Thursday, January 29, 2009

3M Relay - Race Report

I ran the 3M Half-Marathon relay this past weekend with another Team Asha runner Vishwas. It was the 2nd time that I was participating in a relay race – the 1st being the Silicon Labs Relay Marathon last year with G31 and G32. Relay races have a different dynamic to them – as a relay team member, you are not just focused on how you personally run, and how well you do, but also on how your relay portion contributes to the team’s success, and how your team members do. Vishy had been complaining about a knee pain the previous evening, but I knew that despite that pain, he would still run a great race – and I was determined to do my part in helping to acquire an overall good time!

I was running the 1st leg of the race – and started off slowly, letting the crowds pass me. I saw the Asha cheersquad at the start waving our brand new posters – which made me smile. The weather was cold that morning, but that worked for me since I LOVE running in the cold. I took off my jacket after the 1st mile and settled into a comfortable pace. I was carrying my own Gatorade, and did not need to stop at any of the water-stops. By Mile 2, I was doing sub 11-min miles, which for me is pretty good! I was excited at Mile 3 to see that I was maintaining that and started to pick up my speed a little.. I ran past a few familiar faces along the way – and cheered on a couple of Asha runners as well. I was feeling great. We ran through the lovely Spicewood neighborhood and finally hit Mopac. I crossed the 5 mile marker right after the Mopac intersection and really picked up my pace. I had just a mile left and figured I might as well give it my all. Praveen – another enthusiastic Asha volunteer was cheering so loudly it really got me all motivated to keep up my speed! Before I knew it, I had crossed the 10K marker and reached the relay point shortly after. I had completed 6.4 miles in 1:07 h – which is a personal record for me! I was thrilled and gave a Hi-Five to Vish after taking his sweater and waved him off. I then rode the shuttle bus to the finish point.

Vishy reached the finish just 54 mins after the relay exchange – which is quite incredible! We had an overall time of 2:03h! Vishy’s knee was hurting a little but we were both excited about how the race had gone and stayed at the finish to cheer on the rest of the Asha runners and our friends who were running the race.
Here are Vish’s thoughts on how the race went!

My race season has finally started - three races in a span of four weeks! Up first was the 3M Half Marathon Relay. I was running the relay with Charanya. Both she and I have our big races coming up next weekend and hence decided that doing the relay was the best option. I for one didn’t want to get a freakish injury and jeopardize my target race. The 3M course is famous for being a fast one. Being mostly downhill, the course offers good prospects of setting personal records. The relay is split up such that the first runner runs 6.4 miles and the second runner runs 6.7 miles. The plan was for Charanya to start us off and for me to finish the race.

The pre-race events were good. I got to see the start of the race, I saw the elite runners jet by and then the ASHA runners followed. I then was dropped off to the relay exchange point by ASHA volunteers- Murali, Gaurav and Bharat. It was a bitterly cold morning; I managed to stay warm by constantly moving and stretching. As I waited I cheered on the runners who were passing the relay exchange. I struck a conversation or two with some of the other folks who were also waiting for the racing partner to get to the exchange point. Around 8.20 or so Charanya appeared from the turn, and this was my cue to take my layers off and get ready. She gave me Hi-Five, I gave her my hoodie and off I went.

It took a long time for my body to warm up. My toes felt numb, my gloves didn’t help much but my brand spanking new shoes felt great! I had been battling some left knee issues, but it felt okay at that point. I was zooming past people, partly because I had just started the race and they were more than half way through it. I was running 7.5 min/mile pace for the first two miles, at which point I decided to slow down a bit in order to conserve some energy for the finale. This was about the time that my knee pain kicked in. This knee pain is a strange one, it happens on the inside bone on my left foot and no stretching/exercise makes it go away. I decided to suck it up and keep going. I passed the 10 mile marker and before I knew it, my pain was increasing. I decided to totally change my running form; I changed the way my foot landed - but it still didn’t help. So I decided to run by just straightening one leg- the right one. I somehow managed to keep the pace up in spite of a strange running step. Once I got to the 12 marker I forgot about the pain and dashed to the finish line.

All in all, it was a satisfying race. The course was easier than some of the other routes I have run in Austin. I managed to run a sub 50 min 10K, which is a PR for me. Mentally it puts me in good shape for my target race ahead. But the same cannot be said about my left knee. I have been icing/rehabbing it constantly for the past 4 days. It feels better, but I will not know for sure till race day Sunday!

Overall, Vish and I had a really great race and truly enjoyed ourselves! We are both extremely grateful to the awesome Asha volunteers for cheering us on at the various points of the course – despite the cold, and boy was it cold!! We are both now looking forward eagerly to our target races this weekend in New Orleans! Hope we have a good time there as well!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why do you run?

I can't stop watching running videos on youtube! :) Here's another neat one!

Love the last reason...

Why do I run?
Because when I do there is always the chance to be extraordinary!

Are you going to finish strong?

Here are 2 pretty awesome videos that I watched this past week - both inspirational in very different ways!

1. Amit Bhai posted this video. It's about an hour long but totally worth the time! Like Amit said "Forget those stupid motivational self-improvement books and workshops.....just watch this video!!" :)

Oh..and by the way, I have a huge crush on Chrissie Wellington now - my new heroine!!! :)

2. This one was fwded to me by a work colleague and moved me to tears! It makes me really appreciate the fact that I am able to do crazy things like run 26.2 miles and take part in Tris - and will defn be something I will look back on when I have a bad training day and all I feel like doing is whining!

4 days to the New Orleans 26.2! Can't wait! :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

A fabulous 20!!

It's amazing how the body can cooperate once that mind sets itself to do something! And its amazing how a simple change in weather can make an amazing difference to a training session! I had to run 20 miles last Saturday, and was nervous all of last week about it! I had not been training consistently, I had not run the 20 miles I was supposed to the previous weekend, I'd been sick early last week, the weather has been fluctuating like crazy all week, and my target race was just in 2 weeks - the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon! The longest I have run this season is 18 miles and I had a miserable time running it! Given that, I was not feeling good at all about running the 20 this weekend!

The run started slowly...we ran up Rio Grande from 4th St to 28th St, and when I say, ran up, I literally mean it, it was a constant upward gradient. The first 3 miles were painful and the weather was humid...and I was already dreading the remaining 17! I met Coach Peri at the 1st water-stop at about 3.5 miles and she told me I looked great! I know coaches HAVE to say that, but it's still somehow uplifting to hear someone say that, especially when you feel crabby! I drank 2 cups of water and headed off....the next few miles took me to Bull Creek and then on to Shoal Creek...I am not a big fan of running on Bull Creek...but the weather had become better and there was a cool breeze along the I just kind of zoned off and ran till I hit Shoal Creek...I love love running on Shoal's a very pretty road, and has a nice wide bike/run path...met Coach Geezer at about Mile 7....drank 2 more cups of water and swallowed a salt tablet....continued on Great Northern and then past Northcross now, I had settled on a good momentum and was also enjoying the cool weather!! The humidty had also kinda disappeared!

The run then went onto El Arroyo St, another long Road and then towards North Loop....I took a Gu at the Mile 11 water-stop....I literally sucked parts of it and washed it down with Gatorade...and barely tasted any of it...and then took off...I was at mile 13 now....I had been avoiding looking at my watch all this while...but was curious to know what my half-marathon time was...I was clocking about 2h 46 min....about a 12:40 pace...I was pretty happy with that since I was running sub-13 made me a lot more excited to get the next 7 miles in!! The next few miles involved a relatively downward descent on Duval Road...another road I quite enjoy running on...For those of you who are running 3M, you will spend at least 3-4 miles on this road, and it's where you will really pick up speed!! I reached the end of Duval and was feeling pretty good when I got to the last water-stop....I looked at the map then and saw that we were going to run left on San Jacinto...and then right on Dean Keaton, and do a loop around campus, Dean Keaton - Guadalupe - MLK and then back to San Jac....Deak Keaton is a horribly uphill road - with a steep gradient...I decided to skip it, since I didnt want to risk doing anything to my knees just 2 weeks before the race....and decided to make it up by running a couple of smaller loops in the downtown area...which is relatively flat.....

I ran continuously without stopping for the remaining 3 miles...and reached the Rogue Store with quite a strong finish....I felt great....I could have run more....which I was happy about since on race day, I would have 6 more miles to run!....I looked at my time....4h14min...a 12:42 pace exactly!!...I was really thrilled!! My goal this season is to break 5h 30min....and for the 1st time this season, I actually think that I have a shot at doing it....I took 5h 53min for the DC marathon (13:35 pace)....and really want to reduce that by at least about 25 mins!!....And hopefully I will!! I am pretty psyched now about New Orleans!! And will spend the next couple of weeks tapering off and resting my body in preparation!! I just really really hope that the weather cooperates, because that really made a big difference in yesterday's run! But more importantly, I am going to focus on keeping my spirits up and really enjoying the experience, because that is what truly determines whether you have a great run or not!!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

All Gu-ed out!!

"Gu" is an energy gel that I have been using pretty regularly during all my long runs and during my marathons and tris. The Gu gels are a great source of carbohydrates and during runs, I typically try to take one every 50 minutes or so. They help maintain my energy during the long runs and also keep me from becoming tired/hungry. I've never really had any major problems with them in the past and actually quite enjoyed the Chocolate Gus!

Over the last 6 months however, I've lost the taste for Gus. I find it very hard to stomach them, and it's been a challenge trying to consume them during workouts. I've tried washing them down with water, tried different flavors and alternate brands but those have not worked as well. I switched to the jelly beans and the shot blocks - which have been good, but those just dont produce as much energy and are also quite cumbersome to carry along for a run. Gu packets - I can just pin on to my shorts!

When I'm out on the course for 4-5 hours, I really need energy replenishments. Otherwise, I tire easily. I carry gatorade or salt tablets typically to help with electrolyte replacements, but I am not sure what to do now about carb replacements. Any suggestions folks??

I'm all Gu-ed out and my race is just 3 weeks away!! :(