It is now nearly two weeks since I had the the privilege of being able to do my bit in the 2nd edition of Strides of Hope held from 21st to 23rd Jan. Despite being unemployed since the beginning of the year I have not been able to make the time to update the blog as regularly as I would like to(Besides - there is a long overdue project to revamp the blog and creat a version 2.0 - hopefully will be able to get to it sometime this year!). The event this year was much bigger than last year as seen by the summary stats below:
Total number of participants: 624Total distance run: 5677.6 Km
Total distance walked: 577.5 Km
Total distance Cycled: 5529 Km
Total overall logged distance: 12255.1 Km
Cities reached out to: Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Austin and New Jersey
The above is in comparison to over 350 runners and over 3000 Kms in the 1st edition of the event in 2010. The event is slated to grow tremendously both in terms of number of particpants and coverage of cities in the years to come. More details are available in the post event report and press release on the SOH website.
My goal this year was to do 5-6 Kms at the flag-off on Friday, run as much as possible starting Saturday night with the goal of exceeding my last year's 81Km and possibly do 120Km+ and also be at the finale in Madhavan Park on Sunday afternoon. I failed miserably in my overall goal - nevertheless I had a great time and felt satisfied to have participated and made a small contribution to this unique event.
On Friday 21st Jan afternoon I reached the Home Guards group in Ulsoor by about 4:45PM for the flag-off. There were a number of Runners High folks as well as other runners and cyclists gathering there for the flag off. Everyone was very enthusiastic - the high energy levels were palpable. Nikhil of RFL arrived with all the stuff required for aid stations. Radha Ganesan was interviewing and filming a few participants - see photo below.
|Radha and crew interviewing some of the participants before flag-off|
The event was kicked-off just before 530PM with the runners running out of the Home Guards ground into the Ulsoor lake ground and the cyclists heading towards Hebbal flyover , enroute to Hyderabad, soon thereafter. I ran two loops covering 6.34Km in about 49 minutes with Santosh, Sam and Jacob Bhoopalan. Several other runners joined in. While I was tempted to run longer I decided against it in order to conserve my energy for Saturday night.
I pretty much rested most of Saturday and had a 'semiya-upma' dinner around 745PM. By 8PM I had packed my bags(with extra clothese, shoes, energy bars, bsicuits etc) and was ready. On Saturday, 22nd Nari picked me up just before 9PM and in a few minutes we reached the Goldman-Sachs parking lot at EGL where the aid station was being setup by a few volunteers. There were also a few runners waiting there. Around 930PM Santosh, Chandra, Preeti and others arrived. Nari and I started our run around 940PM. We ran the first two loops of 9Km each at an average pace of around 7:45 per Km. There were a couple of dark stretches on the route and it helped that I was carrying a small torch. Though I had thoroughly enjoyed running this stretch at night last year I found it a little more challenging and a bit boring this year. During these two loops there were about 10-12 runners/walkers on the route including Santosh, Sunand etc. As we were returning to complete our 2nd loop Honda-San joined us. The three of us (ie Honda-San, Nari and myself) did the next 3 loops pretty much together. From the 2nd half of the 4rth loop (from about 32Kms or so) we started following a run/walk pattern. I am sure Nari and I slowed Honda-San quite a bit but he stuck with us. By the 3rd loop our eyes got used to the darkness and since htere was also reasonably good moonlight we did not really need the torch. The weather was great -in fact a bit on the chillier side as the night wore on. Also during the course of those 3 loops all of us passed a lot of gas (symphony of f*rts!)- intially I felt a bit embarassed and tried to suppress it but later I just let it go as Nari can testify! Farting while running is quite normal - ofcourse it depends on on the food and the timing of the meal before a run - Here is an interesting post on this subject with a bunch of links.
Between each loop we stopped for a few minutes at the aid station to drink and eat a bit - biscuits, chocolates etc. At the end of our 5th loop Honda-San stopped running- he said he would be abck after a couple of hours of rest. I am amazed at how runners are able to do two long runs with a short break of a few hours in-between. Santosh did this as well. Before coming to EGL at 930PM he had taken a few hours break to get some sleep. At EGL also he took a couple of hours break and started running quite strongly thereafter. Towards the end of the 5th loop my back started hurting and I had to slow down considerably - we crossed the marathon distance in just under 6 hours. We started the 6th loop after a slightly longer break - I changed my socks while Nari changed his attire. In this loopthe back pain increased considerably and I also started to tire mentally. The mind started to say maybe I should not push myself too hard and risk a long term back issue. I have never had an issue with my back during a run and so it was quite worrisome. The pain did not seem to stay in one place- it seemed to traverse across the back. At the end of the 6th loop(54+Kms) I knew that I would not be able to continue too long. The legs hurt for sure but it was not too bad. However, the back pain was quite disconcerting. Preeti also advised that it was better not to take a chance with the back. I decided that the 7th loop was going to be my last one. Nari was determined to do an 8th one- I would have loved to give him company but this was one of those days where I lost the battle both mentally and physically. During the return leg of the 7th loop we met tens of familiar RFL runners. This one took a good 1hr 45 minutes to complete and I stopped at the end of it with my Garmin showing 63.4Km in 9hrs 41 minutes!! I felt disappointed that I was short of my goal but at that time I did not think it realistically possible to do two more loops to cross 81Km!! I did not hang around at EGL for too long - I left for home soon after and lay down on the floor. At the end of 90 minutes of sound sleep my back felt better. The legs also recovered in a few hours and a twinge of regret crept in my mind - maybe I could have pushed on and stayed the course a little longer :). I was able to do 81Kms last year exactly one week after running the Auroville marathon. However, I found it much more difficult this year one week after a fast Mumbai marathon. I guess this is because the body takes much longer to recover after a fast run while recovery is faster and better after a slower run(intend to research and post on this some time in the future). Doing 100Km+ will have to wait till next year now :)
I slept like a log for over 3 hours after an early lunch and thereafter felt too lethargic to go to Madhavan park for the finale!! While the soreness in the back lingered on for a few days I was able to comfortably do a 8Km run on Wednesday 26th Jan. Hats off to Santosh Padmanabhan for doing over 230Kms in 38hrs - his passion and commitment to running and helping under-privieged children through Asha is really amazing!! Several others ran/walked over 100Kms during the event : Jagadish, Sunand and of course Honda-San. Not to forget the 5 cyclists who rode to
and back clocking 3007Kms in 48 hours with Samim Rizvi alone doing 1237Kms - again an amazing feat of endurance and commitment!! Hyderabad