Bangalore Ultra 100K

In the last two years the quantum of running and cycling long distance has been low. Life has been around the city and the farms back home. In the interim a few long road trips happened. But motorized world is half as exciting as that of human-powered mobility. The proposition of covering 100 KM on cycle or any distance on foot is far more appealing than cruising down 500 KM in a day by car.

Before 2022 turned, I was desperate for clocking a 100 KM ultra run. Signed up for Malnad Ultra but couldn’t travel. Then in a desperation-led attempt I saw myself sitting at the boarding gate for a flight back to the city browsing through ultra runs for December, in locations I could reach in a short travel time. Bangalore Ultra was happening right in the backyard of the city. The only trouble – course was a 6KM out and back loop, to be repeated until the odo read 100. Bummed. By the time I made up my mind and began registering on the page I figured it was the last date of registration. I also figured it was about 10 PM at night. I further figured that by the time I would land in Bangalore the registration page would no longer be active. As the plane began taxiing I made a desperate attempt to make the payment. The wheels left, nose pointed to horizon – plane’s and mine, we lifted off. Payment done. I was trying to snatch an ultra run from the year, as much as I thought that time is a human construct.

That is how Bangalore Ultra happened. I arrived in the city earlier in the week mentally prepping myself for a 100K on the weekend. The longest run that year was a 34K. That too only once! I laughed thinking of the 1K repeats I did by the farm as parents watered the plants, attended to bits and bobs and were ready to drive back home. There were only these to show for training.

The year’s runs and training was flashing past as I did small loops of GKVK to check if things look in order. Sunday, 18th December arrived. One tends to get quite meticulous when there has been no plan or prior training. As though last minute meticulousness can make up for lack of training – I made sure that I refueled the motorbike on Saturday evening. Didn’t want to do that early morning while I rode to the start line. It was a 20 KM ride to Hesarghatta. Carried a couple of sandwiches in case I get hungry before they set up food there. Reached. Changed. As I looked out to the start line, the race dude’s hands were up in the air to signal the start. Ran towards the line and we got off.

We ran out into the morning fog and darkness. Usual Bangalore rural awesomeness unfolded for as long as the weekend revelers didn’t arrive at the lake nearby. C was running 75K. We got talking and chatted the earth. His life and work being more interesting than mine. It helped to keep talking and forget about how the future kilometers will unfold. About 30 got done in early morning and in good clip. Breakfast was ready. I ducked out and got myself a heavy breakfast hoping that food will make up for lack of ability. Continued running. Life until 50K is generally easy.

Boredom, fatigue, loss of motivation and exhaustion became fellow runners after 50. I came in to eat another round of heavy meal for lunch and continued on. C was running 75K and was on the last lap. We said our byes and he left.

Remaining 25K were the most dull kilometers I have ran. That got me thinking about motivation and the nature of it. What makes one continue grinding it than leave it and go home. Is it the sense of accomplishment of an effort that is seemingly at the frontiers of one’s ability? What is it? That desperate self trying to make the payment before the plane flies didn’t match with this one struggling at the 75th K. Even if I find a sliver of motivation – is it intrinsic or extrinsic? What is the origin?

It could have been the boredom of a road ultra and that too on a small 6K stretch. Trails have been my preference. I do not know. It is because of this repetition induced boredom that I do not feel mentally ready for the stadium runs and lapped ultras. It is clear that my need is trails. Yet, in the thick of it, there is an inhibition for giving up. Mind tried to rationalise in the usual nonsensical way – it is almost done, 25 is barely any distance after 75 done, the run is yours to have it even if you walk the remaining distance, you go home and you’re sure to stand regretting this in your balcony if you stop now etc.

To stop this din of thoughts the only option was to finish. I ran in after the last stretch of 6K down to finish line picking up a slightly faster pace than the earlier 5K. This was a surprise that body was throwing up – how did I run faster at 95th when in usual evening runs I don’t bother with adding even a single KM after 10th? Body and mind is a black box, as I conclude for now. I am not sure this insight helps in signing up for a 160K.

Thankfully, the crowd had thinned out at the finish line. I could run in, collect the finisher medal, change in and ride out. Had seen a few people keeping up on the trail. Congratulated them on the effort, all the time contrasting my own mental flaky-ness silently.

Next was a ride to the airport to catch up with a friend. Rode back home. Was careful to work the bike only with sidestand drawn out, to ensure I don’t rely on fatigued legs to bear the bike’s dead weight.

A day that ended well. Laid on the couch in contrast to how I had imagined. I didn’t drop out. Boredom didn’t get the better of me. Lack of motivation postponed for another day. It felt good to have had an ability check. I have relied on running at least one ultra every year to benchmark my general health and fitness. 2022 was ending on a good note.

6 thoughts on “Bangalore Ultra 100K

  1. Lovely read. Inspiring! I too don’t know what keeps us going as there are many layers and all of them stand right. The mental aspect of it a joy ride too.

    Glad to know you keeping fit and making up the runs 🙂 keep shining ⭐✨

  2. A 6 km loop over and over? Yikes, that puts a whole new light on the notion of endurance. Well done, must have been nice to end the day in the comfort of home.

    1. It was a good ride home after finishing, J. I figured that if I do these short loop ultras then I will have to deal with it differently, come with a different mind.

      1. I read your Mumbai marathon post too. You have an excellent way of bringing your reader into your mindset and physical self awareness.

      2. Thanks, J. I have often learnt from your book reviews. As for mine, these posts are written in a ‘notes to myself’ mode. I need some reference material for the later decades.

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