Airtel Hyderabad Marathon – Race Report

Finish line smiles

Here we go, the new season of running. First one – Airtel Hyderabad Marathon (AHM), the toughest city Marathon in India.
Hyderabad is like my second home. Having studied in the University of Hyderabad and lived there for 8 years, AHM is always an excuse for me to go back to the city and meet old friends.

University of Hyderabad!

2018 edition (happened on August 26) is my third AHM and second Full Marathon. The course is not an easy terrain! 4 to 5 flyovers and lots of hills! It feels mostly climbing throughout! This race usually sees a number of DNFs every year! PBs hardly come through; finishing itself is a reward…Last year, I finished the race in 4:32 (with the course less by about 500m ~ 41.7 km).

This year, my plan was to finish around 4:15. Though I was bad with elevation, I thought I have trained enough to clock sub-4:15.

The first 10 km were ok. It was flat-ish (compared to the rest of the course). Kept a pace of 5:35 min/km. Could maintain this pace until the halfway mark when the elevation started getting serious and started affecting my knees… Slowly, my pace dropped and I saw the sub-4:00 bus go past me. I thought, I still have time for a sub-4:15. However, as usual (in Hyderabadi style) things got worse… by the 37th split, I was drained…

Somewhere @ 25th split

By that time, even the energy gels didn’t work on me; I felt pukish every time I took a sip… so, I gave up on it and was running only on energy drinks and water. from 37th km, I started walking in between and managed a finish at 4:21.
It was not bad; but, I could have done better… lessons for next race learned.

The course is killer, and why would someone go there to run. I was asked this question many times… Why I go there to run? Because it is tough… it’s not easy… it’s hard… and all these make one stronger…
So, I am back from my trip to Hyderabad, all stronger and fresher, ready to take on the next race…


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100 days of running 2018

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Finisher, yet again!

Yes… done with that too…

With me running every day since last year’s ‘100 days of running’, completing the 2018 edition was not difficult at all… Ran over 1250 km in over 142 hours in those 100 days!

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100 days’ stats

The most satisfying part of the whole thing is the Delhi summer couldn’t stop me. The weather during those 100 days was extreme; it was hot and humid and during the latter part of it had rains!

I did some tough trail running…

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@ Sanjay Van (forest), Delhi

Some hill running…

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Hills of Mashobra, Shimla

Ran in the rain…

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that run in the rain…

and also in a gym…

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Those long dreadmill runs

Yeah, I ran everywhere I went… and in all kinds of climatic conditions… A mixed bag of experiences that can be a confidence booster for the upcoming season (first race in 2 weeks)…

I’m glad I went through this and probably will never stop running every day for a while!!!

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Homemade Peanut butter!

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Homemade peanut butter!

My Saturday success story… Finally made my own peanut butter…

As someone who consumes at least 300g of peanut butter per week, I keep buying jars of them from the grocery store every month… Peanut butter is a healthy choice they say… but, how healthy is stuff you buy from the market? Most of them are adulterated. There is no doubt about that!

So, considering all the above, I always wanted to make it at home… And last weekend, with nothing on my calendar, I got myself the ingredients and got to work… The result: Most delicious peanut butter I ever tasted in my life… and it did not taste anything like the ones I was buying all these years! This made me wonder… what kinds of stuff are they putting in those?!

Anyway, here you go… the recipe for a healthy breakfast…

Ingredients:

  • Peanuts (shelled) – 2 cups
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Peanut oil – 2 teaspoon
  • Honey – 3 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C. Spread the peanuts in the baking tray and lightly toast them (at 180 degrees C) until they are slightly golden and glossy with oil. I have a burned a couple of them in the process and it added to the flavour.

Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or mixer (when they are still warm). Run the food processor for a for a minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor and continue running it. The mix will be powdery at first and with more time in the processor, it will start becoming smooth and buttery. Remember, peanuts are sources of oil.

When the butter is reasonably smooth, add salt, peanut oil, honey (or any other sweeteners) and cinnamon powder. Continue running the food processor until the butter is smooth to your satisfaction.

Transfer the peanut butter to a storage container and here you have your homemade peanut butter.

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Jar of Happiness! 

 

 

Tuffman Shimla – Race Report

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Tuffman Shimla done and dusted!

Late post! Had this race done two weeks ago… finally, got time to sit down and pen down few things about the race…

First of all, the race. Distance covered – 30km… Time took – 4:10 hours… Difficulty level –  ‘I am giving up’ tough!

Every year, I do a run in hills to prepare myself for some of the toughest races in the coming season. Lasy year, I was at the Bir hills for the Bir-Billing half marathon where I finished third.

This year, I decided to try out one of the Tuffman races (series of ultra runs in a number of tough race routes across India – from desert to hills to beaches to islands). I signed for the Shimla race where they had the race categories of 20, 30, 50 and 80 km. And since the race is in June, I can escape the horrible Delhi heat at least for a weekend… After much thought, I decided against the 50k and registered for the 30k, mostly because I was underprepared for the 50k… Though I’ve done many full marathons in the last two years, a 50k run in the hills would feel more like an 80k or something…

After the long bus ride from Delhi to Shimla, settling in the beautiful bamboo cottages in Mashobra Greens felt more like a vacation. I had spent some time walking around the place and clicking on some beautiful pictures…

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Mashobra Greens

The Race

Well, I did finish first in the women category with a time of 4:10 hours… that would sound ‘too much’ for a 30k run… And that says a lot about the route… It was never easy with an elevation gain of about 1700m.

Breaking it down further… the first half of the run had more descent than ascent… The best part was the 5km -10 km steep descent. We all went down almost flying… I never had an idea then how difficult it would be to climb that back… It was not just difficult; it was hell! That would be the right word to use… That climb back from the 20 km point to 25 km was the longest ‘climb’ of my life… Even vehicles passing me struggled in the ascent… imagine the human legs!!!

I wanted to give up…

I wanted to quit…

I thought I’d never finish…

I cursed the moment I signed up for the race…

The weather was not on my side that day… There was a rain forecast… but, instead, we had scorching sun over our heads… Anyway, I kept walking/climbing… I made sure I never stopped anywhere… The moment you stop, you are never going to get back on!!!

It was a relief when I crossed the 25 k mark and when the climb was over… Since then it was more like a run/walk to the finish line…

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Elevation profile!

At the end of the race, I was all worn out and drained… also, my knees were hurting real bad! Well, finishing a race will change your perspectives on life and pain… I was soon eager for my first ultra… From ‘I will never do this again’ to ‘let’s raise the difficulty level’ was something! Trails work on you in strange different ways!

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It’s not where you take the trail… it’s where the trail takes you!

That was my mountain treatment for the summer… Experienced some tough hill runs, made new friends and now ready for more tougher runs coming up later this year!


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Trying to crack an ultramarathon run…

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Ultramarathon run, by its definition, is any distance run longer than a full marathon (42.195km or 26.219 mi). So, if you are a marathoner, occasionally running 42.2, why is it hard to finish an ultra run (usually starting with a 50k)?

The simplest answer is most ultra runs are not flat road races and the key is to run slower and longer. The term ultramarathon is synonymous with train-running. So, the difficulty level is higher compared to road races.

For 2018, I have listed finishing an ultra on my bucket list. It is a 50km run along the western ghats – a trail in the beautiful coffee plantations of Malnad. So, with 7.8 km more than my usual Marathon distance, would I be able to finish it in my marathon pace or slightly more than that? I guess not.

What are the difficulty factors?

First, it’s a trail run, with lots of elevations.

Second, it’s going to take a lot of time before I can finish.

How do I train for it?

Hill repeats. Yes, lots of hill training. I have included few of them in my training plan. But, living in a city like Delhi it is not possible for me to train on hills. Thankfully, I have a couple of events in the coming weeks with good elevation gain. They are going to be my training runs.

And how should I prepare myself for long hours on road? Train to be patient… For a regular road/rack runner (like me), it is difficult. While training for an ultra run, you need to forget about the pace, you need to forget about the PR for the race… just need to train to have more hours on road, lean to slow down and walk… I am increasing my Sunday long runs by time than the distance (we all love to log more distance than time).

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Sunday long runs – longer time on the road

In short, it’s all about surviving long hours on road, running slowly and enjoying the beautiful scenery around (most iconic ultra runs happen in scenic locations). Can’t wait to get into that ‘ultra runner’ club.


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365 days of running!

 

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Towards my 1:45:10 finish during the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (November 2017)

 

Yes, I did it… completed a year of running without missing a day.

All started with the ‘100 days of running challenge’ last April. The idea is you have to run for 100 days without missing a day and run a minimum of 2km each day. I completed the challenge registering 950+ kms in 100 days.

Once the challenge is over, I had this crazy idea of continuing running. Running every day is not a difficult thing for me. My training schedule gives me 4-5 days of morning runs. But, since I hit the gym in the evenings and warm-up for at least 2km on the treadmill, it all working out.

The 365 days of running were injury-free. As someone who is dealing with arthritis, I know how to avoid injuries. One year of running also gave me my first sub-4 marathon, almost made it to sub-1:45 HM club (those 10 seconds!) and PBs in 10k (in a HM race; not in a 10k dash) and 5k!

April 28, 2018, was the 365th day and incidentally, it was the day of #100daysofrunning2018. Let’s see if I can make it to 2 years of running!


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Finally, a sub-4 Marathon

Yes, it happened… finally… finished a Marathon within 4 hours… 3:56:22 to be exact…

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Sub-4 finish in Mumbai

I was back again to Mumbai for finishing what I started last Feb. Immediately after the Mumbai Marathon of 2017, I realised I need to work on lots of things before I could break into sub-4; building strength for example. I joined a gym on Feb 1, 2017, and it changed my runs altogether. I surprised myself my stamina and endurance. So, I had high hopes for TMM (Tata Mumbai Marathon).

Mumbai is the Mecca of running. Every Marathoner in India wants to come to Mumbai during the third weekend of January and be part of this running festival. It’s not like Mumbai roads are the easiest to run to. It is not easy here; heat and humidity in the second half and the notorious Peddar road (known for its elevation)… it’s not easy. It is not easy to crack one’s personal best here.

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Finish line smiles!

But, I was prepared. And toughened up… running few rough Marathons last year was a confidence booster… a sub-4:35 finish in Hyderabad, 4:10 finish in Singapore… all those trained me to keep going through adversity!

For a sub-4 finish, one needs to run at sub-5:40 pace. My plan was to keep the 5:30-5:35 pace as long as possible. The Peddar road at 35th km, things are not going to be easy during the last 10k with the sun directly on your face. The plan worked out. I could maintain the 5:35 average until the 33rd km. From there the pave dropped a little, but, only slightly. At the Peddar road split, I was running at 6:09. The last 3 kilometres were the slowest; around 5:50-55. But, I had saved enough seconds for those splits… In all, the last 13 kms came at a pace of 5:48. Super satisfying.

But, that was not the highlight of the day. It was indeed the way I ran. I never stopped on the way! Usually, there will be a stop or two post-33 km for me. This time, it never happened; even @ the Peddar road or on the last kilometre when I was dead tired and a sub-4 was assured. I just wanted to do my best.

 

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There were two medals; finisher and inspiration. You need to give the ‘inspiration’ medal to the person who has inspired you to run… I have a long list of people, starting from my parents, who have inspired me. So difficult to pick one!

 

I came back from Mumbai all satisfied. Something got checked from my 2018 bucket list in January itself. Great start to the year!

2018 is not going be easy. I have some tough targets in mind… well, I enjoy challenging myself. New places to travel… new peaks to conquer… more records to break! Yes, I am ready!!!!


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My 2018 reading list

Already on the first weekend of 2018, and I have a reading list for 2018.

Every year I take up a reading challenge which includes one book series and few other books. ‘Few’ maybe 8 to 10 books. This year, I thought I’d change up the challenge a bit, making it a real ‘challenge’. So, here is 2018 list:

  1. A book series (of course)
  2. A book over 500 pages (current read)
  3. A book that can be read in a day
  4. A book of translation
  5. A play or poetry (out of my comfort zone)
  6. A banned book (that would be exciting)
  7. A book from my favourite author (did I say, Tolkien, :D)
  8. A book I’ve given up reading long back
  9. A biography
  10. A book suggested by another bookworm

So, looks like lots of reading in 2018!

Few bits about ‘HEAT’

That Theoretical Physicist

heat

As you know the Universe is made of matter and energy. The matter is made up of atoms and molecules. And it is the energy that causes (triggers) these atoms and molecules in motion. They bump into each other or vibrate back and forth and increased the atomic/molecular kinetic energy and thus creates a form of energy called ‘thermal energy’.

Any form of energy can be converted into thermal energy via various processes. Heat is the amount of thermal energy transferred during these processes. Let’s look into few examples:

  1. Mechanical energy to thermal energy: Consider bouncing of a ball. Everytime the ball bounces back from the ground, some of the energy of ball’s motion  (KE) is converted into heat (making the ball warm) and thus slowing it down.
  2. Electrical energy to thermal energy: Most electrical appliances heat up when we switch it on. We know that electrical energy is the flow of…

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