Running And Me

Running in my life is constant. As in :

– Constantly telling myself to run a bit longer.

– Constantly telling myself to run faster.

– Constantly ignoring my running while drinking beer.

These weeks I am averaging 20KM a week. Way down down from around 40KM a month ago. Don’t know what happened. Just slumped.

Treats from the neighbours do not help. Look at this plate of deliciousness.


Yes. That is a bottle of wine. One of the many consumed that night.

I think it’s a lack of discipline. And lack of will power.

Got to fix it.

These are the days to run here in Ontario before everything turns to white. Look at this picture from one of the trails I took.


And this.


So, I plan to record my running here. I am making a spreadsheet (why? Because i am a project manager and that’s all I know) and put it here to record it more formerly.

I am a big fan of but the data was very bland. I will go back there again because the social element is amazing!!

Have bought a nice new toy (Garmin 220) and plan to use it as much as possible.

Anyway, here is what I did last week.

Monday (12-October) : 6.6 km
Tuesday (13-October) : had to go to downtown
Wednesday (14-October) : 6.2 Km
Thursday (15-October) : 5.2 km
Friday (16-October) : Oktoberfest!!! Had a blast!
Saturday (17-October) : recovery day but managed 6.1 km
Sunday (18-October) : 11.59 km

Total : 35.69 km

Wait, that’s more than 20km. Woo hoo!

Let’s see what happens this week.

Waterloo Marathon 28APRIL2013

I knew that there was going to be a substantially less number of people especially compared to Mississauga Marathon (around 11,000) and the two Toronto Marathons (around 25,000 for each), but I was not expecting 80 people in total for the full marathon!

That threw me off.

Anyway, the lead up to the race day was just gorgeous. 18 C on Saturday a day before the race and things were looking great. I was psyched and was eager. Got my race kit. The pick up should have given me a heads up on the number of participants. It was a small room with one table. However, I did not pick up on the clues.

On race day, got up early. Had some breakfast. Put on rocking music on the way to Bechtel Park. Parking was a breeze and organisers were cheering everyone. Mood was quite good. That’s when I noticed a lack of marathon runners (based on the reddish bibs the full run were wearing). And when the pipes started playing (yup, bagpipes), I went towards the starting line, that’s when it hit me. There were very few runners for the full. Why this bothered me was that I like the anonymity of a large group of runners. I knew this race would be tough because I am a back pack runner. But because I would be mortified coming in last or among last group, I knew I had to push myself.

Before the run there was a minute silence for Boston. But because they were using a bullhorn, not everyone got the message so there was a lot of chattering all about. The Ed Whitlock spoke for a minute and again no one had a clue what he said. Which was a shame cause I am a great admirer and I hope to be half the runner in the next few years that he is now.

Anyway, the run started and I threw my game book out the window cause everyone literally started to sprint away. I had to kick it up a notch too which is something I hate early in the run.

The course is a rolling course. That is, there are gentle ups and gentle downs from the start to finish. And because this was Mennonite country, there were horse drawn buggies and huge farm lands throughout the run.

The few runners means that for majority of my run, I had no one in my sights and I mean literally no one in sight. Not one person behind or in front. It was erie and quite disconcerting and caused me to question whether I was on the right course. The only action I saw were the volunteers every 3 KMs. They were the soul of the run! The volunteers were fantastic and the organisation of the run was very good. Water, gatorade, gels, fruits etc were available throughout the course.

Finally reached the point where we merged with the half marathon course. The half marathoners were all done by the time I reached that part of the course but this was through a suburb starting with the Blackberry offices. The complaint I have here is that since there were few runners and I was running at the back of the pack, I actually had to stop for red lights! Never saw that before in a marathon.

I rolled in at 4:14:07 to great cheering (since I was the only one approaching the end at that point) and the moment I stopped, my left leg cramped and I had to seek medical help. The para meds helped me through the cramp, got me some gatorade and I was walking back to the car in 20 minutes.

I really really liked the course. I just wish I could have run at my own pace. I am now better prepared, mentally, for the next time I run this race. I just hope that the participation increases.

Boston Marathon

Why did the Boston Marathon incident affect me so much?

I mean for a period of 2 days I was walking around in a haze. I was doing what was expected of me at work and home but all the time I was essentially….sad.

The only reason that comes to mind is the fact marathon is a sport that is physically taxing. A runner deliberately punishes oneself to point where the person feels an exhilarating pain. This act of running is highly individualistic and gives one a supreme sense of accomplishment. Running is simple and straightforward. No complications.  As a runner I sweat, I suffer and I look forward to that finish line. The world and it’s problems has no place in my life during my run. And in the last leg your energy is finished, your adrenaline is severely depleted, your will power is gone but the cheering of the crowd at the end adds a persistence to your legs that seem to drive through the cheers and claps, the high fives and the inevitable “you are almost there”. Most of the times it’s this factor that has forced me to finish with head held high and a smile on my face. And sometimes I have shed tears.

And then a bomb explodes next to you. An innocent moment utterly destroyed.  I know that this happens in rest of the world at an alarming regularity and they are far worse than what happened at Boston.

But this happened to a sport I love and it hit me very hard.

I am better now. I am looking forward to the Waterloo Marathon on 28 April. I will try and run my best marathon and say a silent thank you to those killed and maimed in Boston.

This marathon run is for them.

My Running Has Taken A Severe Beating

This has been my running in the 6 months….a downward slope.

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 10.08.22 PM

Am trying to be more focussed and pay more attention to my running but these are the hinderances that I face :

> My wife. She hates my running. Does not get it at all. Especially if I have to do a long run. Anyway, the situation has been improving. She is on a drive to reduce weight so we do not argue that much before my runs.

> Work. Seriously. Don’t know what changed in the last 6 months or so. Workload has increased like crazy! Sometimes am spending nights working.

> Cold weather. I don’t mind running in the cold but when I want to got for an hour I just tell myself…awww shucks, who is going to get dressed and then warm up and then run in the cold. Might as well spend time on the treadmill. And then I see some thing that I need to do around the house and before you know it…’s too late to run.

My new year resolution? Nothing stands in my way of running. Nothing.

Let’s see how long that resolution lasts :)

Holy Batman, What Busy Week!!

Last week has been a whirlwind of wok at “WORK” and on the home front.

The business I work for is changing my role from developer (which I love) to deployer. Which I love but not as much as the former. It means that there will be a lot more work on the weekends (something I am not looking forward to as this would have an impact on my daughter’s extracurricular activities) and late nights as my reporting boss is in China. Not looking forward to the new set up at all!!

As to the home front, we are moving to Kitchener Ontario! Wifey bought a clinic in that city so we are moving closer to the investment.

We went house hunting last Sunday. The first thing I notices is that Kitchener is quite a hilly area! Perfect for hill repeats! The second thing I noticed was the conspicuous lack of non-white folks. Maybe I was in the wrong part of the town.

So, the entire Sunday was spent looking at houses ranging from the fabulous to beautiful. Seriously! We did not come to a single “ugly” house. Which just makes the decision harder. So far we scouted Waterloo (a very close neighbour of Kitchener) and some parts of Kitchener. I think we will be deciding by end of March on which houses to put an offer on.

Since we had these plans, I decided to do my long run on early Saturday morning.

The first thing I did when I stepped outside was to run back in and change from my shorts to slacks. My god was it cold!! The weather has been playing mind games with us poor Ontarians. So, I started with the intention of finishing 20K. My dreams of running a 50 K live on but I know I am not there yet. I am still in the process of building my long runs which have not topped 25K so far. Never mind. I have time. I think!

So I ran a random 20K.  It was surprisingly tougher than I thought it would be. My legs were really aching by the time I finished. The only reason that comes to mind is because we slept really really late on Friday and we were all coughing or sneezing the whole time. I still have not fully recovered. I am hoping I do so cause I will run no matter how much snot I spew!

The week on the whole was tough. Probably the cold I was battling. The best run was on Friday. Sunshine + Friday + Downtown Lakeshore = Happiness all around. Except for the surly runners. Not a single one, barring a young lady (who received my best winning smile) returned my hellos. WTF! And Toronto is supposed to be a friendly city. Bah!

Hope to get in a solid week of running! Happy running everyone!

Why Cheat In A Marathon?

Here are 11 runners who cheated during a marathon. A typical case would be :

4. Skip Miles 13-23: Anthony Gaskell (London, 2010)

At the 2010 London Marathon, 69-year-old Anthony Gaskell smashed records when he crossed the finish line at 3:05:00. It was the fastest time on record for his 65+ age group. But upon closer analysis of his recorded statistics, it was discovered that Gaskell supposedly ran the second half of the race (13.1 miles) in less than an hour – an impossible feat for even a world champion. It turned out he forewent running the there-and-back portion of the course entirely, skipping miles 13 – 23. Gaskell would later claim he hurt himself and was simply trying to get to the finish to receive medical attention. Nonetheless, his honorary plaque and title were revoked.

Each of the 11 cases presented above, the cheat was caught with consummate easy.  So why bother to cheat?

I know it’s easy to ask that question but I think the answers are always fairly complicated.I mean, running a marathon is a very big deal. Of those 11 cases, how many had run a marathon before and just wanted to finish and miscalculated and finished with fantastic times? I am not talking about the ones who either gave their chip away to another runner or just did not run at all. I am talking about the ones who were dedicated enough to make an attempt.

I have to confess that one I had a strong urge to cheat during my running as well. I did not do it, but almost did.

The run was the 30K Midsummer Night’s Run. The run was fairly grueling because the humidity was at around 85%. I was woefully unprepared for the run and went just because I had signed up for it. A crucial mistake I made was to switch from water to Gatorade  for my run. I never have Gatorade. Ever. And my stomach rebelled. At the 26K mark, I had to go to the bathroom and I was in for almost 10 minutes. When I came out, I realised that the bathroom was at a juncture of a loop. I could have easily walked into the bathroom at the 26K mark and come out of the bathroom at the 28K mark. And that’s what I started to do and then the little voice in my head said”what the fuck are you doing?”. I did not bother trying to answer and I turned around to complete the loop from the 26K back to the 28K mark. And then at the end of the run, I puked my guts out!

Looking back my reasoning was not to aim for the best time in the run. I was already doing awful. My reasons to cheat was to finish the run as soon as possible. But thankfully the Jiminy Cricket inside me was able to convince me that it was moronic to try and cheat. I mean, what for! So that I can tell the world I finished the run 10 minutes earlier than I actually did?

Mediocre Treadmill Run Ends Up Hurting Poor Moi

So this weekend we (wife, me and the lil_brat) ended up at Niagara Fallsview Hilton Hotel & Suites. The wife, who is fast becoming a GroupOn, WagJag & XYZ online coupon queen found this deal and we all took a mini vacation.

Overall I was not very impressed. I mean it was a good change from the daily grind but for the money we spent, it was quite ho hum. The lil_brat’s favourite was the pool, hands down! She and I spent at least 1 hour in it. Playing, swimming, splashing…….and lil_brat joined me in it. Before the swimming we took part in a winery tour at Hillebrand winery. The tour was really interesting mostly due to the guide but also due to the fact that the lil_brat kept it entertaining for us (and all others in the group). At one point when we all circled the guide as he was about to demonstrate how to taste wines, he asked who here knows how to taste wines. No one raised their hands except for the lil_brat! Everyone was laughing away while we were mortified!! Great tour but expensive wine. Since she has accompanied us to a few wine tasting/tours, she is well versed with the ins and outs of playing with the wine.

Anyway, I ran on the treadmill for a 5 K but somehow ended up injuring myself which I can only attribute to the different shoes I was using. I am familiar with this injury. A sharp pain on my left side of my knees which will go away after a few days. Am limping right now but hope to recover soon!

Test Run

7km run after the Scotiabank marathon last week. Not a bad run overall. I was basically trying out my legs and they seem fine even though I had an ache in my IT band. Lots of rolling with the foam in the next few days. Got the treadmill fixed so looking forward to putting in some KMs every now and then.

>Listened to the new Coldplay album and so far I like what I am hearing even though it seems repetitive (compared to their previous music). But I guess that’s the beauty of Coldplay. Lovely melodies all around and they always manage to throw in great guitar lines and lyrics.

Me And My Stupid Ego

My running schedule this year included, a half marathon in Feb, a full in May, a 30K in August and a full in Oct. Each of these runs represented it’s own problems and I could not give 100% on the day of the respective runs. Reasons varied from running in slush in Feb, to IT band problems (excessive training) and no strength (severe lack of training). I know it’s silly of me to focus on the time but I am a very egoistical person (in some matters :)) and I want to prove that I have it in me to improve my pace and be as good as my peers.

Therefore, I have decided to focus on distance rather than pace. Next year I am aiming to run a 50k. Have not decided which one but I will. To help me reach my goal, I will need to put in at least 40k every week until my “true” training begins. What does that entail? Lots of time on the dreadmill during winter months (hello gym!!) and at least one LSD on the weekends. This will put pressure on the home front (wife not a enthusiastic supporter of my running) and my on line activities (I love to wake up early in the morning and just surf the net).

We will see how it goes. Wis me luck!

The Politics Of Running In Toronto

So there is the Toronto Marathon, The Scotiabank Marathon, The Cannon Mississauga Marathon and few shorter runs (Acura 10 miler and 10K Sporting Life being my favourite) in around town and GTA.

And everyone is angry about them. Actually I should say all the non-runners are angry. Therefore, there are numerous plans afoot to amalgamate, split, merge and dissect all these marathons because the non-runners are terribly inconvenienced by all these marathons.

As an amateur runner, I find this argument to merge and dissect all these runs….well…quite incomprehensible. I mean, each run starts at 7:30am to about 1:30pm on a Sunday. And these are the marathons I am talking about. The short runs are over by 10am or so. Hence my incomprehension at the anger over the runs. How bad are the businesses affected by closing down the roads in town on Sunday morning? How much of an inconvenience is to the general public on a Sunday morning? And, BTW, the roads are closed and opened in stages. So, at the start once all the runners have left, the roads are opened to the public. And this staggered approach is followed at each stage. So when I say the roads are closed, it is not really for the entire duration of the marathon.

Moreover, thousands of runners come from across Canada and the world to participate and spend money in Toronto (and yes because of the way the marathons are spread out, most come for both Toronto and Scotiabank Marathon) and the non-runners and bureaucrats want to close down some runs because of the inconvenience factor. Like I said, incomprehensible.

UPDATE : And let’s not forget the numerous parades in and around town and the obligatory strikes each year that shut down the city for days. And the non-runners and bureaucrats are crying about the city being shut for a few hours. Nonsense.

Giving Up

Well, that’s it. I am pulling out of the Mississauga Marathon and enrolling myself to the ½ marathon.

The reasons are fairly straightforward. My training was a pathetic. Sham is a better word. I just could not find the time to prepare myself for the marathon in the last 4 weeks. The training was going really well until end of Feb (when I was out of a job) but in March, my training went downhill. Between my job, my house and my daughter I just could not keep up with it. I have not been able to break the 25 K mark and my motivation levels have dipped. Before I really start to lose myself, I am going to do the right thing and aim for setting a personal best in the ½ marathon and focus for a full marathon in Oct 2010 (Scotiabank Marathon). My wife will be back in town permanently in May so I will be able to pay more attention to my training after she comes back.

I have discovered in the last 4 weeks that running a full marathon is not as easy as I thought it would be. It is infinitely more demanding and requires 100% devotion and dedication which if lacking means injury (which I had) or demotivating you to run (which I had as well). My training was hotch potch i.e. I would just go when I thought I had some free time which meant an erratic schedule. Moreover, there were numerous times when I would start my training and then get a call from Rhea (my daughter) imploring me to come back home as soon as possible. How can you say no to a 6 year old?

Anyway, I hope to put better input in my upcoming ½ marathon. I feel I am well prepared for it. Wish me luck!!

Running, Some Thoughts

So, I love to run. A friend introduced me to running 3 years ago and slowly, but steadily, I have gained immense appreciation for this sport. On twitter I follow all sorts of runners. From ultra runners to casual runners and each one has their thoughts on running so I guess it’s my turn to put in some thoughts of my own.

Some of my observation on running are :

  • Always keep an eye on the road. Since I run on the pavement, I always look over my shoulders to make sure there are no vehicles approaching when I am about to cross a road. This has become a habit for me and has saved my skin a number of times. And a few times when I know I have kept my eyes open and the driver has not, I have let the driver know what I think about him/her. :)
  • I work in an area which is surrounded by hills. So I have been trying to conquer the hills without compromising on my pace. It has not worked very well so far. When I run up the hill, I lean forward and keep my head straight. For some reason, this seems to be the least stressful position. And when I am running down hill, I lean back and look up which shifts my centre of gravity backwards.This lets me maintain my speed/momentum. However, I always, always get shin splints so maybe I am doing something wrong.
  • I always keep my head straight. I do not know what the body mechanics are but if I hang my head when running, I get tired very quickly.
  • My nipples chaff very easily. Something I learned from my last 1/2 marathon. The worst feeling EVAH!! And it took me 1 week to recover and had trouble wearing cloths… no matter what, I will never ever wear a new t-shirt for a run.
  • Music is very important to me. It’s been one constant in my life and I listen to it whenever I get an opportunity. But 3 years ago, the opportunities began dwindling because of added responsibilities in my life. I could have always kept on listening to music during my long commutes but for some reason I would always take a nap so that opportunity was lost too. It was running that saved my love for music. During a run I had no one to talk to me, no chance of falling asleep, no one telling me the music sucks so I should turn it down, no one to tell me how the music I listen to hurts someone’s ears etc. I began to consume music passionately.
  • After a run, the warm feeling is one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. I know it’s mostly the endorphins but there is also a part in me that’s super proud of the run I just completed.
  • I am a weakling when it comes to food. I just have this propensity to hog and feel really guilty after my meals. But on the days I have had a run I do not feel guilty at all. In fact I use my running to justify a super big meal!!
  • Till last week my mode of running was to set a pace and keep at it until the end of the run. I do break into walks because I still have not learned the art of drinking water and running at the same time. Now I am trying something new that a colleague mentioned. During the week I am going to run short (5K to 8K) runs but run as fast as I can. And then after a couple of short hard runs, I will be going for a really long run (aiming for 20K over the weekend). Well, that’s the plan but god knows if I will be able to do it.

Updates to the list to follow!!