Sunday, September 26, 2010

KTM 2010 experience

Almost exactly a week since the 2010 edition of KTM I seem  to have fully recovered from the run. However, recovery has been much slower than usual. Though I felt  fine on the evening of the event my body was very sore for the next couple of days due to which I found it tough to get a good nights sleep. Doing the additional 16Km in that terrain and heat took its toll. Usually I do my first ,  short recovery run within 48 hrs(Tuesday after the sunday event). This time I did a slow 4K on Wednesday and then a 7K on Friday  - I struggled in both these runs. It was only after a decent 13K on Saturday that I felt fully recovered and back to my normal self. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied with my achievement of having managed to run/walk 58Km in tough conditions after a good FM finish. As per the official timings on the Timing India results page for KTM 2010 I completed the FM in 4:32:04 finishing 23rd overall and 2nd in the senior category!

On Saturday 18th September we (Chandru, Ravi, Prateek and myself) left Domlur just before 3PM in my brother Chandru's car. Bangalore traffic being at its Saturday afternoon worst it took as an hour to get out of the city and reach the Raja Rajeshwari flyover. After that it was pretty fast going and after one short break in between we reach the start point of the race next to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary a little after 630PM in fading light. The RFL staff was setting up the podium on the starting line. We walked a few hundred meters on the trail so that Ravi and Chandru(both doing their first HM event) could get a feel of the uneven terrain. We reached Country Club located about 10Kms from the race start point a little after 7PM. The room there was just about average and OK for a nights rest before the race. After  an early dinner of dal, roti, and very spicy kadai vegetables we were pretty much asleep by 10PM after deciding to leave by 5:40am in the morning.  I slept well - undisturbed by the heavy traffic on the two major roads at the intersection of which Country Club was located. I had my alarm set for 5am and as usual woke up a few minutes before it rang. Chandru was already up and getting ready.  Thankfully there was no after effect of the spicy dinner. We left Country Club at 540am as planned in coool(almost cold )weather conditions and reached the race venue in less than 20 minutes. I consumed my customery 3 bananas before we left the room. As I was planning to try and run more than 42.2 Kms I carried two energy abrs with me instead of the one that I carry for long runs of over 30km. At the race venue cars were steadily streaming in and being parked on the side of the highway and runners were pouring out of them. As we walked from the parking area to the start point the whole place was abuzz with runners greeting each other and checking about their travel,  time targets etc.

Just before start of FM

The start area was crowded as many of the HM runners had also arrived. It was great to meet and greet a number of familair runners including Dan zico and Amit Joshi from Mumbai. After some brief announcements (as part of which A1 cautioned first timers that though the weather was deceptively cool it would warm up considerably later and one should not be targeting a PB at this event!) the FM started on the dot at 630am. Several  runners took off quite quickly - I started with a pace of about 6:10 per Km and then gradually slowed down. In the first leg I chatted with quite a few runners - Jugy, Senthilanand, Srinivas etc.The trail was pretty much as expected - uneven with frequent patches of embedded stones and grass or other shrubs. One had to constantly keep a vigil to ensure the foot was landing correctly apart from watching out for cows, cowdung, bullock carts and an occasional tractor. Nevertheless, one cannot but soak in the beautiful verdant scenery with the Kaveri canal on one side and  Paddy and sugarcane fields on the other. The pollution free rural setting makes for a great run ambience.  The route was mostly flat except for a gravel strewn gradient around the 9.5Km mark.  After about 40 minutes from start time I started getting overtaken by the faster HM runners including Ashok who was running as effortlessly as ever.

I completed the first half as planned in 2:10  averaging under 6:15 per Km and felt quite strong at this stage. I consumed most of my first energy abr by now. The name on the bib was an excellent feature of this year's event. This enabled runners to call out names of runners they did not know personally and encourage them which is always a morale booster for every runner. This also enabled one to put names to several familiar runners.   While returning to the start point I encountered the 10K  runners some of who were running at a very fast pace. At this time all the 800+ runners were on the trail and it was not as bad as I had thought it would be. I thought that on the narrow sections of the trail one might be impeded by other runners but that was not the case. Yes there were a few points  of congestion but for most runners who were not targeting stringent time goals this was not an issue. Pravin Kumar Takde who finished in an amazing course record timing of 3:17:44 looked extremely strong when I saw him returning on his last quarter of the race. I felt very strong till the turn around on the second loop. After that the impact of the heat began to be felt. When I started the race I was targeting around 4:45. around the 30Km  mark I felt I could do a 4:30. However, as I still wanted to run as close to 60Km as possible I decided to slow down. Around this point I went past Dan who was struggling due to the effect of the heat. I had consumed my 2nd energy bar by now. The aid stations that were just 2Kms apart were a great boon. This is another learning from the previous editions that RFL had made it a point to implement. Any fewer number of aid stations would have made it even more gruelling for the runners and they would not have enjoyed the experience as much. I hydrated myself constantly with water and Lucozade. After the 30Km mark I carried a bottle of Lucozade with me sipping it every few hundred meters. I completed the FM fairly comfortably in 4:32:04 to cheering runners and RFL crew. I had the energy to pick up pace in the last couple of Kms but wisely decided against it.  I handed my medal to Ashok for safe-keeping, filled my water bottle and started on the third loop.

By now (past 11am) the heat had picked up considerably. Of course, while it was warm and humid and many first time KTM'ers felt the conditions were less than ideal for marathon running upto this point I had I felt that it was less hot and humid compared to my previous FM experience here in 2008. I also heard the same from runners who had participated last year. Nevertheless, from here on it got extremely tough - not only was the heat overbearing -  the legs were hurting and it was a hard battle of the mind over body to continue.  I decided to slow down considerably to a 7:15 per Km pace. I also resorted to run/walk which I normally do not adopt . Even in the 3 Bangalore ultras that I have completed I have not walked much. But sensing the gruelling conditions and with the intention of at least covering a 55Km distance I changed my tactic. At about 3Kms mark I met Nari returning from his 3rd loop. He joined me and we ran/walked together for a bit.However, he soon gave up and took the motorbike back. I would not be honest if I said I did not contemplate doing the same. The mind kept reminding me that I had done a decent FM and all this additional effort was quite unnecessary. However, I proceeded  by setting small, manageable goals in my mind - of running upto the tree a few hundred meters away or till I overtook another runner and then walking a bit before running again. I stretched the goal from the 4Km water point to the 5Km turnaround point, then the 7Km water point. I finally turned around at the 8Km mark as I realised that it might take me close to 8 hours to do 63Km. With the food counter scheduled to close at 2PM I decided to try and be back at the start point by 1:30PM. I crossed 50Km with my  Garmin showing 5:46 - taking 24 minutes for the same distance compared to my performance in Bangalore Ultra 2009. My pace slowed down considerably and with the legs fully fatigued I tripped on the stones embedded in the trail several times. This was my lucky day as despite tripping at least 8 times(5 of them in the last 16 Kms) I managed to regain my balance each time . On another day I could very easily have fallen down and hurt myself. Every time I tripped I paused to drink some water and walked for a few meters before jogging again. The volunteers at the aid stations were very helpful. I got my water bottle filled a couple of times.I also experimented by eating a few Parle-G biscuits and peanut butter jelly sandwiches which I have never done before. I paused and stretched at many of the aid stations. My hamstrings and quads were completely shot by the time I touched 55Km so when a volunteer at the first/last aid station offered to use the spray on my legs I gladly accepted it. This gave renewed strength to my legs and I was able to run  the next 2 Kms at a decent pace. I was expecting to complete 58Kms in a little over 7 hours but thanks to this I managed it in 6:57 finishing in peak heat at 1:27PM!! Besides 2 energy bars, some bsicuits and sandwiches I had consumed 2 500ml bottles of Lucozade and at least the same quantity of water during the run.  Though I was tired and hurting I realised that the left Quads that  had been stressed a few weeks earlier did not bother me during the run which was a great relief for the season ahead.

Chandru and I had lunch  around 2PM at Young Island and then along with Hiren and Anuradha we drove back to Bangalore reaching home by 6PM.  I celebrated my run in the evening with a couple of glasses of red wine. Though I had run 58Kms in challenging conditions I did not lose any weight - by next morning my weight was back to 60Kgs/132 lbs. In fact, for 2-3 days after the run I felt ravenous and ate more than usual. While I had achieved my goal of training for a ultra I have  decided to give this year's GR 100 Bhati Lakes 2010 a miss and have registered for the 75Km event at the Bangalore Ultra on 14th November.
Nearing the end of 1st loop

Finishing the FM

No comments:

Building the base for season 2019-20

March 19th marked the start of the new running season for me as I restarted the process of building  base mileage after a complete break o...