15yrs gone by (Life outside workspace) – Part 1 (Endurance)

It is difficult to write the entire duration of life in last 15yrs in one post. The entire thought of life so far is split into few parts.

To think back load’s of things happened and in these years. It is your life in your hands and how you shape it depends on you. Our parents had done their best within their capacity. While we may not agree to our parents as years go by, they had sacrificed quite a lot and beyond their capacity too. All this to see their children “settled”. I have never agreed to this and maybe not. Life is an adventure and to copy a quote “life is a box of chocolates, you never know what is coming next”. It is never possible to undermine the efforts of parents.

2002 January was the time I moved into Bangalore. Everything looked fine, go to office, come back home, eat, sleep, party, workout at gym. Nothing else. Life went on like a machine. While everything looked to follow a routine there was a need to break free. 2004 was another changing point in life.

The first change in 2004 was joining SAP Labs India (detailed post later). The year that I got into an aeroplane for first time and made a trip to Germany. second change was the first solo backpack trip that I did. I asked a colleague and good friend about Waynad and off I went. Little did I know that it would change my way of travel. That was the beginning and was not the last! I learnt some things from that trip and I started craving for more. It was then I decided that in future trips to Germany I cannot run to places for 1.5days over weekends but rather do longer trips.

Later the next major change happened. Like any other day my brother and myself were running between domlur-koramangala-domlur when my brotherproposed the idea of running marathons. There was no turning back, have been running from then on. Marathons, ultra marathons, long distance cycling and also came in running to office as part of training.

Marathons are an experience. You run and run and run going through physical and mental disturbances. In the course of running you overcome these obstacles. As you drag yourself to the finish point there is a burst of emotions and a smile curves in. There is nothing big that you get except a medal, the value of which only you know. They were also not times when you finish a run, click a selfie and post on social media. Running becomes a drug, you run for the adrenaline rush when you cross the finish line. The body takes a toll not just during the run but also the period of training.

Just when you feel you are doing great you fall down. Injuries pull you down because we have treated body like sh**. Lack of strenghtening exercises, lack of training plan and irregular diet and other habits all merge together to sc*** you up.  After sometime you feel fine and fit only till you are you pulled down by injuries. Lack of guidance was something I felt then.

I am thankful for having met Gladson via recommendation from a colleague. The body weight exercises were just the menu I wanted along with stretches for dessert! 2014 was the peak of my running even finishing an ultra of 50kms at Jawadu Hills in 4.5hrs.

It was not all about running in these years. I also started cycling long distances some time reaching the destination and some time not. In 2005 when few friends ganged up and cycled from Bangalore to Chennai I was the only one who did not finish even though we had a relaxed plan to cycle in 2days time. I had resolved then to cycle to Chennai in under 24hrs and years later it was accomplished with group of guys from SAP! The total distance around 350kms. We did it in 21+hrs.

Similarly we cycled Tour of Nilgiris (organized tour) for 9 days with only aim of finishing comfortably each day and to not get into the support vehicle at any point of time.

The last of cycling tour was from Manali to leh again with a different group of guys from SAP supported fully by my wife. There were lots of emotional exchanges and mood swings given the altitude we were heading towards. Inspite of all that we completed in around 9days a distance of 450kms.

There is one important thing to learn from high endurance activities that is to understand one’s body. At least from my perspective I have a better control of my body and mind. Other thing is failure is part of learning process, either you fall down or get up and succeed. After a point of time you will enjoy failure and success taste more sweeter, nothing comes on a platter! And the finish line is not the same all times.

 

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Running in Brno

It took some time with all movement to get into running again.

For now found that Brno is a good city to run around. Big pavements, some trails. I have still not explored much though it looks like there are some nice trails up the mountains.

Before I step over there I need to get in shape and be fit. I wish for that soon!

If you are from Brno and reading this feel free to mail some running routes.

Looking forward to clocking more miles.

Music & Safety for runners

I may not be qualified to write long post on this topic.
This is something from what I keep observing and how things are around me.

Music is a great company while running. Lot of runners like to plug in music and keep oneself motivated to run. Some keep the volume low while some keep the volume high. The genre of music also varies.

While the attention is to running and music, lot of them are not aware about what is around them. When we block the ears with music, we are blocking that essential sense from listening to approaching sounds form behind. Theory could be that run against the flow of traffic.
At least in India, the flow of traffic is not restricted to one side. There are lot of road uses who drive/ride their vehicles on the wrong side also. There are in this some elements who would extend their arm on to the runners. Though I have no idea whether extending the arm onto body of runners translates to climax. It is definitely going to take decades to change the mindset of our people. In this time one cannot stop running citing these reasons.

When not listening to music we tend to listen to sounds around us and it is quite probable that we may move away from these elements.

If listening to music is something that cannot be avoided then it is better to run inside parks or around lakes where there are more public. Or to run in a group who also maintain same pace.

Run safe, be safe.

2014 – Journey of running

2014 was an important year for running.

To look back 15years ago in the last quarter of 1999 when I was studying at NIT, Trichy (Then REC, Trichy) I made my first steps of running around the cricket ground. I was running barefoot then. I used to cycle from hostel to the ground remove my slippers and ran. Struggled even to run 200mts, the ground was 800mts. I was panting, sweating, cursing myself. I kept running almost every day around the ground irrespective of difficulty in running. When I was leaving REC I managed to run 11times around the ground.

2014 also marks a decade of serious runnning. It was in 2004 around November – December that my brother suggested why not run marathons. And from their running got stuck on!

Prior to 2014 running was on and off with bad timings in Marathons due to varied reasons and inconsistent practice runs. Mentally it was tough to overcome injuries and broken bones and get back to running. The vision was in sight. It was time to come back. I started off towards end of 2013 and felt good.
To prevent injuries I also decided to strengthen core mixed with good stretches. Everything was new and it looked like I was a newbie again. The biggest factor was poor performance in previous years was in the 2nd half of running marathons. And this resulted in timings above 5hrs. I started feeling that being on the track for more than 5hrs was not getting justified to say that am a runner.

2014 began with a simple target that I would not run marathons for anything more than 5hrs. If I ran above 5hrs then I would not run any longer.

So began the quest with Mumbai Marathon (SCMM 2014). New strategy to keep running and not walk at any point of time. Unfortunately after 30+kms, I was forced to walk. Old thoughts started coming back but the main focus was to get over the cramps. Finally I managed to cross the line after 4hrs and 15mins. I managed to keep up to my word and that was a good motivation, I was pumped up. There was a learning from here not to avoid hydrating sufficiently.

The next run was “Run the Rann“. This was to be a 42kms run at Rann of Kutch. In the end the distance turned out to be 53kms. It was not about the distance, I spent almost 9hrs and 31mins. It was disappointment. It was not much about the trail it was also not properly planning the run and a mental exhaustion. There were learnings and revised target that no more ultra marathons with such a bad timing.

Few months of break and it was time to restart with TCS World 10k. It was not exciting event but a good platform to start running with regular practice. I did not expect much from this event. Of course 1hr meant I was long enough and would have felt bad. Luckily that was not the case. But am not sure I would again get back to this event in 2015!

Chennai Trail Marathon, this was one event I was looking forward to. I was also getting attracted to Ultra Marathons. Main target was to run 50kms comfortably. Though in the end I would not say so. I was again comfortably running with sufficient intake of oranges and lemon for hydration and salts. And this also had an effect. After around 30kms I started struggling. Finally I managed to finish 50kms in 6hrs 20mins.

The next even which was coming up was Jawadu Hills Ultra. I was keenly looking forward to this run. 50kms on the hills, I was excited and tensed. I did not intend to repeat mistakes of Mumbai and CTM. I kept hydrating myself, avoided lemon and oranges, feasted on bananas and chocolates. There I was running comfortable pace. Maintained one single goal, do not walk. Around 25kms I was getting tired but pushed myself saying that however it is do not walk. Slow job up the hill is fine. Took good few minutes break at all aid stations. Yes I managed to finish in 5.5hrs without any tiredness nor pain nor acidity. I was very happy.

Post this event I wanted to take a break which was when SAP Runners Cup started. This was an event where we form team of 3 across SAP locations around the world. We burn calories basically. With my body weight I had to run more and more to burn little amount of calories. I ran frequently to office from home. This 3months helped in improving my rhythm and also pace. I all times supplemented with core exercises. I did not clock less miles in this period but I burnt only few calories.

Chennai Marathon in the month of December to mark the decade was my best run so far! I picked up pace after 2kms, regularized the run with sufficient breaks. Learnt from all past mistakes. Carried forward from Jawadu Hills Ultra and completed the marathon with personal best of 3hrs 54mins.

To sign-off the year in my own way last 3days I have clocked more than 10kms per day. Today being the last day of the year ran 14kms in 1hr20mins.
With that looking forward to improved performance in 2015!

Thanks to my family of parents, brother, wife, sister and my in-laws and to all my running friends and non-running friends and to my office colleagues for all their support throughout the year.

Chennai Marathon 2014

This run was very important for two reasons:
1. 10yrs ago around this time was when my brother Shyam asked whether we should start running marathons graduating from 5km runs.
2. I had gave a word to my wife I will run this marathon in less than 4hrs. There has to be an improvement from previous runs.

I was doing exercises regularly and doing regular runs and slightly confident of doing a good finish. Last two weeks most of the time I was having cold and was not able to run regularly like I would have loved to.
TWCM2014_FM_Route
I was shocked when I learnt that start time for The Wipro Chennai Marathon was 4:00am and unlike last year no run inside IIT Campus. This would also mean running into 21kms and 10kms runners mid-way.

 

 

 

 

Morning of the d-day I was up by 1:30am and finished some stretches taught by Gladson and applied little Himalaya Stress Relief Oil. I reached quite early to the start point which was Kasturibhai MRTS station. I met Tanvir Kazmi who did motivate me that I could finish in less than 4hrs. Tanvir was also a pacer with 5hrs bus. I had a target time of somewhere between 3hrs45mins – 4hrs:00. Later I met others from my office part of SAPRoadies.

The amazing thing about TWCM is on dot start. Sharp 4:00am all full marathon runners were flagged off. I moved over ahead of 4hrs bus with pacer Peter Van Geit from Chennai Trekking Club. First 5kms is always bad sometimes for my mind. I even ended up thinking that I should do more of Ultra Marathons and leave Full Marathons. The route was great so far moving towards Besant Nagar Beach and then towards Marina Beach. Was going steadily I believed. At times I was feeling dehydrated and thankfully there was a water station with even chocolates and bananas.
The learning from Mumbai Marathon 2014 helped a lot. Not to allow to get dehydrated and to keep hydrating regularly. I took few sips of gatorade at every possible aid station and water at some others. Apart from helping myself with some chocolates and bananas!
After Chennai Trail Marathon I deliberately stay away from lime and oranges in the initial kms of the run. U-turns and straight stretches and long runs I was doing pretty comfortably. At every u-turn I would want to ensure that 4hrs bus do not cross me and to be almost a km ahead of them.
After 30kms was a little nightmare because I was running into the crowd of half marathon runners. They were many running in same direction as mine and many many in the opposite direction and not to mention half marathoners walking in the middle of the road. It was difficult to move through this sea of people. I drained a bit of energy asking people to move to the left and banging my hand on elbows of other runners. This was tough stretch.

Now I was getting mentally drained also. I pushed myself towards 40kms mark and was feeling the tiredness and pain on my shoulders. Took a quick break and also applied volini spray. A definite no-no next time. The burning sensation was not an easy one to bear with. In the end towards the last few kms I could have maintained pace for a finish in less about 2mins or so.

Eitherways am happy with my performance.
Bib Number : F132
Name : Sathish Krishnaswamy
Category : OPEN
Event : MARATHON
Gender : Male
Start Time : 04:00:13
Split@9 Km : Reached at 04:48:01 with Net Time :00:47:49, at an Avg Speed of 11.3 kmph
Split@14 Km : Reached at 05:17:02 with Net Time :01:16:50, at an Avg Speed of 10.93 kmph
Split@14.5 Km : Reached at 05:21:24 with Net Time :01:21:12, at an Avg Speed of 10.71 kmph
Split@22.5 Km : Reached at 05:55:03 with Net Time :01:54:51, at an Avg Speed of 11.75 kmph
Split@26 Km : Reached at 06:11:34 with Net Time :02:11:22, at an Avg Speed of 11.88 kmph
Split@28 Km : Reached at 06:28:31 with Net Time :02:28:18, at an Avg Speed of 11.33 kmph
Split@35 Km : Reached at 07:05:01 with Net Time :03:04:49, at an Avg Speed of 11.36 kmph
Finish@42.197 Km : Reached at 07:54:42 with Net Time :03:54:30, at an Avg Speed of 10.8 kmph
Gross Time : 03:54:36

Positives of the run:
1. Water stations at almost every 2kms mark.
2. Chocolates and bananas and dates at the aid stations along with gatorade, electral and water.
3. Sponges dipped in water though I did not use it.
4. Traffic management. Excellent job by the traffic cops and the police to maintain discipline by road users. And the public did not honk at any point of time or point and abuse for running and blocking traffic.
5. Cheering squads at many different point and volunteers.
6. Separating different sections to distribute medals to runners.
7. Volunteers who would take cups from you and put it into dustbin and there were volunteers who would collect cups from ground and put them into dustbin.

Improvements for future:
1. To ensure that runners of different categories do not clash. Maybe a slight changes at peak hours where most runners are expected to be at a particular stretch.

Thank you organizers. Looking forward to TWCM2015.

Running with companion

It is not usual for me to write a blog about my practice runs. Today was a very different run from all the previous runs. Its always a different feeling when you have someone for company and this guy who accompanied me today in my morning run was very different.
Days when I feel like running shorter distance or if it has rained previous night then I head to office and run inside the campus. Ous campus is quite big that one loop around would be little more than a km.
Like any other day I started my run after switching on endomondo (mobile app for tracking). Few hundred meters down this guy saw me and ran immediately towards my direction. I took few seconds off to say hi to him and we both were kind of glad to bump into each other.

Me&Comp

Me&Comp2

TheComp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our initial welcome message exchanges we both ran. He stopped in between few seconds to catch his breath and sips of water. I stopped in between for few sips of water. He waited whenever I took a break.
In the end when I thought enough of running for the day and also felt little bad for the little guy, I had ran 7.5kms and I was not slow today unlike other days. I had ran this distance in 36mins and that little guy would have ran with me for almost 7kms at the same speed I was in. Maybe he was giving me training to run faster and run better! 🙂 And we both were running barefoot!
With nothing to feed the boy, I gave him glucose water which he licked from my hand and drank from my palms. Later he followed me and was waiting for me before others asked him to go away.
Maybe another day I would see him and he would train me again!

Click here for todays run tracking on endomondo.

Run the Rann 2014

15th February 2014 early morning 5:00am, am up and ready dressed for what is probably going to be the toughest run that I would have ever done so far. A quick breakfast, water bag packed and waist belt packed. Few chocolate bars, enerzal, kit for wound. With almost all mandatory stuff packed. By 7:00am all runners, running the 101kms, 42kms and 21kms are ready and getting into the bus to be dropped at start point which is at Dholaveera.
I was in the 42kms category. One of my colleague Gokul and myself have already decided to stay together for the entire course come what may. We heard lot about the terrain for the run and now we were going to experience it. It is pretty much cold in the morning. Nowhere close to Bangalore chillness.

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We start off with the salt lake to the left, sun slowly rising up on the right. A very beautiful ball of sun. We maintain a steady pace on the marsh sometimes leg slipping into the marsh and sometimes hard surface of the salt sand. Little later we go up towards the hilly section. In the course we find not at all places we would be able to run and even if we run not at the same pace. There are rocks or stones and at times leg trips over it.

It is so far not tough to be on the route with red ribbons tied to either the thorn bushes or fixed on small flag posts. Moving further we still trip over stones and keep climbing up and down. Then out of blue we find rocky terrain where we need to climb up holding to rocks. And same is the situation when climbing down. There are water stations at regular intervals within 4-5kms distance. So far so good.
And then starts more twist to the terrain. There is a red ribbon flag post and looking down its like jump down and down and down or scroll down holding to rocks. Around 18kms mark which is where we turn left (101kms and 42kms runners) and the 21kms runners turn right. There are few runners who did miss the ribbons and get into different directions and were brought back on track.
At this around same distance there is a runner from Mexico who also joins us. We three stay together. We stayed together till the end from here on. At a point on top of cliff we scream our lungs out for a short video. Gokul has a problem with his right knee and the way he was running was dangerous for his leg. Our mexican friend had a bandage for the pain and I found a sharp stone to cut the bandage. The pain was more due to constant tripping over rocks. Of course we always maintained not to fall down at any point of time which would have been very bad. I took regular photos to fill memories later date. And there were fossil rocks too.

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We cross some more aid stations and the distance told to us is 12kms to finish line at each station. We are motivated but actually not when the next station also tells us the same. In one of the aid station I give my water bag since it was leaking from both sides and filled with water bottles instead. We maneuver towards 28th kms mark where there is a station and school kids and their teachers standing with placards written ‘Welcome’ and the kids shouting ‘welcome welcome’ beating drums and clapping. We fill water bottles, orange, pour water on head, convey our mandatory thanks and climb up the rocky hill again and turn right, the left turn on top is for 101kms runners.

We could see the salt lake and the marsh and we were like we are almost there. From 12kms to finish line now we graduated to 14kms to finish line. When we got down it was not towards salt lake but rather into sand. Now we were mixing a bit of jog and walk and jog and walk. Not to leave behind the sun is rather sharp on us. 28kms in around 4hours I think. My garmin had got reset at around 21kms and was doing another lap. In the beach sand or river sand we were there and at occasional times found shade from the thorn bushes. Now I was also cramping up. I cannot blame this time that I did not drink enough water. I was drinking water regularly that I was also able to feel my stomach filled with water, enerzal, orange, choci.

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We are again walking and mixing walk-jog. We are getting tired. The only thing that keeps pushing us is the remaining distance to the finish line which would be around 10kms. So, by approximation we are sure by 6.5hrs we would at the finish line. We are already basking ourselves in the proud feeling. At the next station we are told 15kms to reach. Our mind starts acting crazy. Is there any other option. We cannot drop out. Though heat is getting on to us. Some more gatorade, glucose, water. Finally after another 5kms we are onto the salt lake marsh and to the next aid station only to hear another 15kms to finish line.

This is where we 3 being together helped. Either one of used to walk ahead so that none of us would drop out. Lot of times we would be walking together. Heat is on us. And its just plain salt lake with no living being in sight. We try to walk fast but we are also slowing down.
Now I don’t even remember what all we talked about. We talked about our work, our personal life and many things under the sun, literally! Yes literally under the sun. By now, I had taken the hanky from my bag and tied it around my head, was constantly pouring water to keep it wet and wore cap on top of it.
This talking helped us and we were sure that at every other aid station the distance would be still 12kms to finish line. Long stretches of marsh and pits in between, salt deposits, bright sunshine.
With all the struggle we reach the last aid station! What a relief, no words to describe. Now we are definitely going to reach the finish line. Walked again, took some rest, walked again. We had absolutely no more energy to run or to jog. Took another quick break and in the last 50mts, we 3 jogged together past the finish line to all claps and cheers and a medal put on to our neck.

What a feeling. We check the garmin stats and we had run 53kms. We definitely were not going to complain for the extra distance. It was not extra by 1-2kms by 11kms. Why would we complain when we feel more proud of having done the ultra while actually registering for 42kms.
We were not alone in our distance calculation, every other runner had the same stats!

Running on flat roads was good to be fit but am sure only after couple of such trail runs is when I would feel confident. But still there could be surprises!

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