Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Waltz in rain and wind

30th CIM 2012 (BQ attempt #2)
Dec 2nd, 2013

As I was walking towards my intended 3:10 pace group, Grant Carboni said "You should be able to run 3:30 to stay with 3:45 pace group in this conditions" .  Grant Carboni - an experienced ultra runner from Sacramento and Pace leader for that group.  I knew he was right, it wasn't a day for PR, but there was only one goal at this race.

This was my 5th CIM in 9yrs and never had seen anything close to what I was experiencing. It was such a contrast to year before.

I was planning to carpool with Goutham to Sacramento, but due to his exam the following day and predicted weather conditions for the race day he decided to skip the race and I had to drive alone to Hilton Arden west. Supposedly a 2hr drive but due to great cooperation from mobile app waze I got a chance to explore suburbs of Sacramento for a good 1hr before wikiSimha(Arun Simha) helped me out with the directions.

After a good chat with Dharmendra (who had come from Bangalore for this race for a BQ and hopefully PR) and Arun I got into preparing for the race and anxiously waited for race morning.

Race day:
I got reasonable sleep, unlike last yr I had all the stuff lined up and felt really strong. I felt much faster than last year so this year my only goal was sub 3:10. I didn't heed to my usual approach of being conservative in 1st half and accommodate for the weather, I just wanted to see how far I could go at 7:15 pace.

As myself and Arun were waiting for Porta-john it felt as if we were standing under a shower, I just needed some soap and would have skipped my shower earlier in the morning. I was smiling within, it just felt like elements had come full force to stop anyone who challenges them... I was very calm and was enjoying every moment of this nasty weather, it felt I am up against this guy!
As "planned" I joined 3:10 pace group, Dharmendra was in 3:05 group and Arun planned to be with 3:40. after the National Anthem race started promptly at 7am and we were off to play in the rain and wind. I was glad it wasn't cold (probably 50's)

The start. I was waaaaaaay in the back.
                 Elite runners ever determined!(Courtesy Elliot Kawaoka)

Initial miles felt good, quite comfortable, pacer was hitting 7's early on, I focused more on drafting and enjoying the support of the crowd, at around mile 8 I lost my pace group and due to weak visbility I could'nt see the group unlike previous years.

Rain and wind.
Slowly warming up in this hazy conditions!((Courtesy Elliot Kawaoka))

From then on I ran my own race, As the chart indicates, there are rolling hills until mile 16 and then its downhillish, so my focus was on to keep 7:15 pace until then and I was hoping last 10miles I could shuffle and still maintain the pace. I crossed half marathon point in 1:36:30 I had about 90s to catch up all I needed was 7:10's going fwd on the easier section. Rain was still intense, and quite a bit of water logged at bottom of the hills, Thanks to Merrel Trail glove it didn't retain much water so I hardly felt any weight. Though wind made me dance around as I was in the air.

Crossing mile 15 was a encouraging barrier, I knew easier section was close by and last year I had much better time running 2nd half. But to my surprize 3:15 pacer was on my heals, I tried to pull ahead of them for next 2 miles with some strong 7's but it was'nt good enough, by mile 18 my quads started tightening and I could sense, I didnt have any more 7's in me, slowly I saw 3:15 pace group pull ahead of me along with my BQ hopes. I kept them in sight and crossed with them at mile 20(2:30), but soon after that my hamstrings felt the fatigue, this was much harder effort than I had trained for, I did'nt see a point of running another sub 3:15 at the cost of hurting myself, decided to back off and save myself for another day.


                                 CIM course profile(courstey runcim.org) 

Last six miles were just a effort to reach the finish line, I still thought I was in sub 3:20 range since I didn't see the pace group pass by, but to my surprise at mile 25 I saw 3:25 pace group I decided to finish with him. At finish he seemed pretty exhausted as well, It was a hard day for pacers too to run a even pace under pretty intense conditions. Interestingly all have made their splits. CIM pacers and 3000 strong volunteers you ROCK! Thankyou folks.

I was pleased with my effort for the initial 18 odd miles, But as the cliche goes "only time that counts is the one at finish".  It did encourage me to work harder for a sub 3:10 in CIM 2013(attempt #3). I don't think I would have done any differently if I ran it again in those conditions, but if I had  a buffer of 5 minutes for BQ then I would have reevaluated my pacing.

Post race I was trying to hook up with Dharmendra, who I was hoping would have got sub 3:10, but due to his watch mishap ended up running 3:10:07, missing his Boston 2014 qualifier by 7s, it was disheartening to hear that, but he seemed to be monk like and was pleased with this effort, I am sure it must have been run of his life. He published a report at his blog, wishing him the best in his next pursuit at Berlin marathon. I can clearly see him doing a sub 3hr marathon soon.

Unfortunately Arun had some breathing issues early on but he continued to brave it on and decided to save himself for another day at half way point. A smart call from a wise man. Inspite of his state he being a good Samaritan helped other dropped runners at the half way tent with hypothermia.  I was glad to finally sync-up with him in bus back to hotel. Meanwhile Rashmi, A and Z were supporting me from home, I was looking forward to get back home.  Also I received flurry of supportive messages from my friends, thanks guys your wishes sailed me through.

This race marks the beginning of more time at Lily macs and off time at CSM gym. For now time to rejuvenate and plan for some new goals for 2013.

Conditions where well captured by this broadcast( (Courtesy Elliot Kawaoka)

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Go for BQ at CIM 2012

Around the same time last year I did a a half marathon as a training run and a decider for marathon goal pace at CIM 2011 and it was a clear indicator I was'nt in shape for a 3:10 so pursued 3:15 instead and voila I was pleased with the results.

Over the past 3 weeks I had 2 very good indicator's for 3:10 goal pace being a possiblity this year
i) Rao's 1200m repeats:
I was able to do this workout 1200X7 @ 6:15 pace pretty comfortably, I felt in great shape that day and encouraged a very positive vibe since then for a sub 3:10

ii) Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5k:
I did this run on Thankgiving Day morning and I was very pleased with the results. After being on road for about 8 days and gaining weight and loosing conditioning a bit, I did'nt have much confidence in my abilities, I was shooting for sub 20min goal and paced accordingly. A large crowd and huge race did help to build up the adrenaline for the race.

It was very well organized race and I am encouraged to make it a Thanksgiving Tradition going forward. I managed to hold myself and run a 6:07 first mile, I would have preffered slower, but fellow runners pulled me for a fast 1st mile, next goal was to not slow down too much and I held a reasonable 6:25, final mile it was about going all out and finishing with a strong kick, I was'nt able to get a fast kick to finish, since there were many 10k and 5k runners at the finish forcing me to run a bit slower but overall quite pleased with final mile of 6:23. Overall time of 19:37 was v encouraging and a PR in this distance. This time indicated a possiblity of a run around 3:10 at CIM.

I would have preffered to do a half marathon as a race predictor as well, but due to travel constraints I was'nt able to get one this year. my training this year was mixed bag, I got very good Aug and part of Sep, but Oct was very weak month, since I got injured right knee due to one of the strength training workouts(Ironic eh!) so had to back off, but last 4 weeks I was able to rampup and log some quality long runs and speed workouts.

Now goal for next few days is to shave off some weight and build a strong core, before the Big day. There is only one goal for the race this year stay with 3:10 pace group and enjoy this fast course.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Post WS and CIM 2012

Wow! what a experience it was to run 2012 Western States and complete in 29:39, for the most parts went as planned, with few surprizes, which is expected for a 100M run, I havnt been able to capture the entire gamut of experience there, need more time to capture this dream come true.

After a much needed 5 week break from any hard running, I resumed serious training towards CIM 2012 with the goal of a BQ(sub 3:10). my training plan will be same as last year with few tweaks. So far Aug was a great base building month, Sep is going to be month of LT runs and mid-week long runs, lets see how it goes !

Friday, June 29, 2012

What next? Chasing Hardrock qualifiers

In pursuit of other interesting running challenges. my goal for next several years is going to be completing all the Hardrock 100 qualifiers. I love running mountain races and here is a list of HR qualifiers I intend to complete down the road. In the interest of having realistic chances of finishing I am skipping Barkely for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Onto holy grail of Trail running: WSER 100

June 23rd, 2012 I will start my first WSER 100M run. Its been a long wait and finally race week is year. my progress can be tracked at ultralive.net #326.

After I started running in 2002, which began as a preparation for Eco-challenge along with my friend Kaveesh, I happened to see a documentary on Western States 100 in CBS. It interested me immensely but didn't dig further on that. After several marathons and shorter Ultra's in 2003 and 2004 I got know more history about WS100 and then enthusiasm to run this event began. I missed a opportunity to volunteer at 2005 WS due to conflicting event, but since then I managed to join this mother of all trail ultras in various capacities.

2006: Volunteered at Michigan Bluff with Rajeev and Rashmi
2007: Not selected in lottery(Qualified at Helen Klien 50M 2006)
          Safety Patrol: Squaw to Robin Flat(a nice account by Rajeev)
          Pacer for Chris Marolf(28:37 finisher): Foresthill to highway 49
2008: Cancelled (Due to fire)
2009: Volunteer at Last Chance (AS mile 43)
          Pacer for Shawn Wallich(27:02hr finisher): Foresthill to finish
2010: Not selected in lottery
          Remote spectator
2011: Remote spectator
2012: Selected in lottery (Qualified at Firetrails 50M 2011)

As a result of various volunteering opportunities over the years I am familiar with the course in entirety, but I will get to experience the grandeur of the event in one single day fully in few more days.  My training for this event has been 100% on target I can't expect anything more, thanks to Rashmi who has been extremely supportive. I had a pretty reasonable heat training over past 3 weeks and I have 3 of my best buddies helping me out along the course; Rajeev Patel, Darshan Thaker and Todd Anderson are pacing me from Foresthill to Finish.

Just few more ticks and the wait ends.. a fascinating journey begins.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Capping off WS100 training

When I started out training, I counted on 9 keys runs and May was the last key month training for WS, but at the same time it would be quite a challenge to get sufficient training runs, due to various family commitments, I couldn't make it to Miwok 100k or Quicksilver 50M which usually is one of the key runs amongst folks training for WS. Instead I converted few shorter runs into a 50M training runs.

i) Ohlone 50k

          Ohlone 50k(Mission Peak to Del Valle, courtesy race website)

This is a classic point to point run starting at Mission peak, Fremont and ending at Del valle regional park, Livermore. This offers fantastic views of east bay hills, plenty of heat training opportunities and lots of climbing. Race climbs about 7800ft in 50k. Since this was my key run for WS, I decided to start at 4am and add a 16m additional miles (Mission peak to Sunol and back) This worked out v well, it gave me some night running and additional 4000ft of climbing.

Then I joined the 50k race at 8am, since it was a 30th yr, it was completed filled up months ahead of time. I added a additional black jacket to add some heat training. As day progressed temps went up to almost mid 80's closer to finish. It was a very productive run, I enjoyed the fabulous views and got some quality training done. Added few extra miles to make it to 49miles in 11:30hrs.

 A mile away from finish(courtesy Joe Swenson)

Dan Marinsik offered me ride to start point, it was great hearing about his Marathon Des Sables, which he finished in great shape. Teh pictures of sand dunes are very inviting, its added to my wishlist for future.

One down and I was looking fwd to another 50M classic run, 5 days later.

ii) WS training run day1(Robinson flat to Driver's flat)
Eevry year WSER board organizes 3 day training weekend on memorial day WE. It's a great opportunity to see 70 miles of WS trail from Robinson flat to Finish at Placer high school over a period of 3 days. Even if one if not part of the race its a fantastic run in the sierra's the views are one of the best in Sierra's(ofcourse JMT and TRT are my favorite).

I was planning to do just day 1 so wanted to get max out of the day. my friend Sandy Baker who has settled in Foresthill recommended adding additional 18miles to day 1 to make it 50miles. That sounded like a great training run and a chance to see Foresthill to Rucky Chucky in daylight, which I would be seeing only during night during the race.

 WS100 coursemap, courtesy WS100.com

Robinson flat to Foresthill was a fun training run, we mainly had 2 big hills. climb up Devils thumb and Michigan Bluff, both were not very tough for the cool conditions, but I am sure it can get pretty tiring on a hot day. I got very good idea about what to expect on race day and kind of splits to shoot for in those sections. I loved running this section. I managed to do in about 6:30hrs.

Sandy was waiting for me at runner check-in at Foresthill(she had done additional 6miles from Michigan bluff earlier). After a brief break to refuel and get additional water for next 18miles, we took off from Foreesthill. Finally it was great to have a friend to run along, Sandy had done this section many times and she shared her tit bits for every section, from FH to Cal1 to Cal 2 to Cal 3 to Rucky Chucky. I got it all dialed in for the race day. Not sure how much I will remember that day but it was great to enjoy this section during daylight. I had  a blast running this 16miles downhill, finally we climbed 2 miles to Drivers flat where Sandy's husband Keith offered us ride back to Foresthill. Thanks Keith it was very productive and memorable run on WS trails. I wouldn't have done this without Sandy's help.

Finally when I look back at my WS training, I got in some really good quality training over the past 5 months, now I need to make sure I am heat trained, well rested and plan logistics for the race weekend. This wouldn't have been possible without R's generous support, It was  a extremely tough for her to stay back with lil A. I am very  contended with my training and I am glad
its over, also capped off May with 300mile month, highest ever since I began running 10yrs back. During this training I released I need to dial down a bit and stay with shorter ultra's for another 2yrs, which would offer better balance and more time with lil A.

WS another 23 days away!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A month of WS 100 training ahead.

Past month was one of the key months in training, at the sametime it was one of the crucial months in Ahana's transition to daycare. That made things at home and training very challenging to say the least, more so for Rashmi.

I had taken 2 weeks paternity timeoff to help Ahana transition to daycare and that worked out very well. She being a tough cookie did very well by end of 2 weeks, she got to know teachers and settled into a predictable routine. That was one less thing to worry about, naturally those weeks were low mileage week, to make things interesting I started painting our garage and that took on forever. Finally by end of month I was done with garage painting, 3 weeks effort spending daily abt 1-2hrs, it was a interesting cross training but I suppose it was bad timing to take up that project.

Getting back to training it was meant to be following 2 long runs
i) Lake Sonoma 50M:
Since rajeev had to travel out of country and darshan decided to dropout of  this race, meant I was driving alone from Santa Clara to Race start at headlberg. It was one long day starting at 2:30am and ending at 11pm.

Race itself was gorgeous, beautiful day, ideal run conditions, trails were pretty muddy in parts due to previous week's rain. I enjoyed every moment of it. I crossed the finish in 10:46, I was happy with the effort. After some catching up with Greg, Julian, Nattu and Karen, I drove back home. I couldn't believe winner Dakota Jones ran a CR of 6:21!

On the home front my wife endured another kind of Ultra, Lil A was down with cold and was not taking any food, which made for a very stressful day for her. I was guilty of doing this race, next time I will stay local.

ii) Ruth Anderson 100k:
Due to previous week's events I decided to shorten the run to Ruh Anderson 50k and got few bonus miles before the race making it a good long run of 40miles and added 10miles the next day. It was fun running around circles, met tons of ultrarunning friends. I love this race.

As usual Rajeev Patel and team organized a fantastic race, I wish I could go longer but had to get back home to spend time with lil A, who had another rough day at home. I was glad to be with R.

With 2 runs under the belt, I felt much better w.r.t my prep for WS, incidentally Rajeev planned a  14hr+ night training run for his GUCR 145, and I squeezed in another bonus run(8hrs) to give him some company and get some night running in. It was fun night chatting about so many races and plans ahead. He did great getting about 55miles done.

Going forward I am counting on 2 more runs for May and a big training month, I am hoping to cross 275 miles for this month. Also time to start my heat training. my plans for this month
- Ohlone 50k(+ bonus 19miles)
- WS training run day 1 (Robinson flat to Ruck Chucky, 50mi run)

I hope May is less hectic than April.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CIM 2011: A step away from BQ

CIM 2011
Dec 4th , 2011

CIM has been a very special race since 2003, it has always pleased me with better results. I love the course, its gentle rollers starting from Folsom almost until mile 15, and from then on its a gradual downhill, one can shuffle and get consistent pace to finish. It was a easy decision for me to choose this as the race to run a Boston qualifier(BQ).

Back in May, just before our daughter Ahana was born, I was pondering over a challenging goal, one which would motivate me to train during odd hours and also not spend too much time on trails(basically ultra's where out of question). BQ seemed like a interesting goal for a race 7 months ahead. starting 2013 for my AG it is 3:10. Considering my PR was 3:38 in 2010 CIM, I wasn't too confident going forward with that goal, but that was the motivation to go out and log quality training miles.

Once I set my mind on that goal I decided to plan my training schedule, after perusing various articles and books I decided to train based on Pete Ptitzinger's 55 mpw training schedule. my training started in Aug 2011.(Ahana was  2 months old :)).

Brief highlights of my training months were:
Aug: Base building week running about 40mpw

Sep: mainly planned to run lactate threshold workouts(tempo) and 45 mpw, but due to my eye surgery and various other commitments I lost 3 weeks of training , but got a good 10k race(42:40).

Oct: Best month of the lot, 50mpw and a bonus 50M finish(10:34hrs) which was my qualifier for 2012 WS 100. This month I mainly focussed on doing lactate threshold workouts(tempo) and semi-hard 18/20 mile runs.

Nov: 2nd great month training, I was able to train 55mpw and additionally logged good speed workouts. I was able to run a decent half marathon (1:35:30) which pretty much indicated I wasn't prepared for 3:10 with CIM 4 weeks away, instead 3:15 seemed plausible goal. There was no more confusion in my mind, I decided to drop 3:10 and instead chase 3:15.

Race day:
I was supposed to drive to Sacramento with Goutham and Kiran, but both decided to drop due to various commitments. Another friend from work Josh decided to pace me the 2nd half. He did indicate he had a caught a stomach bug so might have to drop as well. Finally I convinced my dad to join me on the ride to Sacramento, we had a nice dinner at his fav place in a Thai restaurant. After the usual night routine, I slept early. I got a good 4 hr sleep, before I woke up at 3 am to prep for the race.

As I was laying out my stuff I realized I hadn't packed my HR monitor and GPS watch, that was some disappointment for me, since I had trained all along with these gadgets and had planned to run a even race based on my heart rate. Oh well I quickly convinced myself to not bother too much about gadgets. I had very good training under me all I had to do was a good 3hr+ run. I decided to stay with 3:15 group, I didn't have any choice, pacing was not my problem now.

       goal pace for the day

Race conditions were perfect, I think it was in early 60's and no rain predicted. After the race morning ritual I stayed behind 3:15 pacer. As the race progressed I stayed about 100yards behind and seemed like a good pace to hold. Initial miles flew by, pace seemed right and was in the groove 5 miles into the race, I was looking fwd to meeting Josh at half way mark, and I stayed right on the road in anticipation of seeing him. I caught his green top, he jumped into the race with me, due to his stomach bug it took few miles to settle in, soon he settled into the pace and vocationally chatted about the race and plans ahead.

Crossed half-way in 1:37:40, felt great but marathon feels good until 22 and I was'nt sure if I can sustain the pace, but it felt easy breathing wise.  One aspect of CIM course is it is rolling untill mile 15 and from then on its a gradual downhill, so if paced right, 2nd half feels slightly easier. 

                         CIM Course profile (courstesy runcim.org)

As I crossed mile 20 I told Josh we can increase the pace after mile 22, but as we approached mile 22 I was just holding that pace, didnt want to break out that time, and instead just hung in there with the pacer. Last 2 miles runs through downtown Sacramento and as I crossed each block I could see myself crossing in sub 3:15, I was still enjoying my run, my muscles, legs, arms , heart and mind all were working in unison and the feeling was just like a perfectly oiled machine.

I was 10 yards behind when 3:15 pacer Peter Kelleher   he did such a fine job, I was glad my gadgets weren't with me.  Also it was great to run with Josh he kept me upbeat during the 2nd half of the race and kept me off of thinking about my splits, which btw turned out to be even(Thanks to Peter).

Josh, myself and Dad(at finish)

Wow! finally sub 3:15 a pace which I didn't think it was in my range, it just opened up a range of possibilities for other races ahead.  It was one of the best race day ever(CIM gets better each passing year).  After the race I just went to a corner and closed my eyes and just enjoyed the moment, usually I am always in looking forward mode and start deciding about my next race, but this time it was different, I was in the moment and as I was walking towards the food section,  I saw past 5 months in a flash: my training, running in groggy state after putting Ahana to bed,  odd 20miler run done in 3 different segments, efforts to get my weight down, balancing work,life and training, all seemed to have worked right into the plan.

Thanks to Rashmi and Ahana for all their support,  and ofcourse Zoey who has been my constant weekday run partner. I did try to keep my training not effect our lives but it did involve huge support from them.

Some articles which helped in planning my training:

Very resourceful site which lists different workouts based on pace of a given race.

4. Advanced Marathoning
Highly recommend this book.

5. Pete Pfitzinger's 55mpw Training Plan
Trained mostly based on this schedule.

CIM 2012: it will be another attempt at BQ and this time it is sub 3:10.

Aspects which I think contributed towards a faster time by about 55 secs per mile.
1) Training (contributed 20 secs per mile) :  
     i)  Pete's 55mpw training plan.
     ii) 12 weeks training consisting of lactate threshold workouts, race specific speed workouts(as listed by mcmillan's website for target goal pace)

2) Lighter shoe (contributed 10 secs per mile):
   I trained few of my long runs in 6 oz shoe Merrel Trail glove, I am not a proponent of barefoot running or minimalist shoes, but this shoe felt GREAT, running has been so much fun in these shoes. my calf muscles are much sore after long runs, but during runs, I love every step of it. I decided to run the race in them during the last week and It worked great.

3) Loosing weight (contributed 15 secs per mile):
  Based on the plan suggested by Racing weight, I found my ideal racing weight to be around sub 140 and <9% body fat seemed achievable. I ended up loosing about 9lbs for this race to 138lbs.

4) Perfect weather and pacing (contributed 10 secs per mile):
   Weather did play a big role, I love running in 60's and CIM was just that. pacer did a great job in holding us back during 1st half and we ran a even race.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Half way into WS 100 training.

This month marks halfway into my WS 100 training which began in Jan 1st week, so far its been excellent. Thanks to R who has been very supportive of my training, infact she keeps repeating the mantra "DNF nahi vens"(I don't want DNF), keeps me honest with my training.

So far my monthly training plan was 200+ miles for Jan and Feb and about 230+ for Mar, and I was able to log required training with 6 good quality long runs ranging from 25 to 35miles. Going forward I am counting on following 5 runs to take me next level and have a good WS 100 experience, without rocking my family life too much.


6hr Night Run (May 5th)

Going forward Apr might be challenging as we won't have help from my folks, lil A will be in her new daycare routine, we need to see how our new "gang of 4" turns out to be, to help in initial transition I am off for 2 weeks in April, hopefully that will be of some help to lil A and our life in general.

May last 2 weeks again will be lot of jugging, with family visiting us, I want to make sufficient travel plans and spend some quality time with them as well. Training wise will take 1 long run at time, hopefully I can log the rest of them as planned.