This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Friday, September 30, 2005


I ran a 1500m today. It was a great race..12 guys lined up at the start..I was joking with someone about competing for the last position....The race started off at a quick pace...There was a guy deliberately trying to get in my way..That was his job I he faded away after the first lap..
This event is part of the inter-hostel championships held every year and the competition between the hostels is really fierce. The hostel which I come from is very poor in athletics, and we rely for the shroyeter cup points from other events like football, hockey, etc..I am trying to change that trend but have been unsuccessful so far..Coming back to the race, there was one guy who was running close to me. I overtook him initally and I was fourth after 3 laps(300m to go), but he came back strong and I couldn't catch up after his surge..I finished fifth with a timing of 5:07(previous best- 5:20). This guy had finished ahead of me in the 800m race it was doubly bitter for me to have missed the 4th position(it carries points).

Tomorrow's the 5000m race(the toughest track race according to me) and the field lined up will have more or less the same participants as for the 1500m, but, there will be some specialist 5000m runners making an appearance. Believe me, the distance racing scene in iit madras has never been so good...It's going to be a tough race tomorrow as it requires a lot of focus and tactical moves, like, when to surge and when to holdback, and more importantly when to start kicking towards the end(say with 200m to finish,etc). I have a good finishing kick but I faltered in the 1500m today, as I ran a fast 1st lap(1:10) and hence had little energy left towards the end.
My previous pr in the 5000m is 20:53, but I believe I can go below 20 tomorrow, provided my gameplan works. As for my gameplan, it is going to be a steady and a little slow start and a gradual increase in speed through the race. The thing about 5k is that, the real battle starts at the 2.5km mark, when you are at your worst, especially if you have started out too fast...
Slow and steady wins the race!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Timeless jottings

Was sitting behind me
Looking tired and weary
Looked at her and thought
Looks good, does she not?

Stop, the bus did thither
To give us the much needed breather
Watching an ODI, were many
While I took in the scenery

Last to get down was she
Heading out to have some tea
Approached her, I did,
And talked a few words, we did

Slept badly through the night
'casuse of the bus shaking me outright
But thoughts flooded my mind
Making the misery a memorable kind

These events happen seldom so I thought
And departed Koyambedu with a heavy heart
The same day did I record the meeting
Through pen and paper to produce this reading....

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Going long

I hadn't run a long run since atleast a month.And all of my longruns so far haven't gone beyond 16 kms. So I decided all of a sudden yesterday, that I am going to do 20kms, no matter what. The 'no matter what' was responsible for my not so good experience during the run...

My normal long run of 16km is twice the road race(held every april) route. The road race route passes through some prominent landmarks in iit campus like football, hockey fields; computer centre(cc), Hospital, Vanavani, Gate, Gc and ends in the stadium. So for yesterday's run, I added another 10 laps in the stadium to make it a 20km run.
I usually carry two 250 ml bottles(the ones you get to flick on an IA flight) during the long run. This time I decided to mix some glucose in the water...which didn't turn out too good.
I started off well at around 9 min/mile pace and was comfortable until I completed 8kms(i.e. when I reached the stadium). From this point I was struggling, with my left calf really tight, for atleast another 10 mins, after which I felt a bit strong again till the 16km mark(stadium again).
My pace during the run so far had varied from 8min/mile to 12 min/mile depending on how I felt. But as I started off the remaining 10 laps of my run, I felt very weak and tired. I was just pushing myself, counting the number of laps remaining, trying to shake off the fatigue. My head started wobbling and my form had degraded, I was more shuffling than jogging. Since I was sipping glucose water rather than water, I felt a desire to drink pure water..I even imagined the coolness of water rushing from a spring somewhere in the hills...The thirst was becoming unbearable and I had to finish the run quick.
Somewhere around the 7th lap, I thought how could people be insane enoguh to run a marathon, when here, I am struggling to complete a 20 km run. I sort of decided that I wouldn't attempt a marathon or distances beyond the marathon, atleast not in the near future. Soon, there were only two laps remaining and I slowly picked up the pace and the last lap was run really fast..I just wanted to get it done. I was really relieved that I had accomplished the goal I had set for yesterday. It had taken me 1hr 59 mins to do it. The day before yesterday, I had done some speed workout and that might have made yesterday's run, a tad more miserable. After finishing the run and having cooled down, I headed to the hostel and I drank 1.5 litres of water straight, had my grub and slept soundly for a good 10 hrs.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Waking up

When do you sleep and when do you wake up(this tone reminds me of Godsmack - serenity lyrics)? Do you sleep regularly and do you need to sleep regularly?
When I sleep, atleast, when I am in the campus is completely variable. Depends on a lot of factors..
Do I have some deadline to be met tomorrow? Am I completely jobless(read idle)?
Take the example of reading a technical paper...
The time taken for finishing a paper, would be directly proportional:
1) to the number of pages.
2) The amount of technicality involved in the paper.
3) Any additional reading requirement to understand the paper.

Now most of the papers would take an average of 4 - 6 hours of reading time..Having said that, when is the best time to do the same..Again, you can list out the ideal conditions to do the same:

Period of time having :
1) the least average decibel level
2) Minimal external stimulii (someone knocking on door,etc).

I have found from experience that the time period 12 am - 7 am satisfies the above constraints..
But, ofcourse you wouldn't use the whole of the above time..You have two clear options now..
1) Sleep at 3 am(Having done the reading of paper).
2) Get up at 3 am and do the reading till you finish it.

Technically speaking, both of the above sub-timeperiods are equivalent or the same...But there is one difference..It's got to do with the natural biological cycle or rhythm which favours the latter.
Hence the saying 'Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy,wealthy and wise' might actually do one a lot of good in terms of perfect compatibility with this natural cycle, and the associated benefits as the saying goes is manifold.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sleep Running

Somnambulism - Walking while you are sleeping a.k.a sleep walking

What is sleep running? My definition : Falling asleep while you are running.

In both cases, you won't know that you are doing two things simultaneously, only the order of sleeping is different.
So when do people sleep run? Most of the guys who 'sleep run' are people who are sleep deprived. One famous example is that of the ultra-runner, Dean Karnazes(author of the book - UltraMarathonMan), who works by the day and runs by the night and sometimes manages only 2 hrs of sleep. So it isn't unusual for Dean to suddenly wake up and narrowly avoid colliding with an approaching car.
I had my first experience of sleep-running yesterday. I had slept for less than 12 hrs, the previous 3 days and only 1.5 hrs the day before yesterday. The irony here is that, try as I might, I was simply unable to catch up on lost sleep yesterday afternoon. So as the clock ticked 5, I got out of my weary, pathetic state and headed out to the stadium. I normally warmup by stretching a bit before running. But as I started my warmup, my eyelids were shutting down and I was practically standing there in a trance, not knowing what to do for atleast a minute. I decided to pack the warmup and do some jogging/running /whatever I could manage. Now, I might have been an unusual sight to the fellow runners in the stadium, but for atleast 3 laps(1.2km), my eyelids were open ever so slightly , just to avoid colliding with anyone and I think I was kind of meandering on the track, but I couldn't help it. After the third lap, I felt a bit fresh(refreshed from this kutty nap) and I ran strongly with my eyes wide open for another 4 rounds before calling it a day!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Running in IITM , cycling on ECR and the transportation crisis

Back from a brief hiatus...The last two weeks were a little hectic and eventful too.

For starters, I managed two pb's(personal best) or pr's(personal records)...
One was in 400 metres - 1:02(previous best - 1:09) and 800 metres - 2:26 (previous best 2:39).

These events are a part of our venerable and much fought over, inter-hostel championships, a.k.a 'schroyeter'. Here's where it's held:

The stadium

Though I managed a good time in 400m and 800m it wasn't good enough for a position, but I will take a pr any day. The other events, 1500m and 5000m are postponed due to the stadium getting washed out last week.

Closer view..during the 100m dash in the inter-iit championships, last year

The stadium has taught me a lot..there was a time when I would struggle to run 10 rounds(4km) in the stadium, and when I completed it, it would be an achievement for me. And the speed workouts here are always a killer(e.g. 4 x 800m, with 3 min gap in between each 800m), but are essential for the adaptation of the body to the stresses subjected to the body at that speed and hence become more efficient. Sometimes, when I get injured and am unable to run, I go to the stadium simply to take in the ambience there, cheer a few runners and do some warm-up. But at the same time, it would be too monotonous to run all your runs in the stadium. A distance of 8km for example, would be run by me partly on the road and partly in the stadium.

The road run would typically start at the stadium side of the road and proceed towards the gate and I would take a diversion at the fork, from the road on the left(delhi avenue) to the road on the right(bonn avenue) as shown in the picture .

Delhi avenue and bonn avenue

My route back to the stadium passes through the famous 'gajendra circle', which is a big attraction during our tech-fest, 'Shaastra' and cul-fest 'Saarang', due it being studded with colourful lights.

Gajendra circle

My experience has been that running and cycling do not complement each other. You either run 4 days a week and cycle on one of the other days or you cycle regularly and run now and then. I belong to the former category and cycling gives me a lot of pleasure when I get to do it.
Inside iit, I generally cycle between gc(gajendra circle) to gate and back. But for real excitement, I head to the scenic and picteresque place called 'muttukadu lake' situated on the ECR (east coast road), 21 kms from Thiruvanmiyur. On my recent trip here(last sunday), I saw some people fishing, recreationally.

Muttukadu lake and Buckingham Canal(enroute to the lake)

The above pic was taken by my running friend, Jacob, who had first shown me this place, when we came running here through the buckingham canal(it stinks big time and hence I have never taken that path again) from Thiruvanmiyur. This pic shows the lake which is situated to the right of a bridge on the ECR. Equally scenic is the beach on the other side of the bridge. The beauty of this beach is that, the backwater(muttukadu lake) joins the sea here, and a thin strip of sand divides the lake from the sea providing a breath-taking view, when viewed from the bridge, especially early in the morning.

I might have gone there atleast 5 times by now, and every time, the experience has been new, refreshing, and out of the world. Many friends have accompanied me on these trips and they have always been raring to come back here. One of my friends, who now works in bangalore was inspired enough by this trip to regularly cycle to his work place from his residence, a distance of 12kms. Ofcourse, ECR has excellent roads and the damage caused to the thin tyre of the racing cycle is insignificant compared to that caused by cycling on the city roads.

I feel many people would be ready to commute by cycle if 'dedicated cycle lanes' are provided
and enforced. A classic example of this kind of initiative is the city of Toronto, where a sizeable population commute to work by cycles on these lanes. Ofcourse, the attitude of people there towards environmental-friendly transport did help towards this cause. Besides serving to reduce congestion on city roads, it would also improve the fitness and health of those take up this exciting sport.

America is now in a crisis as far as transportation is concerned with the number of autos(cars) simply too high. The vehicle occupancy of a car in america is 1.08. What does that mean? It means that if I were to substitute every 4 seater car with a 4 seater share-auto or an equivalent bus or train, for example, the number of vehicles on the road would just drop down by 4 times or even more orders of magnitude. If that isn't a way of reducing congestion, what is? These are known as demand side measures, as against supply-side measures like building more roads, widening them, flyovers, etc..which is what is being advocated even in India.Though the percentage of people using public transit(buses,etc) in India is higher(around 30%) than in America, the number is steadily declining, and heavy duty advertising by two-wheeler companies and cars is only compounding the problem. Unless the decision makers are well informed about this problem, congestion on roads is only bound to zoom up.ven the now underway, IT corridor, between Madhya Kailash and Kelambakkam in Chennai, could have a viable alternative in the form of a rapid bus or train transit. Delhi, which was hugely plagued by too many vehicles , has recovered a little due to the development of DMRC (delhi metro).

But the freed space on roads would soon be filled up with the ever growing vehicular traffic and hence the only reasonable solution is to go to the core of the problem and curtail the use of private vehicles by measures like congestion pricing(toll charged on vehicles during peak hours of travel in and around the city centre), high parking fees, etc and promote public transit in a big way.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Observing the observed from a bus-stop

Well, as a part of the data collection process, in which the demand during peakhours at bus-stops are to be noted in a form(for the proposed IT corridor along the old Mahabs road from Madhya-kailash to Kelambakkam), it was my turn to go to a bus-stop at Sathyabama 'deemed' university.
We were a group of 5 guys(4 guys actually) and we were each assigned one bus-stop to collect data from. As the peak hour starts around 7 am and the bus-stops were quite far away, we had to start early from the tharamani gate. The auto guy outside asked a ridiculous 150 rupees, his logic being that share auto from tiruvanmiyur charged 20 Rs/guy and since it was early morning time, he had factored in the additional Rs 50. As this was a bigger auto(it had the normal seat pushed a little up and back and an additional wooden seat added just behind the driver's seat), we conceeded.
The form which we were provided with had columns for arrival time, departure time, no. of passengers getting in and out. The only two buses which served my bus-stop were 21H and 19B. 21H was more frequent of the two and had an average frequency of 1 every 10 minutes.
As the auto approached my bus-stop, my friend who was to take care of navallur bus-stop commented that IIT-roorke had come. I didn't understand so I looked out and saw that the building in the distance resembled the main building of iit roorke..Well so much for that.

I was happy that the bus-stop was sheltered and I could have a seat and do my work(which wasn't much anyway). Soon, I got to see the first of the Joseph engg. college buses stream into the road that connected the main road to the university. The univ. buses kept coming..I counted around 10 in 5 minutes. As if that weren't enough, another set of 10 buses arrived barely 5 mins later. This process happened for another 15 minutes...I had lost track of the number of buses that went into that university. My friend mentioned later on that the combined fleet of sathyabama, joseph engg. college and Jeppiar college was around ...hold your breath..70.
Speaking of Jeppiar college buses, these buses slowed down as they approached the bus-stop and enabled me to have a decent view as they passed by.The other private buses I observed were, hindustan engg. college,vmrf college,lots of polaris buses. I also got to see some exotic things like horses being carried around in lorries, a drunk guy asking the guys sitting on a minivan to get down and stopping guys walking around. There were also a group of 4 students who had to go to Kelambakkam(the last bus-stop on 21H and 19B route). They were looking for an auto but couldn't get they approachd the bus-stop. Then suddenly one of the two girls, started waving the finger(both hands!) towards Sathyabama university...quite funny to watch.
I don't understand why this college has to impose restrictions on many - You have to come to the college only by the college bus, even if your house is just a furlong away.
Interaction between boys and girls is strictly prohibited and could lead to expulsion!...I'd say, a healthy interaction is necessary between the oppsite sexes, else we would have a lot of perverts(which is the case mostly). This isn't any school where you would have to worry about students falling for infatuation. The very fact that you have put in the efforts to get into a so called 'deemed' university, show that you are sufficiently motivated to study. What about all-round development of personality..I don't see it happening in such freedom-curtailing , closed environment that they have managed to enforce. On the other hand students would be frustrated and would have given up in life. These things could only happen in chennai..No wonder Chennai is given the tag of a conservative city.

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'