Less is more

Dharma's random musings

More miles

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Since the last update to this blog in 2014, I have managed to log 1705 mi. in 2012, 1217 mi. in 2013, 1473 mi. in 2014, and 729 mi. so far in 2015. Running has become an integral part of my life.


Written by Dharma

July 18th, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Running

2 years, 3700 miles

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After logging 3700 miles since January 2009, I’m still happily running.

Life has been kind (no injuries so far!) and my family has been very supportive to let me continue with this running craziness.

I can now do 13 miles anywhere between 91-94 minutes, 3 times a week, after long work days.

Hoping to continue with running in 2011..

Written by Dharma

January 11th, 2011 at 1:30 am

Posted in Running

Running Books

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Written by Dharma

October 29th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Running

Race report — Portland marathon (10/4/2009)

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Here’s my obligatory race report for the 2009 Portland marathon.

October 2nd — Friday

We drove up to Portland, OR, after picking up Anya from her school in the afternoon. After a 3 hour drive, we reached in Portland in the evening and stayed at the Hilton in downtown Portland. Portland is a pretty city and we love visiting it.

October 3rd — Saturday

On Saturday morning, after enjoying family breakfast, we headed to the registration and expo where I got my bib and timing chip. I also got myself a fanny pack from the expo. Later, that afternoon upon Bina’s recommendation, I got myself a relaxing pre-race massage.

I really wanted to be done with the dinner by 6PM. Since I had always consumed home cooked Indian food before my long training runs, we decided to do the “carbo-load” Indian style, instead of the standard traditional pre-race pasta fare. We chose to go to East India Company, a highly rated restaurant which was near the hotel. In retrospect, it was a bad decision because the menu and the food was unsuitable for any reasonable carbo-load and the food was way too oily for my taste.

I tried to sleep at 8 PM but except for about a couple of hours of sound sleep, I just couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about all the possible things that could go wrong during the race: not enough carbs due to the Indian meal I’d just had; starting out too fast and then losing control mid-race; dying mid-race due to extreme dehydration!;  possibility of dropping my gels from fanny pack and getting depleted of carbohydrates; getting blisters due to the rain (although the forecast said it wasn’t going to rain); having a cardiovascular collapse; the dreadful event of me getting DNF‘ed– the list of these contrived nightmare situations went on and on. In retrospect, all of these thoughts seems so illogical and even comical but they appeared very real and plausible at the time. I tried to tell myself to keep a positive attitude and relax. After all, I had done everything I could in terms of preparation for this race — I had logged more than 1400 miles since January 2009 (although only decided to run this marathon in May), did at least 10 long runs of 20+ miles, including one 26.2 mile run. There was nothing I could do differently – not the day before the race anyway.

October 4th – Race day!

It was not too long before it was 3:30 AM – got myself ready for the big day. Got myself dressed, drank some orange juice with half a banana and a (fantastic tasting)  Bina’s home baked cookie and was ready to go by 6:00 AM. The official start of the race was at 7 AM. Since it was a bit cold and the starting line was couple of blocks from the hotel, I decided to stay in my room until the very last minute. At 6:45 AM I went to the SW 3rd street where thousands of runners had already lined up. It was around 50* F and can be described as a perfect running weather!

I wanted to enjoy the race and the process so decided to not carry my iPod. I even decided to run without the heart rate monitor– just let my breathing dictate my pace. It was a last minute call. Running based on the heart rate would have helped me during the race but since I was never been too comfortable with the strap during my long training runs, I decided to let go of it. I decided to wear arm-warmers since my hands really get cold during long runs. Just like with my long training runs, I decided to carry a 20 oz water bottle with Gatorade – hoping that this would mean I don’t have to stop at the aid stations in the first half of the race to save me some time. I was carrying a few Gu gels and chomps in the fanny pack I bought at the race expo the day before.

Here’s a picture of me just before the race in my hotel room.

Before The Race

According to Jack Daniel’s VDOT calculations, based on a 10K tune-up (Lake Union) race a few months back, I was hoping to run the marathon in about 3:36 minutes.

Race Start:

The race started at 7 AM sharp. Having arrived late at the scene, I started well behind the Red Lizard pacers with the 3:30, 3:45 and even 4:00 hour signs. I ended up crossing the starting line at 7:02 AM.

Race Start

Mile 1-3: The first three miles was chaotic and runners constantly trying to cut each other. I tried to move as quickly through the gaps as I could but it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to run at my desired pace until the crowd got a bit thinner. Suddenly apparently out of nowhere, my left knee started to hurt but I decided to keep moving hoping that the pain will subside once I’m warmed up in next 4-5 miles. At the end of mile 1, I saw Bina, Anya and Maya for the first time — we waved at each other and I continued further. Mile 3 was an uphill climb of 120 ft. but it was pretty smooth incline and was almost effortless.

Mile 4-6: I was beginning to warm up and was feeling great. At mile 5, I saw Bina, Anya and Maya again. Mile 5 was our “banana hand-off point” — I had asked Bina to give me a half a banana which they did and I quickly finished it. Bina asked if I wanted anything else to eat en route but I declined the offer. I was planning to stop at the aid stations for electrolytes/replenishments and water to keep me going ’till the end. I’d thought this was the last time I was seeing my family but little did I know that they would surprise me at mile 19 again :-).

Mile 7-12: My left knee was still hurting – so I stopped and stretched at mile 7 but that didn’t quite help. Other than that, this part of the race was pretty uneventful and I kept running forward.

Various music bands were playing all along the Portland marathon course. I have to say that most of the music along the course was pretty un-energizing for me, with the notable exception of the “Sugar Bandits” at mile 12. The band’s guitar player played some smoking blues when I passed them at mile 12. His tone was amazingly fat and clean and reminded me to that of the red Stratocaster I’d once owned in the ’90s. All in all, his sound lifted my spirits and I was in the zone by mile 13. By the end of mile 13, my 20 Oz Gatorade bottle was empty and I had already consuming Gu chomps.

Mile 13-16: I was running at a steady pace. I had started slowing down at the aid stations to get the electrolyte drink or water. I overheard some runners getting nervous about the upcoming St. John’s bridge which was at the elevation of 150 ft and the steep incline leading up to it.

Mile 17: Already started climbing the infamous St. John’s bridge. I had decided to slow down and not push myself too hard on it so as to save energy for the last 9 miles. A lot of runners passed me both during the uphill and while going downhill from the bridge and it was clear that the exhaustion was setting in for me.

St. John's Bridge

Mile 18-20: To my surprise, the big toe of my left foot started to hurt bad. My left knee was constantly hurting from mile 1. My quads were stiff. The tensor fasciae latae of my right leg was *really* hurting. Although I did try, it was impossible to increase my pace to make up for the time I had lost on the bridge at mile 17. Then at mile 19, I was surprised to hear Bina’s voice calling my name! There they were, waving at me – it was very uplifting to see my family again especially at this juncture of the race.

Mile 21-25: Just a few days before the race, I had spoke with my father in India. He’d told me that he would be running with me “in spirit”. During the first twenty miles, like with my long training runs, my mind would often wander off with thoughts of my family but at this point during the race I really felt that he was there running with me. By mile 21, I tried “running with my arms” and finally (felt like)  was gaining some pace. Although the actual gain in the pace was perhaps very small, but at this point, every little bit helped. I was beginning to feel strong again. I managed to pass a bunch of runners – many of those who  had passed me at mile 17 on the bridge. Towards mile 25, the effort was too much and I told myself to slow down a bit.

Mile 26-Finish: I really didn’t want the race to end! I began to enjoy it and wanted it to go on and on and turn into some never ending ultra-marathon event. But alas, it was a marathon and had to end. Albeit my mind and spirits didn’t want to race to end, the story was quite the opposite with my body which was begging for it to end by the time I reached the finish line. The official clock read 3:39 when I crossed the finish line. My time based on the chip was 3:37:27 (exactly as predicted by Jack Daniel’s VDOT calculations based on the 10K tune-up race I’d mentioned earlier).


At the finish, I wrapped myself into a space blanket, adorned the finisher medal with pride, drank some juice, got my picture taken and grabbed the finisher shirt. I headed for the “family reunion area” looking for my family who I had last seen at mile 19. I saw Anya and Bina with Maya there. We all hugged and Anya walked with me to the hotel room. I was sore and exhausted.


Official Results:

The official results excerpted from the Portland marathon site are below.

4193 DHARMA SHUKLA M 35-39


Marathon Start:   Gun 7:00:24     Chip 7:02:44


10 Km

8.9 Mi


17.5 Mi

20 Mi

21.1 Mi
























You can find the detailed analysis here and my official finisher certificate here.


We returned back to Seattle on Monday, October 5th.  I was still a bit sore from the race but well on the way to recovery. I’m hoping to start running regularly again starting this Friday. I’m hoping to keep a weekly volume of 35 miles from now until the end of the year.

Things I’d like to continue to do for my next race:

  1. Drink water or electrolyte supplement at every aid station along the course.
  2. Carry a bottle of water/electrolyte along.

Things I’d like to do differently for my next race:

  1. Except for the last few miles, I ran this race way too comfortably. I ran the race as if  it was one of my “long easy” training runs. I could have run the race at the pace at which I did my marathon pace training runs  (7:00). In fact, learn to pace myself based on my heart rate.
  2. Find a decent fanny pack that stays in its position during the run :-)
  3. Find a natural food substitutes for carbs that I can carry along with me instead of those awful tasting energy gels/chomps. The fact is that you need carbs to sustain you through the race but I really *hate* gels and chomps (and I have tried most available brands). More importantly, I don’t like to eat stuff during the run that I wouldn’t normally eat.
  4. Follow Jack Daniel’s plan methodically. Although I had read Daniel’s book (and almost all running books ever published and available on Amazon), but I didn’t actually follow any marathon training plan. My prior pre-race training was based on the fact that I enjoyed running and I viewed running a marathon as a way to motivate myself to run more. While the essence of that still holds true and that I did put in a lot of training miles, I should really follow a proper marathon training plan.
  5. Cross train.

I would like to run a marathon every year for as long as I can. Next year, I want to run Chicago marathon (renowned for its “pancake flat” course) with my time hopefully under 3:20. To qualify for the prestigious Boston marathon, I should either manage to finish under 3:15 before I turn 40. Or alternatively, reach and maintain 3:20 a few years until I’m 40. Will I be able to do that? I don’t know, we’ll see.

Written by Dharma

October 6th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Race Reports,Running

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Race report: Lake Union 10K (8/23/2009)

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I signed up for the Lake Union 10K as a tune-up race before the Portland marathon on 10/4/2009. It was a beautiful 10 kilometer loop around Lake Union in Seattle at 7:30 AM on 8/23/2009.

Out of 800 runners, I came 13nth place for my age group (35-39 years), finishing in 00:46:47. After the race, I also bumped into my good friend Tony Andrews who came first in his age group (46-50) and finished the race under 40 minutes – that’s quite impressive!

Despite being its debut race around Lake Union this year, the race was well organized. Aid stations were at 2 and 4 mile intervals. I drank a cup of water at mile 2 and decided to skip the aid station at mile 4. Overall, I feel that I didn’t push myself hard at all. If I can manage to pull off a similar pace for Portland marathon on October 4th, I’d be able to finish 26.2 miles between 3:30-4 hours. The closer I get to the low end of that range, the more respectable it would be (at least in my book) as a first marathon :-). That being said, running 26.2 miles is a very different game than running 6.2 miles – so, a lot will depend on long weekend training runs between now and October.

Here’s a picture of me somewhere near mile 5.
Mid race

Another one just before the finish line:

and at the finish:

Written by Dharma

October 6th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Race Reports,Running

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Hello, World!

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Hello, World.

Written by Dharma

July 9th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Personal