Trichy – to – Rane Engine Valves (& back) Self – Supported 75km Ultra Run

Following my previous stints at Javadhu and Chennai for the ultra and triathlon & swimathon respectively, it was time to move up the ladder and start preparing for a half triathlon (3km swim, 90km cycling and 21km run). 

I don’t know about others, but increasing my running distance always helps me to perform better in longer ‘tri’s. I usually equate 1km of swimming to 8km of running and 1km of running to 3km of cycling. Going by this formula, I came up with the idea to prepare for both the Javadhu Hills 75km ultra as well as the Half Triathlon coming up in the next two months – that is to run 75km and see if I could finish within 11 hours (which was the cut – off at Javadhu).

It was February and we still had time to prepare for both events. I contacted Srikanth(who accompanied me to Javadhu last year)  and Mr. Venkat (a senior finance professional from the IT industry, in his fifties who is a veteran runner) and we set the date for our 75km self – supported ultra run at 25th March 2017.

The three of us had run from Trichy to Tanjore Big Temple (60km) previously, and I was pretty sure crossing that distance wasn’t a problem. It was the remaining 15km that posed the issue. We each took up tasks of getting water, electrolytes, energy gels and bars. I arranged for volunteers (Mani and Deepak) to help, up till 7am following which Mr. Venkat and his brother – in – law arranged for a car to keep our refreshments in.

Two cyclists volunteered to join and one (Shree) wanted to ride ahead to finish 130km, while the other (Yoga Raj) planned to ride by our side.

The preparations were soon over and the big day came. Gopesh came to send us off at 2AM. Our departure from my home was marked with the sound of dogs barking at the six of us as we proceeded to break the stillness of the night with our activity.

These were the landmarks anticipated:

1. Manikandam (8km from home)

2. Boothakudi Toll Plaza (21km)

3. Viralimalai (30 km)

4. Rane Factory (36 km)

5. U turn at 37.5km

6. Return: Rane factory (39 km)

7. Return: Viralimalai (45 km)

8. Return: Toll Plaza (54 km)

9. Return: Manikandam (67 km)

10. Home, sweet home (75 km)

We kept a steady pace of 6’40″s covering 8km or more per hour, me in my Adidas ultra boost, Mr. Venkat in his Asics shoes and Srikanth doing the barefoot – party, with Mani following us flashing his bike’s headlight for us to see ahead and to offer us protection, till we reached the Toll Plaza at 420AM. 

Mr. Venkat had pain in his feet due to shoes being too tight and Srikanth had headache due to lack of sleep, following which both of them slowed down for a while. Deepak soon replaced Mani and came to illuminate the way while offering electrolytes, water and snacks every 3km. Mr. Venkat boldly decided to go barefoot and both of them caught up with me pretty fast by the time we crossed Viralimalai.

The car had arrived by the 36th km and at the 37 & a 1/2 km, we stopped for ice cold water from the thermocol box that Mr. Venkat had thoughtfully arranged to retain the cooling of the water and electrolytes. I glanced at my watch – it was 7 AM – not bad at all, considering we were running 75km that day and we had already finished half of it in 5 hours. I knew the return would not be this easy and tried not to think about it.

I slowed down pretty much immediately after this, and the other two took the lead. The sun, had by now really come up, wishing all of us a hot and dry morning and we were really feeling the heat. We asked for the car to stop at every 2km from then on and we sipped water, ate biscuits, drank cold Gatorade/Tata Glucon with ‘Rrun’ energy gel whenever we needed the kick. 

I caught up with the others and we had soon crossed Viralimalai again, by 830AM and reached the Boothakudi Toll Plaza, marking a total of 54.5km as complete. 

We collapsed on the sidewalk, sipped cold water, ate biscuits and drank electrolytes and were on the move again. Mr. Venkat developed shoulder and rib pain and had to slow down his pace after the 56th km. I attribute the wonderful pace that we kept from half the course up till this point to him and he decided to drop out by the 65th km. I wondered if I would be able to perform the same at his age.

We soon reached Manikandam and with just 8km to go, I was experiencing mixed emotions. My mind was in robot – mode, but my body wasn’t listening to it. A group of kiddies joined us at this point and turned my performance around for the next 3 km of running.

I was in half a mind to drop out at the 70th km, but it was Srikanth who motivated me saying ‘Javadhu’ would be tougher and we had to complete 75km today so we would know if our timing was adequate. 

“Just two more pit stops”, I said to myself as I continued to jog. I kept my mind totally focused on the run , inhaled steadily for three steps , then exhaled while taking the next two steps, managing to surge ahead. Mr Venkat again decided to join us for another 5km to top off his run at 70km.

The last pit stop was a short but welcome break after a steep bridge that really tested my endurance. In five seconds I was out of the car and bolting back on the highway, knowing home was just 1.5 km away. My spurt of energy soon died out though, and I started to walk, waiting for Srikanth to catch up. 

Both of us resumed our run soon and we sprinted the last 100 meters home, to complete 75km in 10 hours and 48 minutes, around ten minutes before the Javadhu – cut – off – time.

I knew I needed to do stretches but my mind was reeling as I continued to sip water from the car. My legs were buckling and I suddenly discovered I wasn’t able to walk. The others had sugarcane juice from a vendor while I retreated upstairs to get a warm bath.

We had seemingly done the impossible – ran a 75km run in the scenario of a hot summer and completed at a fair time. Srikanth and sir had been practising hard but my ankle had just recovered and it was totally by God’s grace that I managed to cover this big distance.

Special thanks to Shree, Yogaraj, Gopesh, Mani , Deepak and Mr. Narasimman (Mr. Venkat’s brother – in -law who drove the car and assisted in hydration). 

I will be seeing you on this blog after July 1st to tell you all about my first half iron triathlon!

Review for ‘Adidas Adistar Boost’

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INTRO

Before getting into details, let me intro myself to those who are new to my blog. I’m Dr. Vinod Nathaniel – profession being ophthalmology, and my first love being – fitness! Over the past twelve years, I have packed on pounds of muscle, shed loads of fat, ran sprints, long distance events, and have also given my share to bodybuilding and weight – lifting competitions. However, since I used to be a state – level swimmer since age 3, I realized that as I grew older, I needed to shift back to my athletic base. So here I ‘ am, back into long – distance running (though I badly miss lifting weights at the gym). My love for branded shoes started six years ago, and I ‘ve had my share of Adidas, Nike and New Balance. However, I stumbled upon something new from one of the above brands a few weeks back, that has taken my running world by storm, and here I’am to tell you about my fascinating tale.

Two months ago, when I was researching running shoes, just like I thoroughly go through everything I purchase from features to reviews, I came across two awesome professional running shoes that caught my eye. One was the ‘Nike Flyknit – Lunar’, and the other – (yeah, you guessed it) was the ‘Adidas Adizero Boost’. I had the hardest time of my life choosing between the two, and after much thought, I went for the Adidas.

Following were the shoes’ basic stats

(courtesy: https://www.runnersworld.com)

Weight: 11.8 oz.
Profile (Heel): 33.0 mm
Profile (Forefoot): 23.7 mm
Drop from heel to forefoot: 9.3 mm

Claims:

Features & Benefits:
  • Revolutionary new midsole: Designed to stay the same density from 1 mile to 600 miles and on
  • Seamless techfit upper: Maximizes comfort while reducing potential irritation on top of the foot
  • GEOFIT collar: Allows for a more secure yet softer feel around the ankle and Achilles during the running gait cycle
  • Dual TORSION SYSTEM: Provides stability and better surface adaptation through midfoot phase of gait cycle
  • FORMOTION: Freely moving heel system that provides a much smoother, balanced and natural touchdown
  • PRO-MODERATOR skin on the medial side: Additional guidance throughout the gait cycle and eliminates the risk of midfoot irritation
  • Boost technology: Unique energy capsules energizes your running stride for more efficiency independent from the temperature and ensures maximum comfort

My story with the ‘Adistar’ BOOST:

When I walked into my local Adidas sports store and asked for a ‘Boost’, the dealer gaped as if it were a dream come true that someone in Salem, Tamilnadu was willing to buy this model. I asked for the more economic version ‘Energy Boost’ first, but after wearing them and comparing them with the ‘Adistar Boost’ I realized the awesomeness of the latter, as it possessed not just cushioning like the ‘Energy’ version, but was also extremely light weight (This surprised me ‘cos cushioned shoes are usually on the heavier side).

I tried my light weight ‘New Balance’ on one foot and the slightly heavier but cushioned ‘Adistar Boost’ on the other, and tried a mild jog inside the shop. Though I didn’t notice a huge difference, I did notice a certain softness in the way my ‘Boost’ – clad – foot landed. I knew I was smitten, and I got the shoes for a good deal of Rs. 14k, which was, according to most of my friends, on the heavier side – but is that statement really true? Lets find out.

As I mentioned in a previous article on how to select shoes, you have to choose the right shoe depending on how your foot lands (foot strike), how your ankle joint moves (over – pronator/supinator) and what kind of event you ‘re going to participate in the most. The ‘Boost’ is for the ‘neutral’ runner, who exhibits mild pronation (inward ankle turning), but lands with a midfoot – to – heel – strike. The most beautiful thing about this shoe is you can use it for any kind of long – distance – running over most terrains (because of the cushioning). Be aware though all you chronic trail – runners, if you are doing all or most of your running on trails, you might want to get a shoe that is more directed toward trails.

Day 1

My initial experience with these babies was on the treadmill. I had just wasted my joints two days ago running 15 km with my ‘New Balance’ shoes at a 5 min/km pace, and I didn’t want to try anything too strenuous. I couldn’t wait to try on these shoes for a short 5k run on the tread. Choosing a relaxed pace, I jogged, and half – way through, I realized I wasn’t wearing a knee – band!! I looked back down to make sure, and sure enough, my knees were bare, and I had forgotten my knee band (without which I would’ve definitely obtained knee or shin pain with other shoes). I also felt a little energetic during the run, and even after. Wondering whether it had something to do with the heavy price I had paid for the shoes, (which affected my psyche into thinking about positive effects) I set aside my half – baked conclusions, and decided to put these shoes to a harder test two days later.

Day 4

Two days flew by, and to my dismay, I had left behind my knee – band (again!). Deciding I had no other option, I went ahead and set a 10 km target on the tread, and started to run at a 5 min/km pace. After running around 5 km I decided to attempt to adapt a running style similar to the one I used with my previous ‘New Balance’ mixing up a very mild intentional pronation of the ankle. In just three minutes I realized this was a drastic mistake since the shoe was definitely built to take up shock to your body in a different way. I quickly returned to a neutral running style, and everything came back to normal. As I ran I pondered about the ‘springy’ effect all the writers online kept bragging about – I didn’t notice much; maybe my imagination? I finished at a decent time that day, not unlike any normal timing with my older shoes. The only thing that went in favor of these babies was that I had absolutely no knee pain whatsoever.

Day 8

The final test for the ‘Adistar Boost’ was today, when I subjected it to maximum pounding on pavement in the streets of Salem, on the very course where our oncoming ‘Auro 5 K for Glaucoma Awareness’ was going to be held on March 16th. This was not just a run to scout the route, but to also put these shoes through their pace and to see what these so -called professional shoes could do that my older ones couldn’t. After a warm – up walk and run for 1.5 km, I was all set and met Mohan (my constant ‘Marathon – companion’) at Mahatma Gandhi Stadium, Salem. Together we started running, immediately proceeding to a speed of 10 kmph, then rapidly accelerating to 12 kmph, then 13 kmph. At a speed of ten, these shoes were just like any other. But wow, I soon realized the more effort I put into it, the harder these shoes tried to return the energy I spent!

Soon I was surging ahead, and by the end of 3 km, Mohan started to fall behind. I realized I had dropped my pace unknowingly, and increased it back to 13 kmph, and there was the same wonderful ‘BOOST’ effect, which propelled me forward. It was as if the shoes knew I was trying to go faster, and gave me the extra ‘oomph’ I needed at a slightly lesser amount of energy. Added to this, was the fact that there was no knee or any kind of joint – pain whatsoever. I finished the 6 km run and looked at my mobile app – I had completed the 6k run in 28 minutes with just moderate effort.

How did the shoe FEEL?

The ‘Adistar Boost’ has some really nice cushioning, and they’re pretty light, and responsive. They feel a tad narrow when I put them on, but I don’t notice any ‘narrowness’ – feeling when I’m running. In fact, the ‘upper’ of the shoe sits snugly around my foot, and the whole shoe fits perfectly, while providing just the right toe – space.

Important tip:

Always get a half – size bigger ‘Adistar Boost’ than your average sports shoe. If you normally wear 8 1/2, then get a size 9 ‘Adistar Boost’ for the right fit.

The price factor:

To answer another important question: ARE THESE SHOES WORTH IT?

If you belong to points 1.,2., and 5.,

(given below in the criteria – for – shoe – selection under conclusion)

these are the best shoes that money can buy. Whereas there are good shoes for a slightly lesser price range, if you are interested in getting the ‘Boost’ technology for the pounding that you give your feet, I’d suggest you invest in one of the ‘BOOST’ versions for a professional experience.

WHY is Adidas charging so much for a pair of shoes?

For running shoes, a higher price is usually indicative of higher quality. A higher price is sometimes a result of the extensive research that goes into the manufacturer’s trademark technology. Constant improvements in the material used for shoe construction, the aerodynamics of the shoe design, and the development of durable soles with adequate cushioning power provide benefits to runners and may make higher costs seem worthwhile. However, for buyers who have a tight budget, overstock or outlet stores with lower prices may be a better option than traditional shoe stores or department stores.

CONCLUSION:

Who should NOT buy these shoes?

1. Athletes who take part in sprinting events/ 800 m/ 1500 m events

2. Light weight athletes who take part in 5k/10k (rarely even 21k)

3. Those who are on a tight budget.

Criteria for selecting the ‘Adidas Adistar Boost’:

1. Slightly average to heavy – weight athletes who compete in long – distance – events (5k or higher) at least four to five times a year.

2. Those who love running, but have their share of joint – issues.

3. All professional marathon runners with a neutral strike/movement

4. ‘Heel strikers’ who need proper cushioning in the rear compartment

And the last but most important:

5. A well – sized – wallet /bank – balance/ loving friends (courtesy goes to Mom for my shoes)

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FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT TOO THRILLED WITH THE 14 K RUPEE – PRICE RANGE, TRY OUT SHOES THAT WORK VERY SIMILAR TO THE ‘ADISTAR BOOST’, USING THE LIST IN THIS LINK:

http://www.runnersworld.com/shoemine/results?gender=M&manufacturer=114931&model=159516

HERE’S TO ALL YOUR ENDEAVORS!

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Cheerio now, I got to go. Will keep you guys updated about the upcoming Auro 5 K Run on March 16th!