Saturday, January 21, 2012

China by John Keay...

...was added to the now almost static collection, courtesy of a coupon from Crossword due to some prize I won while running! Yeah, now you get book coupons while running!

Now to go and read it

Monday, January 16, 2012

Books read & other interesting things on my train trip to Mumbai

Ok, fine, I didn't exactly read The Burma Chronicles by Guy DeLisle on the train but while I was packing, but WTH... It is a lovely read and has great sketching. I recommend it strongly and will give Vaish a hug for lending her book to me.

I also managed to read (on the train) The map that changed the world by Simon Winchester (who is now amongst my favourite authors) about William Smith, whose incredible story is inspiring, funny, poignant by turns. For someone who realized geology can be so interesting only due to the attention bestowed on it by Bill Bryson in his book, William Smith's story is an eye-opener. Fantastic read.

Am also finishing Adil Jussawalla's Trying to Say Goodbye (poetry collection) thanks to my man, Jerry, who got me a signed copy (Woo hoo!). Nice read if you like poetry. Nice read, even if you don't. Not a bad book to start reading poetry anyways.

And finally, Six Impossible Things before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert moves off my "Books I am currently reading" list after spending some two years on it! Extremely smooth writing and convincing arguments by the author. Must read! For those who find Dawkins' a little too in-your-face and hence perhaps not very readable, Wolpert presents a much smoother & hence better digestible stance on why we believe what we believe, how we develop those beliefs, etc.

I guess one of the cooler experiences on this trip was to meet this 60-yr old priest who solves the Rubik's cube in less than 3 minutes on my way back. He gave multiple demos of the same :) And he is quite tech-savvy too.

Now, to finish off the Honourable Company sometime soon...

Mumbai Marathon 2012

What a difference a year makes!

Last year around this time of the year, I was pining for a sub-4 finish and ended up 5 mins outside 4 hours and was quite pleased since I was making steady progress towards my goal.

This year, I set my PB for a marathon in India and I am far from pleased.

Lets look at some data first.

My goal for this year was to pace my running buddy, Bhasker to a 3:45 finish. Nothing fancy but a good challenge given Mumbai's conditions. My PB for a marathon is 3:09:46. My PB for 20 miles is around 2:20-2:21. So I thought hitting 20 miles in 2:51 which was our target pace was doable. I was right on that account.

Our targets were 21K in 1:48-1:49, 35K in 3:08-3:09. I did exceedingly well on these intermediate targets. In fact, I did so well that I left the man I was supposed to pace, behind at around the 23km mark!!! I hit the HM mark in 1:48 and the 35K mark also around 3:08. So far so good.

I have alluded to my glute injury first sustained during my BQ attempt in the past. I was quite anxious about whether it would trouble me during this race. It hadn't till that point although at several points I felt a pull in the arch of my left foot due to the hamstring and quadriceps getting pulled due to the pain in my glutes. At around the 33K mark, both my quadriceps felt like lead. But I had exactly 54 mins for the last 10K, 42 mins for the last 7K and that fit well into Bhasker's plan to leave 42 min for the last 7K. So I kept pushing through pain.

While my mins/mile kept climbing, I thought I should get as close as possible to 3:45 even if I missed it. At the 24 mile mark, I had run for 3:25 (exactly like I had in my training) and had 20 mins for 2.2 miles. I contemplated pulling out of the race at this point since I had not achieved my objective of pacing Bhasker anyways and I had excruciating pain each time I lifted my legs. So I stopped lifting them. And this is when quite a few of my running buddies from Bangalore passed me. While they muttered encouragement, there was no way I could describe my pain to any of them. In fact Bhasker who had caught up b/w the 35-36K mark pulled ahead of me sometime here.

So I began just counting step after painful step. When I neared the last 1km left mark, there were just too many people from the half marathon and other races heading to the finish. Since I had no energy to even ask people to make way, I began walking rather than run and stop. After I saw the 500m left mark, I noticed that the full marathon guys were running in a separate channel next to me, but beyond a divider. I had to look for an opening in the divider since my quads were too weak for me to lift them and jump over.

I did manage something of a running finish to finish in 3:54:21 but for a distance of 26.55 miles. Surely that last misdirection must have cost me about 30 seconds+50 m or so, but it is not like I would be happier with that. 3:45 was missed and I was disappointed anyways. And more so by the fact that I couldn't hold my pace for just 2.2 miles more. I took around 28-29 mins to cover that, which means I lost most of my pace only then.

Once I finished, I went to the medical tent for some help but an ice-pack and some spray provided little relief. And Procam's messed up finish line leading up to the medal collection left you wondering if this is the same team which has done India's premier race for 8 other years! I even thought of ditching the medal this time but then decided against sulking.

I am mostly bewildered by why my quads are so shot since I neither did hills too close to the race nor did something in my prep show a weakness in quads. If anything, my hamstrings should have gotten pulled and they stayed ok. And I had done all my miles.
I had done both a 22 & a 24 miler right on target pace although I had not done 1:48-1:49 for those runs. I had run them as steady runs. In this case, I chased that pacing pattern since we had predecided that we wanted a buffer for the last 7K, based on our history. And I would love to think I am better than being pooped by a 1:48 pace for a half now. My pre-race nutrition was quite good too unless eating an extra apple for breakfast screws your quads! I had 2 GU gels during the race and enough water. My post-race pee bears me out. So no hydration issue either although I had mild nausea due to marginal overhydration for about 30 mins post-race.
This requires a little digging, but for now, I am happy to just lie back and chill out.

And thanks to Harini for that awesome coffee, without which I would not have started the race. Thanks to Sacheendran for the company at Soam for my first post-race brunch. Thanks to VVS & KCP for that amazing lunch at Oh Calcutta! Jaggery Icecream rocks.

If someone in Mumbai finds an RFL running jersey in a taxi, you know whom to contact :(

Congratulations to several members of the BHUKMP gang who set PBs in such a tough race (you are all certified nuts now). I will still pick what I call "sissy" races (cold, flat courses) to set mine :) Congrats also to friends elsewhere like Srinath (who smashed through the half in 1:27 or so). Commiserations to some other friends who had ordinary days and some who didn't make it to the starting line for various reasons.

The BIG & good news for the day however came in the form of my trainees both smashing through their races for PBs. Guess I did a better job of coaching!

Keep running!
Update: Thanks to comments from observant bloggers, I made corrections as required above

Friday, January 06, 2012

what you should tell your children about today's match

Too often, we whine (ok, I whine! you whine too!) about India's utter lack of nerve in standing up to a daunting task or being diffident in their chase. And that is not without reason. Most of the subcontinent teams usually do the Goran equivalent in cricket. Destroy the opposition on one day a la Sehwag or be devastated so badly that the fans think twice before buying tickets for their next match.

Today's performance was such a welcome change in this regard. 3 of India's batsmen (Gambhir, Sachin and Laxman) played such amazing knocks that I would be delighted to show my kids (and yours) this chase as an excellent way to play the game. The shots by Laxman and Sachin were so outstanding off such good bowling that I have no hesitation in saying that very few Indian chases/attempts to save the match (at least in close to 2 decades of watching India play) would be anywhere close. For lack of anything better as an expression to sum this up, India chased this the "Brian Lara" way. Absolute style and talent shown fearlessly (ok, fine, except for Sachin's dismissal). In any other game or a first innings, this would be potentially match-winning or setting up one such. We were just hampered by one magnificent performance by the Aussies in the first innings.

But it is ok.

One can sleep in peace today having seen our heroes (at least some of them) play a beautiful game. You win some and lose some.
And of course Ashwin must be gutted. What a lovely start to his career!

Look at this way. Pattinson is out for the next match. Sehwag must be raging inside and Rahul will come good once in the next 4 innings. Australia is not flawless. In fact they were only just trying to pick up their pants before we decided to do them a favour by sucking till this innings. They dropped enough catches and their bowlers are not unplayable. We will go to WACA but Sehwag does not even know what a good or bad pitch is. So he shouldn't care. And people like Nathan Lyon can be destroyed when there aren't 3 fast bowlers who have done the damage. So who will bowl us out? Hussey and Clarke?

I am willing to bet that India can still turn this series around.

I am somewhat emotional at seeing Laxman & Sachin bat so beautifully. I have never been so happy seeing a losing team playing. If this is the way to lose, I am ok if we get beaten in this series 4-0. It means that Australia will need to play better than us for 4 more innings. That is unlikely to happen.

Come on India!

P.S. And drop Kohli! Let him take that finger and shove it you know where. I am ok if he is shunted for a while and comes back as another "Ganguly". Look at what Ganguly did in his 2nd outing. May do Kohli a world of good to make his wicket count. And what was Warner on?! He must have saved some 50 runs!