Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ultra(2010) experience

As mentioned in my previous post I had a great 75Km run at Bangalore Ultra 2010. However, the last few hours leading up to the start of the race was not that good. As  usual I was  quite restless the previous evening/night. (Thankfully I had a pretty good night's sleep the previous two nights which is important as most runners end up being tense and restless the night before the actual event). Though I had dinner around 8PM and went to bed just after 9PM I kept getting up to check that I had packed everything: towel, extra shoes, socks, T-shirt, cap, the energy bars etc etc. Eventually went to sleep around 1030PM and woke up before my alarm went off at 2:20 am. Praveen Singh picked me up around 3:15. With a roadblock on MG road due to the metro cosntruction work we got delayed a bit getting to the parking area outside Bowring Institute on St. Marks Road. Meanwhile Dharam had reached Cubbon Park and called a couple of times. When we finally got dropped off at Cubbon Park by Jugy at about 3:40am and I got into Dharam's car I suddenly realised that a plastic bag with my running shoes and the timing chip was missing. I was extremely flustered at this discovery and quite unsure as to what to do next when , much to my relief, a runner waiting for the RFL transport came by and gave the bag with the shoes . I was still quite disturbed and forgot to thank the good samaritan properly. Dharam and I set off in his car with the Vasu, Nari, Praveen and Sumanth following in Vasu's car. It was several minutes before I calmed down.  Fortunately, our drive was quite quick and we were able to get to Our Native Village in Hessaraghatta by 4:30am. The  large flourescent sign boards  providing directions to ONV placed thoughtfully by RFL along the way were useful specially those driving to the Ultra for the first time.

On the podium before start of the race

Starting the race
Of course, the starting area was buzzing with the energy of runners - a lot of familiar ones plus many new faces from Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and outside India. At the beginning of the path inside ONV leading up to the start area was a 'on-the-runner' baggage counter where runners could store small items that they may need at a later stage during their run such as sunglasses, cap, gels, energy bars etc. This was a useful innovation from RFL. I stored one energy bar and cap here while I carried another 1.5 energy bars with me. Next to the stage was a second baggage counter where I stored my bag with extra shoes, socks, shirt and towel. Runners were busy taking pictures, checking on each others' training, timing goals etc while waiting for the start of the race. LED torches were given out to runners starting at 5am as it was pitch dark at this point. After a few announcements from A1 and A2 including the course records for the various distances the run was flagged off at 5am sharp. Running in the dark with a torch was quite an experience. Though I have done this at Auroville marathon a couple of times. I felt quite unsure of myself and started off much slower than planned.  By the time we approached the 2nd Aid Station I had to take my first of several comfort breaks. By this time Nari and I were together. We pretty much stayed together for 2 and a half loops. It was great to see Santosh Padmanabhan running comfortably despite having run over 100Km since 5PM on Saturday(13th) along with Kavitha pacing him on her bicycle. It was highly inspiring  and every time I saw them I got renewed strength to continue my run. The run route was mostly same as the previous year - vast green fields with sparse trees along the way, damp grass, mostly red mud, stretches of narrow, uneven paths and a couple of gradients - all making it  a challenging race. The one difference in the route was the turnaround point. The grove of trees through which we ran after the road section before turning around had unfortunately been destroyed.So the turnaround was on the road section itself. Once it was daylight I was able to pick up pace and maintain it in the second loop.  Nari and I completed 25KM in about 2:38 as against our goal of 2:35. By this time I had eaten half an energy bar. Unfortunately, the weather gods were not as kind to us this  time unlike the last two years. By the time we started our third loop the sun was out nice and bright. It was clear that runners, specially those doing longer distances, were going to have a tough time in the warm weather.

Though it gets a bit boring to do 6.25Km out and back multiple times the great thing about this loop is that one gets to see the other  runners multiple times irrespective of the distance they are doing. The energy and enthusiasm that the comradarie and cheering each other generates is  amazing. As we were completing the 1st loop we met numerous familiar 50K runners. And then of course the 37.5K, 25K and eventually the 12.5K runners when doing the 3rd loop. Around the middle of the 3rd loop Nari started to slow down and fall behind.  I picked up my 2nd energy bar from the 'on-the-run' counter at the start of the 4rth loop. In this loop a few runner friends who were not participating in the event this year namely Gopal, Prasad and Mac joined me for a short while. Gopal actually ran with me almost the entire 4rth loop and this helped me tremendously Without his company and engaging conversation I would have definitely done a much slower time. I ended up doing the second 25Km  in a little over 3 hours nearly 10 minutes faster than my target.  Each time one went through the start point Atul or one of the other organisers enthusiastically called out the names of the runners - this was a nice tonic to start the next loop with.

Before starting my 5th loop I walked to the baggage counter and changed my shirt and also my socks and shoes. This of course involved transferring the bib and the chip. While transferring the chip and tying the shoe laces my quads cramped quite severely giving me a bit of a scare. However, I felt OK after I ran slowly to the aid station and refueled myself. Needless to say, the last two loops were very challenging. After about 55Km or so the legs started to hurt all over , specially the Quads, with occasional (mild) cramping. From this point on I stopped at every aid station, drank a lot of water and Lucozade, ate oranges and generously used the Volini spray on my legs. I then stretched for a few seconds and walked briskly for a few minutes before starting to run again. This is something that I had experimented with during my additional 16Km run/walk at KTM 2010. That  experience enabled me to cope with the tired legs and body and warm weather in a pre-determined manner and I was able to do close to 7:30 per Km pace when running.  I caught up with Chandra at the Aid Station around the 60Km  mark in the 5th loop and was able to slowly push ahead. By this time I was certain that I would be able to finish in about 9:15 or so.    
Surprisingly for me I felt really great in the 2nd half of the last loop even though it was past 1PM and  the few  runners on the trail were distributed sparsely. Once I realised that a sub 9 hr timing was within the realm of possibility I picked up pace and almost sprinted the last 2Kms finishing the race in just over 8 hours 56 minutes!! At this point in time I felt strong enough to  perhaps turn around and attempt one more loop - however I decided against that.  I think I am very fortunate that my body is able to handle heat better than most other runners.  Chandra finished a few minutes after me in 9:09. Praveen completed in 9:41 and Nari in 10:22 - the 3 of us doing our 1st 75Km at the Ultra!! I thought the lunch was quite ok this time around though many other runners felt otherwise.

Overall very satisfactory event including great organisation from the RFL team -despite the harsh warm weather runners enjoyed themselves thoroughly! Several runners did their longest ever distance and many achieved their PBs. And hats off  to the 100K runners ! Of course I was aching all over for a couple of days. Special mention must be made of the stiff upper back and a new purple toe that I collected . And the fact that the right glut and hamstrings were sore for longer than normal - it is ususally the left side that is weaker and hurts more.

Now on to the last event of the calendar year which will be a Half Marathon for me at the Midnight marathon on 11th December.

1 comment:

Deepak mhasavade said...

Congratulations Bhaskar on gracefully finishing and winning in 75K Ultra marathon. I have not seen passionate and disciplined runner like you! I have no dough you will keep on breaking your own records and also setting milestone for many of us! I am looking forward to catch up with you on some run.
Also I would like to thank you for nicely capturing in details your runs on your blog. Your blogs are inspiring and Wish you all the best for your next running endeavors!

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