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Should you follow the pacer?

So a niggling doubt for many runners is if they should match the pacer during a marathon in order to reach their goal time, lets talk about why you should and shouldn’t with Nandini Reddy

To begin with let us understand what pacing means – Pacing is an average running pace associated with a particular event time goal. For example if you want to complete a full marathon in 3 hrs and 45 mins then you need to target a pace of 5.25 minutes per km.

At every marathon you are likely to meet the pacers with times scrawled behind their shirts or on the balloons tied to their waists. You also see a huge number of numbers tailing them even before the start point. The popularity of pace groups has increased over the past few years as more runners find it easier to follow a pacer. The promise of reaching the finish line in  goal time, is what has most runners hanging on to pacer groups.

Having said that there are still a few pros and cons that should be considered before you decide to latch on to a pacer during a marathon.

Crowding

One of the biggest cons for running in pace groups is that there are too many people crowded around you. This chaos stays with you through the race, even at water stations. It is difficult to navigate and find a comfortable rhythm when you are running in a crowd. This leads to increased frustration and tempers and also many runners miss water stations because of the sheer number of people crowding the station from the groups. Missing a hydration interval can be detrimental to your pace when you are running a full marathon.

Pacing on terrains

Flat surface runs with pacers is fairly simpler because all runners can see the pacer and follow him at an even pace. When terrains are peppered with uphill, curves and twists in the trail then it becomes very difficult to follow a pacer because their pace will also keep fluctuating. A novice runner may not be prepared to deal with this and it might end up demotivating them to finish the race in a given time.

Trying to keep up

Every runner doesn’t train with a group. There are many runners who train individually and when they latch on to a pacer, they try to adopt the rhythm of the pacer. This means that after training for weeks to find you own rhythm, you are now trying to imitate another runner’s rhythm on race day. That definitely cannot work in your favour! When runners begin their race with pacers they also tend to run too fast in the first few kilometres and get fatigued quickly.

Stalking a pace group

If you feel that you cannot handle the crowd and the fluctuating pace when you want to follow a pacer then you can follow a different strategy. Most pacers will either run in bright T-shirts or with helium balloons attached to them. Even if you are not in the middle of the pacing group, you can certainly see the pacer. You can stalk the pacing group from a distance so that you are comfortable with your running style and still get the advantage of having a reference on your timing.

Group Motivation

Have you ever noticed that even when you train for a particular timing, on race day you always seem to do better? That happens a lot because of watching other runners around you. If you are a runner who thrives on group motivation then pacing groups are the place to be. The cheering from other runners will keep your spirits up and will constantly motivate you to finish the race.

Runners who train alone may not want to be in pace groups but running groups seem to prefer them more. It doesn’t matter what another runner does or recommends, go with your gut when it comes to finishing in goal timing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Running Resolutions for the New Year

Come New Year and everyone makes resolutions to be better than last year. Since you are making resolutions anyway, how about a few running resolutions this year, asks Nandini Reddy

So it is almost that time of the year when you start thinking about how you can bring a positive change to your life and how the New Year will see a new you. If you are a runner then how about this year we try a few things that might make you a better runner. They may be resolutions that would improve your running or just make you enjoy running a little more this year.

Get the right Shoe

Go out and buy that shoe you have always wanted. The right shoes can make such a huge difference to your running style. Pick the one that is recommended for road running if you train around the city. If you want to run trails the get a different shoe. Speak to a specialist if you have to but get those shoes that you deserve. Make it the first thing on your list of resolutions for the new year.

Do more than run

If you have not worked on your strength training as yet then sign up for at least two days a week of strength training in the new year. If you cannot make it to a gym then try and workout using classic body weight training exercises that will help strengthen your muscles.

Get healthy

Make getting healthy a target instead of losing weight. Concentrate on overall health instead of just the weight. That will help you increase nutrition instead of just cutting calories. Use water as a friend to improve your running efficiency. Try have more meals instead of overloading at a single time.

Spend time with runners

Runners are a huge motivating force and if you are around them you will be more inspired to achieve your running targets for the year. They are also likely to be more enthusiastic about participating in marathons together and will be willing to train with you for the big race.

Make Less Excuses

It will always be too hot or cold or too wet to run. Meetings and routines will take over your day all the time. But try and make less excuses for not going on those runs during the week. Every run counts and every run brings you closer to your goal.

Pick your dream marathon

Aim to run a particular marathon in the year. Train with that goal in mind. Your attitude towards training and nutrition will change automatically. Pick one major marathon that gives you enough time to prepare yourself. Set a challenge to complete this marathon in a given time.

Running is fun. Don’t get too serious about it. Enjoy your runs on training days. Make interesting eating plans and ensure that it becomes a part of your life that you look forward to everyday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Lace up to Lose Weight

Running is a great form of exercise if you are looking to lose weight. Nandini Reddy talks about how  you can run right to achieve your weight loss goals. 

Every time a new diet or exercise comes on, you are probably ready to try it, if it promises that it would knock off the pounds. But aside from the age old sage advice of ‘eat healthy and exercise’ sometimes it is difficult to find a programme that shows consistent results. Running in that sense is a great form of exercise that shows significant results in weight loss if done right.

Be Consistent

Running is hard in the beginning. It gives you sore muscles and you probably can’t even run a full kilometre without losing your breath but if you keep at it, it pays off. Look at a long term approach and plan your running schedule for the next 8 weeks and you will definitely see an improvement in all aspects.

Find a Programme 

If you are unable to come up with a running programme yourself then either find a running club or an app like Nike Running to help you formulate a running programme that suits your current fitness levels. Start with a run/walk programme and then you can slowly graduate to slow continuous jogs and then to full -fledged running.

Increase mobility

You need to strengthen your muscles so that you become a stronger runner. Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges are a great way to start strengthening your muscles. These will help increase your mobility and also reduce instances of soreness.

Interval Training

Fast running is an excellent tool for weight loss. Sprints will get your heart rate up and will burn more energy and uphill sprints are even more effective. This sort of interval training helps in higher weight loss. You can start with 30 second intervals of sprints and brisk walks. Then graduate to sprints and jogs.

Runner’s High

If you are trying a new exercise programme then it is important that you enjoy it. Running comes with an inherent advantage of feeling exhilarated after you finish your planned run. Running is known to release ‘happy hormones’ that stay with you through the day.

Any form of exercise is good exercise, but when you want to lose weight then its very hard to beat the results that running gives you.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Running through my inner conflict

Running can help you in more ways that you can imagine, Vanitha Shankar, an avid runner, talks about her life changing experiences from her morning runs. 

It was a Saturday morning. While lacing up for a ritualistic long-distance run, my gaze shifted towards the wide-open French-window of my apartment offering a fresh view of the world outside. The colour painted on the sky that day was a kind of vivid blue, indicating an impending dawn break. It was the start of a weekend, a new day, a run-day.…. also, the start of yet another day of a recurrent inner conflict in me!

The Battle of Choice
Do I listen to my legs begging to release themselves to motion, like a pup desperate to grab attention from its owner to go outdoors? Or yield to my hands stretching out to grab the camera! Giving in to the temptation of capturing the glorious sky could mean justice to Mother Nature, but certainly a compromise on the scheduled training plan. Chewing that unresolved inner conflict in mind, I decide to grab few pictures and set my feet in motion.
As I step outside, I see visuals in plenty. The magnificent sunrise along the coast, the morning beauty of a sprightly child with ruffled hair running through the lanes, the warmth of a young father walking his toddler, a street dog pacing a forerunner, a tea-stall banter tempting a great picture-story, the curvy bend with luscious greenery for a scenic shot. Do I now stop by and capture some of these on my mobile phone, I wonder with an itch on my hands! I settle to adopt the piecemeal approach, yet again.

Along the route, I see more in store – the historic buildings, statues of great leaders donning the long stretch, now serving as distance milestones to the runners, the vision, perspective, essence and variety is infinite and appearing unique every time. Upon each sight, my heart would signal a pressure, not from the cardio regime, but from conflicting stretches of my hands and legs in bipolar directions. Inner conflict is never a good thing, even when the choices are positive.

Well, to set context, it’s not an exaggerated emotion that I try to project here; but a genuine expression of an inner dilemma. A tad confused initially, I somewhere came to a self-realization that that I’m indeed one of many people, wired with a deep sensitivity to many different passions – writing as one example.

Along my route

Listening to a TED talk recently by Emilie Wapnick on multiple interests, I concluded that the key to resolution was in figuring out a way to connect these different passions. Not something new, considering my earlier weekly activity of connecting running and writing through comprehensive stories and weekly profiles of runners!

Gradually then, I learned to navigate through this specific one too, by sending rationale to the rear, and letting my heart rule as it deemed appropriate at that very moment. Even if it meant a compromise to one or the other. A progression I guess, this pattern led me into another new space – it’s been over a year now, since Running opened me up to yet another new world of creative expression – through photography connecting it with crisp and intriguing captions!

Today, as I progressively work on building distances, I find my thoughts and stimuli more in control. I find my thoughts gradually zoning out from the everyday chores and nagging to-do lists into a free and open space, where all I see around is life, an air of clarity engulfing the mind, and a rhythmic body motion playing along. At times, my mind would feel blank, only my eyes picking up pervasive visuals, making me wonder if this really is the powerful meditation exercise that the spiritual practitioners often talk about!

I get into a mind space where nothing else matters – neither speed nor timing, neither goals nor work, certainly not the grind of life. What truly takes over the mind is synchrony, and a connect with the world. BUT… somewhere with a hidden thought wondering what I can I take back as one memory for that day, recorded in the form of pictures and captions. Just one memory from each run, for I have also come to realize that not all moments are meant to be recorded.

It is in that self-connected zone; many such beautiful weekend mornings culminate. Power mornings, as I call them, take me to new spaces of expression, offering me a zone to nestle into – irrespective of whether the world around me, chooses to dance to my desire or not.

Why Run?

I RUN so I can set discipline in life, I RUN in search of that free space, I RUN to see the world around, I RUN to enjoy simple moments.

If signing up for a race can help me get on a focused track to achieve all this, I’d like to do it periodically. Incidentally, as I write this, I’ve just signed up for another training program to prepare for my subsequent running goals. My target may not be guaranteed at this point, but satisfaction certainly is. And it comes from working towards a goal with discipline and focus.

Beyond fitness of body, it’s the fitness of mind, channelizing inner conflicts through creative outlets, and achieving a progressive degree of clarity in thoughts. This is what rhythmic running has given me in all these years, my friends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Vanitha Shankar or Purple Shoelaces (as she likes to call herself) is a working professional, long distance runner, hobby photographer, blogger, and an annual arts event host, currently residing in Singapore. Driven entirely by heart, she likes simple things and a rounded life.

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Half to Fifty

Arun Nair finds his way to the finisher of the The Malnad Ultra, Santosh Neelangattil, to understand what it takes to be an Ultra runner. 

It was Saturday morning when I packed my bags and drove towards Birur, a small town in Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. It was a pleasant ride through the national and state highways of rural Karnataka. I have had the opportunity to meet various running groups from South India and I had come to this location without understanding what an Ultra Trail entails. I meet a group of young runners and was pleasantly surprised when they mentioned that they trekked up a hill sometimes to go for a 10k run.

In a day an age when it is fashionable to say, ‘I am a runner”, I met  the unassuming Santosh Neelangattil. He did not look like someone who had completed a 50km race. A few excerpts from our conversation on all things running.

Congratulations on finishing your first Ultra run. How was the experience and how do you feel?
It’s exhilarating. Every kilometer after forty-two km was a milestone, as I was tracing them for the first time. Completing fifty km within the cut-off time and injury free was a significant achievement for me considering the condition of the trail. The experience was entirely different. A trail-run in a coffee estate! When I reached the place, it was dry all around. Rain in the evening changed the conditions altogether. It became slushy and slippery. It was even difficult to walk in some places. From planning for an ultra-run, it became an endurance run. After a while, I had to cross certain stretches by holding on to the coffee plant twigs. It was an unknown terrain as a lot of us were not sure on the depth of those slushy areas. At this point, the run got elevated from an endurance run to an obstacle run, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. It became all the more important for me to complete the run.

So in those tough conditions what kept you going?
It was the fellow runners and the volunteers! The seasoned ultra-runners kept encouraging and were giving bits of advice. The localities were providing unconditional support to all the runners by motivating us. By the way, I forgot to tell you about the leeches.

So how did this journey as a runner start for you?
This feeling of “Can I run?” started in 2006. I realized that I struggled to walk for one kilometer. I got a feeling that there were abnormalities in my health. Then I went through consultations, health check-ups, and supplements. I had to change. That’s when I heard about Sunfeast 10k run 2007. I practiced for it, and then I never missed Sunfeast or TCS run as it’s called now.

I love traveling. It was at this point that I decided to go for run-tour. So, my vacations and business meetings started getting planned around marathons. I have participated in several runs in last ten years – Kochi, Trivandrum, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cherrapunjee, Auroville (Pondicherry), Dubai, Australia and Sri Lanka. The beauty of my runs changed from health to the joy of running. My vacations will never be complete with two or three runs if not an event. I would go running on the beaches and explore new places which are otherwise not accessible on a vehicle. It became all the more interesting.

If you were to give a few tips to a new runner, what would you tell them?
‘Stay fit to run fit.’ When I started running, I was looking at finishing faster. That’s when a mentor, coach, and being part of a group helped me a lot. A renowned coach in Karnataka, Kothandapani sir, is my mentor. He just asked me one question, “Do you want to run for just this run or are you planning to run long?” Well, my answer was “I want to run long and run for many years.” I realized slowly that it was important to be fit to run. There was no point in getting injured and stop running. Then there were some outstanding seniors – Arvind, Ganesh, Subbu and the Team Miles Ahead (TMA) group gave me a lot of input on running safely without injuring.

For a typical one hour run, twenty to thirty minutes of warm-up and fifteen to twenty minutes of cool down post run is required. Warm-up and warm-down is something I know most of them miss out. It’s the most annoying part. We tend to get lazy when it is about warm-up as it’s not as exciting as running. My advice is simple, don’t miss your warm-up and warm-down.

For this particular Ultra Run was there any specific training preparation for it?
Longer training! Well, it’s also about conditioning my mind. If I have to advise runners for ultra-run – “If you can run ten km, you can run longer. Know your pace, listen to your body and don’t compete with others. You are your competition. No point in competing against anyone.” Do not experiment with your body unknowingly. Don’t harm your body to the extent that your day-to-day activities are affected. Run for the joy of running.

So when is the next race?
I enjoy my runs, and I know that there is always a new challenge. If you like to hear some numbers, (smiles) – my running app shows that I have completed 4500 km since 2014. Then there are many, that were not tracked. Tracking helps, and it motivates me. If you want me to be specific, my dream is to run Bangalore – Mysore, which is 150 km.

During our casual chat, he told me that there were days when he struggled to finish even 500 meters. There is something that I should personally learn, or maybe a lot of us should learn. As an irregular runner of short distance I know the struggle and it certainly felt good that even seasoned runners were not always motivated to run 10K everyday when they step out of bed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arun_Profile Pic

 

Arun K Nair loves to play cricket, volleyball, and shuttle. He participates in 10k marathons in Chennai and Bangalore and is the author of a crime novel.

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The North Face Endurance Run

Running is a lifestyle change, marathon runner Vidya Mahalaxmi talks to Nandini Reddy about her finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend.
The Run 
The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship course engages runners with both scenic views and drastic elevation change. You won’t want to miss out on this trail running event that draws participants ranging from first time racers to elite runners.The North Face Endurance Challenge returns to the Bay Area. Located in the visually stunning Marin Headlands. The run has a 50 Mile, 50K, Full Marathon and Half Marathon, the Marathon Relay, 10K, 5K and a kids run. The total time allotted for completion of the 50 mile run is 14 hours. The weather, in San Francisco during November, is perfect for the run.
The First Bug 
For Bangalore girl, Vidya Mahalaxmi, running has today become a lifestyle. It may have started as a fitness regime after giving birth to her first child, twelve years ago but today it has become a few miles every day. “Running marathons/ half marathons, was never on the cards for me. Growing up, I was told, I had flat feet and running wasn’t going to be easy. I used to swim. But never attempted to run,” reminisces Vidya.
“About eighteen months ago, I started working for Tarlton Properties,Inc., in Construction. My C.E.O., John Tarlton, has been more than an inspiration for me. He is my mentor. He has taken part in RAAM( Race Across America). He biked from the West Coast to the East, in eleven days. He encouraged me to take part in my first Half Marathon, The North Face Endurance Challenge – 2016. Since then, I have taken park in several races, by myself, and also as a pacer with him, in a few races. ( Santa Barbara Endurance Run and Lake Tahoe Ultra Marathon), ” says Vidya.
The Challenge of the Race
This year she ran the Half Marathon at the North Face Endurance Challenge -2017. “Just like other races, before race day, I try to run any where from 10 to 15 miles. The last week, I start to taper, and carb-load,” says Vidya. This race, in particular was interesting in so many ways. The trail, has the most breath-taking views of San Francisco. It is also extremely challenging, with all the elevations with stretches where runners literally bear-crawl. “I overcame a weakness of running in elevation in this race. My favourite part of the race though was running down-hill,” shares Vidya.

After every Race

A post run analysis of her performance is a must for Vidya who is always looking to improve with every race. “I learn something new, after every race. What gear and accessories to wear, what snacks help with your muscle cramps, and how to carry as much water, in the most minimal way, ” notes Vidya.

“Running has changed my perspective of life. I was divorced three years ago, after being married for 11 years, with two kids. My kids are so proud of their mother and running has played a big role in that aspect. Finishing the race, gives me confidence, that can’t be expressed in words,” concludes Vidya Mahalaxmi the newest member of the every growing running community across the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_20171011_095150

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The Challenge of being Healthy

From being engrossed in her books to winning cycling and duathlon events, Dr Sruti Chandrasekaran has come a long way in her fitness journey. She shares her story with us.

The Early Days

I was never a fitness person during my years in school. I was the class nerd who would only study and participate in academic competitions. Any kind of sports was my arch enemy! I abhorred Physical Training period and also skipped assembly if there was anything related to sports happening then. My entire lack of interest in any sort of sport related activity was because of the physical effort it involved. I was so unfit in my school and college days but I topped my tests and joined medical college. That was the the first time I walked on a regular basis.

My college was in Kilpauk (KMC) and I used to get down at Chetpet and walk for 800m to college. Those 800m were an incredible physical challenge for me. Apart from that I had no exercise during my 5 1/2 years of medical school. My books took up all my attention and energy. I always was on the chubby side ( to put it in a nice way!) with a BMI that was in the overweight range. Yet it never bothered me and after my graduation I moved to USA for my medical training. It was during my first pregnancy that I gained another 30kg. I was 25 yrs old, weighing in at a 100kg after my pregnancy and looking at everyone around me who were super active.

My Epiphany

My professor of medicine used to cycle to work and another female professor used to run 3 to 4 times a week after having 4 children. That is when it hit me. I now decided that I have to take care of my health and stop ruining my body. Fortunately despite my lack of exercise, incredible weight gain and erratic eating habits I did not have diabetes or other metabolic problems like PCOS/PCOD.

So after assigning the back seat to my health until the age of 26, I had finally decided to take control and for the first time I started exercising. Naturally the first few weeks were terrible. My body was ridden with aches and pains and I gave up many times. It took me 6 months to get into a routine and start regularly hitting the gym with cardio and weight training.

The Runner in Me

The road running obsession began 4 years later when I turned 30. That was probably the best birthday gift that I IMG-20171115-WA0020gave myself. My first 10k run at 30 yrs and then came the second pregnancy and a break in between. I took 6 months break after my C-section and then resumed exercising again and since then have done 10k and half marathons regularly. For the past 1 1/2 yrs I have also taken up road biking as my husband is an avid biker who bikes to work. I instantly fell in love with cycling as it was fast, the effort you put in cycling was very different and I lapped up the constantly changing scenery. I began to realize that with proper training one can definitely do well with any sports that you choose.

On the Podium

My recent podium finish at the Duathlon and Datri cycle ride proved to me that it is always better late than never.  I started exercising very late and I do feel bad for not taking up sports during school and college days. As an endocrinologist who manages diabetes, PCOS, dyslipidemia and other metabolic problems, I do emphasize the importance of exercise to my patients. Now instead of just giving advice I would like to set an example to them and also to my daughter. Seeing the rise in lifestyle related diseases like diabetes I want to be a healthy woman, healthy mom and raise healthy children. Running and Cycling has been a great way for me to sustain this healthy lifestyle and inspire others to start their journey of good health.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

srutichandrasekhar

 

Dr Sruti Chandrashekar is an avid runner and cyclist who went from being a bookworm to a fitness enthusiast. A doctor by profession and a passionate runner and cyclist, today Sruti wants to lead by example.

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Festive Eating Strategies

In past few months you have run, lifted weights and got that weight off but then Diwali comes around and there is delicious food all around, so how do you survive the biggest festive food binge. Nandini Reddy offers a few tips.

It’s Diwali and there is tempting food all around and if you start to count calories you are most likely to draw flack for it from everyone around and come across as snobbish. So instead of being labelled any awkward name for your food choices, why don’t you just try a few of these tips that can help you enjoy the festive season without the guilt. Continue Reading

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A Tale of Two Runs

Tarun Walecha shares his learning over a period of time where a Sub 2 finish may not be as coveted anymore, but for me, still remains as educative as ever. 

Circa 2011, I was taking baby steps towards realizing the dream of running my first Half Marathon at ADHM.  Those were the days when running a Half Marathon was big, and Sub 2 finish was a much lauded effort, needless to say the respect grew for the one who achieved it. My fourth ADHM in 2014, when I first climbed this proverbial peak, was the moment of reckoning for me, to not only bask in adulation but to begin to understand and realize what running a half marathon was all about in terms of its technicalities and nuances. That run set in motion the journey which I’ve been on ever since.

Having clocked my best HM finish timing of 1:44:16 in December 2016, a Sub 2 finish wasn’t a big challenge but the contrasting circumstances make the two runs on consecutive weekends special. First of the two was on September 10, 2017 when I was given the responsibility to pace the Sub 2 bus at the Dwarka Half Marathon. Though the weather was anticipated to be harsh, having clocked Sub 2 in a training runs had given me much needed confidence boost. On the D day, the plan was in mind and I was at the start line. A bunch of charged up runners started with me and we got the steps tipping. I planned to play to my strength and stick to negative splits despite the weather. Things started to fall in place as I noticed the distance markers were on the dot and I crossed 7K mark at 41 min utilizing the 30 sec buffer. At the midway turn around point I was at 1:01:11, which meant little paced up return as planned would see me through. What was going against the perfect plan was escalated heat which was making breathing slightly laborious and increased body temperature. Came along the 14K mark and the clock said 1:19:15, last 7.1 KM and 40 min to go and I was kind of relieved, though what lay ahead wasn’t that breezy. Heat building up, cutting each km close, I moved along. Each KM could be a story by itself but keeping it brief I would skip to 21 KM mark which I reached at 1:59:24, giving me enough time for my last sprint to the finish line. With a flat course, the only challenge was the heat and humidity, I happily crossed over at 1:59:52, much to the delight of remaining passengers on my bus and to certain amount of relief to myself. A Sub 2 run finished with a smile…

Hill Marathon

The week went over and I was in the small hamlet off Pune for Satara Hill Marathon, the race I had signed up five months earlier but never trained for specifically. For the starters, it is a much respected Hill Race and I had only one tiny hill training session to my credit this season. And for mains, it is half way uphill, coming back the entire 10.55km downhill, which certainly wasn’t music to the ears.

An early morning flight (3:20 AM to be precise) on the previous day and a delayed car ride to Satara had only added to my woes and I certainly wasn’t rested as I would have liked to be before a race. I reached the inevitable start line and the ambitious plan was to try and finish this one with another Sub 2 J !! The only thing on my side was a certain sketchy plan to deal with the hills…stay calm, stay easy, give time to uphill course and see if I could reach the turnaround point in anything less 1:10:00. The course had first 3.5 KM of meandering elevation, relatively shallow which I managed to tread along, the challenge was the next 4 KM which had an elevation of 234 m, to which I had no idea of what to expect, so I decided to put my head down and try not to walk, though against the common advice. Sure enough, I managed to trot and to my delight I was at midway point at 1:08:24. That gave me 51 min for remaining 10.55 KM, which certainly wasn’t going to be as easy as imagined to be.

It was payback time, the four KM which were arduous on the way up, now offered a sweet make-up deal. As I reached that stretch I was already running at Sub 5 pace … fast but not enough to make it to the finish line in 51 min. As the descent got steep, I paced up cautiously to avoid picking any injury. Lack of hill training and entire running season ahead back home was playing on my mind, but so was the Sub 2 finish mark. I kept on treading along till I noticed at the next km mark that I was cruising at 4:11 min pace…fingers crossed…hold yourself together and keep moving, were the next thoughts in my head. To my delights I managed that pace for the entire 4KM descent, which meant I was at 1:39:52 at the 17 KM mark.

Last 4+ KM, 20 min to go, the course was not as kind, and I knew that it wasn’t over as yet. I hoped to stay with that pace which of course meant a little more effort. I managed next KM at 4:14 pace, and now it started looking grim. Continuous cheering by the crowd all along the course had been a big booster, but now the course was becoming tough, energy level were dropping and time was closing in… and then came the placard on the roadside, “Your legs will forgive you .. eventually”. It acted like the magic potion I needed, and I promised myself not to give up till it was over. I knew it was a tight ship, I had less than 16 min, 3+ KM of meandering track with some inclines too. Not giving myself an option I gave it the last push, running my last 3 KM at 4:45, 4:38 and 4:22 minutes pace,  which not only meant I had 2 min for last 100 odd meter and to hope not only get a Sub 2 but finish under 2 hours of gun time. Yes that’s another story, the organizers had announced a different medal for those finishing under 2 hours of gun time, and for some reason despite my good qualifying time had put me in section C which had put me at an undefined disadvantage.

As I took the last turn to the finish line, I could see the clock at 7:59 (there wasn’t a second count..arrgh). Unsure of how much time I had, I took a deep breath and just dashed as if there was no tomorrow…. the rest, as they say is history. A net time of 1:58:52 and a gun time of 1:59:41..it was yet another Sub 2…J..with whole lot of learning…and still as coveted for me.

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