Saturday, May 24, 2014

Home Run(s)

I just returned from a ridiculously short but an amazing and memorable trip to Bangalore. Like many of my runner friends I have started to incorporate running on all my vacations and outings. I really wanted to capture this trip experience in a blog post, as it was my first time running a race in my Hometown. It would be technically wrong to call Bangalore my hometown as I was born and raised in the beautiful town of Mysore. But for all practical purposes I have to reluctantly accept Bangalore as my hometown for now. 
While planning this trip I checked for small distance races around Bangalore and TCS World 10k perfectly fit the need. TCS really put on a kick ass event. They had marathon style expo a week before the race. I had to miss the expo as I was only reaching India couple of days before the race.  They had the option of picking out BIB day before the race and also had organized a “Pasta with Pundits” luncheon.  I came to know that legendary Olympian Carl Lewis was the ambassador for the race and he was at the luncheon answering all sorts of questions from an excited audience.  It’s during this conference I came to know that Carl Lewis has been a serious Vegan for past 20-30 years. Needless to say my respect for the legend quadrupled. It’s truly mind-blowing to imagine he was winning all those Olympic gold medals on a Vegan diet.

Legendary Carl Lewis @ Bangalore

Weather in Bangalore was super hot and consistently hovered between 88-99 degrees (Fahrenheit) for the entire day.  I have been training in the Siberian weather in New Jersey and proper hydration was absolutely necessary if I were to run a decent race. I gulped at least 1-2 gallons of coconut water  per day not only because it was hot but also it’s rare to find such amazingly fresh coconut water in New Jersey. It was also peak Mango season in India and I made sure I feasted on several varieties of Mangos every day. I was severely jet-lagged and couldn’t sleep the whole two nights prior to race day. Hot conditions were getting to my nerves and I was praying for rain during the race. My prayers were somewhat answered and it did rain the night before the race day. It hardly mattered, as it was still 95 degrees at 6 am just before the race start. I’m really thankful for my brother Ram for waking up at un-godly hour to take me to Kanteerva Stadium (race location). My super excited family members including my little nephew and nieces had promised to show up to cheer and I was really pumped. Race organizers even had a runner-tracking app, which helped them track my progress.

There were several categories of races and I was running the open 10k, which included about 26000 runners. They even had an elite race that started later with speedy Kenyans and Ethiopians. Race started promptly at 6:20 am and I was in the second wave and made it to the start within minutes after gun went off. I ran the first two kilometers at a comfortable heart rate of 155 and was feeling good. It felt like a dream running in those streets and brought back memories from my college days. I used to hang out with my college friends on the very same spots while eating all sorts of roadside junk food. After hitting the half waypoint I started playing “Chase the runner” game.  I was focusing only on the runners ahead of me and working up to pass them and getting passed by some of them in return.  It was only getting hotter by the minute and I made sure to drink and pour water over my head at all the water stations. I was approaching the popular “Vidhana Soudha” which is the Capitol Hill of the state government of “Karnataka”. My loyal family members were out there waiting for me just past the KM 7 marker. Their cheering and screaming made me jump and I was thrilled to pieces. I stopped looking at my watch for the last 3 kilometers and picked up my pace. I spotted my brother about 800 meters before the finish and went on an all out sprint afterwards.  I crossed the finish line after 56 minutes and was quite disappointed for not being able to finish in less than 50 minutes. Nevertheless it was still a PR for me as it was only my 2nd 10k race ever. My first one was at Bear Mountain trail few weeks earlier.
I must have wandered for 3-4 kilometers before finally spotting my brother. Finally met up my family at a restaurant where I had a fabulous south Indian breakfast.

I’m grateful to my endurance coach and biomechanics guru Lou Cookson for all his help in strengthening my injury prone body and also improving my overall running form. Many thanks to my awesome running club RVRR and especially to our speed workout coach Peter Priolo for all the recent improvements in my pace. I couldn’t have imagined running in these tough conditions without your help and support.

Thanks RVRR.  Courtesy Elaine Acosta for the pic.

It was an amazing trip and was great to see my Mom, siblings and their kids after two years. I’m already looking forward to run “Kaveri Trail Marathon” next year, which is held near Mysore.