You work hard. You workout 6 days a week with one day a week for rest. Or so you tell your trainers while you workout on your rest day as well, like, biking or yoga or a long walk. Then you start seeing the results. You record a PR on a race. You are in love with your bathroom scale (BTW, her name is “Just”) because she tells you all the good things you wanna hear. Or rather shows you.
Then fucking July 4th happens. You drink. You drink like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Even though you did an awesome 30+ mile bike ride in the morning, the 12 beers and the vegan red wine and the tequila-kombucha combo and the home cooked brunch and the vegan cupcakes your friend brought to the party and the Uber Eats you ordered late in the night – oh fuck – there’s no justifying any of it. Then the next morning, the extra lbs you see is especially bad because when you checked your weight after the morning ride on the 4th it was lightest you’ve ever been since………. high school.
BUT, it was the best 4th of July ever. Thanks to awesome friends. Amy. Chelsey. John.
Also the bike ride was awesome. I had the entire 8 lanes on Constitution Avenue for myself and my bike Ela on my way to Mt. Vernon Trail!
Speaking of independence day, I missed the 20th anniversary of me moving to US from India. It was on the 28th of June. I was planning on partaying it up but, fuck me, I completely forgot about it! The first place I live in US was Baltimore. I still have a soft spot for Baltimore. How ironic is that I now work in Baltimore! My first American friend (big up, Aaron) is still my friend and we hang out a lot!
I can’t remember my half marathon PR. I’m pretty sure that it’s under 1:55 (ish). Anway, it’s been a while since I ran one under 2:00.
When I run, whether a race or a training run, I use apps – Strava, Run Keeper, Nike running, and Charity Miles. All of them. Run Keeper was the first app I ever used, been using it since 2008. So I have long history there. Strava because that’s where most of my friends are. Nike, because I have an Apple watch and also because I think that is the most accurate in tracking. Charity Miles because they give money to Girls on the Run, every time I run! What’s funny though, is that none of these apps give me consistent numbers. Then again, there are some factors that affect the tracking numbers, such as, when the app was turned on, how long it took for the app to start tracking, whether the app was able to maintain continuous connection with satellites etc.
There is a local group in DC that puts out races throughout the year called Bishop’s Events. Most of their Washington races are at the C&O Canal Towpath, at the west end of Georgetown. Yes, trail races! The courses are typically super flat.
Sunday morning, 7:30. I ran the EOD Warrior Half Marathon, benefiting the EOD Warrior Foundation. It was close to 80° at the start, and like 84° at the finish. But at least it was a flat course! My apps kept messing up through the race, I could here the alert “pausing” pretty much throughout the race. Anyway, as I was running past the finish line I glanced at the official clock and it read 2:05 (or was it 2:15?). Hmm… not bad, I thought. I was on the third wave to start, so I must have finished faster than the time on the clock. Good. I walked to the bus stop and caught the Union Station – Georgetown Cirulator home.
Met up with Catie for a post race brunch. Tofu scrambles, roasted potatoes, and beers. I love brunches especially with awesome people.
As always, my watch and my phone were inundated with notifications, mails, texts, Instagram, Facebook. Everything. Ugh.
‘Ugh’ because lately, I have been on a path to bring my phone addiction under control. (Yes, I enabled notifications because it works for me sometimes.) What I mean is, when I am spending time with people I like, I am gonna try not to waste time on the phone. Be present at the present, not disrespect the company. Because, life is short. Your fiends are precious. And time is irrecoverable. There. Pearls of Wisdom for you. You are welcome.
OK OK, back to the story. I was still stealing glances at the notifications that kept coming in. I was on my 3rd(I think) beer when I saw a mail from Bishop’s. I had to see it so I apologized to Catie and looked at the mail. Of course, the race results. I finished in….
wait for it….
Wha…! I drank more beer.
A trail half marathon PR!
Can I get a BOOYAH!!!
Poor Catie, and the sweet waitress Cat at Meridian Pint, they had to listen to me brag, shamelessly, for the rest of the brunch. But they were super nice about it. I:56 is no biggie, in the grand scheme of things. Probably puts me at the top 40%. But this was a power performance, individually. No proper training, and the heat. And it was a trsai race. I hardly ever run trails lately! Also, for some personal reasons. I needed this. I pulled it off. Also, I decided to run this race just 4 days prior! Congratulations Saiju. You are a rockstar. You da man! (See,… bragging…)
And the fucking apps. Of course the numbers on my apps were incorrect! Nike gave me 10.07 miles. Strava 8.69 miles. Run Keeper 10.15. And IDGAF about Charity Miles numbers, the only reason I turn it on to get Girls on the Run some money when I run.
Unrelated: I went to went to Suns Cinema with Amy in the evening and watched The Beaches of Agnes. The movie was not at all what I was expecting but the experience was amazing. Small “theatre” that sits about 30 peeps, with a bar at the back of the hall where I drank the 8th beer of the day!
Bootcamp with my badass trainer Katie every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings is an event I look forward to and try my best to never miss (thru VIDA Fitness). It is a tough workout, every single time, where I typically burn a 1000+ kcal. So early in the morning, the day after the race, I hadto go to bootcamp! Guess what, I burned 1200! How I was physically able to do that? Hey, thanks for asking. Since going vegan, recovery time is just a light suggestion, not at all a requirement.
I should have titled this “weightless” or “weightloss” or something to do with “weight”. But limitless has more drama. Plus that’s how I feel lately.
I go to a group workout, bootcamp, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Through Vida Fitness, the #1 gym in DC. Wednesdays there’s a bootcamp in the evening as well which I just started going to. Yes, 2 bootcamps, 1 day. Typically I burn over a 1000 kcal during one of those 50 minute sessions. Easily. BTW, my badass trainer Katie runs these bootcamps!
About 5 weeks back, I started on a path to eat better. Yes I am a plant based athlete but it does not automatically mean I am a healthy eater. I am one of those *junk food vegans* (JFV)! Yes, it’s a thing. Well, lemme say, I WAS, a JFV. Enter the two new beautiful human vegans. Around the same time! They started “addressing” my bad food habits. Got called out on the following:
I don't like most vegetables (I know).
Love me all the fried stuff. Samosas, fries yumm...
I snack all the time.
Cupcakes and donuts - all of them!
Bread. Bread. Bread.
Long story short, I dropped 8 lbs in less in that 5 weeks. Probably the healthiest weight loss in history. Hit me up if you like to know the specifics.
I drank more beer in that same 5 weeks than the entirety of last year. Honest! Then how…? I know. 4 out of 5 of the recent weekends, I burned 6000+ calories, each (Saturday and Sunday combined). Work hard play hard, right homies? Run, bike, HIIT, yoga, and wait for it….
I’m a Zumba bitch now.
I am not trying to be a role model here. Nor I am trying to tell you anything good about approaching workouts and weight loss. A lil bragging? May be.
This morning, it was 78° – 80° during bootcamp. It was just me at the group class so Katie worked out with me. I love working out with Kaite, my favorite sessions. Something extra in the way she pushes me as a workout partner, from a trainer!
OK OK, back to the story. It was so humid, the heat index must have been 85ish. Plus it was one tough workout! The old Saiju would have burned, like, 1200 kcal but I only burned about 900! Even a minor change in body weight plays a big part in your performance! Truth. On Friday, I ran 3.5 miles with Katie at about 8:40 / mile! That’s a big deal. Yes, I am lighter on my feet, more agile, have more energy. Plus all the beer!
You know I am diabetic, right? I set an aggressive fucking goal for myself. I will reverse diabetes by the end of the year.
I asked Katie on Thursday about cancelling our core training session on Friday, citing my 10 mile race on Sunday. “Come, lets do some (foam)roll and stretch and prep you for the race. Your legs will thank me on Sunday.” Since my hipflexor-only-training-full-marathon was entirely made possible by Katie, I couldn’t argue. Then again, I shouldn’t have worried about the race much because I was running with Deepa, who is a new runner, this being her second ever race, last year’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler being her first, so naturally I will be running slower than my pace,
(Not taking anything away from Deepa, she being a mother, spending 9 hours at work every day with a 2+ hour commute, and not having trained well for this race, thanks to unusually cold weather)
although running slower than your comfortable pace is harder in a certain way. Easy peasy right?
My bladder (not the water, the crotch) started threatening (audibly) “gonna go right now” even less than a mile into the race!
I told Deepa I’ll catch up and to keep running, as I ran towards a potty. The people in front of me on the potty line must all have been #2 because it took an eternity to get my biznezz done and start running again. I was going at full speed but I can’t see Deepa. I told her to stay to the RIGHT SIDE of the crowd so that I won’t miss her. WTF Deepa! I thought you said you didn’t train for this! Finally, after mile marker 4, I see her, on the LEFT SIDE OF THE CROWD! Bravo girl!
I probably got a 5K PR, right there! I think this is where Katie’s race-prep workout, all of a sudden, turned out to be significant!
Easy peasy my ass!
The rest of the race was uneventful. Except for the beer stop at mile 8, which I double-fisted! Did I mention that the Cherry (Blossom) trees were in full bloom? And that most of the race course were through Cherry (Blossom) trees? And that it was a gorgeous day to run? Started off at around 32° (butt ass cold) and ended at around 40° (nice and pleasant)!
My friends Thenna and Komal ran the race as well. We all looked like we are about to rob a convenient stores, not run (well, it was a coldass fuckin morning).
Deepa’s 4yr old daughter was waiting for her at the finish (how did a 4 yr old get to DC from Vienna?) Amazing!
Post race late brunch was marvelous, with my favorite peeps, Catie and Amy, at Meridian Pint, one of my fav brunch / watering spot in DC. My #BFF Amy and I have this thing. She loves avocados. And dislike potatoes. I hate avocados . And LOVE me some potatoes. So we trade (the best trade in trade history). Even with this trade, with a few kilos of roasted potatoes on my plate, I was worried about not having enough food to eat, got a side order of fries. Oh my Goat, it was large enough to feed a small country! (See exhibit A below)
I started training for this race in mid January of this year. It’s been a roller coaster ride until after the race. It was really cool to have something to focus on, something that is so demanding. Now, I’m completely lost. Historically, I put on a lot of weight soon after a big race. This time, I’m hoping, with the help of Cat (my awesome dietitian) I can maintain the (lost)weight.
I have been eating super healthy (for the most part) during my training. Now I can’t eat super oily (read super delicious) fried awesomeness anymore, it is messing up my stomach! I can’t drink wine either, in fact the only things I can drink without fear of hurling is whiskey and beer. Is that a positive thing? I can’t decide.
What next, you ask?
I wanna go back to Iceland and complete the race without DNFing any stages and earn that medal. When? Not sure now, will have to plan that. I also want to do more multi-stage, multi-terrain ultras. Because I am a glutton for pain and misery. Hehe… For the time being I have plans to run a full and 2 half marathons for the rest of the year. I wonder if I will be able to run without a heavy pack on my back. 😛
What else? I sent my thank you notes already, before the race. And I will miss hanging / working out with George!
Check me out wearing a shirt that I bought 8 months back but could never get in to because it was too small. While you are at it, take a close look at me kickass kicks too!
Stand by for pictures of Ellen and I (with a couple of puffins) digging into the Icelandic alcohol loot this weekend. 😀
What happened in Iceland is slowly sinking In and I am beginning to believe it actually happened! I wrote up about the race based on what I remember. I regret not taking more, strategic pictures.
Day 1 – Monday August 29, 2016
Bright and shiny outside, totally freaking out inside! Completed the day which included a humongous hill but mostly OK terrain. Lake, lots of volcanic ash and lava. My pack was too heavy, over 32 lbs and my left shoulder took the brunt of it. Get patched by the med team in the evening. The same camp as last night, by Askja the volcano.
My home for 6 days…
Miles and miles of lava rock terrain. Was it a mistake, or did they mean it be the course! There were some beautiful mountains along the way. The highlight of the day being seeing Herðubreið, the “queen” of Icelandic mountains. A lil bit of rain towards the end of the day didn’t hurt much. But it was cold.
Glad I am not going up THAT mountain!
The sky is kissing the mountain
Hypothermia. DNF. 35 degree, rain all day, 2 glacier river crossings (about 50ft wide each, about knee deep water). That was the day. The camp was at the most expensive camp site in the world, inside a broken volcano! Saw some Northern lights. The whiskey flask I was carrying with me with some 15 yr old Glenfiddich made my tent mates happy!
Sunny and beautiful day. Severe shin issues as a result of walking through some super unfriendly terrains, limped my way to the camp for about 15 miles off the total of 30 miles. Walking on volcanic ash is like walking on a beach! There was this beautiful waterfall (it is the most powerful one in the northern hemisphere) with a rainbow framing it where I spent some time just admiring it. Saw more, brighter, bigger Northern Lights!
Roll down this one?
Ugh… another mf ing hill…
So happy that the worst is over!
My shoes are under there somewhere
The most powerful waterfall in northern hemisphere
How do I even….
Does this ever end
Can I live here?
Toughest terrain, the first (almost)12 miles were through Heathland vegetation. My already injured left leg was completely mad at em for doign this! At the first checkpoint, I decided enough is enough, time to stop for the day. Not an easy decision but I had to. The truck drove me straight to the natural hot bath thigies, right next to the camp! Dipping in that spring was one of the best experience ever! After that, where I was sitting, the wind kept bringing steam out of the springs.
Yay hot springs!
Awesome doctors, Jenny and Helen!
This makes it totally worth it
Steam, brought to you by breeze
Ugh… another mf ing hill…
Can I live here?
The race director would not allow me to race today, citing my injury. So I went on a limping run / walk for 10+ miles on my own, without the pack, just a bottle of water and a bag of roasted chick peas (I regretted not taking my phone with me when I walked past “boiling mud” pits!). It was fun, why couldn’t I do that the whole time! 🙂
Beautiful morning sky
About to go an a 10 mile limping trip
Early morning hot springs
Coming up, more Iceland shit, with pictures. Stay tuned…..
Does it matter that I was carrying 20 lbs on my back? Well, my back and shoulders thought so! And that the terrain was kinda run-unfriendly?
Dahlgren Heritage Rail (in King George, VA) was a pretty decent race. There were ZERO hills! What!? And they had PBJ on the race course (may be that will explain why I couldn’t go all the way, too full to run – yes that’s a real condition)! There options at the end of the race, a medal or a koozy or a drinking glass. Guess what I took?
Oh, and no points for guessing how far Ellen went. But the best part of her race (I’m guessing) was the fact that she finished just 15 minutes after I did, after running 6 additional miles!
20 days to go! Fuuuuuuucckk….
PS: Watch this space for a lot of whining on what I could not accomplish during this training season.
Coastal trail runs is a Bay Area based group that organizes running events throughout the year. I ran one of their races, Lake Chabot trail run.
After running Blue Ridge marathon earlier this year, I was confident that the toughest race EVER is behind me. Not at all. I am not even gonna attempt to describe how tough this course was. The hills that felt like there needs to be a rope line to go up and down, the lose soil, the jagged edge of rocks sticking out….. OK, the things that are out of my control, right?
(But the course was gorgeous!)
What about when I filled my brand new RaidLight Ultra Raid 30 pack with random shit the night before to make it heavier, or when I was too lazy to break in my new Altra Lone Peak 2.5 and had to run with it first time at the race, or when I didn’t spend time learn how to cinch(?) my pack to avoid doing the boogie-woogie bumble while flying down the hills. I have no one to blame but myself for not attempting run the second loop and shutting down the operation at a half marathon. Yes I was registered for a full.
Shout out to my friends Sona and Rajesh. Sona’s amazing home cooked vegan food is the reason, I think, I didn’t collapse half way through some of those fucking hills. And Rajesh, for putting up with my schedule, chauffeuring me around while having great conversations! And their kids are a hoot, love them. I’m gonna work on them to make them runners!
And I had one of the best carb loading ever at Malabar, an Asian fusion, vegetarian / vegan restaurant in Santa Cruz CA!
Started my serious “come back” training in March of 2015. Biking. Lots of biking. For RAGBRAI. Me and Ela(my super awesomest full carbon road racing Kestrel crotch rocket, she is Eleanor but she like being called Ela) were one with each other. March thru July thru RAGBRAI, 2000+ miles, 41 local Iowa brewskys in 7 days – lost 5 pounds, the lightest I’ve been since school days.
What went wrong? Run training from end of July thru Marine Corps Marathon thru Golden Gate Half in SFO thru Christmas – back to fatness.
I know why. And it is science. But that’s later.
Yoga – going back to play a yogi is just awesome.
Wait, alcohol. I (almost)stopped drinking when I started training earlier in the year. May be once every week or 2 weeks, only when I go out with a bunch of friends.
OK, back to yoga. Remember the vegan yoga retreat after Christmas? 6 days, drank more than the last 2 years combined and yet did yoga every day and even ran a couple of times, including on New year’s morning, completely hung over, wearing the party outfit from the night before.
Now, that was what I needed, to start elevating my performance – personal training, eating stuff other than potatoes and breads. Above all to take running and my diet seriously.