final prep

Day 197

I am feeling much better this morning. I remember that last year around this time between the last race and the new year, I suffer similar the feeling of blue.

I think I got over it by signing up races and training in the winter specifically to prepare for this coming weekend (a year out).

In those dark nights, I think the only thought was to run and survive the cold. This morning my thought was, regardless the circumstances I will focus on something unchanging. I know I will get through it. I am just happy to be out there this weekend and run.

I am pretty excited about the race. It will be a big weekend. It is considered America oldest ultra marathon (50 miler). You can read about the history at their website JFK50Mile.

I learned a bit about out current race director. RD for a big race usually would not make a different. But they are usually the one to be blamed for anything that goes wrong. In recent history there were some high profile races where things went horribly wrong. However, I think this race, we have it in a bag.

My friends too are excited about the race for me. Some will come out to the course. There are people making cookies and cupcakes. I will be looking forward to those.

A guy at my church came up to me and said he ran it in 1981 when he was a young man. How cool is that?

Am I nervous? A little because I have not done that distance before and I am not sure if my body will hold it together. However, I break down the course into two segment and neither of them are too bad. The first is the trail portion about 13-15 miles. I think I will do fine.

The second segment is a 35 miles (actually 24 or 26 + 6 or 8), isn’t too bad. I believe I have the strength to do it. When I start faltering, I think would be the final 2 or 3 miles and I trust that my experience in long distance running will push me through.

anticipation

Day 196

I am going through a phase of soul searching. I know why I run and I already have next year planned out. I registered for a few of the races this week. And I am very excited. One of the races I signed up was the Richmond Marathon. I have been looking forward to this race for ‘many’ years. Richmond is the capital of my state. I read it is an amazing race to do. Couple of my friends has done it. I want to do it too. Virginia just has so many races, I can’t do th quick enough.

A second race I signed up but couldn’t get in was Grayson Highlands. I was put on a wait list. I am in 6th place so there is a high chance I will get in as the race approaches. The race is next May. I can’t tell how excited this race means for me. I hiked there last year.

My soul searching was not about to run or not to run. I know my interest in running is very high. Yet I feel some internal struggle that I can’t explain. I want to be totally devoted to running next year because I will be attempting 100 miles by end of the year and if I have doubt, I won’t able to do it.

The feeling is hard to explain. I was trying to understand it. Whenever I run, I have clarity on everything, however, when I don’t run, my head is in the cloud.

I came closure to what I am seeking. I call it ‘essense’. It is like the ultimate reason why I run. The real me. I think when I have clarity, I would be at peace with myself.

I came close to finding my answer when I think out what I want three/five years from now. I have a plan for this year and next year, but I can’t see what myself is like in 5 or 10 years as a runner.

It is kind of silly, because I don’t really see myself as a runner but a person who runs.

Does it mattter? It doesn’t. I just do what I have been doing, sign up race and go out and run without much thought.

Anticipation: I will have my first 50 miler this Saturday. I just don’t want to think too much about it. I am anticipate a fun weekend.

Lazy weekend

Day 195

I had a lazy weekend. I did a small 9 miles hike up to Old Rag on Saturday. It took whole day but it was not because the hike was hard but because we had to wait at several times before we could ascend in the crowded section. We might have lost couple hours waiting. Serious hikers don’t go up on Old Rag for that reason.

Also, I could have done it in four hours if we ran down, but the person I was with is not a runner. It was kind of her first time hiking in a long time. I had a great time nonetheless.

I slept mostly whole Sunday from the afternoon into the next day. I felt lazy. I also caught up on anime, I might have binge watched for at least 8 hours and slept 14 hours.

People asked if I am ready for my 50 miler race. Yes I am! I still have ache and pain in various places but I should be ready. I wish I could sleep 14 hours right before my race, but I have to work on Friday.

Some self motivation/reflection

Day 194

I run for the high. I felt I was doing something important during racing. All the hard work, planning, go into the race and I usually at my top condition.

Now it has been a week since my last race. Things are calming down. I feel now I am searching for a purpose to run again.

I can still go and run. It is a weird feeling. People know running a marathon is hard. For people who don’t run though, I feel they don’t get it. I don’t get it myself. These past feel days there were times, I think I got it (it was like a light bulb going off) then it disappeared. At the end of the day I ask myself so what?

I run not for the medals. I run to beat my own time on the course. There is also the feeling being faster than others. I run to train. I also run because it makes my body feels good. Running loosen my muscles and clear my head. I run for the challenge. Deep down too I run sometimes to get recognition. I am doing something not anybody can do. A lot people around me can’t run at the intensity I am doing.

I am looking ahead to next year. I want to some day soon to do a 100 miles run. I need crew supports. I wish there are others around me who I can do a 100 miles with. I might do the first 100 mile race without a crew.

I don’t feel like running tonight. It is not just tonight, but the other night too. I sometimes just want to chill and coast through life.

I did something useful between last night and today. I started planning for next weekend 50 miler. I had my pace chart prepared. A friend is going to watch me at certain points on the course and I have now a ball park estimate when I will pass a certain places. I am pleased with my accomplishment.

These funky feelings usually occurred after a big race for me.

Race schedule

Day 193

As there is only one more race left this year, I started thinking ahead of what races I will do next year. There are couple that were deferred from this year to the next. There are many new ones I want to do. Richmond Marathon is one that is calling my heart at this moment.

My goal for next year is pretty much the same. Now that I have stepped into the ultra world, I want to do more of them. I also still want to run marathons in all fifty states. I will go to California and Maine next year, and possibly Oklahoma.

Not trying to bore you guys, but here is the full list so far.

(Jan 19, 2020) (reg’d)  Carlsbad Marathon, CA. It will be near the venue of my cousin’s wedding. Two birds with one stone. I will be attending the wedding the night before. It is near San Diego. The course is like running an out-and-back four times on the road/sidewalk next to the beach. Not the most exciting thing, but it will get me California.

(Mar 7(considering) Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k, Germantown, MD. I volunteered there this year and it seems to be an amazing race to do. I definitely keeping my eyes on the registration date.

(Mar 28) (reg’dDC Rock n Roll, Wash, DC. $70. This was my first race and I have been coming back again and again. It is near where I live (30 mins), so not much planning is required. Simplify the supports.

(April 18) (reg’dRoanoke Double Marathon (52 miles). ($130 value as full price). I ran this race earlier in the year. They offered me a free entry for next year! I couldn’t resist and signed to do as a Doubler. The doubler will start a little past midnight (depending if the expected finish time is 5 hours or 6. The goal is to arrive when the Full marathon starts and do it again with everyone. I am excited! First time to run a double marathon. A real double marathon. What this mean is once I finish, I head back out and do again on the same day (no break)! crazy right? I think the first one is untimed and without support and self-navigate.

(May 3) (reg’d, transferred entry) ACE Physical Marathon / C&O Canal. Fletcher’s Cove, DC /8AM. I have done it couple times. It was my training race in the past. I used the course to prepare me for a real marathon. It is a real marathon but it has very little fanfare. I treated it as more a weekend long run. Low key and low stress run.

(May 8) (reg’d. May 7-9) Maine Coast Marathon; hotel booked, but have not yet reserved for flight and car rental. Another destination race and looking forward to it. I read it is scenic. I have not been to Maine but my friend described it as one of the places I should go. I have a few of those races in the pipe.

(May 25): (not reg but gave my wordBolder BOULDER CO 10K, group trip. Memorial Day! I will red eyed flight back the next day for work. It will be the first group trip with my running group/friends. Also I am very excited about this trip. We will all stay in an AirBnB but so far I think we hit a snafu. Boulder’s, CO, law won’t allow a group of unrelated people staying together.

(Jun 13) (consideringLaurel Highlands 70 miles Ultra, need to reg before Thanksgiving. depends if able to secure a spot through mail-in appl. This is probably the biggest race for 2020 if I could secure an entry. I have been following it on Facebook and the chance of getting one seems high if act fast when the race is open! I backpacked half way through the trail back in May on Memorial weekend and had such good time.

(Jun 20(considering) Highlands Sky 40. Lanesville (dolly sods, WV). Fall back option. A running friend recommended me (He won first place many years back). Dolly Sods has been on my heart for backpacking trip and finally I went there late summer. To run there is just mind blowing.

(Jun) (probably won’tEastern Divide Ultra. Pembroke, VA, conflicts with Laurel Highland and Highlands sky. But Another fallback option if I don’t get into either of them. I have done it this year. It is a good race to do again and is a good fallback option. Also someone I raced with commented that was the easiest 50k she did. I wanted to go back to challenge my time. 7 hours seems unacceptable to me.

(Jun) (probably won’t) SF Dipsea race. America oldest trail race. believe reg open in Dec. Too far to get to. I am having it on the planner but probably won’t do it because I have too many good races already. This one is expensive. I will only do it with a friend. Also the distance is kind of short. I think it is like a 10k or something.

(Sep 5) (not regIron Mnt Ultra – IMTR, labor day weekend. highly likely. I missed it this year due to sickness and TN Roan Mnt trip. I will want to do it next year. I have not chosen a distance. They have 30, 40, or 50 miles. 40-50 miles is what I am eyeing. I read it is rough terrain.

(Oct) Grindstone 100. Likely not going to do it yet but this has certain appeal to me because the race will take place on one of my favorite hiking trails (The Wild Old Trail). But 100M is a lot to ask for and my confidence is low whether I will finish.

(Oct) (Reg’d, Transferred from last year) High Bridge 50K. I missed this race due to the Triple Crown Backpacking trip. I hate missing a race. Luckily the RD allowed me to move it to next year. So, I hope to finally get to do it.

(Nov) (Considering) Richmond Marathon. I am hyped about this. Couple of my friends did it last year. Many good things.

(Nov) (ConsideringStone Mill 50M. Local race. I hear good things about this race. It is hosted by the same people who are doing the seneca creek greenway trail 50k during spring.

(Nov) (Considering) Old Glory Ultra. 50k Did it this year. Possibly going to do it again because it is fun. I know, too much on my plate for November. It is a fallback option since it is likely will conflict with the StoneMill 50.

(Nov) (considering) Route 66 (Tulsa City) Marathon – Oklahoma (fall), My goal race for 2020!!! Was my goal race, but I already travel to three places and it would be a hard to make another trip. I have too many good races on hand, so likely will defer for another year.

(Dec) (Considering) Devil Dog 100, Triangle, VA. Got to finish the year with a bang! I might suck it up and run a 100M or drop down to 100k. A baby step. The terrain isn’t any where near brutal as Grindstone. There will be hills but none of them are over 2000 ft. We are talking at most 100-200 ft climb per hill.

epilogue

Day 192 Old Glory Ultra

pet peeve. I just found out I mis-numbered my blog posts and so I went back to the last 20+ entries and corrected them. I screwed that up big time. It is my pet peeve if the number is not in sequence after discovery.

I just did the old glory (OGU) trail run (on Saturday) and it was just a long long weekend. I won’t able tell all about it. It was a 50K ish run. The actual miles were about 29. Still, I won’t complain about the missing two miles. It was intentional. The race director said it is a trail run and give or take couple miles is a norm. It was a tough course with 7,000 ft elevation change. However I enjoyed it tremendously.

It was almost a race I had to skip out. About twenty people did not show up. Only three of them wrote to the race director about it and requested deferral. The rest were no shows. About 30 of us finished. We and at least I was, had a lot of fun. It was my best racing experience I had. Trail running is a total different beast than road running.

My best friend who also my normal camping buddy, had a slight misunderstanding days leading up to the trip. I was going to go camping and then it was canceled and then I found it was still on. Luckily it was resolved peacefully early Thursday morning. My friend thought I dumped her for the race (well I kind of did), but she was mad at me for not telling her about the race. Whereas I was on the otherhand, thought she dumped me for going camping solo and that the stars had aligned perfectly for my race weekend. A chance in a million! We now found out it was one big misunderstanding. Still I have to make a peace offering once I get back.

Now about the race itself, I camped the night before and night after at the race site. The race took place at Kairos Resort in Glen Lyn, Virginia. It is about 6 hours south and west of DC. It was not any type of resorts that usually comes to to mind. There is no skiing. I don’t think it is a hunting ground. Sure there are bears and wild turkey. They do not have and probably won’t be building lodges. It is just a campground with many miles of dirt trails for bikes and ATVs. It is a remote place and normally runners don’t go there for running, but it was perfect for us for our race. The closest ‘real city’ is an hour away. I have heard some people got Airbnb from Princeton, WV, which is much closer. But I camped on site.

Why it is called a resort is we have a camp store (Ed’s place) and a Bathhouse. Those were two places that were heated, but because the temperature was so cold Friday night, the water pipe froze and there was no water to flush the toilet on the race morning or water to shower at the end of the race. It was kind of to be expected. They had couple of pottajohns. For guys going to the bathroom was not a problem, since we can just go behind a tree. I think the ladies too.

The temperature was below freezing. I went to bed early. My water jug was partially turned to ice. However the temperature went up on Saturday on the race day midway. We had a perfect running temperature. Oh, I had to make a real fire to cook because my gas canister for the jetboil was too cold to work.

This was the second year of the race. The race director think it will gain popularity. I like the aspect of camping out the night before the race. However, it was too cold for most friends and families and even runners. Most runners are not campers like me.

The trail was challenging. It was my first real technical trail race. There are rocks, stream crossings and mud. The race director warned us not to zone out. I did couple times and the first time, I rolled my ankle and the second time, I missed a turn. We were miles away from any easily accessible roads. They would to use ATV and 4×4 off road vehicle to even get to our aid stations. Man, I thought the race was done for me at the half way point and I was about to walk out to the nearest aid station. Pain went down and I continued to run the course.

I finished in 8 hours but the first guy finished in 4 and half. The last person finished at about 9 hours. We all finished before dark. The race director said the course is tough but it is not the toughest out there. I think it was very enjoyable. I viewed it as 30 miles of hiking (and I ran in hiking boots). I wish to do again either next year or the year after if schedule allows.

Oh, why I love ultras, all you get for the race was a bowl of chili and a trucker cap. I love my trucker hat. I ran with mine on. The finisher patch did not arrive on time and the Race Director apologized for that, we said, that was not why we run. We got a high five from the RD at the finish line.

Love the trucker cap. Me coming in strong for my chili bowl. I was the probably the only one wearing hiking boots because I don’t like muddy running shoes and wet feet. I know, got to work on that if I like running ultras.

random thoughts

Day 191 On my way to OGU

I got my wish and now am heading out to Glen Lyn for the Old Glory 50K (OGU). I orignally thought I would have to skip it due to conflicting with a long backpacking trip this weekend. Through much toils and tribulations, here I am. Lot of unnecessary tears.

I could have revealed my feeling earlier. I if I like running and had a race booked, choose it. Trying to leave both options opened let me to this miserable state.

I don’t know how I will do. The night will be cold. I brought a truck load of clothes with me. I haven’t planned for any of the in race food yet. No water on me. I will need to buy some and then, cold temperature might cause it to turn to ice.

Last night I had my club run. Not many showed up because of the rain and cold. Something was going on downtown around Trump Hotel, they blocked roads and even we as runners were blocked off from going where we wanted to go. We detoured from our set route. We were originally running on 13th st from Constitution to P. They had us turned on Pennsylvania to 12th? My memory is a bit hazy.

At end of my run, I met an Orange Theory fitness instructor in my building. We never met before, but she saw my Marine Corps Marathon shirt and we talked about the race. She did it too this year. She has done several 50 milers. I said I was training for the JFK. She is also familar with it. It was like meeting an old friend.

I got home quite late, passed midnight. Spent an hour hauling stuffs I will need for my OGU race to my car before going to bed. I really packed a truck load of clothes. Because tonight gonna be cold.