First 26.2 Miler Countdown: 29 (Riding around the French Island)

The conversation usually starts like:

Me: Hey! I am going to French Island tomorrow. The plan is to ride around the island for as long as we can. You know how bad cyclist I am!
Friend 1: Aww that’s so cool. But where is this place?
Friend 2: Never heard of it man.
Friend 3: Why are you going to an island to ride? You can just do that here, no?

For the first two questions, the answer is somewhere north to Philip Island (which is famous for it’s Penguins Parade aka tourist attraction). Unlike Philip Island, French Island is actually an island with no road connections. Perhaps that’s the reason why it is not so popular/known to people living in Melbourne. With it’s population of about 100, it offers a lot of land with nothing built on it. It is a classic countryside with not-so-well developed roads, more than half of the island being a national park (where no-one visits), huge and numerous farms and rare sights of humanity every once a while.
For the last question, I’d say it’s a cool idea. You get to see an entire island within a day, without any travel van or tour bus! You can stop wherever you want, you don’t need gasoline on the way and in the end, you’d be proud of yourself for doing something that not many would prefer to do.

My vision of this island was not as barren as it really was. There was one, only one, general store cum post office on the island. No other restaurant/convenience store/grocery store/hotel/motel/you name it. If you are going there, you can count on your fingertips the number of houses you’ll see. I don’t think I’d be wrong if I’ll tell you that there are more cows than humans on this island!

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Our original plan was to get to the farthest “view” point called as the Albions. It just seemed like a good turn-back point for the whole-island plan. Though I have never rode this far, I thought that if we’ll just go slow, I could make it without passing out on the way back. But as the mighty Forrest Gump once said “SHIT HAPPENS”. It happened with us too.

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One of our friends got a flat tire a couple of times during the way. It was not always his fault, thanks to the bumpy ride. We mended it less than a couple of times before finally calling it off. Alas! We couldn’t get to the point where we wanted to but it was hell of a ride amidst those muddy roads and the beautiful landscapes offered by this tiny piece of land.

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That’s where we stopped and headed back.

With a bike punctured completely, we resorted to a hike back to the ferry terminal. Due to limited number of ferries, the change of plans was inevitable. We reached half an hour earlier before the last ferry departs. In the meantime, we enjoyed the clear night sky and let me give you the privilege to enjoy the scenery of this place ūüėČ

On the way back taking the last ferry, it was a bad idea that we didn’t check the train schedule as the last ferry that arrives stony point at 6.45, the next train is 8.30!! Had we taken the previous ferry (which arrives SP at 6.15), the next train would had been at 7. Much better! Anyway, we hung out with the kiosk guy until 8 (when they were closing). He made us some nice hot chips which was a treat in the shivering cold.

More information: http://interislandferries.com.au/

First 26.2 Miler Countdown: 42 (Philip island penguin parade)

And there comes Sunday. I and some friends had planned to go to this place nearby called Philip Island to see the infamous Penguin Parade. After a soothing day in the waters, these tiny creatures return home and more than a couple thousands of eyes gather to witness their return. I loved how the penguins get on the shore lazily and run all across the beach in blink of an eye to a sturdier ground. That made me remember that I was not so lucky today to be able to take some time out for a run.

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Infinite oceans.
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Not my photography! But it’s incredible.

While watching the penguins, I was thinking to get back my home and continue that yet fresh late night running adventure but the thoughts weren’t converted into action. Nevertheless, this little tour made all of us walk a lot (okay, not A LOT, around 10k), so I was glad that the day was overall pretty active.

WFLWR Training Log – Week 2

Last week, I decided that instead of writing training posts on a daily basis, I better combine them into a weekly log. For this week, my goal was to achieve 35k of mileage which was almost 40% more than the last week’s i.e. 26k. I knew I could do it because I had skipped a run last week.

Monday:¬†On Mondays, I do a easy to moderate pace run. Last week, I ran for 45 minutes and so this week, I capped 5 minutes. Nothing too much! I had thought of a running route beforehand which was just enough long to put me back home right on time. However, I missed a street marker in between and ended up somewhere else. Although, I had a sense of direction in which I should be heading, I still confirmed it by asking a lady walking in the streets. I actually liked this feeling of running with no¬†rigid route. I’ve always loved running on new streets so perhaps, this run was meant to give me the same feeling. My final stats were 48 minutes of running (8.8k).

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These inverted peaks are where I stopped, to find myself the correct route, which mostly I didn’t. At 41 minute mark, I asked the lady.

Wednesday:¬†Now this is a special day to me. It’s the track time. I run up to the track, exhaust myself there and run back. This running back and forth usually requires 15 minutes in each direction and so I have a sense of how much time I should spend on track. Last week, I did 5 sets of 100m fast accompanied with 300m jog. So, this week I wanted to make this harder. And at the same time, I did not want to increase the mileage (or time) significantly. I ended up doing¬†still 5 sets of, 100m fast followed by 100m walk.¬†This allowed me to effectively run half a lap as compared to quarter a lap the week before. As I got back home, I’d run 7.4k in 44 minutes.

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You can see the laps around the track, right?

Friday:¬†My schedule says that on Friday, I should have a recovery run. Now I know why it is important. Because I have a long run the next day (at least that’s what I think). If I don’t include this run, I’ll have a two days gap until Saturday. So, this run prepares me for the long run the next day. But I messed it up. I changed this recovery run into a tempo run because of lack of time. I couldn’t even cool myself down after the run (so I was a bit scared that my¬†tender body might collapse). Anyway, I ended up running 5.25k in 28 minutes and most of it was under 5-min-km pace. I’ll¬†seriously recover next week.

Saturday: My favourite. I love long runs. It allows me to stay on my feet for long times and to explore a lot of places. I extended the route on which I ran last week. Also, instead of running on the walk-way, I ran on a trail which runs besides it the whole time. Running on a trail is wonderful. Surrounded by trees, it doesn’t feel like I am running around any urban traffic. Before the run, I didn’t intake anything, no carbs, no water. I wanted my body to stay away from carbs on these longer runs, so that if needed, it could learn to extract energy from fat stores, which in my case must be abundant. However, during the run, I had diluted coconut water to keep me hydrated as well as, as a minor source of sugars. By the time I stopped my watch, I had logged 14.2k (thereby completing my weekly goal) in 1:22 hours. Though the pace wasn’t great, but I don’t mind it.

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Route: Extended down the Black Rock

Final summary of the week as recorded in my diary, including the morning walks, is:

 

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Please do not comment on my bad handwriting ūüėÄ

 

For the next week, my target is 40k (including the same long run as this week, maybe 15k). I want to make my body re-familiar with longer distances, but without a lot of carbs.

 

My first parkrun

Getting out early on a Saturday isn’t something one might prefer to do after a hectic week. But there are people who have been doing it! I didn’t know about it until I came to know about parkrun. It’s an internationally organised event in 14 countries (as of now). The idea is simple: a free, fun-filled, Saturday morning 5k run!

I registered for it perhaps in December but I couldn’t fit into my shoes on a Saturday morning until last week. How unfortunate I have been over this time, I wonder now. Maybe I was lazy to get to the park which needs me to take trains and then a decent 1k walk to the venue, but we always have excuses, don’t we? Anyway, I got to the event with my barcode (they need it to get you your 5k time) and uncle (it was his first parkrun as well and he did better than he expected). I wasn’t expecting anything here. I had not run a lot in the previous weeks because of a sprained ankle. The only running I was doing were some random short runs and running behind my naughty cousins to catch them.

We started off at 8AM, sharp. I was there to witness it, my mind was busy glancing around the runners warming up. I didn’t intend to race there, so I decided to stick with my uncle, well for maybe one minute. I then paced up¬†and before I knew, I was drifted to my race-pace, somewhere around 5 min/km. Though it was not something that I should do, but I still did it, the race-factor was coming into the picture anyway. I saw people running with their kids, people running with strollers, people much much older than me. The course was flat dirt and gravel type, so the repetitive sound of “bush bush bush” was very obvious except that of the final stretch which was surprisingly concrete/stone-finish. I chased down a lot of runners, some kids, some more kids (wow, these kids were great). I noticed that one of them was literally puffing his breaths out with quite a wrong form, but he was enjoying the run anyway. I made my way to the finish line in just under 25 minutes, finishing 41st out of some 200+ runners. Once completed, I made the way back to join my uncle and to push him through the rest of the course which made him finish just after the 150s. I watched the tired faces of people just before the finish lines and the glimpse of happiness that took over after they were done. That feeling of accomplishment, that feeling of taking over and finishing a challenge, is wonderful. I felt really amazing to witness it while sitting amidst the greens and under the blues and whites. I felt lucky that I could run.

The Star Australian Open and Indonesian Open

Since the time I have started playing badminton, I have been trying to follow it quite closely. This came to me as an idea of writing about the recently completed tournaments. If I take this time of a couple of weeks, The Star Australian Open and BCA Indonesia Open are latest of them.

What I missed in these super series was my Champion, Lee Chong Wei. I am assuming that Lin Dan got eliminated in the earlier rounds because of not finding him in the tournament (a lame excuse I know). However, even my Indian team players did not perform good enough as much as they can. Many people expect from Kidambi and Kashyap. Kashyap eliminating Chen Long in Indonesian open will surely count as remarkable. I remember I had given up on him when I saw him getting defeated in the first set itself. But Kidambi! He got eliminated by a shuttler from nowhere. That is not what one expects from a top seeded player. Well, this can happen in sports.

Women played well, but again, not up to the mark. Indian hope, Saina got eliminated in her games by Chinese divas who definitely are as good as her. Better luck next time. Indians have not been so famous in the doubles game though. Gutta-Ponappa are perhaps the best doubles competitor we have so far. Keep an eye on the next BWF Championship, it is not too far!

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, IndoPak Battle

After a long wait of four years, ICC Cricket world cup is ON again. Just like almost every Indian, cricket flows in my blood and when it comes to this cup, my support reaches its peak. Though India has not played very well recently, but Indian team has proved such stats wrong a number of times. I hope the history to repeat itself. Amen. Teams like Australia, South Africa and co-host New Zealand apart from the team India are been considering a strong contender for this cup. But other teams can not be neglected either.

For India, their first match will be against its arch rival, Pakistan and no country men would want to miss it. In every world cup meeting of these two countries, India has always beaten Pakistan. In some cases, India has defended a low total with its good bowling attack and in some, Indian batsman had shown their class. For the coming match, tension is gonna be high as it is being estimated that this match could catch the highest number of viewers across the globe.

Indian bowlers have not been very wicket taking lately but since in any match against Pakistan, every Indian player wants to give out his better than the best. On the other hand, Pakistan will also throw out their everything to register their maiden world cup victory over their rivals. I have planned to wake up early and prepare some snacks because I do not want to miss any action of this supergame. I wish Indian team a great great luck for this match.

How to apply for Bachelor/Masters/PhD at NTHU

Previously, I had written about applying to National Tsing Hua University for internship. As much as this place is good for a short term research, it is an awesome place for a meaningful research and higher studies. Applying to NTHU is not very difficult either. You have to make an online application through the website of their International office. First step is to complete the online procedure which is not very time taking as it is just about the basic information. So what are the documents required after that? Here is a list of them:

1. System generated online application form. This is your identity for the recruiters.
2. One copy of Diploma (Degree). For people who have already graduated would be having this, and for those are in their final years, they can ask for a letter from their university about their anticipated graduation date. It is not much of an issue.
3. Transcript. These people wanna know what courses you have studied so far and how were you good of a performer while your previous studies. It would be issued by your university, so it is not really your headache either.
4. Study plan. Perhaps the most important thing in your application:¬†Your statement of purpose. Why do you want to join them? What makes you think you are different from others blah blah blah. They give you enough space (3 pages to be precise) to pen down your every single thought. A lot and lot of “How to” is available on internet about it. A good SOP takes some time and it is the outcome of one’s effort ONLY. Make it best and I can bet you are in.
5. Two recommendation letters. Not your headache again. You have to ask your professors/employers to speak some good words about you and how have you been while working with them. It matters.
6. NTHU Medical and History Examination Form: Now this is something unusual which you won’t find in many other universities. Taiwan is quite uncompromising when it comes to the issue of public health. NTHU wants to make sure that you are healthy and not having any communicable diseases. In case of some other diseases, you have to take vaccinations or provide the equivalent test reports. This form needs to be signed and stamped by doctors and the hospital along with the certificated, if there are any.
7.¬†Financial certificate. This is the bank statement which shows that in case you don’t get any scholarship support, you still can survive in Taiwan. It should be more than 1,20,000 NTD (4000 USD).
8. Declaration form. Nothing special about it. I do not even remember what was in it, to be frank.
9. Copy of your passport to verify nationality.
10. Program specific requirements. Now this is something depending on the program you are applying for. These things could include generally your English test scores, copies of your publications etc.It depends on the department and the degree you are applying for and the complete info can be find here.

Agh! A lot of documents. Right? But you are gonna take a little pain in SOP and the medical form only, as per me. Rest of the things are not big an issue. In case of any further question, be sure that you have already gone through the website of International office sufficiently well because it has all the information you need. PhD aspirants can also check this post for some detailed information. Good luck for your application.