Sunday, August 16, 2009

Race Day - AFC Half Marathon 2009

Got my HALF MARATHON TRIPLE CROWN MEDAL and it looks pretty cool!


Now, as for my AFC half performance. Well, pretty abysmal, as I expected (see previous post):
Overall:2031 out of 7021 Finishers
Men: 1400 (almost double that of LJHM) out of 3257 finishers
M 25-29: 224 out of560

Finish: 1:58:00 Pace: 9:01
Tag Time:1:58:00
Gun Time:1:58:40


Before I go about describing the events that led to the above disaster, add "staying up all night on the night before the race" to the list of wrong-doings I had mentioned in my last blog post :)

Overall, I am not too disappointed, though. Over the last 4 months I went from, feeling confident about a sub 1:45 finish on this race (this confidence was right after LJHM) to all the way down to not being able to run all of it :). I don't really regret all the wrong-doings either, because I've learnt from a few of them... and the others? well.. they were to much fun, to not do :)

I'm too groggy to type out the full race report right now... so, it'll have to wait till I "robot walk" myself to a shower and some food ;-)

am
PS: Just realized that all my bib numbers have the numbers 3 and 4 in them.... will have to make some sense of that, as well.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Mental Run!

The AFC half is this Sunday and it's been a while since I updated anything here. Browsing over past posts almost makes me feel like the training I was doing for the first two halfs this year, was something out of a different life (and although, it didn't seem too disciplined or rigorous at the time, it sure as hell does seem so, now, considering my AFC training!):)

Well, this ones going to be nothing short of interesting. I've done everything wrong this time...

1. Ignored a tender tendon right before the La Jolla Half (Heck, I thought I had hit my foot on a lab bench) and ran the half like I couldn't care less (well, at least I didn't do too bad!).
2. Took a long break and went on vacation, right after the La Jolla Half, with no running and lot of junk food binging.
3. Returned and attempted long runs without a slow build up (worsening an already sore tendon)
4. Had to stay off running to avoid limping while not running... until I figured that changing my running style helped "disguise" the tendon issue... yeap... this lead to experiments with forefoot striking.
5. Experimented with forefoot striking with a bad tendon, except the experiments were anything but that (they were more like through and through 10 milers, while what I was supposed to do was intermittent forefoot runs within the main long run :)
6. Overcompensated for the Tendon and agitated the IT Band in the process (yeah, that arch enemy of mine made a comeback after 2 years).
7. (And, final nail in the coffin) - Went camping the very last weekend before the half (instead of running and checking out the course) and did one 7mi hike on Sat and a 10+ mi (3)peak bagging hike on Sunday... and got rewarded with a nice blister on the right leg (hey, I had to balance out the ITB and Tendon issues on the left leg, right?:P)

So, here we go... there's no way I'm bailing out of the AFC (There's that Triple Crown Resolution I made earlier this year, remember?)... so, yeah... this one's going to be a veeeery interesting race and a test of mental strength just as much as of physical (or maybe more?)

am
PS: Wish I had a half marathon version of the T-shirt that reads "Why couldn't Pheidippides have died at mile 20" :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Training Tracking - AFC 1/2 '09

As I did for the last two half marathons I ran this year... I will be tracking all my training runs for the America's Finest City Half marathon, to be held on Aug 16th, 09...
The start is slow this time, because, my achilles tendon started to bother me, right before the La Jolla Half Marathon, and still hasn't recovered.

Just for some motivation, these are my total miles in for half marathon training, this year:

Total Miles for Carlsbad Half (including half) : 153
Total Miles for LJHM (including half): 174
Total miles run this year (well technically since, Nov '08): 402

Let's see if I can do better continue to improve that number on the AFC 1/2 training!




DAY | DISTANCE | TIME | PACE
==============================================================
Sat (6/6) ~5.0mi (Time not tracked)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thu (6/18) ~2.0mi (time not tracked) (T)
Sat (6/20) ~5.0mi ~50min ~10:00 (T)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (6/23) ~2.0mi ~17min ~8:30(T)
Sat (6/27) ~7mi ~ 1:05 ~9:15(T)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (6/30) ~4.0mi ~37min ~9:15(T)
Thu (7/2) ~3.0mi ~27min ~9:00(T)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (7/7) ~3.5mi ~30min ~8:36(T)
Thu (7/9) ~3.0mi ~25:30 ~8:30 (T)
Sat (7/11) ~10.4 ~85min ~8:10 (T)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mon (7/13) ~2mi ~19:00 ~9:00 (T) - Recovery run
Tue (7/14) ~5.5mi ~52min ~9:30 (T)
Thu (7/16) ~3mi ~25min ~8:30 (T) (Jumped over Rattle Snake!)
Sat (7/18) ~10mi ~1:30 ~9:00 (was supposed to be a 11mi run, but I walked the last mile because my IT band started to act up, out of the blue!)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some very intermittent running due to ITB issues :(
--------------------------------------------------------
AFC HALF!!!!


==============================================================

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Race Day - The La Jolla Half Marathon 2009

OK, First off, this post is way past due (over a month since I ran this race!), and the reasons for that are contrasting - first a work overload and then a vacation overload (went to India for a month). So, anyways, without further ado and, like I did for the Carlsbad Half , here are the results of my LJHM '09 performance:

Overall: 1056 out of 5414 Finishers
Men: 791
M 25-29: 168
Age/Grade: 52.5%
Finish: 1:52:47 Pace: 8:33
Tag Time: 1:52:47
Gun Time: 1:53:13

So, apparently I clocked in exactly the same time as my Carlsbad Half time , a couple months before this (heck, I'll even go so far as to say, I was about 45 seconds slower, this time). And, as much as people keep telling me that La Jolla was a much tougher course than Carlsbad, and even I was expecting to be slower by up to 10mins, compared to Carlsbad, I still would have loved to "make the numbers" :).

As for the race itself, the weather was quite nice on race day, unlike what I was warned by many runners who ran this race in the past (they warned me about dreading the heat that has caused runners to collapse on this course, in the past). The day started out cloudy and in the 65F range, temperature-wise. The sun did come out about half way through the race, but, it didn't affect runners too much.

The course is definitely more challenging than the Carlsbad half (which is flat for the most part). The La Jolla half starts out in the Del Mar Race tracks area. There is a huge parking lot near the start, that is empty at the time of start. I used that to do some quick warm up runs and I think that was a good idea coz it allowed me to start at an 8:30 pace as opposed to the 9-9:30, that I usually do for the couple miles, which in turn, helped me make up time, that I lost later on the hills. You start out by running on Villa De La Valle to the 101 (flat, and then little downhill). You turn left and run along the 101. The course does not go all along the 101, but instead jumps into ocean blvd. close to the ocean (this was something my running buddies always did on training runs, so I was totally at home). The little surprise came when the course, turned left at 4th St and climbed back up to the 101, instead of continuing downhill on coast blvd and joining the 101 later, when it is easy. Anyways, after joining the 101, we pretty much continued down to the entrance of the Torrey Pines State Park, for the biggest ascent of the race. I grabbed my first drink here (around mile 5) and headed up the hill. As I was climbing I could see some folks that had passed me earlier slow-down/ stop. I also met a woman who was cheering on anyone that she felt was tiring or giving up. I joined her in the encouragement for a while, and found out that she was running the La Jolla Half for the first time as well. There was a strategically placed water station at the top (mile 7), where I got my second drink and some gel to get re-energized after the climb. The remaining part of the route, before you exit the Torrey Pines state park, is a very slight, but long and steady, incline. Once you get out of the park and turn R on to N Torrey Pines Rd, the route is mostly flat, with some small rolling hills (max change 50ft). When you turn onto Torrey Pines again and continue, you are feeling a little upbeat because you passed the 8mi marker and you know that the downhill isn't too far off. A fairly flat mile gets you to the downhill, that leads you to La Jolla Shores (and no matter how much of a hurry you are in, you can't help admire the beauty of the views from here). And this slope was where I realized how bad my downhill running was (basically, I was being passed by more people than any other time of the race) (Note to self: Gotta work on downhill running). Once you get off the hill, it is basically a straight flat 2 miles till you get to the La Jolla Shores parking lot. This is where I hit upon the second surprise - for some reason, the route turns into the parking lot and runs along the beach (yep, the concrete walk-way, by the sand) - although that wasn't anything to be worried about. It was great to see some of my running buddies (that were not running this race) standing there to cheer those of us, running it - AMAZING MORALE BOOST!. The last (and most dreaded) surpise came at mile 12. Where you hit this small hill that brings you back up to Torrey Pines. Now, ordinarily this hill is no big deal at all, but after running 12 miles of the La Jolla Half course, it just gets magnified - and no matter how much past runners tell you to dread this, nothing describes, actually experiencing it. The final mile winds into Prospect St (the downhill can be a pain after all the climbing and running), for a beautiful finish by the cove!

One thing to note about the La Jolla Half is that it is a relatively "low-key" event (unlike, what many people are used to associating "La Jolla" with, which is "grandiose"). For some reason, the event organizers don't seem to want to spend a lot on either the expo or the race itself. Not sure if this is because of the lack of enthusiasm on their part or the fact that they are trying to save as much as they can for donation to causes (I sure hope the latter). Overall, I didn't have anything to complain about, though!

Looking forward to the final Half in the SD Triple crown (the AFC HALF) this august!































Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Training Tracking - LJHM '09

Alright. So, I finally, "formally" registered to run the 2009 La Jolla Half Marathon (LJHM).
As I did for my first half marathon (the carlsbad half), I plan to track all my training run data for this one as well. The only difference, instead of creating new posts, every time I update the data (which is typically at the end of every week). I will just keep one blog post and keep updating it and bumping up the date, to keep bringing it back up.

As for the Training Plan, I am going to try to change things up a little. I will still be running 3 times a week(+weekend) (I might run a "warm-up" mile on other days, but significant miles will be only 3 times a week), but each run will be "special".
What do I mean by that? Well...

1. The weekend run will be long and I will not drop below 8milers (preferably stay 10mi and above) and definitely not restart from 4-5mi runs like I did the first time around.

2. Since all the weekend runs will be extra long, the Tue run will have to be a sort-of recovery run (I say "sort-of", because, I am hoping my body should be conditioned to not be as hammered after a 10mi run as I used to be in the past). For that reason, the Tue run will be a trail run (easier on the legs) and will range from 2-6miles, depending on how badly hammered the legs are.

3. Thurdays run will alternate(one Thu this, one Thu that) between hill training (to conquer that big torrey pines hill) and Interval Training or Fartleks.

For #1: The routes will vary, since I run with a running group on the weekends.
For #2: http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-states/ca/san-diego/900805585783
For #3: For hill training: http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-states/ca/san-diego/197949449764; for fartleks: Either UCSD tracks or treadmill.

Alright, so, here we go, again!

DAY | DISTANCE | TIME | PACE

==============================================================
Tue (2/3) ~6.0mi ~51mins ~8:30 (Accurate)
Sat (2/7) ~10mi ~1:32 ~ 9:12 (Accurate, Did first 5mi in 44min and next 5 in 48)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (2/11) ~1mi
Thu (2/12) ~3.0mi ~24mins ~8:00 (Fartleks on the Treadmill)
Sat (2/14) ~10mi ~1:30 ~ 9:00 (Accurate, Did first 5mi in 44min and next 5 in 46)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Skimped out on the running this week, but I did do a couple miles here and there and did a nice hike on the weekend
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (2/24) ~6mi ~47min ~7:48 (Accurate)
Sat (2/28) ~9mi ~1:25 ~9:30 (First 7.5mi, before TP hill, at 8:30 pace)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (3/3) ~5.8mi ~47min ~8:10 (Accurate)
Thu (3/5) ~4mi ~33 ~8:15 (Treadmill)
No weekend run... slacked off coz I was out of town
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (3/10) ~5.8mi ~47min ~8:10 (Accurate)
Thu (3/12 ~5.5mi ~40min ~7:30 (Speed Training at Lake Miramar, not accurate)
Sat (3/14) ~8mi ~1:08 ~8:30 (first 5mi in 45mi, next 3 in 22min)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (3/17) ~6mi ~51min ~8:30 (T)
Thu (3/19) slacked off (legs weren't feeling the best :( )
Sat (3/21) ~11.3mi ~95min ~8:30 (one of the hardest, but most scenic route runs, to date http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-states/ca/-san-diego/516123783491630305)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (3/24) ~4mi ~33min ~8:15 (T)
Thu (3/26) slacked off
Sat (3/28) ~10mi ~84min ~8:30 (two rounds of Lake Miramar!) (T)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (3/31) ~5.5mi ~52min ~9:30 (T)
Thu (4/2) ~3mi ~24min ~8:00 (T)
Sat (4/4) ~11mi ~1:42 ~9:15 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (4/7) ~5mi ~41min ~8:10 (T)
Thu (4/9) ~5mi ~43min ~8:36 (T)
Sat (4/11) ~12mi ~1:48 ~9:00 (T)

==============================================================

Tue (4/15) ~5mi (Did not track time) (T)
Sat (4/18) ~9mi (Did not track time) (T)

==============================================================

Minimal running this week (Achilles Tendon Issues)
Sun (4/26) - La Jolla Half Marathon!! - Good luck to me!

==============================================================
==============================================================


Total Miles for LJHM (including Half Marathon): 174 (75mi on T)
Total Miles for Carlsbad Half (including half) : 153
Total for year : 402

Friday, February 20, 2009

Does Success Retard Itself?

First off, let's get the IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, aside. I just made good (or at least started to make good) on my last new year's resolution for this year. Yep, the new blog is up and Running - here , so, watch for some exciting stuff there in the coming weeks and months (and don't forget to help me keep myself honest, by posting comments :)

OK, now let's get back to the topic at hand. Why the touch of philosophy on what is seeming like a perfectly logical and analytical blog by an Engineer on things like running and how to improve performance as an athlete? Well, it has to do with one (or both) of the following:

1. An unfortunate side effect of being stuck to the OUTLIERS for about 2 weeks (and before you say "whoa, what a slow reader!", keep in mind, my time gets multiplexed between a lot of things like running, blogging, hiking, ubuntuing, sleeping... and oh, let's not forget, "bit-flipping", that pays for the others!).

2. This video that showed up on CNN a few weeks ago, from a Obama Townhall in Florida, to sell his stimulus package (which, by now, is a law)



The first time I saw that video, I was without doubt amused and amazed. Amused because, I think that had to be one of the gutsiest moves I have seen in a while and amazed because it is not everyday that you get to see a lowly McDonalds worker getting a chance to speak to the most powerful man on the planet (or one of them, at least), 1-on-1. Now, I may not be much of an economist, but, something about that video tells me this country might be heading back in the right direction.

Anyways, getting back to the topic, as much as the video amused and amazed me, it wasn't what got me thinking about "success in life". What did was probably some combination of the aftereffects of that video on Julio's life and all the "reading" I've been doing.

To understand what I am saying, you might want to take a look at some of the latest news coverage on Julio and another similar case of a distressed common American by the name of "Henrietta Hughes". As this article descibes, "... Hughes broke down in front of thousands when she told the president that she and her son have been homeless for more than a year and living in a pickup truck. Obama hugged her after she asked her question and said his staff would help...".

Well, I'll save you the effort and summarize it for you - As it turns out, Mr. Julio now got approached my multiple radio stations, right after his little stunt, for broadcast gigs and a local minor league baseball team has offered Osegueda a job as an announcer for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle, the Twins' affiliate in the Florida State League. Not bad for going from working at Macky D's to landing a broadcaster job, within a matter of days, huh? As for Ms. Hughes, apparently, she was was later offered a home by Chene Thompson, wife of Florida State Representative Nick Thompson, who heard the homeless woman’s pleas. Isn't that amazing? Both super inspiring stories and not to mention, it almost seems like Obama is delivering on his message of change without even trying too hard! Great!

But wait, that's not what this post is about!

Time to regroup... alright... so, the reason for all that build up was to try and put you in the frame of mind I had when I decided to write this post. What all this reading and watching and thinking has got me wondering is... does getting more successful in life make you progressively less likely to attain success?!

Before you say "WHAAA.... ??!!!", let me elaborate...

Let's say you are in a position, similar to one of the folks above (and I for one came kinda close to that, when I landed in a country with a currency rate 40 times that of my home country, to go to Gradschool :-), would you do anything you possibly can to get yourself out of it? For most people, I think the answer is going to be a "HELL YEAH". And, it sounds about right, doesn't it? The amount of fear you experience in life is usually inversely proportional to the amount you have to "loose" (meaning, if you have nothing to loose, you aren't afraid of anything, not even death itself!). Let's say you walked into work tomorrow, and found out that you no longer have your job, would that affect the tone you use when you speak to your boss? Would it relax it at least a tad?

I guess the point I am trying to make (or question I am trying to ask) is... do we start being more and more "fearful" as we start to achieve the initial goals we set for ourselves, thereby limiting the number of new goals we set for ourselves (read, take fewer and fewer risks) and achieve even fewer of those and so on,goes the vicious cycle... catch my drift, here?

And now, to finish up, I will attempt to tie in the "BIG ANNOUNCEMENT" I made at the start of this blog post, into all this discussion!
Am I trying to beat or fight the tendency I just described above, by starting that blog and setting myself up for failure? :)

There, got it out of the system... just in time to hit the sack!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Resolutions Complete with "JUST DO IT!"

Alright. A few days of thinking and pondering and I think I'm ready to complete that resolution list I started earlier . The thing left to complete was a mentally challenging goal (III.C of my previous post) - and after much pondering, I think I may have found the perfect challenge.

My last goal involves things that keep popping into my head from time - Ideas!. Yes, for some reason I seem to have ideas for things to do, pop into my head, at random times during the week. Whether it is during a presentation at work , or while working out at the gym or while driving past a gas station , or just surfing the web or, well... Blogging itself

So what I am proposing? I am proposing, that I resolve to take action on some of those ideas! Well, isn't that what the intention was in the past? Maybe, but then there was no accountability. So, to fix that, I am going to start a new blog (yep, yet another!) that I will use to keep track of anything new I learn or any Idea I think I can work on. Now, I agree not all the ideas I come up with are ideas I can actually put to work. And that is not just because some of them are impractical, but simply because some constraints of time, money etc prevent me from going "all out" and pushing forth on an idea. But there are always going to be things, that come up in my mind, that I really want to do, but, I just sleep on them long enough until they eventually fade away. Well, enough of that. From now on I resolve to actually figure out how to do the thing, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a business idea, it can be something as simple as finding the fastest way to change my bicycle tube or repair or something more complicated like installing a new Linux Distro or even more challenging as creating a facebook application.

So there we go, my mentally challenging goal is to blog about any "do-it-yourself" activity I engage in, as and when I do!

To begin with, one of the things I've been wanting to do for a while, is to "organize" my blog posts according to "tags" and create a list of those tags on the side bar. For example, everything I wrote, that has to do with Running must show up under the heading "Running" and so on...
If I manage to get through that goal this weekend, I will attempt to install the latest version of Ubuntu on my Vista laptop, in dual boot fashion and load and up important applications. And if there's anything interesting worth sharing, that'll be on m new blog!

As for the name... I figured out that part too.... JUST DO IT!

PS: Oh, I also think SeƱor Reddy's idea (learn a new language, see comments to last post) is pretty cool and I think I'll keep that on my list and try and get through as much spanish learning I can do, this year!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Too Late for Resolutions?

It's been a super busy year so far. And I just realized a couple days ago, that it's the end of the first month and I haven't come up with any new years resolutions yet. I think it is important to make resolutions in life, even though the new year thing might be a little overrated. If you do your best to stick to them or achieve them, they give you a reason to push a little extra and get more done than you would have, otherwise.

So, is 2nd Feb, too late to be making resolutions for the year ahead?
I think it depends. If you're like me, you might be fine! You see, I don't just "make" resolutions on a yearly basis. I try to add to my existing resolution list, because I believe that good resolutions shouldn't end in just one year. Or at least all of your resolutions shouldn't be so short term. Since I am adding to my list, I am not really without resolutions to begin with and hence the exception!

OK, so now that I have established that it is fine for me to set my "additions" for this year, what are they going to be? Well, I'm obviously not going to share the whole list (the usual... work hard, make more money, help more people, have more fun, manage time better...) out here. What I will share are those specific ones that, I think, anyone can add to their own lists. And I will try to keep them to a realistic number, and define them clearly, so that they are actually maintainable as habits:

I. Be "Greener": Now there are obviously going to be those global warming "non-believers". To them I say, sure, you may have your reservations about some of the things I am about to say, but then again, no one can deny the fact that wasteful use of resources (whether they impact our environment or not) is generally considered bad practice. OK, with that said, what can I do on a regular basis to make myself "greener"?
A. Reduce the amount of plastic I use and throw: I will do my best to carry a reusable bag to the grocery store. I will do my best to re-use water bottles on runs etc.
B. Reduce fuel consumption: I have already made the switch to riding my motorcycle a few days a week, so that reduces my commute fuel consumption by about 1/2 right there. I am hoping that once the daylight time gets longer, I can alternate that with riding my road-bike, to completely eliminate driving my car, during the week.In addition, I will do my best to carpool as much as possible, on the weekends.
C. Conserve water (courtesy: Nitya's comment): This is particularly important for San Diegans, given we live in one of the driest places around. Some research suggests, maximizing use of the dishwasher, does help and so does, washing you car less and small things like that. I'll try my best to do some of those.
C. Increase awareness of things like A, B and C: I guess, in some sense, I am already working on this resolution :). But, more specifically, I will try be blog more actively about such stuff on the blog I had dedicated to this effort.

II. Read/ Write more:
To this end, I will do my best to blog more regularly (while trying to distribute content evenly among my three blogs). On the reading side, try my best to read one new book a month... or wait, let's make that a more realistic 5 new books for the whole year (and if I beat that, all the better). Oh, actually, here's an even better plan - let's link them both! "I will try to read at least 5 books and post reviews of them on my blog", as and when I finish reading them. There. Now we have a solid resolution!

III. Overcome
More challenges
By challenges, I don't mean, those hard to solve problems in "life" or the hours spent debugging code in the lab. I mean serious "fun" challenges, that you knowingly set yourself up for.
A. Half Marathon Triple Crown : If you read the last few posts I wrote, you probably already know about my resolution to run 3 half marathons this year - I am going to one up that now by saying "I will try my best to better the time on my first half, that I ran about a week ago". That is going to be pretty challenging given that, the Carlsbad half was a "relatively" easy course and the weather was as good as it gets - but, we'll see... :)
B. Climb Tallest Peak in lower 48: I am hoping to climb Mt. Whitney this year and if possible do some other serious hikes in preparation for that, or otherwise.
C. Some comparable goal that involves a non-physical activity (more mentally challenging): TBD. Will try to finalize something interesting soon. If you have any ideas, let me know!

So, there we go, that's what I like to call "additions" for this year - specific, achievable, not too wussy, fun, and something most can add to their own lists!
Any suggestions, comments, criticisms?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Some people are born Marathoners...

... while some others (like me) have marathon running thrust upon them?!!

Why do I say that? Well, for one, I am wearing a Carlsbad Marathon Finishers T-shirt (note, no "half" in there, anywhere). Why am I wearing this? The original half-marathon T-shirt that I got, when I went to pick up my bib, at the expo, the day before the half, was one size too small. So I figured I'd try and exchange it for a bigger size after the half was over. Exchange I sure did, but what I ended up getting in return was a full marathon finishers T-shirt. If I had noticed it right there, I would have taken care of it, but, neither did the person at the expo nor did I, until I got home. And so, as fate had to have it, here I am with my "undeserving" marathon finishers T-shirt :(

So, anyway, now I am left wondering... could this be a sign? Is this destiny's way of telling me that I am destined to run a full marathon??

Well, if you had asked me this question during the few hours immediately following my first half marathon, I would have gladly said "hell ya!!". Heck, with my "runners high" I had almost resolved to run the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon , in June, this year (in addition, of course, to the the triple crown resolve I made right after I had that little "chat" with Mr. Rauschenberg, during the expo).

A nice lunch, some resting and a cooler mind later, I began to think. And I started to wonder if not signing up a half marathon as my first running event (I have been doing shorter, 8K/ 10K type races for about 3 years now), had any effect on my performance on my first half. Did doing several shorter races over a fairly long period of time, before deciding to "officially" start training for a longer (13.1) race, help me become a better long distance runner? Would I have run the same pace and finished the same way I have, if I just woke up one fine day and decided to sign up for a half? Would I have been better or worse?

Well, my gut says I was way better off "working up" to the half, rather than just shooting for it straight. And, I think I am going to stick to that same gut feeling with the half marathon -> Full marathon gradient. I will put my full marathon aspirations off till at least 2010 (heck, even that number seems like the year to, for doing something major :) and continue running half marathons with the hope that they will do to my (somday) marathon performance, what the 8Ks and 10Ks did for my half.

I am hoping some of my running buddies (Bharat?) will decide to take the other route and shoot straight for the stars. I think that is a pretty darn awesome and gutsy move. Here's wishing them luck and hoping I can use their experience as a reference....

... and, here's me signing off for today, in my "guilty" finishers T-shirt!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Race Day - The Carlsbad Half Marathon 2009

Yep, it's done. My first ever half marathon. The results are in:

Overall: 1664 out of 7147
Men: 1119 out of 2863
M 25-29: 197 out of 455
Age/Grade: 52.86% Place: 3283
Finish: 1:52:02 Pace: 8:33
Tag Time: 1:52:02
Gun Time: 1:56:26

I guess I'm going to start by saying that I did achieve my preset goal (see "target" in this post) and a little more (which is always a nice feeling). And when I say "... and a little more", I don't just mean, those golden 7 minutes and 58 seconds, that put me into the category of a "sub-2hr halfer" (which for some reason seems to have a halo around it, although, for the record, I think a 2:01 is just as spectacular as a 1:59). I am referring to the fact that I totally enjoyed running this race. And by "enjoyed", I mean everything from actually running the race, to watching people around me run, the sights and sounds (the rock bands, of course), the many thanks I said to the people with the thankless job of picking up after us folks in a hurry (the volunteers!!), all the posing I did for the photographs and the many short conversations I had (with known acquaintances and strangers alike).

What was interesting was, that I have actually never had a conversation with anyone during a race, in the past. That may have to do with the fact that all my past "official" races have been 6mi (10K) and under, which really doesn't leave much room for conversations now, does it? But, what I really think it had to do with, was 2 reasons:

1. My T-shirt
2. Dane Rauschenberg

My T-Shirt: Before I explain how my T-shirt ended up being a "conversation starter" (if there is such a thing, in a "race"), I think it is important for you to see the front and back design of this thing (and many many thanks to Pradeep, for coming up with that ultra cool logo of the running-man-India-flag). Now, I know what I you are thinking... that is one terrific looking T-shirt. Sure is. Both, the front and the back and very well thought out and extremely creative. Except for one small flaw. The logo for the back was designed by a bunch of Nerdy Engineers (yours truly, included), who, as ironic as it sounds, failed to foresee how the physics of the intended application could come into play to mess things up. You see, the logo on the reverse was supposed to portray our "world-peace" or "anti-terrorism" theme, which it does perfectly (with some minor restrictions, as you will see). As it would turn out, when the logo on the reverse is in motion at an average speed of about 7 miles an hour, coupled with an upward/ downward rhythmic, bobbing movement of a few inches and a slight sideways wind (from the Pacific Ocean), it is pretty easy to garner responses from fellow marathoners, along the lines of "... is that a list of all the races you have run so far?" or "... wow, you actually ran in New Delhi?!" (although, I must give that guy credit for being able to read "New Delhi" under those conditions). And that is the story behind how I got into several of those short conversations (still beats me, why anyone would think I would decide to put a huge "STOP" sign next to the list of my races :).

Dane Rauschenberg: If his name doesn't ring a bell right away, you're not alone. I had no idea who he was until the day before my first half, either. I happened to bump into his "motivational speech" at the half marathon expo. Now, I am usually not the kind that gets drawn toward "motivational speakers", maybe partly because I think I am pretty darn motivated to begin with (or, so I'd like to think ;-) and partly because, most of the motivational speakers I've come across in the past, have had little to prove their case. In Dane's case, that was ruled out off the bat, when I read the brief description on the event schedule posted outside the room - "this man ran 52 full marathons in 52 consecutive weekends of the same year (2006)" (and may I add, while maintaining a day job). Now, before I went into this session, I was, for the most part, convinced that the Carlsbad half will very likely be the only event of it's kind for me for a while (at least for 2009). But, for some reason, after having listened to what he had to say about his "52 in 52" experience and talking to him in person, I realized, if he could sign up for 52 in 52, I should at least allow myself a crack at 1.5 in 52 (that's 3, 0.5 mathons = 1.5, just so we're talking common denominator ;-). So, long story short, I left the expo convinced, more than ever, that I was going to at least "attempt" 3 half marathons in 2009. Alright, now how does this connect to the main topic (conversations on the half)? Well, as it turns out, I have historically always been the type that gives every race the every last bit (I guess it must be easy to do on 10K's or something) of energy... and the Carlsbad half was going to be no exception. The plan was to race the hell out of myself, and not worry about whether I could limp out of bed on Monday morning, to go to work. Unfortunately, the events at the expo that resulted in me deciding to pursue my "attempt", which meant I didn't want to "risk-it-all" on the Carlsbad Half. As a result, I decided to only push it a little bit more than I was used to, on my training runs, thus creating all that time for "enjoyment".

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Do let me know either ways (comments).... and hopefully, see you on the LJHM

Friday, January 23, 2009

THIS IS IT!! - Any Guesses on my finish time?

Nearly 2 months of running and this is what it all comes down to. I must admit though that, it almost seems like I just started training yesterday . And no matter how anxious I am, to get to that start line of the Carlsbad Half Marathon as soon as possible, there is a small part of me that always feels that maybe if I had trained a little more, I'd cut a minute or two more... oh that little minute that seems so tiny otherwise... seems golden on the race.

Come to think of it, that wasn't bad at all... 2 short runs a week and one long run on the weekend?... almost seems like I could do this all the time and more importantly, almost seems like there should be ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR ANYONE TO NOT DO IT!

Alright... being an Engineer... I feel a need to explain analytically, quantitatively and logically, every statement I make or theory I propose. So, here's a summary of what I had to do, to feel confident enough, to go do this (hopefully you'll be in agreement with me, after you read it)

SUMMARY
=========

Total training time from the time I officially decide to start training: 2 months (Nov 22nd, 2008 to Jan 22nd, 2009)
Total Distance Run during training (not including the half): ~140miles.
Total Time commitment per week: 1hr on Tue + 1hr on Thu + 2 hrs on Sat = 4Hrs/ week.
Total time spent training: 4*8 = 32Hrs
Target: Since this is my first half marathon (or first long distance running event for that matter), I started out with the aim of finishing, then slowly progressed towards a more and more aggressive pace... finally ending with a hope of a close to 2 hour finish

NOTE: I wasn't absolutely sedentary before I "officially" started training... but, I only ran once a week and restricted myself to under 6 miles for the most part. Also, I have to mention, having the best running group of friends (~15 of who will be running alongside me this Sunday) was a huge part of making this seem like nothing.


DETAILED RUN DATA
===================


DAY | DISTANCE | TIME | PACE
==============================================================
Sat (11/22) ~7.5mi ~1:02hrs ~8:30 (Not Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/2) ~5.5mi ~46min ~8:36 (Not Accurate)
Thu (12/4) ~3.5mi ~27min ~7:70 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/6) ~9.35mi ~1:27 ~9:20 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/9) ~5.5mi ~55min ~10:00 (Did this slow, intentionally)
Thu (12/11) ~4.0mi ~32min ~8:00 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/13) ~10mi ~1:35 ~9:30 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/16) ~5.5mi ~48min ~8:45 (Fairly Accurate)
Thu (12/18) ~4.5mi ~40min ~8:50 (Fairly accurate, Hill Training in cold)
Sat (12/20) ~9.2mi ~1:27 ~9:30 (Crappiest long run on record, shins hurt from get-go :( )
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/24) ~5mi ~45min ~9:00 (Accurate, shins were still hurting)
Sun (12/28) ~9mi ~1:25 ~9:20 (Accurate with some hills, shins feeling better)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/31) ~6mi ~48.5min ~8:05 (Accurate and FAST, shins recovered!)
Sun (1/4) ~11mi ~1:38 ~8:54 (Accurate, with some hills)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (1/7) ~4mi ~40min ~10:00 (intentionally slow, was a recovery run from Sunday's 11miler)
Fri (1/9) ~3mi ~24min ~8:00 (Fartleks on the treadmill)
Sun (1/11) ~11.6mi ~1:50 ~9:30 (took it easy 'coz I wasn't feeling a 100%, due to the flu symptoms)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (1/13) ~2mi ~20min ~10:00 (Slow paced recovery run, after sunday's 12 miler)
Thu (1/15) ~5.0mi ~41min ~8:10 (Fartleks)
Sat (1/17) ~7.4mi ~1:04 ~8:30 (Fairly Accurate)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (1/20) ~6.2mi ~50min ~8:05 (Ran this faster than I wanted to, or intended to)
Thu (1/22) ~3.5mi ~32min ~9:10 (Slow paced final training run)
Sat (1/25) - TBD (CARLSBAD HALF MARATHON 2009!!!)
=============================================================

Well... let's see how accurate a reflection, my final race day time is, of my training runs.

Any guesses on my finish time? (leave a comment)

Hopefully I have done my part in getting some of you to put that pair on and head out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reached the Peak

We did our longest training run this weekend. The plan was to do the actual Carlsbad Half Marathon route in reverse . Unfortunately, the trauma of losing our water (we place water at strategic points along our long runs, and this time someone flicked it) at mile 4, made us miss the turn right after that, and we ended up off course for the last mile or so. I remapped the actual run we did and it ended up being 11.6 miles (which isn't too bad). The one thing to note though, is that, this route happens to have multiple water fountains - there are about 3, along the bridge over Buena Vista Lagoon and another pretty close to the 4 mile mark, by Mountain View Dr.
Here is the updated run data. It's taper off time from here on...

DAY | DISTANCE | TIME | PACE
==============================================================
Sat (11/22) ~7.5mi ~1:02hrs ~8:30 (Not Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/2) ~5.5mi ~46min ~8:36 (Not Accurate)
Thu (12/4) ~3.5mi ~27min ~7:70 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/6) ~9.35mi ~1:27 ~9:20 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/9) ~5.5mi ~55min ~10:00 (Did this slow, intentionally)
Thu (12/11) ~4.0mi ~32min ~8:00 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/13) ~10mi ~1:35 ~9:30 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/16) ~5.5mi ~48min ~8:45 (Fairly Accurate)
Thu (12/18) ~4.5mi ~40min ~8:50 (Fairly accurate, Hill Training in cold)
Sat (12/20) ~9.2mi ~1:27 ~9:30 (Crappiest long run on record, shins hurt from get-go :( )
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/24) ~5mi ~45min ~9:00 (Accurate, shins were still hurting)
Sun (12/28) ~9mi ~1:25 ~9:20 (Accurate with some hills, shins feeling better)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/31) ~6mi ~48.5min ~8:05 (Accurate and FAST, shins recovered!)
Sun (1/4) ~11mi ~1:38 ~8:54 (Accurate, with some hills)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (1/7) ~4mi ~40min ~10:00 (intentionally slow, was a recovery run from Sunday's 11miler)
Fri (1/9) ~3mi ~24min ~8:00 (Fartleks on the treadmill)
Sun (1/11) ~11.6mi ~1:50 ~9:30 (took it easy 'coz I wasn't feeling a 100%, due to the flu symptoms)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I also confirmed the "Cold Treatment" theory about walking into the ocean, minutes after the run. I feel totally recovered today and ready for another 12! So, it definitely works (and the Pacific is brutally cold :P )

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Almost at the Peak + keys to fast recovery

Did 11 miles this morning. Next weekend will be my longest training run.... and it is taper-off from then on. Here is the table updated with this weeks data:

DAY | DISTANCE | TIME | PACE
==============================================================
Sat (11/22) ~7.5mi ~1:02hrs ~8:30 (Not Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/2) ~5.5mi ~46min ~8:36 (Not Accurate)
Thu (12/4) ~3.5mi ~27min ~7:70 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/6) ~9.35mi ~1:27 ~9:20 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/9) ~5.5mi ~55min ~10:00 (Did this slow, intentionally)
Thu (12/11) ~4.0mi ~32min ~8:00 (Fartleks)
Sat (12/13) ~10mi ~1:35 ~9:30 (Fairly Accurate)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tue (12/16) ~5.5mi ~48min ~8:45 (Fairly Accurate)
Thu (12/18) ~4.5mi ~40min ~8:50 (Fairly accurate, Hill Training in cold)
Sat (12/20) ~9.2mi ~1:27 ~9:30 (Crappiest long run on record, shins hurt from get-go :( )
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/24) ~5mi ~45min ~9:00 (Accurate, shins were still hurting)
Sun (12/28) ~9mi ~1:25 ~9:20 (Accurate with some hills, shins feeling better)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wed (12/31) ~6mi ~48.5min ~8:05 (Accurate and FAST, shins recovered!)
Sun (1/4) ~11mi ~1:38 ~8:54 (Accurate, with some hills)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I also may have discovered to the 2 main keys to a fast recovery from a long hard run like the 11miler I did today. IE + CT.
Instant elevation (IE): use a park bench to keep your legs elevated for 10 mins (while sleeping on your back).
Cold treatment (CT): before shower just place legs under cold tap water. Even better is to walk into the ocean after the run, which I hope to try next time.

And ofcourse the general rules of recovery which include feeding and hydrating yourself ASAP and R.I.C.E