Time for a few Changes!

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Its been some time haven’t it? You would not believe how many times I started scribbling something down, and let it rot in the ‘Drafts’. I am perfectionist, ok? I can’t post it online, before its perfect but now its time to make a change! I’ve been to many races, did a few PRs, and met awesome people in the past few months and if I don’t start sharing these, I’ll definitely forget it. So from now on, I’ll try to share, even if it is a few sentences or pictures, anything that is worth mentioning.

Let’s start with the biggest step, I bought my first domain name! dorukbalkan.com is now online! It was an impulsive move, I don’t even remember what motivated me. (see, already forgot 😦 ) A few friends of mine were posting on their blogs, met a few new people who are social media masters and boom just got it without much thinking 🙂

Next on the agenda is the changes on the blog layout. I’ve been avoiding the usage of tags, just because it was going to need a lot of time to design a perfect categorizing system but that’s going to change! Current layout is pretty disorganized, and not very functional. Let’s see what we’ll get.

That’s all for now, need to clear up my mind and remember the adventurous races I’ve been at.
Bye!

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Salomon Trail Runs

Hey again! Missed me? I sure missed writing about, well anything. These past weeks I found myself planning what to write,  and how to write those. Trying to find the right words, connecting the dots in my brain. Do you ever plan what you are going to write, too?

Well apart from all the races, these 3 weeks have been overly busy with my 1st midterms, and a whole bunch of training sessions squeezed in. Now that my midterms are finished, another race in 3 days, I need to get some of those pictures in my mind out, and create more space for more to come! Hopefully, I won’t have any trouble remembering, so here it goes!

As I mentioned in my previous post I had been planning to race in Salamon XRuns (Trail Runs) on 27th of October. (Wow it’s been nearly two months). It was a superb race! There was two different courses, a 6K Trail Run and a 15K Trail Run. This was the first race I would race after my triathlon, I was feeling a litle soar, feeling a bit injured, and tired because of over training. So I wasn’t too excited about the race. It was a great opportunity to get to see Belgrad Forest in Istanbul, see old friends but most importantly a good warm up run and motivation just before the Ist5Days, a 5 day orienteering event.

As you might have figured out, my life has been very much revolving around orienteering for the past 2-3 months now. Not sure if I am becoming a better orienteer but I definitely feel like I am. I am definitely more confident in myself. My fear for long distances has disappeared, or the long distance on my mind has become a much longer distance now. I do find myself longing for a 15-18K on the weekends, a great distance to really leave that week behind and have a good start. Hill training is now a place that I can prove myself, and the interval training are becoming all about speed. Of course I am very behind in my technical orienteering skills, but I am sure I’ll get over it very soon!

Ok getting to the run, but wait! A german friend of mine, Vassily cooked pasta for us, again! This time I made sure to take a few pictures.

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I don’t usually think twice while buying pasta from the supermarket, that was because i didn’t know i could make them so easily!  While the pasta was being prepared, I tried to get my friends to watch Key & Peele, I don’t think they got the jokes, though 🙂
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So, the trail run! I decided not to run a 15K, as I was scared my pain would get worse, and I always like a short distance of 5-6K. 2 of my friends were going to run a 15K and another friend (Remember Zeynep!) was going to run a 6K.

So again I travelled to Istanbul, this time early on Saturday morning. This time I couldn’t find a friend to stay at, so I took this opportunity to spend some time with my uncle and his wife.

Their house was in the Anatolian side of Istanbul, so I did have some fun trying to find my way in Istanbul. I spent hours on the back seat of the bus, having myself the time and start reading a new book, “What I talk about When I talk about Running” or having the time to enjoy the view on the ferry back from the European Side.

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Another great opportunity to learn how to live in Istanbul! Many of my job opportunities, really considering Consulting as a career, is located in Istanbul. What scared me the most was the traffic and the over population in Istanbul.

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Back to the race! After leaving my stuff in my uncle’s place, we had the chance to grab a bite in a place just next to the sea. Afterwards we took a walk next to the sea. It was thrilling to sea that there was a, not too long, bicycle road next to the sea shore. There was a good number of runners and bikers enjoying the sea and bright sun.

Rest of the day was about napping and getting ready for the race. I cooked ravioli pasta -delicious!-, drank hot water with lemon and went to bed pretty early.

Waking early in the morning, my usual routine took control of the things. Tea with toast and jam on the side. I did not get to eat much again, but it was pretty filling.

Met Zeynep and her family, who were kind enough to offer me a ride to the race site, otherwise I definitely would not have made it 🙂 On the road there, we picked up the remaining runners, Metin & Ayar who are also in our ODTU Orienteering Team.

Upon arriving, the atmosphere was really moving.  There was a lot of runners, just there for their weekend run without even acknowledging the race. The trail was a running trail inside the forest. There was a lot of little up and down hills, making it a perfect training especially for me.

While warming up, my pain started to surface right away. I did a few little sprints ignoring the pain trying to clear up mind and took my place at the 6K start. The 6K start was very crowded, and that’s when I really realized I might have had a better chance for ranking in the 15K run. After a few minutes of delay, the race was on! Again, like always there were sprinters for the first 100metres but this time I acted like an amateur trying to have a good start right in the middle of the group. Now I  realize that if I had started the race on one of the sides, just as I did in the MUD Race, I would have had an excellent start and maybe push myself to be in the leading group.

Having a bad start, I really couldn’t keep up with the leading group. They started with a very fast pace, and first long hill really didn’t help on this. The tiny bit of pain, got through to me, making me give up on my ambition to catch up with the leading group of 5-6 people. After this, I decided to maintain a good pace for myself and really enjoy the process. I got used to uphills and downhills after a while, and the run became very enjoyable. Seeing non-racing runners on the trail and their cheers were really motivating, too. I did get to pass a runner, and managed to not be beaten by anyone behind of me.

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From the start there was one runner, wearing a yellow jersey, that I made my race goal to pass. On the uphills I would really shorten the distance and downhill he would take the distance back. Seeing the last 500m mark, I increased my pace catching up with him in the last 50m. Just when I was about to pass him, I started yelling “keep running i’m right behind you” in order to warn him and see if he was up for the race. I ended up miliseconds behind him, which the timing system was indifferent to notice. Good for me! We thanked each other for the adrenalin rush of the last 50m.

My time is apparently

7 207 DORUK BALKAN 00:23:13 18   – 29

I was pretty happy with my result, and using the Mcmillan Running Calculator, it seems that I improved my 5K pace! 20:06 to 19:11! Yeay!

Zeynep didn’t get to run in the race, as a precaution for her injuries. Emre hadn’t had the chance to train well however he did have a good finishing time. Metin WON! I mean he was ranked 3rd overall in the 15K, bringing home the trophy 🙂 His time is very inspiring to me and a good challenge to beat soon!

The after ‘fruit shots’ were awesome, so was the event tshirt they got for us!

After the race, I went to a restaurant near the bosphorus and spent some time with my relatives.  We took a quick walk on the running trail laying just next to the shore. Afterwards when we got back home, and my uıncle cooked the fish he caught,  delicious!

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Ciao for now.

Coffee Beans & Pre-Race

Hey there! It’s been some time now!. I was pretty tired of all the races but now, I am back! Motivated and full of energy to race 24/7!

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It’s been 3 weeks since my big accomplishment, my first sprint triathlon! I wasn’t too tired afterwards, actually I was pretty energetic and I had a few good training following the tri. I was so good that, I pushed beyond my safe limits and ran an unofficial half marathon with a buddy of mine.(very bad idea) Let’s have a few flashbacks!

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It was a beautiful Sunday Morning! The weekend before I had a nice, slow paced 10K run, and I wanted to keep my motivation up and keep moving; so a few orienteers and I met early in the morning to have another 10K run. Two triathletes also joined us for the run, however one of them had a half-marathon run planned for that day. My 10K was very slow, as I had the chance to chat with a friend I hadn’t had the chance to see in a long time, so after the 10K, I still had a good amount of energy. My triathlete friend really doesn’t like to run alone, so I decided to run at least a 3K with him. Guess what happened; a freaking idea to finish his run with him.

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After the run, my legs were sour for 3 days straight, really bringing my motivation down, and making me regret my decisions. Thankfully on Thursday, I was feeling pretty good, ready for the interval training we had planned out. One thing I noticed on Thursday is that I can’t seem to really push myself, s   till! My pace is a lot different than others; giving me a hard time while doing intervals with others. What I noticed is that I like to run fast in long distances but hate to start sprinting in the last 20-30m. I definitely need to adjust my training program to suit what I like to train.

So what’s up with the week ahead?
-A lot of races!

On Sunday, I have a 6K Trail Run planned out. SalomonXRuns!

This is more like a warm up run for me, as the whole week is going to be about ORIENTEERING!
On 31st of October 10th Ist5Days is starting! 5 Days & 5 Races & ISTANBUL!

I’m very excited about ist5days as for the past 2 years I really had no chance in planning and racing in Ist5Days however this year everything went according to plan, and I will be racing my certain parts off in the most beautiful terrains in Turkey!

Be sure to wait for great posts about Ist5Days!

What else is up?

Well there’s a big deal going on around my university, the municipality cutting down trees at the middle of the night, the students trying to fight back and nature screaming in fear. Here’s more to read about it! and if you’re intrested Just a bit more!

In response we got to plant a lot of new trees in our campus. Hopefully to become a bigger forest, and more places to run & orienteer one day.

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Finally, I bought some great coffee! Why? Well homeworks are the main answer to this 🙂 My studies are pretty heavy this semester, and me planning an Erasmus for the upcoming year certainly doesn’t help. I am seeking the solution in the beautiful flavored coffee beans. I’m taking a sip from my coffee with lactose-free milk as I write this down.

’til the end of the bunch of races
Save the Green!
Adios!

Kusadasi’13- First Sprint Tri Ever!

It’s usually hard to find something to write about, this isn’t one of them!

This weekend I raced in my first ever Triathlon! Kusadası Turkish Triathlon Championships! Let’s back up few months.

At the beginning of summer, my teammate from METU Orienteering, Nermin mentioned that she had started swimming in our university’s pool, and that she was considering a triathlon in the not so distant future. Having had a lot of time on my hands, I started reading countless blogs, articles and started watching anything related with triathlon. I have always been comfortable with swimming, as we would have a vacation near the sea almost every year but I was aware that swimming against the clock and covering kilometers was something to work for. Although the longest distance, without taking brake, I swam throughout summer was 400m, and longest overall distance I swam was 1400m, I was confident that I could participate in a Sprint-Tri.

Checking the federation’s calendar, I noticed that there was a triathlon in October, just when my studies were beginning. I though that it would be a great motivation to get back to training, a great way to clear my mind for junior year and also a great achievement. Then I asked myself, ‘Why this one? Why not try one in the next spring, where there’s enough time to train properly?’ The answer was that I wanted to compete in my first tri before I was 20! The big ‘2’ ‘0’ is huge for me! Two decades! Proving to myself that I have accomplished such and such in two decades shows me that I could accomplish a lot more in the upcoming decades! That’s when I decided that I HAD to compete in the Kusadası Triathlon!

I frequently called, e-mailed the Federation in order to find out whether the triathlon was a sprint (which I was praying for) or an olympic distance (which was scared as hell). Right before the MUDRACE, it was announced! A Sprint-Tri! Although I had lost the initial motivation I had, I talked to Nermin, only to realize that she was already ready to race with me! So started the double training and triathlon preparation. Thanks to Nermin, I did not have to worry about transportation or accommodation as she had everything figured out!

One thing to mention here, I still did not and do not have a bicycle! I am not talking about a race bicycle, I don’t even have 2 wheels and a brake! Many thanks to METU MTB Team, I was able to borrow this red beauty, and get used to riding a road bicycle. It was so thrilling but tiring to ride it! When I was riding in my comfort zone, I couldn’t reach the brakes, which in turn pushed me out of my comfort zone 🙂 A dear friend Ensar, accompanied me during the 2 biking sessions, teaching me the ‘way of the cyclist’.

Busy with the Orientation Meeting for our Orienteering Team, I managed to get the bicycle checked out, pack my bag at the last second and get ready for the awesome weekend!

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Me and my teamy Nermin!

This was my first time travelling with a bicycle so I didn’t know if we would have any trouble with the bus and the staff. We had paid almost 35$ for the bus, just because the bus company, Kamil Koç had a welcoming policy to bicycles. Of course, although they had to take our bicycles, the staff was whining as 2 bicycles meant extra work for them, and carelessly tried to fit our bikes. I took initiative and used my advanced engineering skills to fit the two bikes, and lock them to each other so that they wouldn’t move 🙂 So much for the practical usage of my studies! 

We got off the bus at Kusadası, early in the morning and were greeted with a cold breeze, the streets were empty, and we cycled our way into the city, and found our tiny, cosy hotel. We decided to cycle a bit more, see where would race the day after, and  have breakfast. When we reached the seashore, where we would race the day after, they wasn’t a cold breeze, there was a god damn hurricane! It was cold, and very windy! We tried to warm up, cycling in the race track. Suprisingly, the cycling track was hilly. I couldn’t really paddle sitting down so I got up and showed my Spinning Class skills. Nermin was very comfortable going up the hill, as she often races in Mountain Bike Races. We didn’t have too much trouble going up hill but it really wasn’t what I expected to see. Having mixed emotions about the race, we decided to get some breakfast, where we ran into a bunch of friends of Nermin, who were professional triathletes! 

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It was a great opportunity to learn even the smallest details about what was waiting for us and what we should expect for the tri; however their description of the race wasn’t helpful a bit 🙂 They told us that this was ‘the hardest’ triathlon of the year, the sea would be full of waves and the hilly bike track was the hardest around Turkey! God was I worried! I filled myself up, with anything on the table, comforting myself that I would need it the day after. After breakfast, we decided to check the Running part of the tri, only to Hello to the waves that was aforementioned

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Being demotivated by all the conversations, scary waves and freezing wind, we decided to practice transition for the rest of the afternoon. Although the sun was shining brightly, we were freezing. I was pretty fast putting on my clothes in the transition practices however decided that I would take my time in the transitions and wear warm clothes for cycling.

We went for a nice hot pasta with the other triathletes right next to the sea. The food was delicious; and warmed me up! The sight probably helped, too.

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Race Morning! 

We got up pretty early and had a decent breakfast. I made my secret mix for my morning drink, a little caffeine and carb loading at the same time! Let me share this secret recipe with you! Tea with 6 cubes of sugar! 😀 Believe me it works!
Ate some bread with jam, and ready to race!

We were in the race area, before anyone else. We got stamped, which is so cool! I was careful not to rub it off for days 🙂 I prepared and triple checked my transition, met the fellow transition neighbour, which was also a new triathlete! To my advantage, there was a beautiful old house right where my transition space was; I thought to myself that this would be a nice landmark to run to after swimming and cycling.

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My cosy, warm and loveful transition space!
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It’s hard to miss this landmark, even if you have swam 750m & cycled 20K!

We watched the Elite Triathlete’s start, got motivated and it was our turn! More than 80  triathletes of all age groups filled the beach.  There was a lot excitement, and smiles which really motivated me!

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Swimming! 

I really didn’t have any goals to achieve for swimming as I hadn’t even timed my 750m. I was expecting something around 19-20min and decided that I would swim behind the pro’s. I was a bit worried whether all the brushing of elbows and hitting would hurt me and push me out of the race so I decided not to risk it. Those were what was on my mind ‘before’ the race. When the start whistle was heard however, I ran right into the sea, trying to create a space for myself to swim and fighting my way through the age groups. It was fun! I had a few people hitting me and me hitting a few people back, thinking if I should stop and say ‘sorry!’. A few people insisted on being hit, as they were getting in my space, trying to push me out 🙂 First 300m were hard, struggling both with other triathletes and the waves slowing me down. I guess I checked for the checkpoint floating flag at least 6 or 7 times. When I reached it I, I checked for the other checkpoint and started to swim again for 50m. When I decided to check for it again, I realized that I had passed it for 10m or so. I was happy that I had covered the 50m fast and started to swim towards the shore! I caught a few people in front of me and really started to swim fast, compared to what I was expecting. Reached the shore and checked my stopwatch, 16:37! Cooollll!!! I was so motivated and ran into the transition.

Although the crowd was cheering for all others, there was almost complete silence when I was running through them, so much for motivation again 🙂
I said “They were out of words when they saw me” and kept on running. 

First transition was verry slow, as I had trouble putting both the tshirts on after swimming, I took my time to dry off, and put my socks; however I felt like I was sprinting while running to the cycling line, as everyone else were acting as they had no energy and slowly waking to the line. I was so fast that I couldn’t get on the bike right away and had to slow down to get on it 🙂

Cycling!

I started with a moderate pace to the 2nd part of the race. I really didn’t have a clue if I would even finish the 20K. When I reached the hill, I tried my best to sit down and cycle but had to get up for the last bit a hill. The downhill was scaring me a lot, I had checked the ground for any holes and rocky parts of the road the day before. Again my plan was to slow down as much as needed for any rocky parts and for the little bit of turns there was. Reality Check: I hit the breaks for my first lap, however for the remaning 5 laps I was filled with adrenaline, doing my best not to lose any speed!

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For the remaining of my turns I tried to increase my speed however lost track of how many laps I had covered so I was unable to really put all I had on the track. Self note to future: Really, really be careful while counting laps and put it all out there! For the hills I  almost never sat down, I passed many triathletes on the way down but I was passed by a few pros on the way down. I guess I need to properly learn how to use the aerobars.

After my 5th lap, I wasn’t sure if it was my final lap or if I needed one more. I listened to my gut and did one more fast lap. After that lap, I still wasn’t sure if I should do one more, but decided that this was enough of cycling for today and ran to the transition. As I didn’t have and SPDs, this was a fast transition, me leaving my helmet and drinking a bit of water. The time showed 1:10:00, meaning 50minutes on the cycling track. -10 min on my expected of an hour. Coo,coo,cool! (Reference to Community Series)

Running!

Ok, so this was supposed to be my turn to shine! Just 4 days before the race, we had our 5K and 400m test as the Orienteering Team. I was very bad in the 400m, not able to run fast in the beginning and weren’t able to slide past the leading group in the last 100m; after the 400m test we had 20min to cooldown and rest before the 5K; however I had to talk to Nermin, about our upcoming race and travel arrangements, so I couldn’t really ‘rest’. In spite of this, I ran very well, although I again had trouble pushing myself to my limits, my time was 20:06!

A good warm up for the 5K in the sprint-tri! So when I started the running part, I was expecting the wind to brush my cheeks, and really run a fun 5K, however reality was again waiting around the corner! My legs were very heavy, my ankle started to hurt as soon as I started running. I had to stop and tie my shoes, making me focus more on my ankle pain. I pushed and pushed myself to try to run faster, in vain! I maintained a nice pace however; just not the pace I wanted to.

Last 100m was pretty nice, running just next to sea, however the wind again was very strong.

My stopwatch showed 1:35:07 however I think that was after having a sip of water and resting a little 🙂 My official time is 1:33:46, not bad eh?

Overall

Swimming 16:37

Cycling ~50min

Running 23:46

2nd Place for Nermin!

After the award ceremony, we visited a photo exhibition by Barış Barlas. (http://barisbarlas.com/)

Inspired by him, here are a few photos of our trip.

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Looking back to the race, it really wasn’t so hard. Was it worth it? I really think it was. It was a very different experience, and a very good opportunity to swim, cycle and run at the finest tracks, not being bothered by our most delicate traffic. However I am very sorry to say that it wasn’t what I expected. I always thought that it would be full of adrenalin, and a challenging race. I guess reality is that my adrenalin scale is a bit too high because of Orienteering.  I guess my agenda will consist more of Orienteering trainings rather than triathlon. But practicing for triathlon really got me loving cross training, and I could blindly state that I definitely will race in another triathlon. My next goal is Tasucu Triathlon, an olympic distance triathlon, which I think will allow me to push my limits 🙂 Afterwards, there may be a small half-ironman on my agenda, but more on that later!

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Ciao!

MudRace’13

Busy, busy, busy!

With my junior year,  with the university having started, a lot has happened in the past 2 weeks.

Best news first! I am going to race in my first ever SPRINT TRIATHLON this weekend. I had been looking forward to this, and with the announcement of the distances, me and my teammate Nermin are going to Kusadası (famous for the touristic ports where cruises come to). Thanks to my dearest teammate I don’t have to deal with transportation or accomodation! More on this after the race, let’s not jinx it.

I and a bunch of friends (mostly from my orienteering team) had been planning to compete in the MUDRACE ’13. A few teammates of mine had raced there last year, with their costumes from Ancient Rome!

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Ceren’s photo from MUDRACE’12! Award winning, too!

So we prepared our costumes and took the midday bus to Istanbul. We took a cheap bus to Istanbul, as many races had taken the weight off our wallets. We were in the middle of nowhere, when the bus stopped out of a sudden and had us scared that the journey had ended without us even seeing any mud. I took this opportunity to get back to blogging, apparently this was what I was waiting for. I wrote those long posts about 34 HAT tournament and wasn’t even satisfied, so started working on my internship report.

Xena & Crazy Doctor in undercover clothing, for now!
Xena & Crazy Doctor in undercover clothing, for now!

A few friends from Bogazici Fat Cats (a university Ultimate Team from Istanbul) decided to join us for the MUDRACE, and Seçkin, someone to write a few posts about, was generous and welcoming to let us stay at his place, After Carb-loading, apple flavored beer tasting(in a very cosy bar called ‘Uçan Ev’ translated as ‘Flying Home’ ) and spending some quality time with an old friend,Yusuf, I was feeling very tired, which got me a bit worried about the MUDRACE the next day. I don’t even remember falling asleep. 

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starberry & apple flavored beer

The day after, the sun was hiding behind the grey clouds, giving us the chills while we were eating our morning pastry. To our luck, the sun was shining when we got to Kilyos Beach. Quickly getting my number& timing chip, I started to make a few last remarks on my costume.

My companions were in no mood to really race, acting all chill, no race but I managed to concentrate a bit on the race and warm up properly before the race. Ok, let’s be honest I did a lot of chillin’ too 🙂

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Indian, Xena, Mad Doctor, The Witch

Observing the first mass start, we knew we had to take the lead in order not to be stranded behind the crowds in the obstacles ahead. By the way, we 4 ,my companions and I ,were the only people wearing a costume which really made us a target at the mass start.

And the race started in all of a sudden! People were sprinting as if it was a 400m race, a few ‘thoughtful’ runners brushing me with their elbows. I knew I had to take the lead, so I sprinted, struggling through the sand. After a 200m sprint, I wasn’t sure how I could pace myself as I was breathing heavily and really having a hard time climbing a bunch of stairs, however a leading group of 3-4 people provided the motivation I needed to maintain a proper pace. I wasn’t really expecting to get a ranking finishing time but seeing that I was leading the group was enough to motivate me to really push myself.

Ain't that determination?
Ain’t that determination?

I was expecting to be covered in mud very soon, however for the first 3-4Km it was more like a trail run. I maintained a good pace, controlling my breathing and staying motivated. I was careful not to look back, as I knew it might have pushed me off my pace. The costume started to weight heavy especially running up hill. After running up and down on a few hills, I looked back to check how far my next rival was. It was Emre, another teammate of mine! He is a great runner, so this really motivated me. I kept pushing and pushing.

Then came the obstacle maze, where I had pass 6-7 obstacles one after the other. I jumped up and rolled down, without losing any speed. I had to throw my glasses to a volunteer nearby just before jumping into a pool of mud. I divided right into it and stroked a little too. I jumped out of the pool, but my vision was all blury, muddy water covering my eyes. I rejected clean water to clean my face, what a smart runner!, and kept on running.

Honestly, it is all blurry!
Honestly, it is all blurry!

The volunteers were cheering ‘Here comes the DOCTOR!’  so I kept on going. Last 1Km or so was hard to cover, but I managed to layout through an obstacle of tires, and sprint in the last 100m sand. People weren’t expecting to see a 19-year old wearing a muddy costume to finish first. Emre came in close second. Happy as we were, exhauted is a better description. We jumped into the sea to clean ourselves up.

I was suprised to see that I had was ranked 3rd overall and 1st in my age-group (sub-21). Sharing the podium with famous ultra runners was a good experience. The gifts aren’t so bad either.

One and Only!

Afterwards I celebrated with pizza followed by a coconut juice!

3 Medals does need celebration!
3 Medals does need celebration!

The bus ride back wasn’t about resting though, I had to finish up my internship report. Thankfully I enjoy writing while travelling.

I could say that I’m really looking forward to a trip like this one again! Living life to its limits, pushing any boundaries you have and enjoying great company. Once again I realized how lucky I was to have teammates I share so much with. Motivating me before, during and after anything I have to deal with, be it a hard race or a harder homework to finish!

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Share your thoughts!

What was your last ‘different race’ ?

How much do you dislike mud? 

Bus trips, a love to do, or hate to do?

34 HAT Beach Ultimate Tournament!

34 HAT! The sun, the beach, Istanbul, phosphorus and great people! I think this pretty much summarizes the great weekend I had. What brought all these tohether was the  34 Hat Beach Ultimate Tournament.

For those who has no clue what ultimate is, here are a few links to follow.

http://www.whatisultimate.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL7P50DupZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgtAu-tuYm4

In short Ultimate is 14 players running around a 125gr of round plastic disc but that’s just the short boring version! The spirit of the game is what puts the golden crown to Ultimate,  having no referees, the responsibility of the game is left to the players, allowing them to live the game to its limits.

Enough with these, my orienteering team didn’t let me down, and a teammate, Ceren joined me in this amazing weekend. We took the bus from Ankara to Istanbul, and got the opportunity to see a bit of Istanbul before the tournament. We had rice and *** for lunch and took the shuttle from Bhosphorus University to Kilyos Beach. Chatting up with old friends, the time flew by and we found ourselves right next to the sea, and lots of discs flying around! God I missed this!

My friends usually do not understand what there is to love about Ultimate. I could and do throw discs all day when I can, if I can find someone else who has the Ultimate-Fever. In the tournaments, everyone loves this as much as you do and no matter day or night, you can find someone to share this amazing thing.

Changing into our swimsuits we rolled around in the sand and tried to fight the giant waves that was crashing to the shore. I have always been familiar with the sea and open water swimming since I was a kid. I understand that it may be scary for people who are not used to it, but you had though until now that it was something that you could adapt yourself to. Being challenged by these giant waves allowed me to understand once more, that I am not invincible. Being afraid or preferably cautious of swimming in open water is a necessity. You never know what might happen in the middle of your swim and taking a break may not be possible.

At dinner I followed my usual carb-loading sequal, filling my plate with as many carb as I could find adding a little bit of protein on the side, and a rich salad to make sure I don’t have any problems digesting the carb-load throughout the night.

I was the first to be picked on the Yellow Team, and with more people joining me, I got into the tournament mood easily. Yiğit, who is also my teammate in ANKA Ultimate Team, and Melania, who I have always admired with the ultimate skill she has, were in my team. I was familiar with many of my new teammates, but I would have never guessed they were as excellent as I got to know them now.  We named our team , Yellow Submarines and decided that we would sing along the song “ Yellow Submarines” and other Yellow related songs as a cheer.

Sleeping early was not possible as my roommates were, let’s say, not careful about the noise they may have been making. Even after they went to bed, their loud jokes filled the room. Maybe if I had the chance to know them better, I would have joined in with the jokes J.

Waking up early, I decided to repeat what I had done on the morning of my first Half Marathon, Runtalya’13.  Eating only bread with jam or honey on top and sugar-filled tea, I felt energized ready to roll!

I always imagined running in the sand as everyone running a little less slower. What a fool I was! Just standing on the field, surrounded by sand everywhere made me breathe heavily and I could play for only a few minutes before becoming very tired. Having many players we switched in every point and tried to put all we had on the field.

We won 2 and lost 2 of our games, losing with only a 1-2 points behind. The other 6 teams had the same score and the leader team having 3 wins and a loss. Ceren’s team, unfortunately won only 1 game, but it was good to see that she, a first-timer, was having a blast playing Ultimate.

What makes my day, while playing Ultimate, is not how many wins and losses my team has but rather the quality of the game. Having a good team spirit and reflecting that on the field is all that I ask of while playing. It’s always good to do a layout and score but it’s also very exciting to be nicely defended and pushed to my  limits.
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The food ran out pretty soon, as everyone was hungry as a wolf. I did get my share of protein to recover for the day after and filled myself up with more salad. The meat was great, and so was the hard working staff.

After dinner a fellow player from USA who will live in Ankara for a few years taught us a fun drinking game involving accuracy in throwing, sprinting, team work and of course drinking. Although we weren’t too good at playing it, we had a lot fun, especially from the drinking part, as we were more involved in the drinking and losing part of the game. The party started but I got to learn and play a different board game. What a geek right?  With the luck which was nowhere to found on the field, I won the game. Next time I don’t think the old timers are going to help a lot J. We partied, not as hard as we did in Eskişehir (Old City) however the moon and the sea view was a blast. I was careful not to drink so much beer and go to bed early, but the music was so loud that I could clearly hear it in my room.

Morning came, and people started to fill the dining hall. Being of the few that was sober, it was much too fun to watch people trying to fill themselves up with caffeine and try to wake up. I don’t think it’s much professional to drink alcohol before any tournaments or races. It may be motivating but personally my body suffers a lot, even if I consume little bit of alcohol. Race first, party later!

We won the matches in the morning and we found ourselves in the top 4, in the semi-finals. Semi-final match was very exciting. My feet were hurting like hell, but I kept on sprinting up and down. Following a fellow sprinter and making him follow me back. Although we had a lead of 7-1 the other team caught up with us 7-6 but we managed to keep our cool and win the match. The reality hit me that second. We were in the FINALS! I realized that I deliberately hold myself back on the finals. I guess I put too much pressure on myself, and cannot find the will to play hard, scared of making a small mistake that would cost my team a lot. As I am a fast player, they usually match me with the good players on the opposing teams, and being tired after the whole tournament it’s just too much for me. I chose not to play to much, assisting the team as it was needed of me. I tried to keep calm, and not become more stressed than I was, but while doing that I lost track of time and the match ended. We had won the tournament. Of course after this you wish you had played mo.re in the final, but it’s still a good experience. We celebrated by swimming with our clothes until the awards ceremony. Being called up to the stage, we sang “Yellow Submarine” one last time. While leaving the stage, they announced that our team had also won the “Spirit of the Game” Award. With our medals in one hand and our trophies on the other we were joyful and excited.

Returning to the center, I had the opportunity to see Gezi Park, and the places I had seen following the protests for Gezi Park. It was very touching and shocking to be in the place that you had seen thousands have marched a few weeks before protesting the goverments’ irresponsible actions and police brutality. There were riot police**stationed everywhere leashing fear into the hearts of the people walking around.

Overall, I met amazing people and had the opportunity to know them better. 2 day long, all day long, Ultimate was of course what I had needed to motivate me. Istanbul was beautiful as always, however seeing the traffic first hand has made me reconsider my wish to live there someday. I cannot complain about the two trophies our team won, but I would trade them both to spend more time getting to know my teammates better. Go Yellow Submarines!

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SEEOC ’13 – Romania!

I am a lousy blogger. I’ve been postponing these for 2 weeks now, and a lot more is happening every day. Right now, I’m on my way to Istanbul with 3 friends of mine for the MUD RACE! I’m not going to jump to that story just yet, but the reason I’m telling you this is because our bus just broke down and we still have 230Km ‘til Istanbul. I don’t know how long it’s going to take them to repair it, or if we’ll have to hitchhike our way there but it’s a good opportunity to start blogging for a bit. So let’s back a few weeks now.

SEEOC ’13! We decided overnight to go to Romania for the South Eastern Europe Orienteering Championships. As I repeatedly tell myself and others, I am not that great at orienteering, or running. Although I would have been competing with orienteers representing many Balkan countries, I didn’t really care as I knew I would have enjoyed it, so I did more than I expected anyways. We would be a group of 4, from my team (METU Orienteering and Navigation Team) but a great friend (and a great soon to be World Ranked orienteer), Zeynep and I would be stuck with each other for the whole trip.

I took the plane from Ankara to Istanbul then to Bucharest. Zeynep got me a little worried as she arrived at the last minute to flight to Bucharest. Believe me when I say this, I love to plan ahead.  For those of you planning to come to Turkiye (Turkey) you have to let that go control freak rest a little for the trip. When I could plan ahead (meaning I have control over stuff), I try to plan every minute of the way, when it gets out of my control I try to roll with it. Usually living in the big city, you don’t have any control so I just try to do whatever I can.  The flight plans was something I had control over, but lovely friend who made a last second save was not J Anyways a little bit of adrenaline rush is good early in the morning. (Is it really?)

Arriving at Bucharest we rented a car, which appeared to have gone through a few accidents. The car was a bit too old, or so it sounded like. Not all the windows were working, and you had to find the right spot to close the glove compartment. Getting used to the car, especially driving it took a while (actually the whole trip) but we rolled through the streets of Bucharest and made our way to Ramnicu Valcea. We sang and laughed all way 🙂

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One thing that I have to mention is, except for a few knuckle heads, the drivers were really respectful to everyone. We came across a few road constructions where we had to stop for almost half an hour for each and no one took this out of the horn. Especially in big cities we have a lot of traffic noise, and nearly no one respects each other. I did see curious and bored people getting out of their car, a familiar view from back home, but the respect everyone had for each other really touched me.

Also, these long hours of waiting allowed us to focus on the houses and animals around. As well as these gravestones right next to the road. I don’t think I had ever seen such a thing. Apparently these gravestones are from the traffic accidents that occurred in the past and gravestones are there to remind people to drive safe and responsible.
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After we made our way to Ramnicu Valcea, and struggling to find out the traffic rules, parking spots we got our racing bids and found a place to grab a bite. We had our first race in 3 hours (we were expecting to have longer but the roads weren’t what we expected) so we decided to get some macaroni inside us. After being ripped off from a bank with low exchange rates, we ordered ‘penne arabiata’ which I knew was a pasta, what I didn’t know was the amount and quality of spice it had in it. I don’t eat spice, like ever! I have a sensitive stomach that doesn’t tolerate spice.  Adding a little spice to the adventure the pasta was soo hot! I managed to eat it, reaching beyond my limits and surprising myself. New experiences! That’s what the trip is for isn’t it?

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Our first race was a Middle  Distance with 6 Km. Following  a mystic trail to the start, I was well warmed up for the race, but it apparently my watch was a few minutes late so I started off with a penalty of 5 minutes. Being so warmed up physically isn’t always a good thing. I guess I wasn’t mentally ready to orienteer just yet, as I made a very easy mistake right after the first flag. Realizing the mistake I made, I chose to take a shortcut through thick bushes, which made me lose at least 10 more minutes. Self note: Don’t be so stubborn when you make mistakes. GO BACK and don’t make such a mistake at least for the rest of the race. I grasped the flow for the rest of the course until the part when we got to an open terrain with lots of thick bushes , full of thorns. That’s when I lost it again, coming back and forth in the same terrain looking for a feature to locate where I was. Looking back to it, I really regret not being more calm. Also, I had some trouble adjusting to the scale, however others had a few problems also indicating that the map may have been flawed, maybe it’s not ALL my fault.

Going back to the hotel, we checked in to our suit room. It wasn’t really cheap however it was a 3 room suit with a great view to one of the central streets. It was clean and big, so I enjoyed it a lot. The food wasn’t too good, but they had 3 different servings everyday and fruits/desserts on the side. A lot more than what I expected.

Let’s fast forward a little, as I am afraid you’re going to stop reading.
On the second and the third day we had sprint orienteering. I just love sprint orienteering, not having to deal with big hills, hard terrain and having to enjoy the places where people live in! I am not a sprinter, but I like to run fast and have the wind cooling me of the heat. In the mean time our ‘Masters’ from my team arrived, and the fantastic four was rolling the streets.
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What to eat and how much that was going to cost us was a big question keeping my mind busy. We managed to find a place right between KFC and McDonalds, which looked a lot healthier. SPRING TIME! I loved eating there, and the people working there as their smiles were heart warming and that they helped us a lot with our orders.
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On the fourth day came the Long Distance! 9.2Km ! Well with the mistakes I made and the hills I had to climb up and down I think I might have walked/jogged at least 16-17Km. I couldn’t complete the course in the allowed time and one of my flags were already removed when  arrived it. It really doesn’t matter to me that I have another ‘dnf’ in my record now because I know that one way or another I finished the course and beat the course planner! I learned a lot in this race as I had never ran with a scale of 15 000:1. A small map with lots of features in a long distance is very hard to follow up with. Now, I have faith in myself that I’ll do better next time I’m challenged with such a map. Criticizing myself, I was very much distracted with other orienteers around me. I chose to run faster instead of being more map-aware, which of course ended up me being lost in the middle of nowhere. Apart from that, I realized that I should pay more attention to contours and the landforms instead of following paths.

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We were very tired, so we rushed our way back to the hotel. My hopes of having pizza&beer faded away as the others weren’t as keen on pizza as I was. Staying with them and enjoying their company was more than accounted for though. At night we ran into another group of orienteers from Turkiye, who were more than willing to share their beers and company with us. After that tiring day, I went to bed early to get a good nights sleep and to get ready for the race of the day after.

On the last day, I felt very good and motivated to be there. Just before leaving the hotel we paid our respects to the church across the hotel. Listening to the priests’ prayers and lighting some candles, I again understood that religions are just a bunch of different words that keep us separated. It is the will, commitment and gratefulness that we have that forms the religion, and brings us closer to the one we believe.

The last day’s race started inside a museum of wooden houses. The spirit was high and all the national teams were excited to make up for the races of day’s beforehand and to make their countries proud. The route to the start was again very long, but I got to jog between country side houses and rivers that travelled between the trees. The path there was very steep and I gained a lot of altitude ‘til I reached the start. I made a few rookie mistakes which I regret deeply now but overall this being my last race I managed to enjoy it a lot. With the altitude I gained on the way up, I was able to sprint downhill near the finish and enjoy the thrill.

Zeynep and I following the orienteers from Istanbul Orienteering Group (IOG) made our way back to Bucharest. We checked in to ‘Hello Hotels’, for a very good price. The room was small but functional. It was  so clean, and comfortable. Although the city view wasn’t what I expected being on the 7th floor, It was a great room. Travelling on the streets of Bucharest we found 100Lei (25 Euros). We gave to a disable person on the street. He was very much grateful, and thanking us until we were so far that we couldn’t hear  anymore. We came across a statue of Mustafa Kemal ATATURK, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Not appreciating the great deeds he has done in Turkiye, it was great feeling to see that someone somewhere is still honoring is memory.
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For our last meal in Bucharest while  exchanging some money, we came across a Turkish restaurant. We ate kebab, and watched a ice-cream man show famous for a city of Turkiye called Maraş. ***One example of those shows*** In the morning, our navigation chose not to work so we had to use our navigation skills to find the airport; and well we got lost, bad. We spent an hour trying to find where the airport was, but it was a good experience to see more of Bucharest. Taking the plane back, our journey came to an end.
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Romania was pretty amazing, and I believe I became a better orienteer than I was. I got to know my teammates better, and had the pleasure to chat up with a few Romanian fellows. It was joyful to experience a church again.  Apparently I couldn’t try national dishes, but I will make up for it when I travel there without a race in the schedule. Last but not least, the chocolate filled beagles that I had for the last day will be a sweet memory until I get to go back.

Just Small Adjustments

August has come to an end, summer was too short and full of memories.

Many races await in the not so far distant. I know these, I had known these for a few weeks now and what have i done? Well not enough training, that’s for sure but I keep convincing myself that I have trained a bit, which is better than none at all. As a fellow blogger (BiggerThanSmaller) mentions I’d like to think that I was active throughout the summer and that was how I survived my summer offseason. Especially in August where I made a pact with myself that I would not use cars, shuttles or any other environment killing transportation mean, which has also become my  wallet’s worst enemy.

It all started when me and a bunch of friends from USA (CSL Group) were hanging out in Tunali (center of Ankara, bars&clubs&stuff). It was a bit late and there were no buses or shuttles around so the only possible way get home was to grab a cab. Knowing that I had many races coming up and a nearly empty wallet in my pocket I decided to take a short hike with my friend. Chatting and gossiping we managed to walk half of the way without noticing. Our ways departed, and I started to walk in the deserted alleys and roads of Ankara at 3 AM in the morning. The street lights were shining brightly and with disappointment there was no blinking “horror movie street lights” around. There was a soft breeze which even motivated me to walk faster, turning a long walk home into a small training, and a chance to clear my mind after a very long day.  When I arrived home, I found myself sweating as if I had jogged and my heart pounding,  that was enough to persuade me that I would love to use these long walks as a way to compensate for the forever lost training sessions.

So I walked and walked. Public transportation is expensive where I live in. Grabbing a cab is even more expensive. Whenever I needed or wanted to go somewhere I charged my iPod and hit the roads early. As it turns out, I managed to get to some places faster than my friends did, as I didn’t need to deal with any traffic (almost) and wasted no time waiting for the bus. The only problem was the sweat that accompanied me with the long walks with the sun shinning hard. So I decided taking a towel and some perfume with me as I always carry a backpack wherever I go.

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Here’s one of the longest routes I took between my swimming and jogging sessions.

In the mean time, instead of listening to thrilling, motivational, fast paced music, I started listening to the one and only Turkish Running podcast called “Koşturmaca” (The Chase). 2 great runners, Mert & Ilgaz, have spared us time to share their experiences about everything there’s about running. Unfortunately they do not have an English version, but for all of you that practices Turkish, it is full of warm conversations of two runners just like you and me. Anyway, listening to the podcast has motivated me even more and not wasting any time and getting to know more about the world of running is just great!

I also got my repairs done on the old bicycle I have. Although the breaks are a bit rusty,certain gears are not to be maintained and with high speeds come shaking tires (yep it is nearly useless) it still helps me get a little cadence on the roads.

So for the past 3 weeks I have saved nearly 60TL (40$) which is not huge but not an amount to be neglected. With this small budget I have saved, I am now planning to enter a MUD RACE which is definitely going to be full of fun. I hope I’ll get to share my mud covered face in a few weeks. There are many races I’m planning to compete in the next 2 months and I’m definitely going to need every spare cash I can. I hope this will help me grab on to this active life style.

If you are trying to make a change in your life, start with something as small as this. Walk or ride your bicycle to work if not for your casual travelling around the city. Take a few photos, listen to the streets or just put your earphones on and listen to the album you’ve forgotten to. Make small adjustments in your life to keep it interesting and cosy.

The Offseason is Over! Enjoy the Training!

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The Old City

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 Sometimes you just can’t write. This is mainly because it is so hard to find the right words to describe something so good that, well it’s hard ok?

The past week was, as simple as possible, awesome!

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As I mentioned I was a guest to Eskişehir (Old Cİty in Turkish) to an event LC Eskişehir of EESTEC was hosting. Photosynthesis 2! The event was a workshop focusing on photography & Photoshop.  So much happened in 7 days,of  which are nearly impossible to describe and to understand without experiencing it. If I have to narrow the whole week, one could say that it consisted of 3 things; Beautiful Trips, Endless Partying and Great People!

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It was such a good feeling to meet lots of people from Europe. Even though many of us lived so far away, our jokes and laughs were one. We traveled all around the city, took endless photos and partied hard every day. We practiced our crazy dance moves (hope the videos never see the light of day), tried international drinks  (rakija, ouzo, raki, wine and much more that i can’t remember) and partied until daylight.

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In the mean time, those great people were also great sportsmen and supported me in the crazy training sessions I planned out. Maybe the most memorable and most fun was the city trip we had with the bikes we rented along traffic on one side and tramway rails on the other. We got to see the Aviation Museum, the first Turkish Car, a memorial and lastly the artificial sea(it has a beach!) in the middle of Anatolia. With this, out of nowhere I got to cycle and have enormous fun with EESTECers. Also with an awesome lad from Hungary and when we saw the boulders where Phrygians lived centuries ago, we couldn’t help but rush our way up! Although there was different routes to take, I guess we took one of the hardest ways up, squeezing through little holes, taking risky leaps. But in the end we managed to reach the highest peak around!

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Overall, it was an unbelievable trip with amazing people! I managed to keep myself (very) active, walked nearly everywhere, and took a small break from training.

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Here’s what we called URANIUM! Asking the waitress if they had any uranium and how much it was a once in a life time thing 🙂
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Recent Trainings

Well, when was my last training ? Well that really depends on what you call a training!

Starting my internship in the midst of the summer, I was very motivated to learn and train for a triathlon.  I had swim practices, indoor spinning (I did not and still do not have a proper bike), and of course casual running. Well my perfect schedules and motivation faded away when the indoor pool was closed, as there aren’t many swimmers around in the summer time. Just a week before this I rode my first 40k on a borrowed bike in a very special tour to raise awareness for cycling in the memory of “Meril Çiğdem Durmuş”. Cycling outside, experiencing the wind blowing on your body, the effort to cycle up hill, and the heavy but still functional mountain bike really didn’t help me keep my motivation.  I lost my courage, and the little bit of hope that pushed me to train everyday.

Ok, so I did know that being a triathlete was not easy. “If it was easy, everyone would be one” phrase seems to become a classic, but I have always considered these “hard” or “challenging” races or events to be in my reach or at least things that I could accomplish even if I had to struggle with all the physical and mental barriers on the way. Now, I am not even sure I could get to that! I started to feel like everyday I’m missing a training, I am losing any chance I have at competing in a triathlon. I am still missing many of the equipment I need for the tri, and am not sure if I could get them all in such a short time with the short budget I have.

Enough with the pessimistic approach though! Just to get rid of this mood I was in, and start being active again I started attending these YOGA sessions in my university, METU’s stadium (ODTÜ). There is this huge writing in the audience seats that says “DEVRİM” meaning REVOLUTION. Being able to enjoy YOGA, and the feeling of cold, cosy grass underneath  your toes is indescribable.

Enjoying the sun, the wind and yoga in my favourite place on the campus.
Enjoying the sun, the wind and yoga in my favourite place on the campus.

Photography by Mert Akdemir

Also, I finally started to read “Triathlon Revolution” by Terri Schneider. Although it contains many trivial essentials for triathlon, it also has some specific responses to certain injuries and mental preparation for “the tri”. The best thing about “Triathlon Revolution” is that in every couple of pages there are interviews and memoirs of past Ironman and triathletes. Being able to empathize with people who has achieved something I see impossible  and seeing that we both experience same emotions and problems even though racing and competing in such different levels is extra ordinary.

Anyhow, I believe I will keep my passive recovery to a minimum and and will try to stay a bit more active on the week that follows. I will spend the whole week in Eskişehir, a neighbour city with students all over Europe with EESTEC. LC Eskişehir will be hosting the Photosynthesis 2,  in their words :” We’re offering you an amazing week, lots of fun, useful trainings, great parties, delicious Turkish food and chance to recognize other cultures with photography.
For more info on this http://www.eesteceskisehir.net/ or just wait ’till I get back 🙂

One last thing, for the last 2 weeks I rarely drove or took a bus. I have chosen to save some (not too much, not even close to enough) money, by walking everywhere! It all started when I was feeling great after an awesome party with friends from CLS group. It was late at night, and no buses were to be seen, so the only transportation I had was a taxi. As I’ve been trying to save some money for the tri gear, I decided to walk from the center of the city (Kızılay) to my house in Balgat. It was only an hour of walking, but I guess I really rushed myself as I was getting sleepy, and it was a bit scary walking at 2 am on a desolate street. http://www.runningmap.com/?id=594190. Since then I’ve been walking at least 8Km (5 miles) a day just for transportation means, and it does feel great 🙂

Wow, I really had a lot to share on this post.
’til next time

Tschüß