Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Getting on the Indian national team

Luck (Success) is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness.

The Preparedness

My Preparedness graph has started about 13 years back. All the mindless running seemed to be preparing me for this, the Universe seemed to have a plan, in hind sight. Mindless running, why? – My brother-in-law reminded me recently of my “training run” for my first marathon – run from home (in Hebbal) to electronics city, some 30+ kms away. Those were days of no GPS watches, no Google maps, no dri-fit tees, no compression socks. I had carried some glucose powder, cash in a waist pouch and a 1 liter bottle, not even knowing how far this was. I remember reaching Forum mall and wondering how much further E-city was!
The Bangalore Hash prepared me for even worse – many times, we wouldn’t even know how long the run was, not that we cared. Distance? Pace? Heart rate? VO2 Max? – didn’t know any of these.
But I guess I am boring enough to have kept this going for a good 13 years and thanks to my running buddies (some reminded me of a possible qualification to the Asian) I pushed myself to finish well at the Bengaluru Stadium run.

The opportunity

The opportunity graph only started from 2 years back.
The International Association of Ultra runners (IAU), the international governing body of ultra distance running and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) conduct World Championships in various format of Ultras - ranging from 30k trail runs, 50k, 100k, 12hr, 100milers & 24hr Ultras. Thanks to the effort of a few concerted individuals, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) became a member of the IAAF, IAU and ITRA, last year. Through the AFI, Indian ultrarunners now have the opportunity to participate at the World and Regional Championships.

The Athletic Federation of India (AFI) has sent 3 teams to date – to the 24hr Ultra at Belfast, a 100k Trail run in Spain & the recent 100k World Championship to Croatia.
The training

Sooner after completing my Stadium run, I was scouting the IAU website for upcoming races. I got excited with the announcement of the Asian & Oceanic Championship (A&O) and shot an email checking India’s participation. I dropped my plans to race at SPBM marathon and decided to focus on LSD (long slow distance) runs for a change to take part in A&O. I chatted with the IAU Chairman, Jacek & our own experienced Ultra, Kieren – both gave me the same advice – the weekly mileage had to go up to 150-160km.
In the meantime, AFI invited applications from eligible runners for the A&O. I waited till Ganesh Chaturthi to submit mine – I had met the eligibility criteria (185km+) but had very few other Ultras to show fitness, although my event was less than 2 months back. The next couple of weeks till the team was announced, I ran with my toes crossed.
An email confirmed my participation, I was the 5th member of the team of 6. A very proud moment.

I ran a couple of good training runs in preparation. I ran the Hyderabad Ultra 50k, after having run a 25k before the start of the race. I finished the undulating course within the top 10. This was also followed by a press meet and a chance to meet the Badminton legend – Gopichand. I also ran an overnight run at Bangalore Kanteerava stadium, thanks to Godfather, Nagaraj Adiga for organizing this.

In 4 weeks, my Garmin showed an impressive 500km in training – the volume is highest I have ever trained. It did have its share of niggles – first the psoriasis then the lateral peronial muscle. Notice the needles in the pic, some dry needling took care of some. But I am as ready as ever now and look forward for the event.
Stay tuned in.