Monday, August 19, 2019

A slushy attempt at 12 hours Bengaluru Endurance Run 2019

Just jotting down for the lack of time to write a nice blog :-)

Finished a crazy race yesterday. 12 hours Bengaluru Endurance Race 2019 (https://www.facebook.com/events/589577574846300/)

After the hypes around the beauty of Malnad Ultra, I wanted to experience it. So, I registered. But they put a qualifying criteria. I had to do either two marathons or an ultra no less than 75 km. I didn't have even a single marathon in the one year period they expected. I didn't have the enthusiasm to run two marathons just to qualify. So, I looked out for any ultra race. I didn't find any. So, I registered for Bengaluru Endurance Run 2019. Later, I discovered that Malnad Ultra would accept even if I logged my own run in garmin or strava and shared the link.

I decided to run the Bengaluru Endurance Run anyway. I had to decide on a hard 6 hours run or easier 12 hours run. 75 km in 6 hours would be too risky considering that I hadn't been running at all. The only ultra I ran was 100k in 2012 and I had covered just little more than 60k at 6 hours mark in that race. Of course, I was a complete novice that time. So, I registered for 12 hours to be on safer side.

As the event approached, my cycling friend who is also fantastic runner, Deepak Mhasavade happened to run the 100k Bengaluru Stadium run. This was his first 100k and he liked it. As we talked more about it, I happened to find that the current record in 12h race in India is just 120km. I was like, "Wow!". I enticed Deepak that we should grab this low hanging fruit and put our names on record before a real runner sets a new record :-) He immediately liked the idea and waited for his recovery and then registered for 12h at the same slot as mine, 6PM on 17th August 2019. Both of us are brevet riders and we are used to riding nights. So, I was confident of breaking this record. At the same time, we didn't want to take a risk by targeting too high too. So, we set 11 kmph as our speed and average as 10 kmph including all breaks. And push the last two hours to add a couple more km to break the record.

Just about a week to go, and venue changed to a farm mud trail as the original venue was beaten up by monsoon. The organizers mentioned that it was on a soft trail with mango and sapota trees. I liked the news of it.

Being at night, we didn't have to worry about sun. So, I prepared for rain and mud. I borrowed my daughters rain jacket with hood, took my favorite shoe Kalenji Ekiden 50 with two pairs of socks, a sandal in case a soggy shoe gets too uncomfortable, bare feet if totally muddy and a lot of food (softly cooked rice mixed with finely chopped and fried chicken and eggs).

I wanted to catch some sleep on Saturday, but didn't happen as it was a busy day for me helping my daughter with her studies and tuition. Anyways, just one night, I don't care!

We had kept the food at Deepak's car with unlocked trunk, kept lights, and extra clothes there as well and it was parked along the trail. As the race flagged off, we had to remind ourselves not to overspeed as we are both inexperienced with the target distance. Yet, we ended up doing 11.5 to 12 kmph most of the time unless we consciously slowed down. We also decided to hydrate every couple of kms (3 laps was 1.8 km) and stretch for 3 minutes every hour. We also decided to eat 2 to 3 spoons of the food for every half an hour, except the initial 90 minutes. We both are used to eating heavily during brevet rides. But running is different. Hence, smaller bites.

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How the trail looked when we started early evening
(Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/bhasinsports)

Trail was nice, even throughout except at a couple of places. We were doing good. Stayed with the plan. We completed 42km or more in 4:14. Then came the drizzle which became rain. We put the jacket and continued. Soon, more than half the trail became pools of water. Deepak and I said to ourselves that we were not giving up while also being worried about the drowziness that would set in at our sleeping times. His sleep time is around 10 and mine around 11. We ploughed through the puddles with sand in shoes. I was more efficient than Deepak on the slippery zigzag mud trail. He was struggling to maintain the pace. He also felt slightly low and some discomfort in groin area. Earlier plan was to stay together throughout. But we kept an exception, that was as long as the pace was within the desired target. Deepak let me go around the 55 km mark. Soon after he quit, but fully satisfied with whatever has been done. I started feeling the sand within my socks. I removed the shoes and socks and evaluated my options: either to change to fresh pair of socks or run bare feet as sandal was not an option with the puddles. I decided to run bare feet simply because a fresh sock was still going to be muddied in 5 minutes. I'm not a promoter of bare feet simply because I believe that shoe is a nice gear to have for a runner. At the same time, I'm not averse to barefeet running at all. I never owned a shoe in my school days and even played football on bare feet. So, I ran bare feet. I had plenty of ouch moments as I stepped on hard roots of plants or something hard. Later, I checked the feet. Except for 7 or 8 red spots, I have no cuts.

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How the trail looked like in the morning after rain stopped for a couple of hours
(Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/bhasinsports)
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More on the trail. Best part was in the night for which I don't have a photo.
Soon after mid night, my pace was falling as I was drowsy. I tried to take a nap, sitting and leaning on the car. Lost about 10 minutes and I didn't get the needed sleep with the cold drizzle. I checked if there was tea. It got over. But the kind volunteers made fresh coffee (black) just for me! While they were making it, I asked Aparajita if she had the caffeine gels. She had them. I swallowed one and I started feeling good immediately. Next lap, I took the hot coffee too. It was so pleasant to sip something hot at that cold and drenched moment. I didn't hide my jubilation with the magic of caffeine - I thanked Appu multiple times on the course whenever we crossed each other. I decided not to eat the rice for the last 5 hours as I knew I was well nourished and could last for 5 hours even though I might drain to emptiness at the end. I was indeed empty for the last two hours. The bananas that were at the aid station helped me. I covered more than 90 km within 10 hours. That was when I thought I should accelerate, though I knew I would be well below my initial target. But I was unable to accelerate given the nature of the trail - slippery and zigzagged. I thought, I would try with the shoes. Cleaned up the sand from the socks instead of dirtying another pair of socks. I lost a bit of time. But it was not helping. I felt it too heavy to take my feet off from the ground. Later in the morning, I would find the soles to have peeled off and that caused the extra drag in every step. After about 15 minutes, I decided to switch back to bare feet. I was much better. But I felt heavy in my lower abdomen, may be from the amount of eating. So, I thought, going to loo might help. I managed to lighten myself a bit thought I lost some time there again. I ran at my best possible speed which was usually limited by the trail. It was around 11 kmph on non-slippery sections and below 9 kmph at slippery sections. I kept running without thinking too much until the last 30 minutes. Just about 24 minutes to go and I targeted around 7 laps. I eventually ended up doing 8 or 9 laps. Fully satisfied. I estimated my distance at around 106.5 km. I woke up Deepak and we were about to leave. Volunteers said that breakfast was ready and I could get my distance after that. 107.4 km, i.e. 179 laps. My GPS watch read about 4% less. Deepak's watch was reading slightly longer than mine for the same distance we ran together.

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At finish, with Bhasin sir
(Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/bhasinsports)
Though I didn't set a new record, I was really happy with the distance given the conditions. I also got some attention from fellow runners as I was hanging around after the finish. I felt good. But I admired every runner there for the grit and resoluteness in their run. I thanked the volunteers and organizers for the great experience they gave. I had never met Bhasin sir before. It was a great feeling to have met the great man behind these tribes of endurance running.

About my initial target of setting a record, it was not something that I was desperate for. As I said, it was just a low hanging fruit that I could have grabbed. Even if I set a new record, it would only be too easy for any real runner to break that. So, it is not a bid deal. I have no plans to attempt again :-)

Now that I'm qualified for the Malnad Ultra, I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

I don't have any picture to share. When I get (from others), I will add some here.

Note: I ran about 20 to 30 km per week for two months to prepare for this race. I did 40 km in one particular week. What had helped me are:

  1. Running on back to back days, even if they were just for 7km. One Saturday, I ran 4 km at 4 AM (to drop wife to a friend's place for TRORT), 4.2 km at 9:20 AM (after dropping kids at school, leaving the scooter there), 4.2 km at 12:45 PM (to pick kids from school) and 15 km at 6 PM.
  2. Spend at least 6 hours of most of my days in standing (cooking) or walking (usual daily movements) or jogging (on purpose) or cycling (commute). So, I knew, I could be on the legs for long hours. BTW, longest time I had stood is 36 hours though, in general compartment train. No sitting down, no visit to loo and no food. Just 700 ml of water intake.
  3. I jogged considerable amount of time on bare feet on the badminton rubber mat as my daughter insisted me to be in the court many times. The mat is hard enough and slight rough. I would also join a few games when people want partners. I had developed one set of blisters because of this and the skin had hardened enough.

3 comments:

  1. Amazing...This is beyond my imagination...Never knew that such a world exists..Congrats Opendro...

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  2. Nice achievement and writeup. You are always extraordinary 👌👌👌

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  3. No words... Great level of commitment and strong mind. Congratulations Opendro!!! I feel, you should set the new record!!!!

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