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 😀

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


My first encounter with Chinese counting

I first came to Taiwan in 2013. During those two months, I didn’t care to learn any Chinese(bad decision) and all that I could learn during that time was “Ni Hao” and “Xie Xie”. At this moment, I can proudly say that I can at least ask someone their name, their liking and disliking. To sum up, I can have a basic conversation with a Chinese person in Chinese. And I feel happy about it.

This semester, I am taking a badminton class in which all students warm up before the class starts. While any warm-up exercise, our student leader counts “yi, er, san, si, wu, liu, qi, ba” and this goes on like that for a while. One fine day, while we were warming up, I suddenly got a flashback of my school days. In my school, I used to learn a little bit of Karate once a week. While we used to practice, our instructor used to make us practice the kicks and punches using the same counting. Then I realized that I had been given a little flavor of Chinese language even before coming to Taiwan. I was just not that aware of this thing at that moment.

I felt sharing about it because these small moments make a link in your life. Ten years ago, I listened to Chinese counting while learning Karate and now, I am in a Chinese speaking country. Could this be just a coincidence or may be not?

First open book exam experience: Post-exam

Well, luckily I had gone through some of the past exam papers(which I guess were closed book because of their simplicity) and there were some questions today which were modified from their past counter parts to include some difficulty, a lot of difficulty actually. For instance, we were asked to derive the difficult cases while we were taught the simpler ones.

During the exam, I tried to strike every question conceptually as correct as possible so that my process would be right at least. There is this thing in such exams: you have books, but what you need more than books is your brains. Result is pending and I expect that my first encounter was not so bad. I at least hope for passing marks LOL.

First open book exam experience: Pre-exam

I have been studying from almost 18 years now. I do not clearly remember about my early childhood but after my grade 3, I am pretty sure about how things went in my academic life. “Consulting” a book or a piece of paper during exam was termed as cheating (LOL), it still does if your books contain the questions and their answers directly. After coming to Taiwan, I have experienced “open one A4 sheet” exam in my previous semester where we were allowed to carry one A4 sheet with us and apparently, we wanted to write all 300 pages of our book on that single sheet. What a pity!

This semester, today is gonna be my first open book exam. I am excited about it, no place for nervousness because I am prepared for it. I have practiced the theory, derivations and some numerical. One thing I am assuming about this exam is that it is gonna be conceptual and fundamental. Why? Because it is open book. Teacher is gonna make the question paper keeping this in mind. I have always loved knowing and relying on my concepts rather than mugging up the creepy formulas to save time.

I am writing this blog post right now while my exam will start in some two hours. Because I think I am all prepared (over confidence?). Be it or a good or bad one, I know that I am gonna give my everything DURING exam, that is what really matters for me. Let’s see how it goes! Wooo-hoo!

Gas dynamics project: Baking soda and vinegar rocket

By the end of last semester, I was pretty much done with the classes taught in Chinese and that is when I decided to take just the classes taught in English for this semester. This was the time I became more selective and I looked out for every English course in almost EVERY department. I got to know about the course of gas dynamics being offered by my department. I looked at the syllabus and it got my interest quite much. What got my interest more was the marks distribution. I always prefer classes which does not have written exams at the middle and end of semester and instead rely on presentation or projects. The reason being, later ones are simple 😉

On the first day itself, professor made us aware about our mid term project: to make a rocket working on propelling pair of baking soda and vinegar. This is pretty easy. When you mix these two, a lot of carbon dioxide is released which in turn provides the required thrust for rocket. What the difficult task in this project was? To make a launcher which could withstand more pressure and that is how you could fly higher. Another difficulty could be accounted as the rate of reaction. If you take too much time to settle the things before launch, the rocket just might launch itself without waiting for you.

I used the easiest method as shown in the video on this link and our rocket was flying quite decently. I was also looking for some parachute mechanism but I could not work it out. By today, we had made a working rocket in two nights which could fly. We used a cork which we borrowed from a bar! Luckily, our rocket was in air for about four seconds though it could have been better. Never mind! So here is me and my little rocket (no other meaning please):

IMG_2177Not that bad I guess? I had a bit of vinegar on me while we were trying and launching. But, it dried off at the end.

Final project for this subject is still not revealed and I am really looking forward to it.

Day Three: Yehliu Geopark

(Read it on MultiEMOtions Android App)

This is the last day of our trip. After the morning hike, as we reached hostel, luckily other people were planning to go to Yehliu too and we caught up along with them. We left the hostel around 10.30 AM and grabbed some breakfast and took the bus to go to Keelung. Here is the detailed journey:

After we were finished with Yehliu, we thought that we could spare some time to go to Tamsui (Danshu), but the bus took around 1.5 hours to get there and it was already quite dark. So, rightaway we took MRT from Tamsui to Taipei and got back to Hsinchu.

Day Three: Tai’An Waterfall

This is the next morning. Luckily I got enough rest at night and unluckily, I overslept. I wanted to wake up before 6 to go to this nearby mild hiking place where we have read a signboard of a waterfall. Anyway, we woke up around 6 .30 and quickly prepared ourselves to go to this little destination instead of wasting a pretty morning on bed.

For me as a tiny traveller, I prefer to do something specially in the morning time. This place was near to the hostel we were staying in. It has a pretty scenic view with a peace and solitude offering environment in the early morning.