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!