Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend Run: Dusk 2 Dark Trail Run at Dandenong's

That's both YB and my new series, in case you're wondering. Running from dusk until night fall in the forest gives you a taste of how it feels like running in ultra races with only the sound of your breathing and footfall keeping you company.


I'm just kidding. It wasn't a run entirely in the night. We started after 4pm and stopped running after 7pm. The sun was slowly setting at 6pm and by 6.30pm, after squinting so hard to follow the track, we put on our headlamps. We could have gone for another loop (as planned) but best not, as no one knew where we were. We decided to call it quits and come back another weekend.

We started off at the Puffing Billy station and we were just in time to see it chug by. They have an event called the Great Train Race held in early May where participants are to run from point A to B in the fastest time. Between these two points, two trains will cross your path and the objective of the race is to try to get to point B without getting stuck at each train crossing! Each wait may take 5 minutes (I'm just guessing). 

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? 13.2KM through the Dandenong Ranges.

It is such a popular event that we didn't manage to sign up for it earlier this year. If you're keen to do this, best ensure that you sign up the minute it's open for registration!

We were so glad it was a sunny day that Sunday, 9th September 2013. The past few days leading up to Sunday was a bit chilly, with temperatures dipping below 10'C.

We bumped into a few walkers, loners (it's true!) and families during our run. Certain tracks forbid bicycles so we didn't have to jump out of the way for cyclists.

I wanted to show you the gentle slope we had just
walked up but sorry, my head is blocking the view!

I felt like stopping for a picnic!

Must stop to take pictures like a tourist in order to make it a fun run! :D

There was a reflective tag inserted into the cut log and it was so easy to spot during our second loop in the dark.

Where are we?

Always bring a map, or make sure your phone has sufficient battery life so you can detect your whereabouts if you're lost.

Came across a few random information boards along a certain track. Good stuff for family walks so you can share the knowledge with the kiddies. :D

There are various picnic grounds located in the National Park, equipped with barbeque pits and table and benches. Lunch time is usually a popular hour and you'll see families and friends having a jolly time with lots of food!

Us runners can only run by and smell the sausages sizzling.

This was a long singletrack along the road and you can hear the cars whizzing by. Funny thing for me is that it took me 5KM to loosen up and be able to enjoy my run without feeling as if I was struggling. (Why am I so weak? *dramatic sob*)

We climbed up a slope which ran past the back of some houses. Spotted a fat cat sitting on its perch, observing us go by. It was so fluffy!!!!!!!

OK, so it was getting too dark for the camera to capture some nice pictures.

Just thought I'd show you the image in front of me while I was running. With the reflective strips on his UD PB vest, I felt like I was looking at a cockroach's chest (you know, their stripes?) or some weird superhero with reflective shoes, too.

Road crossing!

See, there's nothing to see on a night run, LOL!

Just cars whizzing by and road signs.

Dazed from my camera's bright flash!

We were simulating a night trail run during the upcoming Surf Coast Century on 21st September where YB will be running Leg 3 and 4 for one team, and I will be running Leg 4 for another. We're doing a team event (but running for different teams) and hope to cross the finish line together. :)

Running in the dark, especially in the forest is a very different feeling altogether. Your senses are heightened to take in your surroundings. Your ears are pricked up to catch the slightest sound (in case a wild boar suddenly crashes into you) and your eyes are mainly focused on the ground ahead of you so as to watch where your feet land (holes, rocks, snake!!).

The sound of your pounding feet is what you'd hear and in the cool night, try not to exhale from your mouth (open wide) as your breath may just fog your view. Try exhaling through your nose or purse your lips as you exhale through your mouth.

As you are unable to enjoy the view and sights around you, you will be more focused on your running. I liked it. I kept on running, trying to keep YB and his cockroach back in sight, trying not to exhale through my mouth lest my breath 'fogged up' my view, and felt that I was doing good. 

As the track and trails were not gnarly or technical, it was easy to keep on running. My left foot landed on an occasional rock three times which my weak Energiser headlamp did not highlight. No sprained ankles, so I'm good.

Surprisingly, my pace averaged at 8min/km for the second half of my run (in the dark). Cheh! I thought I was going at 6:30min/km! (I need a new watch!)

After 6pm as it was slowly getting darker, we spotted a lyrebird  scraping the ground and saw silhouettes of some wallabies gallop by. It was such a surreal feeling!

Stupid headlamp kept slipping down my forehead that I almost felt like a minion with 3 eyes. Grrr.

And yes, we will have another dusk to dark trail run soon!