Sunday, May 8, 2011

44 kms week ending 8th may 2011

completed 44 kms for the week ending 8th may 2011 including a 22.5 kms on saturday at the aarey forest followed up with a recovery run of 10 kms on sunday at marine drive. Two earlier runs of 4kms & 7.5 kms on wednesday and thursday. aarey forest run was a staggering one in extreme humidity and heat which had me roasted almost. marine drive was also extremely humid even as early as 5.30 in the morning, possibly to due the arabian sea.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Corbett Park Half Marathon - Roar of the Tiger

Corbett Park Half marathon lived upto its image of a scenic route, skirting the forest all along the way with some parts being tough with gentle undulations and tough hills as well. It was definitely not an easy route with the start itself on a trail path for 300 metres before it hits the main road when it immediately hits a climber and a steep descent. Mental notes made – to navigate this killer hill on the last leg, the route thereafter petered into a steady straight path with the forests on both sides. The race started at 6.00 a.m. by which time it was already bright and clear. I had mentioned to Rahul Varghese that perhaps we should have started at 5.30 a.m., but then the distance of the route from the respective resorts where people were staying and being the first event of its kind, the timing was perfect.

When Rahul announced the Corbett Park half marathon dates, I think around early to mid-February, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get away with the family on a holiday as well as get to do a half marathon in a world renowned natural forest. Late april seemed perfect with the weather still holding good. In order to reach Corbett, one had to first come to New Delhi and then take a train or a car to Ramnagar which was the nearest rail head. There are two trains from old Delhi railway station to Ramnagar, one leaving at 1630 hours and another one late at night. We took the 1630 hours train which arrived at Ramnagar station at about 2030 hours. In the train itself, I came across and met fellow runners from Delhi and Ahmedabad. Percy and Vijay respectively from these two cities were equally enthusiastic about running in Corbett. The resort Jaagar – the Village Resort was about 15 minutes away from the Ramnagar station.

Jaagar is a quaint little resort with individual cottages for each guest. Each cottage had a thatched roof and all the amenities to keep the guests comfortable and rested. The food was like home made, very delicious, so carbo loading was done with gusto. They had about 8 cottages, so the quality of service was excellent.

We were up the very next morning at 4.00 a.m. (well runners never crib about early mornings, hanh!) to do a jungle safari visit where we saw every animal in the forest but the tiger. We saw the tiger pug marks, heard the roar of a tiger which was closing in on a sambar deer, saw the carcass of an animal – the handiwork of a tiger, but the magnificient royal Bengal tiger was elusive to us.

Well, we visited the Expo organized by Rahul at the Mapple Resorts which was unlike any other expo visited by me. There were about 4 stalls, all running related - forest honey, saloman trail running shoes, suunto & R&L stall. The goodie bag was a paper bag with all the stuff in it being running related – there was no masala powders or noodles pack in it!! They had WWF coasters, health magazines, discount coupons for saloman trail running shoes and other stuff. There was a complimentary t-shirt as well.

Nikhil Shah & Divyesh Shah had already checked in before me and there was Priya who was doing 10K and a couple of other friends who had planned a Corbett trip.

Cars were arranged to take us to the starting point, which was near the Mapple Resorts. The route was an out and back route with the first/last 300 metres in a trail route with mud and stones and then straight road all the way to 10kms and from 10 to 10.5 kms also being a dirt road. Water stations were kept at 2.5, 5 & 7.5 kms respectively. Met up with Nikhil, Divyesh, Sujit all from Pune and Suneela from Bombay at the start point. There was a lone Kenyan in the race and it was certain that he was going to bag the first prize.

The race started exactly at 6.00 a.m. and had to be careful for the first 300 metres in view of my delicate ankle. Having negotiated that comfortably, ran into a steep climb immediately on hitting the tar road and then a steep descent as well, which was described in the first paragraph. Thereafter the route was a flat one with tall trees on both sides. Nikhil and Sujit went by, but I was like holding back the pace in order to gauge the course upto the half way mark. After 4 kms there was again gentle undulations – the sun came out somewhere around the 6 kms mark. Just after 7.5 kms, the Kenyan came by expectedly followed by two Indians much later. At the 7.5 kms station, I had a honey water drink which was very good – kept me strong upto the halfway mark. At 10 kms, there was rough patch of 500 metres on both sides which was like up and down with lots of stones – a muddy path which needed to be navigated carefully.

Halfway done, refreshments taken – I hit a blue patch at this point streaming away with all might from 11 kms to about 14 kms. The sun was out in full glory at this stage and the tree shade was not sufficient to provide succor to the runners. From 15 to 16 kms, it was absolutely brutal with no tree cover at all – so kept the pace steady at this stage without exerting too much. 16 kms to 18 kms were relatively better but from 18 kms onwards again it was quite tough with the sun beating down hard on the runners. At just after 19 kms there was a flutter amongst the runners, and when I turned to look at what it was all about – there was a magnificent and majestic tusker standing just near the road – it was an awesome sight. At around 19.5 kms there loomed a large and killer hill just abreast which looked like a beast, but I kept chugging on without stopping, this hill was the distance from the bottom of the aarey hill to the first tabela and the gradient was also the same, so navigated it comfortably, but then just down the hill the cramps started on the left calves, saw my daughter holding the placard.

Went into the last 300 metres for a good finish in a time of 2.10.35 hours just outside the Personal Best but entirely satisfied with the effort in April.

Got a medal and a certificate immediately on arrival.

Met up with other runners at the finish line. Nikhil finished in 1.58, Sujit in 2.02, Divyesh in 2.16 and Suneela in 2.24. Priya who had done the 10K finished comfortably in 1.03 hours in 2nd place.

The organization of the event was impeccable and in fact there were quite a few innovative things which stood out as something to be emulated.