Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rupee for Humanity running event - 27 April, 2014

I have never been much of a runner. We do run a lot while playing childhood games where we rarely get bored or tired (except perhaps in Kabbadi and Kho-Kho) or caring about what kind of nutrition is required. And those 100m dash in annual school sports competitions where we participated as part of groups (if my memory serves right, I was part of Cauvery group, others being Narmada, Ganga and Yamuna in school).

Trekking and Cycling improved my stamina and I rather got addicted to them. Running was a natural next step and when your company participates in a social cause (TCS 10k, Bangalore 2013 edition), you grab it with both hands which I did. A running enthusiast and coach was invited to Cubbon Park as part of initiating the participants to running. He gave me a incredulous look when I said that I just wanted to feel how it's like to run 10 kilometers. During the session, he told us about practice, nutrition and some very basic stretching exercises to be done after the run.

With very little practice, I struggled and somehow finished 10k in just over 78 minutes (doesn't qualify for special TCS 10k categories :( ). Which included walking and stretching in between. In another few weeks, I participated in Mother Earth 5k run conducted near EGL in Koramangla. It turned out more than 5k I think and I took around 40 minutes. Had horrible stomach trouble followed by vomiting that day. All pretensions to develop running habit went down the drain.

After registering again for TCS 10k event this year, I told myself to practice better. And when BTC invited us to participate in Rupee-for-Humanity (RFH) social cause run, I registered for 5k event to align with TCS 10k practice regime.

I am proud to say I have maintained the routine more than 3 weeks, missing only when I was out of station or took to morning cycle rides. It is fairly simple one (not involving nutrition routine and only basic stretching). Starting with about 10 minutes of run, I progressed to about 20 minutes. That stretch is only about 2.5 km. But still, a lot of progress for someone like me.

I reached UVCE college near Cubbon Park about 20 minutes past 6 AM for the RFH event. I am getting used to arriving later than appointed time these days. But twice in two days, I should rather have reached on time. Nature gives us such ironical lessons. The first was runners meet for TCS 10k run on Brigade road. So many passionate runners gathered and were given series of talks on various aspects of running like diet, stretching, types of pain, etc etc and punctuated with Nike products (the meet was in Nike store)

I woke up at 5 AM for RFH event, got ready, drank lot of water and packed some bananas to eat before the run. Sensing that I was getting late, I ran sporadically about a kilometer to Ulsoor only to see road blocked due to some festive program. Fortunately, a bus arrived soon after and took alternate path. Getting down at Corporation circle, I was guided by volunteer (a cyclist was getting directions too, later at the venue realized that it was Archana, whom I had met in previous two Cadence90 morning rides). I gobbled the bananas on the way to venue (they were squishy, presumably due to heat)

I was disappointed to not spot many of the FB friends who had signed up for this event (later got to know that they had gone elsewhere :-/) In the process though, I saw one guy's shoes built with five toes! The organizers were trying to be helpful in many ways but clearly were novices. But I feel they will learn and do better. Our bibs were numbered according to category - starting from 3000 for 3k, 5000 for 5k, 10000 for 10k and 5S000 for students' 5k run. After a bit of delay (organizers were allowing some more time for late comers and taking into account the difficulty of reaching the venue), a kid flagged off the run. I noted the time - 6:36 AM

Starting from UVCE
There initially was some confusion as to which category was starting off, then I guess everybody got it that it was all mixed. After crossing a busy junction (volunteers controlling traffic) and spotting Country Club (who later distributed gift vouchers), we entered Cubbon park. There being only 500 odd runners, there was enough space for my own pace of running, except around narrow passages. Along the way, there were markings indicating directions. I wondered how we were going to separate out as 3k/5k/10k. Having seen the maps sent via email from RFH, I at least knew that it was one lap around Cubbon for 5k.

The regulars might have been a little inconvenienced or perhaps might be used to such events. Overall, I would like to think we weren't much of a nuisance. With 3 week practice behind me, I was doing good at steady pace, but was looking for water stations which were mentioned to have been placed roughly at 1.5km intervals.

Past my 20 minutes steady run, I started feeling pain in hip bones. I was relieved that I wasn't doing 10k and the same time reality stuck that I would struggle very hard to finish TCS 10k within 70 minutes. I kept running though, slow and steady and for once, trying to enjoy :) Got to see Nike runners club members going through various stretching and discussions.

RFH 5k route map
As to separating out runners of different categories, volunteers were placed at branching points - they spotted our bib numbers and guided appropriately even without asking. The long stretch of road leading towards Corporation circle was crowded as usual - runners, walkers, cyclists, kids. I picked another water bottle at the end of this stretch (serving also as brief rest for muscles). By this point, I could see many participants resorting to walk and I was inwardly happy to keep jogging.

With no idea of remaining distance, I was surprised to see only about 100-200m dash to finish line after last turn. And even more happy feeling to complete in 34 minutes (raising hope of sub 70 minute finish for TCS 10k). Many 3k/5k runners had already finished the race - some pleasantly surprised to have done it against their expectations. I walked a bit after finishing and then stretched. Within few minutes, I saw a well built foreigner finishing - I wondered why he wasn't doing 10k (didn't pay attention to his bib number or perhaps the mind saw but didn't register). And then an Indian crossed the finish line and claimed to have completed two laps. Realization dawned - these guys finished 10k just 4-5 minutes more than I took for 5k :D

We returned to meeting point in UVCE college where three refreshments stations were placed serving water, glucose, biscuits and toffee. I was still trying to locate FB friends when for second time of the day someone else recognized me and I took a while to recognize them. Nature's ironical lessons at play again. I wandered a bit inside the campus. After quite a while, we were given certificates (10k participants being largest and took lot of time despite 2 queues). Elaborate ceremony followed with RFH thanking sponsors, promoting clubs and us. Highlight of the event being twin 4 year old girls coming all the way from Chennai and completed 3k run and 79 year old grandpa who I think did 5k.

Overall, another feel good social event. Liked the organization despite few hiccups. And personal motivation to do aim for less than 70 minute finish come May 18.

Photo posted above used from RFH FB page. Race day photos - RFH

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