Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quest for a Sub 24hr 100Mile run

San Francisco 1 day race
Crissy Fields, SF, CA

We humans have never ending quest for self improvement. This craving/curiosity/ inner drive has differentiated us from millions of other species who for millions of years continue to lead their lives the exact same way! nothing wrong with that, just our craving for self improvement is so innate, its never ending.

It was in July, I completed my first 100 mile run at Tahoe, and since then I was trying to improve my performance in Ultrarunning and SF 24 hour seemed liked a great venue:
- flat course
- perfect weather
- easy access to food/gels.

I was eying this race last year as well, but my focus was mainly on getting a good race at Helen Klien 50M so decided to skip. But this year I was all prepared, with lot of good long distance runs and several months of base, I was hoping for a peak performance.

I even consulted Zombierunners for their tips on optimum performance, and was happy to get some great tips before the race. Come race week I was all prepared, except for my sore throat and mild headache, didn't have bodily injuries.

I decided to get some extra sleep by sleeping at our friend's place Deepak/Aruna. myself and Rush packed all the required stuff and dozed off at SF, just 10 mins from the race start. Seeing my sore throat state and constant coughing Deepak offered a potent concoction of honey and pepper, by god, this worked great, by morning my sore throat had almost disappeared. I still had some mild headache.

Race day:
Could not resist a coffee at Starbucks so went looking for one, at the cost of reaching the start little late. Got just in time, to settle down with my chair, ice-chest and all the paraphernalia for the day ahead.

Met with few of the usual ultra gang: carol, mariane, barbara, mylinh, joe and tom. They all seemed to do a 80+ mile day, that seemed reasonable to me, not knowing what that distance means on a loop course.

runners set to conquer their goals.

I had decided to shoot for 55 miles in first 12hrs and do my best for next 12 hrs. The race started at 9am, we had some fast guns like Akos Konya for 12hr ; Jon Olsen and Kermit Cuff for 24hr. Just before the race I taped my feet for blister prevention, which turned out to be too tight and started bothering my landing, so after
3 laps, changed into just socks.

Barbara preparing for warmer parts of the day

I got into a comfortable pace of 13 mins per mile pace, as the day progressed crowd for another event gathered around Crissy field, providing us some distraction and entertainment. Thanks to Hao to running few laps, it was fun to share some of his plans for following year.

Aaron: age 12 works diligently working towards his marathon

The first 12 hours went as planned, I was slowing down, and could feel the fatigue. I ended up doing about 52 miles, right then I got some hot rice noodles and potato soup , that was very refreshing. Rush and Deepak kept me entertained for some laps.

Golden gate bridge, how could one not run 24hrs here!

As I continued on for more laps towards my 62 nd lap I saw some familiar face at distance and was thrilled to see Shekar and Vinod herur coming all the way from south bay to cheer and run few laps. Soon I saw RajeevP, RajeevC and Renuka and laps started ticking faster.. after they left I made a mistake of taking a nap in a chair in a cramped position, that was a bad move, when I got up my quads where jammed, I could hardly do one lap which convinced me to take a longer nap in the car this time. A 2hr sleep turned into 4 and as I got I saw GG bridge and Sun rising and glimmer of light on the bridge, I thought to myself why am I wasting my time, get my butt off and head for more laps.

So from 6:30am till finish I got some more laps totaling to 74 miles, just a marathon short of 100 miles. Deepak and Rush again turned up in the morning to share few laps and take some great pictures of the Golden Gate bridge.

Hung(2nd place), Carol and Barbara running strong last few laps

Meantime Carol, Barabara and Tom diligently worked hard and did 80+ miles and mariane ended up doing 100 miles in 24hrs. It was a inspiration to see all night runners working hard and getting over those tough nights miles.

Zombie anil getting last few laps

Running around loop:
As easy as it looks, in spite of being a a flat course, running around loop is hard, there is no cutoff and no distance goal, and to achieve one's best, mind has work hard every moment. Taking a break is lot easier and those minutes add up to hours easily.

It was a great learning experience, for now I am not sure if I will try another but I will always have those 4 hours of sleep haunt me for some time on second thoughts I do think I will go back and get that 100 miles one of the days.

I am indebted to Rashmi and Deepak for their support that weekend and tolerating this zombie runner the next day. All the pictures are courtesy Zombie Don Lundell. More pictures from him at Zombierunner photos. Thanks to Don and Gillian for their tips on pacing, nutrition for this race they were all very timely and good suggestions. I just lost the looping game!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

California International Marathon, 2007

California Internationa Marathon (CIM )2007,
Dec 2nd , 2007

Quest for a PR marathon.

Over the past couple of years road running took back seat, the other day I noticed that its been 2.5 yrs since I had a run a road marathon. With lot of Ultra-running in 2006 and 2007, I was sure of improving on my previous best of 4:17 set in 2004. But I wasn't sure if a sub 4 was possible.

In 2007 my performance goal was SF One day race, I had planned to do 100 miles, or at least do a 90+ miles. But during the week I caught cold and race day didn't feel that good, so I ended up doing a measly 74 miles with 4hrs of sleep in my car. Running around the loop 14 minute miles looks easy, but during the night sustaining the pace on a loop course was harder than I thought.

I am very thankful to great support of fellow runners, delicious food and drinks brought by my wife and deepak. And support of my friends who visited my during night (shekar, RajeevP, RajeevC, Renuka, Vinod) and numerous email posts during the race and post race. It meant a lot to see those friendly faces.

Those 4hrs haunted me for a long time, I started asking myself why can't I have some pity on my body, I am not reveling at the fact of running 20hrs, but was bogged down with 4hrs of down time; well that logic didn't go well, the truth is I failed to perform on the race day, I just didn't feel great about it, I decided on doing a timed race, a PR at CIM.

3 weeks of race specific training indicated a sub 4:05 possibility, but sub 4 did seem a stretch but I was eager to give a shot at it.

Rashmi and myself decided to be eco friendly and decided to take ACE train to Sacramento which was conveniently placed at Sac downtown near our hotel. Fellow runner Dinesh had booked hotel for us.

A pre-race dinner and wine at Spaghetti factory was a perfect meal. During dinner Vineeta and myself had decided to run with sub 4 hr group as long as we can.

Race day:
The shuttle from Holiday Inn took off at 5:15, as it left I realized to have left my gels and hydration pack, luckily I had my hand held bottle (with coke) for post 18 miles. Dinesh spared me a gel and I decided to rely on gel stations at Mile 13 and 20.

We started out with 4:30 group slowly warming up and joined 4 hr grp within 2 miles and decided to stay with the group for as long as we can. After abt 6 miles we got separated at AS, and I continued running in and around 4 hr group.

I knew I can't hold a sub 9 pace for long but would be able to run a 9:15 ish pace and try to run a hard last 6-8 miles. my only chance of sub 4 hr was doing a even pace, during one of the runs RajeevP had suggested some splits for 13.1 and 20 miler, I had the following in mind
- 13.1 in 1:58
- 20 miles - about 3 to 3:03
- 26.2 - 3:59

I thought putting time in the bank would spoil my chances, so I was happy to cross 13.1 miles in 1:59. I just needed another 13.1 with the same pace. We were very lucky to have
Bill Finkbeiner as the 4 hr pacer, he paced evenly till the end.

As I crossed mile 20 in 3:02, I knew sub 4 hr is in the bag I was feeling good, all I had to do is to maintain a steady 9 min pace. I picked up the pace ahead of 4hr group and caught up with Vineeta, I could see she was giving her best shot and was hell determined to do a sub 4.

From that point we maintained a even pace encouraging each other and sharing some found memories of our run in Toulemme meadows run earlier this year. As we approached mile 25 we had about 12 minutes for 1.2 miles a 10 min pace which would ensure a 4hr marathon, we both realized how close we were to our goals and there was nothing to stop us except ourselves, we gave it all for a fastest last mile of 8:30, as I was close Rashmi cheered us to finish.

I was tiny bit disappointed to see the race clock read 4:00:19 as we passed, but our clocks stopped at 3:58:27.

Wow! I hadnt run such a *race* for a long time, I don't know if I will ever have a such a perfect race day. There is no better feeling than to give your best shot and to get your desired outcome!

(vineeta running strong at mile 16 with krishna)

Thanks to Vineeta, it was awesome pushing each other through those last miles. RajeevP for his constant encouragement . And of course Rush for bearing with me for this one more dream race, no more races for rest of year :).

It was great to see so many cheering faces all through Sacramento, great supporters and perfect race conditions. This race never disappoints me. It was a pleasure to see all the TeamAsha 07 runners and coords cheering us on the way as well. Congrats to all the TA runners.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Haile Gebrsellasie: World Record Performance

The running phenom from Ehtiopia, worlds greatest longest distance runner, has finally set his footprint in Marathoning as well. On Sep 30th 2007 he set a new World Record of 2 hrs 4 mins 26 secs at Berlin Marathon.

He has held world records at various middle to long distance events including: 2k, 5k, 10k, half marathon and 1hr runs. Since his debut in Flora London marathon 2002 where he was placed 3rd just behind previous 2 world records holders, he has been persistently seeking to set a world record in marathon.

Last Name, First Name
Time OverAll
Sex Place Country
K. KHANNOUCHI (M30) 2:05:38 1 1 USA
P. TERGAT (M32) 2:05:48 2 2 KEN
H. GEBRSELASSIE (M28) 2:06:35 3 3 ETH
(2002 London marathon results : courtesy

After his near miss of breaking WR at Berlin 2006, he continued to pursue his goal, it was interesting to see this video showing his readiness for 2007:

I am glad he has set a WR after 5 yrs of effort on it. In one of the interviews he has mentioned that a sub 2 hr marathon is in the horizon, will he able to break it! We will know soon? As of now he is relishing his success; and time to celebrate this phenomenal athlete. Indeed "Impossible is nothing"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Trail Tested: IPod Shuffle

Ipod Shuffle

After very disappointing experience with my IPod Nano, I had decided not use Apple products for a while, so went ahead with a purchase of non-apple mp3 player. Initially it seemed fine, but slowly I started missing the Itunes music manager, the seamless integration of shopping experience and Ipod sync-up update etc.

So finally I landed up in market for yet another IPod for my Ultra Running, Shuffle seemed reasonably priced for my budget and usage. I was mainly looking for a lightweight mp3 player, which can handle clumsiness of a long distance runner and would last for the entire duration of the race, roughly about 25-30hrs.

Interestingly after charging IPod Shuffle for a 1 night and loading to its full capacity of 1GB, I was ready for my Rio Del Lago 100M run. The entire run I hardly felt the weight of Shuffle and in-fact couple of times the clip came out of the slot, but it is light enough to just hang by the head phone cords :). Not once I had any issues with sound quality or lack of battery. Finally I found a perfect mp3 for Ultra runners, who man-handle a bit and would like a long battery life.Its great piece of Innovation. Hoping it would last long this time!.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

On to Road Biking

Fuji F65

Finally brought a new road Bike, Felt F65 . I have been thinking about one for quite sometime, after unsuccessful hunt for a used bike, I settled in for this beauty. This seems to be a Perfect fit so far.

Trial Running for sure is going to be my primary passion, my plan is to substitute some of the runs with more bike workouts, mainly hills. Hoping to get some cross training benefits and relieve my body of the constant pounding. My dream goal for biking is to participate in Death Ride one of the years, for now I am planning to do couple of century rides in 2008. Will a 200 mile ride be interesting?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Tale of a 100 Mile footrace

Tahoe Rim Trail 100M run
A Glimpse of heaven and a taste of hell!
July 21st/22nd 34 hrs 11 mins

How it happened?

To me each year starts with a goal. Last year I spent mostly trying to do a good race at Helen Klien 50M and qualify for WS 100 2007, I did finally a 9:45hr race to apply for WS 100, but with ever increasing number of Ultra participants my name along with Rajeev, Chihping and Alan didnt get called and then started a mailing thread on other 100M race options. Alan was the one who just didnt want to wait for another WS year, he signed up for TRT 100, and the enthusiasm spread to us as well and I registered on the spur of the moment and notified to my wife through my blog :).

History of 100M race
Gordy Ainsliegh started the 100m trail running culture in US, There used to be a Tevis cup on the course of WS 100M and in 1974 Gordy's horse was not well, instead he decided to run a self supported race. He not only finished the race but set a new standrd for completing 100M in 24hrs which till date holds a special place for all runners to do a 100M in 1 single day!

Why do it?
Since 2005 my first ultra I have been enjoying Trail races more than road running with each I have been building my base for longer or tougher races, 100M seemed to me a graduation run in the world of ultra running, like every road runner aspires to do a marathon, ultra marathon runner is not complete without a 100m attempt. And moreover for a slower runner like me the challenge of running through the night is both mystic and daunting, I wanted to explore the unknown. Basically to find if I can!

Course details:
TRT offers three races 50k, 50M and 100M. 50M is a out and back course from Spooner lake to Mt Rose (including a10k loop of a red house), and 100M runners do this all over all. The middle 25 mile section of this is in night for us so in a way it was like a different course, with some course knowledge.

(course map from event webpage)

How do I train?
Inspite of tough memories of TRT 50M in 2006, I couldnt imagine doing the same loop again! But considering me and Rajeev were planning to do it together I was opimistic and started my long training cycle in Jan 2007. I read quite a few racing reports, different training schedules, consulted some 100M veretans and wrote down my schedule for the 100M, mostly centered around some key shorter ultra's in and around bay area. One of schedules which was a useful reference was listed by Ultraladies website.

100M involves host of different aspects to be learnt. I felt footcare was one of the most important components(often ignored.) which could make or break my race. I sought guidance from Zombierunners and read through Footcare book by John Vonhof. I had my footcare plan in place.

My training idea was to do one 50k or 50M every month during jan-april and then do a long run every week during the month of may and june. By the end of june I had put on solid trail miles and I had covered almost all aspects of TRT 100M training (night running, back to back runs, v long slow run, altitude runs, some tempo runs). Another aspect of my training was to build core and upper body strength. I was well aware loosing weight which would be critical to my finish. so 6 months of running, weight watching helped me loose some weight before the race.

By end of June I was fully prepared more so mentally for the race, I trusted my training to work for me during the race.

Month of July was the most sought after one for me, I started a religious taper routine, day by day feeling fitter and readier for the race(slughishness from training wearing off) .

Crew :
Arul, Gayathri, Rashmi, Anu, Bharti, Deepak and Aruna all drove from bay area to crew and support us during the course. Which was a big emotional support for us. They all were experienced crew folks extremely caring of runner needs and mostly supportive of the cranky runner syndrome.

Vinod a Asha '03 running buddy, who inspite of running a tough 50miler a week before, volunteered to pace us for the 50-75 miles and then got tempted to do another 25 miles to see the course during day. What a strong runner he is, poor guy which minimal support he gave his best shot in supporting this slow sleepy runner. I cant thank him enough, but just hope to be there for his big race.

Pre race:
Thursday before race we drove to Carson city, Nevada. Rashmi was a kind enough to drive for us, that gave my legs a break, but didnt help my blood pressure :). Rajeev, Rashmi and myself took it easy and explored little placerville(gold county) on our way and reached Carson city by 8pm. Next day we had couple of race formalities like briefing, weight check-in etc.

(Friday night pasta dinner: Peter, Rajeev, Cory and Alan)

After some last minute drop bag work, we hit the bed.

(From l to r, myself, Chihping, Peter, Alan, Rajeev)

On Friday we caught up with Ultraholics Alan, Chihping, Peter. Each of us had different goals.

A veteran of couple of 100M events, A super strong runner, known to sleep outside parks before a 100M event!. A little jet lagged from taiwan trip, but hoping for a sub 30 finish.

A fast runner, who won Tahoe super triple in 2006 and host of other shorter distance races this year. A first timer at this distance hoping for a strong finish , preferably a sub 24hr.

a.k.a greek god by many, a veteran of Triathlons and ranked among top 20% most of the Ironman events. A first timer at this distance and hoping for a sub 24-26hr finish.

A veteran runner,very knowledgeable and thinking runner, always accessing situation and making decisions to run to his optimum capability. A Runner with extreme mental strength.

Just hoping for a official finish(32-33hr is a bonus)

(alan, peter, chihping, steve, cory, christine)

We also met many of our other ultra runnning friends Chuck Wilson, Christine, Chau, Mylinh, Pavan , Fred and Jim to name a few.

Race briefing:
Race directors David Cotter and Kevin described in detail the course marking, aid stations and all other details, it left no questions unanswered.

Peter, Rajeev and myself came back from briefing and shared some of our goals for the year, it was interesting to chat with Peter and his background in Holland. It was also interesting to know that his father was a avid race walker and holland had a culture of organizing log multiday walking races. Peter seemed to have built his endurance through those race walks covering most parts of Holland. What a way to enjoy the country side.

my parents generation seemed to have walked a lot during their childhood days too, but that seemed more out of the remoteness of the villages and infrequent buses.

Race day (July 21st):
I did manage to get some sleep but not as much as I would have liked. Got up at 2:30 am and quickly finished the morning ritual. Rashmi offered us to drop to start point, Alan, Cory joined us to start. It was good to see her till the start.

After picking up the bibs we did some photo shoot out and patiently waited for the start. It wasnt cold so we were expecting similar weather the next morning as well. After a short briefing we started off at 5am.

Miles 0-26.2 ("I am enjoying the race, I am having fun" section):
As usual we (myself and rajeev) had decided to walk the uphill 4 mile section, for most parts we were leap frogging fellow runners Joe, Linda. At the end of the climb followed by a small downhill we reach Lake Marlette.

(Lake marlette from Marlette Peak, Lake Tahoe at the back)

Soon we reach Hobart Aid Station(AS), after a quick refueling, dropping our headlights and jacket, we head towards Tunnel. A 5 mile section with a lot of runnable section. Hobart and Tunnel are the most vital aid station of this race, we pass this AS 10 times, so packing the drop bags smartly makes a big difference.

For the first loop we were trying to run a 32hr pace so we reached tunnel ahead of time, this year tunnel didnt seem that hot, soon we headed towards Red House loop which has couple of steep downhills followed by steep uphills. This is the first time we get to see some of the faster runners, Scott, Peter and Alan, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the race so far. Good to see friendly faces and exchange energies from each other. we ran a nice and easy pace till red house, where 2 volunteers explained us the protocol for the night(We were supposed to mark our bib during the night loop).

(Rajeev: master color coordinator)

With Red house loop behind us we headed towards Mt Rose, where we met almost all our 100M and 50M friends. Going to Mt rose was slow this time, with a small stop at Diamond peak. Diamond peak is often a tough AS to setup as mountain bikers help out with AS and act as Safety patrol for all of us. What a service to ensure safety of runners.

(Tahoe meadows and Mt Rose AS from far)

We reached Mt Rose almost as expected at about 12:30pm, Rush, Arul and Gayathri waited for us with our Subway's। which worked great for me. It was rejuvenating to see all of them there. It was the first point of Socks change(later I realized the socks were'nt right for me). Meanwhile Nicole too was waiting for Eric, who had already left the aid station, looks like AS folks had not marked his number rightly, she helped us at the AS so that we get going quickly.

26.2-50mi("i am hungry" section):
With 26 miles behind and feeling strong we were now looking fwd to reaching the start before 16hrs and put some time for the 2nd loop. Going back to Tunnel was I guess a tough part for Rajeev, he had some Altitude issues which made it harder to breathe, but he didnt let him bother him, he has this ability to segregate the pain point and focus on the things working for me.

At Tunnel we were greeted by cheerful volunteers, and glad to see Norm and Helen Klien helping us out there, After knowing I have signed up for RDL 100M, Norm said "you are smart enough to run RDL, but not smart to run with this man" pointing at Rajeev. Norm and Rajeev get along very well. Th Kliens are such a great service to sport ultra running in northern california.

(Champion RD Norm and Super Athelete Helen Klien)

The runnable section going towards Tunnel AS turned into be a long climb towards Hobart, we met Wendell who was crewing for Eventual winner Jasper Halekas. During this section both of us decided to run without one of the socks, which worked great for me as my little tow was disturbed by smaller socks and additional bandage. Finally we reached Hobart, picked up my headlight and fenix for the night section and some warm clothes. Hobart to finish was a different route, through Snow Valley peak, one of the most scenic high points of the course, breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, going up this hill didnt seem that bad. At snow valley we were weighed again, all looked fine. Snow peak to finish is a longggggggg 7 mile section, seems like a never ending section, didnt run too much of it as I wanted to save my legs for 2nd half. But the last 3 miles went past fast with some running.

(Lake Tahoe from Snow valley peak)

We reached the start 15hr 40 mins into the race, I was very thrilled to see friendly cheerful faces of Anu, Deepak, Aruna, Bharti, Arul, Gayathri, and our chief crew Rashmi; who had meticulously kept track of all things we need and made sure we attend to them.

Vinod the pacer was ready to pace the last 50 miles(25 miles initially). The Start AS break took lot longer than we thougth, but it was well worth the pampering we got from all our crew. The pizza worked great for us, heading out I was feeling very well refueled. 19 hours for the last 50M did seem enough time to complete in.

Miles 50-76("intro to 100 mile" section):
Going into the race I had thought till miles 75 I should hold up fine, I had done couple of night runs in past and that seemed to be a fun part, but I had excluded one tiny detail of doing the night run 60 miles into a race, that IS totally different.

16hrs into race we headed towards Hobart AS, it was 6 mile stretch and this time it was lot slower than before, reached hobart in a pretty slow pace, I got my tights and few more stuff from drop bags, after refueling we headed towards Tunnel. We had decided to push in this section as we had a good downhill section, once we reached top of Marlette peak we pushed till tunnel AS, at this point our weight seemed fine, got more clip2 and gels and headed towards red house loop for 2nd time. Again we were consiscious of our time for the next loop and were happy to finish the loop in 2 hrs,.

As we returned back to Tunnel at mile 67, we saw lot of middle of pack completing mile 85, Alan and Peter by then had teamed up and were planning to be together till finish, their partnership worked great and both finished within 28hrs. Alan looked pretty good at Tunnel. Also saw few runners taking nap at the AS.

We had a longish break at tunnel taking some of the required stuff, and headed towards this long section towards Mt Rose again, by this time I was walking the uphill pretty slowly, after crossing Diamond peak, I felt a intense desire to sleep, inspite of taking couple of No-Doz caps earlier, the caffiene didnt seem to work at 3am, I took a 5 min break to start with, but sleep didnt seem to subside, I was slowing Rajeev/Vinod a lot, couple of miles ahead, Rajeev suggested I take a 10 min nap on a rock, I didnt think twice, but just settled into a comfy position on the trial on the rock, it was the most blissful sleep I had. meantime I heard Nancy and her pacer Mr Williams passed as well.

With the much soughted break, I was replenished with new energy, we came across Chuck, he alarmed us about the cutoffs and how close we were of missing it if we didnt rush. That was it, I was in emergency mode from that point all three of us pushed for another 3 miles, untill we could see Tahoe meadows, and Mt Rose AS. We saw Linda and Mylinch pass by as we neared the AS.

We reached Mt Rose at 6:35am, after a quick coffee, change of clothes some food, we headed off to last section, I though I have got over my sleep issue.. but much laid ahead. As we turned around we were glad to see Joe, who was still hanging around and was determined to complete.

Miles 76-100mi("Ok, let me get done with this" section)
After getting all the pampering from our crew we headed off towards Tunnel. Untill Diamond peak it was constant uphill, I was again feeling slugish and sleepy again, Vinod caught me sleep running couple of times and was on gaurd to wake me up in case I went off-course. From that point he never left my back, at times he seemed to be my supervisor on course, but I needed that push to get through my tough miles.

There was a point when I asked him to wake me up after 2 minutes, and he did so exactly after 120 secs.. he just reminded me of Nakshatraka (Yamraj's accounting assistant known to not leave your back untill all dues are paid). Well he was named that for future pacing duties and he graciously accepted that.

Seeing my sluggishness Rajeev suggested I take more sleep break if we make up sometime before Tunnel, at Diamond peak fortunately we got some more caffiene pills from Terry Rhodes, from that point we tried to shuffle till Tunnel, this section seemed to pass quickly. We reached tunnel 10 mins before 10am, we had 6 hrs to complete the last 15 miles. I promptly took a 13 min nap at tunnel AS near the drop bags, that was another of my sweetest sleep I ever had!

I was woken promptly at 10am, Rajeev said "lets get done with this", we quickly got all our stuff and headed towards Hobart AS, unlike as I expected the last 15 miles were more of a formality, with the 2 sleeping breaks, I had no complaints, but to just keep making progress towards finish.

The section from Snow peak to finish seemed never ending, it was one of the longest 7 miles we did, I wish we could have run more of it. As we crossed the spnooner AS the finish was abt 20 mins away, we were slowly marching towards the last 100yards to run to finish. holding hand in hand.

(Vinod, Anil and Rajeev at Finish)

What a effort it was. I was luckly to get help from not one but 2 pacers for the tough middle miles. Both Rajeev and Vinod were extremeley patient with my sluggish pace. I cant imagine how it would have been without them. Thanks guys I owe a lot to you guys.

As far my crew, they were super supportive on such a long race, it was a pleasure seeing them at various points. I cant thank enough Anu, Bharti, Deepak, Aruna, Arul, Gayathri, Vinod and Rashmi.

The race was perfectly organized by RD's Kevin and David Cotter, the support from all the volunteers where phenomenal. Espcially AS like Tunnel and Hobart were operating for more than 30hrs, which is very rare in other ultras. Next year if I dont run this rce I would like to go back and volunteer at those AS's.

(my happy wife Rashmi)

Such a long adventure requires equally long training, especially the first one, it wouldnt have been possible without the support of my wife Rashmi, she was considerate about my weekend training, infact it was funny when she started encouraging me to do RDL 100M this year considering that I have already done bulk of my preparation and dont end up preparing for yet another 100M next yr!

It was great to see so many friendly faces on the courese. Congratulations to all of you who finished. Scott, Pete, Alan, Eric, Chihping, Rajeev, Chuck, Joe, Mylinh, Linda, Tom Kaisersatt (50M), Christine (50M), Karen (50m), Marissa (50M), Norbert, Fred, Keith & Kay Blom .

Thanks to invaluable support from my friends, who kept calling to check our progress. Ofcourse ArunSimha's pasta was a total hit with me, I carb loaded more than 3 times with the same pasta parcel.

More race pictures are at:
TRT 100M pictures

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ginkgo Biloba: A magic herb?

What it is?
A very old chinese herb , which is known to increase blood flow to brain.

Why it is relavant to Ultrarunners?
Based on the following study it is known to reduce chances of AMS in mountaineers.

Since I wont be getting time to Acclimatize. I have decided to try this at TRT 100m, and follow a 3 week
routine of Ginkgo and keep taking the capsules during the run. my dosage will be 120mg a day, for 3 weeks.

Given my last year's performance at TRT 50M, I Will find how Ginkgo will help in other High Altitude ventures.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Whats so cool: Way too cool 50k?

Way too cool 50k,
Cool, CA
March 10th, 2007

One of the most distinctive features of this race:

"the 2002 race filled in three days!
the the 2003 race filled in three hours!
the 2004 race filled in 30 minutes!
the 2005 race filled in 15 minutes!
the 2006 race filled in 18 minutes!
the 2007 race filled in 7 minutes, 33 seconds!"

Its getting crazier day by day to get into popular races like Cool 50k, I am a rookie in the sport of ultra-running but can see clearly the popularity of ultra is on the rise. More and more people want to go out and test their limits and every year they take on tougher challenges, be it in terms of longer distance or tougher course!!

Since the past year the competition to get into Cool 50k puzzled me, so this year Rajeev and myself were very well prepared to into this race.

Right at 7:50am on Dec 10th, my cell rings , Rajeev "Anil log into, Cool registration is about to open"

My parents and Rashmi are puzzled at my enthusiasm to login into active site, as if million $ lottery results are gonna be published, anyway I am logged into active like a geek refreshing every moment for the registration to open, and there it is, it opens we hurridily signup for the race and get confirmation from Rajeev and Anu's registration as well.

All excited, blessed , fortunate to get into this coveted 50k, which fills up 450 entries in 450 seconds. Talk of computing power! well I am very curious to see why so much for this race!

Pre race thoughts:
I couldnt read much about the course as I had a busy week at work, school, but knew it isnt one of the hillier 50k's. when rajeev told me it is about 3000ft + total elevation gain, all kinds of thoughts which are are more associated with road running came into my mind. PR, splits etc. I was dreaming about doing 6:15 or atleast 6:30 at worst considering I had done a 50k at woodside in 6:45 a hillier course.

I was totally blinded, and forgot my real motivation of getting into this race, which is to enjoy the course, in the process forgot my new camera.(gift from Rush :))

Race day:


I managed to get some good sleep, we reached race start in time and Cool 50k had resemblance of a well managed, high profile race, with lot of volunteers, a well manned expo and checkin station, typical of a big marathon.

Don and Gillian were helping at the checkin, other ultra regular's like Linda, Barbara, Yuki were all geared up for a fun filled 50k. I settled into my easy pace, the start had a slight downhill section, which leads into a auburn canyon trail, the intial 6 miles was almost as wide as a fire road, pasing through lushing meadows, the day promised to be a very nice running weather.

I reached the hwy 49 aid station in about 75 minutes, so far looked like right pace for me, from this point we run besides American river almost the entire 8 miles, this section was my favorite section, it was fun running in a pack of runners each of trying to push each other, since it was single track we had to stop by for elite runners, who were already at mile 20+ when we were at 12 ish.. about 2hr 50 mins I reached the 2nd aid station on auburn lake trails, as we crossed the stream towards the aid station, one of the runners Steve (whom I had met at Helen klien) had a nasty fall, poor guy he sat down to get his bearing for a while and luckily it seemed he didnt have any major issues. Running through the streams and just taking timeoff was one of my favorite parts of the course.

From aid station 2 we follow another 6 mile loop which consists of 1 steep downhill followed by steep uphill(but short), this is the only tough part of the course. Most of this section I ran with Chuck who shared some of his multi day running adventures at Costa Rica and Peru. That enthused me to consider the race for 2008.

Goat hill aid station seemed to be the most fun filled of all, Norm posed like a playboy bunny and seemed to entertain some select runners.

From this point to finish was just another easy section. I was glad to get a good run through the scneic sections of Sierra, Rajeev was waiting at finish. He had a very good race, doing his PR 50k in 6:00:48, he deserved and was capable of doing this. Way to go Rajeev!

Overall, I think Cool 50k is one of the finest races I have run. Very well managed, enthusiastic volunteers, great course and very refreshing post race soup. No wonder year after year runners are desparate to get into one of the most coveted 50k races in the country. I would like to run this course again and next time with a camera!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ruth Anderson 100k: In celebration of Life

Ruth Anderson 100k
San Francisco, CA

6:45 AM, March 31 2007

2006 Feb -Apr has been one of the toughest times of my life, this is when my brother was diagonised with a non-malignant growth in the brain and he went through severe distress and pain in those 3 months until a successful surgery and a much longer period of recovery.

It was tough to see him suffer in pain, tough to see the uncertainty of life. But fortunately with God's grace, Medical advances and Specialized Doctors like Dr Thompson his surgery was a success and he came out successfully in this painful test of life.

Thats when I realized what it means to celebrate life, each moment of it. To realize how gifted one is when they are healthy (mentally, physically and emotionally).

This year marks 1 year of this celebration and I had decided to run Ruth Anderson 100k as a celebration of this momentous day and also as a joy of seeing my brother Ajith, whose fighting spirit has been a big inspiration. And whose presence has been utmost joy. I also believe being a sportsman himself he endured pain through this long phase patiently and successfully. Wishing him many more healthy life ahead.

It gives me immense pleasure to see his enthusiasm for his First 2 day bike ride in July.

Race History:


Ruth Anderson 50k/50M/100k is organized by Bay Area UltraRunners(BAUR), in honor of Ultra running Veteran Ruth Anderson, who has been tremendous influence on the sport of Ultra running. A very nice bio Ruth Anderson is listed at Scott Dunlap's Blog.

Also a brief history behind Donkey as the logo is listed on the BAUR homepage. Briefly "Burro" stands for small donkey in southern US.

Ruth Anderson ran around lake merced a loop of 4.47 miles 14 times totaling 100k in 1978, and BAUR started this race in 1986 in her honour.

Bay area ultra runners(BAUR) has been one of most prominent organization mainly responsible for nourishing ultra running events in bay area. Their club hosts some of the oldest, finest and most popular Ultra's in the country. Each ultra highlights the beauty of bay area. From Miwok 100k on the North west coast to Ohlone 50k on the east bay.

Pre race:
I had signed up for 100k distance; One of the few races where RD's give a choice of shifting between three race distances 50k,50M and 100k, that makes it difficult for longer distance runners to continue when they see 50k runners rejoice at the finish. But thats part of the challenge as well.

Race day:
Rajeev picked me up promptly at 5am, for a 6:30 race start, we landed in time for check-in and met lot of friendly faces, most of the Ultraholics gang where there: Yuki, Chihping, Rajeev, Alan.
Peter was running at Pony express 100k, another race of similar format.

My goal for the day was to complete my first 100k in 13 hrs, a intermediate goal of 10hrs for 50m seemed reasonable. RD's(Amy and John Burton) decided to start the race 15 minutes later, giving us some light on the course.

100k runners had to run 4.47 mile loop 14 times around lake merced, some of the sections didn't have dirt sidewalk which was tough on my knee during the later half of the race. Each loop had 2 aid station which is very generous for a such a distance. Each of the loops were meticulous recorded by Stan Jensen and BAUR volunteers.

I settled into my easy pace. In couple of loops I joined Chris Miller, who was shooting for a sub 10 hr for her 50 M. She shared some of her running experience at Coastal Challenge multi-day run in Costa Rica and her plans going forward. At end of lap 4 , Alan passed me for the 2nd time,and finished his 50k, he seemed to be in pain but still carried on and completed in 3:53 to secure overall 2nd place.

For the initial 5 loops we were consistent with 11min pace, I didn't have any issues so far, the loop format worked really well as I had easy access to my drop bags and regular supply of Clip2 and Ensure. The temperature was in 60's which worked really well for me. At the end of loop 6 I was puzzled to see Rajeev taking pictures he had decided to stop at 50k, due to his hamstring strain, and take caution for the big races ahead, a smart runner he is. Nevertheless he did his PR of 4:59 hr for 50k, what a performance!.

I saw few more 50M runners deciding to stop at 50k, and I was convinced that I wouldn't be going further than 50M, Instead started thinking about a sub 9:30 finish for 50M, It was one of the best days to run, I was feeling strong and wanted to end this one a high note.

At the end of loop 7 I met Soon Gaal, who seemed determined to do 62 miles as a prep for her WS 100M in June. I was throughly impressed and motivated to join her and continue with her instead of stop at 50M, I had no reasons stop now, She shared lot of her race and life experiences, and her preparation for Western states 100m this year. She has given her best shot so far in her prep and seemed to be in great shape. Her husband Dr Stephen(A WS100 veteran) was cheering her every loop.

During our loop 8, Yuki finished 50M, impressive time of 8hrs 40 mins, after his PR 50k a week back. And we knew Chihping was going strong for his 100k, who finished in 10hrs 40 mins, good for his age group win. These athletes never seize to surprise me. They have very rare combination of speed and endurance.

(Soon and myself at the end of Last loop)

By loop 10, Rashmi and Vineeta joined us during our 50M finish, and from then on it was a breeze to continue on to 100k, the last loop Soon and myself pushed for a sub 13 hr finish and were happy to do it in 12hr 50 mins, good for Age group win for Soon and Surprisingly age group win for me as well, got the lucky prize.

I am grateful to Soon for her determined spirit to finish 100k that day, I lacked motivation to continue beyond 50M. Hats off to her spirit.

Later I found Chris Miller had completed her 50M in 10hrs, in spite of her pain, very valiant effort. Chuck wilson was there cheering us the last few loops after finishing his solo 50k in Marin headlands.

Overall a great day running around loops, running on the asphalt was tough, my knees hurted pretty bad that night. Thanks to RD's and all volunteers for such a fabulous event, its going to be a regular feature for me next year. Thanks to Rashmi and Vineeta for pacing in those last few laps, that kept us entertained.

Race report from RD is at:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fitness factor

Since the time I started running in 2002, I am amazed by the times of a Elite athletes in various distances. For the first time during Athens marathon (Olympics 2004), that I really enjoyed watching marathon the entire 2hr 20 mins of the race.

I just cannot comprehend the fitness level of elite athletes, cant imagine what it takes to run aa 4:40 minute miler and still have energy to burst out of the pack and win. Its very unfortunate that the Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima, who seemed sure to win the race got pushed out of his run by a lunatic, but still he managed to secure 3rd place.

1. Stefano Baldini (Ita) 2h10:55s
2. Mebrahtom Keflezighi (USA) 2h11:29s Season Best
3. Vanderlei de Lima (Bra) 2h12:11s


Being a sportman at heart since my childhood, I enjoyed all the sports but never really managed to excel in any sport, due to constant transfers I didnt specialize in any of the sport. I did get chance to dabble in various sports right from Gili danda, kabbadi in Raichur , Karnataka ; Maram petti in Delhi ; Cricket, Soccer and Table tennis in Calcutta and Volley ball in IT-BHU, Varanasi.

Finally in Bay Area, California I managed to spend consistent amount of time in one sport, Running, it seems simplest of all sports putting one foot in front of other and ensuring constant forward motion, but as you spend more time honing your skills in running, you will understand the various aspects of performance tuning. And when it comes to ultra running it adds further more dimensions like refueling, hydration, listening to different signals of vital organs etc etc.

Running is one of the very few sports where you get to compete with the elite runners, well not compete, but we atleast are on the same field :), the winner has to work hard to beat me!!.

It was after Athens marathon I thought of the idea of associating my performance at various distances to world record in the same distance. This way I can monitor my progress in different races going forward.

I define fitness factor as = (my time in a given distances) /(world record pace)

Ofcourse this is not accurate representation because race times depends on the course, conditions, but for now it is good a enough approximation. and as I get older additional age parameters can be accounted for.

Current fitness chart for various distances are as follows:


World Record

Personal Record

Fitness Factor

1 mile














Not done




















Not done



Based on the mile time trial, my goal is to reach 55% fitness factor for all race distance. So my next goal for a 50 mile is a sub 9 hr 25 min pace.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Jed smith 50 M Race

Jedediah smith 50 mile race
Feb 3rd, 2007
Sacramento, CA

When I was planning my races for 2007, Jed smith seemed like a good fit into my training schedule for TRT 100, we(myself and Rajeev) went ahead and registered for the race. Considering this was a flat course I was hoping it to be a relatively easy run, but running around a loop of 3.33 miles isn't easy.

There were three distances organized 30k, 50k and 50M and each had certain number of loops of Gibson ranch(about 3.33 miles).

Race day:
Since the race starts at 8am, myself and Rajeev had decided to start at 5am on race day and drive back the same day. Due to some work Rajeev had to fly to Bern the race weekend so I ended up driving alone in the morning. I started promptly at 5am and was hoping to reach by 7:30, but few exits before Gibson ranch Startbucks tempted me into a strong Latte, which turned out to be bad idea. I tried to get back to I-80 at the earliest in the process took wrong exit towards I-50 and lost 15 mins.. eventually I got back on track and reached Gibson ranch 5 mins before race.

I hurriedly prepared my drop bag, bibs etc and started to race right in time, I settled into a easy pace. ran most of the first half with Marianne Paulson who was training for WS 100 this year. The cutoff for the race is 10hrs and I knew its going to be a close call for my pace, my goal was to at least get 45 miles.

Initial miles passed by fine, at a steady rate of 40 mins per loop, I was concerned about not calling my wife so ended up searching my cell in the car in between the race, but couldn't find and after about 4 loops borrowed one of the aid station volunteer's cell and was relieved to do "I am ok" call.

Running around the loop wasnt monotounous for a while, till the time there were other runners (30k and 50k). As they faded away, some of 50 milers still had 6 more loops to complete. It was motivating to see Barbara Elia, Lisa, Linda McFadden hammering each loop at ease, they seemed at ease every loop. Eventually Linda finished in 8:32hr! and Barbara in 8:52 a course record for her age group! Mark Tanaka was doing a 50k and treated it as a 10k easy run.

I completed 50k(9 loops) in 5:57 and had to do another 19 in 4 hours, Miles 35-40 seems to be tough ones for me, In spite of what I do in terms of my energy management I hit the wall and bounce back in the last 10 miles.

During my 12 th loop I saw Barbara hammering the course with the same intensity and in spite of her nasty fall, she continued and set a course record. I decided to take this next leg as a mini challenge and finish the race within 10 hrs, after the 14 th loop I had 40 mins for last 3.33 miles and was definitely doable. During the last few miles I thought about Rajeev's night leg at RDL and his last 3 miles when he set into a zone and achieved his goals. (3 miles in 36 mins at end of 97 mile run!!!)

Till day I hav'nt been able to comprehend how he did it, but would like to do a run like that one of the days.

As I reached the finish line I saw the clock ticking towards 10 hours and I eventually made it to finish in 9:57:51 hrs, One satisfying run for me.

As I was getting ready to wrap up and drive back home, I borrowed one of the volunteer's cell to search my cell and eventually found that I left my cell at Starbucks :). Another reason for a coffee break. Drive back home was tiring but worthwhile day at Gibson ranch.

Marianne ended up running the entire 50 miles without walk break and finished strong in 9:44 hrs

Thanks to all volunteers who put up a great race. my gratitude to Scott who cheered all runners every loop for 10 straight hours.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A month closer to TRT 100

Its been a low key month in terms of my training for TRT 100, but got some good long runs some of the weekends. Anticipation and excitement is building up for the races ahead. my main race for the year is Tahoe 100Miles and other races are training runs selected in a way to build sufficient base for TRT 100.

May and June will be the main part of the training. May is the month filled with training runs, all around the bay area.

Week1 : Miwok 100k
Most sought after race for me, I have been wanting to do this since the time I paced Rajeev last year. Marin county has always enticed me with miles and miles of views of Pacific Ocean and Lush green fauna of Muir woods national park, this is definitely the most rewarding race of the year.

Week 2: Quicksilver 50k
I will be doing this race 3rd time this year, again it has a great course meandering throw Almaden county park, offering great views of the Dam and Guadalupe creeks, course is through lush green flora and do get to see some fauna (snakes) on some hot days. looking forward to a well supported race, post race massage and hot burgers!

Week 3: Ohlone 50k
Running through one of hottest and most hillier parts of east bay. This is another big ultra I am looking forward too, would be very tough climbing mission peak and rose peak on 3rd consecutive ultra, but will be a new challenge for this year.

Week 4: Western States 100 training camp
A 3 day Western states training camp. ( Covering the last 50-70 miles of WS 100 course will be 4th interesting challenge for the month. I have opportunity to do the initial 30 miles as part of Western states safety patrol.

Month of of June is going to be couple of long back to back runs and some altitude training runs at Tahoe rim trail.

Hmm.. with just 4 more months ahead I need to get going and put some miles on the course!