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.