Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bangalore Ultra - 25K

The race was tough but so was I,
Twenty five kms in three o five,
In the end, it was, yet another Runner's High

Firstly, I would like to thank Vishwa, Adarsh and all my carpool junta. Thank you for waiting, and carrying me to and from the race.  And as always, thanks to Santosh, HSR coaches and the Dream runners for making all this so natural and ordinary. While in reality, it is a tremendous achievement to train a person like myself to run 25K.

Race Report:
It was little foggy and mildly cold as we queued up near the starting point. The Sun was yet to rise and waiting amongst fellow runners, it felt quite peaceful. My run started quite nicely. The group for Ultra must have been mostly "proper" runners as the aid station at 1K mark was almost empty when i crossed. Typically, 1K point is over-crowded.

For the first 4K, it felt that i had pushed myself too much and was running faster than i should be. But it was all looking good and i thought that i could continue. I kept the tempo higher than usual and it was all going well until i hit 9.5K. That's when i had a sharp pain around my right ribs area and i instantly knew i had pushed myself too much. It was getting difficult to breathe. I slowed my pace but now i was finding it difficult to run, every hand movement was coming with a sigh. I walked for a minute hoping the pain would go but it didn't and was now having all sorts of doubts in my mind.  Part of me was like - so this is a true runner's test - to run in pain and finish it. The more sensible part said that this pain will only get worse with time and then what would I do?  I was disappointed at myself for not reading the rabbit-tortoise story properly. Finally, in desperation, at the 11.5K point, i applied the pain spray in the ribs area and it felt little better.

It was heartening to see familiar faces at the 12.5/start point. The cheering did bring smiles back. Thank you for being there, just being there and clapping. I turned back from 12.5 and was determined to carry on at a regular pace for the next 6K. By the time i reached 13.5K, the pain spray had worked and i was feeling ok. At around 14K, someone called my name, i was trying to look who it was and in the process didn't see a small tree stub in front of me and fell down. Luckily, the fall was not lethal and i was on my feet the next instant. Save!

There is a thrill in running on a new trail. There are many aspects that defines a trail. Is it road, concrete or ground and even in ground, is it rocky, muddy or soft sand. Then there is the inclination, a runner can feel those tiny less than 5 degree angle if present (I feel it even in Cubbon Park!  ) . There is also elevation but it was not to be a concern in Bangalore. Tree cover, proximity to water, visible greenery, remoteness, natural or city-like, birds, animals, a trail has million features. To run on a new trail is a chance to examine each one of these attributes, and you discover more as you go along. This one will be remembered for its tree cover, bends every 250m (yes, i am exaggerating :)  ) and soft ground trail.

It was at a steady pace till 20K and that's when i started feeling tired and by the time i reached 22K, i was exhausted. I slowly walked to the aid station there, filled my bottle and walked the next 10 meters and poured water on my head. Wow! What a feeling. The cold water took all my exhaustion along with it. It was sheer magic. 2 mins ago, i was not able to walk and now it felt all fresh. I chuckled as i remembered the quote from Chariots of Fire - "Where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? ".  22 quickly became 23. At 23.5 i met Mitul, i don't know who he is , he was slowly walking and seeing me, he said lets run together. Delighted to have company we talked and ran and within no time we were at 24.5. At this point he said that lets sprint and he then just zipped past. I was sprinting the best i could and then at 24.8 came Sunanda to push me and she really meant sprinting. Thanks Sunanda!  I was out of all my breath when i finished 25K.

Overall, it was a strong finish, 3 hrs 4 mins and 51 seconds. Little lucky with the pain and a good lesson learnt in the end.  Each race is different and teaches us something about ourselves. The trail with all its bends and turns was pretty good with a lot of tree cover.  This was the longest distance covered by me in a race. Next is Auroville Half and hopefully a full marathon next year.

Race Training:
After finishing KTM, i missed the next three weeks of training, first out of laziness and next two as i was out for my trek. After that i attended the Wed workouts religiously and did 18K and 22K as part of Saturday runs. For the 25K mock run, it was our turn to volunteer for the water station, so i ran 25K on my own on the streets of Koramangala. A very interesting experience and it took me 3 hrs 25 mins to do so. I guess you don't push yourself when you run alone. Volunteering was great fun and a good experience. It provide a glimpse of amount of preparation needed behind an aid station and on how so many things that we take for granted come at an effort, and looking at it week over week, it appears easy but it is not. It was the first time i had made peanut butter and jam sandwiches and that too on two loaves of bread.

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