Monday, October 27, 2008

Rocket Sparkles Bomb at Bangalore Hash

Run No. 481, Diwali Hash – A Report
Disclaimers: If you got here looking for info on recent bomb blasts, I condemn the blasts, but you have come to the wrong place
If you are looking for the Bangalore Bomb shells, you need to go as far away from me as possible to be able to find them
The Hash is not what you thinking it is, read all about it here and get back.

The location was Chandy’s farm, off Kanakpura road. “If I only I could own a place like this”, was the common exclaim as you enter the farm. It’s got this nice lawn that leads up to the farmhouse on a hillock with a pool alongside.
The rains had been beating hard on Bangalore for the entire week and it was not only the market caps that were being eroded. The gloom suddenly cleared for the Diwali run and it was cloudless on Sunday evening as I drove with Athreya and Prats to the farm.

Raw sex, the GM and hare for this one, had promised the FRB (Front Running Bastards) are going to enjoy this one. The usual hash signs made way for Rocket-Sparklers-Bomb.
When you saw a rocket on the trail, all FRBs ahead of the lead hare had to turn around, retrace the trail and wish “Happy Diwali” to everyone else, right till the walkers sweep hare. We amended the rule to add a tight hug to the ever-so-smiling walking sweep hare, page3.
A Sparkler meant, wait and sparkle till every last one on the trail passes you while you sparkle. And a bomb was good news for all the horrors (aka kids) on the trail. The FRBs run to the sweep and pick up sweets for all the horrors on the way back.
It was a refreshing change from the usual hash runs, and yours truly was one of the first ones to turn around. The signs were timed to perfection and a few of us re-trailed n-no. of times and “Happy Diwali”ed the walkers many times over. The toffee incentive worked well for Chiku, perched firmly on pappa Ravi’s shoulder never once missed wishing “Happy Diwali”. It went from Happy Diwali to Ale Ale to Happy Christmas and New year’s by the time we finished.
The water stop was also refreshing - Sangria served with sliced apple and pine apple kept us high till we reached the circle. Chats, hot Jilebis, Pav Bhaji waited for us while the draught took precedence.

In the twilight, alongside the aqua-green pool, the stars twinkling again, with the aroma of the cuisine filling the air, we sang our hearts out to the hash hymn

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home…

Photos here

Friday, October 24, 2008

KTM 08 - Only one way to go - Down

*note the salt deposited on the cap in the snap above!
The sun is beating down heavily – I can feel the burn on my shoulders, I pour some more water from my sipper over my back; I won’t be needed too much water from here on. Running is euphemism to describe what I was doing, I was barely running. I tired not to think of the cringing faces my running pals, 3 strong runners not being able to continue.
At a distance I could see a metal glitter through the hues of green. Am I hallucinating? Or is it really the last water stop. I looked at my watched, it read “12:00”, it had been 4:20hours on this blazing trail. As I approached the last bridge (or was it?), I am forced to ignore the “hello-how-are-you” screams from the kids who were enjoying their swim in the Kaveri canal. Even the mere thought of a dip would can aggravated the cramps now. I can’t wait to fill my lungs with the stench of the carcass that floated in the canal close to the finish.
A van comes into view and then the rest of the runners waiting at the finish. I can feel a sudden rush, a spring in my tired feet and almost immediately the lurking cramp. With every passing breath, I am telling my other self, “relax manoj, relax manoj”.
I can now hear the applause from Sindhu, Rishi and others at the finish. The finish line passed from under my legs and I stop. My weight shifts to my right leg and stiffens. I cramp hard, drop on my butt, level my back along the dirt road, cover my face with my starched cap to keep the brutal sun out and close my eyes.
Yet another 4:35 marathon was behind me…

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." - Frank Shorter.
Goal: “I will run 60kms at KTM for 6hours, running at 10kmph pace for as long as I could.” – this was what I had announced. I had done a 51kms in 6 hours a fortnight before this, and a 4:29 Kanakpura marathon a month back.

Carb-loading: The pasta party was at ‘Herbs n Spice’, nice name, not so nice pasta. On Saturday, while I was at home resting, I decided to cook ‘some’ pasta myself, ended up cooking half a kilo of pasta – even the friendly neighborhood dog was carb loaded!!

Race-Day: I had crapped, packed and crashed by 830 in the evening on Saturday. The bus was to leave Queen’s park by 4am! At 130am I woke up with a start – I thought I had overslept and missed the bus. Ate some boiled sweet potatoes and bananas before I left home at 3, got chased by dogs as I picked up Nischal on the way to the park. The early dogs did not get Nischal’s sandwich, neither did the early runners get the bus!
And just when we decided to give up KTM and run in good ol cubbon, the bus came – 4:45!
Quiz time: How do slow down 30marathon runners?
Answer: Load them into a bus and tell the driver to hurry
Q: How do you slow them some more?
A: Don’t tell the driver the way and let him overshoot – twice!
Q: How do you slow them even more?
A: Don’t worry, the sun will take care of the rest

The Race:
The trail is beautiful, with the canal flowing on one side and paddy and sugarcane fields on the other. The clean air is a treat for the lungs and brings with it smells of paddy hay, moist mud and fresh sugarcane – so strong that a lung full will give you a few carbs.
Other runners who had not taken the bus had started at the stipulated 630am, thereabouts. We started at 7:45 and in about 10mins I started to feel the sun. Athreya and I had decided to keep the 10.5km per hour pace. We finished the first 10.5km on target in 1hour and made it to the half way point (21km) in 2hours. We passed some of the early-start runners in their last lap. Ashok was clearly ahead, some maths and he looked good for a 3:30 finish. He finished in 3:21hours. He was followed by a phirang girl running strong, Ravi and then Priyankar.

Athreya and I also noticed some others who we did not pass. We hadn’t seen Sunil, Jugy, Pradeep. We stopped when we saw Meghana, her 3/4ths pulled up half way, exposing a fresh bruise. She had fallen flat (eeiks!!) as she was finishing her 21km, and had begun to walk the second half.

The 10km runners passed us in a hurry. I saw many friends trying this for the first time – Meera, Vijay, Sriram, Ramya, Sumi. That was the only time I saw them, a few secs is the time I get to spend with friends? Unfair!

By 25km mark Athreya had suddenly fallen a couple of steps behind and silent –he was trying to keep himself from throwing up. We reached the water stop at 30km in exactly 3hours. It brought back memories of KTM’07, where I had done exactly the same pace for the first 30 and taken a good 2hours for the last 12!

Athreya could go no more, I joked if I could borrow his still fresh legs. By the time I went to the U-turn point and got back to the 4th water stop, it looked like a medical camp in a war front. Santanu was struggling with cramps in his back, Pradeep was in distress over his legs and Athreya with a stomach upset. The ambulance at the station was not carrying ‘common’ salt! I gave Shantanu a light massage and some endurolytes and got him to get back on his feet.

With another 9kms to go, I was looking at a 4:15hour finish. Running alone in the last leg is a such a drudgery and I wished I had company. I met Meghana walking up her last lap – bruised more in the mind than on the knee. It was so humbling to see all the training that we had done in months being charred by this heat. It was nearing noon now, it would only get worse from here.

I shared my salt tablets with Nischal and then had to borrow some from Meghana. But the cramps, I was not able to keep at bay. I struggled to the finish line.

Oh before I forget, did I tell you what happened after I cramped at the finish? As I lay there nursing the cramp, I stocked myself up with more endurolytes, gels and water – thanks to the RFL volunteer who helped me with my bag…up on my feet in 15mins and off back on the track to do 5kms more…

Links to other reports

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Spirit of Wipro 2008

Quick Stats

Distance: 10km

Time taken: 44:51mins

Overall Position: 5th

Avg. beats per min: 184

Max. beats per min: 197

I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome to the “Spirit of Wipro” than this. Within days of my joining Wipro, the registrations for the Spirit of Wipro were thrown open. My eyes lit up with the prospect of a podium finish and did a quick competition analysis. After some archival digging and emails, I learnt that the winner of the last year’s version was Sathiya who had finished in 42mins. ‘Doable’ was my first reaction, despite a 47:54min finish at the Sunfeast 10k run this year.

It was a challenge for two reasons. One, I hadn’t been running since the Tibetan marathon. And two, although they are both running (put the right foot in front of the left and then the left foot in front of the right story) there is a huge difference in running a marathon and running a 10K race. They are different sports altogether. While I can run 10k in 50mins and continue to hold that pace for another 10, I have no clue how I can pull off 5mins from the 50mins!

Wipro had got in reluctant drivers to ferry us runners to the corporate office on Sarjapur road. There were hundreds of wiproites - some of them for the spirit-of-the-tee-shirt. Chetak had decided to scale down his distance and picked up a bib for 4km.

The campus looked beautiful in the semi-darkness. The 4km marathon (how, how can a 4km run be a marathon. I write a lot of garbage, but this is something that is worth carving on any runners headstone, Marathon = 42.2kms)… The 4km ‘run’, started a few mins before the longer run (not the longer marathon!!).

There must have been about 100 of us running the 10km. It was heartening to see a lot of senior management in the crowd. I was lucky to be ahead of the pack, we still had to wade our way through oncoming 4km finishers for the first couple of kms. I maintained a sub-5min/km pace for the first 5kms – reaching the half way point in about 22mins. The idea was to save up till the last 3kms and pick up pace then. I was in the top-10 when I turned around. The last 2kms was a steady downhill and I knew I could pace well, if only I save up. When I crossed a railway line, with 3.5kms I over heard a race official talk into a walkie-talkie, “7 and 8 are in”. I was 8th close on the heels of a strong, lanky, German marathoner (yes, the 42.2km runner).

I kept pace with the guy and moved up a few paces. With 2kms to go, I was 6th still tailing him. I picked up pace steeply hoping to shake him off my back; the tactic didn’t work coz we were together again with a km to go.

I remembered Pre from the “without limits” movie to keep me running ahead and fast. I did manage to finish a few seconds ahead of my competition. I came in 5th overall finishing completed used up and out of breadth in 44:51mins – a good 3mins off from my PB.

I met fellow RFLers - Anjali, Naina and Harsh after the run. Anjali and Naina had podium finishes… congrats congrats!!!

Saturday well spent, another Personal Best!! Cheerz!

Other SOW 2008 run reports: