Waiting for twilight!

Clicked this pic in the morning when I was waiting for a bit of light for my run @ my hometown in Kerala!

It’s going to be winter soon! With the sunrise and twilight delayed, the morning runs are getting delayed too…

Change of season calls for new training plans! I have to tweak my run/gym/swim timings… Everything goes +1 hour for now… Now, I have to reset my body clock and train it to not wake up at 4:00 am 😀…

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Not all ADHMs give you PBs

So, Delhi’s biggest running festival got over today…

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon or ADHM is an IAAF gold label race and people from all over the country come and run this… Considering the timing of the race (just when winter is starting) and a flat track, it’s where PBs are made…

My first ever half marathon was an ADHM and since then I have improved my timing up to 1:45:10 (2017)… Running ADHM over the years (5) has become an annual ritual for me…

Last year the race invited some controversy by having the run during the peak of pollution after Diwali… So, this year they decided to have it on October 21.… Meaning I won’t have time to recover from 50k run on October 13 (more about that soon)… To make things worse I fell ill 5 days before the race soon after returning from my ultra run and never recovered…

Ran with a bad cold today with energy levels so low! I was also fighting an urge to give up as I couldn’t find strength at all at the last quarter… But, it’s ADHM… And DNF is not an option for me… Finished in 1:49:27 well above top 1000 which was heartbreaking…

Well, not all races end up with PBs… Some failures make you stronger… There will be a next race where I can bounce back and finish stronger….

Yes, I will be back stronger!

Cape Town Marathon… Yes, I was part of Africa’s Gold

Last week, I checked a few things off my bucket list; exploring Africa was one among them. Being a runner, I did that in true runner’s way – finished Africa’s only Gold label marathon in 3:52:25. And the best part, it was a PB for me!

That’s my new PB!

Africa was in my ‘to visit’ list for a long time… While everyone was planning their run calendar with Berlin or Copenhagen, I picked Cape Town marathon because it would give me a chance to travel to a part of Africa. Some of my running friends thought it was an unwise move considering the crazy inclines and declines in the route. For me, I had just #runcation in mind; a hashtag I came up with ever since I started travelling for runs.

The cape town trip was awesome… It was my solo trip to South Africa… An international solo trip; I got that checked off my bucket list too… I got to tour the peninsula, climb the table mountain, explore the local cuisine… And on Sunday, Sep 23, I ran with 20,000+ runners to earn my finisher medal…

Saw penguins at the Boulders beach

Cape Point was fascinating

Hike to Table Mountain was exciting

The run was not easy… As mentioned the inclines and declines were crazy… and then we had the heavy winds… I barely stayed my ground at a certain point in the race… But, all these get negated by the warm support of the locals… They came out with snacks and drinks for the runners… Some random lady gave me salted orange slices en route… It was a great feeling…

The traffic was well maintained. At busy locations, the run was on the sidewalk… So, it was convenient for both runners and the public… I give to the organisers for the planning and execution… I couldn’t find any fault with any of the arrangements…

Mandatory finish line photo…

I left South Africa content and refreshed… it was a great vacation… You go to a new country and run a marathon and get a PB from it… there is no greater feeling than this.

Will I run Cape Town again? of course, I will… Probably, in a few years!!! I am in love with the city already. The blue skies and the mountains blew me away.

I will, someday, come back for these mountains!


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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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