Wings For Life World Run 2017 – As it happened

Getting off the tram at 6:30 in the evening, I was making my way towards the event hub of Wings For Life World RUN (WFLWR) in Melbourne. With my earphones on, I had a decent 1.5k walk ahead of me before I would arrive at the grand party. I was thinking about my last year’s run in Taiwan in which I lasted for 18.24k.

You might be wondering about what’s with this LASTING thing! Let me tell you about it. There are a number of things that makes this race unique. One, it happens at the same time at multiple locations all around the world. Day or night, moon or light, runners all over the world are smashing it. From US of A (early morning) to Australia (late at night), people lift their asses up, assemble at the start-line and run their hearts out. Secondly, it is a race without a finish line. There’s no pre-defined distance that you have to run e.g. marathon/half-marathon/10k et cetera et cetera. AND HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN you might wonder? Well, it’s fairly easy. 30 minutes after you’re into the race, a car (aka THE catcher car) chases you down until you’re caught and the car is fast enough (at later times) to run down even the most enduring runners. It’s very similar to the lion-deer story, the difference being that the deer would DEFINITELY be killed (unless you run off the course leaving the organisers all puzzled up). And finally, the money raised through this race goes for the spinal-cord research injury and that’s why this race is often promoted as “running for those who can’t” and I can totally relate to it. I have had my share of injuries when I felt helpless that I can’t run. Thinking of those times and of the people who are suffering, there’s nothing better than this that I can do to support them in their treatment/recovery.

As compared to my last year’s WFLWR, this edition was quite different.  I was running in a different country (Australia) at a different time (9 PM, last year it was 7) in a different weather (cold, rainy and dark). However, there were other factors this time which can easily overshadow these minor mental setbacks. First and probably the most crucial was mine being running with my club-mates. In Taiwan, I made my way to the start line as a stranger to the crowd, paced myself up when I could and lifted myself up when I was experiencing downtime. But this year in Melbourne, I had “friends” with me at the start line, during all the pacing-up, slowing-down situations. Secondly, I was better trained at this point of time. At the start-line this year, I had 8+ week of training with me with my longest training run being 23k while these stats last year were 4 weeks and 15k respectively.

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Now that’s my HUGE running club. Can you spot me?

Based on these numbers and the racing atmosphere, I was hoping to get past the 25k mark in this year’s edition of the race. The race started pretty smoothly for me (and my mates). We did hold on to a constant pace of 5-ish i.e. 5 min/km for the first 7k (where the first refreshment station was located). It was an easy-paced part of the race with constant chit-chats about the terrain, about the training, about the highway on which we were running. After this mark, we were more or less divided into little sub-groups depending on the pace we could hold. I kept running with a friend till the 18k mark. While passing that, I felt confident and wonderful. Confident because my training was paying off and I could see it. Wonderful because I was witnessing a significant progress over my last year’s limit. Nevertheless without thinking much over it and before it could get over my head, I kept running, my goal to get to the 25k mark now seemed even more optimistic. It was only after the race was over, I realised that I also completed the half-marathon distance i.e. ~21k in 01:39 hours (my earlier best time was 01:57).

Some more time after the half-marathon mark, I eventually reached the 25k mark where I was more than happy about my running and the challenge I had undertaken. A thought crossed my mind: now you can simply walk as some of the other runners were doing, you’ve achieved your goal. Of course, that was the easier choice. Running at that point of time required more effort than usual, probably because I had never run that long a distance. But I was determined not to walk. My brain was thinking of other excuses: “you have a presentation tomorrow, haven’t you done enough already?” or something like “your shoelaces are really tight, you won’t be able to fix them quickly, so just take a walk, fix them, and walk some more comfortably” and finally “you’ve achieved your goal, take it easy now” I listened to these thoughts and carefully discarded them and focused on what I was doing while they were running through my head.  My pace was slower now but I didn’t mind it. I was still running. And then it arrived. Without a horn, without a flash, it passed me by saying a “thank you”. My race was over. I was actually glad that it was over. Why? Because it was freezing cold out there and I am not lying when my brain said I had a presentation the day after.

My Garmin (running watch) finally unfolded all the secrets as I hit the stop button on it. I had run 29.5k in 02:24 hours. The deer inside me had gone a significant distance. A big jump over the last year’s and a bigger target to nail for that of the next’s.

This run on strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/975961223/embed/f404f2d7167c7de938e06c357235696fff81d1bb

And this is my proud certificate:

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Where the hell have I been?

I could soon celebrate one-month anniversary of not writing anything on my blog. In this time, I have been checking my news feed (which is always on a roll), this blog’s stats (which really need a roll) and some other things which I probably wouldn’t want to write about explicitly 😉

Anyway, not writing about my training doesn’t mean that I am not training anymore. Technically, I am simply lazy to write, but not lazy to run. After Run For The Kids 2017, my training has taken a shift. I am NOT following my training plan anymore. So you might ask, what do you do then? The answer is…

Long runs!

…..and, some speed work.

So the current trick up my sleeve is to run when I feel like, when my legs feel light(er)and usually to rest the day after. I refrain from having a really inactive day, so I try to always walk a lot. Walking is a wonderful exercise (for body, mind and your laundry room).  Also, I am now trying to use running as a commute than merely an exercise. I run to badminton court, I run from the university to home. It’s fun how some things can be done in an eco-friendlier way 😀

Anyway, this Sunday is the Wings for Life World Run. I am hoping to get past 25k mark which is…. well, not impossible, but definitely a hell difficult. I need an average pace of 5 min/k. Let’s see if I can make it or not. I’ll never know without trying and I am not scared to give it my best shot.

 

As it happened: Run For The Kids 2k17

My training for the Wings for life world run has been on for the past five weeks. I am not sure when I registered for the Herald Sun’s Run for the kids 2017 but I am pretty sure why I did it. It supports a great cause! It supports the kids at the Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne. It supports what I love selflessly. During the entire run, I made sure I high-fived every kid who was waiving their hands at the huge number of runners swarming by. And I loved their smile when our hands touched. It pumps me up and made me run faster than I thought I’d sustain.

RFTK runs on two courses: 14.3k and 4.8k (roughly 9 and 3 miles). I registered for the former one and considered it as a long run for my training schedule. During the past weeks, I made myself comfortable with the distance running 11,14,15 and 18k‘s respectively on my weekend long runs. Fortunately to me, I have a running club that lets me run with them when they do speed work. Thanks to them, I got a 5k PB last week, it boosted my confidence to run faster. With this training, I left home early in the morning to reach the venue on time. The weather had been shaky in the early hours but was relatively great later. Being living away from the city, it takes me around an hour to get to the start line. I changed into my running clothes in a public washroom while doing the thing. I was just in time to drop off my baggage and to get to the start line to stretch up before the countdown began.

My strategy was simple. Go easy for the first 10k, step into the next gear thereafter. I can’t have a sense of how many people were running alongside me but there were many. Or may be, many, many. Never in the race for once I ran with no-one along side me (It’s good and bad). The first lap was fairly simple with everyone running literally at the same pace. Then we entered a tunnel where my Garmin FR15 lost contact with it’s satellite for the next lap. On exiting, I got two lap-readings. One of 8:54 and other of 1:54. Definitely, it was crazy for doing these calculations but I was happy that it had snap out of it to get me the correct readings thereafter.

For the next 10k’s, I kept running at an easy pace. I checked with my watch time to time because I wanted to run a sub-50 10k (which I did). I met a fellow club runner (I recognized his singlet) and ran with him for some 4 k’s. We passed over a couple of bridges, ran alongside the huge Ferris wheel of Melbourne city, raced with the Yarra river. I made sure I was not letting myself go, just yet. I kept smiling at the volunteers who were doing an amazing work of scattering the enthusiasm throughout our minds. I thanked them for taking the time out of their lives to make sure the runners stay hydrated.

As the markers after 12k started coming nearer, I cranked my pace a bit. I saw someone wearing a singlet of University of Melbourne (my university) which really made me felt great however I was in no mood to have a conversation at that point. Being not familiar with the course, I was adjusting my pace according to the inclined roads and some steep slopes. Not too far into the uncomfortable zone, I found myself on the last bend (based on what spectators were shouting about, and also on the beep of my Garmin that it was 14k point), just one more track-lap to go, I thought to myself. Some of us sprinted, I joined them. Many of them beat me, I beat some of them. I crossed the finish line in just under 69 minutes which I was extremely happy about. I was expecting a 70+ finish time.

 

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Pose after the finish

 

Finishing up, I had some drinks and a free apple that the organizers had provided. It just made my taste buds go crazy. You can not hate a fruit after a wonderful run, take that from me. I have found the best tasting fruits (they were just normal fruits) after these long runs. I packed my bag and walked back to Flinders Street Station. On the way back, I saw two kids racing each other and their dad calling “Look at them! They are also running” pointing to the runners still underway. I told him that the older kid would probably run next year. I told him about the two courses and wished him luck before finally getting towards my train.

 

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People running their hearts out for the lovely kids.

I am definitively going to the next edition of the race 🙂

 

Monday Evening – 5k PB Revised

I’m part of a wonderful running group called TXR (Trails, X-country, Roads) Runners. Such a nice name! They have their sessions (usually speed work) on weekdays and on Sundays (long run). After getting bored of pounding the track alone during my training regime, I tweaked my schedule to accommodate a Monday TXR session to get rid of this boredom. Yesterday was my second run with them and by the time I stopped my watch, I had got a 5k personal best (PB), that was totally unexpected. I ran my previous PB during a sub-23 parkrun.

The original plan for the group was to run 3 sets of (2 times (400m @ 10k pace + 100m jog) followed with a faster 400m and finally a 400m jog). It sounds a bit complicated. Doesn’t it? But it was a wonderful workout! Putting it simple, you run around 12 laps, 6 @ 10k, 3 @ maybe 5k and the other three are simply jogs. I probably got this PB during the first and second set because I was very tired during the third and struggling in the first half of that set. Nevertheless, I am feeling stronger today as I look back on the last night. It gives me confidence now that I could do a sub-22 if I train a bit harder.

5k Personal Best: 22:52 22:11

https://www.strava.com/activities/926187505/embed/35cbf67adfb774679981d4a353a1b0a4ee1df736

Week 4 Training

So, this week, not only I trained, I also got my new Surface Pro 4. So, I’d show that off 😀

Week 4

I’ve pretty much put down everything that I ran this week. The total mileage I penned down was 46k and I am glad about it because my goal was 45k. Next week, I am gonna raise the bar to run a 50. Other than this, I am trying to include more body-weight exercise on my non-running days to make my upper-body and core stronger. Have a story to share? Please feel free to put down the link in comments 🙂

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 😀

 

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.

 

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