Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Book snippet: Spark

Spark 

The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
BY JOHN J. RATEY, M.D.

Few Snippets from the book


“To keep our brains at peak performance, our bodies need to work hard. In Spark, I’ll demonstrate how and why physical activity is crucial to the way we think and feel. I’ll explain the science of how exercise cues the building blocks of learning in the brain; how it affects mood, anxiety, and attention; how it guards against stress and reverses some of the effects of aging in the brain; and how in women it can help stave off the sometimes tumultuous effects of hormonal changes. I’m not talking about the fuzzy notion of runner’s high. I’m not talking about a notion at all. These are tangible changes, measured in lab rats and identified in people.”


“In Naperville, Illinois, gym class has transformed the student body of nineteen thousand into perhaps the fittest in the nation. Among one entire class of sophomores, only 3 percent were overweight, versus the national average of 30 percent. What’s more surprising — stunning — is that the program has also turned those students into some of the smartest in the nation. In 1999 Naperville’s eighth graders were among some 230,000 students from around the world who took an international standards test called TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), which evaluates knowledge of math and science. In recent years, students in China, Japan, and Singapore have outpaced American kids in these crucial subjects, but Naperville is the conspicuous exception: when its students took the TIMSS, they finished sixth in math and first in the world in science. As politicians and pundits sound the alarm about faltering education in the United States, and about our students being ill-equipped to succeed in today’s technologydriven economy, Naperville stands out as an extraordinary bit of good news.”

“A notable experiment in 2007 showed that cognitive flexibility improves after just one thirtyfive-minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. The forty adults in the study (age fifty to sixty-four) were asked to rattle off alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper — it’s meant for reading, but it can be used to wrap fish, line a birdcage, pack dishes, and so forth. Half of them watched a movie and the other half exercised, and they were tested before the session, immediately after, and again twenty minutes later. The movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one workout. Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high-performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs. So if you have an important afternoon brainstorming session scheduled, going for a short, intense run during lunchtime is a smart idea.”

“One of the best examples is a landmark research project from the Human Population Laboratory in Berkeley called the Alameda County Study. Researchers tracked 8,023 people for twenty-six years, surveying them about a number of factors related to lifestyle habits and healthiness starting in 1965. They checked back in with the participants in 1974 and in 1983. Of all the people with no signs of depression at the beginning, those who became inactive over the next nine years were 1.5 times more likely to have depression by 1983 than their active counterparts. On the other hand, those who were inactive to begin with but increased their level of activity by the first interval were no more likely to be depressed by 1983 than those who were active to begin with. In other words, changing your exercise habits changes your risk for depression.”

“Duscha is an expert in cardiovascular health, but he says the same thing almost every neuroscientist cited in these pages has said: “A little is good, and more is better.” The best, however, based on everything I’ve read and seen, would be to do some form of aerobic activity six days a week, for forty-five minutes to an hour. Four of those days should be on the longer side, at moderate intensity, and two on the shorter side, at high intensity. And while there’s conflicting evidence about whether high-intensity activity, which can force your body into anaerobic metabolism, impacts thinking and mood, it clearly releases some of the important growth factors from the body that build up the brain. So, on the shorter, high-intensity days, include some form of strength or resistance training. These days should not be back to back; your body and brain need recovery time to grow after high-intensity days. In total, I’m talking about committing six hours a week to your brain. That works out to 5 percent of your waking hours.”

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Fat Dog 120m: A run through Canadian Cascades

Fat Dog 120M
Aug 11-13th, 2017
British Columbia, Canada


Fat Dog 120M run is a point to point run from  Keremeos in Cathedral Provincial Park to Lightining Lake, Manning Provincial Park, BC, Canada. With a generous cutoff of 48hrs to complete the race. The course boasts climb as much as everest 8673 metres (28500ft).

I had this race in my radar since Chihping posted one of his race videos and raved this course. I had also spoken to few other runners raved highly of the vent organization, challenge and course.

Two fantastic videos by Project Talaria of Fat Dog 2013 and 2014 convinced me, this was a must do for 2017. my commitment to do this was firm after running Cascades 100m in 2016, I just loved running through evergreens (a fantastic narration by Ginger Runner) and waned to experience the Canadian side of Cascades aka Fat Dog 120m. I tried to convince my friend Rajeev Char as well, but he stuck to his first love Ironman and ended up finish Ironman Whistler, BC in the same timeframe.

I chatted briefly about this race with John Brooks as well who had paced one of his friend Shane Bryant in 2016,  and expressed his interest to join as well.


Training:
Going by the elevation gain, length of course it was clear this race was a magnitude tougher than most mountain 100m runs in US, and race guide rightly suggested it is tougher than Cascades and Wasatch. In my own experience this was tougher thans Cascades 100 by atleast 25%.

                                                 Fat dog 120m elevation profile.

As a result I decided to add TRT 100m as part of ramp up plan for this race. I had my usual ramp up from Jan to Jun,  starting with weekend runs of 20m and ramping up to 50M runs twice by end of Jun. I also targeted to climb about 40K ft in may and june. Set of races which helped in ramping up to this race were MUC 50m, Quicksilver 100k and SF 12hr night run.

For the most part I was able to accomplish that, I had fantastic time training with Bipul who was also training for TRT 100m, having a buddy with similar goals motivated each other and made it easier to show up at start point at ungodly times :).

We were really looking forward to TRT 100. I DNF'ed TRT 100 (63miles) captured at report.

Pre-Race:

Bay area had good presence at Fat Dog, we had a team of  3 running Fat Dog:
- Shane Bryant returning after his 2016 finish.
- Chuck Amital and myself were rookies tasting fat dog.

We had a good team of folks helping us as well. John Brooks (crew extraordinaire), Laura (Shane's girl friend, crew and pacer), Amital Family (Karen,  Jesse, Eden) and James (Chuck's pacer). Apart from us Mark Tanaka was running as well after his fantastic Hardrock 100 finish about a month prior.

Team Fat Dog 120

As the race grew closer, there was some uncertainty around air quality around Okanaga county due to fire in those sections. Race director (Heather Macdonald) kept us updated, but finally 2 days prior to race she decide to continue with race and let runners decide to drop out of the race if they felt conditions weren't conducive enough. As for me I was committed to running this race.

Pre-Race trips:
Shane, Laura, John and myself had planned fly to Seattle and drive up to race briefing on Thursday. Prior to that we took advantage of the scenic drive leading up to manning park. Shane, Laura had planned fantastic detours to


Posted some Pictures from these trips.

Race Day:

Instead of listing blow by blow events of the day, I decided to list few keys moments of this race.

1. I was in gratitude for being at the start line and realizing how epic this event is going to be.  specially my wife Rashmi helped me get a good training cycle with all other commitments.
Shane, Chuck and myself @ start 

2. 1st section from Kermeros to Ashnola with Chuck, as he vividly described his Grand canyon rim to rim to rim adventure earlier in the spring, miles flew by.

                                                Chuck nicely cruising along to Ashnola

3. I was thrilled to see our support team at Ashnola and laughed as my Salmon 12S pack zipper broke  apart but didn't let bother me.  As I left Mile 18 Ashnola AS, I started cramping pretty soon on my way up Trapper AS, it was bad enough, I had decided to drop at Trapper, since I was moving pretty slow at  55 minute mile and didn't expect to make cutoff as early as  Bonneville (Mile 40), my hopes of catching Chuck was lost as well.
                                                             Ashnola River
4. after my short conversation to drop at Trapper AS, AS captain nicely dissuaded and encouraged me to continue to next AS as getting ride to Bonnevier would be easier (he lied :)), and so slowly but surely.. I made up ground and slowly started working towards reaching Bonnevier AS 40 mins ahead of cutoff at 12:40am (Chuck had left 40mins prior), great to see Amital family again, who waited for me to arrive. John /Laura had kept coffee and pizza for me at that AS. From that point on I was just running from AS to AS.

5. Aid stations from Bonnevier(mi 42) to Cayuse Flats (mi 73) were all remote and quite minimal as well, due to fire concerns they didn't have any hot food as well, this was very conveyed by Race director so we expected nothing much. I was lucky to rely on Tailwind during this section coz, all I needed was water and I had enough tailwind to refuel myself pretty well. This was a good exercise in self sufficiency. This was also the section when I hooked up with fellow runner Ken from Vancouver Island, it was his 1st Fat Dog as well and we continued on as a team until the finish. Incidentally sleep depravation didn't bother the 1st night I relied on double dose of Vivarin couple a times and that kept me awake until day break at Heather AS (Mi 53)
Ken enjoying the serenity between cayuse flats and cascades

                                   Remote Nicomen AS (mi 62), volunteers hike about 25k with supplies.



6. Getting to Nicomen was a good relief as that indicated beginning of a 35+ miles of downhill and flattish sections to Skyline AS (mi 99). Also it was about half way point, about 23hrs into race, we had another 1 day's work ahead :).

7. As expected running upto Cascades AS (mi 78) was relatively easy terrain and miles flew by fast enough, it was 2nd day time as well so we were relatively less tired. one of the favourite section of the race was  running by skagit river. I could never get tired of it.

8. At cascades mi 78, I bumped into Chuck and family again, he was having a issues with a lean so wasn't able to focus on the trail, he chose to fight another day, It was a unfortunate but I am sure he will come back stronger in future years. He has a very disciplined approach towards his training and races.

9. Shawatum AS to Skyline AS is a section filled with monster bugs, terrain is quite OK, but mosquito bites makes it relentless effort for a good 90 minutes. finally we reached skyline at 11:30pm about 90minutes ahead of 1am cutoff, we had about 11hrs to finish last 20 miles and we ended up taking 9.5hrs. AS was manned by friend Karl Jensen and team of very experienced volunteers, I had many servings of Avocado quesadillas, shakes, after getting extra supplies for 2nd night ahead, we carried on. I should mention All this while Ken was patient with my extended times at aid stations, he was waiting for me without pressing, I am grateful to his support.  (Thanks Karl for all help at Skyline)

10. Skyline to Camp mowich a .8.6 mi climb to top of the ridge, last steep climb of the race and this was the section when Ken got into zone and pulled us along he was very focussed and hardly took any break, that helped us get well within the cutoffs.  This was also the section when it started to drizzle, which totally woke me up and I enjoyed the moment of feeling vulnerable in the elements as I rushing to get all the appropriate gear. I was soaking the moment and enjoyed being on the ridge, the solitude and early dawn running.

                                              Enjoying big mountains, big vistas




11. After a brief break at Camp mowich we continued onto to running on ridge line and several false summits eventually reached the top, followed by a steep 8 mile descent to lightning lake. James came ran up to meet us about 2 miles from finish, that helped was with the feel for the finish.
                                                 We finished in 46:42hrs


This couldn't have been possible without constant support from Rashmi, Ahana and Zoey. I admit my yearly crazy adventures has disrupted their schedules many times, I am commited to make up rest of the year. I also enjoyed my training with Bipul this year, hope to accomplish many more adventures together in future.

How's FatDog 120m different from other US 100s?
(except Hardrock 100m)
1. As previous co-RD Peter said course is "huge mountains, huge vistas and huge water", scale bigger than most 100s I have seen.
2. Running with a pretty heavy pack,  race has a good list of mandatory gear and carrying water for long sections makes pack about 7-9lbs.
3. Some of Aid stations are quite remote and minimal so one has to be prepared to self sufficient and assume mostly water in AS between 41-73miles.
4. Last 20 miles with 7000ft climb, makes this race a good 7-9hrs longer than most mountain 100s.



Fat Dog support team 
John Brooks:     who crewed us right from seattle to race and back; helped us at many AS.
Laura:                helped plan pre race trips, accomodation and crewed at most places.
Amital Family:  every smiling crew helping us throughout the race.
(Karen, Eden, Jesse):
James:               cheering, crewing and pacing us.

Ofcourse fellow runners Chuck, Shan and Ken were a vital part of this journey, wouldn't have been possible without them. I hope to be part of their journey sometime in near future.

Thankful to Mountain Madness and all volunteers at this fantastic race, highly recommend this adventure.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Training for Fat Dog 120m

my training plan for fat dog 120m was mainly centered around running few big races and training runs, along with few back to back runs, ending with a high mileage weeks in May, Jun and July.

I had following races as ramp up plan for the race, my plans aligned very well with Bipul as well . he was running TRT 100 in July.

Mar: MUC 50m race (13hrs)

Apr: Quad MP run (9hrs)

May: Qs 100k race (14:45hrs)

Jun: PCTR SF 12hr run (50 miles), Mt Rose 40m run (10hrs)

Jul: TRT 100m race (going back after 10years) (DNF @ 62m)

Aug 11th: Fat Dog 120M (Finished in 46:40hrs)

Fat dog claimed to have about 28000ft of climb over 120 miles, so my focus was mainly putting as much elevation gain as possible in months leading up to the race, so my goals of running about 40K gain and 200 miles in may and jun were accomplished.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

TRT 100 DNF

TRT 100
Jul 15th, 2017

Bipul and myself drove on friday morning for TRT race checkin and race briefing. We had a good drive leading to race , made up for the pre-race just in time and after meeting fellow runners, Sandy Baker, CJ, Karl Jensen, we headed to pre-race dinner.

1st 50M loop went  little too fast, I ended up doing in about 13:20, which was much faster than my planned pace, I felt the fatigue at turn around my friend Gautam was planning to pace for next 30 miles until Diamond peak. I made a mistake of not refueling well at 50M AS, and hurried up with night gear and slow hike towards Hobart, not sure what happened but pretty soon I hit the wall and Hobart section seemed much longer than expected, I took a nap break at Hobart, and continued onto to Tunnel, by this time my sleep exhaustion was getting worse and on top of it I wasn't fueling enough, Gautam encouraged me to keep moving but I was mentally lost, made my mind to drop at Tunnel. I came across another friend Chuck who was pacing one of his buddies, he helped me with some coffee beans.

As we reached Tunnel in about 6 hrs for 12 miles, I was out of it, AS captains tried to discourage me from dropping but I had checked out of the race and dropped out, looking back I lost the battle with my demons. Gautam and myself got ride to Diamond peak where we waited for Bipul (mi 80m), before heading to his house to refresh and turn back at finish. I was thrilled to see Bipul finish strong in about 33hrs.

DNF at TRT put a big dent in my Fat Dog plans, that totally questioned my ability to finish much  tougher race, I had to introspect on my TRT DNF and try to fix the issue.  my theory was I wasn't consuming enough calories during the evening hours and it along with fatigue intensified my sleep deprivation  and once it  gets worse I loose ability to track my calories as well. It becomes a circular loop and only way out of that is to stay on top of calories.

I decided to try other options apart from gels, after some research I decided on Tailwind nutrition which had rave reviews, I took up their challenge package and tried on couple of runs before Fat Dog. This supplement provided vital in my completion in a race like Fat Dog with remote Aid stations and minimal support at some of the AS as well.

Monday, May 15, 2017

9th Quicksilver 100k 2017

my favorite local race with lots of elevation gain and fantastic views, I never get tired of getting back to this race, very well organized by QRC and John Brooks.

Due to trail work around bald mountain sections trail was diverted to kennedy trail which added about 1000ft extra, made the finish much sweeter.

I started struggling pretty early on in this race, maybe due to too much ensure consumption and tummy took a toll with many unplanned breaks. Eventually after avoiding ensure for rest of the race, my tummy settled around mile 40 and I had a pretty decent 20 miles of running  chatting with Pavan and many other fellow runners.

Eventually finished in 14:45hrs and was thrilled to see my folks at finish.

Looking forward to 10th running in 2018.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Upcoming Quicksilver 100k 2017




Quicksilver 100k course map



                                                Elevation profile of 100k course


On the verge of starting another year of running at Quicksilver county park. Two races 100k and 50k superbly organized by my friends at Quicksilver Running Club. This will be my 11th year at this race either as runner or volunteer.

There are some course changes due to closure of baldy mountain sections, as a result we will be getting more fun by running down kennedy trail (8 mile section with 1000ft extra), thus covering a good portion of 34 miles in Sierra Azul open space preserve.

Needless to say I am really looking forward to this day, its my favorite race weekend and first thing I like to do when the registration opens during Dec 2nd week.  Life has been mostly good this year so far, I have been able to get a fair bit of hill training and some good downhill running as well as, so more or less I feel ready for this race. One of my goals for the year is try to run a more even paced race, 2nd half has been much slower in past, I want to correct that by running 1st half about 20 mins slower, and run about 7 hrs each if possible, sub 14 would be a bonus.

This year many friends are back to this yearly tradition, Nattu, Karen, Satpal, Julian, Chihping etc. Anil Chandran is taking on his first 100k this weekend. Bipul is back to training for Tahoe 100 doing a series of 50ks over next few weeks,  Hart is running another 50k at Quicksilver. Wishing them all a great day ahead.

Overall goal, enjoy the course and camaraderie of fellow runners and hear their stories so far and rest of the year.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Looking back into 2016

Running and Outdoor adventure wise, it was a quite a year. To start of the year I had this 5 day winter mountaineering seminar organized by AAI. Rashmi suggested as part of turning 40 I should go ahead with a week's adventure of my own.

That was interesting 5 days learning lot of new skills and managing to get my first frost nip in the winters of Eastern Sierra. That trip got me lot of fun memories and some good stories to tell. Apart from that it brought me a good 4 weeks downtime due to injured Toe which got complicated due to a blood blister.

During Feb, I got to know I got into Cascades 100 in August and from that point on that was my main focus for the year, also I wanted to run a much better race at Quicksilver 100k. So I managed to cram in lot of hill runs between the month of Feb-Apr with 2 really good weekend runs at mission peak.

As part of prep for Quicksilver did a rampup race MUC 50M, a classic 50m course which was in my radar for quite sometime. I chose to stick with that race for 2017 as well.

Come May I was ready for Quicksilver, I paced quite well and ran within myself for most of the 40miles.  When I got back to mockingbird AS I was slowly hitting the wall, but managed to hang in there for next 10 miles, once I hit Tina's den AS it was home ground and much familiar territory, ended up finishing in 14:15, was planning on a sub 14, but something to strive for in 2017.

Apart from Quicksilver 100, another fun run we(Bipul and Siva) planned was a 100k run from White wolf to Toulemne meadows and back. It was a very ambitious run, it didn't go as planned Bipul got hurt due to a root and rolled his ankle and abandoned early, I was falling behind on water and started cramping and slowing so cut short my run to 50M in 20hrs and Siva managed to do 42M in 14hrs and did his first adventure run in style. It's surely a place to go back again. I am glad got a chance to try that atleast and run as much as we could.

From that point on it was all focussed training for Cascades 100m, training went really well, I had a great time and managed to finish in 33:51hrs.

Apart from this R did a 2 day walk with her friends Avon Breast Cancer walk covering 39 miles.

As a bonus ran some unplanned events as well SJ Rock N Roll surprising myself with a 1:35 and Bangalore ultra running about 75K in 10 odd hrs, (a 24hr event). Finally capped the year with a 4:10hr marathon at CIM #8 accomplished.

Overall a pretty solid year logging about 2000+ miles, including a 5 week trip with India with A and Rush. A had great year of learning at School and with her ST.


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Anchor race for 2017

As I was writing this blog on race acting as a anchor for life, I cam across this excerpt by Ultrarunning magazine's publisher Karl Hoagland in Jan/Feb's edition.

"When selected at an ultra lottery your whole life gets a new focus – you are alive in a new way and something essential deep inside of you is turned on."

In same magazine issue Errol "Rocket" Jones has nice distinction between training and running

"Training is a discipline; running is an act. If you want to achieve your ultra goals in 2017, go out and do some training, not just some running."

This aptly captures my sentiments.

Anchor race: a race one which anchors your life, it keeps your honest in your training and life. Its a goal which nudges you when going gets tough, goal which encourages you to train hard during your weakest of times, clarifies priorities and focusses attention to what matters most.

Last year Cascades 100m worked very well as anchor race and kept me honest with my training, this year so far I have two main goals finish sub 30hrs at TRT 100 in July 10 years after I started running 100s in 2007  and finish Fatdog 120 in August, and I know Fatdog 120 will turnout to be my anchor for the year both running wise and in life in general.

I hope to make sincere efforts to train hard and get to start line in best possible shape.  Lets see how life shapes up in 2017.

Races 2017


Jan  14th: Skyline 50k (Sat, Fatass Training run)  (8-4pm)

Feb 12th(Sun, Fatass Training run): Los gatos 50k (8-3pm)

Mar: 11th Race MUC 50m (FULL Day)

Apr Weekend 23rd, RA (RD), 29th Charleston Marathon (1 Day)

May: 13th QS 100k (FULL Day)

Jun: 10th Nuts 100khttps://gobeyondracing.com/races/nut-100k/ Oregon Trip?  (1.5 Weekend)

Jul: 15th-16th TRT 100m 10th anniv (Weekend Trip)

Aug: 11th Fat Dog 120m , Canada Trip??  4 Day Trip.

Dec: CIM