Two for one

Day 123

I did a half marathon and a full marathon in one weekend. It was amazing. Looking back it doesn’t seem that hard because I have done hikes at that length over a weekend, but I was fearful when I signed up. Granted hiking and running is not the same thing.

For one there is no time pressure for hiking but with running I am on the clock! I could ignore the clock but I never willingly run a slower time on purpose.

There are too much to talk about. I won’t able to say everything. First, location, St. Michaels is a small historical town founded in the the 1600 somthing. It has that quaint old feel. It supposes to be very beautiful but I didn’t get to see the harbor/ or pier where they keep their boats. We ran through some remote part of the island with a lot of trees. So only saw trees. The route is pretty boring. Whatever lacking in attractions was made up with the runner atmosphere. There were tons of people running this race. They had to use four different waves. There were thousand plus runners. So hotels and inns were all filled. I camped out and it was a pretty nice experience but I didn’t get much sleep because by the time I got to the site it was late and I slept after 10 and woke up at 3:45 to start packing. I was afraid to get caught in small town traffic with a thousand cars trying to get to the start line. The race started on time at 7:10. I finished in 2 hours.

What I got out from the race was it is good to have a coach! I was running with someone who was behind me with her trainer. It was very distracting to have the guy constantly motivating the lady. I just couldn’t run fast or slow enough to get out of their ear shot. But I wish I have a personal trainer who would tell me how fast to run at a certain portion.

That was that. St Michaels is a good race. I might go back there if they have a full marathon.

Now about the York Marathon (YMCA race), it was more than I expected because it was on the PA Heritage trail and it was beautiful. Running a trail marathon always beats a road marathon. It was flat. It was really a road marathon but on a less used trail. We hardly see any other people from the general public. The trail is 23-mile long and there are mostly farm land on either side. So it was a heavenly place for runners.

The race supports were great. They have radio team (probably there is no cell coverage), and they have profession road crossing crew. There was a water stop about every 2 miles.

The race was long because I ran slow (not by choice either because my body refused to run any faster). I kept mostly around 10 mile pace and was targeting a 4:20 finish. I finished at 4:24. I was hungry by the half way point. They don’t have food at this race only water and Gatorade. There were gummy bears at one station though I am not sure if it was provided by the race or was it from a bystander. I was too tired to care and just took them.

I hit the wall at mile 18 and didn’t really recover. There were a lot of strong runners. It was a Road Runner club qualifying race or something. We got to see some really good looking runners. Amazing!

I finished it was what I can say.

St Michaels and York

Day 122

Finally, attempting my second marathon for the year this Sunday at York, PA. It should be smooth sailing. There is no rain. The temperature is at a comfortable zone , not too hot and not too cold – Spring time weather. There is no rain forecasted. We have overcast. It should be one fast race.

As for training, I took a random person’s (a running friend really) advice of running a long and couple of short weekend runs. I think my training is pretty good. I did not train for speed though. It would be interesting to see what time I will be getting. I am targeting a 5 hour finish (I know this is under-achieve for me) because I still have a few more marathons left in the year and doesn’t want to over doing it… Running at a slower pace also helps me to prepare for the Ultra next month. But if somehow I finish under 4 hours, I won’t complain.

To prepare for the ultra, people were telling me that I have to learn to run when I’m tired. For this reason, I am adding a Half Marathon the day before. I have never done this before. They call this the goofy run (Disney Marathon made it popular, a Half followed by a Full). So, I will be running a Half at St Michaels, MD on Saturday.

This race has stressed me out. It is not because of doing the race itself but the logistics of getting myself to the course. First of all, I signed up on the week of and so the registration price was through the roof. There was a $10 discount for last minute sign up but I didn’t get their promotion email until after signing up. Boo. I guess they want me to recruit others to run.

Second, all the hotels within 50 miles were booked, or mostly booked (prices are beyond what I think is acceptable). I actually booked a hotel but it was on the wrong day (Saturday instead of Friday), not sure why I made such a rookie mistake. When I realized it, I couldn’t rebook it for Friday because the place was sold out. So now I will be doing some camping out on the night before. There is a hotel available…but I didn’t want to stay there.

I don’t mind camping, but it is just the extra logistics of booking a camp site, and don’t know what to expect. Will the other campers be loud? How is the facility? Could I have a good night sleep? There are a lot of uncertainties. Also the camp site is about an hour away, plus the race organization asked us to plan to an extra hour to account for parking and traffic near the race site. I learned all about traffic in a small town in my last race at Frederick. What this means is I will be waking up at 3 AM to prep and travel to the race location. I plan to be there by 5:30. I might as well be sleeping in their parking lot!

There are still a few more stuffs I need to take care of today. I need to plan for my nutrition and fluid (ah, probably just stop by McDonalds on the way). I’m kicking myself for not doing this the night before. There are some McDonalds open at 5 in the morning, except the place I will be running at is a bit remote.

I’m tired even before the race.

Quick post

Day 121

I know my pastor probably doesn’t like to be called a motivational speaker but I felt that what we received last night and I want to write it down before I forget. He didn’t talk about running, but about knowing God. However, kind of off tangent, what I received was about running.

He reminded me to not think about what is possible but to think about the impossible. Only God can do the impossible. True. Yet we are limited to think in term of our ability. He used the example of Peter stepping out into the water. Sometimes we have to keep our eyes on the objective and step out onto the water with nothing to hold on. Logically, we would sink. Faith, is reaching that unknown and faith will support our feet.

Why am I saying this? I have been setting ‘obtainable goal’ – I read about making some hard goals, some medium effort goals, and some easy goals. I sorted my bucket list accordingly. However, there is not really any impossible goal on my list. I haven’t really stretched myself. For example, I set running a Boston Qualifying time as an impossible goal. True, I’m not there yet, and it is impossible right now…But I kind of have a plan of how to reach this impossible goal by running hard, and running long, and be patience and one day, I hope I get a bit closer and maybe even get to touch it.

Another point I got was about having a mental shift in our thinking. It is really related to thinking on the impossibility. Remind ourselves to change our thinking on a daily basis.

The key word is belief/believe. Our beliefs come from our upbringing of what is acceptable and unachievable. We got to break out of this mode. Every day we are bombarded by messages from those around us, and we are affected by their thinking. We have to evaluate what to keep and what to reject. It is an active process. If we become complacent, our old belief system would take over and get us into an auto drive mode. We don’t want that.

Nothing really new here, but it reminded me to be consumed by one thing that I am passionate about and reach and strive toward it. Ask yourself to do big thing. Envision it.

Do I ask the higher power for my running? You bet. I will ask anything if it helps me run faster. I know I have to train my body to run faster too, but I think a lot of training is mental and spiritual as well.

19.4 Review

Day 120 / Review#4 – spring time

What happens: A review of last 30 days from March to May. I felt a lot had happened and also not much at the same time. Last time I wrote a review, there was still snow and I did the first half marathon this year then. Note 30 days are not the actual calendar days but days of that were journaled (a meaningful day). I could also use the word entry, but I like day better.

As always, the last review can be found here [last]. I am still figuring out how I want to do this, if I should write strictly a summary or provide something new focusing the present (like provide a snapshot), or both.

Here’s a look back of the last 30 days.

1) running of the Roanoke Marathon. Its training spanned through several months. The race was a foundation for all the races I will do this year. The training was long and I felt I was a beginner runner all over. More on the race is in the report [race].

My goal this year is to be an ultra runner. My first trail ultra race is only a month away (actually will be my second, but it is a first one with hills). I did some mountain running and I gotta say, it is hard. Hills are not hills,… they go on forever. Roanoke marathon showed me that.

While hiking is a fun activity, to me it is also a training. I am pleased that I was able to do a great hike (backpacking) at Tory Ridge [hike]. I also started to train on trails during the weekends. I am not there at where I should be yet. There is still much to do to get ready.

Off tangent: I probably leave my review with one point hanging. I ran out of things to say…I have stuffs to write about but I found them boring (like doing chores). I like to go off tangent.

I started to write only on the weekend because that when things are happening. I do my races on weekends. I hike, backpack, train, and everything on the weekend. I do train during the week too, but each day mostly after work, there is only limited time and I want to hit the bed as early as I can. One thing I changed was going to bed early! It was part of the over all goal to be more efficient and choosing to do what most important.

Other major events were running the Frederick Half, (too lazy to provide a link), running the cherry blossom race, couple weekend training (Easter).

I looked back on my New Year Resolution couple days ago. Some of those were on the right track. I’m proud of my training and runs. Other things like eating better…Needs much improved, to try again.

I started going to gym last couple weeks. I like being sored on other parts of my body other than the legs. I’m so proud of this. Along the same line, I found a buddy who will do a mini triathlon sprint with me. Hopefully that will get me into the Tri world. I’m excited. It is all about ramming up the intensity.

Relationship. Everything is tied to people. I would like to ignore this aspect but it is really the bedrock of everything I do. It is through people that I found meaning in all my activities. I could say run in the woods by myself but then it is because I want to able to run with people in a race. I don’t know what I’m writing here, just taking a stab at it. I like to run for the sake of running too.

I thank God for friends and a group of guys who keep me on track in life. Having this group of friends is the biggest change in the last couple months.

Last couple months, my Friend K really got me back on track. I had a defining moment! I (or she) solved one of the biggest problems since the beginning (120 days ago), which was just lurking in the back and I had no idea how to tackle head on. I was much relief. I’m speaking vaguely here but really, it should change my life. Of course my relationship with K, and my perspective of everything changed. More to come. I now have more intensity and life than ever before!



Mini race day

Day 119

I ran a 4 miler on Mothers’ Day. I forgot my Garmin watch, so there is no detailed data on the run. I ran this course in 2017 and I did much better this time. I finished, running at 8:30 pace. Not my fastest.

My take away was 4 miles were quite long a race to do. I started out slow but I didn’t feel I was moving slowly. It might be due to lack of warm up and so the first mile was a warm up run for me. At mile 2, I was on pace and was actually going too fast for my body to handle. At mile three, I stopped at the water station, because I was feeling it – tired. Normally, I would skip the water station on short races. After the rest, I was able to gain back my pace and finished my last mile on pace. Still several people passed me by right before the finish line.

My next big race is this coming weekend. I plan to do a back to back half and full marathon (like the goofy run) to get a feel of running when I’m tired. This would be my first time doing a Half and then a Full in two days.

The following weekend after this will be Memorial weekend and I will be traveling to PA for a backpacking trip. Hopefully, I have plenty to write about once I get back.

Sunday reflection

Day 118

I like to spent Sunday to reflect on and review what the past weekend has been. It has been a normal weekend. There were weekends when I had a plan like a race or a backpacking trip. This weekend started with a plan and as the day approached, the plan kind of unraveled. It was not a bad weekend but it could have been even better.

Originally, it was going be a hike on Saturday with a group of people. It was another hike for noobies. I was looking forward to it. Then the hike was placed on my shoulder and one by one people dropped out. It is typical that people drop from an event, speaking from experience. I don’t think it was just because I was leading it that people were dropping out. In the end it was me and another dude. I was counting on him not showing up because over the week he never reached out about ride and where to meet.

I ended up doing the hike by myself. It didn’t bother me a bit. It was better that way because I could hike faster by myself. When I got to the trail parking lot, it was full, so I did some exploring driving a bit farther down the road and found another lot. There was no cell signal to contact the other guy about a last minute change of location. The other lot was secluded. There were only two cars there. I checked one of the cars out and it had an ultra trail running sticker on and I know there must be probably a trail around and the driver was probably running on it.

I pulled out my map of the area and saw the trail connects to the AT (Appalachian Trail). I had all my running gear with me and I was planning to run on the trail any way if no one showed up. I put on my Nathan 7L camelpak (don’t know the real name/ it was quite big, it holds 2L of water, I don’t use the water pack though). I packed my lunch and snacks and water. Put on my trail running shoes – Salomon 3. The trailhead was around the bend on the other side of the road. As I started, a hiker just finished his and I asked how long it is and he told me 4 miles to the AT. It was much less than that (I think about about 2).

I started running. The trail was kind of nice to run on. The uphill portion was gradual. I ran and walked. Actually, I am quite out of shape for uphill. I could only run a few minutes before I was out of breath.

At the top at the Pass Mnt Hut, I came across a thru hiker (one who attempts to hike the whole AT, about 2000 miles), Lost-n-Found. He started two weeks ago from Harper Ferry doing Flip-Flop, now SOBO (South Bound). He did part of the north bound portion last year. We talked. At the time, I didn’t recall his YouTube channel, but afterward, I think I saw some of his videos before. It was very cool to chat with him in real life.

I got to Mary’s Rock and stopped there for lunch. I only had a sandwich and I was rushing to start that I didn’t put any spread.

Mary’s Rock was kind of cool. I was there maybe two winters ago but that day was very cold and I didn’t go out to the outcrop, and I didn’t know how beautiful it is. I took some pictures. It was foggy but I love the rock formation.

The original hike was calling for 6 miles and Mary’s Rock would be the turn around point. I felt it was still early, around 11AM and I could put in more mileage. I decided to do my ‘weekly’ long run. I checked my map, if I want to get to the original parking lot – BuckHollow (one that was full), and come back, it would add 15 miles. Currently I had done about 5 miles up to Mary’s Rock. Twenty miles would be the total. Sorry if my math doesn’t seem to add up.

Surprisingly, I got to the BuckHollow parking lot at 1pm. I ran out of water by then, but I had with me a Sawyer water filter. I replenished my water by the stream. I love drinking from the stream! I took a different route back, using Buck Ridge instead of BuckHollow. Boy that hill was tough. It is two miles straight up. The photo doesn’t do justice how steep it is.

I forgot how hard it is to run up this hill. It was maybe a 2000 ft change in elevation. It was tough. I gave up running up that thing after maybe five minutes. Even walking up on it, was tough. I calculated that with my current pace I wouldn’t be back to my car until 7 pm. K and I in our previous hikes here, saw runners running up and down this as if it was flat!

The hill goes on forever. My friend K, named this hill the Heaven Hill because you will see heaven once you get to the top. I got back to Mary’s Rock, sometimes after 2. I stayed at the Rock a bit, having my fruit cup. It was beautiful. I was very hungry then. The two slices of bread I had earlier did not provide enough calories. Rain started. As I got off Mary’s Rock, I ran into lost&found, the thru-hiker I met earlier. We chatted some more. He told me he got some trail magic from someone.

Rain was on and off with some drizzling. I picked up my pace.

Running downhill, I came across many people. I rolled my ankle several times, mostly on my right ankle (the stronger one) this time. It didn’t hurt but it put the fear in me to not run too fast when I’m tired. Doing downhill was easy, but every time when I came to uphill, I was too tired to run.

I got back to the car by 4:30, way ahead of my expected time. It was my longest trail run practice thus far, totalling 20 miles and took eight hours to complete. Not spectacular. If it were my 50k race, I would get a DNS (did not finish within the specified time).

The trail is not smooth and it is rocky on some parts. It is worse than running on concrete, but it was very beautiful. Wild flowers were all around.

I enjoyed running on the trails a lot. It was very peaceful. It wasn’t easy. Mentally, it was very satisfying. I don’t remember what went through my mind, however, I felt it was a time well spent with God. All my problems from life disappeared at the moment (escape mentality), though I think I can deal with real life now because of the run.

When nothing to do

Day 117

When I have nothing to do, I read up on races and what races to run. I came across a funny race called Flying Monkey Marathon. I won’t able to do it this year but this race attracted my attention.

I have been too overly concerned about a race course being certified, but this race has none of that. It claims running for running sake and not about time and getting qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I like the snub it gives to other ‘toughest’ marathons. This one seems pretty tough. There are rolling hills. It is probably as tough as the Roanoke Marathon, which claims to be the toughest road marathon.

It got me thinking, that next year I should do all the marathons with flying in its name. So Flying Monkey will make the cut and Flying Pig too.

I also came across the Rocky fatass run. I think it is a 50k. It is interesting to run to all the spots in Philly as shown in the Rocky movies. I learn about what it means when a race calls itself a Fatass race. It means no support and is informal.

Edit to Add: Another race that caught my attention is Crazy Horse. Not related to flying, but hey, the name sounds cool.

Also the Air Force Marathon is related to the flying theme.