Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nandi in my backyard

I picked up "Why we run" by Bernd Heinrich and if the title does not already ask enough questions, there is "How does a grown up man convince himself to spend money and precious time to run himself half to death..." - a question that I ask myself multiple times, as I embark on a 8 week high volume, back-to-back weekend long run journey to my next 100km race.

So, like a mad man, I run around my neighborhood, in loops of 8k to 14k and a lot of mathematics to make up my weekly long runs of 30k, 36k, 40k and so on. But the 50k ones are the ones that matter.

And coincidentally, my house happens to be this exact same distance from this hill that I grew up looking at, on a clear day, on the horizon - Nandi Hills.

If you have read my Malnad Ultra report from last year, you know I have done this a few times now. But this year, when I google mapped "home to Nandi hills" and used the "walkin" option, it showed me an interesting back route. I have hashed with the Bangalore Hash on trails off this route on numerous lazy Sunday evenings. I tried this once early this year (including the "downhill biking trail" to the top) and got hooked!

I ended up running this route twice in 10days. First time on a Saturday morning, staring at 4am, finishing on top at 9:20, turning around immediately, putting my thumb out for a lift. Getting dropped off at the Nandi turn off point on the highway, back home by 11am.

On Ramzan holiday, I repeated this, only this time, I reached the top in 5:30, ran back to the highway turn-off to complete a 72km training run in 7:50mins. Took a "DVD bus" back to the city. And this came within 48hrs of finishing a fast paced 40k run on Saturday, on a mentally weak day.

En route, I get multiple quizzical looks, gestures, inappropriate comments. On rare occasions I get a good one, that shoots bloods into my head... must have been after 68k or so, close to noon, hot sun, this car slows down on the opposite side of the road, a guy sticks a thumbs up outside the window, then his head appears and he checks with me, if i need water...

I can do without the water and even food - I pack my camelbak quite optimally for these runs. On the 72k, I managed to do away with even the idli break, carried oatmeal in stead.
I refill water at a chai shop over some niceties with the chai shop owner, at the 33k mark. There are plenty of villages with water tanks to pour water over my head to keep it cool.

All this begs the question that we started with - Why?

As Prefontaine put it, "A race (or a training run) is like a work of art that people can look at and be affected by in as many ways they're capable of understanding". Yes, the key to appreciation is in the understanding.