Friday, October 21, 2011

Running through Mysore City

As soon as I saw the ad for Half Marathon as part of the Dasara Celebration, I immediately decided to participate. One, running through the city of Mysore was very attractive and two, after having run 10k's for the past few years, I was looking forward to moving up. Since my unfulfilled goal is to run a Full Marathon, this seemed like a good opportunity to test my physical ability.

I trained for just over a month. Since I was already fit enough to run a 10k under an hour, it was enough time. In my only other previous Half in 2005, I had cramped up badly around 14km while doing the up slope near Windsor Manor in Bangalore and only barely managed to limp to the finish line. I had to make sure that it would not happen again this time which meant better preparation. Towards that I ensured that during my training I ran a couple of ~15km runs and finished feeling good enough to continue for another 5km. Also, planned my food properly in the last week, avoiding fried food while loading up on carbs and water.
My training routine can be viewed here.
I key thing I felt after the fact, was a good week 3, where I totaled about 46kms with one run of 16km at just outside my targeted pace.
So, when I boarded the train to Mysore on Oct 1st, I had a good feeling, though still not sure, if I could achieve my goal of finishing under 2hrs. Dinner and stay at my Aunt's place was perfect. Ate 3 roti's with lots of potatoes and kept gobbling Bananas all the time. Drank several bottles of water, so much so, that I had to get up 3 times during the night to take a leak. Maybe I overdid it a tad bit there..but since I did not feel thirsty during the run, it seemed to have helped. In the morning, just a apple and Banana and I got dropped at the Venue by my Uncle and BIL.
A small crowd of 250 runners got behind the tape for the flag-off around 6.45pm. Then came a delay of about 30mins to accommodate the whims of the local official who wanted to give a speech and do a mock run for the TV! Crazy is all I can say.
Finally we were set free around 7.10 or so.. and I got into my rhythm quickly. The runners stringed out shortly and I was soon running by myself. Initial few kms had a significant gradient which took away quite a lot of my energy to keep up the pace of 5m45s/km that I was targeting. About 6kms in the middle was around the Kukkrehalli Kere on the bund which was quite pleasant. Coming out of there, we hit a steep climb where I was forced to slow down..and managed only a 6m15s 14th km. Thankfully, the rest of the route was on a down slope (what goes up has to come down, eh? :) ) and it helped to gain the lost time back. I managed to give a good finish in the end to finish a comfortable 30s under 2hrs. The satisfaction of finishing is of course the primary reward! Next up Full....

Route map from my GPS tracker
Official timing of my run (Bib # 1079)
A mug shot to show I was indeed there! :)

Some training tips I gleaned from this experience for other aspirants.

  • 2 months of preparation is good unless you are already a regular runner with about 15km/week, then 1 month should do.
  • Ensure you do at least a couple of long runs, about 15km, at around your targeted pace.
  • Don't overdo during other runs and exhaust your body. One or two 7-10km runs along with shorter but faster runs should be enough. I mixed my training with other sports like Badminton and Basketball to keep fit. It helps to break the monotony of training.
  • You should asses your ability and set your goal quickly, then train towards that. Under estimating will leave you unsatisfied and over estimating...well...can leave you with cramps well short of the finish line! :)
  • Pace yourself properly in the race, that is, not more than 10% variation from the targeted pace. I never like to stop or walk even at water stops. Don't get excited on a down slope and run too fast. If an up is too strenuous it is fine to slow down a lot. Ensure at all times, that you do not feel the burn in your legs. Increase pace in the last few kms as per how your body feels. Good... go for it and finish strong. Tired... then keep the pace and finish comfortably.
  • Food is important. No fried or outside stuff for at least a week to keep it safe. Lots of carbs from Potatoes, Bananas, Apple,  Rice, Pasta, Bread, etc. Hydrate well the day before. Pee should be clear the previous evening. Plan your water stops during the race to get enough water to avoid getting de-hyrated.
  • Stretch well after the race else the muscles will stiffen up later on and it will take longer to recover. Walk around for 10 to 20 mins and cool down. 
  • Nipple burn is an issue for this long a race. I used vaseline and it worked. I saw one runner with a large blood patch in his chest! So, beware of this problem.
Good luck and hope my tips help you in your attempt!


Pushpa said...

Hey nanda :) this seems so familiar as my son runs cross country everyday - 7 miles every day as part of his high school afterschool sports - and he is serious about it!! but you seem to have a method to your madness ;) i call it madness as i dont run or do anything physically exerting :)) but i know the value ofcourse etc etc. you got me on the nipple burn part.... i better warn my boy !!

Nanda said...

Wow! 7 miles or 10+ km every day is very good. So, he competes in middle to long distance races I would think. Good luck to him! My goal is to just keep fit to still play my fav games badminton and basketball.

Nothing mad about the method.. :) Its just that when you run any long distance > 10km at my age, one has to plan properly else you wont finish or you will be in pain for a couple of weeks. Loading up on food(carbs) and hydrating oneself properly before the race is very important I feel. As for the nipple burn, I realized it only during a trial run when I did 15km. Cotton shirts are more prone to cause it. Light shirts made for running are best. I am sure your son is already aware of it considering the distances he is running regularly.