Wild Oak Trail BP

Day 281

It was a wild and wonderful weekend. On Friday I was supposed to be headed down south to Roanoke for a tripple crown hike/camping trip (McAfee, Tinker Cliff, and Dragon tooth) but God (or the hike lead) had a different plan. Plan was changing from the start. I was supposed to run the Ultra High Bridge 50k but instead I went for this trip. In the end, it was not meant to be.

As we were headed down to Roanoke, my hike lead was not feeling it. Instead at the last minute, we changed our plan to a nearer location. I don’t force her or mad at her fo a change of plan. Hiking any where is the same to me as long as we are all happy. The new location would still be just as hard, It has about 30 miles of hike and around total 8000 ft elevation change.

This place is less well known for backpacking. It has become a mountain bike trail and trail runner heaven. Ho and behold, as we pulled into the Wild Oak Trail head, the parking lot was packed. We got out, what to do and thinking what was going on. Normally, no one comes to this place after dark.

The guy who was tending at the parking lot quickly approved us to explain they were having a race going on for the weekend. We could stay and park on the side of the road as long as our car tires are completely off the road.

We were camping at the trail head with a race that was ongoing. The race started at 8 in the morning / or at night (I don’t remember). They were running 100+ miles). The trail has a 28-30 miles loop and they were running it 4 times. Through out the night as runners passed through the parking lot (an Aid Station as well as the starting and ending point) we heard cheers and applauses. Needless to say we had very little sleep.

As for me, I was trilled. I have read about races at Wild Oak. There was the Grindstone 100 and this was the hot TWOT. To finally be at ultra 100 miles race was heavenly. It was like shaking hand with celebrities. I might do the cold TWOT next February.

The next day we proceeded with our hike. My friend and I did this loop about three years ago. That time was my first backpacking trip (my friend disagreed) but I had plenty of memories from it because we did the whole thing in one day with a full pack on our back (and we were very miserable). This second time around we did it in a more relaxing way. Instead of hiking 28 miles in one day, we only hiked about 16 miles on the first day and finished the rest on the second. We camped somewhere in the middle. It was a good campground. I built a fire and tended it until backpacker midnight (when the sun went down and got completely dark) and I put it out and on the next day I bravely put my hand in the ash to make sure the ambers were completely out. Water was not plenty but still I pored water on the coals (I could pee on them, but I don’t think the ladies in our group would like that).

The next day, we finished the loop except we put in some extra miles after being confused by the signage and map. They changed the trail and the change was not on the map (at least that what we think). We had to rely on intuition and logic to get us ou of the place thanks to a very experience hiker in our group. He had a great sense of direction, otherwise we would still be looping at where we were lost for couple more times! Hey we all have our phones and gps, but none of us could make head or tail exactly where we were. We were lost for about an hour. I learnd some important old school navigation skills (love Sharron!). You don’t need map or signs if you use your head.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We got out of the woods by early afternoon. I was in good shape. I ran this loop back in June and hiking it was not a challenge at all. It was no doubt considered one of the harder trail to run or hike, but splitting it into two days was really too easy.

Don’t ask me how I don’t remember the trail even though I was on it as recently as couple months ago. My friend I should start remembering stuffs. Haha! I really don’t bother remember unimportant stuffs.

Another thing I did differently on this trip was I carry a 28L bag (like a normal school backpack) and it was small and light weight. I was very light on my feet. It was a bit too heavy to run with, but I could have. I didn’t bring a tent but slept under the stars. It was cold at night but it was not too bad. The temperature was around 50-60F (around 10-15C). Couple times I was awaken by the cold and I had to move around in my sleeping bag to warm up (I slept in my undies). I didn’t bring long johns; didn’t need them. My friend said I must have a higher body temperature. I had my downs sleeping bag though, and that kept me warm enough.

I surprised myself to be able to pull off being minimalist on a camping trip. It can be quite dangerous because I could have frozen to death.

game on

Day 280

Though I don’t have much to say, this weekend instead of running the High Bridge Ultra (50k) I will be heading south and west for a backpacking trip. I will probably the last one until Patagonia.

I will be packing tonight once I get home. I have a bit of running to do beforehand. The weather has turned cooler now, and we might face near freezing temperature up on the mountain. I will have to dig through my stuff to pull out the winter/fall gear for the trip. Also the food situation is not good. My mountain house dehydrated food packs won’t arrive until Friday. I am thinking I might have to run to Walmart tonight to get some food otherwise I might be hanged high and dry.

I hiked the the McAffee, Tinker Cliff, and Dragon Tooth loop previously but that time I was a completely noobie. This time around I should know what to pack and have a little bit more sense of direction.

For the trip, we are leaving from Arlington around 6:30pm. I think it is a 4 hour drive. We have to hike couple of miles into camp, so we probably won’t arrive until midnight.

The next day, I heard we are planning to do 18-20 miles, to the other side (North Mountain). On the last day we might skip Dragon Tooth, but still there will be something close to 15 miles before we are out of the woods. It will be 30+ miles total.

I am ready.

week 9

Day 279

First off weekly miles ran: 25 plus 18 miles hiking.

Got to put those hiking miles in otherwise, my running look pretty shabby.

No long run this past weekend. I originally scheduled a marathon race. It was another Potomac River Marathon just like the one I did a week before. Note they (race organizer) called it something different, but basically running on the same C&O Canal towpath. I signed up for this race back in spring. I have been doing races with this organization, Health and Safety Foundation, for couple years. On last Tuesday though I decided to defer the race until next year. Luckily this race has a very flexible deferral policy.

I also deferred another race (50K), which is supposed to be taking place this coming Saturday. It is not because I am nervous. I think I am ready.

Somehow, I don’t feel like running that much recently. I know at this point in time, it shouldn’t matter how I feel, I should stick to the training plan and run my miles. There are only a few weeks left until my final race. I still like running, but some other things seemed to be more important.

I am struggling with prioritizing. Previously, I am all for first come first serve. If there is something I like, but my calendar already has something in it, I would not move my events that are already booked.

Now I started moving things that were set around, all hell break loose.

I have been going through some soul searching last whole week. Nothing much came out of it. I do like running but there are other things more important. I have been skipping out churches on Sunday and my time with my friends. Though they understand that I do what I like, still it kind of hurt when I have to put them on a balance and weigh which choices I should do.

This past weekend, I went hiking instead. It improved my mental health somewhat. I kind of coming out of it better than when I started. My problem was not resolved. I did not come out with flesh vision and passion. The best thing about this hike was my hiking Friend K, got herself a trail runnin shoes. It was not like she was going to run with me. She does not run. However, she ran me on the trail for at least five miles on rough terrain. All the time though I was trying to stay away from running, and there she was running. I was thinking she got to be tired soon, at least for someone who doesn’t run and we were on trail (mountainous), even real runners get tired. I don’t she was doing it for me, she said and I believe her that she would still run the trail even if I were not there. I got home, and slept for four hours until evening.

past few days

Day 279

I got over my little depression (post marathon blue) the other day. I don’t know what might cause it or helped it go away. Thursday, though was not feeling great, I went out and did 5 miles. I found out I was not totally recovered from my last week marathon. Muscles were still sored. The run was great because we had couple younger guys showed up and they ran fast, at least faster than me. There was a lady too. She was also quite fast. It had been a long time since I found someone who could keep up and out run me. I had a good time to go an all out sprint at the end.

Friday, emotionally I was much better than Wednesday or Thursday. The blue totally went away. I went for a supposingly 20 miles long run but ended up doing 13. The funny thing was about couple miles into the run, I met a guy (Jack) who used to come to our Tuesday and Thursday run. So we greeted each other and continued on. He is a bit faster than me. We were apparently going down the same way on Rock Creek Park, in DC. This trail is long. We continued down same way and he was leading and I was just pacing from behind. I told him no need to wait for me because I will be running slow (to put in the mileage for the long run). After couple more miles we went our separate way. I continued down toward Lincoln Memorial, while he took a right (he said to East Potomac). Long story short, he was out of my mind as I continue to put in the next six/seven miles. I missed having him for company. Well in hour later, he sent me a text with the image of map of his run. He did 21 km (I thought was miles), and I said I only did 13.1 (miles). We then realized both of us have done a half marathon. I did not expect him to run this much.

If I knew he was going to run 13 miles, I would have joined him. However, it seemed he is not a social runner (run and chat with someone).

This post is long enough. Today, Saturday I was supposed to run another marathon, but I didn’t run it. I think I could have, but I am really over with running marathons. I went up on a mountain (called the Peak) instead and hiked 18 miles with a friend. I will write in a separate post some days.

Looking ahead

Day 278

Summer is over and Fall is here. I want to say it is good time for running. I have stacked every weekend with races from here on out until November.

My body is in good shape, but I am feeling the post marathon blue today. I did a small run of 5 miles. I could have done another 4 or 5, yet I don’t have the motivation to do it.

In fact, I went ahead to cancel this weekend race and the next weekend race. I tried to canceled the fourth weekend race too but I missed the deadline for doing that, so I probably will run it.

I probably will still run them on my own but without supports and race timed.

Suddenly, I am no longer interested chasing the bling bling of marathons.

Looking ahead, I have two ultras in November. The biggest one, the 50 Miler, is still to come.

race, recovery, repeat

Day 177

I felt the weariness on the second day after my marathon as I was riding to work. I did not feel that bad on Monday but on Tuesday I did not feel well at all and wanted to faint while riding the train into work. I was low in energy. I closed my eyes and couldn’t focus. Luckily, I got a window seat and was leaning against the window.

The rest of the day I got better. I took some vitamins and fish oil. I still couldn’t eat much and did not finish my lunch and skipped my dinner.

By evening, I recovered and went for the group run. It felt great. I started out slow but later on after warming up a bit, I could run full speed. I love running fast. I got a bit tired after halfway. I walked the last quarter mile when I found a companion who was walking.

I could still run some more after getting back to the starting line but decided to join the rest of the gang for the happy hour. I didn’t eat there though.

My next race is supposed to be this coming Saturday but I submitted a deferral till next next year (put it in right before my evening run). I might still go out to run, since the course will be on public park (the same C&O Canal Towpath I just did last weekend).

week 8

Day 176

My best friend is back from her trip and we had a little of catching up of what happened for the last two weeks. I couldn’t remember at all what happened except I said I have been running a lot. At least that what I thought until I reviewed my blog and noted that I have been under-trained the last few weeks. She kept asking what happened to me, like sonething major had happened because she said I don’t look too well, I just couldn’t think of anything. It might have been I just finished two back-to-back marathons and was really deficient in calories (hungry but couldn’t eat – lack of appetite).

I told her that running a marathon is not that big a deal any more. I guess that is major. Maybe more on this later.

One thought came to mind while I was on the trail yesterday doing my run was, the scenery changes every couple steps I took. I found that was really cool. I know it before. It is not something to be surprised about, but still as I ran, I was anticipating the next view, the next turn or bend. I was totally enjoying it.

Running a marathon or anything takes patience. I try not to think how much more it will be to the end during my run. I set much shorter goal, like trying to make it to the next aid station.

I did not run that often last week. I did one run during the week – a short 4 miles, but I did a lot of miles over the weekend.

Total miles ran for week 8: 65 miles

oh, my left foot was fine by the weekend. It did not give me any trouble during any of the races.