Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Running along Kaveri

There are happy runs and bad ones. Happy ones are all the same - no matter how slow you’re going, even if you are forced to walk a bit, you’re at peace while you keep at it and finish, and what’s more, you’re at peace post the finish too. Knowing that you gave it all and did what you could at that moment. The bad ones, they’re just bad - sometimes due to what’s not in your control, but mostly due to the devil within that has no fixed form. I’ve run 2 races so far and fortunately both have been happy ones.

The Kaveri Trail Marathon yesterday was a surprise, kms seemed to breeze through, this went on for a good 15km. Maybe it was the pleasant day, the looking out for familiar faces especially the Runner's High Full Marathoners who started showing up after 6km! My only goal was to run the whole distance, never walk and never stop except for water. So it didn’t matter how (slow) I ran as long as I ran. It might have been smarter to switch to a walk sometimes but this is what I wanted of me. Plus during training pauses ached and made resuming tougher after a walk.
0-15: I consciously went slow in the first half - or so I thought. With my history of many niggles that heal quickly but make me slow down while they appear, I didn’t want to risk anything new. The ankle strain sufficed for the day, thank you. I got to 10k at 1:11 which incidentally is my TCS10K timing. It was mostly all smiles and cheers, wondering how pleasant it had been so far … until the 15-16km point.
15-21.1: Suddenly around 15km something changed. I still don’t know what it was due to; I was well fed and hydrated. I surely wasn’t going too fast. That’s one problem I hardly face. Even hearing those around me cheer people made my head ache. Ankle pain flared, head ached, one foot went ahead of the other and soon enough there was Ajay just as he'd said he'd be near the 1km point, he ran with me till about 100m from the finish after which I think I sprinted to complete my first half marathon and second race ever. The AMD folks had finished much earlier and were waiting at the finish too. I had taken around 2:37 and it was a fun run on the whole despite that mood swing of sorts towards the end. A good first half marathon :D
I owe thanks to many - All my coaches at Runner's High, in particular Chandra, Ajay, Murthy and our physio Preeti, who is the reason I ran the whole distance despite niggles! All the familar faces I saw on the trail (missed running with Jagadeesh, and seeing the RH 10kers run) - they kept me going! 
I was really glad I’d mentioned my goal of running the whole distance to my friends and colleagues while seeking donations to Asha, their generous pledges totally guilt-ed me into avoiding an unnecessary water-stop in the second half when I was just looking for a break :)
Do these Dedication things mean that you're grateful to people, that you thought of them while you toiled at something and post it when you felt good about it all ... that if something bad happened to you while at it they'd be responsible :)? If so my first half marathon goes to Santhosh and Kanishka - who are the reason I ran and through whom I met some awesome folks at Runner's High!
And then there are those who listen to my regular running (what else?) updates and put up with me as I swing from "What are you cheering me for? It was just 8km today." to "What do you mean only 5km? That's what's in the schedule." I'm not thanking you guys - you know I'm awesome and totally deserve your patience :)
I'm running for Asha and need your support. Please visit my page to see how you can help.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Going downhill is good

Not while it’s happening of course, not per the idiom. And no, not while running either. The worst that can happen uphill is you’d be slowed to a walk. The downhill however is a harbinger of guilt at not being able to ‘use’ the incline, and of sore, purple-nailed toes. What then is great about a downhill?
Saturday of the Independence Day weekend. 16km on Kanakapura Road, not a first-time distance. Even the dreaded incline on the earlier route was now replaced by a meek stretch on the other side. Nothing to indicate that this would be a ‘bad run.’
For no apparent reason, I started fast (well, fast for me) and at 2km, I was already seeing mirages of the water-stop. Stopping for water at 4km on a long run isn’t a usual for me, a sign I should’ve listened to.
Next came stressing out the barely-lucid mind. At the end of 5k, I figured I’d repeat the 2k loop at the end 4 times so that when I got to the main road, I could just head back for good. I was to stop for water at the end of 2 repeats. This was when the water-stop moved a km ahead on the road so as to make it easy for the sane ones who weren’t looping unneeded. I decided to stick to 4 loops with or without water-stop. Aka, end of lucidity.
And I would have done so if Santhosh hadn’t said that I continue on the main road where there’d be more company and thus saved me from me on the 3rd loop. By then, the damage was already done. Sustenance doesn’t help immediately when you’re hungry.
The main road had a fair share of nincompoops. The driving school instructor who went, “bega oda beku!BEGA oda beku!”.  Ignore the tone and leer, and you have a good cheer there. Then came the bald headed man on bike who from a fair distance on, kept signalling like a cop would to a suspect waiting his turn to be questioned. Thankfully further down the stretch there were folks still running and some in a car, who brought some respite.
I finished and gulped down water at the starting point.
I had walked more than I ever had on a run, taken longer. I had learnt that while running, Math is a bad, bad thing - distances, loops, even ‘thinking about’ anything instead of just ‘being’ are a strict no, more so when ‘malnutrition’d’ (you’d think this would be obvious.) But I think I hit this downhill at the right time. For the next Saturday was the 22km run, the longest distance this season.