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.