Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bouldering, MBA and "Cardiotrainer for Android"

What do the three items mentioned in the title of this post have in common? Not a lot - in fact, nothing at all, besides the fact that I've used or been involved with all of them this year!

Its the start of a long weekend and I'd normally be on a road trip of sorts by now, except, it's been raining cats and dogs all over California (golden/ sunshine state you say?) this whole week and I have tons of errands piled up from a crazy few months of work and school.

It occurred to me, during a conversation today, that it's been a while since I wrote anything here. I thought I'd work on a set of New Year resolutions like I did a couple years ago , but unfortunately, I haven't figured them out yet! So, I figure I'll get back to blogging, by blogging about a few of the things that have caused me to not blog as much - how's that for ironic?!

I'll start by writing about Bouldering in this post and try and address the other two in subsequent posts -

I've known about rock climbing as a sport for a few years now - but, my reaction to it was always "why would anyone in the right mind want to climb a wall?". I finally tried it about a year ago and as it turns out, it is actually a LOT of fun!
There are a bunch of types or forms of rock climbing out there - there's Traditional (or "trad") climbing, Sport Climbing, Top Roping and Ice Climbing. But the way I see it, there's Bouldering and then there's all the other climbing! :-)

So what makes Bouldering so special (to me)?
For starters, it is more minimalistic than the other forms of climbing. In theory, you need no gear except your own limbs. More realistically, you'll need some decent climbing shoes, some chalk and a crash pad to arrest your fall, and that's it (no major ropes, carabiners, harness or pulleys that other forms of climbing demand).
Next, it's a lot more intense and athletic (in my opinion, at least) - if you don't believe me, walk into any climbing gym and compare the fitness level of the boulderers vs the "others"! What makes bouldering so intense is the simple fact that you are "own your own", so to speak. What I mean by that is, unlike other forms of climbing, where you have the liberty of stopping or taking rest at any point, bouldering does not give you the liberty of "letting go", midway.
Third, bouldering is all about problem solving. Yes, that's right - I said "problem solving". There are routes or problems that must be solved and what's interesting is that there are many ways to solve a given problem - some do it a lot more efficiently and gracefully than others. To me personally, bouldering is very contrasting to long distance running (one of my other passions). While long distance running allows you to "zone out" and reflect on various things (issues at work, life whatever), to be successful at bouldering, you must completely focus on the problem at hand (leave out any other problems in your life)!
Finally, while most people tend to associate bouldering (and rock climbing, in general) with raw strength, the truth is that, the sport is just as much about skill, technique, presence of mind and being able to plan moves in advance (a little bit like chess)!

So, that's my 2c on bouldering - I figured I'll spare you of the usual description of rock climbing and bouldering, since there are tons of websites and books on the subject, and instead give you my perspective on it! - hopefully, this has motivated you to "hit the wall" sometime!

oh, and here's what I got for coming in at #4 in the UCSD Boulderdash earlier this year! :) -

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Race Day - Bryce Canyon Half Marathon 2010

Ran the BCHM -2010 two weekends ago. This was my first experience running a half marathon outside of San Diego and I absolutely loved it. The results are in, and I'm happy to say I achieved the half marathon PR goal (sub 1:45 finish) I set for myself, along with my other new year's resolutions for the year:

Overall:152 out of 1141 Finishers
Men: 107 out of 419 finishers
Age Group: 16 out of 87

Finish: 1:43:18 Pace: 7:53/mi
Chip Time:1:43:18
Gun Time:1:43:26

I thought my training for the race was pretty decent. I varied my training a little this time - instead of doing really short runs (3-5mi) twice a week and fairly long (8-12mi) runs every weekend, I did 6.6mi (10K) runs, 3 times a week and hardly any weekend long runs (most of the weekends got spent hiking, biking, camping, climbing, road tripping etc, as you can see on my outdoors blog ). The one thing I did do though, was run the same 10K (6.6mi) loop over and over again and try my best to beat my time every time - which meant, running each one like a race!

Now, for the screwing up part: I decided to go play 2 hours of ultimate Frisbee, followed by an hr of soccer (which, I hadn't played in over 10 years) the very last weekend before the race. I was amazed by how different short fast sprinting is from steady long distance running. My Achilles heels were sore following that and I also ended up with a nice blister under my right foot. To top it off, I didn't get much chance to rest my legs before the race, because, we decided to do a bunch of hikes in Zion NP, on the way to Bryce Canyon.

As a result, I practically limped to the start line, with feet feeling like crap, at 5am on the race day (after hiking 11 miles the day before and getting an awesome 4 hrs of shut eye time). I would have probably bailed on the race, if they hadn't told me, there were medals for all finishers ;-). I stretched for a good 45 minutes before the race, but was nowhere close to being in my regular running shape. I finally told myself - since I had come this far, I might as well start it -and so I did. My legs (just the ankles and bottom of my feet, everything else was perfect) hurt with every step, right from the start! I decided I was going to run a couple miles and then pull to the side. I get up to the 1 mile mark and realize I ran it in 7:56, so I change my mind and decide I'll somehow try to keep it up until the 1/2 pt (~6.6miles). After I get to that, I decide, I'll try to make it to the 8.5 mile mark, at which point I would pass the motel we were staying at (and a couple friends cheering me on), so I could bail and go crash on the soft bed. When I get to the motel, I realize I just clocked my fastest 8.5miler (1:04), so there was no way I was going to let my PR goal slip away now. I eventually hobbled into the finish line and could barely stand or walk - but, it was all worth it - not just because I achieved my goal, but, also because, I passed one of the greatest mental challenges I've faced to date!

Overall, I thought the race was very well organized, the scenery was beautiful, there were way more water stops (~10) than we needed (with both water and Gatorade at each) and the T-shirt is the best race shirt I've gotten to date (and all that for a $35 registration). Definitely recommend running it!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Training Tracking SD RnR 2010

So, I finally decided to start doing some planned training for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon in June, this year. I haven't signed up for the race yet, but, I figure I'll try to push the miles and see where I am in a month or so and then decide, accordingly.
I haven't figured out my complete training plan either, but, I know it is going to be a lot of running, so I figure why not start tracking so I can keep it real.

I have been keeping a log of my runs in a simple text file on my phone (yeah, talk about low-tech!) for the last couple months, as I trained for and ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon. I'm going to add them here, so that I can get a total count for the year too, in the process :)

2009 Dec Runs:
Sat (12/5) 7.0mi MM Lake
T (12/7) 4.0mi Telesis Ct
Th (12/9) 5.6mi Sorrento/ Lusk ~45min
T (12/22) 5.5mi Lopez Cyn 55min
Th (12/24) 5.7mi UTC 52min
Su (12/27) 7.0mi Rose Cyn ~60min
T (12/29) 5.0mi UTC ~48min
Total: 40mi
Total for 2009: ~550miles
Will I top that in 2010? Let's see... :)


Sat (1/8) UCSD 6.6mi
T (1/11) UCSD 5.5mi
Th (1/13) trail 4.7mi 46min
Sat (1/16) UTC 10.0mi
Sat (1/23) UTC 10.5mi
Thu (1/28) UCSD 6.0mi
Sat (1/30) UTC 12.6mi
W (2/4) Lopez Cyn 5.0mi
Sat (2/6) UTC 6.6mi
Th (2/11) UTC 6.0mi
Sun (2/14) San Dieguito Half 15.0mi
Sat (2/20) TP-Del Mar + Hill 8.0mi
Th (2/25) UTC 6.0mi 48min
Sat (2/27) TP-Del Mar 7.1mi 58min
T (3/16) UCSD 6.6mi
Sat (3/20) UCSD +Rose Cyn 8.6mi 74min
T (3/23) Lopez Cyn 4.6mi
Th (3/25) UCSD + LJColony 9.6mi 78min
Total So far: 140miles

T (3/30): UCSD + LJ Colony 9.6mi 78min
Sun (4/4): Miramar lake 5+5+3=13mi in 1:45 + 2min breaks between loops (my own little MIRAMAR LAKE HALF MARATHON, if you will ;-)
Tue (4/6) 6.6mi UCSD loop

*****Found out that the SD RnR 2010 is already Full (first time in the 12 year history of the event) and decided to slack off for a few weeks :)******

Tue (4/20) Gilman 6.6mi
Thu (4/22) UCSD 6.0mi
**** Bought new Asics Piranha's (trainers/ racing flats), from now on "P" indicates runs with these so, I know if they're doing any good or not! *****

Fri (4/28) Gilman 6.6mi (P) 55min
Sat (4/29) Rose Cyn 5mi (P) 43min
Sun (4/30) 50mi Bike Ride from UTC to Carlsbad and Back!!
Tue (5/4) Gilman 6.6mi 57min
Thu (5/6)Gilman 6.6mi 58min
Mon (5/10) Gilman 6.6mi 56min
Wed (5/12) Rose Cyn 6.0mi (P)
Sat (5/22) UTC<->TP 10.2miler
Mon (5/24) Gilman 6.6mi 54min


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Race Day - San Dieguito Half Marathon 2010

Just ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon this morning. It was a very interesting experience (both the race and the day overall), and I hope to capture the details here, so I can look back at them later (something I put off doing right after AFC half, and never got back to it and now I've forgotten all the details... so, no slacking this time). But, first off, here's my performance:

Finish Time: 1:49:29
Avge. Pace: 8:18
Other Info : N/A
(NOTE: race did not feature, timing chips :(.. so, above time is, as recorder on my wrist watch's lap timer)

Although, I didn't meet the goal I had set for myself after I finished the AFC Half last year -- which was a "sub 1:45" finish, on the next half -- nonetheless, I am pretty happy overall, for two reasons:
1. This is my best time of the 4 half marathons I've run to date (PR yay!!)
2. I have reason to believe that the above numbers don't necessarily reflect my true performance on today's race, due to some major mistakes I made (keep reading to see if you agree!) (.. and let me know through comments ;-)

OK, so here are the details. Starting off from the night before... I got myself a nice meal and stayed up a little after that, to set up my iPod Playlist and figure out my mile splits. I finally crashed on the bed around 11:45 pm, shortly realizing I forgot to set my morning alarm, I quickly "resurfaced" and set my alarm clock in the dark for 6am (race start was 8am) and went back to sleep, reassured I was all set (or so I thought!). Felt like I barely closed my eyes and the alarm went off, showing 6am. I opened my eyes, peered out of the window right above my bed and noticed it was unusually dark for 6am... so, instead of getting straight to "businesss", I decided to check the main clock in the living room and sure enough, it was an awesome 3:55am!! (a quick mental recap made me realize, that I had advanced the actual time on my clock by a couple hours, while trying to set the alarm in he dark... dang!)... retreat back into the sack, reset the clock and shut eyes again... before I know it, the damn thing is going off again (and this time the correct 6am!).. I shut the alarm and decide to rest a little before waking up... and without realizing slip into a nap... and finally come to senses at 6:24am... from then on it's a race against time... I change... make a quick cup of tetley masala tea and head out, banana in one hand, red bull in another... get in the car, start moving, and the "reserve" light comes on (dang!)... quick pull into the gas station and it's 6:55am, when I actually start heading towards the race venue. I figured I was still in decent shape (but, no!)

Driving up the I-5 N, I notice a stream of red lights from Villa De La Valle (the exit 4.5mi before the exit, I was supposed to take!), on up... I keep telling myself, it's not what I think it is, but, deep down I know, I'm screwed. I sip on my red bull and hope that the endless line of cars in front of and behind me are all hopeful of actually making the race. I spend a good 40mins, going bumper to bumper at 5miles an hr (one of the rare moments where I feel like kicking myself for buying a sports coupe with a "manual" transmission :P)... finally make the exit and, guess what, now there's another line of cars (the champions that exited from the I-5 S) merging into our already endless line... awesome, just what we need. One signal down, I realize, staying in the car and trying to drive closer to the start isn't going to help... I decide to take the first right an park in the strip mall. I jump out of the car, ditch the jacket, the phone and the wallet and start running to the start line. Now, per the race brochure, I remember reading that the entrance, to San Dieguito County park (the start of the race) was the first 3-way stop after turning right from the exit. What it didn't say, is that, that 3-way stop, is a mile from exit and uphill!)... so, I quickly realize, I'm running a race, just to get to the start of my race. I finally come up to the San Dieguito county park entrance and guess what, there's no start line in sight... I see people walking down a trail. I assume that's the way... and soon enough, I'm going downhill for about a mile and half on a dirt trail (still unsure whether I'm actually heading to the start, or some place else, or I'm already running the half!). My watch at this time was a little past 8am, so, I knew I was late... I just didn't know how late. I finally see the yellow "start" banner and hear the guy say "folks starting now are 5 minutes and 20 seconds behind the official start"... aah, perfect!

So, I quickly make a decision to ditch the usual "stretching" ritual runners go through before any long run (oh, blasphemy!!)... just hit the lap timer on my trusted Timex (7 years old and going strong) and hope for the best. Now, a little comforted by the fact that I was finally in the race... I tried to block out the negative feelings of all the energy I wasted sprinting a quick 5K before my race and the fact that I was potentially going to run ~16miles without proper stretching. I come up to the 1st mile marker, check my stop watch, look at my mile split sheet (I staple it to my bib number, upside down, so I can read it at every mile) and am happy to see that I am on track. Alright, things are looking good, time to pull out the iPod headphones and get that custom playlist I set up the night before, going. Some cool new beats (like this one , I discovered a couple days ago) and I'm "cruising" along. The one thing that was bothersome was, that because I started at almost the end of the pack, I was faced with several "walls" of runners, running at a pace 2-3minutes, slower than mine. Which meant, I was constantly breaking, turning, running off trail... just to keep my overall pace in check. It almost felt like I passed half of all the runners on the race today!
I finally reached the point where you enter the "turn around loop" and noticed the first group of runners, returning. I took a quick peek at my watch and realized that a mojority of the first wave, was about 7-8 minutes in front of me at the half way point (which made me feel good, because, it meant, if I had started on time, I could easily be among the top 100 on this race!). I finally reach the turn around point (around 7.5miles) make my first water stop for the day, empty the single powerbar gel, I had carried, stretch a little, untie and tie my laces and continue on. Soon enough, I am at mile 8 and a quick check of my mile split sheet revealed,I was trailing my target by about 2mins (which meant, I was potentially looking at a 1:47 finish, as opposed to my planned 1:45). I kept at it, going up and down the rolling hills (the course is constant rolling hills, with only about 2 miles of flat running, on the whole course.. but, thankfully the gradient isn't too bad). Thanks to a couple of hills between mile 8 and 12, by mile 12, that gap had widened to about 5 minutes (oooh... veering dangerously close to 1:50 territory :( ). I realized at this point, that I had to finish the rest of the race in 8minutes, if I wanted to avoid ending into the 1:50s. Just as that thought goes through my head, I see the final hill of the race.. phew.. but, I kept telling myself that it was downhill after that all the way to the finish and finally crossed the finsh line with the "official time clock" showing 1:54: something)... I looked at my stop watch and it was 1:49:something.. which seemed to agree with the 5:20, delay at the start of the race.

It was a pleasant surprise to see two of my running buddies (Bharath and Chaitanya) drive up to meet me at the end of the race and made all the tiredness disappear as I met them and told them about all the excitement earlier in the day. It also made me realize how much difference it makes to see a familiar face at the end of a long race. So much that, I hereby make a resolution to try to attend any race that even one of my friends runs (no matter how long or short) as long as it is within commuting distance and I have the time to do so.

Overall a very unique experience!
Time to take that rare mid day nap now :)