More about me as a runner

2017 Target Events

  • 15th Jan - Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon
  • 12th Feb - Auroville Marathon HM
  • April/May - FM in US East coast - tentative
  • 30th July - 12 hour stadium run - tentative

Blog Archive

Saturday, January 14, 2017

12 hours to the 12th one at Mumbai...

SCMM has been a fixture on my running calendar since the HM I ran in the 1st edition in February 2004. All subsequent editions have been held in January - usually on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Despite the familiarity of the routine and the course (in which I PB'ed in 2013) the mix of excitement and anxiety experienced in the days and hours leading to the start line has also remained a constant. The SCMM is by far the largest and best organised road full marathon in the country. It has also grown leaps and bounds in size and attracts serious recreational runners as well as professional runners from around the country. It looks like over 6,000 runners have registered for the FM tomorrow . Across all categories over 42,0000 runners are expected to hit the roads of Mumbai!

As usual I arrived in Mumbai on Friday evening. For the first time the expo and bib collection point for outstation runners was at Richardson and Cruddas in Byculla  - it has usually been at the WTC in Colaba except one year when it was  at BKC. The bib collection process is usually very smooth and quick at SCMM. This year it was an even quicker process despite the venue being quite crowded with runners when I got there at half past 12.  I went to the back office and collected my 'special bib' with zero wait time (Thanks to fellow Bangalore runner Sunil for guiding me on this). I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Procam in the last week of December asking for 3 choices of bib nos between 201 and 999998 as a token of appreciation of having run the marathon for 11 years in a row. I got allotted my 1st choice , that is, 1111. (My other choices were 1001 and 345).  And  this bib no.  will be blocked for me for the next 3 years!!

My goal this year is to do try and do a sub 3:45 or at least as close to the 3:47:15 of 2016 as possible. Despite the injury woes in September and October I feel in good shape and would be disappointed if the time is slower than 3:50(of course the variables during the race are often unpredictable and beyond one's control).  Given the cool weather I expect to start at an average pace of 5:15 per Km for the first 10 Kms, slow down a bit and get to the half way point in about 1:51:30(at average of 5:17 per km) and then try and keep it between 5:20 and 5:25 per km for a sub 1:53:30 2nd half . 

In any case I am looking forward to another great experience of running on the fantastic Mumbai route - meeting fellow runners from around the country and cheered on by the fantastic crowd of Mumbaikars!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hoping for the tide to turn..

An excellent 1:51/21.1K run on 31st December to end the 3rd consecutive year of injury plagued, below par running is hopefully an harbinger of the turning of the tide in 2017. After a low of just one FM in 2015, two FMs and the Bangalore Ultra in 2016 was an improvement.

Following is a summary of the year's events:

SCMM 2016  -  17th January - 3:47:15  versus goal of 3:50
Green Europe Marathon  - 8th May - 3:49:25 (original goal was 3:50, later changed to 3:45)
Bangalore marathon -  16th October  - DNS (goal of sub 3:45)
Kaveri Trail Marathon (HM) - 1:55:07
Bangalore Ultra (50 Km) -  5:58:38 - downgraded from 75Km with a goal to complete around 6hrs

After restarting structured RLRF training including the intervals in July after a break of over two years, things were going very well till the minor tear in the right calf muscle in September a few weeks before the Bangalore marathon set me back to ground zero. Consequently had to skip the Bangalore marathon , downgrade Bangalore Ultra to 50K and abandon plans to run Comrades in 2017. After about 5 weeks of rest, physiotherapy and strengthening  I managed a few tempo and long runs post the Bangalore Ultra.  Managed to keep the weight in the 54 to 56Kg range through the year.

The 2017 goal is to to stay injury free and work towards hitting BQ-5 at  SCMM in January 2018. I intend to continue to focus on strength training.  The only two races confirmed so far for 2017 are:
 a)  SCMM on 15th January ( sub 3:45) and
 b) HM at Auroville on 12th February ( sub 1:44)  

The other potential races are a FM in the east coast of US in May if the vacation plan works out , 12 hour stadium run on 30th July  and 50 Km at Malnad Ultra on 7th October. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

KTM 2016

The 10th anniversary  Kaveri Trail Marathon  run was postponed from 17th September to 27th November due to the curfew in Bangalore and Mysore caused by the Cauvery water related unrest between KA and TN. Unlike the Bangalore Ultra, where I have started every year, my participation in KTM has been intermittent - four out of nine. Having registered for the event in July I decided to take it easy post the recent injury and the 50K at the Ultra just two weeks before. The goal was to enjoy the trail and complete in around 1:53- same time as last year

Drove to the venue with Captain and Amrita on 27th November . Got picked up at 2:45 and reached the venue by 5:40 after picking up Nari and Vasu enroute. After checking in my bag in the holding area went to the start point with D. Felt quite cold and decided to run with two layers. Just about 50 or so FM runners took off at 6am.  Given the choice of events now available to runners  and the change of date the participation level in both FM and HM was low.

Udupa Murthy and I runversed till about 14Kms at a steady pace of about 5:20/Km.  The stomach pain which was on and off till then became quite unbearable and I slowed down while UM went on ahead. My stomach seemed to have got massively upset. With steadily increasing pain with gritted teeth I dug deep to complete the last few Kms of the race finishing in a little over 1:55. And rushed straight to a potty in the finish line. Overall , while the trail was as good as ever , I did not enjoy the race this time. Parts of the trail seemed to have been flattened/widened - is the trail likely to be paved in a few years? 

After a relatively light breakfast left for Bangalore with Pradeep, D and A at about 11am reaching home by 2PM.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bangalore Ultra 2016

My 7th 50Km finish at the Bangalore Ultra 2016 on 12th November 2016 in 5:58:38 placed me  5th in my age category and 13th overall.  At the first Ultra in 2007 the shortest distance was 52Km. In 2010 I ran the 75Km distance. And then last year I DNF'ed. While this was my slowest ever 50Km finish I was very happy  and satisfied that I completed  in under 6 hours . Few weeks before the race I struggled to run a 5K in 32m and reconciling to the possibility of a DNS. While making up my mind to run the ultra I was mentally prepared to take 7/7.5 hours to complete it. The first  half was perfectly on target in 2:41:46 at 6:28/Km pace. As it became quite warm and the right half and glutes started hurting the second half became tough. I ended up walking a lot after 32Km or so. At times walked more than ran a Km - so most of the last 15 Kms were at a pace of between 7 and 9 mins/Km . Managed to dig in and 'sprint' the 50th Km in 6:20.  As always I thoroughly enjoyed the experience - the wonderful trail, the well stocked aid stations(salted peanuts being my perennial favourite) and the sight of familiar and not-so familiar runners pushing  and/or enjoying themselves. The right glute was quite painful during the ride back; however, overall recovery was quite fast with a couple of short easy runs during the week.

Woke up at about 3a m after about 4 hours sleep. Left Ranka at 4:15am to reach Vishy's place in Koramangla around 4:30am. Picked up Rinaz from Sarjapur road and headed towards Hennur road off ORR. Due to misguidance from Google maps ended up turning into Hormavu road.Fortunately we realised the mistake early(thanks to a closed railway crossing) and corrected course. As a result we made it to the venue at about 5:45am . By the time we got ready and walked to the holding area there were barely 3 minutes left for the race start.  I handed over my bag to A2 for checking in at the baggage counter and rushed to the start line(ditching V and R).
few minutes before race start
At exactly 6am the 50K and 75K runners took off - about 150 or so. I started with Rishi, Amrita, Naresh and Sunil. The last 3 pushed ahead by the time I completed my first Km in 6:25. Rishi , who had a shin issue and was not planning to run the full distance, stayed with me. We ran a fairly steady pace runversing on various topics. A little after the 10Km mark Rishi turned back while I continued at a similar pace.

Selfie on the run
Rest of the run I ran mostly alone with Amrita and I crisscrossing each other frequently. There was a cold nip in the air when the race started and the weather stayed pleasant till abut 730am after which it started warming up. Towards the end I thought it was much hotter compared to last few years probably as it had not rained in the weeks leading up to the race. The route was very dry unlike the slush of the previous years. Have fallen on the route in the previous two years I was cautious and conscious this year.

Had lunch with podium winners Naresh and Amrita  before heading back in Naresh's car at about 130 or so reaching home at 330 PM via Ramamurthy Nagar and Koramangla.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Counting down to the 10th edition of the Bangalore Ultra

The country has come a long way in running and ultra running since 2007 when the 1st edition of the Bangalore Ultra  was held at Our Native Village in Hesarghatta.  The number of ultra running events and the participation has grown in leaps and bounds including 24 hour and 36 hour runners. Nearly 100 runners from India travelling to South Africa to run 89Km at Comrades marathon in May 2015 would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. The Bangalore Ultra ,arguably the oldest Ultra in the country, has played a very significant part in this growth of the ultra running community in the country. It has provided opportunity to numerous runners to push beyond the marathon and do their longest ever distance - 50K, 75K, 100K and beyond.   The 10th edition of this pioneering  and usually well organised event is now less than a week away on Saturday, 12th November.

I am among the (handful of?) runners who has been lucky enough to be at the starting line of  an ultra distance at every edition of this event.  The first 5 editions from 2007 to 2011 were held at the trail in Hesarghatta with the 1st one having 4 loops of 13K for a total of  52K. Since 2012 the event is being held at the bamboo forest off Hennur road.  Between 2008 and 2014  I completed the 50K every year except 2010 when I ran 75K - my longest distance to date in a timed event. 2015  was heartbreaking - after overcoming injuries and a last minute lower back strain I was thrilled to start the race hoping for a 9th consecutive finish. Unfortunately, I ended up with a DNF due to a fall during the race.

When due to  a right calf muscle tear not recovering quickly enough I had to reconcile to a DNS in the Bangalore marathon on 16th October I downgraded from 75K to 50K at the Ultra with the possibility of another DNS.  However, relatively less discomfort in my right calf during and after couple of slow runs/brisk walks wearing the compression socks (bought  along with a calf support sleeve from Decathalon based on advise from Doc Y and coach D) ) , gave me the encouragement to go ahead and  attempt the 50K at the ultra on 12th November.   A 3:05/25Km run on 29th October and a 4:15/37K on 5th November gives me confidence that  a 50K run/walk in around 6 hours is doable. The plan is to do the 1st loop in about 2:45 (average pace of 6:30 or so) and then take it from there depending on how the legs are holding up.

It is a bit of a risk as the right calf has not fully healed. The rationale to let the heart rule over the head and extend the streak to the 10th year is  that I am anyway unlikely to be able to race hard at SCMM 2017 and can take a few months off to recover after that.   As always I am looking forward to enjoying the trail and meeting other runners along the way!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016


As hundreds of runner friends countdown the last few hours to the Sriram Properties Bengaluru Marathon on 16th October I am brooding over the second DNS(Did Not Start) of my running career to add to the two DNFs (Did Not Finish).  DNS is when one registers and trains for a race and is unable to or decides against participating due to travel or injury etc. DNF is when one starts the race and is unable to complete the targeted/registered distance due to circumstances during the run. 

For the record my other DNS was when I fell sick and missed the Hyderabad marathon in 2009. The two DNFs are my first FM attempt at Pune in December 2002 and the 9th Bangalore Ultra in November 2015.

Participation in SPBM 2016 was ruled out when the right calf hurt during a slow 5K run a little over a week ago. While it is depressing as my training was going very well and I was looking forward to a sub 3:45 at my first FM at this event skipping it will enable to have some decent runs during the rest of this season. With no running since the end of September and probably for another week I downgraded from 75K to 50K at the Bangalore Ultra in November and decided not to run the Goa River marathon. A cascading effect is probably Comrades will need to put off for a couple of years.

While many injured/non-particpating runners like to go the expo and interact with runners and/or volunteer during the event I prefer to just stay away from it. I just don't feel like explaining my injury to other runners -  miss participation just by going through the pre and post run FB updates of friends. Besides I want to keep my record of volunteering only for non-commercial runs.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Tempo training

The tempo run is the the second of the 3 weekly runs prescribed by the FIRST 'Run Less, Run Faster' training program - the other two being interval training and the long run .A tempo run is also known as a lactate-threshold, LT, or  Anaerobic threshold, AT or just threshold run. The tempo run pace is 'comfortably hard' - slower than the pace of interval runs and faster than a long run pace. One rule of thumb is about 15 to 45s slower than 5K race pace depending on the distance of the tempo run. The RLRF program specifies the pace for each of the 15 tempo tempo runs depending on the target marathon pace. 

LT is the point at which lactic acid (a by-product of glucose metabolization) begins to accumulate in muscles. An accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles leads to the fatigue and soreness that runners experience when running hard.  Increasing the LT by doing tempo run can reduce the accumulation of lactic acid which results in an ability to run faster without suffering muscle fatigue. Tempo runs are also helpful for developing the mental toughness and stamina needed for racing.

The lactate-threshold or anaerobic threshold run is for about 40-60 minutes duration at an intensity at which lactic acid accumulates in the blood stream faster than it can be cleared away - this is usually at 80-95% of maximum heart rate. Increasing the anaerobic threshold allows the body to run at faster and faster speeds before fatigue and lactic acid take over.Maintaining a specific and consistent pace is the most important aspect of a tempo run. The RLRF program specifies tempo runs of 3 paces  - short-tempo pace for  5K distance, mid-tempo pace for  up to about 8K  and log-tempo pace for distances up to about 10K. 

The tempo interval is a variation which are tempo runs interspersed at regular (say, 2Km or 10-minute) intervals by 30- to 60-second rest periods. This pattern diminishes the psychological difficulty of the workout while preserving the aerobic benefits, allows greater volume  and may help guard against excessive speed. 

Personally, of the 3 workouts prescribed by the RLRF I used to enjoy the tempo run the most - medium distance at medium intensity (intervals being short distances at very high intensity/effort and long run being long distances at relatively lower intensity) . However, in the current training cycle for the Bangalore marathon I have struggled a bit with the tempo runs specially the mid-tempo pace run - missing the target pace by a few seconds for some of the Kms.