Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 looking back...

2012 races

2012 was a busy year with 747 miles of racing (swim, cycle & run combined) which adds up to a little over 5 days of actual race time (124 hours in total). With a vacation in December the 2012 season is now officially over. My next run is scheduled for Feb 2013 and nothing more planned for the year with the possible exception of Chicago marathon in October 2013.
The year had a few highlights:
My first trail ultra (AR 50) in April.
My Marathon Personal Record of 3:29:42 (3 Hrs, 29 mins, 42 Secs) at the Chicago marathon.
My first DNF (Did Not Finish) Ironman Coeur d'Alene.
My first 100 mile endurance run at Run d'Amore in 29:29:29 (29hrs, 29 mins, 29 secs).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Run d' Amore - 100 mile run

Oct 20th a bunch of us ran the ‘clothes encounter of the turd kind’ run - a 12 hour night ‘training’ run around the tracks at West Valley College in Saratoga. I managed to loop around the 400 meter track about a 172 times (give or take a few). The run began at 6:30pm Saturday and finished at 6:30am Sunday – with that crazy event - I was done with my training for the Run d’Amore 100 mile race on Nov 10/11.

Run d’Amore is a 2 mile loop around a bike path in San Martin, CA. I had done my first 50 miler in 2011 there in the Run d’Vous event. So given that I had looped that 25 times – I should have known better...but Rajeev Patel asked me to sign up for the 100 miler as a training run for our upcoming Rouge-Orleans 126.2 mile run in February.

Before my race report, let me congratulate some of my friends who ran and finished the race:
Congratulations to the following finishers: Balu, Naresh Kumar, Navneet, Shashvat, Sangeeta, Suchu & Vassu for finishing the 50K, Anju, Bharti for finishing the 100K on Thursday, Rajeev Patel and Anu - 100M coming back to finish on Sunday, Raman 125M he ran on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday!

The event:

Renuka dropped me off at 5:45AM and I just about managed to set my stuff up at the start as Alan Geraldi (Race Director) started making the last minute announcements. 6:03AM we were off! It was cold! 37F! My plan was to walk as much as possible and jog every now and then. Balu who was doing the 50K hung with me during his laps and Shashvat jumped in for a few laps between volunteering and doing his own 50K. We set a decent pace – walking about 14/15 min miles. RD and the volunteers did a spectacular job of taking care of the runners. The event had a 50K, 50M, 100K, 100M and a 200K option. The event was set up to be a fun event, it was envisioned by the two race directors (Alan Geraldi & Rajeev Patel) to be an event that encourages people to fulfill their dreams of doing an ultra. There was an early start option on Thursday for those who wanted to split the run over a few days – kind of a stage race. The few who did that Thursday start were caught in some nasty weather – it rained and it was freezing...most of them stopped at the 100K mark and luckily none of them fell ill. Some of them came back on Saturday and Sunday to finish their various distances.

At about the 40 mile mark I started feeling the hot spots on my left foot (the beginnings of a blister) – Rajeev Patel took a look and bandaged the area. The guy is amazing! The day progressed well, it never got hot (San Martin does get pretty warm), in fact it was chilly in the late afternoon and there was a strong cold breeze blowing – I switched back to running tights, track pants, three shirts and a jacket. I snacked on food at almost every loop, there was pizza, risotto, veg & chicken soup, broth, casadia, chips, PBJ sandwiches … what a spread! Alan was busy cooking, heating stuff all day and night. As the sun set the temp started dropping – Martina, Harry and Renuka dropped in around 8:30PM and Harry paced me for about 12 miles...that was a good boost as he switched me from a fast walk to a jog / walk which helped use other muscles. It was cold and I knew Martina was tired and cold...I felt bad to have them out there so I told them I was fine and they should go home and sleep...they did so reluctantly – wonderful people! I reached into my bag for a change and added several layers of clothing – I also pulled out my iPhone to listen to some podcasts and music (the first time I’ve run with headphones). The loops melted away – at around 2:00AM I started to feel really sleepy and actually shut my eyes a few times on the course. Alan suggested that I should sleep for 20 mins...'you will feel good as new' he said...I saw a pot of coffee and said I’ll try that instead and it helped for about 6 more miles...then at 3:30AM I took Alan up on his offer and climbed into the changing tent and was out like a light.

4:00AM I was back out on the trail, thankfully there was no wind throughout the night, but there was a lot of frost - the temp had dropped to 27F in the night and the scene of zombie walkers looping around the course would have been funny had I not been one of them. Folks were shuffling, zigzagging due to sleep deprivation and still managed to pass on some words of encouragement to each other...Alan managed to keep the aid station stocked and manned throughout the night. The Ultra running community is a really friendly and awesome bunch of people. As the sun came up more people came in, some had taken a break and come back to finish their miles others came to cheer. Shashvat was back after volunteering the previous day - I had 6 laps to go (12 miles) he had 6 laps to finish his 50K so he gave me company. Renuka was back too, so with Shashvat and Renuka I limped (the blisters were in full bloom) the last of the miles...the 'death march'. Naresh came in as I had the last lap and we all came in for the finish...I tried a lame attempt at running for the last 20 feet and Alan had a good laugh at that sad attempt. My finish time was 29 hours, 29 minutes, 29 seconds! I got my first 'buckle' - I was too tired to celebrate, but we took a few photographs. Rajeev and Anu were at the aid station during their final loops so we did celebrate a bit. Renuka, Naresh, Shashvat, Sangeeta helped load the car and I was asleep within seconds of getting into the car.

Big thank you to everyone who helped, emailed and called. It is truly a collective effort that makes these events fun ( and satisfying. The fact that I just walked/jogged a 100 miles (160 Km) is still sinking in...

With Race Director Alan Geraldi

Food intake during the event:
Sports drink, coke and water (no gels)
PBJ sandwiches, risotto, soup, chicken broth, pizza slice, pumpkin soup, sports beans, 2 half cups of coffee, 1 tequila shot :)), cookies...

Well used running shoes (2 pairs), well used office shoe (they are comfy and I did a lap in them), sandals, running socks and woolen hiking socks (did not use the hiking socks), 5 full sleeve quickwic shirts, 2 running tights, leg & arm warmers, gloves and beanie.

The Buckle

Day 4 after the event, an update:
While I was not physically devastated by the 29 and a half hours of walking/jogging, it was definitely the most sleep deprived I have ever been. The recovery has been quick for most part, there are a few areas of concern that I am focusing on a bit more aggressively, they are (all right foot):
A slight swelling around the lower portion of the shin (around the tibialis anterior area) which has impeded dorsiflexion. With regular icing and self massage it has improved significantly in four days, thought the swelling still persists. There is no pain while walking, only if I try and flex the foot.
The blisters have closed up and healed. They were a problem on Monday and Tuesday, but today (Thursday) the pain has gone.
Foot: Bit of soreness still around the mid foot still persists. The swelling has abated (Swelling is normal as 29+ hours of walking will cause that). I still have a bit of a sudden pain that feels like a tendon that is ‘cross wired’ (my best uneducated guess) this disappears once I supinate the foot a bit. This happened before Chicago Marathon as well, so it is was not caused by this event.
Cause of the issues: My take is that my stride while walking is a bit longer and I am not used to walking at my fastish pace for such long stretches. The long stride probably leads to a more pronounced dorsiflection on the recovery portion and that is irritating the muscles involved. Solution? Well, run a bit more :).My 85-90 strides a min would be better for the foot and the muscles are probably stronger, given that I run a lot more than I walk.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Chicago Marathon # 8 - Oct 7, 2012

Chicago marathon # 8 - the weather was totally different from 2010 or 2011 (both warm years) and I was hoping for no wind for a decent run. And it was cold...but calm. No wind!

Morning Temp

Having trained well for this race I was looking forward to a sub 3:30 finish. My previous best was 3:32 at Twin Cities, MN in 2010.

In September I went for a week of camping and backpacking at 6,500 to 10,000 feet above sea level and managed to run almost every day I was there. Managed a 7.2 and 4 mile run at Bridgeport (6,500feet). A 6 mile walk, jog, run from 7,500 feet to 9,100 (Rush Creek to Gem Lake) in the June Lake area. A 2.5 mile run at 10,000 feet (Thousand Island Lake) and a good HARD 6 (out) and 8 (back) mile hike with about 38 pounds on my back from Rush Creek to Thousand Island Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness Eastern Sierras.

Apart from those runs, all my longer runs, 20 and 22 milers, were at a good decent pace. My track workouts were in good shape. All this was well set for a sub 3:30 marathon.

I landed in Chicago on Friday evening, Oct 5th. My Sister, niece and nephew settled into Congress Plaza Hotel which was about 10 minutes from the starting line. After spending three and a half hours getting to and back from the Expo we settled into a late lunch early dinner (5:00PM) and then had a nice evening walk around Buckingham Fountain in the evening.

With Shashvat and Navneet at the Expo

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain

Nandini and Mallika were volunteering at the 2nd water-stop so they left at 4:15AM. I got up at 5:15Am and finally rolled out of the hotel room at 6:50. By 7:10AM I was in my corral! Awesome!! I decided that I would keep in front of the 3:30 pace group for as long as I could and then fold in with them if things went bad. The weather topped off around 44F to 48F during the race and I was feeling fine. Mile 23 I started dropping the pace and the pace group caught up. I stayed with them for a mile and once I got my nth wind I pushed the pace and ran the last mile ahead of the pace group...finishing in 3:29:42. Given that I did not completely go all out I think I still have a minute in the bag...if all goes well I'll give 3:25 a shot in 2013.

Mallika/Rohan Expo'ed' out, on the bus back

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Open Water Swim Safety

Over the last few years there have been a sudden increase in deaths during the swim leg of a triathlon. Being an active triathlete and someone who encourages people to participate in triathlons, this sudden increase in deaths bothers me. I collected a few articles and studies available online and contacted a few people who shared their thoughts and studies with me. (Thank you Brad Kearns, Race Director of the Auburn triathlon, for the prompt email and for being on the forefront of triathlon swim safety. Thank you Rudy Dressendorfer for the article and thoughts.)

I have summarized the notes below in points and added links to the full articles:

Preswim Safety:

Dan Empfield’s notes on a safe swim [Dan's article]:
1) Warm up.
2) Do not suit up till 5 minutes before your wave.
3) Line up at the start according to your ability.
4) Get a properly fitted wetsuit.

Rudy Dressendorfer PT, PhD, FACSM – notes on a safe swim [Rudy's article]:
1) Avoid a tight wetsuit.
2) Do preliminary exercises before immersion to promote blood flow to extremities
3) Submerge gradually
4) Do an easy warm-up after immersion to help redistribute the central blood volume
5) Do not over hydrate within minutes before the swim start
6) In the event of a panic attack discontinue the competitive effort, float on your back and signal for help. Do not resume swimming until your breathing is back to normal.
7) If possible, become habituated to the swim venue in advance.

The common theme is:

And I add, TRAIN WELL AND TRAIN FOR RACE CONDITIONS. A warm pool swim training plan will not help you for an Alcatraz swim.
The Auburn Triathlon, run by Brad Kearns, has initiated a mandatory warm-up prior to the swim start. Thanks to RDs like him we will see a good and safe change in triathlon swimming.

Further to the preswim safety notes/instructions, Rudy has written about the probable causes of pulmonary edema (PE) in healthy, experienced swimmers. Summary of his notes are [Full article here]:
1) Immersion in general – and face immersion in particular
2) Cold water
3) A tight wetsuit
4) Physical exertion without warming up
5) Excessive hydration

Here are more articles on Open Water swimming that have some great points for general Open Water swimming, cold water swimming, worst case scenarios:

Open Water Training Tips By Clay Evans and Bonnie Adair•Competitor Magazine [Full Article]

8 Ways to Handle Swimming in Cold Water [Full Article]

6 Common Worst Case Scenarios for Open Water Swimmers and How to Avoid Them

Other articles and studies on Triathlon related deaths in water are:
Washington Post article: I agree more with Rudy's probable causes than panic attacks occurring in regular healthy triathletes. I'd agree that panic attacks are common in novice swimmers going out for their first few races. I have no data to back this, it is just a 'regular open water swimmer' hunch.

A JAMA study on Triathlon deaths

A JAMA letter, 'Causes of sudden death during a triathlon'

USAT is conducting a full study on these swim related deaths and their findings are yet to be published.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Expedition Man - 8/25/2012

Expedition Man - Ironman Distance race # 10. (Ten and done?)

Ten years ago I did my first Ironman race – Expedition Man was my 10th race in that distance.

And boy! Was I the least motivated to do this race…I really did not feel like racing, but went to do it anyway.

Expedition Man is a small, new, independent Iron distance race in Nevada. The swim is in Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe (2.4 miles), the bike from Zephyr Cove to Sparks, NV (112 miles) and the run was around Sparks, NV (26.2 miles).

Chakri, Murali Krishna (MK) and I drove up for the race, we were camping at Zephyr Cove (across the road from the swim start). The first logistic problem was figuring out how to get back from the finish in Sparks, NV to Zephyr Cove as this was a point to point race. After the convoluted registration process, which included a bike check at the Scheels Bike Store [delayed things and was rather lame], we set our running gear up in the boxes provided to us [neat idea by the RD]. We asked if there was a shuttle to bring us back to the start after the finish and the RD said nope...but there was a shuttle (you had to pay for it) leaving one of the Sparks hotels at 2:30AM taking folks from Sparks to Zephyr Cove. MK, who signed up for the half distance race, offered to drive the car at 2:00AM and park it at the hotel and take the shuttle back to the start – that way we had a car to come back after the finish! Thanks MK!

After checking in our bikes in the evening and setting up our tents in total darkness we folded in for the night. MK was up and out at 2:00AM...poor guy, due to some road closers he missed the shuttle at the first hotel and had to call the second hotel to hold the shuttle for him. The shuttle driver was not the most pleasant person, but she waited just long enough for MK to park and rush into the bus!

Chakri and I made it to the start with plenty of time to spare (it was just a walk across the road). I had forgotten my gels in the bear locker (yup there are bears around Lake Tahoe) so had to run back to fetch those. The race start was delayed as the sun had not risen we hung around waiting for the buoys to be fixed and the swim course to be figured out. Once the course was explained we set off for the 2.4 mile swim. I must say this was probably my best swim experience – the water was superb! Clear, clean, calm and cool. My timing did not matter – I was having fun. Once out of the water there is a 4-5 mile 1000 foot climb to about 7,300 feet out of Zephyr Cove, followed by an amazing 10 mile downhill to about 4,700 feet! After that the bike course has some rolling hills and some scenic spots. The last 20 miles were pure hell, nothing but in and out of residential areas in order to make the miles. The volunteers were great but did not know much about where the next water stops were . The last water stop at mile 90 or 93 miles also gave out incorrect information...they said ‘you have 6 miles to go’ – I looked any my watch and thought, wow that GPS is really screwed up! They also only half filled my bottles (while I ran to a bike shop to use the restroom) the next 15 miles were really irritating...more out and backs and I had run out of water.

The run was a 13.1 mile loop in one direction and then a few smaller loops in another direction. As usual, I had not checked the course so I was clueless. The first 13.1 loop was fine as there were other runners (including the relays and the half distance runners) so I just followed them. As I came back to the transition (a huge mall parking lot) I was pretty much lost...the volunteers had gone and I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I asked a guy in an orange vest and he directed me back towards the same loop I had come off I went. The cop at the highway crossing was shocked ‘didn’t you just come this way? Why are you heading back?’ I mumbled something about a second loop and he said ‘Oh! Second loop? of luck’. Off I went running in the wrong direction! I met Chakri and he told me I was running in the wrong direction but I was convinced I was right :)and carried on. The water stops were shutting down and one of them even called in to race central saying ‘Bib 320 is back! Looks like he really liked the loop and wants to run it again!’ I had no idea, I plugged on. The other water-stops were gone, the turnaround at the hotel was gone too...I started cursing the RD...I was out of gels, water and gas! As I was slowly fading a golf cart come racing towards me...the volunteers handed me some water and some ghastly sweet twisties! Ugh! They did not have any gels. A mile later a few more volunteers came by in a pickup and handed me coke, gels, water and one of the volunteers, Debbie Strickland, who founded the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation, walked with me with a flashlight as it was getting dark. I finished the race, laughing at my stupidity and the RD said I was fine as I did run a marathon...even though it was not on the actual race course!

Chakri finished just before mid-night and had his own drama on the run course, I think he ran a couple of miles more! After packing up we finally left for Zephyr Cove well past mid-night. MK was really tired and so was I – but we managed to keep talking long enough to get us back safely. I just jumped into my sleeping back and was out for the count in seconds...the bath could wait till morning!

Summary: Good race, great swim. The bike ride is fine...gets a bit boring later on. Make sure you carry enough stuff with you (Gels etc). They also need more porta johns along the bike course. The run is confusing, but hopefully next year they will have the marking done right. I will definitely recommend this race, the swim is great!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

OptimisSport - Distance Swim Challenge.
10 Km swim off Venice Beach in Los Angeles, CA

A calm morning in Marina Del Ray,
A serene ocean promised a brilliant day.
Bodyglide applied for rash free locomotion,
6:30AM all of us trotted into the Ocean.
Some ran and dashed in, in a flurry,
I don't get it, what is the big hurry?
Hit the first buoy and made a right,
First hint of sunlight…what a sight!
Coastline - framed in a golden glow,
Sun rose, the sea got clearer below.
Mesmerized by the gentle ocean swells,
wrapped in the earth's bosom, and it's spell.
Well into a rhythm past Venice beach pier,
A brush with kelp...shook me out of my rapture!
The runs into the beach were greeted with cheer,
The big breakers oft landed me on my derriere.
'This way!' she said, 'the current you can't fight',
To the gal on the surfboard, I owe you one alright!
The open seas, for sure, has a certain allure,
If all goes well, I'll be back next year!

(View of the coast from Venice Beach Pier)
(going back in during one of the 'out & back' sections)

(Saturday on the pier - we saw dolphins!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friends in the news and congratulations:
Naresh Kumar for completing the Death Ride! What a dedicated guy! Amazing athlete!
Stan Ho for his 6th Death Ride finish and he helped Naresh train for the ride this year.
Murali Krishna and Chakri for doing 3 passes of the Death Ride. Hats off!

Vineman 5.0
Thinking back...a mere 10 years ago I was at the starting line of Vineman for my first Ironman race. 10 years on, and I came back for my 9th Ironman race. This year's race was special because it was the first ironman race for one of our Team Asha runner/biker. Chandrika Srinivasan had a early end to her first attempt at Ironman when we were hit by a storm in the swim during Ironman Coeur d’Alene. But now, she was ready – after another month of training to push for that goal.

Tandy, Doug, Chakri, Chandrika and myself reached Santa Rosa on Friday – we sat through the mandatory race meeting (pretty pathetic) and then got through the packet pickup and dropped off out run stuff at T2. After a checking into our hotel (Extended Stay America), I realized my bike had a flat. So off we went to buy new tires – after switching both tires we all headed out to Mary’s Pizza for dinner.

Stan came in at around 10:00pm and we all got to bed after watching a bit of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

4:00AM we were up, and even though we had it all planned, we were late getting to the start. The crowd of athletes entering the transition was all the way up to the main road...I’ve never seen it this crowded. There were 3 races being held, Barb’s race & Relay, Full Vineman & relay, Aquabike. We all rushed in and managed to find a spot. I grabbed my wetsuit and goggles and ran to the porta line. Thankfully it was short. I was the last guy into the water and as I was zipping up my wetsuit the gun went off for my wave. I’ve never liked the Vineman swim, it is way too shallow and my palms keep scraping the floor. Anyway after a bit of walking and swimming, I was done in 1:30:15.
T1 and bike:
I took my time changing and decided to go with a sleeveless jersey! What was I thinking! It was cool/cold for the first 20 miles or so and then the sun came out. I had decided to change my diet to about 200 to 250 Cals per hour with lots of water. It seem fine, I was stopping to pee at every aid station! I met Stan (who was biking around the course cheering Chandrika and all of us) on my second loop and he said Chandrika had a great swim and was doing great on the bike...with that good news I pottered on in my slow easy gear. I was burning up, the sun was cooking my back (bright idea of wearing a sleeveless jersey!) and I was getting burnt pretty badly. I finished the bike in 7:35:37...nice slow pace :)
T2 and run:
A quick change and a reapplication of sunscreen I was off. Feeling fine I started running, sticking with one eGel every 45 minutes. On my way back from the first loop I met Stan, he said Chandrika was not doing too well as she had GI issues. Funny how she follows every example I set :). I met her close to the turnaround she was about half a mile behind me and I gave her a couple of Pepto-Bismol tablets and carried on. I slowed to a walk and waited for her to catchup. When I next met her she was double over and just ‘HAD TO GO’ I rushed on to the next porta and stood in line for her. Lucky for us the girl in front of us, seeing Chandrika’s discomfort, let her go ahead! What a great gesture of sportsmanship...she too was in the race! I thanked her profusely and we carried on. Every 10 mins or so, her stomach would revolt (Chandrika was running close to a 10:30 min/mile at that stage, and was looking great except for that stomach issue) and I’d run on to grab a spot in the porta line. She had a few more tablets and we slowed to a walk for about mile to let the stomach settle. After about 7 miles at a decent clip she was feeling better. I was beginning to fade and getting a bit light headed. I asked her to carry on and keep that pace going...she insisted on hanging with me and finishing together...I would have none of that, I told her that 'it is a long race and things change suddenly...if you are feeling good, just go' we can always celebrate at the end. Off she went. I met Chakri a few times along the way he was tiring too, but being his usual self he was more concerned about others! Crazy guy! Krishna and Mouli were on the course walking and running with us. At the final loop Mouli joined me and we walked back to the finish. Having coke doused myself in the last few miles I managed a running finish! A slow 6:00:16 marathon.

I finished my 9th ironman race and my 5th Vineman – my time was 15:27:31 – my slowest ironman time!! But hey! I finished! This is my 10th anniversary of Ironman racing and well, what better place to race than the place where it all started 10 years ago!

Chandrika finished in 15:04:54!! Nailed it! Her first ironman race! What a great moment for her and the team! We are all so proud of her dedication and for staying the course. The quote 'tough times don't last but tough people do' was written for her. Thank you Renuka and Muneer for nudging her to sign up for Vineman right after that CdA debacle! What a turnaround! We celebrated with champagne at the end with Muneer, Renuka, Rajeev Shankar, Bhanu, Madhu, Venki, Krishna, Mouli, Stan and Chakri. Chakri finished his second ironman race – what a stud!

Tandy finished her first half ironman race in 17 years! She is back! She finished Barb’s Race, she and Doug stayed back to cheer us on during the run! Thank you for the support and cheering and congratulations on your finish!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friends in the news and congratulations:

Anil Rao and Vishal Sahni both completed the Western States 100 mile run! Wow! Congratulations!

Ironman Coeur d'Alene, 2012..DNF!

Well a good long 10 months of training and we were ready for Ironman CdA. Chandrika (CS), who was attempting her fist Ironman race, had trained hard and had done some epic bike rides and bricks with Stan Ho. She was stoked, excited and nervous about her first Ironman race. A bit about her...she has been a runner with Team Asha for four years and after having done a few marathons, half Ironman and 100 mile bike rides, the next logical step for her was an Ironman race. I suggested IM CdA and both of us signed up. She is also an Assistant Coach for the Asha running program. While a good runner and a strong biker she was pretty apprehensive about making the swim cut off. But with a solid showing at Wildflower Triathlon and the Splash & Dash 2 mile swim she was ready to be the first Team Asha woman to make the start line. Apart from the two of us, Rajeev Shankar and Harpal Kochar had also signed up for the race. Rajeev Shankar had done the Full Vineman last year and Harpal had some unfinished business to take care of at IM CdA (He DNF'ed in 2011 after cramping at mile 80+ on the bike).

My race:
As I mentioned in a prior post I had started a gluten free diet in February to see if it eased some of my race day GI issues. By the time June came around I had lost 15 pounds! I did check in with the doctor and the conclusion was, the combination of heavy training and the diet was the reason for this sudden drop, but since the weight loss had stabilized over the last month I should be long as it does not drop again. But early June I had a strange feeling that I was loosing power on the bike rides and my hill climbing was suffering...a LOT! A couple of weeks before Ironman Coeur d'Alene (IM CdA) I went in for a final sport massage at SMI. Super massage therapist Greg Finney, who I have been going to for about 10 years now...made a startling statement...'Where are your quads!?' That was telling indeed. The loss of power on the bike suddenly made a lot of sense. I had probably lost some muscle mass along the way. Mind you, the weight loss was great for my running as I had a super time running the AR 50 miler and my longer runs were at a slightly faster pace. I did not seem to make a difference in my swim time as it has been pretty consistent for years. But the loss of power on the bike was very noticeable. In any case we all were ready for IM CdA.

Stan dropped in at Oakland Airport to say bye to all of us and CS, Muneer, Renuka, Rajeev Shankar and I got to CdA on Thursday, June 21st. Harpal picked us up from the airport and we had the most hilarious ride back to the place we had rented. Harpal was so starved of conversation (He had come a week early) that he was answering questions that were not asked. Example:
CS: How far is the house from the start?
HK: 4000 sq feet and it has a huge back yard!
HK: The washer does not work.
There were many such random comments (and the washer did work, he claimed he never said that even though all of us heard him!).

On Friday we all went for a short swim. The water was cold but calm and clean. We swam around for 20 mins and then had a short ride to the house. Saturday we had another swim, checked in our bikes and went for a short run in the evening. Sorted out our bags and race items and settled in to a nice meal cooked by Muneer and Renuka.

During the athletes meeting on Saturday the skies opened up and it started pouring. This was a drenching down pour. The weather report said there would thunderstorms in the morning and we were not really looking forward to that coming true. While we were soaking up all this tension,two of my good friends Anil Rao and Vishal Sahni, were running the Western States 100 miler. A grueling 100 mile race with some amazing elevation, terrain and climate changes. These two are amazing runners and wonderfully humbling people. We followed their progress via facebook updates. I remember being up at 4:30am and checking to see where these guys were.

120+ miles and still DNF :)

We got into the transition early, body marking done and proceeded to find pumps to top off our tires. CS and I stood at the back of the mass of people on the beach. I told her to relax, and we would start slow and let the crowd go. I told her not to bother looking at her watch (a bad decision) but to just swim. Given her previous swims she had a good 20 to 25 minute buffer. We took a few minutes as we warmed up in the shallow - once she was comfortable we took off. I swam along for a bit and once she gave me a thumbs up I carried on. The wind had picked up and it was pretty choppy. I had one last look back and lost her in the sea of green caps and waves. I looped around for the second lap and it was pretty rough by then. The wind had picked up and it was difficult to get into a rhythm. There were people holding on to the buoys and some holding on to the surf boards. As I got out and the wetsuit strippers pulled off and handed me by wetsuit I dropped it as I was shivering...shaking really badly. They sent me to the warming hut, after a minute of standing there and seeing 20+ dazed people huddled around the fire I decided to get out and continue on with the race. As I picked up my transition bag I saw Muneer and asked if CS was doing ok. He said she was done with the first lap in 1:07 and looked fine...I thought that was too close, she was cutting it too fine but if she held the same time she would be within the 2:20 cutoff.

The changing room was a mess, they had a 'horse water trough' in the tent for us to pee into!! Hilarious! Ever seen a man shaking from hypothermia trying to aim into a trough! Here you go! Ugh! Well after the wee wee everywhere bit I managed to get into my bike stuff. I was still shaking visibly and the volunteer asked if I was ok to ride...I mumbled something to the effect 'we will know shortly' and took off. On the first out and back I hoped to see CS on the bike. Did not see her so I assumed I'll see her on the larger loop. Every time I saw long hair I'd hope it was her...but I did not see her. From hoping she made the cut off my thoughts were slowly moving to a more worried 'I hope she is ok'...The thought that something bad had happened now all but took over my race. At mile 72 I stopped and borrowed a cell phone from a bunch of folks cheering and called Renuka. She said that CS missed the cut off by 20 seconds! BUT SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY SAFE! Phew..what a relief!

By this time I was feeling pretty tired too...the climbs were sapping my energy and I was stuck in granny gear. The course had 3-4 mile long low grade climbs that were very irritating. I had a hard time finding a good gear or any rhythm. Further, my GI issues were making a comeback! So much for the gluten free diet! I had to stop at every water stop as my stomach had decided the enough was enough. As I neared the end of the ride and the bike cut off, a part of me was hoping I'd miss the cut off and hence could put me out of this misery...I plugged on and mile 90 a lense from my sunglasses fell off! Just like that I was down to half a sunglass and a loose stomach! Anyway I made the bike cutoff with about 8 minutes to spare. Changed into run gear. I had half a mind to stop there as my stomach was now totally out of it and I needed a porta potty almost ever 10-15 minutes. But I knew that if I did not get out and try I'd kick myself the next morning. So I staggered out of the transition. I walked past CS and Renuka. About 5 minutes into the run I had to go! No portas in sight and the roads were cordoned off and people cheering on all sides!! Good lord, I finally met some folks who let me use their college facilities! That was close! Like clock work I was hitting the portas - and finally around mile 6.5 I decided this was just not worth it. I called the volunteer and told them that i wanted to drop out. After a brief bit of confusion.."ok wait go that that aid station...or that person in blue"...I just sat on a chair and cheered on the other runners till they figured out who was going to take my chip. I got a ride back to the transition and waited there for Renuka to get back (They were out on the course looking for me!). My first DNF in 10 years of Ironman and 20+ years triathlon racing.

Race Post-mortem:
I had not changed anything during the race. Diet was the same. 1 bottle of Sustained Energy (300 Cals) and one eGel (150 Cals) every hour and a half. I think the the hypothermia was a combination of a slow swim and a wetsuit that had gotten a bit loose for me (I had bought it pre gluten diet). Hypothermia can sap your energy and cause GI distress. Refer Study. My GI meltdown was probably triggered by hypothermia during the swim. In any case I have given up my Gluten free diet since IM CdA.

Rajeev Shankar and Harpal both finished the race pretty strong. Harpal did a bhangra finish and closed the chapter on the unfinished CdA attempt from 2011. Also want to thank Muneer and Renuka for all the help and support before, during and after the race..simply amazing!

Moving on...quickly!
Two hours after missing her cutoff in the swim, Chandrika gathered herself, dusted off the disappointment and signed up for the Full Vineman Triathlon on July 25th...That takes come courage and shows the tenacity of this girl! One tough person!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beware of watching your sports watch...

As summer rolls in and folks dust off their bikes – just a quick warning to all the gadget geeks out there...eyes on the road ahead! Have a super and safe summer of training.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My regular afternoon run in San Francisco, CA.

In May 2012 I attempted a sketch of my regular afternoon run in San Francisco, it is a bit '3rd gradeish'...but it captures the sights. :-)

These are some of the sights I run past on the ~7.7 mile afternoon run along San Francisco Embarcadero [Ferry Building, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, Pier 39].

Saturday, April 07, 2012

American River 50 mile trail run.
AR50 April 7th 2012:

Story of my life, I 'qualified' to put my name into the lottery for Western States 100 mile run for 2013! The first time I've qualified for anything in life and guess what!? It was to enter a lottery to possibly run the 'Boston Marathon' of Ultras! Ha! High point in a life of mediocrity. ;-)

Thanks to some prodding from Martina and Rajeev Patel I made it to the AR50 start. Martina, Harry, Chakri and I drove up on Friday. The drive up was an exciting experience with Martina in full F1 mode. Zipping down exit ramps and up merge ramps to avoid the traffic, she is one feisty driver! After a highly salty Chinese dinner and a fitful nights sleep, we were up early. I had decided to run with Martina as long as I could and then fall back to a slower pace. As the race began Martina was not feeling very well but she stuck it out and kept up the pace, she is one tough cookie. We ran at a good clip along the flat bike path, once we hit the trails and the hills she found her stride and around mile 35 she began her 'roller coaster screams' on the down hills :-). That is when I knew she was feeling fine. I too was feeling surprisingly good, the words of encouragement from Harry at the aid stations were like a shot of energy. The 'you are looking really strong' comment coming from a veteran ultra runner was really uplifting (thanks Harry).

At mile 35 I decided to push the pace and run a bit harder. The single track trail was a bit of a problem, but most runners stopped and let me pass...a few with headphones were the problem ones, I had to tap them to get their attention. The hills were fun and the aid stations were just superb. Given that I had run this section with Rajeev Patel a few weeks ago helped a lot. I finished pretty strong - surprisingly, no blisters, aches or pains (did not trip and fall either).

This is a great race, extremely well organized and very popular. The start was almost like a marathon...lots of people.
Some highlights:
1) Seeing Rajeev Patel in the morning with his broom, he was the sweeper. :-)
2) Running with Martina and being told I talk a lot! (Imagine that!?)
3) Seeing Chakri finish and overcome unfinished business from last year. Congrats Chakri!
4) Seeing Ankita and Murali finish - they are tough runners. Congrats to both of them.
5) Meeting Steve Mackel from - he was a carrying a camera and filming parts of the run as his video blog. His detailed race report can be seen/read here: Steve Mackel race report [we are in the video too, around 4 mins and again towards the end].
6) Martina and I qualifying for the WS100 lottery.

Thanks again to Harry, Martina and Chakri for the driving, cheering, company and hotel room!

Finish time: 10:21:17 (10 hours: 21 minutes: 17 seconds)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 2012, an update:

After some initial doubts about running a 50 miler in the midst of training for IM Coeur d’Alene (CdA), I have decided to stick with it and I will be running the American River 50 mile race (AR50) on April 7th. Martina and Rajeev Patel have been instrumental in pushing me towards the race. On Feb 26th Chakri, Martina, Rajeev Patel and I ran a 50Km trail run called the FatAss 50K in Los Gatos. The run was VERY hilly, total elevation gain of ~9K feet. It took me a week to recover from the run as my legs were extremely sore.

On March 17th Rajeev Patel, Murali, Ankita and I ran the last 31 miles of the AR 50 course (in Auburn). It was not as hilly as the previous run (FatAss 50K) but the trail was wet, soggy and very narrow for most of the way (single track). We drove up to Auburn at 3:00 AM and got to the start at 7:00AM. I stuck to my diet of eGels/Gu every hour, I felt pretty good throughout the day and Rajeev & I added a few more miles towards the end to make the total closer to 34 miles. We had good weather throughout the day with a bit of rain towards the end of the run. All in all a good trial run for AR50, I feel a bit more confident now. May even give the sub 11 hour finish a shot…let’s see how things pan out on race day.

Training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene has been going on well, I’ve done close to 47,000 yards of swimming this year (~26.5 miles) and biking is coming along fine, close to 700 miles so far, running is coming along fine too ~ 250 miles for the year. We had our fist Open Water swim of 2012 on Sunday (March 18th) at Quarry Lakes in Fremont. Nice place, the water is clear. It was very cold and windy though.

In Feb I made a change to my diet, I switched to a gluten free diet to see if it helps resolve my frequent GI distress issues on race days (no, I have not been tested for gluten intolerance, but I suspect I have a mild case of gluten allergy). It was an article on that got me thinking about going gluten free. The things I’ve removed from my diet are; bread, rotis, pastas and all gluten based foods (including most beers…sigh!). Given that we have a host of gluten free foods these days, the switch has not been too hard. We heard about Red Bridge beer on the Dr Oz show and that works fine for me . Diet replacements have been rice/corn for wheat and other gluten grained foods. Rice bread works fine once it is toasted and I like corn tortillas, rice pasta & am ok with quinoa. So far I do feel a lot better after a long ride/run so I’ll stick with this diet and may be get tested later in the year. The good thing is I do not have to change any of my race day supplements as all Gu and Hammer products are gluten free. I’m still sticking to Sustained Energy and eGels as my race fuel.