, when you are an optimist or insane, you view every challenge as an opportunity. You know it may be impossible but you see a tiny window, a glimmer of hope. For me, all I have do, is to close my eyes and drift for a few seconds to see that window of hope, of opportunity.
But when every hope, every opportunity turns into a challenge, a struggle, you sense the small window beginning to close. The thought of what-if-nots grips you, you frantically try to take charge, to gain control of the uncontrollable, in vain.
And what do I do, I run. Clench your fist and punch slowly into a wall, doesn’t hurt, right. Now do it a hundred times, a thousand, a million perhaps, and it would hurt, it would hurt like hell, I can tell you that. I did that with my legs through the last 5 days. I guess I run towards that small window, to the life I can see through it. Today, I run, I run to redeem.

At the end of it all, I’m not sure what the feeling is like – a tear in the corner of my eye, a smirk on my lips. “Tum Se Hi” runs on in the background…

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Record 'R' Marathon

The 'S' Marathon
The 'O' Marathon
The 'R' Marathon

Come on, Manoj, 20mins more and we are done”. This, after we had run 16kms at nearly 12kmph pace, in 1:16mins and when I was nearly dead. I lengthened my stride a wee bit. I glance at my watch, 1:33hours, Doc looked over his shoulder, “Just 2kms to go, a few more minutes.” I curse under my breath, “Easy for you to say”; the legs seemed to be flying though. The last km was somehow the longest, must have been the effect of adding the 200mts to make it to 21.2kms. “200mts to go”, he declared.
There was no tape to break, no line to cross, no gigantic clock on display… in the fields somewhere near Hoskote, Alain, Doc and I exchanged low-fives. What a fantastic run, it had been. I clocked my personal best timing, a half marathon in 1:40mins!!

At 4:30 this morning, when I looked myself in the mirror at my unshaven face, I was tired, 2 more hours of sleep seemed very very inviting, I was almost craving for it. The legs, though, seemed less stiff after the 5hours of sleep I had managed. Doc and I were running with Alain, who is a fantastic runner and had kept pace with Doc for most of the Ultra Marathon.
I reached Spring Meadows at Whitefield at 0530 and we started off in the dark armed with headlamps. It did slow us down a bit for the first 5-6kms.

At the finish, the feeling was simply amazing. Superman returns, resurrected!

Split timings:
10kms in 50mins
12.6kms in 1 hour
21.2kms in 1:40hours
25kms in 1:59hours
26kms in 2:05hours

BPM Stats:
Average: 167 Beats per min
Maximum: 227 BPM (something wrong I guess, can’t imagine this!)
Myths buried:
Taper? The run comes after 3 half marathons in the last 3 days – 66kms in 72hours!
Rest before the run? 5 hours of sleep was all I could manage the night before.
Carb-loading? Zilch, dinner was 3 chapatis with dal.

The only thing that mattered were the ‘extra nuts’ I was running with – Rajat and Alian, Thanks so much!!
Current mood: Someone remind me why I started running this series please!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The 'R' Marathon

The 'S' Marathon
The 'O' Marathon

The 'R' Marathon
If it was introspection and the ensuing feeling of ‘oh’ with the ‘O’ marathon, it was R for Rajat Chauhan all over the third half marathon of the series. We looked like we were jogging around circles in Cubbon Park this morning. We were running through the Cubbon Flora and a whole lot of the-larger-connotation-of-life, ethics and moral fibers, love life and otherwise (mine and Docs respectively!) jobs, yada yada yada…

Time stamp: 0610, 25 February 2008
Distance: 22.5kms
Half Marathon time: 1:51mins
Average BPM: 168
How I feel: Stiff… very stiff and sore around the knee. May live through the next two runs. It hurts, but am I glad it is only around the knee!!
Current Mood: Runners High

The 'O' Marathon

The 'S' Marathon
The 'O' Marathon
oh [ō] interjection
1. used to express strong emotion: used to express a strong emotional reaction to something, for example, surprise, shock, pain, or extreme pleasure •

In my case, the ‘O’ marathon was more of a reaction to a realization of what had gone wrong. It happened somewhere between the ‘S’ and the ‘O’ half marathons.
I ran with Runner’s For Life along the Airport Perimeter and followed it up with a plain (plane!) Dosa at Krishna Café at Kormangala.

Time stamp: 0635, 24 February 2008
Distance: 24kms
Half Marathon time: 1:55mins
How I feel: The pain has not really surfaced. More importantly, the remorse has already abated!
Current Mood: Introspection

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The 'S' Marathon

The Genesis

“Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.”
When I quote this, I am only partly referring to this half marathon series.

Let me take you through the thought process. I have a problem and I figure I can’t live with that problem for long. So, I need to solve it. (Are you still with me?) If I were to find a solution, I need to get to the root cause. Now that is another problem. Can’t live with that one either. So, I need to solve this one too. (Are you the same you, who was with me then?) As you can see, I was getting nowhere close to the solution. Then I decided to work it Bottom-Up, most solutions are simple. Seek Absolution.

I am quite capable of all that thinking myself, but some credit should also go to Robert Harris’ book Pompeii for this one, he took me through 300pages of stuff like this.

Ok, the serious stuff, I figured I had to feel sorry and in the process try and get to the what-went-wrong part. When you are long distance runner, all you got to do (can do?) to fix some aberrations and find answers is simply “run”.

In this Sorry Series, I am going to attempt to run 5 half marathons in 5 days, hoping to feel a lot of remorse, not just the pain.

The ‘S’ Marathon

(pls. click on the image above to make some sense of it)
Unfortunately for me, the time between the thought process and the start of the 5 day ordeal was only enough for one dinner and a good night sleep. I woke up this morning ready to take it straight on.

I ran a distance of 20.8kms from my home near Hebbal taking the route of the last year’s Bangalore half marathon to Kanteerava Stadium and back. The mind was however, jogging down some memories. I covered the distance in 1:54mins at a average beats per minute (BPM) of 165 and a maximum of 202!!

Did I get the answers? “No”. Do I feel the remorse / pain? “Yes”.
I have not been in the running groove for the last month or so, trying to kid myself that this is the recovery phase. Just warming a new pair of Adidas Supernova as well, but I guess I will survive!

Coming up on the morrow – The ‘O’ Marathon… Do come back!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mumbai Marathon – how "I ran well in Jan"

But the Mumbai Marathon was sabotaged even before it began. Three marathons in 3 months, with the 78km Ultra marathon just completed. There was hardly any time for sore muscles to heal, the submicroscopic damages had to wait. The 4-hour noon-run at Nandi hills with Nischal and Athreya did more harm than good.
Work threatened to play spoilt sport as well. With days to go before I would leave to Mumbai, there was unprecedented work-load, even as I went into the carb-binge mode. With two days to go, a reject from a job offer, sent me spiraling down into a depression. I had very little time to regroup myself.

Karmic Healing
I stayed in Mumbai at my Brother-in-Law’s apartment in Andheri, cooking rice and boiling my potatoes – the Australian Open took my mind off the more persistent problems.
On Friday evening, I was treated to some yummy pasta dinner at Rajesh’s place. We then went across to another friends place and then met this girl called Anandita – a creative writer, she looks straight out of a Opera musical. I’m never the one who’s a fan of Karmic healing, Reiki and the likes. But, man, she was good, working on my Aura, and in no time, she got to telling me all the things that were bothering me. She advised me to be confident, be patient and relax. It helped a bit.
What helped more was a mail that found its way into my inbox “… all the very best. I am sure you will do great”.

The Marathon eve was spent in driving some 2 hours from Andheri to Nariman Point to collect my Bib No. 1362. Also got to do a bit of recce of the run route, my first time at Mumbai and I wanted all the information I could get. At the Pasta Party at Moshe’s, we packed ourselves with loads of carbs and the all-important RFL camaraderie.

Race Day
It was a number story all along - 30 refreshment stalls along the route, serving over 5.6 lakh biscuits, 5834 dozen bananas, 35000 apples, 75 volunteers specifically assigned to distribute refreshments among runners, 89000 liters of water, 12 medical stations, 10 ambulances, 250 doctors on duty, 500 policemen, 1200 security guards, 2500 volunteers and 3 helicopters used for telecast.

Major Satish, who was accompanying “his boys” from the Services, had stayed over at our place. (his boys eventually won the top 7 places in the Indian Men category!!) With all the approach roads to Azad Maidan blocked, taking a train was the practical choice for transport. But it meant that I had to be up full 3hours before the marathon was to begin at 7:45am.

I reached CST just as the pack of half marathoners were starting to pour onto the roads. This is one sight that I always miss out on my marathons, when you run the full marathon you can never be around when the celebrity runs begins.

I had just enough time to do the pre-marathon ritual:
Change into the Ultra tee and dri-fit shorts
Fasten the laces with just the right tightness, neither too loose nor too tight
Pick up goggles, cap and sweatband
Wear sunscreen generously
Pull out Vaseline and use on crotch, underarms (when you do this avoid eye-contact with passers-by)
Untie the laces and retie them with just the right tightness, neither too loose nor too tight
Stuff the pockets with Gel and Endurolyte capsules
Take the sipper out
Pin the Bib to the tee
Buckle up the Heart Rate Monitor around the chest, check the watch unit
Pull up the socks, check the laces, undo them, retie them with just the right tightness, neither too loose nor too tight (seriously, I never get them right)
Reminds you of Halal, eh?

At the holding area, there were lots of familiar RFL faces, most of us were in the Bangalore Ultra tees. I had planned to run with Girish and Nischal. I was using Nitin’s Garmin Forerunner for time-keeping and had set a 5:35-5:45 min/km pace. Girish was nowhere to be seen and Dharam stuck with us from the very beginning. Both D and Nischal had at least one sub-4 finish before this one. I knew I just had to keep pace with them.

With the run starting as late as 7:40, the sun was up soon even as we reached Marine Drive. We passed through Chowpatty, Mahalaxmi temple, Haji Ali and Siddhivinayak temple, consistently hitting the 5:40min/km pace. We took a short walk break at the 24km mark, when I passed Shivaji park I had begun using muscle relaxants to ease cramps.

We had more than the usual share of cheering from the bystanders and I was pretty excited about it, till Nischal reminded me that I was responding to some of the “Way to go, Superwoman” cheers as well. I desisted from any more waving till I was running alone.

The three of us kept the average speed close to 10kmph till the 32km mark. At the exclusive for HASHers water stop, I was looking for more muscle relaxants. As we neared the Peddar Road flyover, Nischal kept the pace going while Dharam and I fell behind. As I walked up the flyover, I conversed with a Doctor someone who was carrying some breakfast home to his family. It was his normal Sunday morning routine to walk 3kms to the restaurant and back. It was nowhere close to a normal Sunday morning for me, though.

The pace was slaking by now and with 3kms to go I was down to walking pace. Shyam, who I had first met during the Bangalore International Marathon, joined me with some 2kms to go and we egged each other on to the finish.
As I approached Azad Maidan, I pulled out the last reserve of energee left, Athreya who had finished his own in under 4 hours helped me pace my last few hundred meters. I crossed the finish line in 4:29:52 hours.

It was also the first time I raised money for charity for a NGO Dream-a-Dream. Many thanks to Sarosh, Raaji, Rishi, Shamji, Adarsh, Sriram, Amit, Keerti, Meena, Malay, Chetak, Ashwin, Shweta, Sod, Satsang and Naveen. I will try to keep you posted on more activities of the NGO.

Thanks also to Nitin who lent his Garmin Forerunner 305, while it helped 3 of us keep to the 5:40min/km, the graphs showed more detail than ever required for the post-race analysis. I was so overawed, I simply stared at the graphs no end, darn, it even showed me how fast my pulse raced even when I stopped for a leak!! Check out this and more here.
A few days later Nitin shared with me how we had won a contest to upload the Mumbai marathon profile on MotionBased. The blog can be read here.

This one is very very special, “I ran well in Jan” will remain in the mind forever ;)