Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunfeast 10K: Race Report

Before I bore you with the details, I failed to achieve my sub-50 min target. My time was 50:36. Personal best nonetheless.

On to the race report.

The Open 10K race was scheduled to start at 8:10 AM at Kanteerava Stadium. There were two holding areas, one for participants with the timing chip and one for the ones without. The people with the timing chips were to be let out on the circuit before the ones without. Although I wanted to get a timing chip for myself, I couldn't and I ended up in the general junta holding area.

When we reached the holding area, the elite men's race was just finishing and elite women were warming up. The elite men's finishers at that time were mostly laggards -- in fact I saw one guy vomit and then dry-heave in the last 400m. The elite women's race was flagged off precisely at 8:00 AM. They covered the first 400 m in 1:20 and proceeded out for rest of the race (there was one elite woman who actually pulled out in the first 300m itself!).

Once the elite women were off the track, the Open 10K participants with the timing chips were allowed to enter the track and shortly the Open 10K was flagged off. The holding areas were big, but the gate to enter the track was pretty small and was causing a lot of clogging. But given that this was India, people rose to the occassion and started jumping the stadium fence directly onto the track -- without going through the gate. The organizers first resorted to polite requests when all that went unheeded, the police started using their lathis -- that seemed to work, I wonder why? I, being the civilized gentleman, chose to go through the gate.

By the time I crossed the start line, it was already 10 minutes since the race had begun. I started my Garmin.

Due to the rains yesterday, the weather was really good. The sun was behind the clouds and a nice breeze was blowing. I managed to keep my 5:00/KM target pace for the first 3 KM. At the 4 KM mark, the road became narrow and there were a lot of walkers, stoppers, and slow runners; due to which I had to weave in and out quite a bit. Another thing which I noticed near the 4 KM mark, was there were a lot of people who resorted to taking short cuts -- part of the stretch from the 4 KM to 7 KM was out-and-back -- shame on them!

The heavy crowd continued to the 6 KM mark, following which there was a slightly uphill stretch. All of that slowed me down. The uphill stretch went till 7 KM mark, after which it was familiar territory -- Cubbon Park. At the 9 KM mark, I was 30 s off pace. I wanted to increase my speed, but however hard I tried there were enough slow-movers ahead of me. In fact, towards the end, I couldn't even cut loose and manage a sprint.

At the end my Garmin told me that I finished the race in 50:36. More than a minute better than my previous personal best (which was on the treadmill by the way), but still short of my sub-50 min target time.

All said and done an overall good and well organized race. The route was well marked, there were enough water stops (although I didn't use any), and everything was on time. I enjoyed the race and hopefully next time I will do much better.

Race Goals:
  1. Finish the distance -- PASS
  2. Get a personal best -- PASS
  3. Finish Sub-50 min -- FAIL
  4. Finish Sub-48 min -- FAIL
  5. Win the Open 10k -- FAIL

Friday, 29 May 2009

Sunfeast 10K: Prologue

The race is upon us. Two days from now, on Sunday, I will be running the Sunfeast 10K. The race start is at 8:10 AM. My bib has been collected and tomorrow is going to be a fun-filled rest day, with lots of carb-loading (read beer and pasta). Today was the last day of the training plan which I had been following for the past one month. I tapered off with an easy 5K run done at a 6:00/KM pace, followed by 3 x 100m sprints.

These are my goals for the race, in increasing order of difficulty:
  1. Finish the distance (easy ... peezy).
  2. Get a personal best (Current PB: 51:47)
  3. Finish Sub-50 min (that's what all the training was for)
  4. Finish Sub-48 min (only once have I gone below 24 mins for a 5k)
  5. Win the Open 10k (assuming lightning strikes everyone else)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

First Athletic Victory?

Author's note: This post is almost a week late, but what the heck. It's not as if I have much of an audience waiting for posts.

Circa 2001.

I'm in 12th std and our annual inter-house sports meet is going on. I find myself participating in two events: the triple jump and the 400 m run. Not because I'm good at either, but because no one else in my house (which was called the Eklavya house, and invariably none in the house were good at sports) was ready to participate. Nobody wanted to go for the triple jump, because getting the footing right was not easy. The 400 m was considered more of a long distance run and nobody wanted to do it.

The 400 m run, was 2 rounds of our school ground. Ancient wisdom and folklore dictated that, the 1st round must be run at a slow jogging pace, whereas the second round should be all-out. At the race, I followed this strategy. And of course, it was stupid! Two of my competitors, zoomed away at the start, while I jogged along chuckling to myself that they will soon slow down. When I hit around the 150 m mark, they had finished the 1st round. "Surely they must be tired. Falter they shall ... any time now", I said to myself. But unfortunately and apparently they weren't. When I ended my 1st round, they were so far ahead, that it broke my spirit and I didn't even sprint in the final round. At the end of it I was disappointed, but also relieved that I didn't get lapped.

Needless to say I didn't win a thing in any of our annual sports meet -- don't make me recount my triple-jump disasters.

Last Week, May 2009.

Our company organized a bunch of fitness events and called it, for a lack of a better name, "The Gym Challenge". There were 5 events: 5k on the treadmill, 10k on the elliptical, 15k on the cycle, Iron man (maximum time), Pushups (maximum in 1 min). I decided to go for the treadmill, elliptical ,and cycling events -- all were time trials.

My best 5k till the time of the event was 24:39 at NGV, but given that I had been doing quite a bit of speed training for the Sunfeast 10k, I hoped to better it. My plan was to do a negative split: run the first 2.5 K at a 5:00/KM pace and the rest at a 4:36/KM pace. For cycling and the elliptical, I didn't have any strategy as I was just doing them to spread out the risk.

On the day of the race, although not a very important event, I had a bit of nervous energy going for me -- I was focussed. I warmed up for 5 minutes and finally got on the treadmill and set the pace to the planned 5:00/KM. At the end of 2 K, I was feeling good, so I said what the heck and increased the pace to 4:36/KM there itself. I managed to sustain that pace till the 4.6 K mark, after which I upped the pace to 4:17/KM.

At the end the clock read 23:44 -- a new PB, albeit on the treadmill.

The results were announced at the end of the day and lo behold, I was 1st! The person coming 2nd was more than a minute away, and 3rd was around 2 minutes away. I also came 1st in cycling and 3rd in the elliptical event.

Glazed in athletic glory, I stood proud.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Routine Post

Coming back to you after a three week hiatus. How have you been? Outstanding, I hope.
  • I came across Joggling few days back I was searching for how to run with a backpack. It's a sport where you run ... while juggling (jogging + juggling = joggling). Inspired by this I have been trying to juggle three tennis balls (notice how I qualified "balls"). I use the three ball cascade technique and can go for about 10-20 seconds without a drop. Apparently, the ball prices have gone up -- earlier (read over 10 years ago ... shit I'm old!) a Cosco ball used to cost Rs 20; now it's Rs 35.
  • In an act of self-discipline, which my mom is very happy with, I have decided to ban all computer usage -- not just internet usage -- from 5 PM to 8 PM on all days. I'm free to do anything other than use the computer. Till now, I have been able to perform this feat for two consecutive days (today included). It's been good. I have been reading books, washing clothes, playing the guitar, taking walks, sleeping etc. People who know me, might appreciate why this is a big deal.
  • Second time in two months, I visited Kerala. Again to attend a wedding. God's own country is still hot and humid. Fans and showers have no effect on sweat production. I was in the Trivandrum area and finally got around to see the Kovalam beach (albeit in the night) -- a place which I never visited while I was doing my engineering in Cochin. It was a fun trip, with good food, lots of Indian poker (teen patti) and (thank god!) air-conditioning.
  • I bought a Timex digital watch (Rs 945) to keep me company while running. Yes, I have a much more expensive, fancy gadget, which I keep showing off, but this is more for times when I don't want to risk my Garmin Forerunner. Like when I'm running in the rains and other situations as such. I hope a time comes, when I can measure distance by my stride and the time by the sun (clouds are seen by pessimists).