Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coaching for various running events

If you have not read this do so now.

I am currently coaching or have signed up both men and women training for the following events among others
- Contours Women's Day run in Mar 2012
- World 10K in Bangalore in May 2012
- Perth Marathon 2012
- Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in Nov 2012 (yes some people start that early!)
- other marathons in Europe & USA across the year.

However if you are planning to train for a 5k/half marathon/marathon in India or overseas, write to me at dhammonia@gmail.com along with your contact details (mobile no. if you have one) and we will work something out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hard Times: At a bookshop

Serious Men by Manu Joseph
A Shot at History (Abhinav Bindra with Rohit Brijnath)
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

were all bought at Landmark today out of credit card points. That brings me to my present situation alluded to, in the title of this blog post.

Although the first book above was on some silly "buy 1 and get the 2nd at half price" offer, I never found any of the other books under the same offer enticing enough to spend a couple of hundred rupees more. In my earlier avatar when I would spend hard earned money on books each month, I probably would not have minded as much. Now that cash is a serious constraint, I am forced to be doubly diligent.

Landmark at Forum Mall is getting to be worse, with less space for books than before, although that might change if they add more space for books once their revamp is complete.

They didn't have any of about half a dozen books which I would have bought in place of the Manu Joseph. Further due to my lookup exercise, I also discovered that some real good books were at the sale but are now back to being at original price.

Petty thinking no? Shouldn't they perhaps send them to their online entity and dispose them at sale price. I would gladly buy each of the 5-6 books I checked. Joe Sacco, Guy DeLisle, Simon Winchester and several others were among the ones which were apparently on sale :(

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Auroville 2012

5 years after the event started, I finally managed to run in Auroville. Unlike several other events- Delhi Half Marathon, Bangalore Ultra, Mumbai Marathon, Hyderabad 10K, Kaveri Trail Marathon, Auroville was one event I had never participated in its inaugural year. That gap in my race portfolio has now been remedied. I would now whole-heartedly recommend anyone wanting to have a good race (maybe not if you are racing for time) on a lovely course. As Hari already pointed out in his FB post, big round of applause to the organizers for such a splendid show. It is actually difficult to believe that this is the same place that was ravaged by a cyclone over a month ago. Actually the organizers did such a great job that you will find it difficult to realize what it is they have done, since the place looks so clean. It is only when you look around that you notice trees bending in one direction, several of them bending over, some of them broken at the stump incl. a few having a diameter about that of my car! God bless them all.

Now for the race report. As is the case with anyone coming back from an injury I was feeling quite anxious about the race since I was planning to run at a brisk pace, a little slower than my tempo but faster than my long run pace. However, I had originally planned to race here. But my coach prudently recommended I do no such thing since my training which was originally scheduled to start 2 weeks after the Mumbai Marathon would now start the day after Auroville, since I told him I was running the race. I treat his word as gospel. So there would be no racing. However I would still try and run a PB for my half marathon in India.

I met Hari, at the starting line and we discussed that we'd run together since I had a goal of 1:40 and it was in his ballpark too. A few weeks ago, I had met him at Navin's party (for the first time) when we had discussed that he'd be running for time, regardless of what that time would be, thereby endearing himself to me (as I told him, I time even my warm up runs!). However he had already run 1:36 in Delhi in Nov and was in better shape, by his own admission, although he had not longer than 9 miles. I had run a 10 miler in 72:18 about 2 weeks as prep towards Auroville as I needed some confidence that if I were to run faster than 1:42 (my previous best for a half in India), I had the required strength. One major potential show-stopper was my glute-injury which has been literally a Pain in the A*** (now thankfully on the path to being fixed, thanks to some strengthening). So while I did want to run fast (not race), I didn't want to aggravate an injury which has only just begun healing.

At the start were various stud-runners, Damian, Steven, etc all of whom are sub-3 runners for a marathon and some of them have run 1:20 or thereabouts for a half. It was one cinematic moment - when people lined up for the race. The starting lineup had markers for people running from 12 kmph to 9 kmph. Everyone who stood at the front of the pack was checking everyone else out trying to mentally assess which ones would tear away from the beginning. I was obviously doing the same!
One of my regular preoccupations at the start of races is to check out the legs of various runners and then try and guess which ones will finish in the top 3...Of course since I knew quite a few of the runners, I had some knowledge of their abilities too. My guess was that Damian would be the first to the finish - I train in the stadium and at Cubbon Park, same places that he does and hence see him often. Steven I think is Hyd based. So a bunch of the Hyd guys were cheering him before the start. And there were some Indian runners, all ectomorphs who looked like they would go under 1:30. Then the countdown began - 5 mins to start, 2 mins to start, one minute and then the whistle.

We were off. Hari and I began a conversation which we kept up till the 11th mile till which we ran next to each other, after which I was in great pain to talk any more and trailed him till the finish. I had a side-stitch in the 1st mile itself (WTF!) which basically began to sting from about 300 m into the race. And then by mile 5 or so, I developed a second side-stitch which began to feel like a knife in my abdomen. Running with a side-stitch is not recommended or healthy! Running with two is asking for trouble.

However we still went through 6 miles in under 44 min or so, by when I knew that if finished under 1:40, it would be a success for the day. There is a mild gradient on the course about 2 miles into the run, which knocks the wind out of you. Although we managed to get through it in the first lap without much damage, we suffered in the second lap. At least I did. To quantify a pain, sample this - On my 10 miler in Lalbagh, I had an average HR of 181 and a max HR of 189 for an average pace of 7:13/mile. During this race, I had an average HR of 185 and a peak of 197 for an average pace of 7:33/mile! I have no doubt that the HR spike was due to my pain due to side-stitches!

There was only one spot at which there was a fork and there were no markings. Otherwise the organizers had done a good job, by posting good signs or volunteers at every such ambiguous point. Of course the course was a little longer than 13.1 miles. My Garmin and that of at least 3 other people showed 13.3-13.4 miles.

One grouse I had on the course was that despite organizers advising on race etiquette, several runners ran with headphones and at slower speeds, not making way for faster runners behind them (which is perhaps mostly since they couldn't hear a thing). In some cases, I could even hear the music playing on someone's music player! One guy even elbowed me on my 2nd lap. I hope that, that guy suffered in the sun and suffered some ignominy! On a trail run, especially on such a beautiful trail where one can hear birds, would you really miss music or whatever you are listening to for 2 hours?! Shame on you and a painful DNF to you in your next marathon.

During the first lap, I had pointed to Hari that we needed to take a left turn although it was unmarked for the half & full. The spot only had a sign for the 5K and 10K.
Since he was ahead of me by about 50m or so in the last 2 miles, I couldn't call out to him when he passed the gap. And I followed him. By this time, another fast runner (a woman named Olivia, who looked like she had started much after everyone) had sped past both of us, effortlessly! And she overshot the turn too. With my side stitches burning into me, I chased after Hari and screamed out that he had overshot. He stopped and then looked back, wondering what had possessed me. Eventually Olivia also began running back and Hari followed. I did too. I had run about 0.1 miles extra. Hari had run more.

Finally, when we got close to the finish line, I began pushing the pace when I saw the "200m to go" sign. That surge got me in 1:42 for 13.5 miles. I will console myself saying that I did perhaps get through 13.1 miles in 1:40, which is all I wanted. Once I finished, I buckled over since my side stitches (esp. the one on my right side) now felt like I would have an involuntary removal of my liver or whatever else inhabits my abdominal cavity. After about 2 mins of swallowing pain, I was fine. I went and got my free t-shirt which is awesome (grey t-shirts are usually so! Dibyo, if you are reading this, remember our Flickr idea!?). Damian made my day by saying my tee is better and he couldn't get the same colour (the organizers perhaps had only one colour for each size to make the task of handing out easier). And the medal is lovely and exotic - 2 fabric dolls hung on a standard medal strap.



My racing flats which perhaps helped me come under 1:40 are now brown with red earth from the trail.


I am writing this about 24 hours after the race and my right abdomen is still sore from my running with the side-stitch y'day. I feel like someone has branded me - Now I know the burning sensation from a side-stitch can persist for a day! And although I have been looking forward to it, I never thought I will write about my butt in a blog post! It doesn't hurt any longer. Woo hoo!

One of my trainees had a decent race in the half. The other, JB, was set back by a painfully twisted ankle (suffered earlier last week) and had to DNF - 2/3rds into his race. Several friends had less than desired performances. We will all survive this and do better some time in the future.

Overall a great race, thanks in no small part due to the generous Pradeep, who gave me a ride to Pondy and back, and his driver Mohammed who drove like a saint all the way through, despite the large number of idiots on the road from Bangalore to Pondy and back. Also a shout out to Auro-Grace in Thiruvannamalai for the great lunch.

Nice weekend overall!

And with that, I started on my Mission Boston 2012 with a 30 min easy run.

Someone tell all the pretty women at Wellesley college to start warming up ;)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

New Book, book lust

I bought yet another book, this time with hard-earned money :(
Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka is acknowledged as an amazing book.

And while looking thru the Royal Society's prizewinning books, discovered that quite a few of my objects of booklust are there. Among the ones that I don't have right now and want to buy desperately is

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

And while we are discussing my lust, I am also looking to buy
The rest is noise by Alex Ross
Crowded with Genius by James Buchan

Where is that benevolent billionaire uncle when you need him!?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Russia on Radio - More Radio thoo thoo

This is yet another c*** series on Radio.

There is this random woman on FM radio who calls herself "Shweta" on behalf of perhaps a Russian tourism organization but who uses an accent that can't be Russian, however skewed your imagination is. In fact an RJ on the same channel made fun of this "Shweta"'s silly accent.

Why the f* would we want someone speaking with a silly accent, at least one which is distinctly not Russian?

Now the hilarious bit is that this ad airs way too many times incl. at around 530 am in the morning (I kid you not. I think I have even heard it before that sometimes). Who in their right f* mind would want to know about Russia at 5 in the morning? Like what?! You are in the waiting lounge in the international airport and want a quick download on Russia on your way there?! And the advertisement isn't even bloody edited as far as I can see. It has some propaganda style content saying Russia has done some cutting edge research on cancer that other countries couldn't get their arms around, etc... WTF?! Seriously! What era is this? 1960s?!

And someone please wake this woman up and tell her that her accent sucks!

Radio Thoo Thoo

Once in a while I forget to carry a podcast on my car and I am forced to listen to radio, which barring the advertising lets me catch up on some new film music. But there are some ads which are so f* all that I have to ran about them, just like I do about some c*** TVCs.

Here is my current nominee for s*** ad.

There is this ad for Davanam Jewellers which has some woman talking to her husband saying that their daughter is only 12, but before they know it, the daughter is going to be of marriageable age.
Seriously! WTF! What a solid retrograde ad!

Is that the first thing you can think of when you daughter is 12?! God help your daughter if that is the case.

How about getting a f* insurance policy to ensure she gets an education if you pop off or an investment if you can't afford her education later?!

There are numerous other ads which piss me off but this one deserved a blog post. When I hear a worse one or an equally c*** one, I will post again