My first Ultra Run experience – Tata Ultra 50km

Three weeks before my First Ultra, I picked up a small injury that did not allow me to run properly. When I went to Shruti(Physio), she assured me that it would be recovered by the Tata Ultra event. But I had my doubts.

Two weeks before Tata Ultra, I had a 32 km run in the plan but I wasn’t sure how much I could run. I went to the Botanical Garden and saw many fellow runners. At my 10th km I saw Siva(Coach) and he asked me how the run was going.

I told him, I had to stop and stretch my leg many times but I was okay to run. I was told by Shruti(and also read somewhere that). You should stop running if the pain increases and if it’s only discomfort, it’s fine to continue.

I kept checking for pain and it did not come, but there is discomfort for sure. I told Siva the same and he suggested me to stop if the pain comes or increases. I said okay. I met Sai Bharadwaj on the way and he was on his last 4km for that day. I ran until 14 km and both of us thought I would may be do another 5-6 km. I really hoped I would do 21km. I ended up 32km that day but at very slow pace because I kept stopping and stretching my leg to run again.

When I posted about my Ladakh experience in one of my friends’ groups. One friend told – It’s not the size of the dog but it’s the fight that the dog gives. – This is important. Hold this thought, there is something about the dog we should talk about in this Ultra run.

I booked a train and I thought I could sleep well and go, but I got RAC after the chart was prepared and did not want to take a chance not getting a confirmed berth. I took a bus.

I got a berth in bus on the side.I did not sleep well. In the morning I realized the wheel is just under my berth and I could feel it rolling. Also my berth is slightly titled as it was the window side and there was not way to correct it. No wonder I lost my sleep and was very uncomfortable through the night.

At around 1:30 am in the early morning, the race started. We started running with head lights but quickly realized we did not need it as there was street lights, and then we were running in moon light at least for an hour or two.

If a cat closes its eyes and eats, I have a feeling that it may overeat just because the cat  wouldn’t know how much it is taking in (I don’t know anything about cats). But hold this thought.

At the start of the run, they placed the km boards in countdown order. After the 1st  km it said 49 km to go. I am like, what the hell.

By the time we finished 2km I got an Idea. Full marathon (42.2km) distance is something I was familiar with and I vaguely remember not dying after any of the official or unofficial 3 marathons I finished.

I told myself, I will run the next 6km very slowly and post that I would enter into a familiar territory that I ran before. And then all the km marking will make sense. I followed my plan and it worked. 

When I found down hills, I remembered Malnad descents where I ran down faster and in a extremely half moon lit night, I decided to be smart and do the same. But it was kind of stupid, my knees took a lot of pounding and I could not see how much down it was going in that darkness. 

I just prayed this won’t leave me injured as my brain switched off decision making to slow down. Or may it was too steep and it was hard to reduce the momentum, as it felt like it will take more pressure on some muscle  to abruptly stop on a steep down hill.

At 18th km, I saw 32km left and I was like, whaaaaat!. This was a new feeling.  But then I remembered to stick with the marathon distance familiarity plan. 

At 22nd km, I started to feel my stomach tight. Of Course what not happens when we disrupt our normal sleep time and decide to run when we have to get into a REM sleep.

I have a feeling that it has nothing  to do with my sleep cycle or circadian rhythm and you will agree with it soon.

I went on a trek last year and we had to get up early in the morning.The place around feels like 100 acres of trees & land. There was a hill in the background which looked picturesque(ah, I got this spelling right in the first try).

The reason we would get up on that starry night before the run hit was that there was no wash room for guys and we had to go into the woods to do the morning deeds. This may sound like why I am including shitty talk here. But I tell you, once you experience it. It would feel like you had a 100 acres washroom with great bowel movement under a starry night in twilight with a beautiful fill in the background. I feel everyone should experience it.

At 24th km, I regretted that I wouldn’t be able to get that experience that night and would have been nice, so I had to use washrooms that the event organizers planned and they planned well. I never saw washrooms at run events have water. Here they had water, tissues and even liquid soap(not it wasn’t an empty bottle). That’s why I know the quality of the organizing of the event(even though I could see it before, this confirmed to its best). They had these washrooms every 3 km or so.

 I don’t know why, once I slowed down I was never able to pick back up the same pace in any race I went to.

I was not able to pick the same pace again like before the 24th but atleast I felt lighter and freer. I continued to run.

If I remember well, from 25th to 30th km, it got so chilly that, I was able to see got coming from the mouth(I don’t know the exact word, so I googled my experience and below is what it says).

I felt like a child and tried to blow air into the wind and see the fog form. I slowed down to take a photo and video of this but my camera did not do a great job with it, so I put my phone back and started running again.

Remember I told you to hold the thought about the dog? Now it’s a chilly night and it is nearly 30 km. Every km I saw a signboard, I had a feeling I had a dog in me, because I was looking behind those boards for a place to take a piss.

Of course, I did not do that at the boards, I would run way ahead to a decent hidden stop towards the bushes to do the same.

If you are familiar with habit-forming framework – Trigger -> Action. It exactly felt like it. Boards were being triggered and I had to take a piss.

I never ran in that kind of cold, if I stop running I might freeze, but body heat from running was just enough to keep me going. I did not want to risk it so I was following the hydration plan as usual as I felt I could stop leaking but if I dehydrated, it would hit me much bad.

I took so many breaks to take a leak. I did not want to take pressure on timing, as I did know what to expect and I was not sure if the injury I had would come back on the run. Running slower and talking pauses when needed was my best bet.

Why was this a topic in this ultra run experience?

That’s because, my watch showed I took 14 mins of rest in total (for leaks and aid stations). This is quite an unexpected time because no one stops for breaks for this much time in an full marathon either.

Post 35km, I don’t know if it’s from pounding on down hill or I wasn’t ready for a 800 meter elevation run, my legs started to feel heavy.

Tata Ultra Elevation Profile
Tata Ultra Elevation Profile – 800 Meters

From 38th km, while the old injury 3 weeks back did not come(even post run), I had to keep bending my knees, walk a bit and run. I wasn’t able to push.

Siva told me to finish the race 1 minute before the cut off timing which is 8:30 hours. I remembered it. For that day, all I had to do was to keep going, and if you knew what I did in Ladakh or in my first (unofficial) marathon, you would know exactly what I would have done.

When the sun came, I was so surprised about the descent. And if we ran in day light and saw the elevation it would have been daunting. I was able to eat  up the elevation because I simply couldn’t see beyond a point(like the cat that closed its eyes and ate theory).

I did not need to play any mind games to go up the elevation saying – let’s finish until the turn and then decide how to do and all that. Because, it’s dark and I was able to see a bit further than where I am, so going by the feel helped me.

On the run, I did feel like people who have done TMM Full marathon could have come for this just to experience(and not race against clock). That night run was one of the best experiences I had.

Somewhere between 8-9am in the morning where the sun started hitting badly, I finished the race. My watch showed, I almost walked for 1:57 hours. And finished the 50km in 7:44 hours.

After the run, it would have been nice to have some fire flames coming both side in the finish line and got a photo or video of it. But that all are external even if it was set up that way.

What I got at the finish line was something way better. Though my legs gave up, my head was clear and my aerobic endurance was fine I felt(as in I wasn’t huffing puffing so much after the run, I felt fresh in body, mind and heart). That’s the best feeling I din’t expect I would have. It got even sweeter and better – 

When I saw the medal and saw 50 km on it, it felt like the best feeling I ever had post any race.

15 months ago, I started running again after a 18 month break, but this time I started being obese, I took 45-50  mins to run a 5km with a high HR many times in the run.

Pick any 2 rows below See my distance vs pace vs HR, you will know.

Notice I was doing 4 runs a month back then in July -Sep 2022 (as sticking to the plan and coming out of home was hard)

In August or September 2022  probably, is when I felt like I wanted to run an ultra distances, and somehow it was very intuitive to me from that day that, I had to follow the plan and get to an Ultra distance.

I also know that 50km is the start of ultra distances so I was long waiting for this start to happen for so long.

But I never said it out loud when I started back running as they looked unrealistic(to voice out long)  back then. 

Going forward too I have unrealistic goals, or they look like it for me, but I would follow what worked for me so far. Staying consistent with the plan. I wish to see how long(literally) it would take me on one go.

My take on the race(s):

Malnad(30km) better experience > Tata Ultra 

Tata Ultra was a great experience in the night, but once the sun hit, it was another run that I wanted to finish and cross the line, even though this was my longest.

But Tata Ultra gave me confidence to finish an Ultra distance and like Alex Hormozi  says 

Evidence builds confidence. And I felt that.


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Pradeep Kedia
Pradeep Kedia
1 month ago

Congratulations!! Your journey well described and very motivational.

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