Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Official timings at Mumbai marathon....

I finally received the timing certificate from the Mumbai marathon organisers.

My final official finish time was 4hr 22min 13 seconds. The splits were as follows -
14.1km - 1:14:24 @ 11.22km/hr
23.2km - 2:05:12 @ 10.44km/hr
32.5km - 3.07:57 @ 8.53km/hr
Finish - 4:22:13 @ 7.47km/hr

So as you can see the final leg is what killed the excellent pace set during the first half of the run. The pattern is quite similar to the way I ran the Singapore run (it was aconscious decision and with the Bombay heat this was the only option). So had I been able to run the last stretch (beyond 32.5km at the earlier pace of about 9km per hour, I could have easily finished with a time of sub 4hr 10mins (only if that silly knee pain had not happened). But, there is always a next time and I plan to make the most of it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

All good things come to an end...

And so does my weekend holiday. Though I did manage to restart running after the Mumbai Marathon on Saturday. Did about 7km run in a little over 35minutes, it felt good, thought my calf muscles felt a little strained. Was planning to go for another run on Sunday but decided against it, as I wanted to be lazy.... on a pleasant Sunday morning.

Had a very relaxed and chilled out relaxed weekend and am now refreshed to get back to the fast pace of Bombay. But the tough part will actually start before the weekend ends. As I need to take a train at 3.30am in the morning so that I can get to work before 9am, all thanks to the fact that most Bombay also wanted to have a relaxed weekend in Baroda over the Republic day holidays (and this was despite the fact that I had booked my tickets 2 months in advance, and this was the only option available).

Friday, January 26, 2007

Republic day weekend

Its been quite a few hectic days after the Bombay marathon, but now am enjoying my long awaited break away from Bombay in Vadodara (Baroda). I have not been running all week, first few days I had some really sore muscles and later on I was either traveling or just unable to get enough sleep. I am all refreshed now and hope to go for my first, fresh run tomorrow morning at Kamati Garden in Baroda, this is the most happening parks, its full of fitness enthusiasts who get up early in the morning for a walk/run.

Its always fun running in a new city, as its a welcome change from the usual route, I take on a regular running day. The weather here is quite pleasant, and not cold as I would have liked it to have been, but definitely a lot better than Bombay.

The city has changed a lot since the last time I visited, and that was about a year back. Lotsa malls and new eating joints coming up now, guess the retail boom has finally caught on in tier 2 cities as well (esp. my favorite coffee shops, they seem to have sprung up all over the place!).

I will be taking some interesting pictures in Vadodara and will be posting them on my blog after my return, along with Mumbai marathon pictures. I only wish I had clicked more pictures during the actual race - Mumbai marathon, but I got some good pics pre event, which try to capture the spirit and scale of the marathon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

4hr 22min in Mumbai Marathon 2007

I had a decent run in the 4th Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon (2007). I did a time of 4hr 22min 12seconds and was able to shave off about 7minutes of my Singapore time, but it was higher than my target time of 4hr 15mins.

On the face of it, it looks like a good effort, but what makes it a little disappointing is the fact that I did my best half marathon time of about 1hr 53min during the run, which should have meant a comfortable finish of under 4.15hrs. Only if my left knee had held up, it started troubling me from the 25km mark, which ensured that I could not run continiously and had to mix it up with some walking & stopping. The only other thing that i had to contend with was the heat, it was hot and that is putting it mildly (the computer systems of the organisers collaped due to the heat and they could not give the timing certificate after finish - this was the first time they were unable to give it immediately, that should give you a good idea of our (runners) plight!!).

I managed the weather quite well, my body was behaving perfectly (even after the run, there was not one sore muscle and no back pain which happened after the Singapore marathon), I was feeling metally tough, the gatorade (was carrying two to start) and Power bar energy gels (they are the best) were giving me good nourishment, only if my knee had not troubled me (this was the first time when it had given trouble) I could have easily done a time of 4hr 10mins.

I need to thank a couple of people, one was a very young international pariticipant (must be barely 18, as that was the minimum age) who was continiously running at the same pace for a 4hr 30min finish from start (was a perfect pacer, not official though - Though i wish they start having official pacers for Mumbai marathon from next year), I kept pace with her (though I sprinted toward the end) and ensured that I did not slip too much due to the injury, actually i would start running hard as soon as she would catch up and without her the 4hr 22min would not have been possible. Second was a friend of mine who got me a cold gatorade at Pedder Road at the right time - while returning - 3hr 30min mark (It was timed perfectly), this along with the Powerbar gels ensured that the nutrition bit was just perfect.

My preparation ensured that I had the physical ablity to run well (though intermetantly in second half) through the pain in the second half and the mental toughness after the Singapore marathon, helped me do a 4hr 22min despite the injury which occured mid way.

I will be aiming for a sub 4hr 10min time in the next Mumbai marathon, might revise it further (downwards), closer to the date next year.

Oganisation of Procam sucked....

I think this was the worst attempt of Procam in the last four years. Starting from the goodie bag pilferage, people who went on the second and third day just got 2 things in their bag, the late start (7.40am in a hot and humid Bombay) for the full marathon thanks to their commitment to make it tv live telecast friendly (we will need to start a online movement now to force them to have the full marathon start at 6.30am next year) - the heat today was killing, the water stations where present towards the end (but not sure what the experience of the 5+ hour finishers was), for the first time they were not able to give timing certificates (as the heat had killed their computer systems, can't imagine the plight of runners!!!), they had cut lot of corners or had become more greedy - the medal is not as good as last year, they did not give simple things like safety pins with the bibs, the marathon expo stalls were the worst in 4 years, there were very few mobile toilets on the route, and especially around the holding area (I could not find a single one, Singapore marathon as endless rows of loos at holding area).

I had a good run as I was carrying my own Gatorade and power bar gels which are a must (electrol is not good enough). But the biggest horror was the Rs.1000 deposit for the chip, how many people coming from smaller cities in the interiors of Maharashtra can afford this sort of deposit (if they can, then they can also afford to pay a higher entrance fee, and in return the organisers can give a finishers T-shirt, which is given in most marathons).

Hope to see a well organised marathon from Procam next year, the sponsors should pull them up!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

24hrs to go...

I did manage to get to World Trade Center yesterday (the marathon Expo), to collect my race bib and goodie bag. But the marathon Expo was a disappointment and that is an understatement.

The registration process took longer than even last time, and this was when I was the only person in the queue, at that time. But the biggest disappointment was the so called goodie bag which contained a sipper and (the bag) and nothing else, I am sure the orgaisers have been greedy and would have asked for a lot of money from companies which wanted to be a part of the goodie bag initiative. Also the quality of stalls, esp. the official clothes sponsor - Switcher, they had only one marathon t-shirt or mumbai marathon memorabilia, even those that were available were not available in all sizes and the quality of the material used also disappointed. The profile of stalls was more like a consumer fair instead of a sports carnival.

Overall in my opinion, the organisation and the experience was a lot better in the second year compared to the fourth one. So instead of going up the ladder the organisers seem to have gone downhill. Hope this does not extend to the actual marathon.......

I did finally go for a 6km easy run on Friday morning, just to check on my left calf and it seems to have returned back to normal. I am feeling good and am now focusing on just having a good run on Sunday. Will try to give by legs as much rest as possible for Saturday, so that they are fresh for Sunday.

Half marathon starts before full marathon in Mumbai Marathon

I believe the organisers continue to make the blunder second year in a row, by starting the half marathon at 6.40am and the full marathon an hour later at 7.40am. This must be the only marathon in the world where the half starts before the full (and definately the only run which takes place in a tropical country). I am sure the decision makers are not running in the marathon and don't know how it feels to run in bombay after 11am.

I actually tried to find out the reason for this decision (i originally thought it must be sponsor pressure or something like that), but I was horrified to hear the reason from one of the organisers - The inaguration ceremony has to take place along with the full marathon, and the chief guests can make it only by 7.30 (plus the factor that there will be natural sunlight at 7.30am), who the hell is interested in the inaguration ceremony and this definately should not be the reason for punishing serious runners.

The singapore marathon starts at 6am in the morning with the full marathon, incl. the inaguration ceremony drill or whatever that is and they do not seem to have any problems with organising that.
When will our organisers learn.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two more days to go...

My legs are still not feeling perfect but am sure they will be ready just in time for the marathon. Am following a ideal food and sleep routine, accumulating all the calories (sounds strange, doesn't it!!)

I will be going tomorrow to pickup my race bib and to check the marathon Expo, hope its better than what its been in the previous years. I only wish they had a true sports apparal & footwear company as a sponsor instead of Switcher who are more into fashion than fitness. The Delhi marathon expo is a lot better than the Bombay one, hope they decide to prove me wrong.

I need to take a much deserved break after the marathon, so will be taking off over the Republic day weekend for a well deserved 3.5day break. Badly need it to recharge my batteries.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Countdown for Bombay marathon begins..

Its just three more days to go before the start of Mumbai marathon - Sunday Jan 21, 2007.

I am trying to do all the right things in the last week before the marathon, including getting 7-8hr of good sleep (thankfully the cable operator has decided not to repair my connection, in spite of repeated reminders from Sunday afternoon onwards, am I positive or what!). Just waiting for the day when I could have access to DTH and I don't ever have to see the cable operators face, but in a democracy good things take time. Since I am unable to get the DTH signal from my window, I am now at the mercy of the collective wisdom of the governing body of my building society (who want to take their own sweet time to arrive at the right decision and they are not allowing individual households to install their own dish on the building terrace). So like all good thing things in life even this will have to wait.

I have also ensured that I do not skip any meals and that I am eating continuously during the day, especially high carb food. Plus all the multi-vitamins and food supplements to ensure that I don't catch a cold or something before the marathon.

The only thing that troubling me is the stiffness in my left calf, which is not feeling normal. The stiffness still continues, though it will not really affect my run in any way after the first 6odd kilometers, but am a little concerned as I don't want it to play any tricks after the 30km mark on the day of the marathon. So I ran yesterday for only 6kms at a easy pace and have decided to rest today and depending on how it feels tomorrow I might go for my one last run before the Marathon, else will not run before the marathon. In the meantime I am using some pain relief spray and cream to make it feel better.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday run & a festival called Makar Sankranti

Did about 14kms today in a about 1hr 22mins. The weather was quite good even though I started at around 8.30 in the morning, as I wanted to catchup on some sleep and also get a first hand understanding of the weather I could expect next Sunday, as the marathon start quite late in the morning (7.30am to be precise). Based on today's run, I need to run hard the first two hours hard and complete 21kms in that time(before the Sun starts hitting hard), if I have any hope of doing a under 4hr 15min time. The weather was pleasant while running in the shade, but when I was directly under the Sun it was quite hot.

Today was a festive day - Makar Sankranti, its basically the harvest festival, celebrated under different names all over India (Bhiu in Assam, Pongal in Tamilnadu, Lohri in Punjab, and Makar Sankranti or just Sankranti in most other parts of India). I noticed two new aspects of this festival during my Sunday run, first one was very surprising, as I saw some families dressed in Black today while celebrating the festival (black is usually a mourning and inauspicious colour in India, a friend of mine has never worn anything completely black ever in his life as its considered inauspicious in his family). I did some homework and found out that this was one of the rare occasions when Maharashtrians wear black, as its suppose to make you warm on a cold winter day (Makar Sankaranti is a winter festival) & spread the cheer and warmth to people close to you, along with a special sweet made of til (white sesame seeds) & jaggery. Another surprising fact was that I did not see a single kite in the sky (this is also the kite flying festival which is very big in Gujarat), it was sad to see that now the kite flying was restricted to certain small pockets of South Bombay which had a strong Gujarati population. Its disappointing to see that the rest of Bombay has moved away from it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A week before the marathon...

I was finally able to complete the planned runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I did 6km, 7.5km and 6km on the three days respectively. Now I just need to complete the week with a 13km run on Sunday. Next week I plan to run twice, between tuesday and Thursday, and that should get me ready for the marathon next week.

Its been a difficult week, as I am yet to recover from the exhausting Delhi trip. I have been down with cold all week, some late nights, plus some muscle stiffness in the left calf, nothing which would really trouble my runs, but something I would not like to have at the back of my mind before the marathon. Am just waiting for the precious Sunday (tomorrow), to catch up on some much needed rest and sleep.

I hope to go to World Trade center (Marathon expo village) on Thursday or Friday evening to collect my race bib. The weather in the mornings has been quite good for the last few days (thanks to a cold wave in North India), I hope it continues till the day of the marathon.

I have decided on the things I need to take for the marathon. I will be taking two 500ml botles of gatorade, Powerbars 4nos, one for each hour(energy gels), to take me through the marathon. The Gatorade should be enough for the first three hours and will follow it up with water & energy gels. That should be sufficient nutrition for the 4hrs+ of marathon run.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tea is not as good as its made out to be..

It all depends on how you have it. If you are one of those who has tea with milk, you could be destroying the health benefits, which otherwise come with it. Based on research done by some German researchers and the European heart journal and published in the Daily Mail, tea with milk has little or no impact on the prevalence of heart disease because you add milk. Similarly black tea significantly improves the ability of the artery to relax and expand (the nitric acid in tea promotes dialation of blood vessels), but milk blocks this effect.

I have conciously moved away from Coffee to tea a year back, purely for its health benefits (similarly from white wine to red), even though I enjoy coffee more. And luckily it was black tea. Not sure if its helped me, but it should come to my rescue in the long run.

Another benefit of my Delhi trip is that now I am very comfortable runing in cold climate and this should come in handy for my Great Tibetan marathon in July. So the only thing I need to figure out is my ability to manage high altitude.

Nothing to beat Bombay...

After seven days in Delhi it was wonderful getting back to the Bombay. The two cities are so different... I love the spirit of Bombay, it was refreshing to see one of the Auto rickshaw (Tuk Tuk) drivers, refusing to take money from me, as I had helped him start his Rickshaw by pushing it all by myself (although I refused to accept his gesture). Where as in Delhi the Auto/cab guy would refuse to take you to certain parts of town and would never use the electronic fare meter (he would just give any random number that would come to his mind). Some small things that differentiates the two cities.

On the other hand the food in Delhi is way better than Bombay, even the street food in Delhi is lot better than most established outlets in Bombay. So if you are a foodie and love Indian food (Veg and Non-veg, esp. Mugali), Delhi is the place.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cold Delhi trip.... and a memorable run

My seven day trip to Delhi finally comes to an end. The weather there was truly out of the world, and the best part of work trip was my 1hr 15min run in some really cold weather (atleast for someone like me who comes for a very hot and humid Bombay). I did about 12 odd kilometers in close to freezing temperature (about 3degrees centigrade, coldest weather of the season in Delhi).

Most of my body felt quite comfortable, though I was only wearing shorts (though with a dri-fit half bodysuit, which is not really the best for keeping one warm, but it ensured that there were two layers of clothing). The only problem I faced was with my fingers which had become stiff within 10mins of the run and it continued to stay that way till about 30mins after the run. I could not use my fingers at all and had to use both my hands for things which would otherwise only require a couple of fingers.

But this was one of the most enjoyable runs (second only to my run in Pokhra, Nepal on a early winter morning - with almost freezing temperature). The best part about running in cold weather is that one can afford run for a good 2hours without having fluids (if it would be required, it would be a nightmare as its next to impossible to carry a bottle in ones hand) during the run, if you are well hydrated before the run.

I was only able to run twice during the last seven days. I hope to run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, followed by a 13km run on Sunday, I don't thing I will be able to run tommorrow as I have just reached from Delhi, after a very hard work trip plus my body trying to beat the cold.

I have finally recieved the confirmation letter for the Mumbai marathon from the organisers, so guess the only things that is left now is the actual run on January 21, 2007.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Adventurous day....

I am finally in Delhi, after a very adventurous trip... and that is an understatement. We were booked on a early morning flight, which got cancelled due to fog at Delhi and later by a technical snag. We tried to find alternative flights, but all of them were full, the only available option was a 5pm flight. While going through multiple airlines ticketing counters for a morning flight, the only one were we succeeded Kingisher and that was thanks to my name (surname!!), never knew that it had so much power (the chairman and brand ambassador of Kingfisher airline - the Richard Branson equivalent of India, shares the same surname), as it helped all of us get a seat on this particular morning flight (the first one to have arrived from Delhi on this fog hit day) which was otherwise fully booked.

I knew that I would not be able to run on Wednesday and Thursday morning, so I decided to run on Tuesday morning for 6kms.

The weather in Delhi is cold but nothing unbearable and the fog situation here is a lot better, hope it stays this way for the rest of my trip. I even got my reflective vest for my early morning runs (last thing I want is to be run over by two or four wheeler).

Monday, January 01, 2007

New year and new look for the blog..

I finally decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the new version of Google blogger. Its no more a beta version! I also decided to use the opportunity to change the template for the blog (new colours & font), but this meant a lot of hard work as I had to redo all the customisations (I wish a user could take their customisations when they move to the new template, something for Google to work on!), I had to again hunt for the AdSense codes & update my links and everything else. Since I have very little understanding of programing, it was a painful task (when will everything be templatised, I am sure its not so difficult, only if Google realised it...). I also have a long way in mastering the effectiveness of Google AdSense, guess the basic pre-conditioning is I need update it more regularly...

I went for a easy 6km run in the evening, including a coffee break, great way to start the new year. I hope to go for a run again tomorrow morning, followed by two more runs during the week, and I also need to somehow fit the 20km run over the weekend.