Thursday, May 15, 2008

SunFeast World 10K

May 15th, 2008
As a part of my taper, I ran 5 laps of KNP in 16:46 and 16:33 on Monday and Tuesday, 6 laps in 19:33 on Wednesday and slept in today on Wednesday. Tomorrow, I plan to run 5K early morning and that should be it. I have my bib number, and all other details. I expect to be in Bangalore tomorrow (Friday), pick my bib and other stuff. The run is on Sunday May 18th at 9:00 AM.
May 18th, 2008
Having gotten my bib and goodie bag on Saturday, I was so looking forward to running the 10K. As I got ready, I had the TV on the channel broadcasting the race live, admiring the timings that the elite runners put in. My brother drove me to meet another friend who was also participating in his first ever run. We waited for some time, shooting the breeze, catching up, stretching as much as I could.
Getting to the Kanteerava stadium proved a bit onerous, but eventually I found myself in the chip holders section. A lot of people had turned out, some with event T shirts from the Bangalore Ultra held some time ago. The stadium atmosphere was uplifting.

At the appointed hour of 9:00 AM, we the hordes were let loose. I walked to the start line, albeit being pushed is a better way. One thing about the 10K distance is you tend to so underestimate it..:-). Each running blog/training manual/note/article cautions against getting caught up in the enthusiasm and starting out fast. Every race I enter, I remember this as I go out and... every race I start out fast :P. So much for adhering to gyaan.
The first 2k took 12:02; I didn't even realise I was going faster than my usual 7:30 min/KM pace. Admonishing myself mildly, I slowed down, looking at the other runners and looking at the people lining the course, running my 3rd KM in around 8 minutes. Overcompensating eh?
KM 4 went by in 27:05, almost a full minute ahead of a 7min/KM pace. So far, it was easy going. I slowed down dramatically in the fifth kilometer.. the heat got to me, and I finally crossed the 5K marker at 38:18, still pacing reasonably ok at 7:40 min/KM. This is what fast starts do to me.

By now, the sun beating down made running on Bangalore roads a chore. I have very little recollection of KM 6, except I decided to walk for exactly 1 minute. I stopped again in front of the Vidhan Souda to take pictures. Entering Cubbon Park, I had hoped for a shady avenue to ease some of the heat. No such luck. By now, at each water station, I was picking up two small water bottles, one opened and upended on the head immediately; the second for a few sips now and then before being poured on the capped bald pate again.

Left at the Cubbon Park gate, got me out to the last 1K/1.5K. This was quite pleasant. Could see the start point in the far horizon, enough motivation to run faster - not sprint really yet. A bit of a surprise then, that the finish line was inside and not on the street. Any way sprinted the last bit, weaving through the other finishers. Crossed the line at 73:26:58 by my clock.

Wandered around loosening up and cooling down, trying to find where to go next for certificates and other stuff. A kindly soul pointed me in the right direction, where I picked up my bottle of water and the post run snack. I was so thrilled that the snack had a bun... ye olde humble bun...laden with carbs. Chomping down on the well needed nutrition, I lined up to get the certificate.

Yet again, Procam could not get its act right, with their software glitches and what else. Handed in my chip, got into a long discussion/argument/rant with Anil Singh of Procam about how they do this all the time, etc. etc.

Anyway, my brother came to pick me up and after a really long shower, we headed off to Nandhini for lunch. To date, I had marvelled at how people can polish off the mounds of rice that this place serves. After my run, I did too and how it can be done is no longer a mystery.

I am quite pleased with my 73:26, though it is about 2:30 off my previous 10K; given the 9:00 AM start time and the heat, I won't complain. The official timing certificate reads 73:18... I will take the 8 seconds, if you please....

Running in Goa

On the May 1st weekend, the Most Wondrous and I went to Bogmalo beach in Goa for the day. This is a first for me; the MW had some work to take care of and I tagged along. She went off to her work place and I found the complimentary hotel drive to take me to Bogmalo Beach Resort.

That evening, I decided to catch up on my running. I had visions of Rocky (the movie), and strains of Vangelis' Chariots of Fire theme (go figure) going on in my mind, as I stepped on the beach a little after five in the evening. The strip of beach is secluded and does not have a huge horde of people like some of the other beaches in Goa.

At one end of the beach is a little fisherman's shrine in the shape of a cross which I walked towards for warmup. After the obligatory stretching, I ran back to the other end, dodging waves, feeling the spray and feeling good.

On the return leg, I was getting curious stares from the few folks on the beach and small growls from the stray mongrels among other things. I ran back and forth for about 20 minutes, till it got really boring. At each step, my foot would sink into the sand, and I ended up getting it into my shoes and socks (not a very pleasant feeling).

My aptitude at dodging the incoming waves was not improving as I progressed and I got water into my socks. I laboured on, with grit in my feet and squishy socks for some time. I finally got bored of both and headed into the hotel for a welcome swim in their pool.

So much for running on the beach. Very over rated :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

10K in Bengalaru (SunFeast 10K Bangalore)

I have been running slow 5 laps every day for the past three days. Timings went from 16:49 to 16:17 to 17:07 today. Hope fully, if I am not too lazy, I will go out for a long run on Sunday.

There is a new race in town (ok, not my town). ITC is sponsoring the SunFeast 10K in Bangalore on Sunday 18th May. I was quite happy to find out about this and promptly registered. And what do you know, I won one of the Early Bird prizes :-). I am quite jazzed up about this; there is a promise of a goodie bag and an event T shirt.

Flight tickets were at Rs 99/- (damn, taxes were 220 times that cost), but it is all under Rs 5000. My last 10K outing was during the Pune Marathon which I finished in 71 minutes. I am targetting to do better this time around.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Running Log

It's been a long time since I posted to my blog. That does not mean I have not been running. I have run regularly for six consecutive weeks; I took a week's break (unforced - pure laziness) and am back on the track this week.

Typically after the Mumbai Marathon, there are no events on the horizon. This time around, after my great experience at Mumbai, I went into a running hiatus tapering back very slowly and lazily. Till about two months ago.

Week One was no more than 5 laps of KNP each day, starting out slow and finishing. I ran a total of 15K that week. Here are my timings.

34:31 10 laps

Week Two target was 6 laps per day. The idea was to slowly build up mileage without exerting.
Here are my timings for that week

The target for Week Three was 7 laps each day. Staying with the idea of building up mileage, I also wanted to get out of my lazy funk. Here are my timings from the third week I was out on the track


I have not been running any long runs on the weekend. Some of it was still the laziness; some part of it also to do with the fact that temperatures are increasing. Week Four target was 8 laps a day. Here are my timings for 8 laps over the week.

16:14 Ran only 5 laps on Friday :-|

A month into this renewed burst of running, fatigue and boredom began to set in. I ran alternate days in Week Five, trying out for a target of 9 laps. Here are my timings. In fact week five was my lowest mileage since I had started.

Tuesday 30:43
Thursday can't remember the time.

Week Six started with the same alternate day routine. Here's what I did that week
Monday April 7th 2008 27:47 8 laps
Wednesday April 9th 33:43 10 laps
Friday April 11th can't remember the time. Ran 10 laps

After that Friday, I took about 10 days off, lazing around, sleeping in, having late nights and every thing else not conducive to an early morning run. I am back on the track this week, having dragged my sorry backside out of bed yesterday :-). Felt good to be running again.
I have run only 5 laps in the last two days, and hope to continue for all this week with the same mileage. Here are my timings so far

Monday 21st April 17:03 2.5K
Tuesday 22nd April 16:59 2.5K

The SunFeast 10K is around the corner. In fact, they have advanced the date to Sunday May 18th. Still not sure if I am going down to Bangalore for this, but will keep training.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tapering back....

For more than a week after the Mumbai Half Marathon, I lazed around, not running at all. After a few days I began to feel antsy, jittery wanting to go out and run.

Finally two weeks ago, I got out and ran 7.5 K that week. The first 2.5K came at an easy pace completing in 16:40 minutes. I was glad to be back at KNP seeing the familiar faces and breathing the clean air :-). The next day, I ran 2.5K in a reasonably fast 15:39 minutes, better than the last day. I rounded off the week with another 5 laps in KNP this time taking 17:40 minutes - did not warm up, felt really lazy and I guess it shows in the timing :-)

This week I have run two days already, running 6 laps each day. The first outing was worth 19:32 minutes and today's outing cost me 19:22 minutes with an "It's My Life by Bon Jovi" fuelled first lap of 2:42 minutes

I am slowly tapering back. Right now, there is no event on the horizon which I have to start training for. The first event in any near future is the Ahmedabad Run for Life Marathon which is targetted for June 8th. The only information I have on this is via an Orkut group. Weather in Ahmedabad around early June is generally blistering hot (around 40 degrees) and I am concerned. I would like to run this, but we will see

Monday, January 21, 2008

Daastaan-e-Daud ...Personal Best

Mumbai 20th January 2008 - The day started very early.. my cell phone alarm going off at 4:00. I had a banana, some water, laced up, got my kit bag that I had packed the night before and trekked to Dadar station. Got myself a first class return ticket after telling the window clerk to keep the change. I was in high spirits and determined not to let minor squabbles over loose change bother me.

VT Station was abuzz with people, all fellow runners: older folks in their yellow 'Harmony' Tees, guys and gals picking up their last drink of water or their first cuppa. I walked around Azad Maidan to get to the commoner's entrance, handed in my kit bag and looked around - runners in all shapes and sizes, dressed in all hues and shoes (some spanking new, marking out the running virgins), some stretching, some running, a few just lolling about. I checked into the Chipholder's section and started a slow warm-up.

As 6:45 came closer, more people crowded the enclosure making it a tad tightly packed. No more stretching or running to loosen up, I was just observing the folks coming in, mentally psyching myself. A few minutes before we were let loose, the crowds milled towards the exit and this is what it looked like - dark skies, the lights sparkling around us, last minute good luck waves and hand shakes, folks taking pix on their mobile phone cameras...quite a jamboree.

At 6:46, they let us out on to the course. I walked towards the start line dutifully ignoring the enthusiasts running past me." You have got to start when you have to start and you will end when you do", I thought to myself.

I started running about a minute before the official start line, synching my stopwatch at the same time and I was off. The first few meters were terribly congested as usual and expected, I slowly made my way through the crowds on D.N. Road, past Flora Fountain where the volunteers and khaki policemen directed human traffic into the turnoff. I have a vague recollection of the next few kilometers - a pastiche of images - some one stopping to retie shoelaces, an attractive face, folks overtaking me and falling back, the crowds on Marine Drive cheering you on. At the 4k marker, I took my first bottle of water and checked the time - 29 minutes, 1 minute longer than my target time of 28 minutes.

Running down the rest of Marine Drive, near Banganga, the eventual winners of the race passed by on the other side. Part of me marveled at those well oiled human machines who had completed almost 18K and were just 3K short of completion... a small part of me was terribly jealous. Up Kemp's Corner bridge was the first trial - I put my head down, shortened my step and didn't want to think about how much was left. Soon I was at the top of Peddar Road heading downwards, looking at more athletes passing us by on the reverse.
I met a familiar face on Peddar Road and we ran together for a couple of minutes exchanging notes and cheering each other on. On the downslope I was doing pretty well, though holding myself back, fearful of a sprain or a cramp.

At Haji Ali, I gave virtual thanks to the Haji whose dargah overlooks the course and ran on. Reaching the turnoff point at the Mela Restaurant was a joy. So far, my pace was 7:37 minutes per KM. I had lost time from my original target, but I was not hurting or anything like last year. At 11.4 KM, I had clocked 1:27:01.

As I approached Haji Ali once again on the back side of my run, I was filled with a little trepidation. The Peddar Road climb awaited me. In fact, the road starts climbing all the way from NAB. I reminded myself that I had done enough hill training - bridges and the like and I would be OK. Once again, head down, short step and one foot in front of the other. I looked up again near Jaslok Hospital and went back to my climbing. Slowly, steadily I made it to the top where the most angelic children stood by the side of the road with Parle Glucose biscuits on a tray and water (they always look angelic after that climb and I always look forward to passing the folks from PRRA - Peddar Road Residents Association). I grabbed a couple of biscuits and a glass of water, thanked the kids and ran further towards the dhols and drums that PRRA puts out.

The 15K marker has always been special to me - there it is, right at the centre of the Kemps Corner me, it signifies that the arduous climb of the Mumbai Half Marathon is behind me and everything is down-hill from here. I cheered a fellow runner, reminded him that only 5K remained and both of us ran together towards Banganga. 16K came and went and as I passed Wilson College, I stopped running for a minute, hips and calves beginning to pain and cramp up. I tried to shake them off, but didn't quite succeed. I picked myself up and started running again.

Every once in a while, you see a person that shakes you to the core and motivates you to dig deep within yourself to do tremendous things. On this race, I was fortunate to experience this not once, but twice.

The first time was after I started running again. Head down, short steps, one foot in front of the other - that was the way I had started running when I heard loud applause. The applause was uplifting, but it was not for me. There was a handicapped person who was competing and in what glorious style. Head held high, hands on his crutches and a determined look on his face. I ran backwards for a minute or so, caught his eye and saluted him, and his indomitable spirit. I don't know who he was or do not remember his bib number, but he was my first hero of Mumbai this year.

Kilometers flew by and at the Kishco Cutlery turnoff, I got a morale booster, when a bystander shouted "Come on, 5257, you can do it" :-).

I passed the 20K marker and then experienced my second "Mumbai moment". I had the fortunate experience of seeing Angad Dev Singh Dugal on the track. Much has been written about the "never say die" attitude that this young fellow brings to each Mumbai marathon. Angad is differently enabled and his achievements each year serve as a reminder to me of all that is possible. Here is an article on his exploits written recently -
I have Angad's picture cut out from a Sunday newspaper stuck on my mirror so I can see it every morning. It was great to see one of my motivators in action - Angad is my second Mumbai hero this year.

Turning off on D.N.Road, I had one constant refrain in my head - I want to finish before the full marathoners coming in. I ran D.N.Road increasing my pace, racing other finishers.

As I neared the finish line, I pumped my fists in the air (and got a good Marathon-Photos picture out of it as well). I finished in 2:39:55:80, my best time on a half marathon so far.. Net net, I ran a 7.53 minute per KM pace which was lower than my target pace. I was faster on the return leg from Mela back to VT, which was a bit of surprise considering the Peddar Road hill. I am quite gratified I was able to run a faster pace on "old legs". I guess this is the race I would have run in Delhi had I not bonked at the 17K mark there.

The certificate fiasco continued in Mumbai as well.. so the less said about it, the better. Barring that, the organization in Mumbai was impeccable - a warm heartfelt thanks to
- all the volunteers who make the runners' lives easier, whether managing registrations or certificates
- the Mumbai police, the ambulance and hospital staff
- Kingfisher for watering us every km or so
- The food folks at the end of the race - I really needed that banana and bottle of water
- the cheering squad consisting of Mumbai citizenry, especially the PRRA folks - The Parle Glucose biscuits are greatly appreciated

My friends in Mumbai who allowed me to impose on their hospitality - food, bananas, and making do with my waking the whole household up at 4:00 AM, that too on a Sunday - thank you for everything. This personal best is as much yours as it is mine.

Finally, I want to signoff this post with a quote from Angad - "Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you plan to stop pedalling. So I am pedalling with you wonderful people who are like my training wheels." More inspirational words, I have heard none.
(Quote from

Monday, January 14, 2008

चलो मुम्बई

Sunday January 13th.
6:00 AM - The alarm went off - shrill and loud, I tried to linger in bed, but the pull of the road was just too much. After my ritual cup of tea, and skimming through the Sunday newsies, I stepped out. Mom asked "आज पण दोन तास का?"
"नाही, आज जास्तच, तीन तास??"

After warming up, I walked to Good Luck Chowk, stretched a bit and hit the road at 7:33 AM. The stopwatch started, I ran towards Jungli Maharaj chowk, passing Kamat's in about 3 minutes just like last Sunday. It was slightly cold, not too nippy.. just the perfect start. I passed all the engineering company folks waiting for their buses to transport them to far flung reaches of the city to their locations, getting bemused smiles. I reached the far end of Jungli Maharaj Road in 12:28, again pretty much like the last time.

Dodging a National Travels bus near COEP hostels, I went to towards Simla Office. The temperature read 16.9 deg C which I thought was a bit warm for January. I came upon the first bridge near Hardikar's hospital at 16:40 and took around 3 minutes to reach the other end near the Mhasoba temple. One bridge down, one to go.....

I started climbing Ganeshkhind Road in right earnest, flagging a bit, dodging motorbikes and cycles going the wrong way. Starting up on the second bridge, I was doing well and mentally calculating whether I wanted to go to Baner and circle up on Aundh Road (which is a steep climb) or keep on my route from last week. At 33:00 minutes, I passed the Senapati Bapat Road intersection choosing to head down my route from last week towards Aundh fire station. At 35:31, I was just past Raj Bhavan, striding down easily. I met up with a guy who was dribbling a football and just past Pichola, we started passing the football back and forth, till the fire station. Made for a nice break in an otherwise solitary run. I had to sprint hard to keep up with the fast moving ball - it was fun. I turned towards Dass, thanking the guy at 52:18, approximately 7.5 K into my run.

Hour one went past in front of Ozone, and I kept at my pace last week hitting the Baner Road turnoff at 66 minutes. This distance is about 9.5 KM, so at this point, I was doing around 8k/min pace. Going into Baner Road, I noticed that most of the road had been completed and was uncluttered - no concrete mixers, or pickaxes or people hanging around. Near Sakal Nagar, I was forced off the small road surface due to traffic. Navigating my way back through the small clear patches of concrete, I reached Yashada in about 78 minutes, approximately 10.5 KM later.

Climbing up the small incline from Yashada to the University Chowk was not as taxing as the last weekend. I turned off into Senapati Bapat Road, traveling on the wrong side of the road - running against traffic so I could at least see the vehicles coming :-). I thought this was a smart idea and I only discovered how "wrong side" it was till I passed the Chaturshringi temple. The road has been dug up till ICC for some road construction work. There is a small narrow lane, permitting only one vehicle to pass at one time. I was off the road again, hopping over small rocks and chunks of road, as I made my way slowly past this hurdle.

Downhill from ICC, I figured I was running behind my target time of 7 minutes to the kilometer. I passed the 14K mark at the NCC grounds, and went past my turn off last week. I hit the 15K mark in front of the Film Institute in 1:50 minutes about 3 minutes or so behind my 15 K time of last week. I turned off Law College Road onto the Canal Road, passing Dashbhuja Ganapati temple and the 16K mark in 1:57:45. Had to literally find my way through the amassed cars, motorbikes and cycles, so I walked for about a minute. Picked up again and as I passed Jog Hospital, I was 2 minutes past 2 hours into my run.

At the Reliance Fresh store turnoff, (the 17K mark), I was timing 2 hours 8 minutes, the last kilometer a general blur and tiresome. The road looked appealing with its canopy of trees and dense branches - that made the running pleasant. An older gent asked me for directions as I turned off towards Bal Shikshan Mandir and I just nodded... only realizing much later where he wanted to go. I am sure he thought I was an idiot :-). I turned off on Karve Road at 2:15 minutes, having covered 18K thus far.

KM 19 was fairly easy except the navigation through dug up roads and traffic snafus - not made easier, by all the folks going the wrong side. I let out a huge sigh of relief as I passed the Dashbhuja Ganapati mandir again, having gotten past the last climb on my route. I ran past Nal Stop, the traffic cops at the intersection looking quizzically at me, past Aditya Hotel and the petrol pump, past Chinese Room and then I stopped. 20 KM on the dot and 2:30:44:90 later, I stopped.

Phew, what a relief. I headed over to a grocery store, got myself a bottle of water and a packet of Parle Glucose biscuits (the breakfast of Champions), stretched to work the kinks out of my legs. I got into a rickshaw and headed on home.

Here's the map

I am quite happy with my run, though it took me 10 minutes more than what I had targeted. (7 mins/km was my target, 7.5 mins/km was my pace when I completed). I am ready for Mumbai now. This week will be my taper - one tempo run and two small runs till Thursday and that's it.
I am a bit worried about Mumbai temperatures - they tend to be higher than Pune for sure, even in January. Hopefully, the 6:45 AM start should help compensate for this.

चलो मुम्बई!!