Monday, January 9, 2017

Marathon Training for SCMM 2017

Training for SCMM 2017

The seed of my dream of doing my first Marathon and that too at Mumbai was laid in my head way back in 2014-15 after I complete my first and second half marathons at Mumbai and Hyderabad respectively and I wanted to proceed further to a full. But I had a lot of doubts and apprehensions about my abilities about which I have written in detail here and also the post covers in great detail about my preparations to start getting trained for the Mumbai full. My running partner Jyothi and me had already been into 11 months of preparation to start training for the full marathon which was another 4 months away. So in all it has been 14 months of dreaming and training for the biggest event of our lives.

WARNING: This blog entry is rather long and in case you wish to, you can skip to the last few paragraphs of the long runs and skip the initial build up entirely.

I had completed the registration for the SCMM 2017 in August 2016 after my HM in Hyderabad with the AHM timing. The email for the registration of marathon training program with Runner's High arrived in my inbox on September 9, 2016 and I went ahead and registered immediately and even made Ashok transfer the amount right away because I did not want Santhosh to drop me out of the program because I had not paid on time or I had not filled the form on time. He can be quite red-tape-ish about these things and gee!, we are supposed to be a recreational group of runners who run for fun and health right? And here we are made to stress about filling forms in triplicates and quadruplicates and making payments on time or else!!!! There were dire warnings about filling forms and paying not being a guarantee for entry into the marathon training program which caused sufficient amount of anxiety to keep both Jyothi and me on our toes.  
Week 1: 19 Sep – 25 Sep: 8k @ Cubbon park:  We had our first training session of 8k at Cubbon park on Saturday and 4k and strengthening on Sunday. After the strengthening session we had our marathon training program info session. I had already chewed all my nails on my fingers and even though I practice yoga regularly thrice a week I am not flexible enough for my mouth to reach my toes. So chewing my toes was not possible :) and hence I even though of asking Jyothi and my other running buddy Dilshad to hand over their hands to me so that I could chew their nails :). But the info session turned out to be the most memorable day of my life. Points like 100% attendance, commitment and dedication, regular strength training  and  also running at a slower pace than we do for 21K initially to remain injury free were stressed upon. Also Coach George told us to enjoy the training and have great fun. Chief Santhosh and Srini V both praised Jyothi and my efforts to get into the marathon training program which sent us into a dizzy spin and gleeful merry-go-round. Our post run breakfast was a huge celebration of our getting elevated to marathoners. Dilshad joined our group and brought in a lot of enthusiasm and energy with her which increased the fun factor. Dilshad and me have run many runs together and we know each other very well. Even the silence between us during runs is very comforting and one look at each other and we know what we are going through or what is wrong with us. We called our group the Awesome Threesome.
Week 2: 26 Sep – 2 Oct: 14k @ Byalkere Peacock Reserve: We were being welcomed by all the
Week 2 - 14K @ Byalakere Peacock Reserve
marathoners at each training session and they kept giving us tips on what to do and what not to do. The most oft repeated advice was not to go out too fast too soon but to conserve energy in the beginning. We would be repeatedly told that it would be long and hard but it would be loads of fun. We even had to sign a contract on 3rd October that we would be regular and committed and do everything told and instructed without fail or any slacking on our part to remain injury free. Being injury free and finishing the marathon
Week 3 - 18K Cubbon Park
became the most important aspects to focus upon. We were joined by Kavitha Ravishankar who is an accomplished athlete and a very fine runner. Her pace is way above our pace. But she still chooses to run slow as she wants to run with our group. She brought in a lot of calm and poise into our group. We became the Fantastic Four now!!
Week 3: 3 Oct – 9 Oct: 18k @ Cubbon Park: Since 18k was a distance that we had done innumerable times before it was without any incidence. After my Hyderabad HM I had reduced my running speed a lot and hence it was at very easy pace and relaxed.
Week 4: 10 Oct  – 16 Oct: 21k @ SPBM @ Kanteerava Stadium: Ou group started
Week 4 - 21K SPBM
#SPBM #BengaluruMarathon. Fantastic Four joined by Bond Raghunath to make the team Famous Five! Since we were such a fun and chirpy group many people wanted to join our group. Even Parag tried to join us. But later both Raghu and Parag were asked by our coaches to run at their pace and not get slowed down by us. We started slow and stuck together. Later we were stopped by Times Now reporter to make a statement but they did not have their equipment ready. They wasted 10 minutes of our time. Later Dilshad and Kavitha went on their own and Jyothi and me stuck together. On our return loop the Times Now! Team stopped us again and asked us to make a statement and this time since they were ready we gave them some sound bites. We lost 5 minutes again. At around 18K I separated from Jyothi and ran at my pace and completed the run.
Week 5 - 16K Decathlon
Week 5: 17 Oct – 23 Oct: 16k @ Decathlon - The Fantastc Four at it again!!! It was tapering week after 21k at Bengaluru Marathon. We ran 16k in 5 min run and 1 min walk. We ran at a slightly faster pace than we normally do. We finished strong and felt that we can do 10 more.
Week 6 - 23K Cubbon Park
Week 6: 24 Oct – 30 Oct: 23 K @ Cubbon Park - We were supposed to do our long run on Saturday. But since Jyothi was travelling she asked us if we would do with her on Friday and the Fantastic Four got together and did it with her in great style. We started at 5.10 am at Cubbon Park. I always love starting early as I get the whole place for myself. There are less people around. People are scared to start early because of the instances of dogs attacks and molestation cases in the past. But I find that the park is well lit and dogs are used to runners by now and since we are in a group, it's absolutely fine. Traffic was allowed in at 8.00. But by then we had only 4k more and the Press Club and Queens Park side has no traffic. So we had an absolutely great run. Learnings: (1) Don't forget to eat a banana every one hour. Eat something solid after 15k. Today I forgot to
Week 7 - 25K Byalkere Peacock Reserve
eat and once again the Kit Kat man Yagnesh saved the day for me  (2) Use more body glide 
Week 7: 31 Oct – 6 Nov: 25k @ Byalkere - My first 25k!!! Yay me!! For the first time I felt like a real marathon trainer as our start time was 5.30 am officially for the first time. It felt very good to be starting early as Marathon trainers. 
Had a tough run. Jyothi had a knee injury after 10k and she dropped out of our pack and did her own run walk routine and completed the run. Combination of strengthening and Yoga during the week created too much fatigue in me. I started very strong and steady and we were bang on schedule till 19k. After that I started slowing down and I could not keep pace with Dilshad and Kavitha. From 19.5k to 25k I tried to keep them in sight by trying to do a 100 count run and 50
Week 8 - 28K @ TheBangaloreUltra @HennurBambooForest
count walk. Ran the last 500 mts and finished well.

Week 8: 7 Nov – 13 Nov: 28K @ The Bangalore Ultra @ Hennur Bamboo ForestI had to run alone as our Fantastic Four group got split this week. Kavitha ran on Saturday with the HSR group at the HSR lake, Dilshad also ran on Saturday at Ooty as she had gone to support Kaiwan for his 50K run at Ooty Ultra. Jyothi ran at Cubbon Park on Monday due to her knee injury. I missed my buddies a lot. The Hennur Bamboo Forest where The Bangalore Ultra is held is beautiful and I love running here. I have done two 12.5Ks in earlier editions and this was my first 25K. The past two years, I used to support the 24 hrs, 100k and 75K Ultra runners as a part of their support crew and hence would not sign up to run 25K. But this year, since I have to train better, I was glad to do. I completed 25k of Ultra and then did a 1.5k out and back. Ran with a 5 min run and 1 min walk strategy using Coach Nanda's watch. Run went very well and I ran a strong 1.5 km in the end to finish 25k and felt very great. The gravel and stone filled stretch on 1.5k and back for the 3k extra to complete the 28k was very tough and I walked the entire distance as I did not want to injure my knees or ITB.
Week 9: 15 Nov – 20 Nov: 21K @ Cubbon Park – It was tapering week for us after the 28K. Jyothi and me ran together. Kavitha and Dilshad ran separately at their own paces as they had been asked to try different paces by our coaches. I had been travelling a lot and lots of piligrimage and sightseeing had me fatigued. So a slower pace was good for me. Post run, it was the monsoon season breakfast and party and we went to lady Lothari Hall for the sumptuous breakfast and I was pleased to learn that I had got the attendance award yet again. I wished that I had got the most improved runner which I have been craving for since so many seasons.
Week 10: 21 Nov – 27 Nov: 30K @ Decathlon – Longest run that I had run till date. Jyothi did her 30k at Cochin as she had gone there for Ajath's wedding. Dilsh, Kavi and me did ran at Decathlon. It was a run organized by Decathlon Sarjapur and we started at 5.30 when their aid stations were not yet ready. We did not have water for 11 kms and I had forgotten to carry my small water bottle and my pouch. Asad, who was patrolling on his bike saved the day for us by giving us water and salt pills. I got a head ache at 19K due to lack of water and salt pills and also my bowel problem started around this time due to which I had to slow down. Dilshad went at her pace at around 12K and Kavitha tried to stay with me till up to 18K and then went at her pace. I tried to keep her in sight for as long as possible. The bowel sensation reduced after a couple of kms and reappeared again after sometime. Thus it played hide and seek and I had to alter between running and walking. I tried to keep a good pace as much as possible. Finally I had a very good run and had a great time together and finished strong. The splitting headache worsened after I got home and I had to take two paracetamols at home. Learning: Carry your own hydration packs and try to be self sufficient in your runs.Especially since you are a slow runner and the aid stations might run out of stuff by the time you cross them towards the later kilometers.
Week 11 - 25K Stonehill International School
Week 11: 28 Nov – 4 Dec: 25K @ Stonehill International School: It was again a tapering week. I was scared about my bowel problem and hence did not have my usual pre run snack of chapattis lest I get the sensation again. I had been travelling between Mysore during the week and back to Bangalore during the weekends for the runs the past three weeks. My bowel issue had been playing on my mind and waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual, drinking warm water and all the other usual tricks did not seem to work for me and I could not clear my morning ablutions before leaving. I had to battle it again during this run. Jyothi and me stuck together up to 17K or 18K. After that she had to slow down due to her knee paina dn I had to continue at my pace as a slower pace means that I cannot run but have to walk. I also got a pain in my right ankle after 22K or 23K. But I was able to complete strong by changing the pattern in which I was placing my foot.
Week 12: 6 Dec – 11 Dec: 32K @ Byalkere - Longest run that I have run till date. 32K. I had not run my
Week 12 - 32K @ Byalkere Peacock Reserve
Tuesday run and had just walked on Wednesday due to my ankle issue. By now I was regularly complaining to our marathoners whatsapp group about my ankle problems and everyone knew about my issues and were really concerned. I was regularly consulting the physios and they had given me the rest, Ice, stretches and strengthening solution which I was following diligently. Ponki bought my excuse for not doing strengthening as I was of getting pain during strengthening and agreed that I would do only stretches and not strengthening. But no such luck with Suzan. She said that it was all good pain and it was the only way to make my ankle stronger before January 15 and that I had to do it. I have to thank the physios from the bottom of my heart for taking my innumerable phone calls patiently, answering all my paniky questions calmly and in short assuring me that it was just a niggle and not an injury and would go away.
The Fantastic Four had a good 32K run. We started together and ran together up to 5K. Then Kavitha and Dilshad went at their pace and me and Jyothi ran together. We ran at our steady pace and we're bang on our target time up to 28K. We slowed down in our last 4K. But we finished strong. It was great to have our Chief Santhosh run along with us for about 1K. It's a huge morale booster and we act like small children wanting to please our head master and dying to get a ‘good’ or a ‘star’ from him. Srini V's weekly guidance and Thursday emails were most helpful and helped us to shape our run to a level where we did the distances with confidence and without stress. I got back my ankle pain again at around 19 or 20K. Again I had to change the landing of my foot and also reduce the run time and increase the walk time. But we had a strong run and completed in style. I was able to sprint the last 500 mts which was most surprising.
Week 13 - 24 kms @ Nandi Hills
Week 13: 12 Dec – 18 Dec: 24K @ Nandi HillsHill training to conquer Peddar road. This was my third run in Nandi Hills in three years. And you would think it gets easier and easier. But no such luck. Every run is hard and difficult and the challenge is what makes it so exciting and satisfying in the end. Since I had pain in my right ankle I had avoided the Tuesday run again. Wednesday was the train workout which is my favorite. I took a faster train since I felt that my ankle pain had reduced and improved. This must have been a huge mistake.
I wore an ankle brace (crepe bandage) to give support. The Nandi hill run was 6 kms up and 6 kms down and two loops. Due to a new rule, vehicles are not allowed entry up the hill from 10 pm to 6 am. Hence, even though we started at 5.30 am, due to the heavy pile up of vehicles which had come to Nandi Hills to view the glorious sun rise, we could not run for the first 2k and it was a slow walk
Marathoners Buddy Group Breakfast @ Ballal Residency
up the hill. We started running from 2k onwards. It was very cold and the warm up itself took some time.
 The first loop was fine. We could see the beautiful sunrise and the misty view from the mountains was a glorious sight. 5k to 6k was steep and we had to walk it up. But second loop was tough and my ankle started to pain from 15k and I had to do run/walk from there. The run down was the toughest and I could not run the last 4k and has to walk. I even got my bowel distress after 18K and I had to walk due to this too.
We had our marathon buddy group breakfast at Ballal residency on Sunday and it was a riot and we were one boisterous group among all the prim and proper Sunday breakfasters and brunchers.
Week 14 - 34K @ Stonehill International School
Week 14: 19 Dec – 25 Dec: 34K @ StonehillAnkle pain continued and I avoided both the Tuesday run and the Wednesday run. It has already been three weeks since I have not been running on Tuesdays. I forgot to take my crape bandage in the morning. I asked Ashok to get it for me. I should have tied it after 10K. But I did not which was a big mistake and my ankle pain surfaced again at 12.5K. I tied the crape bandage at 14K.  I was able to run with Jyothi till 22K. Later, I joined Dr. Naveen Nagar and ran at a faster pace up to 27K. After that I was on my own and did a run/walk. It was a very tough run. I walked the last 4 kms completely. We got the much needed heat training for Mumbai as I finished by 11.00 am.
Week 15: 26 Dec – 1 Jan: 16K @ Byalkere – Tapering weekDue to my ankle pain I did not run on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also walked only 10K instead of running 16K. Ashok came and joined me for the last 2K and we walked together.
Week 16: 2 Jan – 8 Jan: 8K @ Cubbon – Tapering week. My ankle pain had reduced and I was able to run well. Jyothi and me stuck together till 5K. But I could not run after that and had to run slower on my own.

Its been a long journey for Jyothi and me to reach this point where we will be running our first marathon. From Nov '15 to Jan '17, it's been 15 long months. I remember reading somewhere that it took Vasco Da Gama 592 days to reach Goa and Roald Amundsen 602 days to reach the South pole. It will take Jyothi and me 431 days and 6.30 hrs or more/less to reach the SCMM Finish Line. But, reach the finish line we will!! We might have to run/walk or crawl. But we have to reach that finish line.

Week 17: 9 Jan – 15 Jan: 42K @ SCMM Mumbai – To appear after Sunday….to be continued… this space for the post!

1 comment:

  1. How detailed and passionate the writing is Asha.Love you lots girl. May we continue to share the magic of us and fantastic four beyond the marathon in mumbai.
    Cheers to us.