Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday Long Run

(This is Sunday's blog, written on Sunday but it gets posted on Mondays - so today as refereed to here means Sunday)

Lihas took a time-out today. He had gone out and was going to be staying the night, so he let me know that he would not join for the long run today.

I would have to handle all the runners that came today. I shouldn't have worried, though. We still need to break the mindset of 'Sunday Holiday, therefore, nothing to be done on a Sunday' and replace it with 'Sunday Holiday, therefore a long run can be undertaken on a Sunday'.

Sundays, or the day of the regular weekly offs are great for long runs. One can run long distances without worrying about the time it will take. There is no pressure to reach the office. There is no 'strenuous' work that needs to be done. Once the mind is made, one can do long runs on Sundays, have a heavy breakfast, a heavy lunch and sleep through the afternoon. The evening is fresh and free. No running the next day gives enough time for the muscles to recuperate.

Coming back to the Sunday run, as I approached Keshavbaug at about 5:40am, I saw Hiren's car turn in, park and Hiren get out of it. I had company. On reaching Keshavbaug, only Hiren was there. Hardik came immediately after. By 5:46am, there were still just three of us. We decided to proceed.

It was Sunday, the day of the long run. Hardik decided to do 12kms - run upto the Akhbaarnagar Circle and return. I asked Hiren to accompany me to the Motera Stadium turn and return up to RTO on the way back. From there he could take the BRTS back to Keshavbaug. Hiren agreed on the condition that I run at his pace.

We set off. All three of us chatting away, doing a pace of about 00:06:15/km. The feeling was that energy needed to be conserved for later. Energy efficiency, conservation and optimum utilization is a topic best left for later in the training. I thus went along with the 00:06:15/km pace. at Akhbaarnagar Circle, Hardik turned to head back to Keshavbaug. Hiren and I continued ahead. Shortly after, we stopped for a water break. We had already done 6kms and the weather was quite hot, so the risk of dehydration quite existent and real.

Hydrated, we continued running up to RTO Circle. There, Hiren asked for a two minute breather. The Chimanbhai Patel Overbridge does look daunting. Before those two minutes were up, we were ascending the overbridge. Halfway through the ascent, Hiren commented on how it seemed unending. Fortunately he did not stop, nor did his pace go down. We descended and continued past the Sabarmati Power Station. A little later, we stopped for water when Hiren decided that this was enough and that he wanted to turn back. We must have been about 700-800mts from the target. Coaxing Hiren to just walk a little before turning back, we went up to about 250mts away from our scheduled turn and began our return journey. A few steps and we were running again. This time, the stop was RTO Circle from where Hiren took the BRTS Service back to Keshavbaug.

I continued running. One pan shop at Nava Vadaj served really chilled water. Having had that, I was all rejuvenated and ran right till Valinath Chowk doing a pace of about 00:05:15/km. This usually happens. Being within kissing distance of your target when you don't touch it and turn back is hugely disappointing. The disappointment must have translated into me running fast to kind of make up.

A water stop at Valinath Chowk BRTS Bus Stop and I knew my legs were screaming to me that they were about to die. The had been subjected to abuse in the latter part of the run.

I took it slow from there onwards to Keshavbaug. Something in me snapped there. Instead of finishing the run, I continued towards Mansi, then took a right to RJ Tibrewal College, got out on the main road, took a right again, went up to Andhjan mandal 4 Rasta, right to Keshavbaug, right towards Mansi. I continued running till Nalanda and ended my run there. Exhausted but very, very happy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday - Focus, Concentration, Energy and Results

At 5:45am today, the number of regular runners at Keshavbaug was quite low. While at the back of my mind, I wonder if it is the result of the media coverage not having appeared in Ahmedabad Mirror yet, I understand that it is probably just one of those days. Some had reported sick, some had other engagements and some gave the ditch.

The new faces were Raneesh and Pankaj, Jagat's friends and regular joggers at Rajpath Club. Another new face was Satish, a young man in his mid-fifties, who does about 7kms everyday. He had come all the way from Gandhinagar to run with us.

The target today was Akhbaarnagar Circle and back. Rohan, still needing to break the mental barriers of distance, said he would turn back after the Naranpura flyover. Not allowed, request rejected. He would need to run up to Naranpura 4 Rasta and return. We set off. All of us were doing about 00:06:00/km.

I was the driver of the bus. And surprisingly, keeping pace with me was Satish. At the Helmet 4 Rasta flyover, we did a quick stop. A suggestion to Satish to change his gait a bit, I thought, would help him go faster as also make his running more energy efficient. A little ahead, I noticed him getting a little out of breath. A conscious effort to change his breathing pattern while running would take care of that.

As we continued to run, doing doing a pace of about 00:06:00/km, we were close to Naranpura 4 Rasta. The place where Rohan and Abhilash would turn back had come. Arjav too had to turn back here. So would Satish. Even Hiren turned back. This is a quirk with Hiren. He can run 10kms one way but he cannot run 5kms to and 5kms back. We told him it was all in his mind. He agreed. This is something that will need to be worked on since Delhi is essentially and out and back route.

As the others turned back at Naranpura 4 Rasta, Jagat, Pankaj, Lihas and I continued forward. Pankaj stopped at the Akhbaarnagar underpass. Jagat, Lihas and I decided to do an additional 1km and ran up to the Akhbaarnagar Circle beyond the underpass.

A break for water there and we started to run back. Jagat suddenly rose to the ocassion and became the driver of the bus. Setting a blazing pace which would have been in the vicinity of 00:05:45/km, we ran up to Valinath Chowk where another water break was scheduled. After this, Jagat continued with his pace, with Lihas keeping him company. Pankaj and I did a more comfortable about 00:06:00/km pace. As we finished at Keshavbaug, we met Abhilash, Hiren and Satish who were waiting there. They had timed their 10kms. About 01:05:00. Our timing for the 12kms that we did was about 01:10:00. Commendable.

As we dispersed, we look forward to a long run (in the real sense) tomorrow.

And next Saturday, we look forward to running with Satish again.

The Thursday Thrill

This blog entry begins with an admission. I am photographically challenged. This does not mean I look exceptionally ugly in all my photographs (which might be the case, but that would make me not photogenic - this is another topic), but that I do not know a thing about photography.

For me, taking a photograph means, in a nutshell, that you aim your camera at the object you want to photograph and press a button to capture the picture. If it is dark, you use a flash. That is my knowledge of photography. And that is all that there is to photography as far as I know. So, when on Wednesday, Ahmedabad Mirror told us that they wanted to do a follow-up story on us and the Ahmedabad Runners, I did not actually understand what difference 5:45am, 6:am and 6:45am made. They said they anted to take photographs of us running, so the light conditions would need to be conducive. To me, it still did not make sense.

Lihas took over the job of co-ordinating this part, so I had to focus only on the running part of things.

As I planned the run, there was a one line directive from Lihas. To ensure that the entire group is present at Jai mangal BRTS Bus Stop at 6:45am.

We met at 5:45am and after exchanging pleasantaries, we began to run. Everyone was charged up. This time, it was one big, long bus instead of many separate busses. Runners kept joining us - at the Helmet 4 Rasta flyover, at Valinath Chowk BRTS Bus Stand, at the Naranpura flyover. We were doing a pace of about 00:06:10-00:06:15/km and so it was decided to run up to Akhbaarnagar Circle and return to Jai Mangal BRTS Bus Stop by 6:45am. There would be some time to spare if we kept this pace. However, I knew from experience that this probably wouldn't happen. Some of us ran the full distance at the same pace. Some slowed down. Some did the walk-run cycle to get to there.

As we reached Jai mangal BRTS Bus Stand at 6:45am, Jignesh Vora, the photographer of Ahmedabad Mirror was waiting for us. We regrouped, began to run and Jignesh got down to clicking us. His job done, he left. Our run was not yet complete. Traversing both flyovers, we all ran back to Keshavbaug.

I guess the photographs being cliked, the prospects of media coverage, al,l of us running as a group had its impact and that, I guess, pumped quite a bit of adrenalin into the system.
Reaching Keshavbaug, we all finished our run. Had we recorded the time, I am sure most if not all of us would have recorded our personal bests.

There were 18 of us. And all 18 did at least 9kms, the base that we had targetted for Thursday. This was not the end of happiness. There was more to come. As we reached Keshavbaug,Prasanth Menon of Ahmedaba dMirror was waiting to speak to the various runners.
Everyone gave their opinion.

When Lihas and I were asked, we very proudly said that these runners were exceeding our expectations and our focus was now changing. From 'every runner completing the Marathon' we were now talking of 'completing the Marathon with every member of the team recording decent timings'. As we waited for the report to appear in Ahmedabad Mirror, we all were also looking forward to another 'road-pounding' run on Saturday.

Wednesday Snafu

Wednesdays are days off. Training is only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sundays are days of the long run. Each one is left to his own to decide their distance and do their long runs. No training.

On Wednesday, the phone rang at 5:45am. It was Hiren. Hardik and he were waiting for us at Keshavbaug. Some miscommunication somewhere. They did not know Wednesday was off.

Anyways, they ran. Hiren did Keshavbaug to RTO Circle in 54 minutes. Way to go, Hiren!

Nothing else to report for Wednesday. A lot of co-ordination needed to be done for Thursday. Thursday was going to be a big day.

Tuesday's Run

We, Lihas and I reached Keshavbaug at 5:40am to be greeted by Hardik. No one else was in sight. Hiren had said he wouldn't be there, but what about all the others? We waited for the clock to strike 5:45. In the meanwhile, Rohan turned up. No one else. We extended the waiting time to 5:50am. Still no one.

We thought, this was it. The enthisiasm of a Marathon was going to be as anticipated - fizzling out before it really picked up. Marathons are good to discuss. It's generally trendier to be a couchsurfing runner - get all the details about how to run a marathon - pepper conversations liberally with words like pronation (over-pronation and under-pronation), suppination, cadence, gait analysis and a few medical terms thrown in too for good measure - after all, a ligament tear does sound more technical and therefore, more intelligent than a simple muscle pull.

This run was going to be one with with a small group. So what? Usually, there are only two runners - Lihas and I. Here, we were four - double the number. We decided to press ahead anyways.

Lihas led, with Hardik. Rohan and I followed. It seemed to be going well with Rohan. His second day and the difference in the pace was phenomenal. We went till the flyover on Drive-in Road. Rohan chose not to climb the flyover. Given the pace we were doing, I guess the concession was called for. And in any case, there was another run for Thursday. And that would not allow any concessions.

At the end of the flyover, Rohan decided to turn back to Keshavbaug. It would be a distance of about 5kms. A good enough distance for Day 2. Hardik, for whom it was Day 1, turned back too.

After reminding both of them to not forget to cool down, to not forget to stretch. Lihas and I continued our run. We ran till Valinath Chowk BRTS Stop where we were going to be joined by Atharva and Dhruv - two boys who come all the way from Sardarnagar to join us and run.

We did not see either of them. We needed to stop running, which, frankly, was quite irritating. After a ten minute wait, Lihas (who carries his phone on the run) called them. They were at RTO Circle, waiting for BRTS to start its services for the day. We asked them to join us at Jai Mangal BRTS Bust Stop and we continued to run in that direction.

We reached the Jai Mangal BRTS Bus Stop. No sign of Atharva and Dhruv. We ran upto Naranpura 4 Rasta and came back. Still no sign. Very obviously, they were not coming. We had been stood up.

As anticipated, Lihas and I would be the only ones practicing seriously for the Marathons - Athens, Delhi and Mumbai. Most of the others were probably turning out to be temporary runners. We guessed in a few days, the others too would drop out - not that there were too many left now. This would explain why out of the 80 FIRM CONFIRMATIONS that we had, just about 25 had come for practice at least once. There were others who continue to be 'runners on email and sms'.

Lihas decided to give 'just one more try' before we concluded that we had been stood up.

I know. It takes a lot to do a Marathon. The capability to dream. The ability to believe in yourself. The commitment to achieve this. And the sheer guts to surpass what has been written in the three sentences before this and emerge out of your own shadows as a new person.

As he called, I turned to look back at the overbridge. And I turned back again. What I saw couldn't have been. I couldn't be hallucinating. But there they were - four figures running at almost breakneck speed towards us. I nudged lihas. He too saw. As they came closer, we saw Jagat accompanied by three others and Richa, doing a pace I believe even she did not know she was capable of.

Lihas had by now finished call to Atharva. They were on the bus, on their way to Jai Mangal. They would nopt disembark at Shastrinagar BRTS Bus Stop as we joined them there.

Yes. True and reinforced. It takes a lot to do a Marathon. The capability to dream. The ability to believe in yourself. The commitment to achieve this. And the sheer guts to surpass what has been written in the three sentences before this and emerge out of your own shadows as a new person.

As we began to run again, this time with the group, the introductions happened. Shailesh was a regular runner. So was Bhatia sa'ab (JS) a man older to us in age, but still very young who would give teenagers of the city a run for their money (pun unintended). They were Jagat's friends who were regular runners at Rajpath Club.

It was Day 1 for Ashim. He had run till Naranpura and was still going strong.

We continued to run. Atharva and Dhruv joined us at Shastrinagar. And the run continued uninterrupted.

At Akhbaarnagar Circle (after the underpass) Richa and Ashim were asked to turn back and head towards Keshavbaug. Seven of us continued ahead. Jagat, JS and Shailesh decided to take the BRTS back from Bhavsar Hostel BRTS Stop. Four of us continued ahead. At the first break in the BRTS corridor, Lihas and I turned back and did a fast paced run back towards Keshavbaug. We must have been doing ~0:05:00/km pace. Atharva and Dhruv continued ahead upto RTO Circle definitely. Hopefully beyond to

Catching up with Richa and Ashim just after the flyover at Naranpura, we nudged them into a higher pace. The run ended with a superb sprint - the way all good runs should end.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Long Run - Sunday Satisfaction

This post was supposed to be for Sunday 6th June. Since Sundays means long runs, long, leisurely baths, lots of food and thereafter lots more sleep, I guess no real excuse needs to be cooked up to explain why this blog did not appear on Sunday. This time, the laziness continued through Monday. That explains why this blog did not appear on Monday. Then on Tuesday, the description of the run needed to be put down in such a manner that... but hey, why am I writing about that here?

This is about Sunday's run; the blog about Tuesday's run comes up next. And the blog about Thursday's run, thereafter.

We continued to be inundated by calls through Saturday too. Going by the number of calls received, we should have had about 80 persons at Keshavbaug on Sunday. Going by experience of the 'commitment' that is given to be there, we thought probably 15-17 persons would turn up. When we reached Keshavbaug, there were Richa, Hiren and Dhruv waiting for us. Thursday's runners were missing; either doing their own running or the enthusiasm had waned a bit or then, maybe Saturday's run had brought with it the aches and pains on Sunday morning.

We made 2 busses and began running. Lihas was the 'driver' of the first bus - going at a speed of about 2:30 for a half marathon. A 'bus' would be a group of people who run together at the same speed. The 'driver' is the pace-setter. He has the challenge of setting and continuously changing the pace in such a manner that it does not become too tough for the others who have 'boarded' this bus, nor be so lax that the 'passengers' have a leisurely walk in the park.

Lihas began with Hiren, Rohan followed and Richa and I brought up the rear. At Helmet 4 Rasta, we were joined by Atharva and Dhruv. They hopped on to Lihas' bus. A little ahead beyond the Valinath Chowk BRTS Bus Stand, another runner joined us. And another two at Naranpura. Rohit turned back here and headed to Keshavbaug to end his run.

We continued to run beyond Naranpura 4 Rasta. Richa began to get tired near the Pragatinagar BRTS Bus Stand and decided to turn back. I joined Hiren, Atharva, Dhruv and Lihas. We continued ahead. Running down the Akhbaarnagar underpass was a breeze; running up it was a breeze. The run continued. After Bhavsar Hostel we stopped for a breather. (Usually Lihas and i do not take breathers; we do not need them after so many years of distance running. But the others are new to distance running and once they get used to this, the concept of breathers can be eliminated.)
As we continued, we ran till RTO Circle and turned back. Hiren decided to check out here. He said he would prefer taking the BRTS back to Keshavbaug. Atharva and Dhruv decided to call it quits too. They headed back to Sardarnagar frm the RTO Circle. Three runners left. He decided he would walk-run to get to his house directly at Naranpura. That left just Lihas and I. From Day 1, we have been insisting that distance running should not be made into an ego issue. That the moment one feels he is not up to it, aborting the run is the best thing that can be done. That way, all of us will live to run another day. It is very satisfying that this piece of advice is being followed by everyone.

Both, Lihas and I were left alone at RTO Circle and having to run back all the way to Keshavbaug did sound boring to begin with. But then, it was also an opportunity. Neither of us had had a good hard run in the last week. This was our chance. Setting a pace of 00:05:30/km, we up to our 'water point' at Valinath Chowk 4 Rasta. Properly rehydrated, we ran past Keshavbaug, climbed the Shivranjani 4 Rasta flyover and ran down it up to Shyamal 4 Rasta. Turning back at Shyamal 4 Rasta, we sprinted back to Keshavbaug. From there we walked to our homes, exhausted yet very satisfied. The bingeing and the sleeping would be justified today...

Friday, June 4, 2010


When Ahmedabad Mirror carried the article this morning, Lihas and I met for a peaceful morning walk (a stroll describes it better) at Vastrapur Lake. Today being a Friday, was our day off from running. Lihas had, by then read the article; I had not. To cut down on the time, I bought a copy from the vendor there and as I read through the article, both of were sure the article would not have any impact.

For one thing, the article seemed too lucid. The facts about running a marathon were kept that way - as bare facts. There was no sugarcoating, nor was there any attempt to show this as a soft activity. Frankly, the call to Amdavadis to get trained and attempt either a half or the full Marathon seemed preposterous.

Lihas and I concluded this was going to be a dud. We estimated a total of 10 calls between us; we would consider ourselves extremely lucky if one out of those ten calls materialized into a runner. Thus, the purpose of the meeting - planning today's run, seemed non-existent. Handling at the most one or two persons who would come for running after reading the article did not need any planning at all. Meeting over, back to residence.

At about 10:15am, I got a call from Lihas. His count stood at seven calls, five persons confirmed. My count was five, three confirmed. At this time, both of us, still skeptical, had told one person to wait at Helmet 4 Rasta, someone else to wait at the Sola flyover and so on... different points along the route we would take in our normal course of running. By 1:30pm, after having exchanged a few calls, we had figured out this was exceeding our expectations by a long, wide margin. By about 5:30pm, we decided we needed to meet if we wanted any semblance of order for today's run. When we met at 7:00pm, we had a count of about 40-50 in total. Some were going to join us at Keshavbaug at 5:45am today morning, others wanted to reserve their place since they would be in a position to join in the next few days.

We felt to manage things well, we would need to create divisions. Lihas would do a short run with those who had not run before. I would take the experienced ones on a slightly longer run. Lihas and his team would run from Keshavbaug to Andhjan Mandal 4 Rasta and back. I would go up to the Drive-in Road Flyover and return.

And today at Mansi there was Rohan persons waiting with Lihas when I reached. At Keshavbaug, the venue for the 'event' of starting the training for the Marathon, we were greeted by another six, Parth, Jayesh, Dr. Jagat, Lagarez, Rudraksh and Himanshu. A quick round of introductions later, what emerged clearly was that this was not going to be a group of 'also ran'. These were guys who were all set for the rough and tumble of running a Marathon; whatever it takes.

Since it was day 1 and we did not want overworked bodies for tomorrow, we decided to run from Keshavbaug to the Sola Road Flyover, take a U-turn under it and run back. And we began jogging. Lihas kept pace with the faster runners, I brought up the rear. We climbed over the Drive-in Flyover and climbed down. We reached Sola Flyover and instead of going under it, the runners began climbing it. So up and down. But no turn around still. The runners kept running and turned back at Naranpura Cross Roads. Some runners had started the walk-run technique to finish the run. Near the Valinath Chowk BRTS stop, we stopped for water. A 3-4 minute break later, we were on our way again. Everyone reached Keshavbaug running. Very impressive. The fact that everyone was there at the specified time. The fact that everyone was confident that they would run. The fact that everyone ran. The fact that everyone ran more than what was originally planned. The fact that everyone exceeded their own limitations of physical endurance. The fact that in spite of all of this, no one gave up till the end. I get the feeling that this group is going to be fun to run with. They all seem to have the mental tenacity that it takes to be a distance runner.

After some stretching and cooling down at the AUDA garden near Himmatlal Park, the days routine was closed. Tomorrow, we all shall be running individually. There will be a few who might be joining us tomorrow. So Tuesday is when we all will be running together again as a group.

Just as we started, I told Jayesh that he would not be able to run in his chappals and would need sneakers. He would also need shorts and a t-shirt; He told me he had come from his village only yesterday for admission and when he happened to read the newspaper, he wanted to be a part of this. So sneakers or the lack of them was not going to prevent him from joining us. And he was there. Shorts/t-shirts/trousers/shirts/sneakers/chappals - Jayesh made all these things sound so frivolous. He demonstrated by action what one could do if only there was the will. Kudos to his spirit.

And that is also a sad comment on all the other Amdavadis who have found some excuse or the other to not run.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thursday round-up.

This one is on a high. A lot of things have happened since Tuesday and the only way to classify them is good and very good. So lets begin with first things first.

1. On level ground:
Lihas and I are level. In a show of solidarity (I suspect) Lihas has got wounds on his legs too. What's good about this? Both of us have made the full use of Wednesday to rest our feet. While the wounds are not serious, the rest has certainly has had an effect. Our run was much better, much more relaxed and we managed a higher average speed. The speed profile too was steady which means the average speed had not been spiced up by running faster in fits and starts more times.

2. It's a Thursday:
Thursday is a day we look forward to for two reasons. One, we get to run with the usual runners' group. It's a nice group and even though the run is short (ranging between 7 and 10kms depending on which Thursday of the month it is) it is a pleasure running with these people. Quite a few of them now seem to be geared up to participate in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (scheduled for 20th November, 2010, if sources are to be believed). The second reason is that we get to run a completely different route which breaks the monotony of the Mansi 4 Rasta-Keshavbaug-Shyamal 4 Rasta-RTO-Keshavbaug-Mansi 4 Rasta routine.

3. The Ahmedabad Mirror Angle:
Wednesday afternoon saw Lihas and I meeting Mr. Pankaj Upadhyay, Editor, Ahmedabad Mirror. We were all set to pitch our pitch about how we wanted more and more Amdavadis to run. And Pankaj's question floored us. "Why shouldn't Ahmedabad have its own Marathon? This city is on its own feet as far as other activities are concerned. It even has its own International Film Festival. So why not a Marathon?" And we were assured that Ahmedabad Mirror would be there to take this up in a big way. I shall leave the details for Ahmedabad Mirror to publish - I am looking forward to the Ahmedabad Mirror of 4th June, 2010. (I shall post the link in my subsequent posts.)

4. Cross Training:
After a lot of debates, we've decided. Finally. That we'll cross train. And we've also decided what to do. Finally. For now. Till the next debate comes up. We're going to be going to be going swimming. At least twice a week. The forms have been filled in; all we now need to do is go to the swimming pool and jump off the deep end and swim towards the shallow end to prove that we're there there to swim and not to attempt/commit suicide. Both, Lihas and I feel it might be more prudent to wait till the wounds have dried up before entering the water.

5. Training School Children:
There seems to be some ray of hope here. Lihas and I both got into distance running on our own. This potential was not spotted when we were young. The training program that we now follow has been self developed by trial and error. Twenty years on and more, the scene hasn't hasn't changed much. Atheletic children are the ones who can run a 100 mts dash the fastest. But what about those who don't run fast, but run and run and run and run and run? They, very unfortunately, get ignored. A couple of weeks back, I had tried contacting the trustee of one of the reputed schools of Ahmedabad to propose that we would like to voluntarily train children so that this potential can be exploited. The response from the office of this trustee, a page 3 regular, was downright insulting. It should not come as any wonder that I did not try any other school again. But Lihas did. And there has been an encouraging response. We're hoping this will work out.

And now, to come to the run, we (given our injuries) had decided to do a little less today. However, we started out at 5:10am and went up to S. G. Road, turned right and right again at the lane just after Rajpath Club. Back at Mansi, we started to gather pace as we moved towards Tap Fountain, Law Garden. By 6:02 am, we were at Tap Fountain. Unfortunately, none of the other Thursday Running Group members were to be seen. We took a round of Law Garden and returned back to Tap Fountain. Still no sign.

Lihas and I continued our run. Traversing CG Road, we reached Stadium Circle from where we headed towards Commerce 6 Rasta. By this time we were running really fast. We were trying to catch up with our regular Thursday Running Group if they had gone ahead of us. We ran upto the PRL/ATIRA gate while co-ordinating with Mr. Jignesh Vora, our photographer for the scheduled photo shoot. Photo shoot? Yes. For an idea, return to point 3. The Ahmedabad Mirror Angle. Or await the details in Ahmedabad Mirror of 4th June, 2010 (hopefully).

Slowly and silently, there has been a small but growing group of runners who have shown interest in running. They have just recently begun training and are aiming for either the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and/or the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. This group met us at the PRL/ATIRA gate. After a couple of photographs we continued our run (and Jignesh continued to click away) and touched the 132' Ring Road, turning left, reached the Andhjan Mandal Crossroads and took another left there to end in front of IIM. Jignesh continued to click even as we cooled down and did our post run stretches. Finally satisfied with the photographs, Jignesh left. And we ended our routine with some lovely tea. Unfortunately, it was too early so the vendor wasn't there; a maskabun with extra butter would really have topped off the finish.

And as we finished our tea, Lihas realized and informed us that to our dismay, Ahmedabad had a better and smarter runner. Someone had flicked his phone and run away.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

YES!!! For reasons more than one.

Today's run was bound to be good. And when we began this morning, we felt nothing could stop the run from being good. And nothing did. We ran a longer distance, we ran faster and we were less tired at the end of it. Nothing stopped that, thankfully. Not a few pulled muscles (something that happened on Saturday when I was not paying attention to the road while traversing a particularly uneven patch), not a 2nd degree burn injury I got (again, the result of not paying attention and my leg touched the silencer of a bike) not even the lethargy of the past two days.

The email I had sent out to my runners' group in Ahmedabad was there at the back of our minds. And somewhere, it was there at the back of Lihas' mind too. It was about how one could, if the author was to be believed, complete a marathon in less than three and a half hours. (For the uninitiated, the distance of a marathon race is 42.2kms and usually people finish between 4:30 and 5:00 - and five hours is the maximum time one gets.) We're no different, Lihas and I.

However, with our training, we were confident of recording a sub-four hour time at Athens. And now this email from me pushes the envelope further. Suddenly, our best that we had got comfortable with does not seem to be the best anymore. And who knows - Dave Elger might be right after all. All of this was not communicated; all of this remained unsaid till the time we finished our run. I write about this when I come to it. Right now, let me begin at the beginning.

This had happened on Saturday. I was not paying attention to the road on a particularly uneven patch and had kind of twisted my leg when it did not land properly. Of course, these things keep happening and are to be ignore. Which was done. The run was completed, knee forgotten. When I did not run on Sunday, it got aggravated. And then, Dr. Vishwas took over. The muscle was forcibly stretched. And when that hurt, in the evening, I wore a kneecap after a liberal application of muscle relaxant. And went to sleep. And woke up with more pain on Monday morning. So a visit to the (real) doctor was called for. I suspect my doctor refers to me as 'the maniac on the run' and he also probably knew that advising me not to run would not be taken. So he tells me, "Apply a generous dose of muscle relaxant and wear a knee-cap when you run." I know this doctor does not run. So sorry, only his medicine to be taken, not his advice.

Then, I stood too close to a bike which was parked and my left leg touched the exhaust. And I got a second degree burn. The good thing about this is I get to live in shorts till this heals.

So this was my physical condition when I started to run this morning. I started out with a pulled muscle right behind my right knee. And a second degree burn on my left calf. Both prime ammunition for the run, my legs, damaged. I hobbled up to Mansi 4 Rasta and joined Lihas. Should I pull out, this was my last chance. The run began. And I lost my chance. There was no turning back now. At Keshavbaug, Lihas asked me, "You sure you want to run?" And I just nodded. To which he said, "Then run fast. Faster than usual." And I just began to try and keep pace with him.

My mind was alternating between concentrating on the pulled muscle and the pain from the burn. At the Shivranjani Flyover I gave up. Thinking that is. All I wanted to do was for the run to get over. And get over fast. And Lihas kept prodding me on, pushing me to go faster.

Everything is a blur. I do not remember when we descended the Shivranjani Flyover, when we reached Shyamal Char Rasta and turned back and headed along the 132' Ring Road. It was after the Sola Flyover that my head kind of cleared, the run became enjoyable. I suddenly also realized that my right leg, the one with the pulled muscle, was not paining anymore. However, the other leg was hurting more, or so it seemed as sweat trickled down the burnt area.

And that is when Lihas and I began to chat. Everything was very sublimal. We were talking of how to reduce time; how to try and put theory into practice. We began to wonder whether and what cross training to do. We have, in fact, begun going to finish our runs at Vastrapur Lake and the cooling down and stretching takes place there. Now the cross training that we do will have to be aligned with our next goal that we have set for ourselves. And thus the chat continued meandering from one topic to another and before we knew it, it was time for me to take the lead - turn right from 132' Ring Road and run till Vastrapur Lake as fast as we could.

At the lake, 2 rounds cooled us down and I watched as Lihas Stretched. I took Lihas' advise and did not do the usual stretching today... and showed some mercy to my leg muscles.

On the walk back home, Lihas and I both were discussing the possibility of how one can actually achieve a sub-3:30 timing at a marathon. Nothing that we said seemed applicable to us - it was only a clinical discussion. And yet it was not. What did happen is it strengthened our resolve to do a sub-4:00 at Athens. I had heard that what one reads has an impact. I did not know the extent of it. Now I do.