Reaching a New Zone – Sunil Chainani

Sunil Chainani a keen squash player in Bangalore sent me this email; 
“Hi – am on a ‘runners high’ so i thought I’d share this with you.

A few months ago, my running friends ( a group called runners for life started talking about an Ultra marathon – this by definition is a race longer than a marathon. I thought they were crazy to think about it, and felt no more than 50 people would participate. The tag line says it all – It’s tough, are you??
I now write after having survived a gruelling 52 Km Ultra in 6 hours and 11 minutes on 16th Dec – and was one of 225 who completed distances between 26 K and 104 K. Almost all of us who ran completed distances much longer than we had covered before – though I had run 6 marathons before the Ultra, surviving the extra 10 K was getting into an unknown zone.
The Ultra yesterday was definitely the best organized running event in India so far – an event organized by runners for runners. A beautiful course in the outskirts of Bangalore, excellent support teams, enthusiastic runners who kept egging each other on combined with a bunch of never-say-die runners makes for a winning combination. Most of us left home at 3.30 AM and the run started sharp at 6 AM. The run comprised of 13K loops, and each loop was an up-and-down stretch.
I have learnt a few lessons from running marathons – do not start too fast being the strongest message!! So I started slow and let many other runners pass by ( including many who I normally leave way behind) – thankfully, my running group stayed together for most of the first 20 Km so I held back….even took walking breaks on the many uphill stretches. I resisted temptation to speed up on several occasions – noticed I reached the 39K point in 4:25 ( 4 weeks back I had run a Full marathon in 4:09) – but kept reminding myself that the goal was to finish strong….the last loop was the unknown zone – I had never run for so long ( distance or timewise)…..would I survive? The discipline helped – I crossed the 45K mark knowing I’d finish – and then reached the 48 K mark feeling strong….celebrated the 50 K mark with a determination to finish strong….and probably ran the fastest 2 K of the course from the 50K mark to the finishing post…my 52 K took 6 hours 11 minutes….but now I have survived India’s first Ultra and have lived to tell the tale!!! Yes there was blood (blisters/cuts), lots of sweat and many tears of joy…..but I’m on a high for having reached a new zone
As some of you know, I am quite fond of exercise… and have managed to maintain my place in the Bangalore club squash team for a few years now…this combined with running at the hash helped work off the many gallons of beer I enjoy. I was introduced to distance running by the hashers ( a drinking club with a running problem) when they held a Half and then Full marathon in 2003 – I ran/walked and survived these distances and then ran my first organized marathon in bangalore in 2005. Subsequently I met some wonderful friends who love running ( all amateur runners)and this got me hooked – and I decided that 2007 was my year to improve my running – am quite pleased with my efforts this year having run 3 Full marathons, I Ultra and 1 Half – and am now aiming for the Mumbai marathon in january 2008. If I survive the Mumbai run, I’ll qualify for an exclusive international group called marathon maniacs – where one of the eligibility criteria is having run 3 marathons in 3 months!!
Have I improved my running in 2007? A definite yes – my timings and distances have improved; and recovery time has come down dramatically. Scientific training including crazy hill runs, strength training, learning from experienced runners and staying disciplined and tough through a race have all helped. And I have managed this without curbing my desire to enjoy a few beers and many parties. What’s special is that I have managed to discover a bunch of new friends – and I really enjoy being with this gang.
I am sorry to bore you with such a long tale – but after running 52K, I probably have earned the right to document my feelings !!”


About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

One Response to Reaching a New Zone – Sunil Chainani

  1. srikar2097 says:

    Hi Cyrus, I know this is a bit off topic but I have to ask. Do you know of any academy or places where there are Squash Courts in Bangalore. Most of the courts seems to be in Clubs, where by the time I get membership I might not be in a position to play squash (some take 25 years !).

    I’ll be grateful if you can help me with this info.

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