more filler

day 170

What with the fillers? I have nothing to write so I am posting random stuffs that come to mind. I know, if I have nothing worth to say, don’t say it. I usually do abide by it. I only blog when I run, because that is what I like to talk about. Running kind of bring out so many other thoughts too.

I originally started blogging writing a narative of my life, mostly focusing on my running and backpacking trips. How great they are! I know. It is my love and my passion. And all the world should know it too.

I feel proud of my progress or even the lack there of. Every week is a new adventure and a new race. In the grand scheme though, who care, right? Who care if I run another marathon?

Why tell the world? I don’t know. But thank you for reading. Writing is a medicine to me, just like running to get my mind off things, writing does too. I don’t have a lot of followers and I don’t aim to gather a lot. I do appreciate those who read/comment on my blog. You are like a friend, a real friend. I certainly treat you guys that way and maybe some day get to meet in real life. Deep down I guess I do want attention! You by reading make me feel good, somehow.

But life is messy. I wish my life is a narative with clear beginning, a good plot in middle, climax, and good ending. I have been blogging for about a year now (started last October or November).

There was no clear beginning. Beginning was when I started the blog. You guys though kind of came in the middle of it. I already have been running for couple years before then. I am about entering my fourth year now. Middle/plot: It was really up and down. I don’t see any progress with my running… yes, I ran more races, I ran for longer distances. I attempted bigger races whic were unimaginably tough (or even impossible) to me several years back. I wish the blog kind of show how I got from there to here. I don’t know. Sorry. The details were kind of messy. You readers bear through it. In between you get fillers like this post. Climax/Ending. I don’t know where this will end. My dream is certainly to run all fifty states and also to run in the BAA (Boston Maraton). I hope that would be the climax. I don’t know if I ever get there. As for fifty states, a rough estimate is it will take me 25 years to run all fifty states. I will be like 65 by then.

Life is messy in another way. I don’t write much about my personal life – the real life, though, they probably are seen or can be inferred. Unfortunately, I don’t write about the messy stuffs of my life… like my cat died (j/k). Yup, it is just only about running. True, I am running away from my real world problems, which you guys won’t get to see.

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I did 3.5 or 4 miles last night and was about to do more but various issues popped up (real world). Not really my concern but they were a distraction anyhow. Couple people were let go from my work place today and it kind of shock me. I was told about at the beginning of my run. How unreal. You just couldn’t keep quiet right? You would think!

This messed up my run concentration. Who knew running takes concentration. My friend called/texted me. Before I knew it, my run isn’t happening. I am happy to even get 4 miles in.

Not sure if I will be posting in the next couple days as I will be busy training…weekend’s coming!!

filler

Day 169 – weekend plan

The middle of the week is like a valley between two peaks. Last weekend was awesome in that I had a full plate and I was attempting something I have never done before. The weekend before that was the same. This coming weekend though would be the boring run of the mill thing. I have no plan. However, weekend is still way better than now…the middle of the week.

I did not do much yesterday. I should have run or work-out in a gym but did not do any of that. I stayed late at work to finish up some adminstrative stuff. Then the weather was looking beak like a storm was coming. Instead of running I headed home, thinking I would run after getting home.

Then it went downhill. I was hungry – not really; it was an excuse- so I stopped at a Korean place across from where I live. I haven’t been to there for a long time. The food is really good. I was surprised. They sell Korean rice sausages. This is my second tine eating it. The last time I brought them home and did not eat them right of way and they did not taste good at all. However, this time I ate them immediately and they were so good. I at first thought they were pricey but then realized the lady gave me too pair of chopsticks. They were like four servings inside the box! I ate them all (I had to do it in two sitting – food was still good an hour later). Most people dine in, I do carry out.

So I did not run at all. Not even a mile or two. I slept early and got about 8 hours I think, the longest ever.

Oh, though I don’t have plan for this weekend, I have to do my long runs. When I was training for a marathon, my long run is just a Saturday, but now it is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully, I will get in 60+ miles.

I do have some unscheduled events for Sunday … not really want to go but there is church with my best friends, then lunch, then kayak or paddleboard with them, then 2nd lunch, and an afternoon watching a Christian documentary on the Charismatic Movement (its a two hours film), and a dinner or maybe even 2nd dinner with them (my friend said she will cook two meals for us since I missed the one yesterday). There might be a 2nd worship too at night (another 2 hours event). I might not able to squeeze in my 20 miles long run after all. I might go to the first worship service and skip out the rest and rejoin them at dinner time. Or while they attend church, I skip out to a nearby trail and do my run. W&OD near Reston is my favorite.

My friend is going away for two weeks so, maybe a sacrifice of a Sunday is an acceptable trade-off. Any way, I will go by ear and act accordingly.

How I pick races

Day 168

There is a famous math/computer problem in which a salesman is trying to visit every city on the itinerary, going through each city only once and doing it in the most efficient way (in a shortest path/time). There is probably a solution to this optimization problem.

Well I thought my attempt to run in all fifty states is a traveling salesman problem and I stayed up many nights trying to come up a best way to do all fifty states in some logical order, until I spoke with my good buddy – a wise woman, but it shows how foolish I was. She immediately pointed out, that after each race I always come back home each time instead of traveling directly to the next state and this makes my problem really simple.

It doesn’t matter the order of states I choose to visit because the overall cost of visiting every state will be the same.

So because of her word, I would continue to pick any state to run each year as long as it is not one I have been to!

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I did a short 3.5 miles run yesterday. Legs are still sored. I felt my body is recovering fine. It is after all from running a marathon. I felt all those things about tapering and reverse tapering do not really apply this time. Got to get back into training.

I have been searching online about how to run a faster marathon… don’t we all? It is kind of boil down to of how many miles ran during training.

Marathon and a half

Day 167 (race reports)

three races in one weekend – SHF Abebe Bikila Intl Peace Marathon, Arlington 9-11 5K, and Parks Half Marathon

Total miles ran for the week was 46. Mostly all on the weekend. I did 4 miles during the week. I was mostly recovering from my backpacking trip. The tumble at the end of the trip injured me more than I initially realized. My lower back was out of wack for couple days and my left ankle was not so good. On top of it all, I woke up one day, with a knot in my neck/upper back (I couldn’t turn my head to the left, making runing difficult). Luckily, they all went away on race day.

This week should be either the 4th or fifth week of my training, but last two weeks pretty much no running due to the Roan Trip – a week of preparation beforehand and a week of recovery. But even with very little runing, it was pretty satisfying to run a race.

Here is the race report – three in one. I signed up to run a half marathon and a 5K, which is no big thing, but at the last minute (last Sunday or Monday) I went and signed up for a full marathon on top. I have been on the fence about the full for maybe a month. On paper, that was the amount of mileage I was supposed to run any way, but it seemed daunting because I never run three races on a given weekend before.

I got to say even after running so many marathons, there were still lessons to learn. It all came down to preparation. I should have packed the night before and I should have slept early.

I had about four hours of sleep the night before – my own undoing. The race didn’t start till 8 AM. Some started as early as 6, with the Race Director’s permission. The bulk of us, started at 8.

I left my house around 6 but my head was a bit whoosie. I don’t even get up this early for work or church.

I swallowed some oatmeal and got to the course with plenty time to spare.

The first half of the run was pretty much on pace. I ran a 2:01 (hr:mm) for a half. Then I started to unravel after that. I lost my water bottle. It felt off from my hydration vest and somehow I never noticed when it happened. I was pretty much out of it from lack of sleep. I really didn’t need it since water stop is at every two miles but still, I am one of those guys — if something is out of place I would think about it all the time. So for the rest of the race, I was scanning the course for my water bottle.

I caught a second wind by mile 17-18 when I was being chased by another runner (#840), well not sure if I chased her or sh was chasing me. She chased me for couple miles until the turn around point (between mile 19-20). I stopped. I needed to stop. I was out of it.

The first half, I didn’t need to stop but second half I stopped at every station. My stomach was not doing too well. Later, I think it was because I had too much sweet (starburst candies).

Then it was pretty much a struggle to the end. My underwears were giving me rash burn. It never happened before in previous races. It was uncomfortable. I tried readjusting them throughout the race but it stuck to my left thigh and cutting into it. I wasn’t wearing the stretchable one. So every step was painful as it rubbed and cut into me.

Then my shirt too was burning me. The right sleeve was cutting into my arm. There was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t bring any cream or lotion with me in my vest — they were left behind in the car. I felt the heat and rub burn with every swing of my arm.

I kind of find my tempo on and off between water stations. I probably could keep my tempo if I didn’t stop for water. I wasno longer running for time but to finish. So every water station was a stopping point. I picked up the pace on the last mile and finished it. Somehow, a marathon always seems so long but eventually, the finish line comes into view, there is a sense of relieve.

That was my first race of the weekend.

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My second race started at 6 pm. It was a 5k. I kind of take it as a joke. A 5K, I could run it with my eyes close. Unfortunately, my body didn’t take it the same way. I had on compression socks and so I didn’t feel much from my legs.

However, my breathing was another matter. I couldn’t breath. I think there was too much lactic acid in my chest. Every time I suck in breath, all my chest cavity hurt. I hoped I was not having a heart attack. I am so young to…

Any way, I huffed and puffed through the first couple miles. That was the most difficult 5K ever. The pain didn’t go away until the last mile. I put on speed and rushed to the finished line. My time was little over 30 min, averaging near 10 mins mile.

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My third race was on Sunday. This was much easier than expected. I ran on tired legs, but after the first few miles, I was used to it. My breathing was under control. I didn’t start too fast. I built up my pace with each mile. I was expecting a large hill and hard climb at the end, however, the hill was smaller than I imagined. While every one paused to walked up, I sprinted up. I think it was less than 100 ft at mile 8. I ran this course last two years, but it was not how I remebered it. I had so much left in my tank this year that I blazed through the last mile. The course finished on a downhill. I used that to my advantage.

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Aftermath.

I was sored the whole day and next. I couldn’t squat down. My quads took a beating. Not sure when I can run again. I will try any way.

Looking back, I enjoyed the three races. The mileage was high but it shouldn’t be something that I couldn’t do. I think I am ready now to do a back to back marathon – it is no longer beyond my ability.

Also, I ran two of the races this weekend with my friends. Though we all ran at our own pace but we celebrated together at the finish line. The race was much more enjoyable because of them.

funky feeling

Day 166

I am in a funky mood. So I withdrew myself and drank lot of bubble tea. Heehee. I really want Coke but knowing they have way too much sugar to do me good.

The hike/backpacking trip affected me more than I anticipated both physically and mentally. I haven’t done any running. Mentally, I am feeling lazy and being lacking in discipline. Physically, I feel beat up and roughed up. The weariness slowing creeping on me. I lost quite a bit of toenails from the trip because I was wearing improper shoes and I was kicking rocks and roots throughout the trip. I tripped and felt once. My left ankle has a pulling pain – just a little almost not noticable but it is affecting me running gait. All the work left undone during the weekend caught up to me. Excuses I know.

Mentally, there are a lot on my plate. There are lot of pressure from work, personal issues, planning for next trips, social, … relational. Ah, Normally, when I go out for a run, all these things are silenced. I know I am just running away from them.

For example, I have a big trip coming up in December. I really have no issue with it. The plane ticket was purchased. I am going regardless of if the sky should fall. Yet, it is the biggest trip of the lifetime. I am going on it with my new found best friend. There are still a lot of preparation. Many of friends and family don’t want meto go. My coworkers and boss said I took too many trips already (they were weekend trips). Their complaints not withstanding but still it is affecting me mood.

I haven’t done a six days backpacking trip before. The longest I have done was really two days (4 if you count the first and last day of driving there and back). I have never traveled outside of the country by myself. So I am afraid – paralyzing fear. I think about it a lot.

Another thing on my mind is a friend has a bad relationship with someone and I am kind of caught in the middle. They are not talking to each other. I could care less but then as a Christian I am to show loving compassion to both. Their relationship is a mess. They don’t want me to be involved. I am thinking to myself, why am I even involved in this?

Running would take my mind off this. I will be doing three races this weekend. A marathon, a 5K, and a half marathon. It is the first time running so many miles. 42 miles total.

Oh my back is kind of messed up too from the hike. I couldn’t bend down this morning and it would hurt if my right leg crosses in front of my left leg. I could still run, just don’t do weird twist or foot work during it. Luckily it is not a trail run this weekend. I think the fall caused this. I pulled something.

Labor Day Weekend

Day 165 / Roan Trip

Instead of running 50 miles last week I hiked/backpacked 50 miles on Roan Highlands. It was the longest backpacking trip I did, totalling 4 days.

I started on Thursday after work. My friend and I drove 7 hours down to Tennessee. We did not quite get there. We ended up at Damascus, Virginia and we were going to camp at a campground but unfortunately the ranger told us the it was full and we were not allowed to camp (at the picnic pavilion).

So we continued driving hoping to reach our destination by midnight and hopefully still able to set up tent camping at the Mountain Harbour hostel, where we would leave our car.

We passed by the Cherokee National Park on our way and we decided turned off the road did a stealth camping there. We survived the night uneventful (yes but, we almost ran over a bear when a cub ran toward our car). Bears are my friend’s mascot and she would have been heart broken.

The next day we continued on our trip. We came across a beautiful sight at Lake Watauga. It was a foggy morning. We got to experience the Smoky Mountain without having to go to the Smoky.

We arrived at the Mountain Harbour Hostel and we left our car and took a shuttle to Ervin, TN about 50 miles away. They dropped us off at the trail head. We hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Mountain Harbour Hostel (Hwy 19E), passing Roan Mnt and Carver Gap on the way.

There were many hard climbs. There were miles of uphills. The highest point was Roan Mountain at 6000 ft, which we reached on Sunday. There were many stunning sights. Tennessee is unlike anything we have seen in Virginia. My friend said after hiking in Tennessee and coming back to Virginia, mountains here are like hills. They are flat in comparison.

Physically, I was not too tired from the trip. The trip was hard but nothing compare to the runs I have been doing. I am physically fit and strong.

I learned from the trip to bring more water, food, and to be better at find paths. I got a chance to lead on the first day where I was the designated person to sweep the trail of snakes. We didn’t see any (at least not me) but people spotted coperheads and big black snakes.

Most importantly I should not have left my hiking boots at home. I was tripping and falling the whole weekend. My left ankle is kind of messed up. I hope I can still run a marathon this weekend.

There is no word for me to describe the trip. It was magical. The weather cooperated. The experience could have been like the time I went to Peru except that I felt it is less so because it is closer to home and it is always available for me to go back.

I like it the trip not so much about the sights but the time I was able to spent with my friend. It is worth a million to see the smile and joy on her face as she glazed at the sunrise or sunset each day while we were on the trip.

I tried to make every effort to go on every hiking trips she plans but I know the chance of doing that is less and less as I am ramping up my effort and focusing more toward my running. Boo, she said. It is certainly I could go back to Roan Mountain any time but not every time I get to go with my friend. Running is still my passion and everything.

I made many other sacrifices for my running and many of those I gladly made without a second thought but giving up on backpacking with my friend, is almost unimaginable painful. I tried to combine running with backpacking, though so far I was not able to pull it off.

On this last trip, I brought my running hydration vest and shoes, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friend at the camp at the end of the day while I do my miles. My running would have been just as long as the hike itself and it seems so silly to hike the trail during the day and then run the whole thing over, while the others sleep/rest – I wouldn’t mind but I would make others worry about me.

It is almost time to put backpacking away. I took up backpacking to help me be a better runner/ now trail running. I have reached my goal and I have become a stronger runner.

quiet

day 164

I started the week with high hope that I would run all the miles like last week. The week is almost over and it look unlikely I am any where close. I feel like a big failure this week.

Total mileage so far is 4. The goal is around 60. Why? I think the reason is … it is so hard to get the run in. Just a little lack of discipline derailed my week. Like Tuesday after my club run, there was happy hour after. I know I should have skipped it but couldn’t resist the temptation.

Wednesday instead of running, I spent the time preparing for this weekend trip. I looked at the map, entered the coordinates into the gps unit, and read the trail note. By the time I finished it was late.

Today, I could have run in the morning but didn’t. In the afternoon, I am traveling to my campsite. Starting tonight my friend and I will backpack 50 miles on Roan Highland. We won’t be back until Monday night. Hopefully, I could put some mileages to make my running goal but likely will not.