Monday, December 31, 2007

What makes some people do ultra marathons?

I have had this question on my mind for sometime. It was partially answered when I met some really interesting people during the Bangalore ultra. There was no one common answer, everyone had their own reason for doing the ultra, maybe because most of them were doing their first one.

All of us know that human body is not designed for long distance running, which usually means marathons, and that makes ultra quite unhealthy (does not sound very pleasant). But the buzz you get by doing it can't be achieved by any synthetic stimulant, and it truly amplifies the power of the mind (the longer the distance, more critical is the mental effort), training primarily helps you only in the recovery process post run.

The reasons were varied - Wanting to quit another addiction - like smoking, constant hunger for tougher challenges, if its there it needs to be conquered, wanting to push limits of physical endurance (almost everyone uses this, but the motives are different), training ground for tougher ultras, my friends (in running club) are doing it (now that is some super positive peer pressure), it goes on....

What will keep them going, and doing more challenging ultras - longer ultras, 24hr ultra, 100mile ultra, multi-stage ultras.... the list goes on. Maybe those who keep pushing the limits or constantly crave for continuous supply of ultras would be a more homogeneous group.

Back to square one

That pre-ultra niggling injury does not seem to want to go away. Though it did spare me during the ultra, its decided to make a comeback. So I have not been able to train for the Mumbai marathon, though I did manage to run on a few occasions during the last two weeks. Sub 4hr marathon seems very difficult if I dont recover before the end of this week.

Did a 3km run on 23rd, Sunday, followed by a 11km heavily laboured run on christmas day. And a 13km run to work on this saturday, which was slower than usual but given the injury was a decent effort with a time of 1hr29mins (against a usual time time of 1hr 23mins). I tried to follow it up with another run on Sunday, which was a big disappointment, managed to do about 3.5km and then decided to not push it. Instead I travelled to town and went for a swim to compensate for it. Did about 550mts in about 15mins.

This week I hope to rest (not run) and get back on my medication (Vevoron SR), and hope to make up for it by going for a swim on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I hope I manage atleast 3 out of 4. Its going to be difficult to resist the temptation, as everyone seems to be running in Bombay (preparing for the marathon), the spirit is soooo infectious. This is the fifth edition of Mumbai marathon and running as a sport is finally starting to take off (atleast there are some visible signs) in Bombay.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bangalore Ultramarathon pictures

Me at the Start/Finish line of the Bangalore Ultramarathon

Me with a fellow runner Sandeep Rao at the Bangalore Ultra, he also ran the Great Tibetan marathon with me.

Enjoying the break...

Its been a hectic week with some traveling thrown in (but relaxed from running perspective), as I was taking my well deserved break. It took me about 2-3days to fully recover from the after effects of the run. Monday was the most difficult, as my calves were feeling extremely stiff and climbing stairs was a huge effort. My Sunday run felt like any regular day, no injuries during the run, no cramps (as I was taking good amount of fluids and endurolites), no blisters, but once I rested, things were not so easy.

By Wednesday, I was almost back to normal except for some other pre-ultra pains and am hoping to restart next week. The most important thing left now is for me to strengthen my leg muscles in a focused manner, to reduce the string of injuries which I have been facing at regular intervals.

The Bangalore Ultra marathon was truly memorable in more ways than one, each time I get a post from one of my fellow runners or receive a email from the googlegroup of ultra runners or go through the Bangalore-ultramarathon.com website, everything comes back and the feeling is quite amazing. The results have been posted on the site by organsiers, in the race details sections of the site. I stood no.7 in the 78km category(surprising immediately after my expert pacer, even though she finished one hour before me), my bib number was also no.7! Never realised there was anything special about no.7, till the time I started my run. During the run I seemed to attract a lot of attention, not for my running but for my bib number, the three digit 007 brought about the most obvious connection, and to compound it my celebrity pacer seemed to know all the 52KM+ runners (as bulk of the participants were Bangalore Hashers & Bangalore based RFL - Runners For life (the biggest running club in India, with 800+ members) & everyone seemed to notice the bib number.

Another surprising fact which I noticed while going through the different race timings on the official website was that the 39Km timings show only the 52km participants with the best time being 4hr21. I guess it only includes names of participants who were not able to complete their respective distances.

I think the organisers got almost everything right. For a first time effort, it could not have been any better (and I would rate it higher than the marathons organised by Procam - Delhi and Mumbai marathon & the Great Tibetan marathon). The aid stations were well manned and stocked all through the 12hours and the enthusiasm of the aid station support staff was simply amazing, they encouraged us all through the race (esp. towards the later half when we really needed it). They had everything - energy drink, ice, cold water, regular water, all sorts of fruits, nuts, enduralites, pain killers, sprays, creams....... the list goes on, they never cut corners and did everything that needed to make the race a memorable one. The main reason for their success was the fact that it was organised by a group of runners, who were as passionate about running as we were. I am quite sure that next year they will make it even bigger and also make some good money out of their efforts.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cracked my first ultra

I could not have asked for anything better, it was a dream run all the way. One of my best races till date, despite the really long distance, the aches and pains suffered were controllable during the run, though I had to resort to lot of walking at different stages after the half way mark.

I had a dream start, actually the best part was the first half in the Bangalore Ultra marathon 2007's 78km run. This was despite of the fact that I had not been able to run properly for the last 2.5 weeks thanks to injuries/strains due to the heavy training (60-70km weeks) during the last couple of months. But, the rest period and training worked for me today. I also need to thank my stars for having found a perfect pacer during the entire first half of the run. I owe big time to Nischal, the only female runner in the list of 16 participant for the 78km run. She had trained extremely well for the Bangalore Ultra marathon 2007, doing 80km weeks and some hard back to back weekend runs, and thanks to her I was able to set a very good pace for the first half and use the saved time during the second half which was extremely hard.

I completed the 78km run in 11hrs 07minutes, I could not have asked for anything more. Especially given the hot and sunny weather in Bangalore, it was nowhere close to the 24degress centigrade as forecast by weather bureau. It was closer to 28 and the sun was really hard.

For the next week or so, its going to be some well deserved rest after a hard Bangalore Ultra marathon. And then I will start my preparation for Mumbai marathon, I might just do a Sub 4hr run, this ultra has given my confidence a huge boost. Hopefully I will find a super pacer to help me achieve it (I have been lucky during the last two marathons (one being a ultra), need it one more time!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The day has come - Bangalore Ultramarathon 2007

I have finally made it to Bangalore Ultra marathon in one piece. My body ache has disappeared but the cold and cough is very much there. Just hoping my legs feel normal tomorrow morning atleast for the first 30kms.
Time to sleep and get ready for my run.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Testing times...

Its been a tough week. I have rested most of the week but am still not back to normal. Mid week I got on to a five day course of Vevoron SR 100, its a mild painkiller and anti inflammatory medicine. The rest and medication seemed to have worked quite well and I decided to go for a light run on Saturday for 6kms. It felt as if I was running after ages, but there was no sign of any strain (except for some mind pain on the joint near the outside of my right knee).

I followed it up with a light 11km run on Sunday morning, which should ideally have been a normal run, but to my misfortune the pain of day before flared up and I had to alternate between running and walking to complete it. Did the 11km run in about 1hr 20mins. So now i am trying everything possible to 'repair' the joint pain, in time for my ultra. I badly need to ensure that I start the run injury free. I might run once during the week, just to get back to running and get used to my new shoe.

So will need to take care and I guess just be patient (plus a little bit of luck would not hurt). I am mentally all there, but I guess it now going to be one big mental battle on Dec 16, it will be a 12hr expedition now. My only aim would be to complete it, irrespective of the time it takes.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Rest and recovery week.

The strain of the last few weeks, finally started to affect my legs. I did a 13km run on Wednesday, but could not run anything after that. I had to rest completely for the next few days. But, there was no way I could not run on Sunday as my Sunday is not complete without it.

I did a easy paced 12km run in about 1hr 20minutes. Legs were not feeling too good, during the run, but completed the run quite comfortably. 13km runs now feel like walk in the park, with or without injury/strain!!

I also immediately bought myself a new pair of shoes, this time went in for Reebok DMX road running shoes, instead of my regular Adidas Nova (as it was out of stock). So that should provide additional cushioning for my future runs and help me both for the Ultra and the following Mumbai marathon.

I will need to take extra care during the next two weeks, before the ultra marathon. I will need to run, but don't think i will do more than 13km at a time. I hope my legs recover quickly, as I need to break into my new shoes before the ultra. So some interesting days in store for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

a 59km week.

This week was not as exciting as the last few weeks. I managed three 13km weekday runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, followed by a 20km on Sunday. I wanted to do a another 70km during the week, but could not make that happen due to strain of the last few weeks. I need to take a break for a few days but rest my legs and get them back into action soon, esp. the right calf. This week is going to be a bit of challenge, as I don't think I will be able to do the 3 weekday runs.

The good thing is that I have done combination Saturday & Sunday runs, for the last few weeks, which should help me for the ultra.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

64km week

Given the fact that i did 71km last week, makes this weeks 64km extra special. Its a sign that my legs are able to manage the additional punishment successfully. I hope I can manage another week with 65-70km.

This week I managed three 13km runs on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and followed it with a 25km run this Sunday. So it feels good having done two back to back runs of 13km and 25km over the weekend. The Saturday 13km was the quickest one, I managed it in 1hr 18mins 42seconds (what better way to celebrate ones Birthday!), I usually manage a 1hr 20min run.(it actual distance must be closer to 13.5km but since I am not sure i will take it as 13km). Today was a tough one as I had a late night on Saturday, so I ended up starting my run at around 9am, which is very late. The only one I have to thank is the weather for allowing me to do the 2hr 30mins run.

I have finally managed to send my registration form for the Bangalore ultra. The last date for sending entries is Nov 31, 2007. So almost everything seems to be in place now. I also registered for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, the registrations began on November 15, 2007 and will continue till December 10, 2007.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Three runs in four days & a 71km week

The final run of the week was tough. I had a slightly stiff right calf in the morning before start of the run, and I was skeptical about how much I would be able to do today. Things were not good during the first 45minutes of the run but after that things started to improve and eventually I was able to do about 21kms in 2hr 6mins, with a little huff and a puff. Yesterday's run was a lot easier, although the weather on both days was more or less similar. The only problem with yesterdays run was that I was chased by a stray dog on two occasions, even though I had started pretty late in the day - 8am. I did not initially realise why they were hostile, but afterwards realised that they had gone through a lot of pain the previous night (with diwali fire crackers - which tend to be very noisy) and this had irritated them a lot and brought out their aggressive side. I was the innocent victim and it was quite scary.

With this 21km, I have managed 37.5km over the last two days, which is quite close to the 40km target I had set for myself. And the week's total has again hit another all time high of 71km.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Long weekend continues...

I did better than expected today. Did a 16.5km run in 1hr 41mins, which was more than what I had hoped to have done. The weather today was a lot bearable, significantly better than what Bombay has seen for the last one week. Hope tomorrow it behaves the same way.

So my week's tally is now gone unto 50Kms, (Monday 7.5km, Wednesday 13km, Thursday 13km, Sat 16.5), I hope to do a 20km plus run tomorrow, If I can do a 25km run it would be a dream 75km week, something I badly need for my preparation. Hoping for the best. This is the best opportunity for me to do a high mileage week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Is Red Bull and Gatorade bad for health???

I have had a lot of people ask me if drinking Red Bull and Gatorade is good for health. Some of them have read some research pieces which state that energy drinks like Red Bull and Electrol drinks like Gatorade, are not good for health.

My answer to them has been a yes and a no. But before I start, the most important thing to note is that these are not social drinks, these are for endurance athletes or in some cases for dehydration patients. You are not suppose to have this when you hit a party or hang out with friends.

Let me give my example to explain this point, the only time I have a energy drink is when I have done a long run, its the way I reward myself once a week. Energy drink is not something I have at social occasions, its better to have a soft drink which has empty calories than a energy drink (soft drinks/sodas are avoidable as well, but they are a lesser evil, its always better to settle for some fresh fruit juice or lime juice!). The problem does not occur with the first glass of energy drink (read Red Bull, Edge....), its when you hit the second and third drink. These are very high sugar drinks, which only a endurance athlete can stomach and burn, not meant for everybody (once in a while is ok, but should not be habitual). Its really sad to see F1 drivers drinking a energy drink before the start of a race, absolutely avoidable. I would not recommend having it during your exercise routine, its not a hydration drink (remember!!), the only time you can afford to have it is after a workout, when a good sugar burst makes you feel a better.

Another very disturbing trend is when I see people mixing Red Bull and Vodka. That is a complete no no, its a deadly combination. Alcohol is a depressant and Red Bull gives you a sugar boost, so the drink pulls you in different direction and is completely avoidable. Most people do not even realise what they are doing to their bodies, when they have this combination. There are enough research articles to support this point of view.

Now coming to Gatorade or similar hydration drinks, these are not really substitutes for water or softdrinks, they have salts which in excess can cause imbalance in your body's water retention (it gets more complicated if you have problems with your blood pressure). These are again meant for athletes and are good after facing some really hot and muggy climate. And are again meant to be had in moderation. Soft drinks which give you empty calories (and which damage your enamel) do not result in any imbalance even if you have 1.5liters at one go, but a similar quantity of Gatorade (without loss of fluids) can result in a big imbalance in body water & salt levels.

Enjoying the long weekend....

This long Diwali weekend, is something I was really looking forward to and badly needed. Just not having to do anything, catching up on sleep and basically having a well deserved break is very welcome. This has also meant that now I finally have some time to catch up on my blog, online social networks, catching up with friends and family and everything else which was a little neglected. And yes catching up on telly as well.

Hard fought runs..

Did manage the 13km run yesterday in about 1hr 26mins, which included having to walk for about half a kilometer, just to recover from the heat. I had to take this break inbetween inspite of having carried a Gatorade bottle, that should be a good indicator of the heat & humidity (I was drenched in about 25mins). Just waiting for the weather to improve (significantly), as I have two runs coming up over the weekend. Hope to do atleast 40km over the two days, if the weather allows me to do that!!

It a big change, having to fight weather instead of injuries. But, I don't really have a choice, have to log my miles and ensure that I put in decent preparation for the Ultra on December 16, 2007. The weather in Bangalore is going to be lot better than Bombay, the average temperature high is 26degree C (79F) & a low of 16degree C (60F)(on December 16, 2007). Bombay currently has a max temperature of 34degree C, so I am going to have a 8degree C, drop for the Ultra.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time to pickup the pace

As I had predicted the mileage last week has been low. I managed a 13Km run on Tuesday, followed by a 7.5km run on Thursday and another 7.5km run on Sunday (the Sunday run was quite hard as I was doing it at a hill station, with steep slopes), totaling 28km. The Thursday and Sunday runs were in two different cities, where the weather was very pleasant and I could easily have done twice that distance only if I had more time on my hands.

This week has been better, Monday I did a 7.5km run (followup to the Sunday run) and did a 10km run yesterday. Yesterday was very tough as the weather in Bombay has been quite horrible (and that is an understatement), so I was not able to do my planned 13kms. I hope to do a 13km today, even if the weather continues to be hot and muggy.

Next four days should be a lot easier to catchup on some running, as its the long diwali weekend. For me its going to be three days as I need to catchup with some meetings during the first half of the day today.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Super Sunday..

Its been one hell of a great Sunday, I did a 26km run (2hrs 34mins), from home till Churchgate station and it was not too much of an effort. So that takes my weekly tally to 65km, another alltime high. Next Goal would be to take it to 70km mark and eventually get down to doing a 80+km mileage, which should help me get ready for the Ultra. My start time was 7.30am today, exactly the same time that the Delhi Half marathon started, what a coincidence. So even though I was not in Delhi today, I made up for it with a good effort in Bombay.

I have moved a few steps closer to the Ultra marathon, have made by bookings for the event. Would be going to Bangalore on December 15 evening and returning on December 17 noon. So now the only thing left is my preparation...

Next week is going to be hectic as it has a lot of traveling, so a 60+km week looks next to impossible. Will try and make up for it by doing shorter run with greater frequency.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Getting things back on track

This week has been a lot better for me. I managed to do my 3 weekday runs of 13km each. Did them in good time, about 1hr 20mins each. The only problem being my third run of the week, which was today, in addition to one on Tuesday and Thursday. This will mean I will have to do my Sunday run immediately, without a break. I need to do atleast a 25km run tomorrow, hope my legs handle it well. If I do that then that will be another all time high.

Tomorrow also happens to be The Vodafone Delhi half marathon. I had registered for it, but could not make it as it was too short a distance, given my prep for the ultra marathon. Plus life has been quite hectic, so another trip is definitely avoidable. This will be the first professionally organised marathon (or half marathon) in India, which I will be missing. Feeling a little sad and today I get a feeling that maybe I should have gone for the marathon, just to ensure continuity... but then one also needs to learn to move on in life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Repeat week...

This weekend has been almost identical to the previous one. I managed to do only a 13km run on Wednesday, followed by a 21km run today (in 2hrs 2mins). Need to pull up my socks and get back to the 60km a week range, as I have less than 2 months to get ready for the Ultra on December 16.

This week has been very eventful and hectic, lotsa late nights, plus tons of work. The only thing missing was sleep, finally managed to catchup some on Saturday night, which meant I had a late start on Sunday, thankfully nature had some mercy, it was not humid and the weather was pleasant. Plus as an added bonus it was nice to see everyone in their best outfits, enjoying the Dussera festival, have never seen so many people outside on the streets on a Sunday morning (dressed in their finest).

This week saw the launch of FHM in India, the best men's magazine finally comes to India. The online offering of FHM, www.fhmindia.com was also launch on the same day. For more on the launch party visit http://www.fhmindia.in/site/content/article.aspx?ID=25118

Sunday, October 14, 2007

uneventful week...

This week has not been very eventful in terms of running. Managed only 34kms during the week. Did one 13km run during the week and a 21km run today. Todays half marathon distance was quite easy and effortless, mainly due to the weather in Bangalore, its so much easier running in this weather compared to Bombay. I did the distance in 2hrs 2 minutes. Humidity is so much lower, temperature around 25degree celcius, it felt completely effortless. I could have done a 42km run, if I had more time and hydration. Hope to do a short 7km run on Monday morning as well, to try and make up on some lost miles of the current week.

It always nice to have a break from running in Bombay, especially when the weather is so much better in the new city.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The 60K mark...

I was finally able to hit the 60k mark last week, did three 13k runs during the week followed by a 21k run on Sunday. This was my first 60k run, well maybe the second.

This week has not been so good, a hectic work schedule combined with some very severe cold, meant I was only able to run today. I did a 13km run in about 1hr 22mins. Some traveling coming up with over the weekend and next week is also likely to be packed. So will have to make time to manage a decent weekly mileage, which means sacrificing a little bit of my precious sleep. But, the travel will break the monotony of my regular run, so I look forward to it.

Will take a break again on Friday, as I have had a long day and need some rest, as the cold is still quite severe. Hope to do a long run on Sunday.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The important leap..

Its been a long time since I have been regular with my blog, need to get back in action.

I have been taking it easy during last week, as I did not want to push my legs too much. But I badly needed to take that leap to 60K per week mark, and did not have time to follow the 10% rule (but over a 3-4week period, it will end up being a 10% weekly increment). Followed my 20k run with a 13k run on Thursday. But, did manage to do a 20k run on Sunday, which was definitely required, in exactly 2 hours. I have recovered quite well from that run, so tomorrow should not be too difficult. Hopefully I should be able to do three 13k runs during the week, followed by a 25k run on Sunday.

The next target would be to do some back to back long runs, say 13k on saturday followed by 30k on Sunday. But this will take some time...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Schedule almost on track...

I was able to almost stick to the planned schedule last week. Managed another 13km run on Friday, to complete three weekday runs and followed it up with a 19km run on Sunday (which was quite a strain as my body is still to get used to the higher weekly milage, its gone up from 40-45km range to 60km range a week). I was able to complete the week with 58km, almost achieving the 60km target.

Looking forward to having another similar week. The start has been good, today did a 12.5km run, experimenting with another route to work and also managed a 8km run in the evening. So the total distance of the day is 20.5km. Today was a good day to add some extra mileage, as I was able to leave work early today, to beat the traffic jams arising out of Ganesha festivity (immersion of idols in the sea). Hope to do two more 13km runs during the week and a 20+ run on Sunday, if all goes well.

The going has been tough, trying to step up my weekly mileage, my legs are feeling the strain, esp. my shins. I hope they settle down quickly to the additional workload without breaking down!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Memorable day..

I could not have asked for a better day. As planned I did my first run of the week, 13km in 1hr 22minutes. After that it was like any other regular day, I hoped to do two more runs during the week, one each on Friday and Saturday. As I was about to leave for the day, one of my colleagues told me that today was the 5th day of Ganpati festival (which means bad traffic as people celebrate on the streets, during Visarjan (immersion of the Ganesha idol). It suddenly struck me that I had my running gear with me thanks to the morning run and I could actually run on my way back home (and not sweat it out in traffic). I decided to arm myself with a nice neat carbohydrate snack and then took off for home. I did the return journey in 1hr 22mins 30secs. This was my first back to back 10+km run on the same day, it felt really good doing 26kms today in two splits.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

As planned I managed to do my Sunday run, did about 20km in about 1hr 55minutes. This was my first run from town to Shivaji Park, as I had stayed over at a friends's place in Town. So I took the longest possible route to get to Shivaji Park, ran the entire marine drive stretch, worli sea face and Cadell road. The run was quite effortless and would have done a lot more.

My legs are feeling a little stiff after two continuous days of running, hope the recover in time for my Tuesday run, failing which I will have to postpone it to Wednesday. The only thing which is worrying me is if my shins and calves can get used to the higher workload quickly. Will need to keep a close watch, to ensure that I don't over train.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Long weekday runs continue...

Did my second office run on Thursday, did the 12.5km distance (it was shorter than the earlier one as I was experimenting with a shorter route) in about 1hr 23mins, which is quite good given that I was recovering from a minor injury. Don't think I will take this route again, at the traffic tends to be a little too fast for my liking, even though the road is lot broader and is minus potholes and parked cars.

I followed it up today (Saturday) with another 15km run in about 1hr 30min. Hope to finally end the week with a 20km run. Which should take the Week's mileage to 48km. So with one additional long weekday run, I should get to the 60+km a week league.

It was nice to see festive spirit in Bombay on my Saturday run, it was a holiday in Bombay as people were preparing for the Ganesha festival. I was also cheered by lot of people which I was running, always nice to see that.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend retreat run

Its been a few very eventful days. It started off with my first run to work on Thursday, I did the 13.5km run in about 1hr 20min. It was quite refreshing and adventurous and I look forward to making it a regular feature.

After that I was off for a weekend break to Baroda, I was hoping to run on both the days but managed to do it only on Sunday, did a good 12km run in about 1hr 10mins. After the run as I was cooling down and stretching and getting ready for my tender coconut snack, I had one of the guys (who was walking in the park, who was about 30years) come up to me, asking me how I was just going on continiously for over an hour running. Its always nice to feel special, decided not to give him a preachy explanation and just gave him a very big thank you smile (the commment was quite understandable as I have never seen anyone run more than a kilometer in the park).

Everything went off perfectly, except for a minor calf injury. So now will have to rest for a couple of days and then get back to my long weekday runs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I had a good 13k run in some perfect weather, perfect way to start a holiday. Not exactly perfect for most, as it was raining more than half the way, but I could not have asked for anything better for myself. I did the run in about 1hr 16mins, which is quite good given that this is the first time I am doing two 10+km run (17k and 13K) in quick succession. The most important run will be on Thursday when I hope to do another 13k run, my first office run.

That should set me up for some well deserved weekend break away from Bombay. Looking forward to running outside Bombay over the weekend.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chuk De India - a rocking flick

Started on time but the weather made things really difficult. I was one of the most humid days and it took a heavy toll, I was totally drained after the first hour and the 20K run was looking impossible. I decided to walk for a few minutes to get some energy back and then with some effort managed a 17k run in about 1hr 50mins. In the end it was a satisfying effort.

I hope to make up for this by having a good long run on Tuesday (its a Holiday!!), a good 12+km run, which should set me up for a some good weekly mileage.

The highlight of the day was a movie, which was long overdue. I usually would not write about a movie on the blog, as that is not what its about. But this was one hell of a movie related to sports, which is highly recommended for all sportsperson, it has everything team spirit, importance of training, equality for women, there is life beyond Cricket and some amazing film making. Chuk De India, is a movie on how a rag tag Indian women's hockey team, coached by a disgraced ex-hockey India captain, wins the world cup. Its one movie which I hope to watch a few times. The only other sports film which I really like is Goal (English movie).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great start to a new week

Could not have asked for anything better after a horrible last week. I took the first to day of the week easy, actually I was lazy. But the last two days have been good and did 7.5km runs on both days in a decent time of 43-44mins. Hope to do another 7.5km run tomorrow, which will make it the first time when I have successfully done three successive 7.5km runs. Now I just need to top it off with a good long run on Sunday. It will then setup the stage for my long 13km weekday runs to work, which are scheduled for September.

I have been doing some free hand exercises for strengthening the upper body and thighs, so that should also help during my long runs.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tough week ends..

Its been a hard week, for more reasons than one & thankfully it wass not due to injuries... I managed to run only 3 times during the week, 7.5km, 6km & 6km. And then followed it up with a hard 11km run on Sunday (in 1hr 5min with two breaks, as breathing was difficult). Hope the run help me clear my lungs, as I was down with massive cold and the traveling during the week did not help my cause.

Looking forward to a much better new week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Time to step up a gear...

Was not able to run too much on Sunday as I started after 9am, did only 12kms. I need to ensure that I start early, at around 7am for my long runs. I followed it up with a 7.5km run on Tuesday and 6km run today. Hope to run again on Thursday and Friday, followed by a 20km run on Sunday.

I have also realised that to improve my weekly mileage I will have to do longer weekday runs, but given the times constraints during mornings, the only way I can do it is by running to work. So starting September I hope to run about 3times a week to work, the distance is about 13km, so three runs would give me 40km plus a half marathon or more would give me upwards of 60km for the week. I hope to get to the 60-75km range as soon as possible, to prepare for my ultra marathon. I also need to get used to wearing a knapsack during my runs, something which is almost inevitable for any ultramarathon, esp. the multi stage ultras, so the sooner I get used to it the better. Need to get used to the strap rubbing against the back and shoulders!! Though the Bangalore ultra does not requires runners to carry anything on person.

So lotsa new things planned for September and am looking forward to it.

Steal from the soldier

"Steal from the Solder" is a story that appeared in the recent issue (dated Aug 27, 2008) of Outlook magazine, India's leading news magazine. It just made me feel so much better when I read it.

I used to go for practice runs inside Leh, during the run up to the GTM marathon and would regularly bump into Army jawans. Some of these guys were interested in distance running, and I would ask them why they were not participating in GTM, as I am sure the organisers would be more than willing to encourage them to participate (in return for some support on logistics & medical front). But these guys told us that they would not get any leave for these kind of things and that the Jawans were not encouraged to take up these activities (And then I realised that its only the Officers who are given facilities, support and concessions, to take up active sport during their army stint, the poor Jawan has no god fathers).

But during one of our discussions with these Jawans they also mentioned that most of the stuff esp. butter and Ghee (hydrogenated oil)and fresh vegetables sold in the Leh markets was pilfered goods (diverted to the open markets by high ranking officials of Army to make a quick buck) and that this has been continuing for years. He actually asked to visit the market and to check the food stuff that was being sold (as it would carry a stamp that its meant for military supplies) and to my horror it was true. I also noticed that lot of army jackets, shoes, etc were being sold through proper shops in Leh (and I ended up blaming the Jawans, assuming that they would have sold their new gear to supplement their meager income). But after reading the article in Outlook I realised that the equipment and gear being sold in the market was not through these poor Jawans, it is the high ranking officials (from the army) who are doing it.

When I heard about the sale of supplies meant for the army being sold in the open market, I felt so responsible for not allowing it to continue this way and especially being a part of the media industry, I felt this deserved a sting operation. But, when I returned from my Ladakh trip, this somehow slipped my mind (and I did not end up talking about it to any of my print and/or broadcast jurno friends, to check if such a story would interest them). Guess its so very convenient for all of us to forget these things. The Outlook story mentions that raids where conducted by Local police in Leh to unearth the massive scam which is to the tune of Rs.5000 cores (10 million makes a crore) and that the Army was cooperating fully with investigations. Nice to see that we still have systems in place to check these kind of activities and everything does not have to depend on sting operations or media to be unearthed.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some gems from the ladakh trip...

For more pictures on the ladakh trip visit www.greattibetanmarathon.blogspot.com These are some of the best....

The Thiksay monastery near Leh

Buddha at Thiksay Monastery

View from Thiksay Monastery

Both side along the Indus are extremely green, but everything else is completely barren

Dhabhas long the Manali-Leh route

What was the terrain for Great Tibetan Marathon like?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Successful Freedom Run

I had a very bad evening before my freedom half marathon run (Deonar to Babulnath, for those familiar with Bombay), nothing was going right, could not find some running accessories, slept late, realised that I had forgotten some important stuff at work, had lotsa work to catch up with.... I got up earlier than required as was a little stressed out. Was almost contemplating to abandon the Freedom run, but did not allow these thought to affect my plan, and I managed to start on time at 7.00am (scheduled start time).

Started off well and things were starting to look better and at the 6km mark a guy riding on a motorbike asked me if a marathon was going on (his words were Marathon laga hai kya?), I was almost tempted to ask - how did you know that?, but decided to give him one big wide smile. Those words made by day. And after that it was one smooth run, perfect rhythm. I could have gone on and on and on... The icing on the cake was a drizzle during the last 500meters of my race. Managed to do the 21km odd run in about 2hr 4mins, could not have asked for anything more.

Some other things which made the run special was the way Bombay was celebrating independence day. The patriotic spirit was everywhere, another refreshing changes was the use of patriotic songs everywhere (there were no remixes here, only original stuff), across some 8-10 flag hoisting procedures which I witnessed during the way. Most festivals in Bombay have been fully commercialized and would be usually accompanied by remixed songs and remixed bhajans/prayers, which is very disappointing. It was refreshing to see that this phenomenon had not touched independence day, I hope it stays this way.

Today I also registered myself for the Hutch Delhi half marathon, which takes place on October 28, 2007. I do not intend to prepare for it, but incase I am in Delhi during that time, I plan to run in it and not otherwise. So I thought it might be a good idea to register myself, incase I happen to make it. I can't really run a fast half marathon. The difference between my half marathon distance in a full marathon and a half marathon is negligible, just around 7 minutes or so, plus I don't feel motivated to actually work on improving my timing for it. I enjoy distances which truly challenge me and a full marathon is the bare minimum, Ultra marathons would really challenge me..

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Freedom Run coming up

I managed to run only twice this week, did 6km on both occasions and followed it up with a good Sunday run of 12kms in 1hr 10mins. I was not able to run on Friday and Saturday, as I was tied up a few things and had to stay up late (which meant I had to sacrifice the early morning run). The weather today was quite good, had two short rain bursts during the run, which made things quite effortless.

I plan to make up for it by doing a Freedom run, a half marathon from my house till Pedder Road, Bombay on Wednesday, August 15, 2007, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of India's Independence. And if I feel good enough, I will follow it up with a swim. Am looking forward to my first good long run after the Great Tibetan Marathon on July 21, 2007.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Weekday runs start again..

I had a good run today of 6km, did it in a decent time of 34minutes. I am feeling quite good after the run, though it will still take sometime to get into a rhythm.

The weather is good for running, pleasant with a decent sprinkling of rain, something I really like. The only thing I now need to do is to be regular with my weekly run. I also need to start some sort of cross training, which will be swimming and some freehand exercises.

People I met at Great Tibetan Marathon....

Well if the achievement of having run a full marathon at 3500m altitude was not enough, I also got to meet some very interesting ‘superbeings’.

I met a Danish journalist who had completed about 110-120marathons over the years, a German translator who had done 50+ marathons (including 14 marathons in this calender year, plus two successful Marathon Des sables (MDS), and she is planing to do many more...) and a Spanish aeronautical engineer who has been in India since January this year, having successfully cycled all over Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Leh (via Manali), he actually managed to do Manali leh route (across 5 mountain passes) in less than a week, which is an average of about 75km per day over the duration, with altitude reaching over 5000meters. I met a group of four cyclists who had also done the Manali - leh trip on a bicycles over a ten day trip (it was a mix of a commercial pilot, a mountain gear distributor and cycling specialists, after the tough biking trip, they also successfully completed the half marathon). I also made two amazing friends (one was a quality champion from Hyderabad and another was a Tech wiz from Bangalore) whom I had met through my blog. They had joined me to participate in the full marathon event, we were the only three Indians (excluding ladakhi local runners) to participate & successfully complete the full marathon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Great Tibetan marathon finish & start line pictures

I ran the entire marathon with the hat. It would have been impossible to run without it (caps are just not good enough, you need total protection, plus ofcourse a good pair of sun glasses). The sun was very harsh, thanks to the high altitude and clear sky (there is zero atmospheric dust).

We were given Medals immediately after we crossed the finishline, which made things really special. My whole body was aching thanks to the hammering from the terrain & the mid-day sun.

Detailed Leh map (not to scale)

The start line at Hemis monastery

The finish line at stok monastery. Me along with Jiten (from organising team), Sandeep & Nagarajan

First long run after GTM

I just about managed to complete my Sunday long run of 11km in about 1hr 4mins. It was quite painful and hard (a really big effort!!), need to start my weekly runs from this week, to regain my rhythm. Tomorrow seems like a good time to start...

I am yet to get over my Leh trip, trying to reconnect with friends I made there. Will write more on them in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Week after the marathon..

Its been a hectic week after the marathon. It took me a few days to recover fully after the marathon, thanks to the lack of adequate preparation for the marathon (courtesy the thigh injury). Plus I had a tough time catching up with all the work after the long break. I actually needed a weekend rejuvenation break to get back to normal.

I went for a weekend trip to a hill station near Bombay called Chiplun(300km from Bombay). The resort had everything in place to ensure that one had a very comfortable and relaxing time. I Am still continuing with my break from running. Though I did try and give running a shot, tried running on the hotel Gym and had to quit the treadmill in exactly 3 minutes (it was in real bad shape), but I did make up for it by going for a 3.5km on the beach, a good portion of the run was in the rain, which made things truly wonderful.

Have frozen on my next target - its to experiment and participate in the first Ultra marathon in India. It a 80km run in Bangalore, sometime in December '07. I hope to start running again in the next few days. After meeting some really wonderful and inspiring people at the GTM, I hope to do the MDS (Marathon Des Sables) sometime in the future (distant future). The Bangalore ultra marathon will be a good indicator to tell me if I am equipped to even attempt something like the MDS. Visit http://www.darbaroud.com/index_uk.php for more.

Its a mother of all endurance ultra marathon events. Marathon Des Sables (MDS) is run over the sand dunes of the Sahara. It covers about 220kms over seven days, with average temperature of 40+ degree Celsius & complete Food self-sufficiency (minimum of 2k calories per day) for the duration of the race (plus obligatory equipment (survival blanket, sleeping bag, compass, whistle etc.), which has to be carried on person from day one. The only thing that will be provided by the organizers will be 9liters of water a day & a public tent at the end of each stage over the 6 stage race!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Successful completion of Great Tibetan Marathon 2007

I was not able to post yesterday after the marathon, due to poor connectivity in Leh.
I am now back in Bombay after a super 10day eventful trip.

I successfully completed the Great Tibetan marathon 2007 on Saturday July 21, 2007. I did the 26mile run with a official time of 5hr 36min (it should have ideally been 5hr 20mins, if I had not done the last 2km twice, due to lack of adequate directions at one point, but am not complaining). To give some context, the best time was 3hr 24min by a danish runner & most were about 45mins off their personal bests. The run was truly out of the world, especially the last 7kms, which was a run across sand, streams, meadows, pebbles over a mud track, ..... and all through there were mountains all around you (and a amazing mix of barren landscape and the greenery along the Indus river).

This was the race where my mental toughness was at its very best and I could not have had it any better. There were so many variables which made things difficult (high altitude between 3800-3400mts), mind fever (guess it was more out of anxiety, as did not feel a thing during the run), hard desert sun (first time in my life I had to wear a sunscreen, to protect myself from getting burnt), extremely dry desert climate & my nagging inner thigh injury which flared up after the 22km mark.

The three things that make this marathon truly memorable is the amazing never ending beauty of the barren ladhakhi landscape, the super mind over body effort (the marathon felt quite easy..... and I thought it was one of the ten most difficult marathons in the world!!) and interaction with some amazing human beings (people who truly epitomize mind over matter phenomenon).

Will be writing more on the trip in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Am off for GTM, Leh

Was able to go for a 6km run on Monday but not on Tuesday, as had to catchup on a lot of things at work, before I left for my trip. But I hope to make up for it by running on Thursday in Manali.

My legs seem to be good shape and I am looking forward to my trip to Leh. After making some enquires I have found that I will be able to have mobile phone connectivity in this remote location. I hope this means I will also be able to have data connection (using gprs) and will be able to keep in touch with my emails and also to put up short posts on the blog, incase cyber cafe access is limited. I will try and post regularly on my blog, during the course of my trip.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back in Bombay and running...

This week has been as I had planned it to be. So am quite happy with what I have done in my preparation for the marathon, plus as a bonus my thigh strain seems to have recovered.

Managed to run thrice during the week. Monday, Tuesday and Friday, managed to do 7.5km, 6km and 7km respectively. Including the 7km run in a hotel gym, did not have a choice as I was staying in the central part of the city and it would not have been possible to run outside and did not really have time to find a suitable place to run. But the hotel gym had a good treadmill, more importantly it was well maintained and worked smoothly.

I recovered over Saturday, with some peaceful 12hr sleep, after some hectic back to back traveling. And was in great shape for my Sunday morning long run. I started a little late, could afford it as the conditions were overcast (though no rain and humidity at a pleasant 70-75%). I did a good 20km run in exactly 2hrs, I could not have asked for more.

I hope to follow-up it up with a run on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a run or two in Manali on July 12 (one in the morning and another in the evening). I just found out that I will not be able to take the bus from Manali - Leh on July 12, as they ply on alternate days and July 12 is the day on which the bus does not ply. What this means is that I will have to take a taxi from Manali to Leh, and it starts at 2am in the morning and drives non-stop to Leh. The Bus journey is lot more fun as you have a overnight halt at some place in the middle. But, I really don't have too much of a choice on this.

I am all set to take my bus journey from Delhi to Manali (could not book it online as the site did not work properly), so will directly go to the bus station and book my tickets. From what I hear it should not be a problem getting one. So everything seems to be in place, but have still not got any confirmation on my bookings for Leh stay (my one day at Manali was in place about 2 months back), I hope to hear from my contact on Monday. Till then I don't really have a choice and will have to be patient.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Yesterday adventure details...

I got up quite early hoping to go for my Sunday run by 7.30am, but to my surprise I just shut my eyes for a couple of minutes after my stretching exercises, and when I opened them, it was 9am. The overcast conditions saved me, as I started by run at 9.30am. I guess yesterdays adventure took its toll on me.

I had a good run of 12km in about 1hr 12mins, did not want to push myself further, as am not sure if my legs are back to normal. But the good thing is that I managed to do 36kms this week, which is not bad at all, and the thigh pain (at start of the run) has not increased. I hope to do a 20km next Sunday, if everything goes well. Have some hard traveling next week, but still hope to manage my weekday runs, as am running out of time in my preparation for the marathon.

Just read the papers today and realized that there were many people like me trapped in a airplane for between 3-5hrs, waiting for the plane to take off. Not that it makes me feel any better, but it was not so bad. The in flight crew handled the situation quite well, including the tempers of some nasty passengers. Its really strange when people protest and create a scene just for the heck of it, they can clearly peep outside their window and see that visibility is close to zero (he won't even be able to find the runway in this weather), but they still want to create a scene. What happened to being human, just because you want to blow steam/throw a fit, you just like to take off on someone??? I had to come to the rescue of one of the crew, who has being battered by a irate passenger. It was interesting watching/observing people over the three odd hours that I was there as I arrived late, got my 1am flight brought forward to the 10.15am which was scheduled for take off at 11.30am when I got in at 11am(most others were on the plane for upto 3.5 hours), getting restless, making calls, talking loudly....... nobody just sitting back and having a nap or reading. Guess uncertainty makes people restless, people just don't know how to accept reality/fate/facts and try & make the most of the situation. Why not just take it as a new experience and enjoy it??

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eventful day...

I had a very interesting day today. I changed my clothes half a dozen times during the day. The first was when I changed for my run in the morning (managed to do my 6km run in some really nasty weather, it was pouring and there was water logging at certain places), second was for getting to work (I got badly drenched, had to walk, run, take multiple modes of transport to finally get to work, including lotsa wading through knee length water, third was when i got to work and changed again to catch my flight for a work trip, fourth was when I changed on the plane, getting myself ready for some tough weather, fifth was when I got back to office - substantially drenched and the sixth was when I got home late in the evening, after watching a super flick - Die Hard 4, just love the attitude of Bruce... a true cult movie (well series, could watch them over and over again) and this time I was partially drenched as the rain & water logging had subsided.

The highlight of the day was sitting on a plane for 3 hours and finding out that I had to deplane after the long wait as there was no chance in hell for it to take off. The tarmac had ankle length water at places and the visibility was almost zero, Bombay was truly submerged, Again, but it was a first for this season. Bombay is not complete without having its major roads and junctions submerged atleast once a year.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Progress report...

I have managed to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 6kms each. My thighs still don't feel normal, but I can manage to run without too much discomfort. Since I am doing only short runs it should not be too much strain. Am traveling again tomorrow, but will still manage a run on Sunday (not a long run but some run!!). So that will mean about 5 runs this week, which is not so bad. Some more traveling coming next week as well, but will still try and do my 5 runs during next week, a good long run on next Sunday is a must.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shivaji Park, pre and post morning showers

These were pictures clicked on my Camphone at Shivaji Park, at 9am in the morning on June 24, 2007 after my run.

The above two pictures were clicked around 10.30am at the same place. A clear demonstration of the excellent drainage system at the grounds. I guess its more natural than a man made drainage system.

Monsoon fury in Bombay on June 24, 2007

Bunch of people camping on National highway. They were preparing a quick snack & having a blast early in the morning, next to their Bus.

Monsoon fury, tens of trees had fallen all over BOmbay thanks to the gail force winds & continuous rains. This is the picture of a tree at King Circle.

Man made and natural streaks in the sky

Jet in the sky..... leaving a trail

Sun piercing through the clouds...

Cologne pictures..

This is the most popular monument at Cologne, close to the main train station of this exhibition city. Found it on the memory card of the phone, don't think I have posted it earlier.