weekly run summary

Day 231

This starts getting fun and I’m looking forward writing it.

This would be my fifth week. I have 15 more weeks before my Laurel Highlands race.

Total: 56-58 miles

Monday: rest. I didn’t want to rest because the week before I only did 9 miles* (plus 20+ miles of hiking), so I had fresh legs. In the end I rested anyhow because I wanted to put up big number again. Trust the plan, I told myself.

Tuesday: 4 mi. first day back running. It did feel heavy, not tired heavy but heavy from not haven’t run for a long time.

Wednesday: church and rested too because of time constraint. Ah, I know I need to wake up earlier so I could put in a run. Try again next week.

Thursday: 4 mi. second run for the week. Started to feel very good. Didn’t want to stop.

Friday: 13-14 mi. felt great and didn’t want to stop. Started the run early at 6 pm and finished by 8:30 pm. I would have ran some more but I had some work left at work to do and had to head back.

Saturday: 20 miles. I went back out to Buzzard Hill-Ashby Hollow. At first, I thought I wouldn’t able to do the whole thing because I got up late again, but lo, I was much much stronger this time. I could actually run some miles. At least for couple miles I could run under 17 min per mile! That’s the goal. I am still pretty slow though, 18 miles in 6 hours, that’s basically fast hiking (3 mph)!! I need to get that under 5.5 hours (race cut off speed). I double checked, my watch was showing 6k ft of elevation gain, so I had 12k ft of total elevation change. That’s a lot.

Sunday: 16 mi. Arlington/airport loop. The usual. Running on trail embarrasses me (frustrating too). I had to get back on road to feel that I could run. Running on trail now is still more like hiking than running. It was good feeling to know you could run and run fast. What a big different between trail and road!

I don’t hate long run now. Sunday has always been my best day. I do want to do Ashby Hollow again this weekend but also want to go somewhere else. Thinking about doing the Peak! Also The Little Devil’s Stair is cool too.

This post is already long enough, but while out on the trail, I met a volunteer who helped out at my last big race, the JFK50, he recommended me to try running up the Priest. This place is a bit far away, but it peeks my interest. I haven’t been there though (I was at the foot of it last time) could have gone up last year if not for the lyme desease.

Sunday Arlington Run – I love this route. Miles 7-11 have some big hills. My hill training out in the woods helped me finally able to run up on them
Buzzard Hill & Ashby Hollow. My training ground. 2nd attempt. Hope some day able to run the whole thing in 5 hours, even 6 hours is good enough for me (currently took me 7.25 hrs to do)
Friday run, Rock Creek to around Haine’s Point. I haven’t gone this far south for a long time. Very quiet place, but popular for cyclists during warmer time. My watch ran out of battery after mile 9 (I added our club run normal square route then to make it a 13 mile run). Haine’s Point is also part of the route for our local marathons and big races (DC RnR, Marine Corps, Air Force Half, and Cherry Blossom 10 miler)

weekend plan

Day 230 / Long hilly run tomorrow

If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. So this weekend I am heading back out to Ashby Hollow.

Last time I started about 7 miles north at Snicker’s Gap and ran to Ashby Hollow before turning around. I was planning to run the whole thing, but I started out a bit too late and I was a bit unmotivated…also the body just didn’t feel in the running condition. I ran but it wasn’t the good vibe.

This time I will start at Ashby Hollow and run south maybe 7 miles before heading back and if time allows I will run north for few miles (around 5). It should give me 20+ miles day.

Good weather is expected.

thoughts

Day 229

I filed my taxes today! My office manager helped me. I can do it myself and I used to do it myself but for last six years, it was my manager who helped me. One less headache.

It is safer to hike/backpack with a friend. That was a big idea I had while on the trail last weekend. I took several tumbles (more like a dozen times) and I could have been seriously hurt! Sometimes though it is hard to find someone to have the time to hike with you.

Tonight message (from my pastor’s preaching), was mind-blowing when I started applying them to my running. What I distilled from my pastor was 1. Got to be transformed 2. image – we are transforming to conform to an image (a model) 3. breaking out of our present mold (reality) to glory. 4. meaning giving up something that is holding you back. There were more but I didn’t catch them

None of these were new to me but it was like a wake up call. Like why did I not see it before? Now my running will definitely improve. I know my pastor means changing our life and walk closer to God for eternal good in doing what God wants us to do in our present life. Yet what is more practical for me is about improvement on running. I was no longer falling asleep at this time through the sermon but was wide eyed. Preach more pastor! I want to be a better runner!

What this all mean to me is how to get out of my stagnation. I feel I am in a hump (really!) and am ready to change – breaking out. I want to get better at my running and I am not satisfied with my current progress. I feel my runs has stagnated. Because I have fallen into a rut and at time being complacent with my training. I know back in 2016-2017 I would set alarm to wake up at 4AM and run! That was some dedication. Even at 10 PM when my friend would call me, if I want to go to the gym, I would immediately say yes, count me in. Let’s go! I lack that kind of enthusiasm now a day. I prefer let me sleep in a bit more. A lot of junks (bad habits) have creeped into my life too.

How do you deal with not being the same as before? I have been running for 3 years and what do I really want to accomplish? If I want to run faster, I really have to reach that goal. Maybe I am getting older and so I am getting slower. This calls for a need to transform. But how do you do that?

One needs to see what is happening and change it. Truth. We need the truth (to see what we did not see before) and the truth will set you free. Truth is revelation. We are constantly learning. Take in and evaluate. Sometimes it comes in a dream. We need to start dreaming. I get my inspiration about my running while I am on the trail, and listening preacher’s sermon. I need to use my off days to learn!

Ask yourself what do I have to change. Change is hard because we have accepted what we currently are doing is right and we have to see that it as not right. We have to turn things up-side-down. We can’t do things the same way and expect to have a different result.

-Thought#2 – embrace change. That was the biggest breakthrough I had tonight. I hate change. A girl has turned my life up-side-down too and it was too much. I wanted my sanity back and what I am comfortable with. No more craziness. But just as I decided to take the easier path and the calmer choice, my pastor preached about change. Why changes require taking the harder path? Looking back the changes I have been making were rather small!! I need to embrace bigger changes boldly. Doing things differently. It could me losing myself in the process! It will no longer be the me I know afterward.

This means we are willing to take some pain. Not so much physical but it means sacrificing comfort and ease. Giving up time of doing certain other things we like. It means certain areas of our life have to be cut back. Priority. Someone told me recently, we see our priority in the things we actually do, not what we say we want to do.

Objectively, we do something because we like it. I secretly want to run faster each year. Realistically though, I will improve but I will never be out-of-this world fast. This brings us to set a reasonable goal or expectation.

visioning/image. We can do it only when we can see ourselves doing it. We have an image of what success is for us. We push ourselves to change/evolve to match that image. I have been doing that each season. Changing our expectation to a new reality.

I feel each quarter or each year, I am making myself new again. Three years ago (summer 2016), if you tell me to run a marathon, I would have laugh at you silly. I did not run then. A mile maybe, but not a marathon.

Things have become too easy for me lately. After 3 years of training, I need to step up again. Change starts today!

At the end of each service is an altar call, where we rededicate ourselves to do good once again. It is usually most uplifting time of the worship. You feel you could take on the biggest struggle! I need that each week. A time to reaffirm I can do the run. I can put down my distraction.

-No more half heartedness effort but a full commitment

Run report

Day 228

Last week was low mileage for me with a total about 9 miles. Lowest so far after having 50+ for last three consecutive weeks, but I figure I needed the low mileage rest.

As usual, Monday was a rest day. After three weeks of running, I was grateful for Monday

Tuesday: 4. Easy run with group. The weather is getting warmer. Legs were heavy.

Wednesday: 2nd rest day

Thursday: 5 miles. Also was a group run. Legs were still heavy but a bit better than Tuesday.

Friday: 0. traveling

Saturday-Sunday: *3-4ish. I would like to say it was supposed to be a run but turned out more a backpacking hike. Saturday, hiked 24 miles and Sunday 12. I won’t count them running though my body was sored from the activity.

~~~~Long version~~~~

The highlight was I went to Laurel Highlands to check on the trail, which I will be racing on it in June. The trail was not extremely hard, definitely runable in most section (‘groomed’ trail some say), but it is considerably a step up from my last ultra due to hilly terrains. It was not the most technical terrain I have seen, but I will be killed by a thousand cuts. It is flat on the elevation profile but it is anything but flat. 70-mile is not an impossibility but it won’t be a cake walk. People said to train for it as if it is a 100 mile race. One suggestion was to do 10k ft of hill climb per week. I intend to do just that.

Due to the trail being a point to point (not a loop), it was difficult to plan the training run logistically. I decided to ‘play it safe’ because of the cold weather and I camped at the race to-be checkpoint #1 (Mile 18) and intended to study the trail from mile 18 to 0. I was very tempted to run the whole thing in a day, knowing my ability I can do 18 miles any given day, however because of the remoteness and ‘what-ifs’, I decided to backpack by hiking it instead. It was definitely a wise decision.

I was much weaker than I anticipated. Even with just the hike, it exhausted me. If the previous weekend running in the woods an indicator, this weekend’s message was loud and clear: I was in no condition to ‘trail run’ it. I might call it running, but if I couldn’t put up 3 miles an hour, it was anything but running. On race day, doing 3 miles an hour will not get me to the finish line under 22 hours. I am not alarmed, given I have about 12-14 weeks left, I could train up for it.

The first night there was just straight camping. I hiked around for an hour looking for camp but that was just my stupidity of not studying the map before hand. I figured the camp was only about half mile at most from the parking area and I could bump into it. You can only go north or south on the trail, how hard can it be in finding the camp? I walked first north the back south and turned around went back north (I was so near then before turning around!) and explored some of the side trails, while really needed to use the bathroom! Yes and it costed me an hour wandering around in the middle of the night. The camp was really half mile away (South). It was 2AM by the time I close my eyes. My hiking leader would be laughing at me if she knew (she didn’t go; well if she had gone, I wouldn’t be in a jam).

Camped in the snow on the first night; happy to arrived

The next day, bright and early, I decided to take my pack to camp#2 (at Mile 6), which is about 12 mile hike. Trust my plan, I kept saying to myself. Luckily, the snow on the ground was not much and they were fresh, about quarter to half an inch of snow on the ground. It didn’t make running impossible but the cold was a big factor for me to play it safe and decided to hike it with my pack instead of dropping the pack at where I parked and running the thing. Indeed, the ground was icy in part and I took too many falls to the ground myself. I left my trekking poles at home when the time I needed them the most was now; I had micro spikes in my pack but I was too stubborn to put them on — again my hike leader would shake her head if she saw me, like for all these years of camping and I still haven’t learned.

Tiny shelters (huts) down in the valley. I had the whole campground to myself at my second day camp site

I arrived at the second camp by noon, exhausted, and also not haven’t eaten breakfast. I dropped my pack, set camp, ate and by 2 PM then proceeded to hike/run the remaining six miles (to Mile 0) on an out and back.

reached mile marker 0

They say these six miles would be hardest in the race in term of elevation gain. It is probably a joke to those on the west coast that we complain about a thousand or two ft of elevation gain over couple miles, but to us here it is hard running! Everything is relative.

Indeed, I could hardly run it. I came across many runners on the trail in this last (first) section and one of them has ran the Laurel Ultra a few years back. He said, he knew of no one who would run up it, specifically on Spring Hill.

Next morning, woke up with body pretty much in a bad shape (bad meaning I didn’t want to run). I felt I couldn’t walk another mile. I asked myself, do I want to repeat to run to mile 0 and back, since it would be a perfect day for running it. It was much warmer and snow had melted. It would make great numbers for my runner log.

I pretty much knew the answer. I can’t find any resolve to beat my body any more but to hike (crawl) back to the car. I could definitely do it if I had to, but it would be pushing myself beyond uncomfortable. I knew it was not happening. It was really pointless to stay another night if I am not running it. Also I only had carried one day of food with me on my pack and I ate them the day before…unless I go back to the car. I always had more food in the car. But if I go to the car, why not just go home. The hike back was literally a crawl for me. That’s a wrap for the weekend.

someone’s snow graffiti
hunting parking lot – it advises runners/hikers to wear bright orange color clothing. PA has a lot of public hunting grounds. Larel highlands trail runs through some.
around mile 13-14

The boring stuff / trip Laurel#1

Day 226

I left several things hanging in previous posts, because I ran out of time. Usually I write my posts either going to work or traveling home. I try to squeeze everything in before I ‘pass out’. I have motion sickness, so if I stare at something too long while in motion I get dizzy. It is always a race against the clock.

This coming weekend, I plan to head out to PA (Pennsylvania, did I spell it right?) to do the first of four segments of the Laurel Highlands Trail. I will run a 70.5 mile race there in early June. I plan to go out at least once a month in order to cover the whole trail. The last trip there will be a night run.

This first trip will be from mile 0 to mile 18. I will stay a night at mile 18, then run to mile 6 and spend a night there. If have time and ability go to mile 0. Then on Sunday I will go back to mile 18 for another night. Monday being a holiday, I could do some more hiking/running.

Depend on the ground condition, I plan to go to mile 23 too. My car will be parked at mile 18 the whole time.

I have been checking the trail condition. There is high chance there will be snow somewhere on the trail and possibly on the whole trail. Forecast for the weekend will be cold. I checked the one few webcams there and it was showing 6 inches of snow since last week. I am expecting temperature on Friday to be 17 or lower. Up on the ridge, I can expect possibly in single digit. I have a warm sleeping bag, 10/15F I think. Got to check. I might bring a second one to double up.

I am excited. I still don’t know how I can run much with a full pack on my back. I haven’t work that part out. I am balancing between safety and weight. The less I carry the faster/more I can run but I would be endanger of freezing myself at night. Best solution would have a ‘mule’ (that what they are called in the running world of your support crew who carry things for you – having a mule in a race is illegal though) who carry all my gear to the camp and I would focus on the running aspect. Unfortunately no mule for me on this trip. Who know? Maybe a miracle or an angel will show up. My hike leader won’t be coming on this trip.

It is the first or one of the few trips I am planning on my own. It was always good to have my hike leader do all the planning in the past. All I did was show up. This trip has this added component of planning. Not that I hate it, but I like to just wing it.

I could also carry my pack to camp first, drop the pack and then do the running. But how much time do I have left for the run? I don’t know but will see.

Another option would be carry my pack there on the first night. Camp and drop pack at camp, then run back to the car (12-18 miles). Take my car and drive back to the first camp and pick up my pack and drive to the second camp. All my camp spots were already booked. Otherwise…I just camp two nights at one place. This idea seems doable. I did not think of it when I booked the campsites.

Well a 12 mile hike wouldn’t take whole day even with snow on the ground. Probably 5-6 hours for me, which means I still have time for some running before night fall. (9-3 pm, 2.5 hours before dark).

I am excited. It would be my first camping/backpacking trip with a run component.

What I will actually do will depend on the situation once I arrive.

weekly run summary

Day 225

I ran 56 miles last week

Monday: usually rest day, I rested

Tuesday: 4-ish miles with the group. I showed up in three layer shirt and did not realize it was 60 (15 C). Hot night.

Wednesday: rest night

Thursday: group run canceled because of rain and no one showed up. I ran 4-5 miles at least I think. I forgot. Cold and wet night.

Friday: 9 miles. cold and windy night. 37 F (3 C) when I started and tried to finish as fast as possible to avoid being out in the 20s.

Sat. 14+6. beautiful day, nippy in the morning. I finally went out on the trail. Woke up late and got to the trail by 11 am (I was 3 hrs late). I did 14 miles in about 5 hrs. So ended up mostly hiking. I was supposed to do more; Buzzard Hill + Ashby Hollow. This place was where I planned to do two weekends ago. Better late than never. By the time I got to Ashby Hollow, it was 2 pm. I decided to turn around, otherwise I might not get out of the woods until 9 or 10 pm. I only ‘ran’ 7 miles then and it took me 3 hours. I decided to hold off Ashby Hollow segment for another weekend. That should be only 5 more miles / 10 miles for out-and-back. I saw a couple at that point, who was probably doing the whole thing that day (24-25 miles for them). We passed each other when I started out and we were passing again at Ashby Hollow – well they could have been tailing me the whole time. They went on ahead into Ashby Hollow.

I got 2000+ ft of climbing in that stetch of about 7 miles (4000 ish at the end of my out and back). They don’t call the section the roller coaster for no reason. It was a lot of ups and downs.

I got home by 5 pm and decided I need some real running and did 6 miles in the neighborhood. It was so different to run on flat pavement. I could actually run and breath. Trail running really took my heart out of me. I thought I could run, but out on the trail, I was just like everybody else.

Sunday: 3.1 (5K) in the morning. 16 more miles in the afternoon. I did the airport/Arlington loop again.

How do I feel? I feel the miles started to get to me. Even with two days of rest in the week, I started out with tired legs on most of the runs. You know the feeling. Legs were heavy. This is my third week of putting up 50+ miles of training.

But I got 3rd place in my age group on my 5K race “Run Your Heart Out 5K”. My 2nd time being on the podium! I ran mine out. I was not fast (26:30) at all but the people who usually beat me were not there. I had run a 24 min time before and still not get a 3rd place, so I was glad to be on the podium this time!

Arlington Loop. Glad I have been doing it for third staight week. I won’t be running it next weekend because I will be out of town.
About two miles north of Ashby Hollow Trail Head, near a campsite (behind me). All of AT in Virginia looks the same: browish color. But can you believe it? This is only 45 mins from my home! Lucky me to have such good training ground. Still, I wouldn’t want to run out there in the dark if I don’t have to!