Negative frame of mind takes a toll on my training and to top, a week at Kerela with absolutely no exercise and plenty of eating did not better the situation. Yet, it would not be just to put the blame squarely on the trip. It improved the frame of mind and the outlook became more positive.
A friend requested for a blog .. frankly at this point, I am at loss of words. So let me start typing and a rabbit might come out of the hat all by itself and surprise me.
I had a target to run 50 km before I crossed the age of 50. I was able to do this today.
No! Not on a plain road, but in a Ultra terrain. Good part is that I can walk around on my feet without much pain.
3 days before the race Dr Sandesh Doshi gave me a call. He asked me about my strategy for the upcoming ultra.
Strategy? I had almost made up my mind to not run this ultra. Further.. I never have any strategies for any race because I try to last with whatever I have. I have not reached that stage to plan and execute. Body doesn't listen if brain commands and vice versa. At this stage in life..I do not like to plan too much. Every plan can be debated and the outcome may not be what you like even if you gave it the best. So, I would rather be a surf boarder that rides the wave, as the ocean and the wind casts. This is the only agility that makes sense to me. So, all I plan is to get the best possible line in a given situation and accept the yield.
The call gave a positive impulse to my mind. I would have felt bad to betray my PTC running mates Umesh and Vijay so I decided to give it a try. I had two-three weeks of pathetic running schedule to back me up.
On the day before the race, I ran in my floaters on Nibm- Ramtekdi trail..and then returned home via road..more so because of the guy from SRPF who was on the guard on the trail to wane of any civilians. I did not want to get hit by stray bullet on day before race. I was not aware that the hillside on left was used for Firing practice. It was an effortless 12km run (without water). I drank a jug full of enerzal to keep me hydrated through rest of sat.
Sunday morning 3AM alarm wakes me up. I am in a good mood. A cup of tea and two slices of bread with one egg. I choose to go to the venue on my motorbike. Its wet outside and it has rained the earlier night. I reach Innovera School. Join the race participants.
Naveen is explaining the rules of the game. Two loops with preset time for completion. You miss the time ..You get marked as Did not finish. I like the rule. Its an ultra and should be treated so.
At 6AM the race begins. It is a very different race than I ran before. The path winds through an unwoken village. Smell of cow dung. Few dogs bark just because its their duty.
We come across a canal. When I feel slowed down..I take deep breaths swooshing through the mouth as a capillary. It cools the breath and I found it very effective during last marathon.
Soon there is a support station and then the road climbs towards Ramdara temple. Ramdara temple and the lake are very soothing to the eye. There is very little sunlight yet. I should come here with family for a sketching session. There is a stone path that skirts the temple and ends into the real ultra world. The path winds through fields. It is still dark and I cannot make out the crop. I wonder how Umesh copes with such terrain, with bare feet. Vijay is wearing sandles just like me.
The 12.5km trun around point arrives and I get a colored band as certificate.
It is a rush from here to the start point as I need to be there at 3:00Hrs cutoff for 25 km. The path along the canal now seems never ending. Dr Sandesh has caughtup with me. I inflict some of my negativity on him abt this path not being “very Happening one”. He jollies me to keep going as it is a slope that we should take advantage of.
Innovera school appears, I have made it in 3:00hrs, and have 5 mins bonus. Sophia douses my head with ice water from the sponge. Its instant relief and I forget the loop ahead of me. It is just a fresh start..km 0.
Navin gives me a hug and advises me to take off the T shirt. “Its an Ultra..and should be run bare chested.” Chandan advises, “ All of us are 8 pack or family pack. Forget the pack and take off the T”.
I am still too shy, but by the time I reach the canal, there is a nice breeze and a burning sun. Naveen’s advice worked and I take off my T shirt and hang it like a cloak. I least care that I am a blot on the scene with packets of fat, where ripping muscles ought to be. When I get to the road I get into a new Avatar with Sandles on my palms. A motorcyclist hoots me and I ignore.
Barefeet have started relaxing the foot and the calf muscles. I am in a walk run mode as I am well beyond a continuous run. The fields are in sunlight. Birds Chirping at Ramdara. It’s a bliss if I forget the pain I inflicted upon myself voluntarily.
I started the run without a watch. I have lost sense of time. I have worked on only one strategy. Ride the wave as it is. How long? Surfing certificates? I do not need them. All I need is a 50 KM run before I turn 50. Its a simple goal that gets completed once I get to innovera school.
The terrain is almost like a trek. It also reminds me of Taljai Pleateau where I used to train in late 80s. It was a rough place to run. I collect my third band at the turnaround point. I have now using Walk only strategy. 12.5 km walk will not kill me. I enjoy the fields..Bringals, Spinach..A jeep arrives and Nitin warns me that he shall be pulling off support. I am fine with this. I have 1 litre water that shall suffice. (ie if I do not run.) At Ramdara, my Free runner friends give me a last offer..i.e to ride with them. They make it very clear that I am now in a did not finish state. I cannot make it in cutoff time. Also, that there shall be no support. I ask them not to worry. I cannot explain to anyone but myself. ’I am not here to earn a cert. I am here to ride the wave of 50 and get to innovera. If it is thru walk I am fine.’
Nitin has pulled in the last guy behind me. He again makes an offer. AT least 5 times in my travel to end point I was asked if I need help. Perhaps my stubbornness is at their cost, which I realize. To one I say..I ran my 1st Pune marathon from 25 km to end without water. So the last 8km is no big deal with 1 lt of water. I am embarrassed by my own goal..All I wanted was to get all support on road and do my 50. Nitin arrives on Motorbike. We talk about mutual friends etc..He is not willing to let me go alone. Innovera arrives. My friends and participants give me a good applause. I feel very happy to complete my 50 before my 50.
A goal to tick off. Thanks to Free runners who made it happen. Their love and comradeship is unbeatable.
Why can’t I be as carefree? Perhaps it should be my next “goal” ? smile emoticon
Jeetu has a very special moment. His Pune Ultra dream is now rolling in real sense. Not a flat road 50 km race.
An Ultra in Ultra terrain. With Cutoffs to make it challenging!