Thursday, December 25, 2014

Scorecard - Indian marathons vs. abroad

Over the last 5 years or so, I have managed to garnish my largely-Indian races with a few from abroad. While they have not been popular races, I have managed to squeeze in a 50k Ultra, 2 marathons, a half, a 6miler and a 100k bike race.

As has been the practice in the last couple of seasons, I include a shorter distance race during my marathon training. I missed a chance to race the TCS World 10k this year and then ran a below par 5k at the Urban Stampede. My progression in the Half marathon distances has not kept in sync with the full marathon Personal Best timings (PBs). The timing of 1:35 to win the Spirit of Wipro race in the 2012 edition was an aberration in a series of 1h:40m finishes.

And along the 16week training for the maiden Bengaluru marathon, I had a chance to score a personal best HM timing twice – once in India and once abroad within a few weeks of each other. A good op to stack an Indian marathon against an overseas one.

"Picking a "best" marathon can be like finding a good piece of chocolate in a sampler box of candies: you either take a plunge and pay the price for it, or you rely on someone else who has eaten a piece before" - anon

I will compare these 2 races keeping the details out to make it more generic for someone looking to compare an Indian race with those run abroad.
    • Burnham Beeches Half Marathon, in August 2014, in Berkshire, UK (BBHM)
    • Spirit of Wipro Half marathon, in Sep 2014, in Bangalore, India (SOW)

I will share my experience along a few KPIs for races
  • Cost & Ease of registration
Most Indian marathons are cheap, going from about $10 to about $25, barring one or two outliers. These races come with a race tee shirt, a timing chip, support on the course, medal, downloadable certificate & post-run breakfast. Some runs also have massage facilities that you can avail for free after the run.
A marathon outside can set you off by about $50 - $100 or more, you may have to also budget a few dollars for post run snack as well.

  • Pre-race fanfare

You cannot complain about fanfare when there is none. Both these were low key races, without an elaborate Expo (the sponsors and their paraphernalia). It made picking-up-the-bib a simple affair.
  • Conditions & Start time

Races in India are mostly in hot and humid conditions. Expect temperatures between 20-30°C, with average relative humidity of about 65-70%. Given these conditions, most races have start times that make breakfast seem like a mid-night snack. A 6am start for the SOW run, meant that my pre-race breakfast of oats, had to be eaten at an unearthly 3:30am or so.

Compare that to start times of 9:30 AM for the BBHM, with temperatures of 13-20°C. The start times allow for a relaxed breakfast and that all important potty. I got my money’s worth of the complimentary breakfast at Beaumont Estate, WIndsor and took a taxi to the start point.

  • Support on course - Water stations, medical aid, crowd support
Most marathons are well stocked with water, a sport drink and a fruit – and a mix of indifferent and engaged volunteers, both in India and outside. The smaller races that I have participated in abroad have the basic medical aid. The bigger races are a huge draw for support crowd. At BBHM, the route map had called out the local pubs for the support crew to hang out while cheering the runners. A thin line of supporters spread sporadically on the course, is all you can expect even in the biggest races in India.
  • Competition

I ran the half marathon distance in Aug at BBHM in 1:31:02 and was placed 65th overall in about 500 runners. At SOW in Sep, running the HM in 1:29:41, I came in 5th overall – about 343 finishers. Both these were personal best (PB) for me. While my sub-90 mins run received all the acclaim, this is at best an average performance for any race abroad.
The gap only becomes worse if you compare the best races in India (the likes of Mumbai marathon) to the top 5 marathons. Before we pat ourselves in the back for those podium finishes in the Indian races, we need to eat the humble pie – there is still a long way to go.
I did, however, like the gift voucher, deos & other goodies that came with the 3rd place (Open-Guest category) in the SOW run.
  • Post-race support
    • Nourishment

Indian races have decent post-run Indian breakfast which is included in your registration. If you have any specific preferences you should budget for it. Remind yourself to climb down from cloud 9, to find your way to the breakfast counter, then the medal counter & then baggage counter. These queues may take up more time than your racing time. At the finish line in the grounds of Caldicott school, there was literally no "free lunch" on offer. A sandwich / cake and a drink from the beeches cafe will set your wallet lighter by a few pounds (or dollars).
    • Medals / Certificates / Pics

Most Indian marathons give out a finishers’ medal; race pictures and timing certificates are big too. Every distance (5k, 6k, 10k, 21k) gets automatically upgraded to ‘marathon’. Don’t be surprised if you a well-rounded smiling group in track pants showing off shiny medals claiming to have completed the marathon in 1 hour. It is to be read as a 5k-marathon. The amateur photographers do an excellent job of uploading your pictures (watermarked and all) for you to download. Off late, they have been trying to monetize this as well.
If you are a ferrophile like me, when you run outside India, look specifically if the race fee covers a finishers’ medal. Most local races abroad don’t have any certificates / pics that you can download.

The idea of this post was to give a comparison of smaller races in India and outside. Hope this was useful. Some snippets on BBHM & SOW before I wind up this post (which was been in wip status for a record 77days!)

This was also a dress rehearsal for the Bengaluru marathon, I realized too late that I had left my socks behind. I had some gory toe nails to show off after the race. BBHM was my first race abroad for a Half marathon.

Mathematically speaking 2 half PBs is equal to 1 full PB, to find out, come back after in about a weeks’ time. (Yes. I mean it, the next update is before the next year)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Urban Stampede 2014

I have been running Urban Stampede quite regularly in the last few years. I have managed to keep a perception of being a fast runner in work circles and have found a place in the Corporate relay in this 4 x 5k relay race year after year.
While I have changed companies, the reputation has remained and with that, my place in the team. This year, (like last year) I was a part of the Dell ‘A’ team in the mixed category for the 2014 version on Aug 3rd. The two Racy Rai’s - Pankaj & Shuveshek in the team raised hopes of making it to the podium. Diversity has always been our weak link and this time was no different. It does call for a better effort in creating a culture of running in the organization to be able to sport a winning team. Wipro (my past employer) has moved leaps and bounds in this regard and are now very competitive in these races.

With Pankaj taking on the lead role and Shuveshek chosen to be the anchor, I was relegated to the third position after Sakshi.
The location for this year’s race was Bharatiya City – a gated community off Nagawara. As I rode to the venue, it was discouraging to see 10k runners running substantial distance on the dusty, polluted approach road. Especially with the real estate activity picking up on that section, the movement of trucks and buses ensured that the Sunday morning was not spared.
I entered the campus, hoping that the 5k runners do not have to brave these vagaries, but was proven wrong.
Siddharth Bahuja, a flier, had offered to pace both Pankaj and me. Pankaj finished in a respectable 22:20. I prepared myself to start with about 50mins on the clock. My turn only came at 58mins and with that timing, hopes of the podium evaporated, as the sun came out to add more grief.
I had asked Sid to stay just ahead of me to draft me from the head winds on the way out. In about 1km or so, we were out on the Thannisandra main road. Even if you somehow ignored the chaotic traffic on the other side of the road, it was impossible to ignore the long uphill sections. It didn’t help that you also needed to lose all momentum at the U-turn point.
It was the section between 2-4km that I lost the plot, perhaps the course-related issues were playing on too much on my mind. I mentioned to Sid post-run, that if were not for him, I would have stopped to take a breather. The time/km splits tell the story – 3:54, 4:08, 4:07, 4:08, 3:57
This was the 5th week of my 16-week training for Bengaluru marathon and served as a good time trail, to set goals for the rest of training ahead of me.

A 5k finish in 20m:13s will have to do for now. The Dell A team was placed 7th in the standings in the mixed category and I managed a 25th place overall for this lung bursting effort…

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Building a solid base for a season

My brief article made it to the RFL newsletter last month -
(Ps: it does have a national circulation, ok)

Allow me to begin with a story told by The Wall in many of his inspiring talks. Rahul Dravid says he likes to liken his formative years to that of a Chinese bamboo. I quote “You can take a Chinese bamboo seed and plant it in the ground, water and nurture that for an entire year. You will not see any sprout. In fact you will not see a sprout for 5 years. But suddenly a tiny shoot will spring from the ground. Over the next 6 weeks the plant can grow as tall as 90 feet. It can grow as fast as 39 inches every 24 hours. You can literally watch the plant grow. What was the plant doing in those 5 years, seemingly dormant? It was growing its roots. For 5 full years, it was preparing itself for rapid massive growth, With its roots structure, the plant could simply support itself for future growth. Some say that the plant grew 90 feet in 6 weeks. I would say it grew 90 feet in 5 years and 6 weeks.

Wait, I don’t mean you go dormant for the next 5 years, nor that you will take 5 years and 6 weeks to get to see results. But, even if it does take 5 years to build a base to what could be just 6 weeks of sheer brilliant running, then, it’s still worth it, isn’t it.

In reality, base building is not that hard, I find this phase the most enjoyable and most important before taking on stringent goals for the season. If you are a first time runner, give yourself a very gradual ramp up of mileage. You should begin by using the 2-1 or 4-1 run-walk pattern, where you run for 2min and walk for 1 minute. Ensure that you are able to hold a conversation (or run-versation as we call it in BHUKMP) during your running. Give yourself a week or two (of 3-4days of running) before you increase the running breaks or reduce the walking breaks.

For more experienced runners, while you are doing some weekly base mileage, it’s easy to get complacent. But do not compromise on 4-6weeks of easy paced runs. Get your weekly mileage up gradually, without any particular focus on pace. Use this time to focus on your running form, scouting for possible courses in your neighborhood for your tempo runs and intervals. It’s time for you to try out that new gear, shorts and skirts. Go shopping, find deals online to deck up for the season.

Easy runs are a good time to socialize with other runners. I love to explore the trails in the countryside running with the Hash house harriers during this phase. Setting up trails (or haring as it’s called at the Hash) is an excellent time-on-feet training.
Start planning your race calendar for the season and your training plan to get yourself prepared mentally as well.

At the end of the base building, you must be ready to set your goals for the season. Pick a race where you can do a time-trail to determine your current level of fitness and set goals accordingly.

To sustain injury free running for a long long time, building a strong base is a vital first step.

If you are still not motivated enough to make that investment, remember the bumboo, I mean… the Chinese Bamboo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dream Runners Half Marthon 2014

(*my spoils from the last 2 months)

After last month’s Ultra marathon in the hilly bay area, to come back to sea level, to a flat course for a half marathon in the Bay in Chennai, was not the most inviting.

But Risky provided the much needed motivation to start, when he asked me to pace him for a sub-2 hour finish. I checked with the organizers – Dream Runners, if I could be the official pacer for the 2 hour bus, but it was too late to make add a pacer I suppose.

So, I got to the starting line, with no mileage in the bag, I had had only run twice since the Ultra. On the contrary, Risky was well prepared. Risky made his debut half marathon at the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon in 2012 and has been steady with the Run less Run faster program.

We started off in right earnest, at the 5:30 pace, but the humid Chennai weather caught up. Risky was not used to the conditions and had to stop to catch his breath. Before the end of 5k, we knew that the sub-2 was out of reach. There was a ray of hope for a good timing as we got into a rhythm near the U-turn.
But we were not able to keep the tempo and the second half was mostly me dispensing a lot of gyan.
·         Eat well, sleep well, hydrate well before the race
·         Have a good breakfast before the race
·         Race shorter distances to get to used to ‘racing’
·         Have realistic goals based on time trails or more scientific goal setting
·         Blah blah blah…

I finished in 2:28 mins and 450th in a field of about 1500 runners. When I signed up for this, I was hoping for a sub-100min to get a Personal Best, but that will have to wait some more. Personally, I am happy to have started running with this, its 16 weeks to the very promising Bengaluru International Marathon in October.

If you came here looking for a DRHM review, read on. Most of the good points were retained from the last year as well, where I finished in 1:47.
The Good:
·         The water stations were well stocked, great support, with water, energy drinks, fruit, medical aid, water sponges, water sprays, etc
·         Early start, started on time, with minimum fuss. A drone at the start taking pictures sent out wild cheers from the runners at the start line
·         Flat course, fast course
·         The medal (see the shoe medal in the pic?) is very lovely indeed
·         Breakfast was simple and functional (regular idly, vada stuff – good post race meal)
The not so good:
·         No crowd support – Chennai has never been a runner friendly city (weather, traffic starts early and is non-accommodative, lack of parks, stadiums, play grounds to run) and this doesn’t help the runners’ cause
·         Perhaps I finished late, the finish area was crowded, the was severe shortage of water in the finishing area

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Horseshoe lake 50k trail Ultra

Report of my first Ultra marathon overseas

I can’t help but get a little philosophical here, but what’s a report of a Bay area Ultra without a understanding a bit of the ups and downs.

You start strong, knowing you can take on any challenge. At some point, a reality hits you, it’s too steep, the going gets tough and despite your best efforts, you can’t run up that hill. You have to slow down.

The book, Road less traveled, begins with:
“Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult NO LONGER MATTERS”.

And then, when that hill comes, you just don’t climb it, you transcend it; knowing that it will not last forever; that a refreshing view, an inviting downhill, will bring you back to cruising pace. And soon enough, there will be more hills. By now, you are tougher; you know you have to take it one hill at a time, slowing down to briskly walking uphills and shuffling down hills.

Again from the book, “Benjamin Franklin said “Those things that hurt, instruct”. It is for that reason, that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems.”

Then you begin to welcome the next hill, you see it as a walking break, when you pause and understand yourself a little more.
Reminding yourself all along; that you are in a good place, how beautiful the view is and just soaking in. In the end, when you cross that finish line knowing you gave your best, you will be duly rewarded…

In the 2 weeks that I spent in the Bay area, I was lucky to be a part of more than a couple of Ultra marathons. The easiest of them of them all was the one that I ran - Horseshoe lake 50k, the one where I knew where the finish line was.

I am inspired by stories of incredible resilience of the protagonists of the other “Ultras” and will pray that their races will also finish on a high.

The Horseshoe lake trail 50k
The Ultra starts at the Skyline ridge North parking lot, and winds up the Skyline Ridge, Long Ridge, and Russian Ridge Open Space Preserves. The majority of the course is along the Bay Area Ridge Trail with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Cruz Mountains. 

The seasoned Ultra marathoners of the bay area describe this as one the easier Ultras. With 1600m of climbing it was way beyond my league. To put it in perspective, Hyderabad marathon – arguably the most undulating marathon in India, has a total elevation gain of 350mts. Nandi hills, in the 7km of climb, gains 450mts or so. Even the famed Comrades 89km Ultra up –run gains only 1300m in 89k distance.
That explained the course record of 4h:35m for the 50k run.

Just getting to the start line posed logistics challenges. I had to travel across the globe a week before the race, drive in the US for the first time, drive 100miles to the race start.  A minor GPS glitch indicated the start point at no man’s land, I had to dig into some common sense to find the start point which was a parking lot, off a winding Skyline blvd road in Palo Atlo countryside.

My fortune cookie at the restaurant on Saturday evening prophesied that Green would be my color of the day. It did come true - Sunday started with a green race day tee, many many hues of green on the trail and a green second place medal.

I started off like I wanted to win it – ran the uphills and let loose on the down hills, the first two 5k splits were 5:31 and 5:34min/km, running some down hills at 20kmph. I took a longish break at the U-turn at 10k. I had to give up my speeding ways, when I nearly twisted my ankle sprinting down a hill. From then, I took to braking on the declines, exerting my quads. By now, the hills seemed daunting and I began to walk them.

At 22k, when I started cramping in my right Quads, I saw the great truth of bay area Ultras – Life is tough. And when the pressure of the finish line goes off, and you slow down, you enjoy the journey more. Although I had passed the horseshoe lake in the first lap, I only really saw it in the second. As I climbed higher and higher, the spectacular views opened up, the mist covering the towering pines as far as the eyes could see.

I sat down at the base of many of those gigantic trees to loosen up my thighs. The nod of the head, a “good job”, “you too”, exchange from fellow runners littered the trail.

By the time the second U-turn came, at 32km, I was welcoming the walking breaks that came with the climbs. 

With the average 5k pace progressively increasing from 6:06, 6:12, 7:34, 9:06, 8:54, 8:39, I completed the marathon distance in 5:10 The Ultra had to finish on a high, the last 8km was designed to do just that – climbing in excess of 250m, between 42-46k.

I survived the temptation to relax on the benches in the view points that offered great views of the skyline reserve. And also survived the rattlesnakes to finish on both legs in 6h:09m.

The effort earned me a finishers medal, one for the 2nd place in my age category and custom coaster for the Ultra finish.

Photo courtesy: Gene Dykes (who came in first in the 60-70 age category finishing 10mins ahead of me)

News of my running buddy, Dharam clocking 3:04 in another CA marathon, making the Boston Qualifier cut, coming in hours before I boarded my flight from SFO, seemed like a befitting end to a great 2 weeks in Sunny California!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A matter of the heart - SCMM 2014 marathon report

SCMM 2014 - A report

4 months, 1210kms in some 106hours of training, for an overall standing of 53 in about 2500 runners, a finish time of 3:27:32, and a personal best by 25secs.

It does not sound bad by any measure and search as I may, I find it hard to put my finger on what went ‘wrong’.

My mind is conjuring up these numbers in its defense, while my heart is looking for the lesson, for it knows, there was something that wasn’t right.
Coach Jack Daniels says, “Run with your head the first two-thirds of a race, and with your heart the final third”. I lacked the heart to race, to finish with the killer punch.

Along my 19 marathons and 3 ultra-marathons, I have overcome many ghosts –  an ACL tear, too much muscle, stamina, cramps, dehydration, hyponatremia, the mental fatigue, shoe issues, lack of structured training, diet – pre and during a race.
Seems like peeling an onion, every layer peeled reveals another one. Bad analogy, but I can’t help but wonder if you will be left with teary eyes and stinky fingers at the end of it all...

Pre-race SHIT (Some How In Time):
Not the ideal race day eve. Spent 6 hours on Mumbai’s roads to get to the expo and then over an hour for falafels at Moshe’s – and I was guilty of dragging my nephews, Rishabh and Aryan, Shreya and Neha through this ordeal.

Even getting to the starting line was chaotic – I had to take a second loo stop at Azad Maidan (thankfully, they were clean and not crowded) and started warming up about 15mins before the start time. I budgeted for about 5mins to get to the starting line (the A corral), but had to wade through a lot of runners of the D-C-B corrals and barely made it to the start line even as the digital clock showed 5:40AM - the start time. Waved to Pankaj at the start, SHIT! Made it.

In that melee, I had to abandon my plan to run with the 3B’s of Pacemakers – Bobby, Brijesh & Brian. I spotted Sampath ahead of me and as we dodged runners we were negotiating on the target pace. Sampath was saying 4:30/km, I was on 4:50. We eventually settled down at 4:40 and decided to stick it to. (I am surprised how deep rooted this bargaining philosophy is – millions of $ business and our desi sales guy wants to start higher to allow room for bargaining, wah!)

For a long time, Sampath and I were only saying either “Too fast” or “Too slow”. We didn’t hit steady pace even on the flat Marine lines section and Peddar road, with its undulations, didn’t help either. Along Peddar road, we raced down, speeding past a lot of runners, hitting as high as 20kmph speed. As the course got flat, so did our pace, around target pace, despite the heavy cross winds on the sea link. Somewhere close to the 25k mark, Sampath shared a Gu gel with me and suddenly we found our wings. 26k came in 2 hours, 30k in 2:20.

Pause... look at the graph and you will know most of the rest of the story!

At 30k, I let Sampath go ahead saying I will slow a tad bit. At 31k, I stopped to relieve myself and when I started again, Bobby and Brijesh caught up. I stayed with them till 34k, 34k in 2:37. A 5min/km pace from here would have taken me to the finish line in 3:20.
Picture: digging deep on Peddar road

It is wrong to say Peddar road broke me down, it was the thought that Peddar road will break me down, that did it. By this time, the roads were filled with half marathoners and lots of cheering Mumbaikars – kids, families, littered with empty water bottles. For every positive push, there were those that were asking me to stop. I managed to do more running than walking, even ashamed to look at the Garmin. I did push myself for the last hundred meters or so to the finish.
At Azad Maidan, I picked up a bag of ice someone had discarded and helped myself so well deserved ice massage. Caught up with a lot of friends with many stories of personal bests, podium finish. Took the local back to Andheri with D, who had a great race himself (report here).
Picture: With D at the finish

Even a month after the race, I still have a confused feeling about the Mumbai marathon 2014… at the heart of the matter, it is all a matter of the heart.
Didn't have the heart this time around, perhaps next time. Cheers!
Here's how the Pros do it
And another one on mental training for a PR here

Friday, January 03, 2014

Training for Racing

Since I started training for the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon 2014, Sep 14, I have run 1000kms in training, logging 88h:47m. But it isn't time to pop the champagne yet...

Coach Jack Daniel writes “Think of racing as completely separate from training… training benefits and strengthens body systems, racing is your chance to challenge these systems.”

I review 2 marathons that I ran this year as a part of training for racing!

The Wipro Chennai Half Marathon 2013 - Report
Dec 1, 2013

I had run a couple of 1:37 half marathons during training this season and was hoping to dip under that, given my performance in the fuller version of this race last year. A 104° fever a few days before the race, gave me just about time to recover.

I planned to stick to an aggressive 4:30min/km pace from the start, I was happy with the start. But a mild drizzle turned heavy, and by about 6km or so, my shoes were soaked. Water logging at the corners of the roads, didn’t allow me to cut them corners. I started to feel strain in my collarbones – I have noticed this happen in the past too, residual fever effect. After keeping a 4:30 & 4:35 pace for the first two 5k splits, I was unable to summon up reserves to keep it going. The last 2 laps were done in 4:52 & 4:58min/km average pace. I caught up with Dharam as I finished, so we could both drown in our miseries together.

I then paced a colleague, Ravi M, who was taking a shot at a sub-4 hour marathon finish and was very disappointed with what I saw of the marathon course. Last year, I raved about how awesome the course was and had convinced a few to include TWCM in their schedules. But this year, the course had changed for the worse.
  • First, one had to run on the service road near Tidel park, both ways. It was swarming with casual bystanders, 5k, 10k, HM finishers, etc.
  • Then there was a stretch where construction work left slush (remember the heavy drizzle) on the roads and then there were trucks
  • One ran into a parking lot of a hotel (?) and then had to cross a narrow alley, again heavy traffic had to be stopped to make way for runners to enter the IIT campus

None of this is good, especially since one had to do it from 26-29km and then again from 36-39km. Also, half marathoners who finished in around 2 hours had a nasty experience of running into the crowd of 10k runners, while on a narrow flyover!
My finish was nicer, the medal was good, the post run snack box decent, the tee shirt very good, and a timing of 1:41:10, not bad.

Bangalore Midnight Marathon 2013 report:
With about a week to go for the race, I received an email from the top brass at Dell to check if I would be interested in using a sponsor’s pass for the marathon. My weekly mileage was peaking and I decided to enter the race.

Jack Daniel says “You should know exactly why you are running each race!” My plan was to go 15sec/km faster than my usual pace and hold this pace (4:45/km) for as long as I can. Although conditions would be very different from Mumbai, this was a good pace check op.
I was setting myself up for disaster, and disaster did strike. The start point was close to office campus, despite the midnight start, there were no hassles in the pre-race routine. But a 15min delay at the starting line, in the cold night, made the warm up a vain effort.

I had to run 10 loops to complete the marathon distance. There was no trouble till about the 4th loop, I had a banana and then an energy drink by then. Some doubts started to creep in by the 5th loop, but I had clocked a 1h:38m for half the distance.

I was already slowing down by the time I hit the 7th loop and then drastically between 30-40kms. I took at least 10 walking breaks in this quarter, interlaced with some strong running. Although I gave up my pace targets, since this was already built into my race expectation at the start, it seemed ok to continue at a reduced pace. In the end, the average pace for those last two 5k were 5:27 and 6:04. There have been races while I have gone much slower after the mind had given up (see link).

The 3:30 finish was on the cards, provided, the last 4-5k were done at close to 5min/k pace. The course was about 500m short and this helped sneak in just below that mark.
I finished in 3h:29m:44s and was placed 9th in the men’s category, behind 4 Kenyan athletes, 3 from the army.

It is important to make adjustments during the race, to ensure that the mental faculty is still with you during the final third of the race.

BMM was reasonably well organized. The joker with the mike at the start (RK Misra?) leading to a delayed start was disgusting. Post-race nutrition is an important aspect of recovery and there wasn’t even a fruit at the finish line – shoddy work for a Rs. 1000 registration fee. Despite these, this time there was a marked improvement from when I ran this last (see link)

Isn't it obvious where the focus should be?