Weekend Solo Excursion # 1 – You Yangs Regional Park

The idea of running in the You Yangs probably stemmed when I came across a well organized ultramarathon at the same venue but never took a proper shape until last week.

September 10, 2014: I ran my first trail race ever and it was hard. Running and hiking approx. 23k among the trails of Anglesea took me a little more than 2 hours (2:04). I was surprised by the kind of challenges that one can face during a trail race. I have never been much of a hill runner and therefore elevations (the highs and the lows of the course) were the first thing to pop in my mind. But probably the most difficult part was the terrain of which I had no idea would play such a critical role. I was happy to get done with the event and took the train back home. And then it happened.

I was looking out of the window, tired and dusted when I came across this.

It was beautiful. Those peaks in the background looked appealing. I was broken but my spirits were high. To make myself comfortable with the rigor of hill running, I need to run with them. And that’s when I thought that I will come here next weekend, no matter what.

I looked more about the YY on internet. I had a look on the routes that people usually follow and the routes that constituted  the ultramarathon. With all that information and some of the maps, I came up with my own route that would start from the train station (because I use public transport), wander among YY and came back at the station.

Capture

September 16, 2017: As per the plan, I started at around 8 AM. I had a backpack which contained water and some energy bars and gels, in case if I go down on energy. I took in my phone with an offline map of the park installed in it, just in case if I have problems to navigate. And that was it.

Overall, the terrain was challenging. I came across some mountain bikers (as this park is exclusive for them with a lot of biking trails). The most difficult was to get to the top of Flinders peak (the highest point). It included a lot of stairs and a narrow trail. I had to stop a million times to catch my breath and to run back again. However, the view from the top was worth it.

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I rested for a couple of minutes on the top, had my lunch (aka a gel and a bar) before finally getting up on my feet and ran down the peak. From that point onward, I kept running because time was crucial. The frequency of trains back to the city was less and I could not risk to get late. Fortunately, I got within 5 minutes of the train arrival time and made it back home on time.

The final run could be find here:
https://www.strava.com/activities/1185817684/embed/7053807baeaaf461bfe33df531799f2bc2d59803

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Training Log – Week 1 Day 3

Wednesday = Speed Training.

Well, not really for the first week. According to the training “schedule” it was meant to be a easy-pace run with some pick-ups but I converted that to 100 m sprints (I wanted to know how would I match up against Usain Bolt with my earphones on, but I had no idea how badly it would go).

I followed the same set of rules: warmed up for some 15 mins with easy-pace on the road en-route to the track, 5 times (100 m sprint followed by 300 m easy-pace) and then a easy-pace back home.100m

It turned out that my max. speed pace during those sprints is somewhere around 3 min/km which makes 100 m sprint in 18 seconds (if I assume that I am holding that pace throughout the 100 meters and I am also cheating on the fact that I did not start from a zero-pace start line, I was already moving at the start). So, by the time Bolt would get a gold, I’d hardly be halfway. that’s a bad defeat. But anyway! My target is to be faster and not to beat anyone in particular.

In my perception, speed-training gives an idea to the body and to the mind about how it feels like to go faster. Obviously, it feels terrible while I do it this way i.e. all of a sudden, but if carried out over a period of time, slowly and progressively, it is wonderful. Your legs would take to new places faster. Well, it could be just around the track in less than a minute, but you get the idea. the whole run can be found here:

https://www.strava.com/activities/891965624/embed/f156c11f8bc8c81e2e0360f379604b1dbec28f35

Lessons I learnt from my second half marathon

I ran my first half marathon in June, 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan. I planned to ran my second HM in September in New Delhi but it got postponed (and fortunately I was having a fungal infection in my big toe so I won’t run that either) later on, I registered for a half marathon in Mussoorie, India in November. Mussoorie is one of the hottest tourist destination in India (the organiser of this race was an American, you get an idea?). It is usually cold in Mussoorie and a November morning was expected to be around 10 degrees. This HM left me crushed. It made me rethink over a lot of things. I hope you would learn from my mistakes (if you are training for any race).

1: Have a relaxed day before the run: The race was scheduled on Nov. 6th and I reached Mussoorie on the morning of Nov. 5th. After reaching this beautiful hill station, I planned to go to some places on the same day as it would be too tiring for me to do anything after the race the next day. Being on a tight budget, the only means for me to get around the town was using my feet. Before I could realise, I had already walked around 15k by the night when I got back to my hotel. My legs were tired though I got back in time, but it mattered the next day. I felt a lot tired than I expected throughout the run.

2: Train in a similar condition: I was well aware of the fact that the race would be in a cold and hilly course. I used to train in my hometown, which was a little less cold than Mussoorie, but I used to start my training at 6 AM to feel the same amount of cold (at least that’s what I thought). However, I could never mimic the hilly roads of Mussoorie. Frank Shorter said “Hill training is speed work in disguise” so I tried it the other way around but it didn’t work for me. I did work on my speed training thinking that it would help me to charge up and down hills but it really didn’t. I was huffing and puffing on the way up, I walked a LOT of terrains, my breath was shorter and my legs felt heavy. However, my downhill was good, my core was able to sustain that. But without having included any hills sessions, I really suffered in the race.

3: Do not walk (if you didn’t plan beforehand): Before the race, I didn’t plan to walk any part of the race. Some people, however, strategize walk-run kind of sessions during a race which they follow righteously and it works for them, I didn’t plan that. I was meant to run the whole course, no matter how slow, but run. And I gave up on this idea during the run. My mind was not focused enough, I lacked mental strength. I realised how much dedication you need on such terrains. I started to walk for 30 sec, which went on to become 45 and soon enough, almost 90. I felt terrible after the race. I was ashamed of my performance. I ran a 2:20 (before the race I thought I could beat my first HM time which was 1:57, and look where I stood).

Trying not to be too harsh on myself, but this race taught me a lot about how dedicated I should be in my training, how crucial it is to plan your training. Though I got some really good pictures of mine in which I could be seen smiling but that is just pain in disguise 😀

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If you are reading this, and have a similar story or anything to suggest, I’d love to hear it.