Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tour de Peninsula - My first bike race

Ok now that I am into biking this blog will have some bike stuff as well. Hopefully swimming events will not be too far away either...:)

It was an exhillirating moment, racing downhil after sawyer camp, riding along with Vivek, with the slight drizzle on our face and breezing through the wind...

It all started with the bike buying spree and a few rides with Chethan and a few more with Vivek and Chakri. Saw the TDP posters in Sawyer Camp and well it sure seemed fun to ride.

Vivek, Chakri and me decided to ride a few sections of the trail on tuesday (considering we did not have tracks) and carpooled to Belmont. The prize of course was food at Veena's. :)
We rode along the canada road and back. It was a nice ride and we were cold and hungry very soon. :)

I was hooked on after the ride and signed up for the TDP. The day before the race was hectic, as we had run 16 miles in the sweltering heat in Oracle trail. Anyways Rajesh, G3, CK, Veena and Geeta decided to come and cheer us and well now there is no backing out.

My biggest concern and cause of much amuse was the question as to what if u get tired after climbing half the hill. How do you start again in the middle of the hill? Coach Martina told me to keep the bike perpendicular to the hill and start off. Simple, just like if your skis come off in downhill skiing. :))

One other concern was those #$%* cleats. How do you remember to take em off in time? Well the answer is you just remember you are on cleats and even if you don't and must fall, fall graciously (like land on your butt..:)) and not scrape the skin of your knee. My poor knees have taken quite a toll, before I could perfect this.. Vivek kept pulling my leg during the ride that I should probably patent this idea..

The plan was to leave early and reach the Sequoia school by 7:30, so we pick our bibs and start at 8. Due to over eagerness, I ended up at G3's place at 6:30 and found ourselves searching for a starbucks early in the morning. Vivek and CK joined us there.

After wandering around Brewster, found parking at James Ave. Rode to the school and picked up our bibs. Guess I was a little tensed and Vivek was talking about going to the war and we need a proper send off with tilak, aarti and vijayi bahava send offs..

We were at the start of the line and the announcer was making fun of people with mountain bikes saying how fat and beautiful those tires looked. Soon we were at the head of the line and the race started with everyone click, click clicking into their pedals.

The first few miles we were conservative as the Ralston Ave Hill was looming soon. With children riding randomly and some other cyclists doing a steady pace, we managed to stay clear and keep pace. Ralston Ave was one tough hill. In my stupidity of trying to save the last gear for further uphill, my quads started to hurt and I decided I needed to do these 4 miles first and preserve the muscles for the rest of the tour. After that Ralston climb was peaceful and rode along quite well.

Atop Ralston (Mt. Neverest) was the first water stop. Had our fill and picked up a few energy bars. From here the fun started and it was all downhill. We were having fun, zipping through polyhemus and before we knew we were already at crystal springs road. Those downhils felt great but were soon over.. It was here that I was so reminded of "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander" and the bike race. What a movie and what a ride.

Further up crystal springs road was the beginning of the sawyer camp trail and also the 21 miler shortcut. There was no doubt at all as to which way we were gonna. Considering sawyer camp was one way and we knew the trail so well, we were zipping thru the turns and enjoying the scenary. We were on top of the mile 5 and stopped to soak in the surroundings and Vivek remarks "we did it so fast - darned runners". :) I think the ride through the Sawyer camp was the best part of the course... At the top they had opened up the north gate and the ride backwards was along skyline blvd. It was a lot more hilly than sawyer camp and it had started to drizzle. It was a lot of fun riding through the rain.
Missed Chakri big time!!!

Since sawyer camp was only open to the bikers, I kind of forgot that we need to share the road and was infact riding on the wrong side of the road. Suddenly I see two bikes floating in the air and some lights. That is when it hit me, that were rack mounted on top of a car and I am in the middle of the road doing 25 mph. Oops, time to steer back to the bike lane. In the ride down skyline, there was this group of about 15 people (cyclista), who were riding together and I could not help wondering that it would be great to come down the hills in a formation with all of us in a team jersey of our own group.

After skyline, we biked a little on 35 and soon saw the signs for canada road. Great, known territory (we had biked this part of the course before) and we set off. Canada road is simply awesome and once more we found ourselves owning the whole road. CK called Vivek when they reached the intersection of canada and edgewood dr. We had just missed them and by the time the second call came through, we were on the other side of the canada road. :( Edgewood was the last big hill climb before home but then it was just a piece of cake.

The race was very very well organized with tons of volunteers, bikers, very well stocked water stops and an awesome course... I owe it to Vivek from all the bike tips, getting me to sign up for the race and riding with me through out the 33 miles. A very big thank you to G3, CK, Rajesh, Veena and Geeta for showing up early sunday morning and cheering us...

Now the interesting part - after race parties..
Lunch - Thabla.
Chai and Bourbon Biscuits - Veena's.
Rava Idlis for dinner - Ck's.

What a way to spend the sunday. Life feels great!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Napa to Sonoma Half

Had run this last year. Was my first long distance race and I wanted to run it again this year.

It was very simple, considering all the time I had spent it last year and the vivid memories of each turn and loop and water stop. Most importantly remembered to fuel right between water stop 7 and 10.

Was pleasantly happy with my time.  1:59:53.  Was it just me, I wonder?

Saturday, July 07, 2007


It has been sometime since I last posted. Time to renew it for this years training. 
Ran the MTT with Chakri and group 1 and guess what I broke 7 minutes a mile. I know now what Roger felt like... :))

It was a major ego booster, from 8:45 beginning of last year to 7:20 end of last year to 6:58 beginning of this year, whoa the ride with Asha gets crazier each day.

All I am grateful for is "Life feels great".

Monday, April 30, 2007

My journey to Big Sur!

It all started after Chicago Marathon, when in runner's high Rajesh and me were in search of the next marathon to run. Arun higly recommended Big Sur.

Though taunting, the pictures looked extremely scenic and the very same day we registered. We talked to Chakri and Krishna and after the discussion at the party in Rajesh's place Krishna created the bigsur07 yahoo group.

The plan was to start traning in Jan, after all the december vacations. Chakri had the plan all chalked out and Chakri, Rajesh and Krishna started the runs at Rancho. After my recovery from bronchitis I joined them as well.

Each saturday morning my body would have a mini revolution. But then I would remember Chakri's email to bigsur07 and it would make me wanna be a big sur marathoner and run.
Example: Big Sur Marathoners : 10 -12 miles
Rest : :-)

The first mile at Rancho is the best part, where it is all flat and easy. We would usually stretch at the barn and then the hills would start.

The minute we started on the hills, vivid memories of running to the fallen tree (the only time I had previously run at Rancho) flooded me and I knew God did not make me to run uphills. :)
Rajesh was our hill king. He loved those hills and sometimes after reaching the top he would even come back down to run up the hill with me. Wheww!!! Soon Krishna started doing the same and of course I need not say about Chakri's strengths.....

I started realizing that if I did not do the hills, my chance of completing Big Sur was close to DnF (Did not Finish). I started walking all the uphills. If fallen tree was tough, doing the black mountain was a nightmare. Half the time I was either lost in the amazing scenary or in the constant whining going up the hills. Going down was my favourite part. After all I did not have to put effort in pushing my body. Gravity took care of that. :))

While running at Rancho, the favourite passtime was to compute the distances we did and the detailed elevation analysis. Krishna and Rajesh would have detailed discussions on the numbers and usually Rajesh sent an email with analysis of each and every section, the mileage and boy was he strict about it.

Usually the number game just makes me dread it the next time we do the hills. However, on comparing the Big Sur elevation, the realization that our training had more elevation, made me feel really happy. :))

During these runs, Chakri ran into Anil and the idea of running PCTR came up. Well believe it or not, we simply jumped into it and registered for the 30k at Pirates Cove. That run was a murder on the legs. I thought the elevation was infinite and though very beautiful, it was really tough. Between pictures and helping fainiting old ladies :)) we survived yet another milestone. We also ran into Coach Martina and Harry.

Some things I will always remember from the training:
1) When we did the 22 miler, Rajesh was away in Chicago. He comes back and completes the 22 miler at Rancho on a monday morning. Phenomenal energy and way to go Rajesh!
2) I have to definitely mention Coach Raman's infinite strength. Most saturday mornings he would do a easy 6-7 miler. Come back and do a 20 with us and go back to do some more. Thanks coach for all those runs with us.
3) The best part was the post runs. We would enjoy those delicious Sesame bagels Chakri always managed to bring, relishing the thought of conquering yet another double digit miler on the rancho hills. :)
4) Saving fainting old ladies on the hills and the fun we had.

On a final count, we had the following Asha folks running at Big Sur. Coahes Tony and Raman, Chakri, Arun, Rajesh, Krishna, Anusha, Simmy, Anush, Arul and me.

Come the race weekend, Arun and me started driving in the afternoon. Arun had decided to pace me for time. Well, though the thought of running it faster gave me a thrill when I was only hoping to finish the marathon. :( Anyways, I thought I will hang to Arun for as long as I can.

On the race day, We started at about 4:00 am, did a slow jog to get to the buses. Slept a little
on the bus. Rajesh wanted to survey the scene to decide how the hills look like. :) The race was to begin at 6:45 am.

We started slow and the plan was to do a 7 minute run and a 1 minute walk. We were cruising along until we hit the base of the hurrican point hill. My legs gave way and we walked up most of the hill. My best memory from Big Sur was coming down hurricane point (downhill, yahooo) and crossing the bixby bridge. Vast openness and sea on one side and the mountain and greenery on the other. It was simply phenomenal.

We kept going at a great pace and caught up with Karen (from Redback). Come mile 18 and my glutes caught up with me too and decided it is time to rest and went to sleep. I had real trouble getting them to run. Well, we walked miles 18 to 20. After that felt somewhat better and we did run a while. Though blurry on the detail, we crossed mile 25 (which was a mini hill). We saw the finish line and as always raced it to the end.

Some things I will remember about the race:
1) Well many times we kept passing back and forth one Mr.Gopinath, who was a 60 year old and was running big sur for the third time. He was a big inspiration for me to keep running.
2) I would want to give up and walk and Arun would constantly keep motivating me.
3) Stop eating all the food they have out there. The strawberries they had were the best I had ever eaten and they felt great.

Many times in the race, I simply wanted to get on one of those yellow buses and head home, but much thanks to Arun I run (hmmm walked?) all the way.

Last but not the least, a huge thanks to the Asha folks, Anush, Gayatri, Anurag, Arpana, Pankaj, Grishu and Rupal for showing up at Big Sur and cheering us.

Thanks Chakri for the awesome mentoring once more. I cannot put in words all that you have personally done for me. Thanks Rajesh and Krishna for everything.
Thanks Arun for making me realize yet again that moving mountains ain't so difficult after all.

My hope is I will keep running with these awesome people for the rest of my life. Well time to decide on the next marathon. Chakri, Rajesh, Krishna, Arun....????

By the way Flying Horse tasted much much better than the Sam Adams. :)