It was Day 2 of my trip (Dec 23 Sun). My plan was to go in the DHL
balloon so that I can get a good view of Singapore. When I reached the
MRT station, I suddenly got interested in randomly walking around.
I really wanted to see the place.

Singapore Day 02 006 Singapore Day 02 007 Singapore Day 02 005 Singapore Day 02 012 Singapore Day 02 015 Singapore Day 02 008

After more than an hour of walking around in the hot sun, I came
across a really huge building. I got curious and tried to figure out
the name – it was the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.
It’s a library?! I just had to get in there, for the AC as well as to
explore the books collection. I thought it was a good idea since it
would be relaxing. After all, the point of a vacation is to do things
you wouldn’t do in daily life, as well as to have a relaxing or
invigorating fun time. At least, that’s my definition of a vacation.

I went in, saw many rows of shelves. I clearly avoided the row which
had some books with some strange titles like “Java & XML”,
I wonder what that’s all about. I picked up a few books from the other
rows and went and sat down at the benches. Lots of people were
studying, with music on, writing down notes in their laptops and
utilizing the free wifi.

I started reading a book titled something like “The Practice of
Philosophy – A Handbook for Beginners”. Unfortunately, within ten
minutes, I was sleepy. Either it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep
the previous night, or it was the subject. I went and sat on the
couches and started to doze off. I was encouraged by the fact that
there was some other Indian dude also sleeping.

After a while, I realized I was snoring, and there were other new
people around trying to read, so I went and washed my face. Then,
I went down to Level 1 to give a phone call to Abishek Nair (my
gracious host for the trip). He was laughing that I came all the way
to Singapore to sit in a library and read some books! He told me to
come over to his company VHQ Post (an advertising post-production i.e.
visual effects company) in an hour so that he can show me around.

After that, I stood near the wide glass and I look left and see the
DHL balloon right there! It was funny since I wasn’t actively looking
for it.

Singapore Day 02 016 Singapore Day 02 017 Singapore Day 02 018 Singapore Day 02 019

I went back inside the library, the books were still there. This time
I started reading a book more closer to my tastes – “The Runner’s
Handbook” by Bob Glover, and I went prepared with my iPod. Music
always gets me going. I started playing “Sutrum Vizhi” and started
reading. I started with the nutrition/fuel section because that’s
where most of my problems are. Then started taking down some notes:

  • Hitting “the wall” refers to that point when you run short of
    glycogen. This is an experience that every runner should try

    • once. After you’re survived it, you will respect the need to
      prepare better for your next marathon.
  • Learn the values of long training runs, tapering, eating plenty of
    carbos, and not starting too fast. Ignoring these factors all
    contribute to hitting “the wall.”
  • Most often associated with marathons. After an hour and a half or
    so of running, you begin to run low on glycogen. For most runners
    that will be 10-13 miles into a run. The average well-trained
    runner may store enough glycogen to last 15-20 miles, depending
    upon such as factors as pace, body weight, fitness level, and how
    well they loaded up on carbs going into the race.
  • When you run low on glycogen, your body attempts to conserve what
    remains by burning more fat for energy. But since fat is 15% less
    efficient than carbs as an energy source, you are unable to hold
    your pace and have to slow dramatically (even though fat releases
    9 cal/gm compared to 4 cal/gm for carbs and protein)
  • Long training runs develop mechanisms for your body to utilize fat
    more efficiently throughout your race, thus “sparing” some glycogen
    for use later. Workouts at marathon pace and faster will also train
    your muscles to utilize carbs more efficiently at these paces.
    In addition, starting your race at a conservative pace will
    help conserve glycogen for later in the run. Tapering for
    a marathon combined with carb-loading is the key to surviving
    “the wall.”
  • Back-of-the-pack runners benefit most from carb-loading.
    • Dr. Costill notes: The difference between elite and average
      marathoners is that even if both started out with the same
      amount of glycogen, the elite marathoner would spare it by
      burning a higher ratio of fat. Although more oxygen is required
      to burn fat, the highly developed oxygen transport system of the
      elite runner allows this. Furthermore, he moves more
      economically, which means that he uses less oxygen to accomplish
      the same task. The average runner, on the other hand, depletes
      his glycogen supply sooner and doesn’t have as efficient an
      oxygen transport system to burn fat. That’s why hitting the wall
      is so devastating and why carbohydrate loading is more important
      for the average runner than for the elite runner.
  • For shorter runs (< 90 min), glycogen stores don’t get depleted
    much and hence carb intake isn’t as critical.

The best part is that I realized that this problem is not unique to
me! It’s a documented scientific problem experienced by enough runners
to have a section dedicated to it in a runners’ book. Now I know what
the problem is! Next, I need to actually figure out how to train to
tackle this which the book didn’t explain satisfactorily.

I had lost track of time because of the awesome reader-friendly
environment and suddenly realized I was late. I then headed out to
meet Abishek. I got to see all the whizbang gizmos they use to create
all the special effects that you may or may not notice in the
advertisements you see. These guys have amazing talent and patience to
do the things they do. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I caught the 4.45 am transportation to get to
ONV for the first ever Bangalore
Ultra Marathon
where people can get to
run or walk 26 or 52 or 78 or 104 km. A true endurance event.

Bangalore Ultra Marathon 01
Bangalore Ultra Marathon 02

I participated in the 26K run. I can’t even imagine how so many of
those guys and gals ran 52+ km.

The first 19 km of my run was good. My knees felt good during the
pounding of the feet although my shoe soles suffered and literally
came apart. After that, it was a nightmare.

Bangalore Ultra Marathon 10
Bangalore Ultra Marathon 07

I got severe backache. Probably because my rotund belly has added
layers over the past couple of months because of lack of exercise.
I really struggled for the remaining 7 km. The killer was the last
3 km.

Bangalore Ultra Marathon 06

I somehow managed to complete in 3 hr 52 min. A timing that I’m not
proud of, but under the circumstances, I don’t think I could’ve done
better.

In the end, I must say kudos to the Ultra
Team
for one of the
best organized events I’ve ever participated in! They have looked into
every little detail always putting the runner first in all their
decisions and especially for choosing such a picturesque location for
the run. The grassland field that we entered in the start of the run
was a true sight to behold just as the sun was coming out.

My aim next time is to do a half marathon without me throwing up in
the end, which has become a custom these days.

As I twittered
a while ago: “Sometimes I wonder why I even run. Then again, I wonder
why I’m even alive.”

Update: Sabine has lots of photos in these two albums.

Update 2: Congratulations to Niara for winning 2nd position in the Women’s 26K Open category with a timing of 2:38 hours!


“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself,
and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow
as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new
sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your
lungs.” – Jesse Owens

There has been a lot of press mentions lately about the BSNL
Bangalore International
Marathon
which is going
to happen tomorrow. I will not be running it because it is not
intended for people who love running.

Why do I say that?

  1. The Bangalore Ultra Marathon was
    announced eleven months ago that it will be held on December 16, 2007.
    The BSNL Bangalore International Marathon was announced by the
    Karnataka Athletic
    Association

    just about one month two weeks ago that it will also be held
    on Dec 16, 2007. They knew very well that the Ultra is happening
    on the same
    day
    !
    I don’t know what is the inside story, but I think it’s pure
    one-upmanship, they got ticked off that the preparations and
    publicity for the Ultra seemed to be going well.

  2. The organizers of the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon do not
    take running seriously. If they did, they would not organize
    a training camp for just ten
    days
    .
    Do they really think they can convert a new person interested in
    running to eventually run 42 km in just ten days?! If you consult
    advice by professional runners, you will find out that it takes 18
    weeks
    to train for a marathon according to the charts whether
    you’re
    a beginner or
    an advanced
    runner. Talk to any runner on how long they took to prepare for
    their first marathon and you’ll know the difference. In fact, if
    you want to know what kind of preparation hardcore runners do, see
    this marathon day
    checklist
    .

  3. They are not allowing women to run the full
    marathon
    !
    When asked for the reason, they say that they don’t expect many
    women to run it so they decided not to allow it. I have many things
    to say about that but let me stick to facts – there are many women
    runners

    out there, it’s just that the Karnataka Athletic Association does
    not seem to be encouraging about it. Do they know there are women
    runners in India such as Priya who ran 100 miles (160 km) in the
    Himalayas
    ?

As a running enthusiast, these are enough reasons for me to not take
the BSNL Bangalore International Marathon seriously. Instead, I’m
running the Bangalore Ultra Marathon tomorrow.

In fact, there were discussions in the open-for-all RunnersForLife
mailing list regarding postponing the Ultra because of this clash, but
the race director Madhu strictly said
no
.
As an aside, if I’m not wrong, Madhu is a volunteer organizing this
and is not even part of the Ultra organizers company! Compare this
with how the other marathons are being organized.

Even CrossOver who organized the previous marathons held in Bangalore
have postponed it at least four
times

this year! It’s appalling that these organizers don’t take these
events seriously.

Contrast that with the participants in the Ultra marathon who met on
Friday night for
carb-loading
and had a ball of a time meeting other fellow
runners
.

I
attended that pasta party and met a lot of enthusiastic people. One of
them was a guy called
Andrew.
What’s special about him? He’s a 68-year old guy, and the Ultra
tomorrow is going to be his 592nd marathon! That’s right, that’s three
digits. He’s been running since 1976. In fact, he’s flown down from
New York just to run the Ultra. He’s also participated in the
Himalayan run that I mentioned earlier. Now, that’s true passion for
a sport!

As for myself, I have not at all trained properly in the last two
months but I’m hoping that the old routine of running 16 km every
weekend morning will kick back in tomorrow and I’ll hopefully run
well.

Bangalore Ultra 2007

Disclosure: I’m NOT part of the RFL club, just an avid runner. I may
join the RFL runs in future, but I’m certainly not biased towards
them. However, I am biased towards running and runners.

The World’s First Midnight Marathon took place right here in Bangalore
on Saturday midnight. It was held in the area surrounding the iGate
office near ITPL.

Niara and myself had decided to run the
half-marathon. We didn’t even think about the full marathon because we
have had no preparation at all, and we were about to run the half
marathon just like that. Just the previous week, we both were facing
leg pains/injuries but that didn’t matter on the D-day.

Bangalore Midnight Marathon 016

The place had a festive atmosphere – with “dollu kunitha”, clowns on
stilts and even fire-eaters. There were bands playing in the main area
keeping people entertained when the run was going to start, they were
playing pretty good music although I wish they had better presentation
skills.

Bangalore Midnight Marathon 017
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 019
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 024
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 012

(more…)

I chanced upon this wonderful song by Eliane Elias:

I’m not afraid
All is forgiven
Coz after all
What’s done is done
Move on with grace
Slippin’ to space
And when I’m ready, I’ll sing my song
Follow the silence far from the sadness
Leave all the madness behind
I’ll keep on living
I’ll keep on running
Passing through heart who I’ve become
I’ll keep on driving eternal darkness
I’m scared of falling
Turn my lights on
Coz when I’m frightened, we carry on
And keep on living
And keep on running
Running towards what I’ve been running for
I will not hide
Fatal submission
You are so wrong
Because I’m still here
Drive through the night into the light of the horizon

It reminds me of yesterday. We ran 27 km. Just for fun. I was exhausted much more than usual, and I came home and crashed (and I mean crashed) on the bed. I had the most peaceful sleep for four hours and then woke up and realized that it was 1 pm, that I still had my shoes on, and that my stomach was grumbling because I hadn’t had breakfast.

I completed the full marathon i.e. 42 km on Sunday in the Bangalore International Marathon 2006.

Well, barely completed. After running the first 21 km in 2.5 hours, I was elated at my good timing, but then the worst thing (for a runner) happened – cramps. I just couldn’t run, it hurted. The irony was that in the past 6 months of heavy training, I never faced this issue, and it had to happen on the final D-day. I tried a little running and little walking for a while and managed to reach 28 km.

At the 28 km mark, I gave up. I grunted and cursed myself. Then, a fellow marathoner came along, cheered me up and pushed me to go on. Okay, I guess it was worth another try. So, I mustered all the energy left in me to get up and walk. A few more marathoners came along and encouraged me to simply walk if I can’t run. I winced and walked, but I was pleasantly surprised at the encouragement by the people around, and specially the traffic cops.

If there was ever a test of my will power, I guess this was it. I took 4 hours to walk the rest of the way back to the Kanteerava stadium.

In the end, I was disappointed that I couldn’t run the 42 km as I wanted to, and my goal of finishing in 5.5 hours went down the drain. But at least I completed.

A huge shout of thanks to Ajay, Niara, Vikram – my running partners and closest friends, without whom I would’ve never run the marathon, let alone work towards my dream of running the full marathon.


Is it a coincidence that the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42?

Today, I achieved 34 km.

Yeah, my stamina has improved.

Here’s some of the “running gyaan” I’ve collected over the past few months:

  • Learn to listen to your body
    • Learn to distinguish between feeling tired or just feeling fatigue, feeling the need for water and the need to take rest.
    • I attribute a part of my development to doing things my way. I didn’t push myself to compete with the others, but I competed with myself.
  • It takes patience to develop stamina. A year ago, I used to run one round in the track field and stop dead-tired. The track was just 400 metres long.
  • Some people find company important for running. I need my iPod and the company.
  • Running in the early morning is better – lesser pollution, lesser noise, lesser people, empty roads, etc.
  • Breathe naturally.
  • Do varying distances of running (The distances should look like a bell curve on a graph)
  • Run 9 min. Walk 1 min. And the cycle continues.
  • Gear is important
  • Drink lots of water. 2 litres per day.
  • Water + Electral = Yummy. And it restores the salts that your body loses.
  • Nothing teaches you determination like running. Because the temptation to stop is immense and you can easily stop.
  • I still have a lot to learn.

The Bangalore Marathon has been postponed from May 14 to September, 2006.

This is so disappointing.

I had not participated in last year’s marathon because I wasn’t fit for it, but I had made up my mind to participate this year. So, I’ve been training with a couple of friends. Our plan was to prepare for the half marathon.

Today morning, I ran 21 km in 2.5 hours, the second time in the past month, and it felt great. Too bad, I have to wait till September to run in the actual marathon.