Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bangalore Ultra 2016 - 75K

I have been waiting for the Bangalore Ultra for a year now. Walking out of last year's race was a decision that has nagged me. So I had set myself a minimum goal of completing the distance, even if it meant walking all the way. Little did I expect that I'd end up quite a bit of that.

I had had the chance to repay my pal Anil by driving him to the race venue and back as partial payback for his favour at CIM and M2B in the last few years.


I have completed several runs of 30+ km this season, thanks to the prep for Malnad Ultra incl. a practice marathon at Lalbagh on my own 2 weeks ago, which had given me some sense of what'd happen in the heat. I was quite confident of my training to get thru 50 km at least. I was hoping to complete the race in about 7:30 hours, since I knew I could get thru 50km in 5 hrs, aerobically.


This year, the 75km started at 6 am which meant an extra hour in the heat for all of us. I went thru the first lap in 2:15 or so, 5 min faster than last year. I thought I was slowing down and deliberately dropped stride length in the 2nd lap and still ended up with a slightly faster pace and went thru the marathon mark in ~3:50. I had a fig each at the 25, 35 and 42 km mark and expected to feel hungry by the 50km mark, based on my practice runs. I had one banana at about the 40 km mark.


I also had a piece of ginger at the 35km and 40 km mark, in order to preempt nausea if any. I had drunk the electrolyte drink (Enerzal) at every 4-5 km. I had not drunk much water to avoid any chances of hyponatremia. This is exactly what I have done in training.


Encouraged by the time at the marathon mark, I had a peanut butter sandwich at about 44km. This didn't seem like a bad idea at the time. However by about 52 km or so, I was feeling quite bloated. I asked the medical tent for help and they gave me a Pantodec which did the job of removing the gas in about 30 min. However by the time I made the turn on my last lap, my lips were dry and I was feeling thirsty every km. I stopped again at another medical tent and they recommended I lie down for a bit and drink some more water and electrolyte. I puked a bit when I had 1 glass of electrolyte. One of the medical team then called for a senior who checked my tongue and concluded I was severely dehydrated and asked me to drink 2 glasses at once, lie down and wait. In about 2 min after doing this, I puked everything I had in the last 2 hrs or so, incl the PBJ. The medical team was quite spooked and despite my reassuring them that this (puking) is something I have done before and that I was not feeling nauseous, they gave me an injection to prevent nausea (and hence more vomiting). After about 45 min of this and some dark comedy (the doctor crashed on a scooter while trying to rush to the aid of someone who was in medical distress at a different location), I finally left the medical tent. By then several fellow runners had stopped to enquire if I was fine and then carried on.


I ended up walking almost all the remaining distance except for a jog for the last km and finished in a little under 10 hrs. It is more than sobering to see 50km in ~ 4:50 hrs and the remaining 25km in almost the same time. But I'll definitely take it ahead of last year's DNF. There are a few positives - I didn't have any GI issues, pre or post race (although the PBJ leaves a big unanswered what-if about what may have been, during the race), no cramps (I did have some tightness in the right hamstring which I kept trying to get rid off by stretching a few times) and no falls during the run. One thing to note is that walking 25km, esp on a loop course, even if it is 12.5km and back isn't easy (although Praveen Arora makes it seem ridiculously easy - he did ~90miles in 24 hrs, walking ! ) I have improved zilch at running in temps above 25 deg C, despite logging enough mileage in the last few months. I am really happy that I have one less thing to worry about next year - having never gone thru 75 km in one go.


Thanks to RFL for another splendid event. I shall be back again.

Thanks to a lot of people and congratulations to several extraordinary athletes at the Ultra, incl my friend and partner, A who breezed thru his 50K. I was telling A and some others who asked that the run was unforgettable in a sense I didn't want.

P.S. As a sort of postscript to the Ultra, I went to Blossoms the day after, exchanged some old books and promptly bought Oliver Sacks' On the Move, which is a wonderful read, thus far