|After the finish at Madhavan Park - 21st February 2010|
I fell well short of my original, ambitous goal of being on my feet for 24 hours - after over 13.5 hours of being on my feet my stomach and legs were hurting bad and when I paused to consider whether I should go on or not at about 5:30am on 21st morning at EGL, both the body and mind chickened out. Later that afternoon as I comfortably ran the 2Km from Lalbagh to Madhavan park for the finale of Strides of Hope I felt a bit low that I had not pushed myself more and done one or two loops as part of the RFL run that morning and hit 100Km or at least 90Km. Now a few days after the event I have got over this and am satisified that I was able to achieve my longest ever run and along the way contribute my bit to this unique event and help spread awareness about running and the wonderful work being done by Asha for under-privileged children.
Being a passionate running evangelist and also an ardent supporter of helping under-privileged children through my involvement with Dream A Dream it took me just a few minutes to decide to run/walk as much as possible in the Strides of Hope. A light cold and fever a few days before the event did not deter me at all. Since I was not targeting any particular pace I did not feel nervous as I usually do when leading up to a race. On Friday 19th night , I along with my wife, dropped in at EGL around 10:45 PM to check how things were going. There were quite a few runners and volunteers there. I met Sunand Sampath and Murtaza who had undertaken to walk the entire 48 hrs. I felt quite excited about the whole event. Nevertheless, I managed a good 7 and a half hours sleep on Friday night.
On 20th afternoon I reached Cubbon Park a little before 3:30PM. Santosh who had been on his feet for nearly 24 hours had hurt his ankle and was resting. I along with Sam Reddy started a slow run to Ulsoor lake around 3:40PM. Within a few minutes we felt quite warm and started looking for water to buy which we got on Infantry road near Safina Plaza. The traffic along the route was high so the run was not much fun. However, Sam and I were meeting for the first time so we chatted all the way and covered the distance of about 6Kms in 45 minutes or so to reach the Home Guards parking lot opposite the Ulsoor lake.
|With Santosh and Shanavas at Ulsoor Feb 20th evening|
I then ran the 3.3Km loop inside Ulsoor Lake for a little over 3 hours in the company of various runners at different points in time. This included Sam, Shanavas, a 15 year old (10K/35mts runner) called Puttaraj, Pratibha, Chandra, Gautam and of course Santosh. Sam who has moved back to Bangalore after living in South Africa has completed Comrades an impressive 11 times!Santosh's parents also walked a few rounds. I was running in the ground inside the lake for the first time- it seemed a fairly good place to run. There were quite a few walkers and runners there and also people including a few couples generally hanging around. Running here was a bit tough after sunset due to lack of lights. Gautum and I did a couple of loops with torches. I maintained a steady pace of between 7:30 and 8:15 per Km and did a total of little over 29Km when we ended the run at the lake and took a break for dinner. The aid station there was well stocked with water melon, oranges, bananas, electral, coconut water, lemon juice and biscuits etc. During this period I finished a Power Bar energy bar. Santosh had stopped due to ankle pain about an hour earlier. Sunand and Murtaza were walking strongly and steadily. Also Jagadish and Sindhu completed their amazing 12 hour walk during this period.
We all had dinner in the parking lot of Home guardsI ate a couple of paranthas, Pulodarai and banana chips and curd rice with pickles. The food was quite awesome and I probably ended up eating a bit more than I should have. While eating I kept my Garmin for charging. After dinner I changed my shirt and socks and then along with Vinod and Anjana started our run to EGL. We were accompanied by Biju on the cycle and Gautam and Anjana's husband in their cars. We literally felt like VIPs/celebrities. Of course the traffic enroute was quite bad - specially around the Ulsoor lake and old Madras Road. We covered the 6 Kms in 50 minutes and entered the parking lot of Goldman Sachs in EGL to loud claps. It felt good and energising.
There were quite a few volunteers and runners at EGL. I ended up doing a total of 5 loops of 9.2Km each. In every loop there were 7 or 8 runners with me and at least one cyclist . There were familiar faces like Manoj Bhat, Ambar and Amit Joshi. Plus I met and chatted up with a number of fantastic runners for the first time: Vikram Kamath, Manish, Deepak, Prakash etc. The aid station at EGL was well stocked through out the night and the volunteers and other runners there were extremely enthusiastic and helpful. Their cheering and clapping each time we left and each time we returned was a huge motivator. The route here was very familair to me as I run here during the weekdays as part of my regular training.Running here at night was a bit different but I did not find it much tougher. There was one part of the route that was dug up and quite difficult to navigate in the dark and there were also other parts of the route that were pitch dark - the torches that some of us were carrying were very useful. I tried to do a run/walk routine : 25 minutes of running with 5 minutes of walking. In the second loop I crossed my previous longest distance ie 52Km and entered uncharted territory. It felt a little cooler after midnight so for the 3rd loop onwards I changed to a full-sleeve shirt . Till the end of second loop (approx 53Km)I felt quite comfortable. However, towards the second half of third loop my stomach began to ache -probably the effect of running immediately after dinner - something that I was not used to. I used the rest room at Goldman Sachs - but that did not seem to help. For the 4rth loop I left my Garmin for charging. In this and the next loop I was part of some wonderful conversation with Manish and Prakash on various subjects. The amazing thing about Manish is that he was able to walk very comfortably at a steady pace of about 7Km/hr and he also ensured that I did not speed up. By the end of 4rth loop my stomach discomfort had increased significantly and of course my feet and legs were were also hurting. I sensed the beginning of an ITB issue. Preeti helped me stretch a bit and after a brief break I set off on my 5th loop. However, I could now feel my resolve for going on diminishing quite rapidly. It was both a physical and mental battle. Most of the 5th loop I ended up walking with Manish. I did very little running during this loop. On the return leg, as the day was breaking, we started seeing some early morning walkers along the way. At the end of this loop I took off my shoes and socks and examined my feet. There were no blisters - however the feet were hurting quite badly. And my stomach felt extremely gassy. I pondered for several minutes whether to go on or not. During this period I also checked and rechecked with Rajeev, Preeti etc whether there were sufficient runners to carry on run through the 48 hours period. They had prepared a roster of runners to ensure this. After about 15 minutes or so of ' should I' or ' Should I not' I opted out though I did not feel great about it. At just about 6 am I left for home in Prakash's car - enroute we saw a bunch of RFL runners starting their run .
|Lalbagh to Madhavan Park 21st Feb afternoon|
I had to rush to the bathroom as soon as I reached home. I felt quite drained out and after eating a few biscuits slept solid for over 3 hours. I woke up feeling quite allright and a few hours later landed up at Lalbagh with Amit Joshi for the finale of the event. A large bunch of us started a slow jog from Lalbagh to Madhavan park at 330PM. Though most of us were quite exhausted and it was a very warm afternoon the energy, excitement and enthusiasm of the group was very high. At Madhavan Park we(by now there were probably over 50 of us) did a few loops on the track and counted down the last few seconds to loud shouts, cheers and Hi-5s bringing down the curtains on a unique event that was planned and executed very well. Happily for the running community in Bangalore this is now planned to be an annual event. I lost about 4 pounds during the run - of course I gained that back within 24 hours. Though there were still a few aches and pains and my cold got a bit worse, I recovered almost completely in a couple of days.
I got over the disappointement of stopping after 81Km quickly and felt good that I was able to run a good 30KM more than I have ever done before in life and that too without specifically training for it. And doing this 1 week after Auroville marathon meant that I had done 42K+ on back to back weekends clocking a mileage of over 130Kms in a space of 8 days! Also, for the first time I ran through the night - I did not find that different from day time running probably due to the wonderful company I had. Doing run/walk at one's own pace without having to worry about timing was a wonderful finale to the long distance running season- thanks to Santosh and Strides of Hope for making this happen. A unique thing about this event is that at no point in time was I alone - I always had company. Participating in this event has reinforced my confidence that I can scale between doing fast full marathons and running slow ultras comfrotably and enjoy doing both!