Monday, January 20, 2014

SCMM 2014 and 'Run free'

Run Free?
I have been observing Vishy for quite some time. To me he is the epitome of run “free” motto. The modern Gandhian uses Khadi clothing (which is spun by him). He runs bare no shoes and survives on a vegan diet and completely natural ingredients. He stays simple.

How far can I take this Run free needs a series of adaptations and experiments, before I convert! 
I survived on lemon-Salt-Water during Chennai Marathon. But I kept looking at my watch during the last 4 kms. It was a marathon where I realized my true potential for effortless running. 
Unfortunately, I was in shambles when I looked at the watch 4 kms from finish line. I tried to establish what it would take to finish for sub 5 target. Even with 1km (near) sprint at end I reached at 5:04. 

The watch had brought me pain and I changed my thinking to overdo my natural pace..The target caused pain and the end of the run was not as satisfying as it should have been.

Time to recover went for a toss as I was running with two infections. The medication was strong and I felt feeble during 5 km run. I have a pathetic training record in Dec 2013 -Jan 2014.

My wife was very concerned about my illness and the depression that followed. She was monitoring me constantly and talked to get me on my tracks. My son had joined her and was equally concerned when I took a long training gap. (He was doing good training for 9km in 45mins. He had a valid concern for his father.)
I ignored exercise and went on a moody painting spree. I was not quite satisfied with my artwork too.

A week before SCMM, I was able to run 13km at my old pace and returned to BF running doing loops at the race course.The racecourse loops are easy gradient but the track stingeth like serpent and biteth like an Adder.

I had lost touch with NIBM running group. I had not run with a group for more than a month now. I was missing the company. In my notion of free running I had built walls about myself. I can be very cruel and ruthless to myself.
Can I run free?
Was I guided by my friends who do better pace than me and I force myself to run at theirs?
What is my true worth?
Too much thought and I planned to find for myself.

Repeated loops at the racecourse are very boring. Train in boring circumstances get paid on the real run.

Good points:
  • I can cache my running fluids at one point and nourish myself.
  • My wife joins me and she takes a walk.
  • No company. I monitor myself and am driven by myself. Not be "competition".
  • Worse track than normal road. Keeps my feet ready for better road conditions.
  • No tree shelter. Evening run. Bear the sun at 4:30PM and get paid with evening breeze later.

Bad points:

  • No gradient.
  • Not cheerful atmosphere. Repeated loops.
  • My Unfriendly behavior. No contact with my running group.

To carry out an experiment I was willing to do above..So pardon me my dear friends.

What is my  free running interpretation (As of now)?

(Many friends will completely disagree with this but I am learning in the process. Will keep making changes.)
  • ·        The aim is to run a long distance and not a race. (Race is comparison. Against self or with others. Comparison has a baggage.)
  • ·        I should strip off all gadgets that tell me my speed. I should observe the body and not the watch.
·        Without a watch you watch the body, with a watch you watch the watch.
  • ·        Thou shalt use natural ingredients ONLY. (Live to the basics. Understand what the body needs not what others tell you or give you free.)
  • ·        Never get injured. It is never late to pull out.

·        What I did not follow for free running, which I am still in a double mind:
  • ·        Buying SCMM Bib and cover travel expenses. (SCMM is unique time to meet my friends from other states and my Running group. Travel brings experience.)
  • ·        Live off the road. (In this concept developed by Nitin/ Jeetu) you use available water on the road.I drank mineral water. (Not exactly the right thing to do when palatable water is available. Build resistance to drink any stuff).
·    A whim: I plan to do an ultra where I should live off the road. It’s the same as a trek. No support team. It may seem like a stupid thought but this is what comes to my mind the way I lived my life.

Vegan: Naahh..I skip that. I eat meat once a week. I am too immature to try this.
Khadi?..Perhaps later when reduce flab. I shall use T shirts from past events.

The SCMM telecast:

Finally we are fully immersed in a much cherished event. The pilgrimage to the runners Mecca. SCMM 2014. Quick security scan at the World trade center and we get inside. I scan some of Eyecandy stuff around stiff upper lips though. Bodies trained in Gym. Nah. I prefer Chennai crowd, which I find more open and easy to mix. “Keep it Zimple.”

We collect bibs and bump into Vishy and Muthu which results in a long chat.I am with a family that I like.
Vishy comments, “ Iske haath me Saraswati hai.” I muse, “ Aur pair me ..?” These guys are many levels ahead of me and they can motivate me for long time. I hope I do not create idols of my friends.
I meet Aditya and he mentions that the hotel where we booked is overfull. We have lunch at Kamat. The bakwaas from the train carries on, at new levels of ultra stupidity. We holler with laughter. The semi bachelors are using the event to get back to the days of youth at the hostel.

We take a bus to CST and go to Hotel Manama.
Miss Shetty is replaced by some one else. Lot of crap right from Rajasthan sports team under camera surveillance to ‘Over booking by Travel sites’ that seem as lame excuses when we observe Foreigners being allocated rooms right under our nose. MANAMA. Guys Why do you do this to us Indians? @#%$^*&

Nitin: “Damn. We paid money one month in advance. Cut the crap.”
Nitin, Ritesh and I are escorted to a shady looking hotel. We are shown one ghastly room. We booked luxury class. This one looks as shady as a Brothel.

And finally..“11 people. No we have only one room..”

The replacement of “ Ms Shetty” finally provides us booking at a hotel at Cuff Parade. No. This one is not shady. Not Luxurious either. But we have a little better choice.
The hotel manager is willing to pay for the taxi to CST early morning. So we settle down. The surroundings are expensive. A banana costs Rs 5. Bare Minimal Ehh?

A light night dinner at Kamat and we retire to sleep. (Yeah ..We have finally manage to get food supplies at less cost.)
Not much of a sleep and I wake up.. (The watch says 12.00) Ahh..Another 3 hrs to get sleep.
3AM the alarm goes on. Nitin hits the bathroom and I try to get some more sleep. Umesh is still conked off. I prepare tea for myself.

We are all ready by 4:45AM. The taxi takes us to CST. To P or not 2P.
I wait in the queue to reduce the water content trying not to breathe inside the booth. 
Soon we jog to the holding area.

The race has started and it’s a long crawl to the start line.
I do not wear a watch. I feel free. My pouch has my Phone and few dryfruits. A headphone (if reqd). 
My feet hit the road. It is nice and smooth.
I spot Bhupinder (Ultra runner) Both of us weave our way to the front crowd.

Marine drive, The turn at Oberoi hotel and back to Queen’s necklace is effortless. Wonderful cold and humid wind. Time flies and I have passed the Peddar road. I keep wetting my legs with water. Its so refreshing!

The half marathoners appear on the other side of the road. The early birds come flying. The crowd on the other side gets larger and dense. I cannot spot any known faces. Soon, I hit the Sea link. I fish out the phone and start clicking. I had decided to go easy on the sea link. It is ok to spend more time on the a beauty spot that gives a different perspective of Mumbai.

Vivek Bhargawa joins me and we carry on for some time. I run for some time with Umesh then I am back in my lonely world. Around 20km I meet another runner from Surat. He talks about the Surat Night Marathon. “We will catch up on FB. Bye.”

From 20km line, I observe that my pace might be actually better than before. 
Forget the pace. Focus on the body. 
There is a guy with Oranges and salt. I shove a few bits doused in salt and snatch a bottle of water.

“Hello”,says someone from behind. I look over the shoulder. Its Sunil Gwalani. “ I follow you on Daily mile. Congrats on your ultra.”
Sunil smiles back. He has mistaken me for Ram Ve. Sunil is in walk-run-walk mood. I have decided to walk few steps only when I eat of drink. He has always caught up with me well..till point 27km. 

I increase my pace as I want to run alone. (Sorry Sunil. It is a must for my experiment.)
As I hit the sea side I see Sujit running on the other side. It means that I am slower or he is a bit faster. Few minutes ahead I see Nitin and Rupesh going strong. I holler in encouragement. I see the 4:30 bus on the other side.
I meet Hari and Sanjay (my Pune running mates). I carry on at my pace.
I am in a trance. I observe many people walk. Only a few of us are running. Though I am focused on myself, the surrounding IS disturbing. 
I don’t want to be slow. I don’t want to be fast. I want to feel good. 
What you see is a myth. You should be what you want. 

I keep running. Even on the Pedder road slope.
“Cheer” girls are singing “Jai Ho”. The song inspires and I give my best to run along. Some one is serving Tea to the marathoners. 
No..I must  keep focussed. These are the sirens that call me to the shore. My odessy must go on.

I hit the Marine drive. Humid blast..The sun works on my mind. 
There is an ‘Ice station zebra booth’ I pick few cubes. My Upper back is complaining. My foot joints claims that they are being misused. The Ice station zebra commandant rubs Ice over the muscles. I am good to go again.

I am at the border of Pain and suffering. I choose to be a MAN to separate myself from the child. (Salute Emile Zatopek)

Its KM 38..I hear, “Parag”. I look behind and am surprised to find Sujit. 
Sujit should be way ahead. He is 4hrs material.
“I had a cramp.I blacked out and had to take medication. I am not pushing it too hard as I do not feel good enough. The Doc gave me a clean chit after Stethoscoping me and checking my eyes , tongue, Pulse. Probably I started too fast. ”
I have a lot of respect for Sujit. He will never push to an injury. It has got to be serious but he might have been quite right to go easy. I feel sad for him. He mentions, “Go Ahead. I will be fine.”

The pain is too much. I have been heel landing for a long time. Midfoot landing is painful. The 5 hr bus is close behind. No. I will not give up this time.

I increase my speed to a consistent jog. I end up with a 100mt sprint (If you call “that one” a sprint i.e). 
I look at the digital figures of the clock. This is the first time I saw a clock in  5 hours. 
BLAH..It’s not a sub 5 AGAIN.

The bad part..I am not as fresh after the marathon as Chennai. I over did.

I did not enjoy the last part (as in Chennai). And the verdict is 5:06 + BLAH.

I walk painfully and find Neeraj. He has flown in at Sub 4. I feel happy for him.
I say, “ 5:06. I do not know for sure as I do not have a watch.”
I catchup with Sujit and his bro and we callup Nitin. Vijay has finished his first run in Sub 5. Nitin and Rupesh in 4:30.
We rush back to the hotel and pack. Just in time to board Chennai Express.

On the train my friends mention that the results are published. Hrishi checks for my Bib number.

 He reads out.. Its 4:59:07. My friends congratulate me on the sub 5.

I am happy for myself. But the number 5.. What’s so special? 
My legs are in pain. I am not taking a combiflam this time. Can I take the pain?

I am happy for Nitin and Rupesh the most. I have got back into a mind game of comparisons that should be avoided?? 
I can NOT reach in 4:30 with such a pain. I will get an injury if I attempt this in current circumstances.
Nitin knows me well. He mentions, “You run with baggage. Leave the baggage and run free.”

I know he wants me to go through the training despite work life challenges. At this point, I am not prepared to do so. I think “It’s my poor feet that I abuse. I cannot permit myself to abuse them beyond my limit.”

But thinking beyond myself, my well wisher is right to tell me point blank. Take rest. Train better and you will be better. Then Run Free.

If I do not spend money on Gym I should not pay for running. No matter what the world wraps around the package, as charity events.

Will I participate in paid events is a question? Will I run 42km is not a question. I certainly shall.
The “Cost” and “benefits” factor shall decide how and where.

-The Selfish myself