The downhill has come O lord

For the last 7 years of  running I have made improvements every year. Slowly moving from one  goal to another. I started with a modest Airtel Delhi Half marathon in 2008 at 2 hrs 50 minutes to my personal best of 1 hrs 41 minutes in 2015.

So why this year had to be any different.

But yes different is what it turned out to be precisely on the 20th November at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016

Just previous year I had clocked 21kms at 1hrs 41 minutes which my personal best. I wanted to better my record and get over the other side of 100 minutes. But some things are  not to be. Not only I failed to cut the 100 minute mark I also slipped my personal best by 1 minute to finish the  half marathon in 1 hrs 42 minutes and 15 seconds.

Now this is not a bad time by any stretch of imagination. It just stopped my improvements over timing in the tracks.

I started the race with some lofty goals in my mind. Yes may be this is one where I will beat the 100 minutes mark that everyone Half marathoner wants to achieve ( We would love to boast that we finish half marathon in double digits- 99 minutes or less).

No such pleasure this time.

I know its not a big deal. The run was not to win any medals. Every runner knows that there are no prizes to win in the end . Its race against yourself.

And this is precisely I have failed.

The other area where I have failed is in making the same mistakes over and over. I ran the first 5 kms faster than I had ever run in my life sometime clocking as fast as 4 mins 36 seconds to a Km. This really pushed my heart in the red zone from where I never recovered. This made me struggle a lot in the last 7 kms of the race. Close to 50 runners overtook me towards the end of the race. Yes I was counting.

So what are the lessons.

Wait for muscle soreness to get over. Wait for another 12 months. Airtel Delhi Half Marathon we will meet again in 2017 and we will see if we are getting any older or not.

May be I should train more regularly and learn to pace better or else like they say- This is the beginning of a slippery slope my friend.

 

 

 

 

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Why I’m going to quit running full marathons

Full marathons are tough. Full marathons in Mumbai in January for Delhi runners is tougher. We train at sub 10 degrees temperatures in Delhi and then end up running 42 kms in Mumbai heat.

This marathon was no different. It was hot and it only got hotter during the later part of the day. As usual I started strong and kept a good pace till 21kms or so. Then I caught the 4hr bus. The pacer was good but running a bit fast. She took me and her brood for another 10kms or so and then the famous leg cramps got me. After that it was a struggle. I was doing walk- run till the finish line. But to be honest if it was not crowd support ready to help you with salt, food, water and spray I would have quit the race.

Even though I finished the race and got my personal best of 4hrs 16 minutes, I was tired, miserable and very fatigued. Partly it was my fault. My longest practice run was about 31-32 kms and that too only once. I rarely put any effort in muscle strengthening.  I also never get any sleep the night before the race in anticipation of the big day. And this time to add more flavour to this already dangerous cocktail I added three large rums too 🙂 May be that is what added to the cramps

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In the end it was not worth it. There was a real danger of getting seriously injured and thereby effectively closing the chapter of running in my life. And I anyways don’t enjoy running more than 20kms at a time. So I’m most probably quit running full marathons until I can get serious about trainings before the run and stop drinking at least 1 week before the race.

As they say in full marathons, there is no cheating. You get what you put in.

A thought for the guy who finish last : Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2014

We all run our own race. We train. We set an aim and then we try and meet it.

21 Km for seasoned runners is not a long distance. Some of us know precisely how to time our run, what to wear and what to eat and how to pace ourselves. But a lot of runners who have probably never done more than 10-12k register for Half Marathon and they complete it even if they finish last. And there are others who just can’t run faster and will take their own time to complete the race. Most often by the time the traffic is already open and most of the people have left for home, even the event organisers.

For us time hungry runners our personal best keep us pushing for more and more. But I often wonder what is the last man running for. There is no glory at the finish line. No ” personal best” or under ” 2 hrs” status updates to be put on the facebook. In spite of that they give their best and finish the race even if they finish last.

My salute to the guys who finish last and don’t give up and keep on running and complete the race. You are the true flag bearers of running- the race is in our head and we will finish it.

 

What was Paula Radcliffe doing in Lodhi Gardens

Paula has a unbeatable world record in Women’s Full Marathon 2.15.25 in 2003 during the London marathon. No one has been able to catch up with her for the last 11 years or so.  She has also won many Big city marathons and  other races including european 10000 Mts . And guess what we we had the pleasure of meeting this super women  and ask a few questions to her thanks to the Delhi Runners Group and Reebok Running squad

Paula is currently in Delhi  as the Brand Ambassador of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon which is to be held tomorrow.  It was really nice of her to take some time out and come and meet amateurs like us never mind she was bit late. May be acclimatising to the Indian Standard Time 🙂

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Paula explained her training schedule which includes running 160 miles a week. She had a good tips to share post race runs which was to eat carbs and protein 20 minutes after the race.  For recoveries she shared that she sticks to ice baths and massages. She is really thin and strong. I guess running close to 270 kms per week does that to you.

She patiently answered all questions never mind that some of the questions were really basic for a elite runner like her.  Overall it was really nice to come face to face with a world record holder. I It was a first for me. I was in my chappals and Pyjama  and desperately trying to catch her attention. I wanted to ask her about her most challenging race experience but cat got my tongue. Sadly I could not get a selfie with her.  May be runners with proper attire only 🙂  or I will have to wait for a podium finish tomorrow 🙂

But one this is sure. Some of Paula’s  fast paced running has rubbed on to us. Don’t be surprised if the DRG group does 10 minutes faster tomorrow. One disclaimer. I’m not it in DRG, not yet.

After the interaction myself and Ashish headed home and a few runners went around Lodi Gardens running with her. Its not everyday that you get to match the pace of a world record holder.

Well done Reebok and DRG guys. Thanks a ton.

You can read more about Paula at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Radcliffe

Rise and Shine

Its not about hitting the snooze button in the morning. Sometimes you feel like you are losing it. One minute you can run 50kms in one go and the other you are not confident of ever be able to run a decent 10k.

Not all days are equal. Not all fingers are equal. Some days you feel like king and others you are not sure of yourself. So tomorrow is going to be another day. Will I wake up and wear vibrams and prove that tomorrow is going to be any different.  Will I ? Will I dance tomorrow.

Its 10.37 in the night. I should sleep soon. I been watching this video again and again.  Tomorrow is another day so rise and shine baby.

There is a 10km waiting to be conquered. Let all the dengue viruses come out of your sweat and be where they truly belong… under my feet.

Running the trails: Jahapanah City Forest

Hidden somewhere between Jamia Hamdard, Batra Hospital, Chirag Dilli and G.K 2 is the Jahapanah city forest. If you enter from the gate just opposite Don Bosco school you enter into a small deceptive park. If you don’t know that there is a forest inside I bet you will just do a bit of stretching and curse the person who told you that its a nice place to run.  And that is why Jahapanah city forest is Delhi’s best kept secret.

You run once in Jahapanah and you will fall in love with the place. The jogging track is well marked. There is water at the start point.  The track has shade at most places. Watching a peacock running ahead of you is a common sight. During summers the place is bustling with activity. People from all walks of life walk, run, chat, play inside the forest. There are at-least 3 play areas for kids with slides and other kinds of stuff.

I normally run the 6.6 Km loop clockwise in Jahapanah. There are days when I would just take a right turn at 3.2 kms and do a 5km loop instead. And there is this super short 2.6 km loop too if you are in too much of hurry . Jahapanah has some fairly nice inclines so its a good variety for runners in Delhi.

Today I was not in the mood to run much so I decided to check out the trails. I ran clockwise up to 1200 mt then took the first left trail.  I just kept on running and in another 30 minutes or so I had covered the entire periphery of the park and come out at the 3.2 kms mark.  On a lucky day you can Nilgai ( Antelope) but today was not my lucky day. I guess the overall trail is about 4kms or so. Its mostly nice but where ever it comes close to a settlement it gets dirty. There are at least 2-3 spots which are really bad.  There are also signs on encroachment at many places.  But overall its a nice break from the same old Jahapanah beat.

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I would not advise running alone as the trail is pretty lonely and there has been incidences of runners getting robbed. And definitely not during the evening because one can easily get lost too. However in a group they are a must to be explored and enjoyed.

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Vegan 100k

Yes, I’m going to stop taking any milk or animal products ( I’m already and vegetarian) and run 100kms over the next 7 days. I will be averaging 14-15 kms every day. I have not done running for the past few weeks so this help me get back to running and back in shape. And I would definitely not mind losing a few kilos.

So the plan is not to embrace becoming Vegan, not yet. But I’m keen to see how the my body will behave when I’m  putting it under lots of physical stress and no milk or animal protein.

I’m looking at ideas on how I can supplement my diet with protein which doesn’t come from animals.  And if I’m successful who knows I might turn Vegan. And when I do I’m going to get this T-shirt for myself.

I will be posting what I’m going through every couple of days.  So let the run begin.

 

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What I learned during the Mumbai Marathon 2014

Well, first let’s get the numbers out. I have done a full marathon in 4hrs 31 minutes. This is my personal best. My overall rank was 755 out of 2485 runners which is not bad for me. I’m really blessed to be able to run such long distances and having a wonderful group of friends who support me all the time despite my eccentricities.

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But I’m in a happy -sad kind of situation. I think I could have done better if I changed a few things. For instance i should have trained more regularly and doing at least 2-3 practice runs above 30kms. The other piece was around strength training. Every bone in my body is in pain after then run and that is because my muscles are weak. But the real culprit in this race was pacing.

Last year I did well because we paced well. Our first half was slower than our second half and that is how marathons are conquered. You finish strong and not with the kind of limp that I had to go through towards the end. The following graph will illustrate how this time I did exactly the opposite. I started strong and ended weak ( and slow).

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More details of the timing can be found here.

I hit the famous ” wall” at around 31 kms. As a result towards the last 12 kms of the race I  didn’t had the energy to continue at the same pace I had started. The last few kms I was running in excruciating pain from all parts of the body. I don’t even  know how I managed to get this smile towards the end. May be its the cheering crowd in Mumbai every step on the way offering food, water and smiles to runners like us. That is why runners like us flock Mumbai from all over the place.

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In the end while we can argue that all is well that ends well. My wish of doing better than last time did come true. I beat my own record at a full marathon by 17 minutes but soon after I was not able to climb to the upper birth of Mumbai Rajdhani on the way back. I was in pain through out the journey. This is something I would like to change.

Strength training and pace- well are the two lessons for me from this marathon which I’m going to remember this whole running season.

Let’s see what SCMM 15 has in store for me.

Mumbai Marathon: 19th Jan 2014

The D day is almost here. As scores of us  board the Mumbai Rajdhani today I’m wondering about Mumbai Marathon 14 will bring to me. As with most other runners my goal is do better than last time and not get injured attempting the same.

I’m anxious. Its the  same kind anxiety that you experience during an exam or you when are waiting for the result. In some ways its not very different to entrance exams . You set a goal, you prepare for it and then the actual day comes and everything depends upon how well you do on this day.

Well to be honest in running the benefits are probably more in the preparation. The journey is truly the reward. But all said and done we runners to take our races seriously. I do.

When it comes  to Mumbai Marathon I feel Delhi runners are at slight disadvantage . For the last 3 months we have been training in some awesome weather. Mumbai will be hot and we hope that the sun is not too strong till we finish our race.

So what is that I’m aiming to do this Mumbai Marathon. I finished the last Mumbai Marathon in 4 hrs 47 minutes. If I can finish under 4.30 this time then I will be very happy. Amit Ojha who will be pacing with me thinks I can. And as usual I will running in my trusted Vibram 5 fingers….my barefoot running aides.

So let’s see what happens. Let the race begin.

 

Impossible is -finishing a Full Marathon under 4 hours

So this is again that time of the year when I have to review my Annual marathon goals. The beginning of this year I started with a simple but a challenging goal- to finish a full marathon under 4 hours. What seemed doable at the beginning of the year seems impossible now.

So the Mumbai Marathon is in January 2014. My mileage is less than 30 kms a week and the longest I have run is 25 kms. Speed is pathetic. My body weight is 86-87 kgs. Last year with lot less body weight and lots of practice I did a full in 4 hrs 47 minutes. And it was not easy. Now cutting 47 minutes or so is nothing but impossible.

As usual I will give it a try and see what happens.

This year as  part of my fundraising through marathon I will be supporting a new program that inspires young people to join the social sector- India Fellow. http://www.indiafellow.wordpress.com/.