Friday, July 31, 2009

Ze End!

After 4 months of actively maintaining this blog, the time has come to retire this one. To date, except for keeping my job and completing my school, I have not done anything in such discipline. But for the team (TNT), I wouldn't have done this as well. I can't thank the coaches, the honorees and my sponsors enough on their help. So, I will keep quiet and be humbled by the personal attention given by the coaches and the generosity and kindness exercised by my sponsors. As far as the honorees' spirit to fight through what life threw at them, I want to tell a couple of words before I keep quiet and feel humbled by their audacity to brave through the storm.

We had a constant stream of honorees (Cancer survivors) boosting our spirit and keeping things (especially the pains of running compared to what they have to go through) in perspective all through the training session. At the pasta dinner, the night before the marathon, the narration by one of the honoree's mom (Will call her Luke's mom) touched everyone's heart. Luke was 3 when he was diagnosed with cancer. I could only imagine what the parents would have gone through when they heard this from the doctor.

Luke has to go through Chemo, has to take steroids to withstand the intensity of chemo and hence was non-stop hungry. He has to be fed all through the day. The mom showed a one-before/one-after photo. The kid, though barely one year apart, was unrecognizable. In addition to the physical changes, when the mom described the mental effects of all this (since the kid reacts to pain with yelling, shouting and with other adverse behavior), there was a deafening silence in the room to commiserate with the family. In the moments when sanity prevailed with Luke, he would ask questions like any other child but with a twist. For instance when he saw a kid with no hair on the street, he asked, "Mom, does he go to the same Chemo center as I do"? (instead of day-care or after school music class or whatever a normal kid would associate with). When the mom narrated about how Luke asked if he had to die and go to heaven alone (or) would anyone accompany him, there was not one dry eye in the room.

These are the questions a parent can only pray that they don't have to hear from their kids. And in fact a majority of the parents don't have to. But from the stories of the few, could one draw inspirations from - about the tenacity of the human mind, about the power of faith and about the support derived from family. As the sociologists have figured out, human mind cannot predict how it would react to an extremely good news (winning a lottery) or an extremely bad news (your child declared as having cancer) when it has not yet happened. But we have in our genes the courage to work through and fight against the challenging situations.

A couple of lessons I derived for myself are,
  1. Do not brood about what-if this happens (or) what-if that happens; (a) there is no way to figure out what my state of mind would be when it hasn't happened yet and (b) I will fight through if and when 'it' happens
  2. Live in and cherish the present, count my blessings and stop bitching and moaning about things that could be better.
Well, I didn't have to run a marathon to find these out, one may say. But, for me, the constant reinforcement of these stories about 'audacity of hope' went a long way in internalizing these messages. BTW, Luke is nearing the end of his Chemo routine and our thoughts and prayers are with him to lead the rest of his life without the burden of cancer.

That said, my mind did not contemplate any of these things while I ran my marathon. It was all about living in the moment. Since it was warm and since the last 8.2 miles were a big unknown, I took it very easy from the start. I took constant hydration (and hence frequent potty breaks) and finished the run with full of energy. The 6 hours 12 minutes time mean that when (and IF) I do another marathon, there is no stress of beating my personal best :-)

Where do I go from here? It would be a shame if after running a marathon I go back to my couch life style. I would strive hard to avoid that. At the same time, I don't think I have the will or motive to run another full marathon. May be I will stick with running half marathons for rest of my life since it is much easier on the schedule and on my body.. and I will still be a marathoner, won't I ?

All right, I have said what I wanted to say through this blog. I kept my end of the promise for all my sponsors in maintaining this blog and completing my marathon. Now, it is time I shut up and log off :-)


Sunday, June 28, 2009

26.2 captured

Happy to say that the run on 6/27 went fine and I ran past the finish line full of beans. It was sunny and warm (not like Seattle). So, played it safe from the start. Took hydration (Cytomax and Water) at all water stops, kept munching on the hammer bar, chewing the Gu chomps and sucking the Gu gel at frequent intervals. So, I must have actually put on some weight during the course ;-)

Coach Kirk ran with me from miles 22 to 26 engaging me completely (and then he went back to mile 22 to accompany another team mate). He was very encouraging and without him those 4 miles would have been harder (Thanks Coach Kirk - you rock). At 26, my mentor cheered me and ran with me to the bend (the best mentor Grace Thompson :-)).

I was planning to complete in 5:12 but it took a little more than 6 hours due to my taking it slowly. That does not matter.. I crossed the line and am able to walk without pain now. That matters a lot :)

Will followup on the run, the course and reflection of the past 4 months when I return to San Jose.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week21: Time for inventory

I just went back and checked my mileage. Engineers always have a penchant for analytics. So, I have carefully documented by avg/min/max heart rates, time for miles for all my runs so far. And, I only have a $29.99 Timex watch. So, I have to document all these things manually. So far, I have accrued a little more than 300 miles since the start of the program. That's a good confident booster (May be this tells how desperate I am in seeking any and all forms to remain hopeful.. but hey ;-)).

BTW, if you are thinking about what to do with $299.99, you can buy me a Garmin Forerunner 305 at

Or if you have a Costco membership and are wondering what to do with $149.99, you can buy me the same Garmin Forerunner 305 at

The way the free market enterprise works and the pricing fences are erected to segment people is a fascinating topic, indeed.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Week 21: Taper, Taper, Taper :)

What have I told you about my tendency to sand bag and slack? I have perfected that to an art form. So, I don't need any one to tell me to taper.. I just taper :-)

Less than 2 weeks to go now for the d-day. I am just concerned about not having any injuries than anything now. If I can take care of that, then I am fairly confident about reaching the finish line. Now, the last 8.2 miles is a big unknown. I have not yet run beyond 18 miles. But, I can walk if need be. So, hanging in tight.


Week 20: A new world order (a.k.a Bummer!)

This week, we were supposed to do the much anticipated 20 miles run. On Thursday, we had the opportunity to meet and greet the San Diego RnR marathoners. The good thing about Seattle RnR is that you get a chance to learn from others best practices and mistakes. But then, what is it they say?, "Human beings have a great potential to learn from past mistakes but they also possess the propensity to ignore and repeat the same mistakes".

Any hooo.. While I was talking to the RnRers, the general idea I got was that inspite of the immense feat they accomplished on last Saturday, most of them said that they finished feeling a lot more tired than they expected. Ofcourse most of them were first time marathoners and of course one would feel a lot tired running 26.2 miles. But our coaches thought that they felt this group finished feeling a lot more tired than needed. They also felt strongly that it has got something to do with the 20 miles run in Monterey. The SD Rnrers put all their hearts into the 20 miles run in Monterey (3 weeks back) and that, in the end, was their best run.

Now, I don't know if that was the only thing that made the difference. May be it's the weather. San Diego is much warmer than the Bay area. May be it has got something to do with it. Since the coaches strongly felt about that, they called off the 20 miles run. Instead they placed a time based goal. 2:30 hours to 3 hours max is all we must do. They reasoned it pretty well and of course they know better than any of us. So, we obliged and I ran just 2.5 hours this week (13 miles).

Was I disappointed that I couldnt complete the 20 miles before the Marathon. Damn right, I was! But was I happy to follow the coaches' guidance and not do something stupid? Again, damn right.

So, before the marathon, I've done one 18 miles run and three 16 miles run. The coaches assured that this is as good a prep I needed to do the Marathon. I trust their judgement and will save my energy for the D-day.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Week 19: Calculus and Marathon!

In preparation for my 20 miles run next week, I took really easy this week. 12 miles around my home (8miles in the morning, 4 miles in the evening). The new shoes are good so far. I want to sprinkle some wisdom on running the hills (Since the terrain around my neigbourhood has 200 - 300 feet elevation gain in a mile).

Runners need to focus on a uphill the same way Numerical Mathematicians focus on conquering integral calculus. For calculating area under a curve, they split the curve into a bunch of trapezoids (or even easy.. rectangles). That way they can just add all the areas of rectangles (which even trained monkeys can do) to calculate the area under a curve. This is how the numerical mathematicians reduce the complicated Newtonian S*it into a simple f..king addition (and this is why the traditional mathematicians don't respect the Numerical guys.. but who cares!).

A runner should eliminate the total uphill from his/her viewpoint. Instead, the problem should be reduced to small steps of relatively flat terrain and focus should be kept only on the next 2-3 steps.. and relentless forward motion.This will not make you conquer a hill with the fastest time, but you will conquer the hills with ease.. Try it and let me know if it works for you as well.


Week19: Guess What ?! I was running with the wrong shoes all along!

Week 19 is not a right time to find that I was running with wrong shoes, but I was glad I found that out now. Due to the foot pain, I visited Running Revolutions in Campbell. RR takes video of the running on a treadmill and also has a touch sensitive mat to gauge your stress pattern. With the help of these, the coach fit me the right kind of shoes (neutral, size 10, 2E width) for me. I was running with stability, narrow, 10.5 shoes (meant for over-pronators). So far the new shoes are working good. But I will wait till my 20 miles to see if there is more cushion needed.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Week 18: New shoes taking the pain of the knee

Seems like the new shoes are working good. I havent got any knee pains this week. I am going easy on running and doing more aerobics (Biking, Elliptical) and stretching. The coach's workouts are getting easier because we are tapering down for the San Diego runners. In our group we have 2 runners training for Seattle marathon and 30+ training for SD. It is working good for me since I am getting all the additional workouts.

This week the regional run was at Coyote Creek. 16 miles distance. The weather was way better compared to both Woodside and Monterey runs. So, I finished with less fatigue, less pain (thanks largely to the new shoes) and better pace. I am back home and planning to just relax for the rest of the weekend.

The new shoes might need some tweaking since the foot is not feeling very comfortable now. May be if I break it, it will get better. But, I aint taking any chances. I am planning to visit the 'Running Revolution' early next week and get 'em checked.

Only 30 more days to go..


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week17: Reasonable workout + 12 miles weekend OYO run

Even after I consciously removed the "time" out of the equation for a couple of weeks now, only now it is settling in to my subliminal mind. This week, I focused all my energy into reducing pain and finishing strong.

My favorite quote is, "I don't have to sandbag .. I am a natural". Then why would I push through my pain, and run slowly with no rhythm or life, instead of taking a break, walk for 2mins every 2miles (or 1 mile), take that time to sip water/electrolyte, stretch a bit and run rejuvenated? Beats me!

This week, that is exactly what I did - both on my Tues run (4 miles) and on Sat run (12 miles). Feels good to finish with some more energy to spend.

The Thursday coach lead workout was interesting. We have to get ourselves into a team of 2, surrender our watches, guesstimate when we would finish a combined 4 miles run. We got pretty close to our guess (just overestimated by 50 secs). That's pretty good.

This week was also the surprise baby shower for our super performing manager - Becky. The coaches dressed in baby costumes (bonnet, bib, oversized diaper with jumbbo pin - the whole 9 yards). Lots of spirit, I gotta give it to them.

My 20 miles run isn't for another 3 weeks. Hopefully, I will be able to break in my new shoes by then.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week16: Monterey regional run

Was planning for a 20-miles run... Coach grounded me since the 20 miles run is only for San Diego runners. Since I am training for Seattle, this is a taper down week (16 miles). You know what.. I ain't complaining. My leg still has not recovered from my last week's run and my new shoes haven't arrived. So, it is a blessing in disguise. @ Monterey, the weather was perfect and our running trail closely hugged the coast the whole route. It was a beautiful sight.

That said, I started getting knee pains starting right from Mile 5. So, not a good thing :-( With only 48 days to go, I have to build up enough strength and loosen up those friggin' IT band!.. and yeah hydrate and sleep for 8 hours every night!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Week 15: 18 miles - not as bad as the Woodside run

I ran 18 miles in Campbell park. It could have been a replay of Woodside in terms of pain. But I tried a lot of things differently. First, I did not skip and hydration stops (gatorade every 2 miles, Gu gel every 4 miles). Second, I ate more (dry toast and oatmeal). Third, when the pain started around 9 miles, I walked for 2 minutes every time I completed 2 miles. Fourth, I liberally interspersed calf and quad stretches every 2 miles (after 9 miles).

These things slow down the timing. But, I crossed the finish line, much relaxed, with less pain and surprise..surprise.. my 18 miles in spite of all the 'overheads' took the same time as my 16 mile run @ Woodside.

I still have to recover this week because without any gap, I will have to run 20 miles in Monterey next week (not the week after!)

Wish me luck for the 20 miles run,

Week 15: Hit the gym all 5 days

Since I got all the rest I wanted, I made it a point to hit the gym all 5 days this week. I ran on the road only 1 day (4 miles) and the rest of the days I either ran on the treadmill (or) used X-training (Bike and Elliptical trainer). On Thursday, the track was a standard stretch splits for a total of 4 miles. I didn't get any pains so far but I was tired as hell on Thursday. When some of my team mates planned to do 5 miles, I decided to stop at 4 miles and conserve some energy for the Saturday run (18 miles ;-))


Friday, April 24, 2009

Week 14: A week of rest and relaxation

I just hid my shoes this week. I did stretches every day and was focussing mainly on recovery. I did a couple of sessions on Elliptical trainer. It was tough to stay out of roads (actually it wasn't ;-)). At the end of the week, most of the pain has disappeared. But after experiencing the pain, I am afraid I will always be tentative while running. But anyway, this week I didn't have to worry about it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Week13: 16 miles run is a success... but !!!

We met outside of Woodsite Town Hall in the morning and started our run from there. This run was hosted by the mid peninsula team. Woodside, CA is your typical Silicon Valley snobby town/village. The residents actually don't want anyone of you in their town. In spite of that, the runners, bikers and all nut cases like us swarm their town content with screwing up their happiness.

Now, to the trail itself. This is one of the most difficult terrain I've run so far. If we were not running on the pavement, we were running on uneven trails. That didn't seem to bother me during the initial miles. But once I got into double digits, this had a telling effect on my knees.

The team has done as much as possible to mark the trail. But, may be due to restrictions from the town, the trail did not have any mile markers. So, throughout the run, I was simply guessing the mileage based on the time. Towards the end, I lost hope as the pain aggravated. But luck favored me at the last water stop. I thought I had 4 more miles to go when in reality there were only 2 miles to cover.. Sigh of relief!! With that renewed energy, I limped as fast as I could to the finish line.

In the end, I completed a 13 minute mile run. I have reset all my expectations on timing. Right now, I have only 2 goals for my final marathon day 1) Do not die, 2) Cross the finish line. I have removed all goals related to timing ;-)

Until 13 miles, it was a breeze. I was clocking 10-11 minute miles. After that, as if someone switched a toggle button, every step was a pain. I have to do some serious strength training to casually complete the 26.2 miles. But in my condition today, I could not dream of completing another 10.2 miles... So, honestly, I am starting to get scared... then again, a little bit of fear is a good thing !


Friday, April 17, 2009

Week 13: Recovery in Progress (RIP)

The IT band pain has mostly subsided after repeated HI-RICES. My coach/mentor also recommended the Foam Roller routine. While the routine is most painful, it surely removed the knots and it felt good afterward. This week, I managed to hit the gym 4 days during the week and am planning for the long run tomorrow. So, I am slowly getting to the 5 days a week routine.

The Coach's workout at LGHS was nothing special. We did the timed split runs (1/2mile easy jog followed by four 1/2 mile fast run). I did not run into any pain issues then. Hopefully, I will be getting to my 16 miles mark on Saturday


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Week 12: Runner's nightmare, thy name is Iliotibial Band!

With my aforementioned ice bath, all general pains associated with my running magically disappeared... well except for the IT band. There is a pricking pain every now and then and I can sense the pain even when it is not really hurting.

I have to reach out to my coach/trainers to see what course of action I have to take now. I am afraid they will ground me for a couple of weeks..Oh no :-o

I am currently following the HI-RICES (Hydration, Ibuprofen, Rest, Icepack, Compression, Elevation, Stretches) approach to mitigating the pain. For the gory details, these are the 3 common IT band stretches - source

Stretch #1
  1. Stand upright
  2. Cross the involved leg BEHIND the opposite leg
  3. Lean to the uninvolved side until a stretch is felt across the affected iliotibial band
  4. Hold for 30 seconds
  5. Repeat X 5
Stretch #2
  1. Lay on your back
  2. Bend the involved leg's knee
  3. Grasp behind the bent leg's knee with both hands
  4. Pull the involved leg toward the opposite shoulder
  5. Hold for 30 seconds
  6. Repeat X 5
Stretch #3
  1. Sit with your legs out in front of you
  2. Bend your knee and place the leg of the involved leg across your opposite leg placing your foot flat on the floor
  3. Rotate your body to look over the shoulder on the involved side until a stretch is felt
  4. Hold for 30 seconds
  5. Repeat X 5
Pray !

Week 12: 12 miles OYO run!

I chose the same Evergreen area, on the road run for my 12 miles run. I am now glad that the ups/downs/flats don't mess up with my speed any more. It just messes up with my IT band! I got severe but bearable pains while running the miles 3 and 4. I kept up with it because I had a couple of tricks up my sleeve for recovery. So kept sucking on my gels and hydration through out the run. I did not stop for water breaks since I was carrying the hydration pack with me. I also found that by the time I got into mile 8, the pain has virtually disappeared.

Later, after completion of run, I just realized that it was the adrenaline that was masking the pain. As soon as I stopped, I got the pain in my IT band. Ok, now to the couple of tricks up my sleeve part ;-). While doing the usual ice pack on the sore spot, I sipped Cytomax antioxidant recovery powder mixed with water and sucked on my 3rd Gu gel. After that I took one OTC ibuprofen tablet. Then, I filled the bath tub with cold water. Getting into it was a psychological exercise. I'd already given advanced notice to Priya to ignore any screams coming from the bathroom. I screamed to my lungs content for the first 20-30 seconds. After my body acclimitized with the cold water, I added 7 lbs of ice cubes to the tub (another louuuuuddddddd screeeaaaaaaaaammm at the top of my voice). I sat for 10 minutes and then got out. Right now, I feel I can run another 12 miles (Heee hee just kidding, but really, no pains).

Now, you may ask, "What would George Costanza do?" ... The answer is simple.. If you are uncomfortable about the skinny-dipping, you dont have to go in polar bear.. just wear a sweat pant and get into cold water.. the effect is exactly the same (... and NO shrinkage after-effects ;-))


Week 12: Recovery is a sucker!

Even though my 5-days a week routine should have started since the beginning of April, I still could do only 4-days in the week at the gym. But this week, my performance was comparatively tardier. I did not recover from the 14 miles run as fast as I expected. The pain lingered for at least 3-4 days. Add the fact that I got allergies from my Almaden Lake run. I was running fever and my ears and noses were blocked (clogged). This may rank as the most uncomfortable week so far.

Also, I was involved in a fender bender and that shook me up a bit. No injuries or visual damage to the car thankfully.. But my premium is gonna sky rocket.. Stupid insurance companies ;-)


Saturday, April 4, 2009

14 > (12 +2)

Just got back after running 14-miles @ Almaden Lake park. 2 weeks back, in capitola we ran 12 miles (wharf to wharf and back) - no sweat. I was pleasantly surprised and was feeling confident (almost over-confident) that it aint as bad as I thought. Also, in the last 2 weeks, I was more disciplined in work outs compared to previous weeks.

In spite of that, I got a bad butt kick and a rude awakening today. I huffed and puffed the last mile! First, the 14 miles were not marked as well as they were during previous runs. The trail was tricky. It was not a 7 miles to and 7 miles fro. It was more like 1.75 miles to, 1.75 miles fro, followed by 4 miles trail, 0.75 miles to and 0.75 miles fro, 0.5 miles to and 0.5 miles fro and back on the ole 4 miles trail (ok.. add it up.. it will eventually come to 14 miles). That killed my concentration. But it is not all that. I think my natural limit is 12 miles. I had pains when I was running my last mile. That never happened during previous runs.

After I completed, I could hardly walk. That was bad! I did some quick stretches, sipped some electrolyte crap, ate the dry toast and drove back. I did my usual ritual of icing back and forth in the pain areas. But, longer than usual. Hope the recovery will be smoother. To think that I have to run 12.2 miles more gives me angst! I have only 83 more days to go. I should strengthen my back, calves and quads... and.. I shouldn't get hurt.. Will keep you posted.

Ok.. now I am stinkin'.. Gotta take shower and stuff myself with food..

Week 11: That wretched bootcamp again!

After 3 consecutive weeks of running on the trails / new places on Thursdays, I was expecting similar fun this week. Instead, we got the core boot camp again.. That's the one I dread most.. (Oh well.. I always cheat on these.. but still I dread). 6 min run followed by pushups/ab crunches repeated 5 times. Towards the end, I was not sure what I was looking forward for the 6 minutes of run than the rest(!) break..

One plus point of these tracks is that I feel energized at the end of the workout. While driving to Los gatos, I almost feel like sleeping (The mind constantly playing these qns. what did I got myself into? Can I just turn and go home? No one is going to notice my absence ;-)).. But just after the warm up, I dont think about it and I even start liking it 2-3 rounds later. As the great bard said (or may be he didnt), "It is all in your freakin' mind" :-)

This weekend, we are gonna do a 14-mile run !

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 10: Running - bio mechanics and best practices

[Caveat: This post is about internals of running in all its gory details.. For status updates, you can safely ignore this post]

Have you noticed that Olympic swimming has now got to do more about techno-wears than about your natural ability? Who would have guessed that there will be technology involved in something as straight forward as swimming? I mean, "Water.. jump.. drown or swim" - right? Wrong! Allright, I am just setting this up to making my point about running.

I used to think running is just that. Wear a friggin shoe and throw some clothing (optional) and get out. But the difference between running with pain and running with complete comfort is getting educated about the best practices in running. The advantage of joining a training group such as TNT is just making this education very natural based on day to day advice from the coaches than my doing the background research myself (which I would never do in a million years). So, I thought I would share the 5 simple techniques that helped me avoid any injuries / discomfort in my running routines the last 10 weeks. All of them originate from the same guiding principle, namely, "Tomorrow’s training session is only as good as today’s recovery"

  1. Stretching done the right way: I think most of the runners know about stretching and there are good sites such as this that give detailed instructions on various stretches. But it is also very important to know when to stretch. Get your body warm (run for 1/2 to 1 mile) and then stop and do your stretches. We all want to get the runner's high (that kicks in anywhere from 2-4 miles for a novice runner) and it is incredibly hard to stop after the 1st mile for stretching. But try this and you would see a marked improvement in stretch efficacy. Also, when you complete running, the last thing in your mind is probably doing 10 minutes of stretching. But the post-run stretch is even more important than the pre-stretch to flush out the lactic acid buildup. So, do not skip it if you want to minimize your injuries / discomforts
  2. Eat right before, during and after running: If you have faced muscle cramping, fatigue during the run, there is a high chance that you did not eat right prior to or during running. If you are doing your run in the morning, make sure you have a healthy snack (dry whole grain toast w/ Peanut butter, low in fat, sugar and high in good carb) an hour before the run. If you are doing your run in the evening, make sure you have a good meal - no skimping, 3-4 hours before running and a smart snack (similar to the one mentioned above) 1 hour before running. Take Gu gel 15 mins before the run and one packet every 45 mins during run. Drink 4-6oz of water with every packet. Sip (not gulp) your favorite electrolyte drink every 2 miles (have you seen kids' drinking cups in parties? 1/2 of that cup constitutes sipping). Replenish immediately after exercise with a glass of juice, banana or a bagel and within 30 minutes, have hearty food rich in good carbs (Fiber rich, brown rice, whole grain pasta etc.,) Doing stretches post run and replenishing salt (electrolyte) will flush down the lactic acid and will prevent muscle soreness
  3. Ice.. Ice.. baby: Attached is a photo of yours truly getting ready for icing. Icing numbs the pain area and reduces inflammation. You can either use the ice pack such as the one I am holding (or) simply frozen peas packet on the pain area. Apply directly for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Sleep tight: For a good recovery, you should sleep 8 hours - no compromise.
  5. Dress right: This is adequately covered in one of my first posts - the right shoes, wicking garments, cap, neck buff, gloves and the works. Check that post out for details. Do not assume costly shoes are better than cheap ones. Go check yourselves in a shop. Any decent running / gears shop will fit you with the right shoe based on your wear-pattern.
Happy running

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Week 10: 8-mile OYO run

Most of our Saturday runs are on flat terrain. But the Seattle RnR marathon has a course that looks like a Stock chart. Miles 5 to 6 and 14 through 18 has "ups" that can go from 0 to 250 feet in as little as 1/2 mile. I wanted to simulate that this weekend. In Evergreen area, there are roads (Quimby between Ruby and Rue Mirassou for one) that have this kind of elevation gain. I plotted a 4 mile route and ran it twice (once clockwise and once anti-clockwise just to reverse the ups and downs) for a total of 8 miles. Though I did the Capitola run at a reasonable 11 min mile pace for 12 miles, I was able to run the 8 miles only at 12 min mile pace. As long as I am adding the miles, I aint complainin' :-)


Week 10: A week of consistent workouts

As I mentioned in my last blog, from this week, I am upping the number from 4 workouts per week to 5 workouts per week. I am trying a couple of items and would stick to the one that works best. The constraints I am working under are
  • I cannot do weights on legs on Wednesdays and Fridays (because of the Thursday tracks and Saturday long runs - can't afford to tear a muscle and not getting healed by Thurs/Sat routines).
  • I have to do X-training for 3 days a week and run 3 days a week. But I am hitting the gym only 5 days a week. will bump it to 6 days a week in May and June
  • I have to incorporate core training, weights and back strengthening in this course to run 26 miles
This is almost like the GRE Analts question. What should I do on each day to optimize my training ? I will try to keep you posted on the actual routines next week.

BTW, instead of the coach's workout on Thursday, we met @ Foothill college on Monday. The routine was a little different. All teams (Marathon, Hiking, triathlon, cycling) from South bay were represented at the venue and we were given an opportunity to do the workouts they do regularly. Also, we heard from a Stanford researcher, whose research is funded by the LLS, who is devising customized cancer drugs based on individual screening. If I abstract the heck out of it, what he mentioned is very similar to the Deep packet inspection (DPI) in Computer Networking (the field in which I have some knowledge about). Classify, police, target and Act. He is doing his work at the molecular level and trying to cure cancer but the concept from a 50K feet view seemed to be similar.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Week 9: Wharf to Wharf and back to Wharf :-)

I did the 12 miles run from Capitola to Santa Cruz board walk and back to Capitola today. It was so mind blowingly beautiful. The trail was on the coast line. So, except for the last 0.5 miles of diesel fumes from the utility vehicles at Santa Cruz board walk, the whole route was serene and inspiring. We ran close to the coast, enjoying the sunrise (albeit behind us - not infront of us), ran on concrete bridges, hanging bridges, wooden bridges, and on a railway track that was laid on a hanging wooden bridge. I am starting to enjoy the saturday long runs. There were hydration stalls spread every 3 miles. The "Gu" gel and the "Gu2O" is working well with my stomach though I don't have any complains about power gel as well. Sucked the gel every 45 minutes (with plenty of water.. man the taste is awful) and reached the destination with no pains. I got a good pace as well. 12 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes. May be more time on treadmill in the future weeks will give me better control of the pace.

Peace out,

Week 9: Coach's workout: Splits on the trail

After the much dreaded Indian running last week, I was planning for things to get worse this week.. Not so much.. Actually it worked better.. This week, we hit the trails and started of with a 1.5 miles run at a conversation pace. That was followed by four 0.5 mile sprints (my fastest was 4 minutes). Then we did another 0.5 miles to reach the tracks. That was a total of 4 miles at my own pace. I did not have to follow any one else's pace and that made a lot of difference. Looking forward for the 12 miles run this weekend

Happily yours

Week 9: Treadmills in Cisco gym - Totally useless and utter waste!

After returning from Yosemite, I stepped up my training frequency this week. Until week 8, I was doing 4 days a week work out. From this week, I have started with 5 days a week work-out with one extra day of running. On Monday, I tried treadmill. After running outdoors, treadmill is borrrring! I did not have any motivation to run after 20 mins. So, I did some miscellaneous stuff and got out of the gym.

This new gym in Cisco is supposed to be state-of-art.. Now, I am not the one who normally holds on to old things and don't welcome new things.. But here, about the treadmills in Cisco's new gym, I have to vent out! There is no friggin' air.. All the elements on the treadmill are for namesake. There is an inbuilt fan but it doesnt give one iota of air. Because there is an inbuilt fan, there are no real fans kept near the treadmill and generally the whole gym is poorly ventilated.

What I like about treadmills, in general, is that it puts some discipline in me and I can't slack my pace. And just visually seeing my position on the track gives me the motivation to complete the lap.. But these state of art treadmills in Cisco do not have that simple graphical user interface. It has an ipod plugin and a TV built in. I have use for neither. The video distracts me from the run..and running with your neck bent down just puts extra pressure on the neck..Still worse, I tried watching ESPN and they were covering one of those car events that go round n' round.. That made me friggin' dizzzy while running! I have to struggle to use the LCD touch screen and make that disappear...

Some really demented, evil marketing guy must have passed these on as real user requirements to construct the treadmill ("From our market research, the customer wants to watch their own tv while doing the workout".. what he didn't tell is that "and oh BTW, my market research consisted of talking to my couch potato brother in law who said he may try going to the gym if the treadmills had TV on 'em "). I want one old treadmill and some real fan :-(

Not a happy camper,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Week 8: Running in paradise

As mentioned in my previous entry, we are in yosemite np for the weekend. The valley floor is at approx 4000 ft elevation above sea level but mostly flat. Makes it a good place to run especially with beautiful scenery in the backdrop, what with the spring waterfalls, gorgoeus early morning sunlight that gets reflected from the majestic granite walls.

I ran approximately for 2 hours. With few motor vehicles on the road and a pleasant weather, this rates at the top of my training experience so far.

Peace out,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week 8: In yosemite

We are spending the weekend at yosemite national park. My saturday run this week is gonna be approx 8 miles. Am looking forward to running in the salubrious environs of the yose valley. Will keep you posted after my run. I am trying blogging via email since there is no internet connection in the room.

BTW, staying at yosemite lodge. From the patio, enjoying the view of the yosemite falls.

This is life,

Week8 : got my ass kicked at coach's workout

This week's coach work out on thursday was held at los gatos union high school as usual. The difference is that instead of running at the tracks, we ran on the trail in "indian running" formation.

4-5 people in the same wave (speed), run in 1 file. The team takes turn in leading the formation. This sounded fun but I didn't know what I was getting into. The catch is that the entire formation has to run at the speed of the leader. the front runner sets the pace.

There were 5 in our group and we were tasked to run 20 mins each way. So, if I do the math right, 80 percent of the time, one has to run at a pace somebody else sets. Man, was it grueling (especially when I was the slowest runner ;-)).

Every formation had its own coach who also functioned as mentor, cheerleader and slave driver at various times. Due to this push, I was able to stick with the formation till 36 mins. In the last switch, I ran out of breath and dropped off. I walked for 1 min and then completed the run alone. I should have just hang in there :-(

Disappointed and disgustedly yours,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Week7: In to the double digits !

Today we did our regional run at Coyote park. I did the 10 mile run. It took close to 2 hours. So, the pace is still not satisfactory.. But I got into double digits baby ;-). This week, I am planning to keep the blog short. So, that's all.

Peace out,

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fundraising status

Thanks to every one who has donated to LLS so generously, we have reached close to 30% of our fund raising target. Through emails and phone calls, I have received heart warming and inspirational comments to keep me focussed on the training and on the fundraising. Your support keeps me going mile after mile. During training days, if I feel that the laziness is creeping in ever so slightly, I remind myself of your kind support and that gets my lazy bum out on the road again.
We still have a long way to go. If you have thought about contributing to a good cause (and getting a tax deduction :-)), this is the best time and do not delay it any further. Pl. click here and press the "Donate Now" button. I thank in advance for all your generous contribution.


Week 6: Good, Bad, the Ugly .. ..and Good again

'Twas the best of the weeks and it was the worst of the weeks.. Had a great start. This week, I started with the weights. Having a good core is key for good stride, rhythm and stamina while running. With the kind of shape I am in, I wont recognize a core if it falls right on my lap! Over the next couple of months, I am planning to change all of that (Yeah right.. I will be the governator). Ok.. so, started well.. that is the Good..

There is a bug going around at workplace and at home. I caught it and by Tuesday I was walking like a zombie.. red eyes, uncouth hair and the works.. Initially I thought it was the pollen allergy. So took a couple of anti-histamine and thought that would subside the allergic reaction. It did not help. That was the bad.

By Wednesday, I was in the same shape as I was in week1. So, called a day off, stayed home and got some shut eye (with claritin, paracetamol, delsym, nyqil cocktails). And in all of this, I missed 2 days of workout. These were supposed to be the buddy run (4 miles) and crosstraining days. That was the ugly.

Thankfully the rest and the pills worked and when I woke up, I felt sweated out and better. I pushed my luck and showed up at the tracks on Thursday. The energy of the crowd masked any of the discomfort from my illness. The tracks went very well (and hurray, someone discovered the light switch, this time we really had the lights ON!). That is the good again part !

This week is an on-your-own run week. On Saturday, I just completed 6 miles circuit around the Evergreen neighbourhood. If you were in that area and you saw a pear shaped guy running the high slopes of Evergreen, that is 'yours truly' ;-)

Next week, I am hoping for a better continuity at cross training. Next saturday, we have a 10 miles run.. Gearing up for that.

Have fun,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Week 5: Summary

This is more detail than you are interested. So, I am blogging just for my record.
  • I have lost 4 pounds from the start of my training. I have not set a goal nor am I interested in pursuing any weight loss program. All I want is a healthy mind in a healthy body. Rest are all details
  • When I am running, my heart rate used to stabilize around 170 beats/min. This is really high. That was because I never had done any cardio workouts for a long time. After 3 weeks into regular training, I noticed that it is getting stabilized at 157-159 beats/min. Starting this week, I am planning to incorporate more X-training/non-impacting cardio workouts. That should help me pull down the equilibrium heart rate even down. This is very important because lower this stabilized rate, longer I can run without getting tired.
  • Training for a running event is more about general fitness and less about running per se (2 days of running out and 4 days of cross training and core workouts). I would not have known this on my own. This is where most of the on-your-own tryouts fail. When I prepped (bootless attempt) for Big sur marathon, I tried running all 5 days and by the 2nd week got all kinds of pains and dropped out.
  • In the coming weeks, I have to focus on weights training. My aim is to get through the push ups without wussing out (like I did last Tuesday ;-))

Fundraising: 1/4th done, 3/4th to go

I am really moved and humbled by all the support I am getting from my friends, colleagues and family. Thanks to your generous contributions, so far we have raised $1,100 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We have ways to go and I will be following up with you, gently reminding you, nudging you, nagging you, begging you and threatening you in the following weeks :-) But those who have contributed so generously, I thank you. Your support will keep me motivated in getting my lazy bum out and run.

In fact one of my friends mentioned that if I did not complete the marathon, I have to repay double what he contributed. Now, that's a wager that will keep me focused :-)

The fund raising page is alive, up n running at

Peace out,

Week5: 8 mile run!

The TNTers met at Almaden Lake Park in San jose. There were several options depending upon the program we are training for. We can do 4 miles/6 miles or 8 miles run. Since I was prepping myself mentally for a 8 miles run this week, I went all the way. It is a circuit with 4 miles end to end. There were mile markers every mile and a lot of mentally motivating chalk-marks on the way. So, it did not really feel like 8 miles. Every 2 miles there was a water stop (water + some electrolyte crap). At 4 mile marker, there were Cliff gel packets. I liked it better than the Power gel. I finished the 8 miles in 1:40 minutes (12 min mile). I don't think I will be able to improve the time a lot. But with more core workouts (without cheating) and stretches, I can improve the comfort level post run. And that's all I care about.

When I first read the schedule, I thought this was nuts. 3 weeks into formal training, and they want us to run 8 miles! Now, I trust those guys know what they are doing. In 2 weeks from now, we are doing 10 miles run in Coyote Creek. That's the next milestone!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Week5: Coach's workout

The first 2 sessions at the Los Gatos High school tracks were a breeze. The coaches showed us some stretches and the runs in the tracks were not continuous as well. So, I was expecting similar easy workout this Thursday. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening ! The workout started with 2 rounds warm up and stretches (So far ok.. no complaints). The the coach said we are going for a 6 min run (2 to 2.5 rounds around the track depending upon your speed) followed by core strengthening workout. Earlier it used to be 6 min run followed by "loosening up". This time it was core bootcamp. 6 min run/coreworkout repeated 5 times. It got excruciating by the 2nd rep for me. So, I cheated in all possible manner on the core workout (I did my pushups with knees on the grass tee hee :-)).

Also because of the breaks in rhythm, I did not run as smoothly as I did my Tuesday run. This may also got to do with the food. On Tuesday, I had a good foot long sub sandwich 3-4 hours before the run. On Thursday I had fatty food (mattar paneer) for lunch. I have to some trial and error to find out. It is hurting till Friday.. Hope my sat run doesnt get affected due to this!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Week5: OYO runs

On Monday, I just limited myself to simple indoor cross training. On Tuesday, I did a 4 mile circuit in my neighborhood. Because of the slopes, this run used to hurt my back and I never liked the timing in these runs. But training here helps my regular Saturday runs. Most of the Saturday runs happen in relatively flat conditions. I also changed my posture a bit with some help from my coach. So, this Tuesday I ran without any complaints. The stretches help phenomenally. So far, no injuries and no pains and that's what I want to report after the d-day as well :-)


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Week4: Saturday run

I thought of joining the run at Rancho San Antonio County Park. The run was at 7AM. I must have reset my alarm. I woke up at 6:45AM. Cussed myself and went to catch the next boat - the 8AM run at River mark plaza. About half the run was on paved roads and the scenery wasn't quite as good as the one @ Rancho. But a mile is still a mile. We started from the police station @ RiverMark plaza through Agnew, Lafayette and Hope hit Lick Mill and ran till tasman. Following that, the stretch on the Guadalupe creek trail was easy on the legs. We finished the loop back at the police station and bid farewell. This was an OYO (on-your-own) run. So, no water station. But the mentor (Chris) brought some water and Gatorade at the loop end. We thanked him profusely and gulp-gulped the H2O. Reached home in time for breakfast.

I have to cover 8 miles in the next week long run :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week4: Coach's workout

Today we did timed track at Los Gatos High School. The trainer had the wrong keys to the lights room and so we all ran in the dark. It wasn't that bad. We had 2 laps of warm-up followed by stretches. The main work out was on the tracks with the coach timing our run. It was 1 lap-rest-1lap-rest-2laps-rest repeated twice. When we run the laps, the finishing lap should be faster than the first one. So, controlling the speed in first lap and running slower than what I usually run (it is very hard to do that :-)) is the only way to achieve that goal. But I did not realize how hard it is to control the speed initially and switch on the "Turbo" towards the end. It was a good work out. The timing was "2:57,2:10,5:09 :::: 2:50,2:20,5:20" run. The coach said there will be a marked improvement between this and post training. They keep saying these things to keep you motivated ;-))

BTW, got the group photo clicked during the orientation meeting. Attached for viewing pleasure !


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Week4: Bad start

I have skipped my Monday workout (excuse: lot of catchup to do @ work). Tuesday run was not satisfactory. The thing that goes on in one's head can really screw up one's rhythm. There should be a switch to mentally shut up. I ran for a couple of miles but walked the rest. I thought I should just get out rather than skipping it all together.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Week3: Run at campbell park

We met at Campbell park for the first Saturday run. I did a 4 mile run but unlike near home, at Campbell park it was almost flat. So, I could do the run by 40 mins. In the near term, that is my only goal - to run 10 min miles consistently. We had good cookies and other munches waiting for us at the end of the run. There are around 60 members in our chapter. They all were there at the park on time and we started the run as scheduled. That is pretty amazing. Grace said I have to rest completely on Sunday.. Why Sunday.. I will start resting right away ;-)


Week 3: Coach's work out

We had our first track workout @ Los Gatos High School. Google map completely messed up the directions. I had to resort to the good ole way of asking directions at Chevron. I went in 15 mins late. But since it was the first week, the intro sessions were going on. We did a 6 min run 1 min walk around the track for 2 miles. It was preceded by a good stretching session (almost felt like a workout). After the tracks, Rol, the honoree for this event, shared his experience with Leukemia. It was inspiring to hear Rol and his wife talk about the trying times and how they handled it with grit and humor. Rol was cheering for us when we were in the tracks and he joined us for the Sunday run as well. It puts every thing in perspective.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fund raising page up and running

Call to action: The fund raising page for The Leukemia & Lymphoma society is up and running at The re commitment date is Mar 24 2009. We don't have a lot of time. I would appreciate if you take time to visit the site. Thanks in advance for your generous contribution. It is 100% tax deductible. Also, most of your employers would match your contribution. So, even if you donate $25, with employer contribution, it comes to a very generous amount. No amount is small. What do they say about little drops and ocean?

You can check if your employer matches your donation for The Leukemia & Lymphoma society at

If your employer has a matching contribution, pl. mention in the notes section (or something similar in your employer page) that the sponsor for this fund raising is "Saikrishnan Gopalakrishnan, Team in Training, Runner, Seattle Marathon June 2009".

Thanks in advance,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Week 3: Training officially starts this week

Attended the orientation today and got introduced to my coach, mentor and my fellow running mates. We have a shoe and gear clinic on Sunday, core building session at Los Gatos school on Thursday and coach led running session at Campbell park next Saturday. I am hurting in my upper shin from my run on Friday. I will check with the coach tomorrow how to avoid it.

Federer V. Nadal Aus open finals tonight. I want Federer to win. But I think Nadal gets into Federer's head and Nadal contemptuosly dismisses Federer. So, let's see!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Week 2: Got the gears

The photo says it all ! With the cap, the neck buff (that can be converted into a balaclava), I look more like a mugger than a runner ;-) With the new gears, I went for a 4 mile circuit close to home. My time sucked. It is no where close to what I get on tread mill. It was close to a fast walk than a run. Hopefully, I improve my time as the program progresses.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Week 2: More indoor workouts

Went with the advise from the coach and restricted myself to 3 days of indoor ellipse train outs. This week I went for 60 min workouts to the numbers from "Forrest Gump", "Eric Clapton", "Harry Belafonte" and "ABBA Gold". My most favorite is "Forrest Gump". But the thing I like about "ABBA Gold" is that it runs for 77 minutes. 77 minutes of pure unadulterated mind numbingly stupid Pop. That lets me run uninterruptedly for 60 mins.

Am still waiting for my gear from REI. I chose the ship to store option. Why is it taking so long to ship to their own store. Don't they have these gears in the shop itself?


Friday, January 23, 2009

Week1: Mild workout

During my recuperation, I just did some very mild workout indoors on my Ellipse. Also, I did some research on the gears required for outdoor running in cold weather. The gear list includes wicking layer, a running jacket, a neck buff, thinsulate cap, wicking gloves, running socks and even wicking briefs! Ordered them online on REI. Will post the photos when they arrive.

BTW, Wedding anniversary #5 :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Week1: Got inspired... and Got Sick!

After the initial information session, I got totally inspired. The training coaches advised me to do some regular warm-up exercises (ellipse, treadmill and some indoor activities) until end of January. The first boot camp starts only in the first week of February.

So, what did I do? I came home, wore my cotton T-shirt, track suits, my old sneakers and headed out. It was 32 deg outside (Yes, you polar bears from elsewhere, the denizens of the SF Bay area are delicate). I did not wear any head/ear protection. I caught some bug and had a severe strep throat. I did not bother to give any fight. I just went with the flow and let it run its course. The antibiotics for my tonsils flare-up wore me out.

It did not quite start well.. Hopefully, it gets better from here!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My feeble attempt at making a difference

May be I got carried away by all the messages of 'Hope', 'Change' and 'Yes we can'; may be I got so tired of the mundane routines in my life; may be I was trying to fill the time I used to spend at MBA; or may be I was actually trying to do something meaningful. I don't know which one it is. But the reality is that I found myself sitting at one of the information sessions hosted by Team in Training (TNT).

When I went in, my goal was purely a self-centered one - to run a marathon and checklist one of the items in my 'Bucket list'. I tried once on my own but given my proclivity towards procrastination and given the demands at work and at personal life (ahem!, here comes the excuse), I did not have any motivation to stick to the rigors of training. So, following the advice from one of my colleagues, I decided to go through a systematic training program and get this checklist done with. I did not know what TNT was. I got that info and much more in the information session.

The TNT program is the world's largest and most comprehensive endurance training program. More than 5% of all people who run a marathon do it through TNT. One of their goals is to promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. But I came to know in the information session that it was only one of their goals and that their mission was larger than such mundane things as helping people to cross the finish line (which indeed is still a big deal for me!).

In 1988 Bruce Cleland's 2-year old daughter, Georgia, had leukemia. He organized a team that raised $320, 000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), while training to run the NYC Marathon and TNT was born. Today, Georgia is a healthy and happy young woman and TNT prepares people all across the country (even complete novices such as yours truly) to run or walk marathons, cycle 100-mile bike rides and compete in triathlons. I chose to do the Seattle full marathon in June 2009.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The society is one of the leading voluntary healthcare agencies, with ~75% of expenditures going to support the mission. Since its founding in 1949, LLS has invested more than $600 million in research specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. An LLS-funded researcher developed Gleevec, a pill for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Now, 95 percent of newly diagnosed, chronic-phase CML patients survive more than five years with a good quality oif life. LLS also offers support groups, financial aid, co-pay assistance, information and advocacy programs for patients and their families.

After hearing from one of the honorees (a survivor of leukemia), I decided to make myself part of this program and raise $4,000 for the cause. I wanted to do one 'meaningful' deed before Shivani gets to 1. And here's my feeble attempt at it. I trust the coaches in TNT know what they are talking about. I trust their experience in crossing the marathon line. More importantly, I trust my friends to help me cross the fundraising goal for LLS.

Peace out,