Monday, May 19, 2014

TCS Open 10k 2014


It took lot of convincing from my friends part for me to register for 10k run last year. With very little practice, sporadic one at that, I took 78 minutes, 14 seconds to finish the run. I felt happy and satisfied to have finished 10 km of running, walking and stretching with generous dose of water and electrolyte filled drinks.

For this year's race, I was determined to practice, not just participate as well as personal goal to finish under 70 minutes. Despite 20+ treks and six 100km+ cycle trips, I struggle when it comes to running. Having got to know about Runners for Life last year, I did some simple research and started with 10 minute morning run with rest day every third day. Three simple stretches post run followed occasionally with Sirsasana. Cross training was incidentally set by my cycling interest. By third week, I was able to jog 20 minutes continuously. Less than 3km stretch. Participated in Rupee for Humanity 5km run as a testing ground. To finish it around 34 minutes with couple of water breaks boosted confidence a lot.

But then came unexpected break of around 2 weeks leaving me to run just to get back in stride during the tapering week. And not even a single 5km+ practice run. I had clocked 400km+ in about 2 months on my cycle, which on hindsight, seems to have built my stamina more than jogging practice.

Collecting Bib

The unexpected break also meant that I wasn't in Bangalore to collect my BIB at the expo in Koramangla. A call to helpline number confirmed that I can collect it on eve of race day at Kanteerava stadium expo already scheduled for outstation and overseas participants.

South gate of stadium was closed (purposefully I assume), which meant that a 2 minute walk from Corporation Circle bus stop on Rajaram Mohan Roy road became a 10 minute hike round the stadium. Collection of BIB itself was a smooth 5 minute affair - BIB handover (plus glossy booklet with lot of info - timing, dos and donts, route map, etc) with instruction to not bend the timing chip, followed by goodie bag collection and timing chip testing (to ensure it is working and pointing to your name). There were information desk and photocopy machines also near the collection counter to those who came ignorant of instructions.

Goodie Bag (source: TCS 10k FB page)
I didn't bother to visit merchandise outlets or the pasta offering. While leaving, I noticed a small opening under iron railing being used to cut short about 5 minutes of walking. I didn't miss the opportunity, lazy bum that I am.

Also spent the day reading through blogs posted on social media as well as interesting video on youtube about water requirement during the run.

Race Day

Just like 2013 edition, it rained heavily the night before Sunday race. Excitement and mosquito bites meant that I had only about 4 hours sleep before waking up in a jerk for 4:25 AM alarm. Immediately felt stomach sourness and possible vomit. Caution to not run if ill surfaced from dos and donts. Freshening and a orange juice sip made me feel better and with enthusiasm I walked to bus stop around 5:15 AM (without encountering dog barks, phew). With past experience, I waited patiently for bus and alighted near the stadium with plenty of time to spare for offical 6:15 AM cut-off.

Warm up was underway (awesome view from bus) while scores of runners lined up outside the entrances. Newbies walked hither-thither, inquiring and generally disrupting queue. Volunteers would help now and then, policemen trying to guide traffic near parking lots.

After security check and informed of gate number change, I climbed the winding stairs leading to hold up area for 'E' group runners - less than 80 minute finish last year worthwhile after all. A 'F' group member was trying to cajole a volunteer to let him join his 'E' group friend. Outside the stands, sizable crowd stood patiently in multiple queues to relieve their bladders.

Upon entering the stands, saw few policemen observing the proceedings, while runners in all stands were in full flow with warm up exercises. I couldn't make out anything being belted out due to echo, but there was a large display in center, trainers doing steps above a raised platform along with trainers inside each of the stands. Impressive to say the least.

Warm up and myself after run
I though, was taking care to pin my BIB and then gobbled two red bananas (my favorite for treks/running/cycling events) after which emptied the minute-maid orange drink. Couldn't spot a garbage bin :-/ Stomach still felt odd.

As the sky brightened, more blue and white than grey, the event started right on time 6:05 AM for corporate. Few runners came minutes late, possibly traffic or parking trouble (as was reported by many on social media after the run).

Minutes ticked by, a colleague of previous company spotted me, excitement gripped and pushed many congregating near door. Stand by stand we were let through, overwhelming crowd trying to gain foot and/or avoid injury. Carl Lewis, John Abraham, Puneeth, etc encouraged us along with other celebrities and volunteers, not to forget the music.

As well documented in many blogs as well as event booklet, there were runners trying to cut through slow runners (relatively speaking), running zig zag and using sidewalk. I had very less trouble in maintaining my steady jogging pace though. So many volunteers lining up on both sides of the road with wonderful and creative posters, not to forget their vocal support too. Few of them were family/friends to take snap of their beloved ones.

The first water station was after 1 km, very few rushing for bottles. But already some resorted to walking. First 2 kms being warm-up, I was feeling good and somehow a thought formed to finish first 5 km without break and refreshment. With arms paining in usual bent position running, I sometimes let them drop besides the hip - definitely helped alleviate the pain. Around 3 km mark, there were already top runners going past 5 km mark on the other side of the road. Checked time on phone - doing good at around 20 minutes.

To pass time (and keep mind off pain), I consciously tried to observe oddities (to later write in this post) - bare foot running, some with shoes fitted in toe shapes, people sporting tees from previous events (like I was too :P), quotes, showing support for a social cause, etc. And then started surfing the other side to see if I could spot known faces (in all, spotted only one :D). The buzz at timing mats was maddening but manageable.

Slowly and steadily, my pace never changing much, 5 km came and went. I wasn't particularly thirsty, sweating but not copious and pain not enough to need a breather. So, I kept on. Next target being 6 km and then assess. I consciously tried to sport a smile - not only loosening up body but for various flashes and live telecast.

Side stitch on right side of body was beginning to show, but having read that it is not harmful, I tried to ignore it. I crossed 6 km, still not thirsty and after 7 I got hold of enerzal without breaking stride - more in anticipation that I gotta stop for a stretch with increasing pain. Noticed time on phone again - was doing good and about 20 minutes to finish around 70 minute mark. Orange peels placed were so inviting, but always crowded.

I have never run even 5 km stretch continuously in the past. I was surprising myself with the show and I developed a mantra by then - finish the race without stopping, without energy drink and possibly under 70 minutes (so that I move up the ladder - i.e 'D' group in next event :P). I was largely getting free space for my pace except for water logged areas where there was congestion. Loads of runners were walking.

Around 8 km mark, I decided, come what may, I am not stopping and was tossing the enerzal pack between hands. I waded through murky rain water instead of walking on footpath. Familiar Cubbon Park was subtle encouragement - even remembered that I had stopped for stretching last year. I even tried to increase pace a bit but resorted to normal pace soon after. Volunteers charged us up, free hi 5 (I didn't use though :P) and even runners saying a word or two to push harder.

After 9 km mark, two ambulance rushed past us, a small crowd ahead surrounding a fallen runner. Last year too there were such incidents, happens to even seasoned runners. But didn't see anyone stopping by medical stations placed at various intervals. Toilets were in demand though :P and noticed logical error in placing a station around 9 km mark with standard text of 'next one after 2 km' :D

After turning towards last stretch outside the stadium, I again lengthened my strides but couldn't keep up and jogged again. And finally arms raised at finish point - got confused with clock displayed, but that didn't matter much. Running without a break was the sweetest feeling.

Timing comparison :)

Post Race

Bottleneck of people walking towards refreshment and medal collection counter. Spotted a fellow trekker who had finished well ahead. I kept walking, allowing the body to cool. I got the items with only about 5 minute waiting - much much less compared to horrific experience last year. The organizers cross the medal circle on BIB to avoid someone getting things twice :P

Foot path were crowded with very less moving space, finding a spot to rest/stretch much harder. I did find one, stretched a little and then started walking to Residency road bus stop (as Corporation circle stop on Kasturba road was closed for traffic - last year's experience coming in handy again)

Only after reaching the bus stop, did I finally drink enerzal :P Stubbornness at its best :D Weird stomach feeling still persisted, dunno why yet :-/

Simple tips for beginners (advisory only)

  1. Practice (atleast a month or two before race, keep rest days in between)
  2. Cross training - walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, etc
  3. Diet (check links below) - I still haven't figured out for myself though
  4. Stretch after every run
  5. Avoid short parks with sharp corner turns, I run on roads
  6. Get professional help immediately if any sort of pain/discomfort persists long after a run

Good info on Running


nikhil guhagarkar said...

Good one Sundeep

sundeep agarwal said...

Thanks :)

Rwin said...

Superb dude..Have always wanted to do a half marathon but never really kept motivation going.. Will practice & do one this year hopefully with inspiration from your blog..

sundeep agarwal said...

Thanks Rwin, Starting is most difficult step and then it becomes easier than we thought :)

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