Monday, 15 February 2010

Auroville Marathon: Post Race

The Auroville Half-Marathon would be my 2nd half-marathon which was executed flawlessly -- the first one being the Bangalore Midnight Marathon. I finished the race in 1:51:23. Which translates to an average pace of 5:20/KM. What more I even did a decent sprint in the last 400m. Everything went according to plan. My goals were as follows:
  1. Get a personal best (beat 1:55:02) -- Pass (shaved off approximately 4 minutes)
  2. Run a sub-2 hour race-- Pass
  3. Finish -- Pass
I ran the race with quite a lot of focus (I believe that running without music has helped me in this). So much so that at the end, it didn't feel like I had been running for almost 2 hours. I stuck to my target-pace from the very start. Having the experience of many races, I managed to contain the feelings of going fast in the beginning. Many people who overtook me in the first half, were returned the favour by yours truly in the second half.

The conditions were hot and humid. The humidity was there from the beginning and I had a wet shirt within the 2 KM mark. Because of this, I made it a point to have electrolytes and water at each and every aid station. The heat didn't come into picture till around 7:30 AM (the race started at 6 AM), which was around the 17 KM mark. Wearing a cap helped.

As promised, in the last 400m, I sprinted. I had another runner in front of me, who, realizing that I was about to cross him, shifted into another gear. We were having a really competitive last minute sprint, when he managed to lose way in the last corner -- the finish line was after a left turn; the poor chappy ran straight -- and was left behind. I felt sorry for him, but I continued my dash and finished really strong.

And when I say strong, I mean I had enough energy left after the run to play a game of basketball with few kids.

 Figure 1: The author playing basketball with few kids. Notice the dangling finisher's medal. Sports is about participation.

Note 1: Well the kids beat my team in basketball, but let's not concentrate on who won and lost ... It's all about participation. Right?
Note 2: I have been advised, by my PR consultant (who was also my basketball team-mate, and because of whom we lost), to show-off in a more subtle and agreeable manner. This is so that people appreciate my achievements rather than label me as a braggart. I find that boring.

A good run!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Auroville Marathon: Race Preview, Controversy and Race Plan

The Auroville marathon is upon us. This time again it's on Sunday, Valentine's Day. Being a single-lonely-heart, I will be running the half-marathon there rather than visit expensive restaurants with bouquets.

On to the race related details, controversies and my race-plan (I always have one, even if I don't).

1. Race Preview

 The Auroville Marathon has 4 events: the full marathon, the half marathon, the quarter marathon and a 5K. I'm only going to talk about the full and the half marathons -- not because I don't respect the quarter marathon distance (10.5 KM) or the 5K, but because I don't know much about those events.

Figure 1: Auroville Map for Full and Half Marathons

Most of the Auroville marathon (approximately 83% of it) is a nice and easy flat trail. The full marathon is two loops of the trail and the half is one loop. There are aid stations at 4 KM intervals -- which is correctly placed for distance runners who have trained properly. These stations, at least last time, had water, electrolytes and things to eat. The trail has enough shade and it's pretty even as compared to other trails which I have run on -- RFL's Bellandur track, Bangalore Ultra, etc. Some parts of the trail are pretty narrow which make them really enjoyable to run, but hard to overtake (and you know ... I'm always ... like overtaking people and shit). Parts of the trail have loose red dirt, so get ready to get dirty. Also it's very easy to get lost in the trail, so be careful and watch out for the markers.

The full marathon starts at 5 AM and the half marathon folks start at 6 AM. The full marathon participants are provided with torches, but from what I have heard is that the torches won't be of too much help and you will be forced to run carefully -- which might not be too bad during the start of a full-marathon, where flying away early could be detrimental to your goals.

2. Controversy

The Auroville Marathon was announced publicly some time in November or December (I forget), with the deadline for registrations being set as January 20th. As it would happen, a number of runners didn't register till the deadline was past. Also, there were a number of runners who were dropping out of the race. So two things happened:
  1. The late-to-register runners approached the organizers, wondering if there was any chance of getting into the race.
  2. The drop-outs started to put up their bib numbers on the RFL Google Group, so that people who wanted to run the race could run on their behalf. 
 In the 1st case, the late-to-register runners were told by the organizers that late registration was not possible. Unfortunately, the email exchanges between the organizers and the runners weren't too pleasant.

In the 2nd case, the organizers decided not to allow any other person to run with somebody else's bib. They have announced that, during bib collection, the runners need to bring a government issued identity proof. Only if the ID proof is provided, will the bibs be given. The bib controversy is not new and it happened last year as well.

3. Race Plan

This is going to be my first half marathon this year. The last race which I ran was the Mumbai Marathon. The last half-marathon which I ran was the Bangalore Midnight Marathon, where I got a PB.

Although I haven't trained specifically for a half marathon, I have done decent distances over the past 3 weeks. I might be a bit ambitious here, but here are my race goals:

  1. Get a personal best (beat 1:55:02). 
  2. Run a sub-2 hour race.
  3. Finish. 
Unlike the midnight marathon, I'm planning to set a hard (hard for me), even pace of around 5:20/KM and retain it till the end (well, I will hopefully sprint the last 200 m). 

To more personal bests, we run.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Routine Post

  • We rode to Nandi Hills and back on our cycles last Sunday. The whole journey of 130 KM was done in 9 hours, including breaks. It was a fun trip and I won't rate it as too tough. The climb up Nandi and the ride down was the highlight of the journey. The ride up took me around 45 minutes (covering a little over 7 KM), but downhill was lightning fast and was finished in 12 minutes. 
  • I made Mysore Pak the other day. It's supposed to be hard to get right the first time, but I seem to have done a decent job -- at least I didn't have anybody say that they didn't like it. I followed this video to make the sweet-dish (the guy has a pronounced Indian American accent. Don't we all love those?).
  • Lately the same old "Shoes are a waste of money and you should run bare-feet" debate has started again. Rather than believing what journalists write, I would like people to read what scientists and running-coaches believe. To summarize, the studies (which the journalists are using to say barefoot running is good) were done on professional athletes, not amateur runners. If you are already habituated to running with shoes, getting to run without them is going to take time and is prone to injury. Shoes protect your feet from the glass on the road -- and if you are in India, also excreta of various animals