Sunday, February 24, 2008

Two marathons later!

Ok - technically, neither event that I took part in was a marathon. But they were both part of larger marathons. One was the Chennai Marathon and the other was the Auroville Marathon.

At the hastily disorganized Chennai Marathon, I took part in the 3 KM race where the total participation was a whopping 4500 people. This compared to a dismal 30,000 (yes, thirty thousand only) the last time the CM was organised by the Rotary Clubs of Chennai, was astonishing.

My race was flagged off by golden girl Shiny Wilson Aunty. Another brush with greatness for me. I did several wrong things in this race also. I drank my usual chocos, boost slush in the morrning before arriving at the starting point. I unusually however added a spoon of raw coffee powder. It got me buzzed and wired. But the buzz wore off by the time the race started. So I was somewhat down when I took off. Managed to finish the race in 14.30 and placed 4th or 5th Im not sure. Suffice it to say I placed 2nd among the non-elite runnners. Which was not so bad. But it left me so winded and tired I felt like ran a half-mary.

Didnt do any more running that week and ended up in Pondicherry for the Auroville Marathon where I registered for the 11k quarter marathon as they called it. There were about 80 - 100 runners total. about 5 -6 for the full, about 25 for the 11k and I guess the rest were all halves.

It was very well organized and the run was through an interesting trail inside AV. Some really beautiful foliage and great greenery. I had my ipod on for about 30 minutes and was totally wasted by the 34th minute. I switched it off and started to really connect with the place after that. But I couldnt really Run much. So I did four 2min-run-walks. Followed that up with a 10 minute easy. At this point several slow runners passed me by and I watched them go. I was tempted to throw things at them but didnt have the energy. So I held my peace.

There were several water points along the way. In true AV style one of the water cups I picked up had rose water. Rose water?? These ashram types tend to take their philosophy a little too seriously I think. I gave the volunteers a polite smile, swallowed what was in my mouth and gave the cup back. Made a mental note to start a "Ban Rose Water" campaign as soon as I get back home.

By the 62nd minute I hade reached what looked like the finish line. I rounded a bend and reached a clearing. There was a big crowd and a lot of cheering. There was also a big banner. The banner said "AV Marathon Finish Line". Curiously though I found the letters backward. As I approached it I was given the crushing news that I had to take a sharp left before the finish and run around a VERY large hockey field before reapproaching the finish line from the other side! Anyway did all that and finished in a dismal 1:05:53 to much cheering.

Take aways:
1. Even 2 small whiskies and 2 pints of beer are bad for a 11k race.
2. AV is a beautiful - though artificial place.
3. There are great places to run around Madras if you keep your eyes and ears open for them.
4. I need to do a lot of long, slow runs. My aerobic capacity is good but mentally I've lost the ability to focus for long periods of pain and torture.
5. Its time I took part in a half marathon. My next race is the Bangalore Midnight where I want to do the half marathon. My training starts tomorrow morning - with a hard rest day. Dont know how I am going to manage one hour of doing nothing. But sacrifices need to be made!

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Meeting Shiny Wilson

Two weekends ago I took part in a sports meet organised by the Rotary Club at the YMCA Nandanam stadium. It was a good meet for me. Picked up a gold in the 400m, 100m and an off-beat 20 yard backward running event. I also got the individual championship which was nice. The competition wasnt that great but the highlight of the day was meeting Golden Girl Shiny Wilson.

Shiny Wilson along with P.T. Usha dominated the Indian athletic scene for almost 20 years breaking all sorts of records at the Asian level. In fact, she was apparently the first Indian woman to break the 2 minute barrier in the 800m. At a PB of 2.45 Im almost there - arent I?

Anyway, I managed to get her autograph in my training log and got a good comment from her about my running style. That has practically made my year.

I prepared for the event like a lout. First thing I did was I didnt prepare. Like all overconfident bozos, I thought I could just walk into the event and run it. To top it off, I went running with Shumit the previous evening on the road. Bad idea. And we did intervals for about 40 minutes.

The next morning at the meet - which started at an awkward 10 AM, my 400m died at 350m. My left leg started cramping. 10 minutes of physio and two gatorades with added salt releived the pain but left me somewhat hobbled. I hadnt had a good breakfast thinking I needed to stay light. But there was not much energy left after the 400.

Anyway I managed to crack the 100 which was a little later and the backwards race was just a fun thing. The guy who was coming first tripped and I ended up being first. So it was plain luck.

A few quick observations.

1. Never underestimate an event if you are planning on winning. A winning effort is usually your best effort and that needs a lot of preparation.

2. Dont do any thing on the day before an event that you plan to win. See No. 1 above.

3. Shiny Wilson has put on a lot of weight.

4. YMCA Nandanam is a very badly maintained track. And thats sad.

Thats it for now,

Until next time...