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.