Day367 Gettysburg Marathon

What an exciting day. I drove up to Pennsylvania and ran the Gettysburg Marathon.

I don’t like running in the cold but with a marathon, I toughed it out and ditched my sweater and pants and ran in short sleeves. We are talking about 35-40 F degree here.

By 8 am the temperature warmed up a bit. After a mile I was sweating.

I was kind of expecting a fast race. It was not my fastest time, but it was a time I haven’t had since spring 2019 (3 running seasons away), that is a long time ago. I take it and am very pleased.

With more experience now in race day management, I was able to track my time better. The first half I finished in 2:01. It was pretty steady of finishing under 4 hrs. I don’t expect to finish under 4 though.

The second half was much harder. My performance degrade drastically, I couldn’t maintain the 9.5 min pace. However, I did better than many of the past races in holding off hitting the ‘wall’. I carried my own water and food. I didn’t realize at the time, but my wall came at mile 25. That was good because in the past, it usually came earlier around mile 18-20. This made the difference of finish under 4.5 hrs or at around 5 hrs.

I pushed myself though. Many of marathons I usually started slow and pushed hard in the second half. This time I started hard and tried strave-off the lost/slow down in the second half.

I reached mile 19 at 3 hours. My goal was to reach mile 20 by the 3rd hour. This seems like a disappointment but I am actually pleased. The mile 20 goal is so elusive and I don’t think I ever reached it. I feel good to able to get nearer and nearer to this goal.

As about the race, Covid19 plan by race management was great! We have individual time start. Everyone was 6 ft apart. Everyone had mask on.

There was plenty of aid stations. Volunteers were great. They discouraged (not allowed) spectators. There is no crowd support. That is fine with me any way.

The road was open to traffic. Occasionally, we had to move the side or cars shifted to the opposite side etc. I felt safe though. I ran in country roads this summer so I was not too disturbed by it. Most cars went by slowly. There were one or two instances that didn’t slow down and flew by between runners.

Was the course hilly? I had 1000 ft gain. It was more hilly than other courses I have been on. It was not too bad.

I think it was a beautiful course. Running on the country side gives you that peace. You see endless farmlands, combining with nice fall weather, it is beautiful.

The course was a 6.6 mile out and back. We marathon did it twice. So you see almost everyone twice or sometimes 4 times. There were two turn around point. One thing we missed was the half marathon people. Due to Covid19 measure, the Half Marathon would run the following day. So they didn’t run when we run. Also in the afternoon, I think they had a 5K race on the same course.

I wore maniacs shirt. So other maniacs recognized me and shouted out. The race mostly quiet. Most runners wore headphones so it was a very quiet. Due to Covid19 there were very little interaction even though it was an in-person race. I made friends with one or two. #80 good job. He was with me around mile 6 before speeding up or I slowed down. I saw him again after finishing.


Day366 Wild Oak Car camping

I ended up going to Wild Oak. This place has a lot of memories for me because it was there where I got my teeth cut for my first backpacking experience.

My hiker friend back into 2017 planned the trip to go there for like over half a year. I didn’t know her then. However, every time she decided to go, something happened, she had to reschedule 7-8 times. From her write up of the trip, it was supposed to be a super hard trip and it was to be done in the winter with numerous water crossings (she mentioned like twelve). Unfortunately for her but fortunately for me, the trip was postponed till mid summer, when it was just me and her. Like most trips we did, instead of canceling again, she decided to move it forward.

So I got to do the trip with her, and my first ‘real’ bp. There were only two river crossings. One of them has a bridge to walk across! We ended up didn’t backpack at all but hiked the whole thing in a day, partly my fault, since I was super excited about my physical endurance having just done my first marathon early that year. I was ready to show the world what it like to walk 26.2 miles. It was one of the toughest hikes I did, with a full pack. We were supposed to drop pack and camp midway but our hike was super fast and by evening time, we thought we had only couple miles left (it was like 10 instead because they remade and extended the trail and added like 4-5 miles, and we were using an old map). We laughed at it every time it is mentioned, because it was so stupid, to carry a heavy pack and did not use it and for 28+ miles no less.

Since then I have gone back to this place year after year. Last year, we were there during the Columbus Weekend and we happened to encounter a race happening that weekend. If you know anything about me, a race is like the reason for my existent. I almost couldn’t control myself to run with runners instead of backpacking that weekend. So I said to myself, I got to come back this year to run with them.

There is a tradition for this race, not sure since when, maybe for 10+ year, the Virginia Happy Trail people would come out here to fatass this trail – that is to unofficially race on the trail but without requiring signup or payment. If you remember I recently did the ‘VDM’ with them last weekend. All their races are kind of weird/informally done like that. They are really too old school for my taste, especially with the no-signup thing of a year in advance. I think because it is on government land, they are not supposed to have an organized race, but they got around this by having a group of informal private citizens that happened to gather during a particular weekend. Now the race is no longer tied to Virginia Happy Trail (I think to avoid being sued), but people still informally come on Columbus Day Weekend to run it.

So this year, I decided to go there on Columbus Day weekend to run. I ran on the trail by myself last year when I had the Lyme disease. I think I did it in 8 hours, which was pretty good (I think is the par for the course). But this time I did it in two laps. The first was on Saturday at 3pm and I didn’t finish until midnight, which took about 9 hours. In the morning the next day, I ran another lap, started at 9 am but didn’t finish until 8:30 pm. It took 11:30 hours.

The Virginia Happy Trail people didn’t show up in force though. They decided to have it the next weekend instead, which I think kind of nice to us the holiday visitors because the parking lot was kind a small (can only hold about 10 cars). There wouldn’t be enough space to park if everyone showed up.

I ran into three other people, who were also running the whole loop. They were fast. I think it probably took them under 7 hours. They ran in clockwise direction while I did the loop counter-clockwise. We met up around 2 pm. I was at mile 11, about 1/3 of the way while they were probably at mile 17 or 18 (2/3 of the way). I told them I probably wouldn’t get back to the parking lot until 8 pm. I had 6 more hours to go, while maybe only 3 more hours for them. Lucky! Though secretly I was hoping to finish by 6 pm (at the 9 hour mark). I didn’t want to be caught on the mountain in the dark on a cold and rainy day.

But as luck and my ability would have it, I ended up spending seven more hours out there. They told me hope I can descend before dark. It was good I tossed a small handheld flashlight in my hydration pack before setting out, thinking just in case but likely I wouldn’t need it. The last hour coming down the mountain in pitch dark was something I don’t want to do, but ended up doing. The light from my handheld was just barely enough to lit the few steps in front of me. It has barely enough light to see anything. I think it was the fog and my beam was not penetrating it. I think there was maybe just a candle worth of brightness. It flickered on and off and I was praying hard, please have enough battery to last the trip down.

The trail was not easy. It was not the hardest trail there is but they have enough steep uphills and downhills and there are portions that are rocky and technical. The first climb was over 7 miles! The last descend was 5 miles long! Quad killer indeed. Ankle and knee killers too. It was not a hike for the average city folks.

I rolled my ankle twice on the first lap around at mile 8/9. On my second lap in the same place I rolled my ankle twice again. I tried to stop to find the stone or root that tripped me. The sad thing was that part of the trail was gentle and smooth. There were many places that were rougher or tougher. I usually roll myself at the easiest places. The part that is hard to accept is on my second lap, I had my poles with me – this kind of rolling shouldn’t happen because my weight should have shifted to my arms. I had to pause to consider should I quit, since hiking 8 miles back is easier than doing 20 miles forward. I decided to risk it by moving forward (sunk cost fallacy). Luckily I didn’t roll again, but that was a pretty gusty decision.

One thing I did that almost put my life at risk was the tropical storm Delta (down graded from Hurricane Delta) arrived at our area that morning. I knew about the rain and wind. I packed a rain jacket but at the start of the run, I felt I don’t need it and left it behind. It was not raining then. When I did the first lap (in the evening), I was not cold. I was hoping the temperature would remain constant. But on the second lap once the rain came, and temperature dropped, I was freezing. I was halfway through by then distance wise, with the time around 3-4 pm. I was thinking how I wish I have my rain jacket with me. I might go into hypothermia and it was late Sunday. If something bad happens, no one will be on the trail to rescue me until maybe next weekend. I got to get off of this mountain myself before my body freezed.

Throughout the run, I dared not think of the time remained to the parking lot because even if it takes an hour, it was just too long to accept. I was focusing on the distance instead. I was at mile 15, and in my mind I told myself just need to get to the next peak which was like 3-6 miles away. I knew the trail is about 27-28 miles long. I kept thinking in that line to give myself hope.

Maybe the cold and tireness affected my thinking. I got lost on the next peak, Hankey Mnt. When we went there as a group, we got lost there too. The night before though I didn’t get lost because – my hiking friend told me she fixed the sign and I found her small beaten fixed sign and followed it down. With full confident that I wouldn’t get lost again on Hankey in day time I ascended (I could bypass it that peak if needed). However, when I ascended I found the campsite my friend told me about (something I didn’t see the night before), but her sign I didn’t find. In place of her sign I found a new and official trail sign clearly marked ‘WILD OAK TRAIL’, so I took the left turn there. I thought it was a left. This is where the confusion came in. Apparently by taking the left I ended back up at where I was about a mile away. Exactly, how on earth did I hiking backward on the trail without realizing it! I think though the backtracking was on the *old* trail except it was newly blazed or earlier I was on the old trail while ascending! I blame the forest park people, why blazed an old trail. They got the sign confused there. I was at mile 18 earlier. However the extra backtracking added an extra 3 miles (an hour more).

If anyone is reading this and planning to hike The Wild Oak Trail, don’t ascend the Hankey Mountain, leave the Wild Oak trail take the Betsy trail instead to go around it instead because there are some confusing signs up on the top that would loop you back around. The funny thing is they don’t blaze the other side of Hankey Mountain where Wild Oak merged into Betsy (or Betsy into Wild Oak Tr), so even if you are on right trail you won’t know it until five miles later. So just avoid ascending Hankey altogether.

I kept telling myself only one more peak to go (Lookout mountain at mile 22). It took maybe 7 more miles before I got there (and that was about 3 hours later). The time then was 6:30 pm, that was original my goal to finish by. However, I was not upset. We get there when we get there.

I was pressing for time. I didn’t know how long it would take to descend Lookout mountain. My guess was 4 miles. I know it would get dark by 7 pm. The mud was slick and I was not wearing my trail shoes but the normal road running shoes. So basically I was skiing, sliding, and slipping all over the places. Based on the previous day, it took me an hour and half to descend. So I tried to do it again this time as fast as I could. But I didn’t have a bright flashlight on me this time. The one I had I could hardly use to see. I kind of make out a shadowy path in front of me.

At one point I almost went over a cliff. Thank God, I stopped in time. That was mostly my fault too. The previous day, the city light below the Lookout Mountain was beautiful, and I tried to see if there were any light (It was foggy). While trying to look, I walked straight out into the edge because the path has curved at that point.

Over all it was a good experience. I had 27 miles the first day and 30 miles the second.

I brought my tent but too lazy to use it. I slept in the car both nights, a real definition of car camping. The first night, I sleep in the flat bed of my truck. I was not afraid of bugs. The second night was rainy and I slept inside. The backseat only fits half of me. I slept in like hammock position, V-shape. My head was up and my legs were up. I didn’t get much sleep. I left the rear window opened for air.

I think I was not supposed to sleep/camp at the trailhead, but there is no one around to enforce it. This was kind of reminescene of the first trip where we had a tent but ended up didn’t use it.



Happy Friday!

Been tired lately and last night I felt asleep by 9pm. I came home had dinner. The day seems to go by faster now with going into work. All the driving.

I started driving to work. Normally it is ok. It is not as bad as driving into DC. My workplace is just outside the city somewhere between the suburb and really suburb where I live. Still it takes about half an hour.

This week though I had such bad lucks. Couple times I got stuck in traffic. I know, I live in the city and traffic is normal. I got use to it these many years of driving in the areas. We have one of worse traffic in the nation behind New York and Los Angeles (I think rank 3rd or something). The point is we are not a big city like those! 1 mil in pop vs 19 mil. There is no comparison. I think it is just poor planning. We spent a lot money on transportation too, probably more than any cities of our size in the nation.

But with the pandemic, traffic virtually has disappeared here. Now I am back at work and the unbelievable traffic has returned too. I think everyone has the same idea as me.

There were many road works since people were not on the roads. But now people like me are back at work. At the same time they start making weird road closures and lanes changes that are like a five year old drawing on the sidewalk. Maybe a five year old can do a better job. When combine them together you get huge accidents every day. You think they learned. I wonder why no one sue them! Or maybe department of transportation (VDOT) can’t be sued. They always go after the poor soul who couldn’t react quick enough.

There were a few times during the summer I drove into work and each time I almost got into an accident. None of it was my fault. They closed a lane abruptly with little to no warning and imagine you were driving near 65 ish (speeding I know during morning rush) on the interstate and a car on the lane that was suddenly closed either had to make a sudden stop or quicky shift out to your lane or crash into the concrete barrier. Most stupid drivers would shift into your lane hoping you would stop in them for them. And I have seen all scenarios. My heart stopped a few times driving on that highway. I tried all the lanes too and encountered being both the victim whose lane was suddenly closed or the poor soul on the lane with suddenly a car popped onto your lane with no warning and they then making a hard brake on you! It is insane!

You would think yes, next day, you remember that section of the road and be better at it except they changed to something different the next day!

And so this week, a few time I got stuck on the highway for hours. A normal commute even during a rush hour should only taken about 35 minutes (hey sometimes only taken me 15-20 mins, ah those early pandemic days), but this week, it took me one and half hours to get into work or coming back home! Why don’t I just stay at home right? Exactly, why am I venting? I have a choice to just work from home.

They did try to redo the lane to make it safer, but they shift it every day and it like try and miss to see which day they would screw up badly and cause a huge accident.

Another thing I have been thinking while being stuck on the highway is couldn’t they have a special road crew whose job is to clear accident? We have an accident almost every day on the highway. However, if you have seen an accident or a breaking down car on the highway, it likely will block the roads for hours. It is like the first time anyone has seen an accident and no one know what to do. I am not just talking about us the rubberneckers, but the emergency crew too.

Indeed, the emergency crew has a different priority. Their job is public safety and to hell with the people stuck in traffic. They take the whole day if they want and they block an extra lane or all lanes if they have to.

They would bring the fire trucks and if an ambulance is needed, they you wait for it too, and of course the police would show up and then two or three other cruisers too. They would call a tow truck or two. This would take a whole day before they move the cars to the side. They bring out everything.

By then the road would be blocked for hours! Even when the accident is cleared, the road would be continued to be congested. I am sitting there thinking, can they make the whole proccess go faster? Like five minutes and move everyone to the side? Or for example, stop sending cars onto the highway until the blockage is resolved! And direct cars off the highway – like reroute them. I passed like three or four exits (with no one exiting, and everyone stuck to their lane) bumber to bumber and we were crawling at 1 mi an hour. Our local roads run parallel to the highway and why no one is using them? They could redirect all those cars like me off the highway onto local roads. Just a bit of coordination, it would have been so much better.

I have heard in Korea they have a rapid team that clears the accidents. Why can we have something like this here.

Enough ranting… I have no plan for this weekend. I know I should be running but I don’t know where or when.

A few choices I have is either to do the VDM I did last weekend again or doing something new.

My second choice is to go to The Wild Oak Trail. This 28 mile trail gave me a beating last year. I really want to do it again.

Third choice is to go and do the Priest. I have heard it is pretty challenging. I have not done it before. Last year I was very sick and had to go home during that camping trip to the Priest. The Priest is the farest of three from home. I think about 4 hour drive.

I likely will pick the second choice…but it is a lot of work to prepare for and I am still not packed yet. I would have to wake up like 3 AM for the long drive, which is not very attractive to me. Plus I have get food tonight – food to eat after the run. I have food I already cooked but those can’t last in the car. I need camping food that won’t spoil.

update: 10:30 AM – I am still in my bed. Option #2 is still good. I got food and everything packed now


Day364 normal

The day has been normal. Couple things: The guy who needed pacing for the Shenandoah run declined my help.

I was excited for a night run and it will be challenging as I have checked the weather and nigh time temperature…It is not something I would do for ‘fun’. The night can drop to near freezing 35 F and day time can rise to 70 F (sweating temp for running). I did a test run last weekend and I know. Plus there will be some rain at night. Not good.

Distance wise too, I was kind of stuck with all my friends being away for the long holiday, so if I do it, there is no one to pick me up after the run and I have to run back to the car. I am looking at 50-60 miles run in less than ideal situation.

It would be on the mountain, which mean I get less support in term of food and water etc. There are creeks and couple way sides (places to buy food), however, most of the route is remote! It is a stress on the logistics if without a friend to refuel you at key places. I was not worry on the way out, since the dude has his support team and I could ‘borrow’ them, but on the return trip, I would be by myself and I would be screwed if I messed up (like out of food/water/twisted my ankle etc).

Lastly and most important is I am the pacer, which mean I manage the clock. As I know when I am racing, clock management is a lot of work. I would have to know precisely where I am at and fast and far to go. It is like solving dozen equations in your head all the time. That the reason people have pacer toward the end of the race when fatigue sets in. I think I am up to the task, but that is a heavy of responsibility! It means I need to totally familiar with the trail (a lot of map studying). I actually started doing it yesterday and already was solving equations ahead, even while sleeping. I could write more about this…It is because our time system of using base 60 is a pain in the butt. You constantly have to convert the time between hour to minute to do the calculation!

I was both disappointed in being declined for the help but at the same time relieved.

Good luck to the man and his team.

He did get me started to plan for my own one day running through the entire Shenandoah on the Applachian Trail. It is 107-110 miles. So I already have a bit of work done.

I forgot what is the second thing I want to write about…probably not as important. I will leave that to another post.

Basically my weekend is free. When is our long weekend? Is it next week?


Day363 poles etc

There were a few things I wanted to write for a long time but usually some other things got the spot.

I met couple ultra guys in Pa during the summer and one of them uses poles on his runs. I have been thinking of doing the same.

I follow a Youtuber, he said he started using poles when he realized all the top finishers of ultra races use them.

So yesterday I packed a pair of trekking poles. They were ultra light weight that I happened to found being left on the trail on a trip I did couple years back. I was pretty sure someone forgotten them…and not just leave them to be picked up at a later time, you know runners often do if they do loops on a trail. The poles were left at least more than one day, and might have been a week or more. This was before Covid, nowaday, I don’t touch other people’s stuffs with all the germs.

My Pa friend said I have to practice with the poles because they get heavy during the run. Yesterday I did 22 miles and by halfway I had to put them away. Today, I woke up, my upper arms and shoulders were slightly sore. My goodness. These things do affect your body.

I have been thinking if I will use them in my 100 mile race. The course is not technical. There are some hills but nothing of a 1000 ft climb. I think poles are not needed. But if I decide to use them, I need to start training with them to build those muscles.

Relating to poles, I also wanted to write about socks and underwear. I wear whatever I can find in my drawers and have been making noobie mistakes. The biggest one was during my summer 100 miles attempt. I got pretty bad blisters on both feet. It was the shoes too but socks were part to blame. I have not done an indeep research on what kind of socks I should be wearing.

I like the thick wooly kind. Walmart socks were really bad. I brought some that said to have thick cushion, for all day factory workers, EMT and such. They were junk. After several washes they were no longer thick and cushy.

Similarly I got bad chaefing from bad underwear. It is better not to wear any. Usually first 10-ish mile it does not matter. Longer distances, I start to feel the cut and burn for the repetitive rubbing. I have to look into having the right clothing. I use to put lube and stuff the first year before my runs, but now I am a bit lazy. I only put balm on afterward to soothe the burn.


Day362 continue w yesterday

I felt asleep not long after I posted. I actually was not sure if I did publish it and for whole day was wondering such until I got home now to check. Yes I did post it.

I was out in the woods in the Shenandoah NP hinking. Actually I was with a group of ultra runners the Virginia Happy Trail runners. I knew the group for a long time but haven’t had a chance to meet up with them. All their races and events are weird. I was trying to get into one of their event before. They are really old school. Normally there is no sign up but you sent in some kind of application and they pick you based on the stock market closing number. Something weird like that and I never had the patience to work through their system to run in their races.

However, last night as mentioned in the previous post, I was stalking their facebook page and I came across a guy asking for pacing for the long holiday next week. And from his post, I got the link to today event of doing the VDM at 7 am. BS I had no clue what VDM means except it has to do with running! Sure I will be there. There was no sign up, just show up and I left a message on their post saying I would be there. Immediately I google what VDM means. Luckily it was not hard for me to find out (Vicky Death March) told you their event is strange! I have no idea of who Vicky is and Death March was pretty self explanatory. Their website has everything I need, map, course, what to bring, trail description. So I packed last night. Set the alarm for 4:30 and I slept right through since I didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 with all the packing. Running is a serious thing for me! I treat as if I am meeting the king!

Anyway I overslept and 5:30. It was an hour and half drive to the trail. Needless to say, I got there and lot was full!!! Crazy people had the same idea to do an early morning hike. Wednesday was full moon and so a lot people did early morning hike up the mountain to see the sunrise.

For the rest of the day, I ran with the Happy Trail People. We got separated because I couldn’t keep up with them and I took a shorter version and hiked down the mountain. I had 22 miles.

Hope that gives a good update. I love running because when I run I feel my life is going somewhere.

I write because I run.

I signed up for the stone mill race. It is a waiting list and reg fee is really cheap. 62 dollars! I don’t have to break my bank. The race location is near too (45 mins driving). Way closer than the JFK that one is like 2:30-3:00 away.

I am very happy.

I forgot what I was going to write last night. I felt I have forgotten something. Oh well, next post if I think of it, I will share

Ah I remember…I got my bib for the PA race in two weeks.


Day361 busy

As you might have guessed, I have been busy the last few days with the boring stuff of life called work.

Now things are picking up, I better write before being steam-rolled by all other things.

First, I am debating whether to run the JFK50 this year. I did it last year and at the time it was the hardest race I did. I trained a year for it. Now looking back, ehh, it was not that hard. The race was mostly flat! and boring miles after miles on the C&O Towpath.

What make me want to do it? It is a race with tons of miles. I think I like that a lot.

While thinking about it, a local race organizer posted that they were approved for the Stone Mill 50 miler. This actually have been a race I wanted to do a long time before I even heard of the JFK… well I kind of lie there. But I know both JFK and Stone mill at about the same time.

JFK and Stone Mill is not even in the same category. They are both 50 miler but JFK is like 10 to 100 times more famous, but the Stone Mill is much smaller scale, which means less expensive. JFK current price is 300 squids. Stone Mill I am hoping for a third of that.

Where I got off? Ya, so I would like to do the Stone Mill Race.

I haven’t signed up either of them. Still waiting.

Now, weekend! I plan to do some trail run this weeking. I have a big plan.

I am getting in touch with another runner who is planning to run through Shenandoah. I volunteed to be his pacer. I hope to catch him around 50-60 miles, and we will do the rest together. It is still a planning stage, but I am so excited about it.

I still have a few things to say, but I am getting sleepy. They will be left for future posts.


Day360 music

The pastor’s message last Sunday got me into some reflections this week. I guess that usually is a good thing when a message resonates. I missed those days, when I would just sit at the back of the church with me half dozing off and let the message comes and would go out later in the night to run and see how it help me with my running. Corona time really affected my running somehow because I can’t really doze off in my own house while virtually worshipping. It just won’t work. I would go into deep sleep instead. So many of my runs were ruined. And usually online worship is too short by the time I woke up from my dozing or deep sleep and it was all over. I am thinking it is really the second doze that helps.

This time the message was not about running. Usually I don’t listen to music when I run. No ipod and I don’t want to waste battery on my phone since usually my run lasts a long long time, I need every once of battery on the phone for emergency and there is just no luxury for music.

The sermon if you have guessed was on music, specially on church music (worship music). The church I attended just came out their own hymnal (song book). I haven’t gone to church for a long time, and I thought who would still use hymnals. I thought songs normal are shown on the screen.

In this corona time, I am not touching any hymnal. Who know how many other hands have touched it. I didn’t realize though until the very end of the night the pastor said, if you want to take it home, you may for this week. They are new and they are yours for free and you don’t have to bring it back next week. They will have more. I didn’t take one since I don’t go to that church often. I only go there because I miss the morning worship and they have night worship. I can’t read music any way so it does not do me any good to take a song book home. If there is a digital copy though I would have downloaded one. But it is a freaking book. They made it slim though, which is good. I have seen song books over 500 pages. This is probably a third or a fifth of that.

The whole evening message was a history (modern history) on church worship music. I am not sure the period but probably from 80’s to the present, where “CCM” came on scene and churches ditched hymns and switched to CCM (Contemporary Christian Music – and now there is a new term CWM, Contemporary Worship Music, an offshoot). It was a defense why this church now sticks to singing hymns.

I grew up around CCM. I used to go a chinese church. We had a split congregation where the traditional side would sing hymns (traditional church music) and the younger folks like me would sing the more modern sounding songs (we younger folks have the youth worship/and it was all in English). I never was able to tell the difference or reason why we were doing so. I thought just we wanted to be cool. Music is music to me. I was part of the worship team for a time too and had my say in what songs to sing. I never picked hymns. We had all kind of trainings, music, theology, etc. However, never occured to me why we were singing the songs we sang and how they came to be. It was just songs the adults side did not sing. I guess they were ‘kid’ songs. We were the first generation to have our own worship and we hired the first youth pastor at our church. So very early on we already settled with singing the modern songs over hymns. Now looking back and thinking, “what have I done!”

At this church service last Sunday, I got exposed to the whole history. I wonder what the churches used to sing before the CCM movement? I was born right into it so did not see the shift. Apparently there were Christian artists that wanted to make “Christian” music that sounds similar to secular music. There was a market for it. I grew up listening to a Christian radio station in my area. I like those music a lot. The business people wanted to expand the market to the church too to gain a bigger market. The church people also wanted the cooler songs they heard over the radio.

At the same time, there were several churches that also produced their own music. Their music caught on around the world (e.g. Hillsong from Australia).

We came to a point now almost all the churches now are playing the contempory style of music in worship.

The main argument of the night was that hymns are poems put into music and contempory music are not. Poetry has much stricter forms and so their message are more deeper. The music is transcendent. Chorus is a modern invention. CCM has iffy theology and listeners are being brainwashed (my take, the pastor didn’t say this, but that what I felt it was hinted at) – He commented that we don’t recite the apostles’ creed five times over in his sermon, we shouldn’t sing a chorus 5 times in a song. Singing a hymn is effective in conveying some very complex truths – the example of “double cure” for double inputation of righteousness was used.

Well why this long post? I haven’t brought music for a long time at least 5-6 years. The sermon prompted me to buy some. What are people singing or listening nowaday? I usually buy compilation because I am just too lazy to make my own playlist. And I realized there was not a worship CD from the WOW Hits people since 2010. Ten years!

So I was researching for a CD to buy last night. Guess what? Justin Bieber Holy is the number 1 hit in Christian music. I was doing a double take there. I have heard of Kayne West but now Bieber too! I’m not judging, but I didn’t know he makes Christian songs. I can see so many people at my church is going say, we are not singing that.

I am going back to listening to classical music 🙂


Day359 random friday?

I will just leave a bunch of stuffs here. Never mind I usually do that any way.

I signed up for a marathon! Not going to say it for fear of jinxing it. But yes there is a real marathon! There will be social distancing and stuff. I signed a waiver saying I won’t sue if I got Covid19 from it. I am excited. Yet just like Rock N the Knob I have to stay quiet! There are spots left…People if you are reading this go sign up. It is a real race except I try not to be too hyped about it.

Did I finish the report for Rock N the Knob?

I had this plan you know – I need a lot of miles and now my workplace has moved closer to where I live, it only takes me 45 mins to get to work instead of 1:20 min, I am thinking of running to work.

I haven’t planned it out yet. This is likely what I want to do. Take the bus in, and then run home at the end of the day. I am looking at a 18-20 mile run. It is doable. I get home before midnight.

My training also is calling for a night run. Someone on a local cycling group posted a 70 mile route in my area. I kind of want to try it. I have done part of it over the summer when I went for a out-and-back 60 miles. This is a loop course, so I want to try it one Friday night. My workplace is nearest to the trail head, so I am thinking of driving to work and leave my car there then head for the trail at the end of the work day and run 70+ miles. I should be done by Sunday and either sleep in my car or attempt to drive home in the wee hours. One of the problems I could think of is will they let me leave my car at work over the weekend? It would be a bummer at the end of my 70 mile run and my car is no longer there and have to run another 20+ miles home.

Laurel Highland race is this weekend (Tonight actually) for those who are doing it. They will get to the bus stop by 3 in the morning. I already defered my entry. Still I wanted to attempt a 70.5 mile run this weekend. I know it won’t be as hard as the Laurel run since there won’t be any elevation here in the city. But this weekend is pretty booked. I got work being spilled over (end of the fiscal year). I really want to do the run though even if it is a local run.

Yes, I need to focus on my rocky raccoon training. Week 1 is over and I have done about 13 miles so far.

remind me – I need to get a training plan in place.

life running

Day358 Life

This might have been the longest pause from journaling since I went on vacation last year. Life has been busy but things are pretty much the same under the coronavirus time.

I am no longer working from home. We still have the option, but I chose to go in. I found it was better to go back into the office and I got my parking and office key. I started last week. The reason why I like to go into the office was it brought my life somewhat back to normal with a set schedule for work and a better work/home split. Still sometimes, work gets spilled into my home life. However, it is much better to have structure of a 9-5 for work day and then afterward, it is home life.

I and couple others are at the office (3 of us). I sit at one end and the other at the other end. The third came in like once a week and he sits somewhere in the middle (we are like a triangle). There is a bit elevated risk of catching the coronavirus by going in. But I think the risk is not that high compare to what I am already doing; it is all around us.

I went to church the first time the past weekend because my friend invited me. I asked what I have to do like do I have to preregister before going (some churches are doing that for contact tracing/better anticipation of the crowd), and I asked if a mask was required (I asked because I didn’t have one). I have been using disposable ones and they finally ran out. I ordered some (500) over Amazon in August for my Atlanta trip, however they never came. I got the money refunded back. I felt it was a scam so I have not brought any new masks since. Still happy to have my refund processed. Almost thought I won’t be seeing it again.

So for my friend’s sake I stopped by a CVS store and got a reusable cloth one and it was expensive! Anyway, I walked into the church, and voila, wearing mask was optional.

I respect the people there. They are moral and upright and respectable people. But they mix politics in wearing masks, which I see as a health issue and I was disappointed. I think a third of the people did not wear a mask. The pastor and his worship team did not wear masks. I get it, a mask might make it hard to speak clearly since many of us look at visual/facial cues in speeches – yet of the four member music team only one person was actual singing – the other three wearing a mask would not hinder them, but they chose not to. They did maintain social distancing on stage. Anyway, that is my rant. In the back of my head, I kept recalling the incident of a choir practice where many got infected with the corona.

I did not stay after worship but high tailed out the place. Many people gathered to socialize inside afterward. Nope, not for me. Yes, going to church is optional. If I don’t feel safe I don’t have to be there. I probably won’t step in a church until next year.

My take is how can people be so ignorant or stubborn over wearing masks? I feel people made it into a political issue rather than a health issue. I can’t wrap my head around them. 100% of those refused are Republicans. Church somehow draws so many republicans. The issue is beyond right/wrong. It has become a farce.

Back to what I am doing…I enjoy driving to work each day. I like the traffic. I am probably one of the few people who do. I felt that extra hour in the morning stuck behind traffic really help me solve some of the insolvable problems in my life…I am talking about times for day dreaming. You can’t daydream while sitting at home I found out.

What else? I signed up for the Rocky Raccoon for those who read my comments in the previous entry already knew.

I will be doing it – my first attempt at a 100 mile run. I ran twice unsuccessfully but this is a real race and not virtual, so there is more at stake.

I am no longer scared thinking about it. I will train and trust my training. I felt I have gotten stronger. I am not there yet. I am not as tough as last year…or as strong. I felt my performance has decreased a lot, yet it was not crippling like when I had the Lyme disease.

I felt I am sick or defective somehow and I have not able to put a finger on what is wrong with me. Yes it probable easier just go to the doctor and has them run a test. I am suffering a bout of lightheadedness /vertigo. I feel fine if I go running but when I am home or at work, my head is spinning. It is not severe but a hint of things floating. Yes I need a new pair of glasses too. Anyway, at one point I was suspecting Lyme disease again or it could be covid, but I have this thing for weeks now, might have been a month. I should see a doctor to have it checked out.

Readers you probable don’t like this. Since signing up for my race in Texas (yes corona land I call it), I have been rooting for Prez Trump to win a second term. Why? I hope he would not interfere with my race in Texas. Biden if he wins, he probable would not either, but I get a sense he might enact tougher measures on traveling and events that attract many people.

How can I be so selfish right? I do care about stopping the corona but I do want my race! Its my freedom even if I have to travel to Texas to do it. I know I just made the same argument that people at the church I attended made when they refused to wear a mask.

4 months. We will see.