Friday, October 23, 2009

Run, walk and cycle weekend

"Run, walk, cycle this weekend?", if you are asking, "what's new?” scroll down, the pictures tell a decent story.

Oct 10:
Spirit of Wipro 09 - My third podium finish this year, after the 7th at Auroville marathon & 4th at Hyderabad. My 44:11min 10k earned me this shining medal.

The Spirit of Wipro saw hundreds of wiproites out in the Sarjapur road to celebrate with families. For me it felt good to finish off in the second place, coming from behind and taking the last guy with less than 200mts to the finish line. It was the perfect photo finish (ironically, without the photo).

Some press coverage here.

The Diwali Hash:
There was no time for celebration after the SoW (I still managed to do a bow-and-arrow Bolt style on the presentation dias), I had to leave immediately to join Sunil, Meher & the David couple to hare the Diwali Hash at Chandy’s farm, off Kanakapura Road. Sunil had managed this to perfection and there was not much haring left when I reached the farm. I did help with the Beer, burp!!
In the middle of the holiday season, the runners were on a holiday too and decided to walk the trail. In keeping with the Diwali spirit, the hares had devised interesting check cards, with instructions to the hashers to hop, oink, dance – all in the Diwali spirit.
(pics courtesy: Abnash. More pics here)
The spirits were kept high with Sangria at the water stop. The evening was spent with crackers, sweets, yummy food, lots of amber liquids & banter with the running buddies.

Oct 11:
Bengaluru Cyclothon 09 – Bangalore was the chosen city to host the 50k event. The BIEC was perfect to dock the cyclists. My nephew Rishabh (the 7yr old is my inspiration, has more medals than I can ever get) also participated in the 2k event. Although the amateur race was reduced to a mere 27k (from the 50k to the 36k first), it was worth the effort for a chance to ride on the otherwise busy NICE road. It was a shame that, just as I was getting into rhythm on the undulating course, I sighted the finish line.
The kids event was chaotic, with children speeding on not so safe exhibition grounds. Long wait before the start, unregulated people on the tracks, and the authorities clueless on the route, etc added to the pitiable state of affairs. We were lucky to have gotten off without major incidents.
I finished my 27k in 50mins wishing it had lasted longer.
In the pic: Aryan, me, Venkat, Rishabh
More pics here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chasing the Bull in Bengaluru's Backyard - 50k run to Nandi

Date: 26th Sep '09
The first time I rode a bike from Hebbal to Nandi hills in Sep 06, with almost no clue even about the distance from Hebbal to Nandi. Between then and now, I have biked from Hebbal to Nandi a no. of times, ran up the hills from the Base quite regularly. There was just one more tribute to pay to the “Bull in Bengaluru’s Backyard”– run from Bangalore to Nandi.

I toyed with the idea & the options available for sometime – take a bus, run downhill and then all the way back to Hebbal. The other option was to start from Hebbal and run up to the hill. There are also various other non-highway routes that could be taken. I finally settled on running from Hebbal along the NH7 towards Devanahalli keeping to the NH & the SH to the Base. It offered easy quitting options (hop on to a bus) in case something went wrong & it is littered with shops all along if we needed a drink or so.

The support team: Tima, Giri, Mahesh’s driver. Tima (Sorry Chandra, its not Tina!!) volunteered to drive his car and act as a mobile water stop for us. Mahesh’s driver also got into the act, putting his head out of the car and checking if we were fine as he drove past us.

The runners: Athreya & I ran the distance from Hebbal to Nandi (51k) in 6:49hrs. Chandra (39k), Nari (35k), Vasu (30k), Mahesh (31k), Anjana (20k), Reena & Anita (7k uphill + 4k) kept us company in various stages... (Ps: Anita promised me Beer to raise her mileage, I promptly refused!!)

Chasing the Bull: Nari, Vasu, Chandra, Athreya & I started from Columbia Asia hospital at 5:20am, after a delay in scouting for a place to park. We eventually parked inside Esteem Mall. We were immediately passed by Monica & her friends who were biking to Nandi. She was kind enough to take this pic for us.

And so, we started running… keeping steady pace of about 9-10kmph. Mahesh spotted us near the Yelahanka junction and he joined us ahead of plan near the Jakkur airforce station.

Some important milestones:Café Coffee Day 11k (1:15hrs) 3mins break
ITC Factory 16.5k (1:54hrs)
Friends Dhaba (just after airport interchange) 20.5k (2:25hrs) 7mins break
Devanahalli turn-off point 25.8k (3:10hrs) 10min tender coconut break

Nandi Hills turn-off into SH104 29.3k (3:40hrs) 10min break
Idly Point SH74 turn-off point 39.9k (5hrs) 10min break
Nandi Base 43.4k (5:54hrs) 18min break
Nandi Climb 47.4k (6:27hrs) 8min break
Nandi Top 51k (6:58hrs)

We ran the last 3.5k in 25mins at nearly 7min per km, which goes to show we did finish pretty strong, considering that the ascent was the steepest in this section of about 250mts!!
So, that is your benchmark for the “Chasing the Bull” Ultra – 51k in 6:57hrs.
Took lots of breaks for tender coconuts & water stops, it was a fun experience overall and a fantastic training for the Bangalore Ultra

Many thanks to all the runners from BHUKMP – Vasu, Nari & Giri, to Mahesh, Athreya, Reena, Anjana & Anita. Big hug and thanks (in XXXL size) to Tima for the support. I had to overcome a huge urge to hug and kiss the 1k milestone as we were running up the hill and just that was worth all the effort!!
Athreya was kind enough to present tee shirts to finishers (him n me!!) and Reena had organized beer and lunch at the Silver Oak Farm.

Addendum: Fast forward 22nd May 2016
Did a near repeat of this, ran from home (add 4-5km), minus support (self supported), replace Ath with Navin. Finished the distance in about 6h:45min, started at 4:45ish, finished by 11:30.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech Marathon Report

Reproduced verbatim from my own race report, what was supposed to make to the RFL newsletter, but didn’t. Did the weight of engagement ring add any extra to the timing?? Find out in the analysis of my own race in the section “Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best” at the end.

The Hyderabad Hi-Tech marathon featured in the coveted list of ‘new’ marathons along with the likes of Auroville, The Great Tibet & Coorg marathons. Some pioneering RFLers (Bhasker, Shyam, et al) had run the last year’s edition, and the feedback was very promising. (Bhasker’s best Indian marathon timing in his 12-marathons-in-12-months was at Hyd). With Rajesh Vetcha (a passionate runner & ex-RFLer) at the helm of organizing, my expectations were naturally, right up there.

My training goals for the year filtered out just 2 runs – the Hi-tech marathon and the Ultra. With so much at stake, I was delighted to see the dates for the marathon announced about a month in advance.

Right from the registration process, there were signs of meticulous planning (the site accepted ‘Mastercard’ credit cards ). In the days leading to the race day, Rajesh confirmed our stay in the dorm of the Gachibowli Stadium, the race route was published on the event website, emails with instructions on how to reach Gachibowli had reached us.

There was a loud & noisy gang that landed at Hyderabad on 29th Aug taking the Kachebowli Exp or the Gareeb Rath – BHUKMP team (Rishi, Amrita, Vasu, Nari), Deepak, ANS, Ram, Manmohan, Shumit & Rahul. We received fantastic support from Ganesh, from the organizing team who ensured (as Rishi put it) we were treated like the elite athletes.

A few of us got to test the conditions with a short 5k run in the synthetic tracks of Gachibowli stadium. Ganesh ensured that we focused on rest & carb loading – he took down names and t-shirt sizes and saved us the trouble of travelling for registrations.
Carb-loading was at Paradise in the evening over late lunch. Heaps of Hyderabadi Biryani disappeared & some more was packed for dinner.

The Race Day:
The Route: The race was a A to B run, starting at KBR Park in Jubilee hills via Hi-Tex City to ISB campus, then into the Hyderabad University & ending in Gachibowli Stadium. The entire route is undulating, with an overall gain in elevation of 850m. There was no shade cover for nearly 75% of the route and there are some uphills that last for a couple of kms. It’s definitely not the easiest course, but what made it memorable was the way it was managed.

• A High-Tech bus to take the outstation runners to the start
• An early 5:30am start
• Well stocked aid stations every 2km (water, electrolytes, bananas, oranges, biscuits, muscle relaxant sprays, sponges dipped in cold water). All of this was available right through the route, the sponges make a lot of difference of a hot day
• Good support from Hyderabad Police & Athletic Association. The Police riding motorbikes alongside runners towards the end of the race. Although there was sparse traffic, the Police made sure that they manned every intersection. There was no single incident that I faced where there was traffic hindrance
• Fantastic route – the organizers had worked on feedback from last year and had made subtle modifications to the route to avoid boring sections towards the end of the race.
• At the finish, medals were given as the runners finished and timings & names were recorded accurately to avoid mistakes
• Warm food was available at the finish is sufficient numbers (I cleaned 3 packets myself). The Pongal (Khichidi) was way better than the sandwiches that are provided at the finish of some races. I could see a Rajesh Vetcha chapa in most of this nuances.
Little wonder then, that, the BHUKMP / RFL team from Bangalore bagged 5 out of 10 positions in the amateur category (and RFLers came 11th in both full & half marathon). We had 3 out of the first 5 – a majority, whichever way you slice it. ANS had a lot of answering to do after his 3:32hr finish. Deepak & I stuck to plan – finishing in 3:43 & 3:50 respectively. Vasu came in 5th at 4:01hrs. It was a PB for all of us. Chandru was 10th at 4:23hr.
As was claimed by the organizers, it was truly “A run for the runners, by the runners”, one that should definitely be added to your running calendars.
And… time to take me out for a by-two filter coffee, Mr. Arvind Krishnan!!
“Another Chest No. 25 – another Personal Best”
Coincidentally, the last time I got a personal best was with Chest No. 25 at Auroville. I was pleased when the number was handed to me again.
On the eve of the marathon, while Deepak & I were discussing strategy on how we should pace ourselves for the run, Nari who stopped to listen in, dropped this pearl. He said “(In spite of all strategies)…finally it comes down to how badly you want it”. Take a moment to think, doesn’t it all come down to that, wow!

So I decided to go for it… might as well try and fail, than not try and fail – Try and fail, but don’t fail to try. So Deepak & I decided to keep 11kmph pace for as long as we could, my own personal goal was also to keep running for the entire race duration.

And this is what we did, we ran at steady pace including the climbs. But we made sure we increased the strides on the down-hills throughout the undulating course. Vasu remarked after the race about how we nearly blasted away on the long down-hill after ISB (at the 28k mark or so). The Gramin charts shows the fantastic co-relation between elevation and our pace!
The Result: A personal best at 3:50:01 for me, 4th position in the amateur category, Rs. 2000 in prize money – truly, the extra weight of the engagement ring did not affect the result. Perhaps, as Rishi pointed out, it only add the weight of responsibility on the shoulder…

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nandi Fartleks

Ever done a speed training on a hill?
Nandi hills has been a boon to Bangalore. Runners, bikers, photographers, motorcyclists, bird watchers regularly frequent the hills over the weekend. Runners use the 7.3k climb to the top for some hill training, running up and down to the base, usually twice – takes us about 3-3.5hrs for the 2 loops.
On the 23rd Aug, it was only Sunil & I who turned up for the hill training (I messed up the post on the RFL club site and got no responses).
We did the usual on the first loop in 51mins, averaging 7:15mins/km.
Sunil got this idea of trying to do speed interval training on the uphill. So we paired up – he started running and I took the wheel of his car. I drove up 400m, stopped and waited for him to catch-up. When he did, he took the wheel and I powered up the hill, 400m to the waiting car. We continued this pattern right up to the top. The second lap was run in 39mins, averaging 5:22mins/km.
Notice the pattern in the graph??

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Urban Stampede - Jungle mein Mangal

Date: Aug 22nd '09
Venue: Olde Bangalore (same as last year)

Registration fee for the Urban Stampede, incl. run support, buffet breakfast, tee shirt, goody bag & an opportunity to run with your colleagues – Rs. 5000
Fresh fruit juice, Pasta and salads for breakfast & an entire spread of South Indian tindis – Rs. 300
Driving to the venue, the Olde Bangalore some 20k from the city – Rs. 150

A chance to run with your Fiancée, with the hope of beginning a very long run with her – Priceless. There are some things money can buy, for everything else you need to be blessed…

The Good:
· For the first time, I was sponsored. The closest I have come to being sponsored before this, was a beer or two after the runs on a couple of occasions. Thanks Wipro!
· There were 147 teams that participated, that’s a whopping 600 people running the 5kms.
· The starting area was actually inside the resort (last year it was in the parking lot).
· The tees were excellent (esp. the ones that came in the delayed lot). All participants (Note: deliberately avoiding use of the word ‘finishers’) were given shining Gold Medals.
· There were stronger runners, the entire Toyota team put up an excellent show, an average of 20.5mins for the 5k each.
· Good opportunity to interact with colleagues – Neetesh, Aman & Bryant from my team & Subba, Jai, Santosh & Naresh from the second Wipro team.

The Bad:
· Food was good, but you would have to think twice to offer your non-running family member breakfast. It was a whopping Rs.300 per person for the buffet breakfast. Quite a pinch if you were thinking of a stay-cation for the weekend in the countryside with your family of 4!
· The course was unchanged from last year. It’s a 2.5k and back, I’m sure we can have more variety for such a short distance.
· The bibs were clumsy, with the company name needing to be sprawled across on a second bib pinned on top of the first one.

The Bestest:
· Being the first runner in my group, I grunted my way through the pack and passed the baton in 4th position (our team finished a respectable 27th out of 95 teams in the Open category)
· With a timing of 22:20mins for the 5k, I came in 18th overall, out of the near 600 runners – top 3 percentile!!· Accompanied my fiancée, Shreya who was running the second leg for Ujjivan. The 40mins were special. Reena & Athreya perched themselves strategically along the course to make sure we don’t get ‘lost’ in the bushes.
You know I did some goal setting at the Sunfeast 10k last year. This year it is the Mission Accomplished, bwuhahhaha...hahahaha