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The Malnad Ultra 110k

October 15, 2016

Ancient trees, falling leaves, earthy perfumes, light drizzle, encoring cicadas, breathtaking views, furry tails, enduring friendships, bemused onlookers, big hearts, wide smiles, timeless walks, sumptuous feast… are some of what I take back from my recent run at Malnad. 2010 Bangalore Ultra: The last 10km of my 100km, I had spent throwing up, not able […]

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The Malnad Ultra 110k

October 15, 2016 . By admin . Leave Comment

Ancient trees, falling leaves, earthy perfumes, light drizzle, encoring cicadas, breathtaking views, furry tails, enduring friendships, bemused onlookers, big hearts, wide smiles, timeless walks, sumptuous feast… are some of what I take back from my recent run at Malnad.

2010 Bangalore Ultra: The last 10km of my 100km, I had spent throwing up, not able to keep anything down. I hadn’t eaten anything solid in the last 11 hrs and relied mainly on gels. Big mistake! I barely made it in just over 12hrs. I thought I would learn from this but the mind quickly forgets, especially after six years.

As most people progressed to running distances of 75k, 100k & 24hrs - I decided to stay at 50k. 50k had become my go-to race distance. I stuck to trail races and wanted to get better at the distance before I went back to doing ultras. And it did get better - I got stronger at the distance but I had got comfortable.

I needed to get out of my comfort zone and see where I was at in terms of longer distances. The Malnad Ultra came just in time. There was always a longing to do a run in the Western Ghats. When Anand mentioned this earlier this year I was quick to second the idea. Joining him for a recce was a bonus as it just helped me decide that this was the race for me.

That was almost five months ago. There was no plan on how I was going to train for the run but I knew I had to do a run of over 60k. This I decided I’d do at  the Kaveri Trail Marathon (KTM) as that was about 3-4 weeks from Malnad. The other race I would do and have been a big fan of was Javadhu Hills Ultra. I wanted to better my timing from last year. Javadhu’s terrain and weather make it a tough course and it has similar inclines to Malnad.

Javadhu didn’t go too well this year. I messed up my pacing, went out too fast and ended up paying the price at around the 45k mark. But I did get a few mins off last year’s run.

This year I did bit of high mileage weeks. I ran a few months on a 7 day running cycle with 65-75 miles per week and peaking at 80+ miles. I thought with this I should be able to do fairly well at KTM and then do a extra 20-30k more at a slower speed.

KTM got postponed. In a way it may have been a blessing in disguise as I did my 80k at Nandi. In 2010 I had done 60k at Nandi (all road) and it seemed to have helped. This year I did 80k of half road and half dirt. Inspired by Manoj Bhat’s back-to-back Nandi 112k which I was not allowed to replicate! (&*%$$£ hahaha!). I used the trail route that Madhu Avasarala had introduced me to in 2007. Now I had no idea on where the trail started but to cut a long story short, I got lost, almost got butted by a bull, climbed boulders but finally found the way (look out for the bulls). Did an 80k in 9.5 hrs. I used my hydration pack as it was easier to not worry about water for most part of the run. Of course I didn’t eat solid food and my stomach was not in a good state ( i doubt I will ever learn!).

https://www.strava.com/activities/715251224

The week before the race was pretty hectic as it always gets when you least want it. But Friday came sooner than expected and we were on a train to Birur. With a whole bunch of runners.

Getting to KR Hill station brought back memories of the recce. It was sunny, but cool. Bib collection, room allocation and lunch went by quickly. The rooms at KR hill station can be quite umm.. lets say it’s government run, so don’t expect much (Ask for any room except for #1 in any block).

[caption id="attachment_435" align="alignleft" width="900"]Malnad May 2016 Malnad May 2016[/caption]

Post lunch Juggy, Sampath, Reena & I did may be a 1 hr walk to a neighbouring hill through the forest via a waterfall. Very pretty and helped with getting the blood flowing in our feet after sitting for 4+ hours on the bus and train. Juggy casually told us a story about a tiger tracking school kids which stayed with me throughout the race.Thanks Juggy!!

[caption id="attachment_437" align="alignleft" width="900"]Pre race hike - Malnad Ultra 2016. Photo - Reena Chengappa Pre race hike - Malnad Ultra 2016. Photo - Reena Chengappa[/caption]

There was a fabulous dinner that evening which made us doubt if we’ll ever start the race after stuffing ourselves. I had forgotten to bring / organise my pre-race breakfast so Reena managed to get some curd rice for me (saving grace) - only thing apart from oats that I’ve tried having before a run.

Race day

The day went by quicker that I’d imagined it would. I reminded myself that I should keep to a pace slower than I had planned, for the first downhill. I had left a drop bag at 44km with gels and a vest. I was running foolishly with a waist pouch which I had never run with but it was roomy and held all the stuff I needed. It soon settled awkwardly around my waist.

[caption id="attachment_438" align="alignleft" width="169"]Bling! At the start. photo - Reena Chengappa Bling! At the start. photo - Reena Chengappa[/caption]

6AM. A couple of guys went racing off, I stuck to a comfortable pace and wasn’t worried about catching up with anyone - I had another 12 hrs to do that.

Soon there were only 2 of us. Sashwath and I ran for for a while. A good runner and he’s got good downhill technique. I stopped for a loo break, once done I realised I was in a coffee estate and these were coffee plants! (oh shucks I’m sorry).

10km - 30km I was pretty much on my own. I caught up with Vipul close to the 30km mark. He seemed to have slowed down but didn’t seem in any difficulty I  thought he would eventually catch up, given that he’s such a strong runner.

I got to the 30k mark in time for the start of the 50k, so had a bunch of runners to run with. D and Sampath came along and were off at a good pace. A2 and Harish joined me later - we kept a good easy pace. Walked all the uphills had some very mental conversations. They decided to take photos at the 42k rest area while I continued to the summit.

There was no rest stop at 44k mark - so I realised that my drop bag must have been at the 42k mark. I had started regretting not to have checked there. I’d have to rely on what was at the aid station from then on.

The summit was the highlight of the run. My legs weren't feeling great at this stage but I hoped that was how they’d stay. The summit was spectacular. The reservoir was full, unlike when we came in May.

[caption id="attachment_436" align="alignleft" width="900"]Malnad Ultra May 2016 Malnad Ultra 2016 - Photo by Reena Chengappa[/caption]

On the way down I saw Manoj, I met him at the beginning before he took a loo break. He seemed to be doing good. Between the summit and about 60km I met Akriti, Sampath Kumar, Himashu to name a few, all who looked very strong. This is the reason why I like smaller races.

At ~60k mark rest stop I met Brijesh who had realised I hadn’t collected my drop bag and brought it there. Thank you! Good thinking! I had missed all the solid food as the food had taken longer to reach the rest stops. Luckily I had a lot of gels now. I ate some papaya and bananas and carried on.

At the lake (70k) I met Sampath, trying to finish what there was at the aid station. I dragged him out (to save some food for others) of there and we headed up the last 10k to the 50k finish (80k) mark. Most of the route was uphill and we tried to run whenever there was a straight or downhill section.

80k. I was happy to reach the 80k mark. It was great to see all the smiling faces, photographers, friends and family. I ate some delicious sweet potato dish and something else which was very tasty but spicy as hell. I wasn’t thinking and didn’t eat enough especially when my stomach was feeling alright.

From here on I knew it was pretty much by my self till the end. Luckily I had Kieren lead the way for pretty much till the end - a big thank you if you read this!

This was the longest section of the run as I was alone and had time to think. I started singing (no I won’t do that in public) to myself. Songs that I didn’t know words to that I made up as I went along.

Somewhere along the way I came across the famous four cows walking along the way. With my recent nandi experience, I decided not to run but walk past them. Little did I realise that cows aren’t the cleverest of animals, so they just started running. The path was such that they couldn’t go anywhere. Every time I got near them they started running again. This seemed silly. I come to a coffee estate, run by the Badra tiger reserve and end up being chased by cows?? No way!!

Just then two people who I had met earlier at the aid station came by on their motorbike. I told them my issue with the cows. They asked whether I would like to climb on the bike. I said no but if they could drive them away, I’d be grateful. They went ahead chasing the cows but the cows didn’t go anywhere. They kept on running and me walking behind them. Finally I asked two excited ladies walking (we were probably more of an attraction than a tiger or leopard), who took pictures and asked what language I spoke, if the cows would do anything? They said no! Feeling very foolish and did something I should have done almost a km before. I ran past them. I hope they don’t hold this against me next year!

After that it was just to trudge along till the end. I got to the last 7km of cement road just as it was getting dark as the cicadas encored and cheered me on.

I should have eaten something at the aid station. I didn’t realise how much energy it would take to finish. I started my journey. After about 3k my energy was so low that I had trouble walking in a straight line. It had gotten dark and I just didn’t want to run on to incoming traffic.  I had a gel which helped to some extent. In all this I had run out of water. I didn’t refill at the last aid station and was paying the price yet again. You miss a lot of signs in the dark and I had no idea how much I had left or if I was on the right road. I pretty much walked all the way. From thinking I could finish in just over 13 hrs (before getting on the road). I wanted to just finish.

~2km mark on the last turn to the finish, walking on the dirt road I hear a voice call out to me. I hadn’t realised how much time I had lost and found Manoj running up to me. He thought I was  a local and was about to ask for directions. I wasn’t surprised at all given his running spree in that last six months. I was actually glad that he was here - we ran for a bit and then I saw Reena and Kieren. I was so happy to see the finish that I sprinted to it leaving Manoj behind. Bad manners on my part! He could have easily won it but let me go ahead - I’m thankful to him and know he’ll go far (pun intended).

I have never been so hungry after a run. I had whatever there was. I had definitely need it much earlier. We waited till Himanshu finished and then I went to bed.

https://www.strava.com/activities/740382842

The advantage in running trails is your recovery time. By Tue I was hitting the tracks and tomorrow I’m going to race the half at Bangalore marathon. Malnad is going to be that one race I will do every year. A big congratulations to all the runners - whether you finished or not. A big thank you to the Malnad team - especially to the aid station volunteers. And of course to Cafe Coffeday for allowing us to run in their beautiful estates!  See you next year.

Gear Salomon sense mantra 2 trail shoes More miles compression socks Arc compression shorts Petzl Tikkina Waterproof head torch Garmin 310XT Hand held bottle

Gels: Unived RRunn(6) Hydration: what was at the aid station - Loved the green tea isotonic drink

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A wall apart: In memory of a friend

October 8, 2016

I will miss that broad smile behind the wall. Every time I walk past his house like I’ve done for the last 38 years I expect to see him, have a chat and carry on. But now only blank wall, a run down car, a rusty bike and a dim light in the window greet […]

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A wall apart: In memory of a friend

October 8, 2016 . By admin . Leave Comment

I will miss that broad smile behind the wall. Every time I walk past his house like I’ve done for the last 38 years I expect to see him, have a chat and carry on. But now only blank wall, a run down car, a rusty bike and a dim light in the window greet me.

Last week a child hood friend passed away. Depression is a silent killer. Unfortunately none of us really knew how bad it was. Until the last few days he spent in the ICU trying to beat numerous failed organs and fighting numerous illnesses.

We always regret not having done anything, not having seen this coming, but things aren’t always in our control. At least he’s in a happier place now.

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Auroville revisited

February 21, 2016

2011 was the last time I had done Auroville, due to travel and work I seemed to have missed doing this run over the years. That year was a turning point and it started with Auroville. I did a 3:30 for the full that year. An improvement over the last few years where I did […]

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Auroville revisited

February 21, 2016 . By admin . Leave Comment

2011 was the last time I had done Auroville, due to travel and work I seemed to have missed doing this run over the years. That year was a turning point and it started with Auroville. I did a 3:30 for the full that year. An improvement over the last few years where I did a few ultras in the hope of getting faster - but with no luck. That's the year I got a custom plan (the first time I ever got a plan). I won't get into the details as this is a post about Auroville and why there should be more races like this. I didn't really train as much for this run as I did for KTM and Ultra. I went into in knowing that I was running it more for pleasure than to race it. I had only done one 20miler in Jan/Feb which gave me a rough indication of my level of fitness - a 3:10 would have been great but I was happy for anything under 3:15. I didn't see too many familiar faces this year, which was good in a way as it meant that there were more people doing trail running (which I think more people should do more often). goodluckGood luck on the morning of the marathon! If it isn't it they will at least wake you up! Morning of the run (5AM start) I was able to get to the venue thanks to the RFL gang who were running as well (namely A2, Madiha, Dillo & Appu) as they got us a motorbike from town to commute. It made it that much less stressful knowing that I didn't have to figure out how to get to the start. start The run started almost on time 🙂 ten minutes really doesn't make much difference at that time. I was pleased to see a couple of familiar faces - esp. Rishi. We were lucky to have volunteers (what makes this race special) on bikes show us the way. The first few miles went by pretty fast or they seemed, and a few of us lead the way. I had to keep telling my self to slow down as I knew the humidity would hit me soon enough. About 7 miles into the race I was running on my own. It was still dark so there wasn't much to see except for the bike leading the way. So that was my only focus point. Nearing the half way mark it started to get bright and I now had more things to look at - familiar things that I remembered from 2011. Not much had changed on the course - it had only gotten better. All trail - no road! I presumed that once it was bright that our lead vehicle (hehe! it did feel like that) would retire and we would carry on. I was lucky - Andre my lead rider kept ahead of me for the second loop. I felt very important. Especially when he moved people out of the way and shouted 'marathon runner coming please move to your left'. And promptly people moved to their right ( I feel for this being directionally dyslexic myself!). But everyone did give me way and cheered me on, which was a fantastic feeling - I would say as good as having a crowd cheering you on. The trail had started to get quite busy mid way through the second loop with the half marathoners and 10k converging. But Andre was very meticulous in his task of clearing the path. Mile 20 and my legs were starting to feel tired. I was hoping that they weren't going to cramp again. Andre was like this ball of energy - he didn't seem tired and kept announcing  'fast runner coming please give way'. At this point my pace had dropped considerably and there was a clear time lapse between him saying it and me appearing. I could see people looking to their right and not seeing anyone and wondering what he was on about! I was happy to see the the sign to the finish. My legs had started to cramp - which made me reduce my pace and the humidity had started to take it's toll. If it wasn't for my legs being tired I think I would have liked to go for another loop (I'm sure Andre would have abused me in French). So I was pleased to finish in a decent time of 3:12 (1st overall) all thanks to Andre! So can't wait to come back next year. Andre - hope to spend time off the trail this time 🙂 Thank you to Auroville for organising such a super event and to all the volunteers. My only recommendation to the organisers is to have more dustbins at the finish. It was sad to see so much rubbish being thrown on the ground. Runners should also make a conscious effort to not throw things anywhere and everywhere. Auroville & running -

  1. Marathon start - they give you torches but carry your own and leave it at an aid station close to the start so you can pick it up later.
  2. Book accommodation 2-3 months in advance
  3. Best race to do if you want to have fun - really sweat it out and not stress about time.
  4. Don't expect chip timing, medals etc. This year they gave out candles - what makes the race unique.
  5. Drink early in the race so you don't lose too much water / salt towards the end
  6. Try not to carry your cups with you and drop it along the route - carry it to the next aid station or don't carry it at all. Cleaning up after a marathon deserves as much appreciation as running one.
  7. Smile - it's not a chore, enjoy it. The best thing about trails is you're away from the noise & pollution of cities - take off your head phones and listen to yourself and everything around you. Best time to clear your head! 😀
What next? Your guess is as good as mine! But here are some of the races I'll hope to do this year:
  1. TCS 10k (12 weeks away so start training! - If you'd like to get coached - join us )
  2. Javadu Ultra 50k - loved it last year - so will do it this year
  3. Sohra/Cherra marathon (tentative)
  4. AHM - half
  5. KTM (full - 10th year anniversary)
  6. A 100k event if it happens in Oct - my return to 100k after 6+ years if it happens
  7. SPBM - half
  8. Bangalore Ultra 50k - 10th year anniversary and looking at bettering my time.
  9. A few halves & 10k along the way
Enjoy your year of running! #running #trailrunning #auroville #happy #mizuno Shoes: Mizuno Wave Hitogami 2 Apparel: Race ready Nutrition: 1 gel - Cliff shot gel Some photos courtesy paranoiddandroidd auro2016

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The year, as it was run…

November 8, 2015

A year where some things went well and some not so well. Six months of training, 2 PBs and lots of learning. At the beginning of the year I’d never have imagined that the year would go as it did. I don’t have any regrets, just more confidence in myself in nailing goals I set […]

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The year, as it was run…

November 8, 2015 . By admin . Leave Comment

A year where some things went well and some not so well. Six months of training, 2 PBs and lots of learning. At the beginning of the year I'd never have imagined that the year would go as it did. I don't have any regrets, just more confidence in myself in nailing goals I set for the coming year. So this is a mix of race reports and learnings, which I hope will help other people in their training. My running season started pretty much March end, when I started training for TCS 10k. I had approximately 8 weeks to train and I didn't have a plan as such. I decided to train for KTM and do races along the way as tune-up races. The general plan was to increase my base mileage from 30 odd miles to about an average of 50-55 miles. Do more runs at target race pace or even faster, more number 20+ mile runs and strengthen my core. TCS came and went and I was really happy with a PB on 39.30, dipping under 40mins was something that I failed to do the last couple of years. So definitely I must have been doing something right. Javadhu Ultra was an unplanned race. I'm glad D convinced me to run it, I love trail and it had all the elements you could ask for in a race... super support, great company, a challenging course and hot weather! During my training for Javadhu was when I upped my mileage. It was not a gradual change that I would have liked but more of a 45 to 65 mile jump. My legs handled it pretty well and I was happy I didn't end up injured. From then on I kept up my weekly mileage to average around the 55 mile mark. My typical week consisted of a mid to long run (16-20mile), a track session (longer intervals) and a mid week 12-13miler. I've never really raced a half - at least not in the last 4 years. AHM was my first half that I was racing. I was a bit nervous as I had no idea what pace to run it at, given the terrain. I decided to run at 6:50 /mile for the first half and if I felt good I would run the second half at 6:45-6:50. Fortunately this year it wasn't as hot as the previous year, and I was thankful for that. The first half of the race went well and I managed to do it in ~43-44 mins. My legs weren't feeling as tired as I thought they would feel at the pace. This motivated me to push myself in the second half to finish in a time of 1:26:30. All along the run I tried to keep the first two women finishers in sight and I guess that helped in keeping a steady pace. What impressed me about AHM was the organisation: well marked course, well managed (no traffic) and super volunteers. There's this one incident that really made the race special. I was running past an aid station and I asked for Electral / enerzal, but none of the volunteers had any ready, so I ran past. After about a 30sec I hear someone running beside me , handing me a cup... it was truly touching to have a volunteer do that. The build up to KTM went as planned. KTM being KTM I should have known wasn't going to be easy. I may have been a bit over confident going into the race on what time I could finish it in. The aim was to try getting the run done under 3:05. It started typically like most years that I've done KTM, bright with a cool breeze and not a cloud in sight! After the first half that I managed in ~1:31, I knew I wouldn't be able carry on this pace for much longer, though I was still hopeful. My legs were tired. I managed a ~2:19 around the 20 mile mark and then felt the first onset of cramps in my calves. Cramps don't come all at once (as many of you have experienced). They creep up on you - and stay there and make their presence felt ever so often. Just when you think they've gone they debilitate you and you have to bow, kneel and apologise to them! I didn't let them get to me even though I had to run-walk for most part of the 5 odd miles. I finished with a half decent time of 3:13:40. A minute better than I had done in 2011. So that was a good news. Also I didn't have any gels this time around, which was great. The Bangalore Ultra was 8 weeks away and I had once tune up race - the half at the SPBM. I was hoping to at least do better at the half as it was relatively flatter course and hopefully better weather. My half went better than expected. I was gunning for a 1:25 and managed a 1:24:30, and managed to come 5th in my age group. To be in the top 3 I'll now have to train to do a 1:21 or faster half, which may be attainable give that I have a year to train for it. Bangalore Ultra, the course record was 3:50 and I thought it was achievable (again) with the training I had done. I went into the race a bit tired and sleep deprived from a hectic work week. I didn't feel very confident, but your body sometimes surprises you. The first few miles went way too fast. I was chatting with Henrik and didn't realise that I was going way too fast. After Henrik (he had just run a 60k technical trail race the week before) politely left me to chase Lewy (the beast!), I started to slow down, though the avg. pace didn't seem to go down all that much. The showers the previous week had left the course quite slushy in parts and hard to run on (why I love trails). On the way back, of the first loop I saw that Henrik had slowed down considerably. I knew he must be really tired as I knew what he was capable of. We ran again together for a while on the second loop. By this time I could feel my legs getting tired. It was like watching a re-run of 'Return of the Cramps'! I regretted not running the first few miles slower than planned, but now that the damage was done, I had to finish. I tried changing my gait slightly, took shorter steps to minimise impact. It helped to a certain extent, but I had to walk in parts. I was so happy to finish! 4:03 wasn't too bad for the rubbish pacing I did in the first half. Super organising by RFL, yet again! The green (or blue?) aid station trash cans were a sight for sore eyes from a distance. So a good year for most part. Happy with what I've achieved and look forward to 2016! Learnings from the year:

  1. Should run longer runs at race pace
  2. Should strength train more often - at least twice a week
  3. Never swallow a salt tablet without water - the chance of choking are very high (esp. at 25mile marker)
  4. Continue to to more trail running
  5. Finding the right shoe - My Mizuno Hitogami's have served me well, having a wider toe box has not given me any blackened toe nails.
Workouts that helped me (or think they did):
  1. 2 mile repeats
  2. 1 mile repeats
  3. 3 mile
  4. 90s repeats on hills or flyovers
  5. Tempo runs of  6-10 miles
  6. Mid week 12-13 miler at 70% effort
  7. Shorter races to help as tune-up races
Strava link *Photo credit RFL

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Puglee – a fortnightly comic strip

September 5, 2015

Watch this space for Puglee an instacomic live @ instagram.com/athreyachidambi #instagram #pug #puglee #comicstrip #adogslife

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Puglee – a fortnightly comic strip

September 5, 2015 . By admin . Leave Comment

Watch this space for Puglee an instacomic live @ instagram.com/athreyachidambi #instagram #pug #puglee #comicstrip #adogslife

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Illustration Friday – Nature

July 27, 2015

From the “Puglee” series starting on instagram: instagram.com/athreyachidambi

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Javadhu Ultra 50K race report

July 18, 2015

Sunday night (12th July) was the best sleep I had in a long time. I was out at 8pm and only awoke at 7am the next morning. I owe it to the Javadhu 50k I ran that morning. It all started five weeks prior to Sunday when Rahul asked me if I was doing Javadhu […]

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Javadhu Ultra 50K race report

July 18, 2015 . By admin . Leave Comment

Sunday night (12th July) was the best sleep I had in a long time. I was out at 8pm and only awoke at 7am the next morning. I owe it to the Javadhu 50k I ran that morning.

It all started five weeks prior to Sunday when Rahul asked me if I was doing Javadhu (all trail and it goes through a forest - just up my street!), I was a bit sceptical. It wasn't in my training plan and since I had planned to do KTM in September, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. The 25k was a possibility but all the slots were all filled up.

Two weeks later D asked me the same question, and he said he was signing up. Trail and two people asking me the same question was too much! I signed up the same day and since there were only three weeks to the run, D and I did all the long runs together. It was good doing long runs with some company as the past four years most of my long runs were on my own.

Training was simple, try and keep the mileage above 60 miles a week for the next two weeks leading up to the race. We did two runs at Nandi hills, and one close to the Nice road.

Of course the inevitable happened during the week leading up to the race. I came down with the flu. Luckily no fever, but a cold and a sore throat. So the entire week till the night before the race I was on antibiotics and using large amounts of tissue.

Fast forward to the weekend of the race. D and I drove to Javadhu the previous day thinking that getting there would be more than 3.5 hrs and it can't take that short a time. 3.5hrs later sitting in the car outside the race starting point we looked quite bored. D's wife had sweetly packed us lunch, which we ate slowly trying to kill some time.

It was quite warm, but there seemed to be quite a bit of cloud cover, I hoped it would stay that way the next day. We killed the next four hrs by sleeping, reading and wandering about the school, we were staying at.

The organizers kindly advanced the bib distribution to 5pm and we collected our cloth bibs, t-shirt and food coupon for dinner. It was back to killing time till the rest of the runners got in.

Dinner was served at about 8:30. I was quite hungry by then and looking forward to getting to bed early. I quickly finished dinner and spent some time arranging stuff for the next morning.

The alarm rang at 2:30 am. So you could say we had an early morning! I had barely slept for 3hrs as there were quite a lot of people up late. D and I managed to get to the loos without much of waiting. The indian style loo was quite a challenge if you're not used to it. My only fear was being not able to get up!

The race started at 5am after a 15 min warmup, we were off. It was dark and had no idea who was ahead and how many. Our torches came in handy though a bit difficult to run with them in our hands. We deposited them at the second aid station. I made a mental note to pick it up on my way back. I'm glad it stuck! D and I ran for the about 10 miles together (part road for first 3k) and then I increased my pace a bit as my legs were feeling good. The course was quite undulating, as opposed to what we imagined it to be. I had thought it would be more like Nandi Hills where I would run slow the first half (25k) and run hard most of the way back, which I expected to be downhill. I was mistaken!

There was a cool breeze throughout most of the run, that helped. A large chunk of the trail is very stony that makes it hard to run at a steady pace.

I hadn't past any runners in a while and was wondering how many were ahead. At the next aid station I asked how many runners were ahead. They said three. I was surprised. I had imagined a lot more. Close to the 13 mile mark I came across Sampath who was looking strong. I ran past him and was sure he would catch up. I still hadn't seen the front two and didn't know who they were.

I saw Jim and the second runner running towards me, about a km from the turn around. They looked very strong. About 1 km to the turn around is all downhill so it's a good thing to remember that it's uphill on the way back - basically save some energy!

At the turn around I was welcomed warmly by all the volunteers who quickly gave me what I needed. Sampath ran in just then. I left the aid station and slowly ran back. I met D, and was good to see he wasn't far behind. My legs had started to feel tired, my only hope was that they would not give up on me.

I had never really walked in a race as part of race strategy. But to save my legs I decided I would walk all the uphills. I slowly plodded along admiring the beauty of the trail. The sun was out, but the cool breeze was keeping us sane.

On the return I ran into all the other runners for the 50k and 75k. I tried to encourage as many runners as I could, as I feel it raises the positive energy of the race. For the next few miles it was pretty much running on my own, with the occasional runner/s passing in the opposite direction.

I came across the the runner running with Jim (didn't realise he was doing 75k till D mentioned it!). That was a crazy pace for 75k!

Every aid station I stopped at the volunteers were very encouraging that helped lift your mood. 'Pink building!', that was my reminder to collect my torch. I found it with ease. One of the volunteers said, "the first runner is three minutes in front - you can catchup!" My legs were feeling the same for the last 10 miles so I had no intention catching up. I just wanted to finish on legs that felt good.

Mile 25 or 26 I saw Jim, I could tell he wasn't doing well else he would have finished the race well before I would have. After catching up with him I asked him how he was doing and he mentioned that he was feeling quite dizzy. I didn't want to leave him in that state and especially didn't want him to have a rotten first 50k! We used the same strategy and walked up all the inclines. I tried chatting with him to distract him and take his mind off the terrain and heat that was getting to both of us.

He managed to keep a fairly steady pace. We stopped at the last aid station before the finish and asked him to have a banana or at least have bits of it till the end*. I left Jim at the 1.5 mile mark as I felt he seemed better and carried on till the finish, which by the way is uphill!

My legs served me well and was happy to have finished first (~4:16) in a pretty decent time and on 1 gel (usually have 3-4 on most races). I sat down cooled off and waited for the rest of the runners to come in.

Jim came in shortly after and then it was good to see D come in third.

Of course D made fun of me for not having a medal and that they were waiting for him to come to hand them out.

Kudos to all the runners - especially the 75k runners for braving the heat! Thank you to all the volunteers.

Tips and learnings:

  1. Practice on a rolling course
  2. Walking up inclines is not a bad thing. You're brisk walking and running paces would not be very different.
  3. It gets a bit noisy in the school - if you get stressed about sleeping - sleep on the terrace or get your own tent.
  4. Wake up early to use the loo. 2:30am may be a bit early but it all depends on your level of patience to stand in a queue. Also there are only 3 loos in the close vicinity.
  5. Torches are helpful to see direction markings and the general way. A head torch will probably be better than a hand held one. Remember to collect it on the way back - pink building!
  6. Don't drink too much water. You'll end up feeling very bloated and sick. It's good to stay a bit thirsty.
  7. It gets hot, so carry a cap / glasses (especially for bangalore runners!). Having salt tablets helps if you sweat a lot. Carry them in the small zip-lock bags you get.

Javadhu website: www.facebook.com/javadhuhillsultra?fref=ts

My run on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/344976463

Photo courtesy Edwin Antonysamy

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The wearables

April 28, 2014

A morning like any other, my wife and I set out on our daily run. Standing at the apartment gate doing a couple of stretches, from across the street we hear a strained “Sar! Sar!” (A localization of Sir). Looking up I saw Ravi – who irons our clothes walk briskly across the street, with […]

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The wearables

April 28, 2014 . By admin . Leave Comment

A morning like any other, my wife and I set out on our daily run. Standing at the apartment gate doing a couple of stretches, from across the street we hear a strained "Sar! Sar!" (A localization of Sir). Looking up I saw Ravi - who irons our clothes walk briskly across the street, with a big grin on his face. He came up to us and shows us a rather large watch on his wrist. "See Saar, I've got a watch like yours, I can make calls from it!". My wife and I looked at each other and I had to break it to Ravi that our watches didn't have the feature to make calls or send messages, but only told the time and distance, speed and so on.  Ravi looked quizzically at us like there was something wrong with us - almost like what's the point of wearing that fat watch if it's only going to tell you the time (never mind all the other features that are crucial to runners) ! That said we quickly got going on our run, and left Ravi staring at his watch with wonder.

Mid 1980s, I sat glued to the television as it roared "Atomic Punch"... "Rocket Missiles",  Johnny Sakko screamed orders into his watch while his Robot obeyed his commands. On Sundays Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise spoke to his watch "Beam me up Scotty".

Wearable devices, at least as an idea (until recently) have existed for decades. Devices such as hearing aids have been around for even longer. Of late we see the emergence of Google glass, (rumors of) iWatch, bluetooth ring, Samsung galaxy gear and so on. This is just the beginning of a more internet-connected world, where all wearable devices will be able to interact and share information with each other.

What probably draws us to wearable devices is its' simplicity - taking an everyday object and enhancing its features. We've got used to using them so they don't seem like something extra that we need to carry around. If you were to carry two or even three mobiles you would think twice.  The technology used is still in its infancy no one has really come up with that one gadget that attracts the masses. They are still more tech gadgets than fashion accessories (though this is currently changing).

At present there has been an explosion of fitness and health bands and this will continue to be on the rise for a while. It is contagious - when I run I'm constantly looking at my watch, what pace am I currently at.. is it too slow, should I be running faster? And when I happen to forget it, the same questions keep popping into my mind - I do miss it. We've turned into a people obsessing  about calories burnt, heart rate, blood pressure - rightly so with all the stress and poisons we live with and breathe. My parents being diabetic would benefit from reminders to take their medication - a smart phone would solve this if they remembered to carry it with them, hence wearable device would make it that much more easier. There are infinite possibilities for creating health related gadgets - but why restrict it to humans. Our pets could also benefit. Many a time we have no idea how our pets are feeling - if a 'wearable' collar could communicate with our phones as to how our pet was feeling, the data could be sent to our vet and help with the diagnosis.

Samsung has already built a 'Smart Home' prototype, where users manage all their connected devices from a single application. The fashion industry has also started to embrace technology. Francesca Rosella of CuteCircuit  had given her models the power to customize their outfits with a swipe of their iPods, which caused the garments to do things like shimmer, change color, and even play video. Harry Potter's invisibility cloak comes instantly to mind - though Hyperstealth, a successful Canadian camouflage design company have already come up with Quantum Stealth, a material that renders the target completely invisible by bending light waves around the target - imagine being able to enhance this with smart devices.

Going back to Ravi staring at his watch - wearables are penetrating a larger audience, they will become more affordable  and are almost certainly going to change our lives in the years to come.

Thanks for listening.

References: http://www.hyperstealth.com/Quantum-Stealth/ http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/smart-sexy-designers-play-wearable-gadgets-n40616 http://www.cnet.com/news/moto-x-print-ad-lets-you-change-its-colour-on-the-page/

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Time off

December 22, 2013

Just when you think your training’s going well or rather seems to be, laziness comes strolling by and gives you a good knock on the head! So that’s where I’m at.. yes not running! I signed up for Auroville thinking that at least that should motivate me to run but it’s not really managing to. […]

Time off

December 22, 2013 . By admin . Leave Comment

Just when you think your training's going well or rather seems to be, laziness comes strolling by and gives you a good knock on the head! So that's where I'm at.. yes not running! I signed up for Auroville thinking that at least that should motivate me to run but it's not really managing to. Anyway I will get over this and be back to my usual routine. Got myself some pressies: 71FlywfXApL._SL1500_ 2067325-p-MULTIVIEW               Very excited to start using them! Will do a write up on it. Books I'm currently reading: The Race of My Life : An Autobiography (Paperback) (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) Simply written. The story  of Milkha Singh itself is so moving that one doesn't really need to keep the reader engaged. Not that Rakeysh, the Author hasn't done a good job. The book is no doubt inspiring and makes a runner want to go out to a track and run till their lungs are on fire. It also displays the discipline and hard work needed to reach a goal - any goal for that matter not necessarily sports. Tiger Fire : 500 Years of the Tiger in India (Valmik Thapar) Was really excited to get this book and will start reading it once I finish all the half finished ones. Skimmed through the book and it had a really fantastic selection of photos and illustrations. The best part is that it's really a collection of stories by people who've had encounters or know of. It's also a great way to relearn history as the title suggests it takes one back 500 years. I would recommend this to everyone, even though it's a bit on the expensive side - it's worth the money. That's all for today. Coming up  - Project 365!!    

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Long time no see…

August 5, 2013

Wow! I was supposed to update this every week… Things haven’t gone as expected. I haven’t come to terms with my loss of love for running. I just seem to want to sleep – blame the weather! Works been so busy that I’ve been coming in at all odd hours, luckily it’s come to an […]

Long time no see…

August 5, 2013 . By admin . Leave Comment

Wow! I was supposed to update this every week... Things haven't gone as expected. I haven't come to terms with my loss of love for running. I just seem to want to sleep - blame the weather! Works been so busy that I've been coming in at all odd hours, luckily it's come to an end. Now all that's left is getting off my lazy arse and do some serious running. The plan - take it slowly. Going to try out the Brooks's Hanson training plan. I've already missed a fews days of it... not good! So no races this year as well as I doubt i'll be ready for anything in the next couple of months. Though I'd love to do an ultra next year - been eyeing the Annapurna75. But again all depends how the next few months go. My running bucket list

  1. Bangalore - Mysore (boring but just something that's been on my mind for a long time)
  2. Across the the Rann of kutch - probably the little Rann- but that's a still a plan for the future. Maybe even do a bit of work with schools like this
  3. A multi-stage ultra somewhere in the western ghats
Attended Motorcycle Travellers Meet (MTM) - yeah I don't ride but was great to hear stories and make me want to buy a bike - Yezdi Road king or a Bullet? Expensive but you live once! Trip photo and home made video to come... Here it is: http://youtu.be/P5kPfG4g5e8

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The dark ages…

May 5, 2013

Some things aren’t in our control and we should leave them to take their course. Running In theory it sounds easy, but the reality is that it’s a constant mental battle. Running’s taken a back seat though at times frustrating I’ve sort of accepted it.  2011 was a great year, I managed to accomplish a […]

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The dark ages…

May 5, 2013 . By admin . Leave Comment

Some things aren't in our control and we should leave them to take their course. Running In theory it sounds easy, but the reality is that it's a constant mental battle. Running's taken a back seat though at times frustrating I've sort of accepted it.  2011 was a great year, I managed to accomplish a lot of goals in terms of running. It was a hard year and took a lot out of me mentally and physically. I should have just slowed it down and continued training but somewhere I seemed to have given up. It's been a year and a half and I'm still trying to get into the shape I was in. Frustrating is the least but I'm being positive & hoping my running year is yet to begin. Work Very busy is the least I can say. Good in a lot of ways. Made quite a few mistakes that I've learnt from, acquired / bettered certain skills. Enjoying the challenges that have come my way. So now looking at it I need to get out of my current comfort zone and start training more seriously - finding the right balance so that I get back into shape.

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Hi again!

April 27, 2013

Yet another attempt to keep alive this blog… hope this one outlasts the previous ones. I don’t really blog so my story telling capabilities are rather limited so please bare with the boringness of things! Hopefully i’ll get up tomorrow go for a run and then write a post on what i’ve been  up to […]

Hi again!

April 27, 2013 . By admin . Leave Comment

Yet another attempt to keep alive this blog... hope this one outlasts the previous ones. I don't really blog so my story telling capabilities are rather limited so please bare with the boringness of things! Hopefully i'll get up tomorrow go for a run and then write a post on what i've been  up to and the general scheme of things!

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