Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Conquering an unending route - Pune to Lavasa 56 kms Ultra

If the Amby valley run was a complete fun run through a party riot, the Pune Lavasa route was quiet, serious, beautiful and an extremely rewarding training run in terms of terrain, gradient and weather.

Post the Amby valley run, a couple of interesting events happened.

The Zurich triathlon threw to the Indian triathlon community a new addition, Milind Soman, a hero and an inspiration to millions. He completed his FIRST Ironman…
Our timeless Hero

Of course there were the usual suspects like Kaustubh Radkar who lapped up a mind-boggling 12th Ironman!!! If thats not enough,

James Lawrence, a.k.a. the Iron Cowboy achieved a superhuman feat in the United States. He completed an unimaginable 50 full course Ironmans, in all 50 States of The US, in 50 days. That means he did a 3.8 kms swim followed by 180 kms of cycling followed by 42.2 kms running EVERY SINGLE DAY for 50 days travelling all over the US.. 

James Lawrence a.k.a. The Ironcowboy on the 50th day
and here i am hibernating for 2 days after a measly 50 odd kms!!!

Meanwhile i was thrilled that my blog attracted attention and I received an invite for an Interview from firstrunning.com

 The firstrunning Interview Part 1
SCMM via Procamrunning also covered my blog on their Facebook page!!

Generally after an ultra, i spend a couple of days in hibernation. There are aye and naysayers for recovery runs, but i generally avoid any running the day after and choose to live through my normal activities that involves a fair amount of walking and being on my feet.

So the 2 weeks till this Sunday, i only did maybe 3 hours of running-stair climbing per week. The Sunday after the Amby run, i lazed and just did a bit of light stretching and some core exercises.

I also procured the training mask from trainingmask.com . This simulates high altitudes by fitting customized valves in a certain manner. 

However, its Hannibalistic looks have deterred me from wearing it on the Mumbai roads, as yet, lest my beloved strays choose to hound me. 

5 weeks to go before we depart for Ladakh. 

I am quite enjoying preparing for these fortnightly Ultras. The sheer joy of running for long hours, the excitement and anticipation of a new uncharted terrain and providing myself yet another opportunity to conquer mental blocks of distances makes the whole process of running pleasurable!

Sameer, Ashish and I planned to try out the 50 kms Pune Lavasa route on our friend Hrushikesh’s recommendation. 

Hrushikesh is an accomplished runner, trekker, cyclist and a seller of the classy Marin bikes from Pune. He also volunteered to crew for our effort. Another fellow dentist, Aditya also joined us on the run. 

We barely caught up on 4 hrs of sleep on Saturday night thanks to the traffic situation on the expressway post the deadly landslide the previous week.

So the 4 of us set out on yet another bespoke 50 kms ultra early morning at 4 am expecting to get done by 1030 - 11am

The Lavasa route is a true roller coaster with equal number of ups and downs all the way till Temgarh dam, beyond which is a massive relentless Grade 2 moderately steep climb up to Lavasa.

The first few miles till Chandani Chowk were pretty easy

For the first time ever, i was trying out some gear that i will be donning at KhardungLa. One is the compression top from trainingmask.com and the compression 3/4ths bottoms of Decathlon.in. Surprisingly, they were super comfy and i never even thought of getting rid of them through the run until the sun was really high and hot.

Running in the dark hours of morning, there was a constant breeze that complemented our warming limbs!

As we passed each territory, the local strays masquerading as wild dogs, practically everywhere, gave us a growling welcome, often coming close enough to sniff at us. Luckily none came too close for comfort and would back off if we stopped and growled back!

The constant ups and downs and the cool breeze ensured that we didn't really have to walk except at the slope going up to Manas lake. 

Sameer and I going up to Mutha top, a grade 3 incline 
From here on, the route turns scenic after the industrial town of Pirangut. 

The Pirangut ghat down at the 15kms mark was completely welcome and helped us keep momentum right till the turn away from the Mulshi road. Thereafter, it was a straight road up to Lavasa.

All my long runs over the last 2 months have taught me a thing or two about mental battles and overcoming them. Most of our runs have been out and back loops, be it Matheran or Amby. This is the first run that has been a one-way affair. In many ways, if one is not mentally geared for such a run, one can hit the wall and from then on, every kilometre seems like eternity! And thats another reason why i rated this route high for ultra training.

Luckily for us, Hrushikesh has been a veteran of this route and his pit stop guidance about the route and its undulations and what to expect were remarkably accurate. 
Reaching the Mutha hill top

One of the highlights of this route was the short Mutha hill climb leading to the top that offers spectacular views of the plains below on either side. As we climbed up, the serene sounds of ringing bells of a distant temple complemented the crisp fresh air of the early Sunday morning. A bunch of Pune cyclists racing up and down to Lavasa crossed and cheered us. From the top, the headwinds were so strong it almost made us stop and sway sideways as we ran down

Unlike Amby, this route didn't have as much vehicular traffic, making it that much more safe

Hrushikesh would stop at every 5 kms and we would perform our well-oiled rituals of stretching, fuelling and checking for blisters, etc. At the 40th km, at the base of Temgarh dam, Hrushi warned us that the next 8 kms were all steady steep uphill to Lavasa.

Temgarh dam
It was 5h:10min elapsed until now and i assumed we should finish our planned 50 kms well within the planned 6h:30 min. Though my legs were stiff, I was still in good spirits and decided to walk up on the slopes and run wherever possible. It turned out that the 8kms barely offered a couple of hundred metres of relatively flat stretches which i could still run on! So that felt great! 1hr 20 min later,  at 48.5 kms, Hrushikesh and Ashish decided that we should turn back as Aditya had turned back earlier. Sameer and I also felt that running downhill would make our timings respectable. It would also mean running on tired legs, which is exactly we would be doing running down from Khardungla. 
Descending from Lavasa
We gladly did that and finished yet another ultra 56 kms in 7hr 22 min of what was an exhilarating Sunday morning well spent on training!!!

1 comment:

  1. was a great run mate.... and excellent chronicling... keep it going!!