C&O Canal Towpath Marathon

Day 175 Race Report

If yesterday was a fluke, today was not. I again started the race late. All I got to blame is myself. I got to race of what I thought was an hour early and took my time eating my breakfast. I had a lot of fried rice. Somehow, as other people gathered up, I was staying confidently at my car. I saw other cars were still pulling in and thought I had plenty of time. Somehow, I took today starting time to be the same as yesterday. However, in fact the marathon started half an hour before the half.

By the time I walked up to the starting line, only the half marathon runners were still there. I don’t know why I did not check the race website for the start time beforehand. I made another rookie mistake.

The race director kindly informed me the race has started and I should start running. He told me the course and which direction to go.

Luckily, being half an hour behind was not as bad as yesterday of being an hour and half behind. I tried to catch up to the runners. I know they were about three miles out. The course was out and back four times and so I saw them usually running in the opposite direction but I never caught up to them. The closest I got was within two miles.

I was not able to catch up to any runners but I did catch up to those who walked. Officially I finished at 6 hours but unofficially my garmin time was 5:34 about the same as yesterday.

The weather was hot. I did not lube up myself today because I woke up late but surprisingly I did not get chaffed. Halfway through I felt a bister was developing on my left foot but I readjusted how I planted my foot and in the end no bister. I did not know you could do that.

If you think how could someone can run two marathons within two days, the answer is simple, you run very slowly. I tried to run fast but I was unable to do it. My time was 45 minutes slower than usual.

Was it hard for me? A marathon is a marathon. It seemed when I was running, the course seemed unending. Eventually, it did end. It was hard in that sense. However it was not extremely hard. I am at a point now in my training, where doing 20+ miles for a long run and the next day going out and do it again is typically what the plan calls for. I am supposed to be doing that much miles during the weekend.

I ended up using the races for my long runs.

double marathon coming up

Day 174

I just finished a marathon today. I will do another tomorrow. I will write more on this in another post of how people do or more marathons without rest. Back-to-back marathon is not too hard a thing to do. I found a secret.

I did Altis Cross County Marathon. It is a small ultra like race. There were 80 ish people running the full and about the same number running the half. Unlike other big names, this one was really low key but it has everything about a good race. I like the food and candies they offered. It had some trails to run on. The ground had everything: we had sand, asphalt, concrete, and dirt and might have some gravels. Luckily no water crossings.

Any way, this race was one I learned an important lesson about life. Not everyone running in a race have the same purpose.

I got to the race about an hour before the start time. I got out of the truck and saw a group 15-20 people was doing some warm up or at least I presumed they were warming up. They were heading out around the lake and I thought I would just follow them. Who would have known they were the advance starting group (first wave). The race director didn’t mention anything about this. I am not blaming the RD. Usually for small race RD is very flexible to different runner’s need.

However, I was blindly follow them to the point of missing the start. I did not time myself but when I came to my sense that these people were not going around the lake but instead was going farther out than I was comfortable. I could have turned around. I could have asked them where they were going, but a guy was being rude to me. He said he couldn’t help me and that the starting line was the other direction. We were like an hour out and probably have gone 3-4 miles already. I started being anxious. I guess my vibed was infecting the whole group I was with. More on this later.

I saw the race has now started. The real runners were catching up.

The race had two laps of out and back. I continued to walk with them. I would not want to splint back to the starting line. Actually, I was still curious where they were heading and was tailing them. Part of me did not want to believe that they were runners and I had goofed. At the turn around point, one of the guys told me to stop tailing them because I was making them nervous. The guy was mean and I sensed if I kept on, he might do physical/bodily harm to me.

This has never happened to me in a race and if it was really a race I wouldn’t tail them either.

Any way, I was quite disturbed. I calmed myself down, got away from them, by following them from far away. By this time other runners caught up and the trail was full of people. I fet a bit safer. I walked back to the starting line with them.

After passing ‘go’, I started running and started my garmin watch. I figured the race gave a generous time of seven hours and with about 5 and half hours remaining, I could still finish if I started then. If anything I just used it as a long run. I glad I was not disqualified from the race. The race was not bib timed, so it didn’t matter when I start (The RD was really generous). Actually he didn’t know I started that late. We all used the race clock. I started about an hour and half late but that was ok. Official time, I finished at 7:10, and my garmin time was 5:30. I ran 28 miles based on garmin measurement. If I added in the extra 9 miles walk before my start, that means I did a total of 37 miles. I was going to add two more miles but figured I didn’t want the race timing person to wait another half hour for me. I already finished after 7 hours (the supposed total time allowed for the race). I accidenally did an ultra and got an official finishing time (for the marathon). For that I was glad.

Any way, I was angry at myself for making such a rookie mistake. I did not check where I was going and followed the wrong crowd. I did not keep track of the ‘warm up’ time. However, in the end, it was no harm no foul. I could have been DQ for late start or failed to finish within the allowed time.

I was angry/frustrated also because I always thought myself a nice guy but there were people telling me to go away during the race. They said I made them nervous – how was it my fault? I should not let a random stranger bothered me. I always thought everyone in the runner community are welcoming. I shouldn’t let one person ruin the whole. I was bothered at the time because it was totally not within my expectation.

There were others who encouraged me during the race, such as saying keep it up, good job, you can do it, keep going. Or they simply smiled at me. Not everyone are mean. However, I was quite shaken. This was one of emotional races and left a salty taste.

week7

day 173

I lost track of whether last week was week 7 or 6. It was probably week7. There are about 7 weeks till my 50 miler. I have not trained much last couple of weeks. Running a marathon takes more than a day to recover. I would say maybe even a week.

During the summer, I thought running a marathon a month doesn’t give me enough time to recover. Now I am entering a season of a marathon a week.

I lost count on my miles ran too. I used to religiously keep track of them but now, it is kind of eyeballing and hand-waving.

I don’t remember if I was hurt or not last week. Good thing I was ready when the marathon started.

I have been resting the last couple of days. Funny thing was at the start of the marathon last Sunday, my right heel was giving me problem. After several miles, it warmed up and the discomfort went away. Now my left forefoot feels a bit unwell. It is not pain but it feels hot as if it was overly used. I have been resting.

Because of my foot, I am a bit reluctant to sign up for two marathons this weekend. I signed up a local race on Saturday and they are doing another one on Sunday. It would be an ideal time to run a back to back marathon. Yet my foot does not feel that great. I am still considering about Sunday. They say go slower on the Saturday one and I will be fine on Sunday.

Will see. I will write something, if I do a marathon back to back.

Total miles last week was about 30. Might have been 35 but couple miles do not make a different.

Mountain boys

Day 172

I will try to make this short. My race report usually goes on and on. The past weekend, I went to West Virginia and did the Morgantown Marathon. Boy, was it hard. To compare to previous marathons I ran, this was an ultra level marathon. I was knock out by mile 19. I walked then for three miles and finally picked up running again but was going at 15 min mile, very very slow jog. By mile 25, I walked to the finish. I finished at 5:10; the orginal target goal was 4:40-45. So I might have gone out a little too fast in the beginning.

The course could have been tougher but I saw at many hills, the race path was diverted to an easier path. In my mind, I was thinking, thank God I don’t have to go up that hill. Though the course was made easier, it didn’t mean there was no hill. The whole course was hilly. We are in West Virginia, where there is not flat ground! There were hills that go up for a mile long. Mile 25-26 was like that. A whole mile of uphill. They had to put it at the end! Some people mention mile 20 as well, but I was walking at that point and do not remember if it was a hard climb.

One thing I noticed was even walking was tough. You would think if you couldn’t run, you would walk to catch your breath, but while walking, my muscles felt like they would not want to take another step. At that time, if the snag wagon came by, I would have taken it and gave up on the race. I never thought walking was hard before, but in this race, walking was hard for me.

The race organization was great. It started on time. They managed it like a 10,000 people race even though there were only 2500-2600 people registered and only about 250-260 people ran the full marathons. There were lot of food, water station, and after party. They have a pace vehicle! I thought I was running in the olympic. I couldn’t catch up to it though. There were many road crossings but they had crossing guards through out. We ran on closed roads for most of the race. There was one point though, I think one or two cars broke through a roadblock at an empty stretch. I know some people did not like us running on the road.We were in West Virginia, and to my mind, it is the wild wild west (their state slogan is ‘wild and wonderful’, indeed).

crowd support: It was not like other big races, but some neighbors came out. I am thankful for the frozen grapes at one of the houses. Unfortunately, no one offered me moonshine on the course. I was kind of hopeful to get some moonshine in WV.

Final word. They say run to conquere Morgantown, but I think the mountain boys conquered me.

captain log

Day 171 Guilty pleasure – icecream

The weekend wasn’t as intense as I had anticipated. My training fizzled out due to my own undoing. I ran on Friday, but my quad wasn’t healing properly and pain shot out after about 8 or 10 miles. I was going to do 20. Any way, I started the run very late around 7 pm instead of six or five – I was dreadful of the long run and so delayed starting it. There was no way for me to finish 20 miles before midnight by the time I actually went out. I could have finished but I didn’t really try.

That was Friday. I was hoping then to make it up on Saturday. I had a 10k in the morning. I didn’t hype this race up but this was one of the coolest 10k to do. It was sold out. We ran on the International Airport of Dulles (IAD) main runway. They closed half of the airport for us. We ran the whole runway. It was indeed long. It took maybe a mile before getting on the runway and then the runway was unending. We did out and back. I think the runway was about 2 miles long. I ran marathons but comparing to running on the runway, I felt despair.

Most people were running on the edge of the runway but a few of us got to the center where the white strips are painted. I really wanted to spread out my arms and pretended to fly. Maybe next time though, because I was running for time and I didn’t want to be goofy.

The runway really messed up your pacing when there is no reference point for you to know how fast or far you have been running. They had mile markers but still. Of course it was flat and big. Everything is far away. We had good weather. I did not see any plane landing or taking off, which kind of disappointed. We knew too because they closed the runway. I think the other side of the running was really far away, probably half a mile away where planes were land, but we didn’t get to see. Mybe they did shut off the whole airport. I don’t know. It would have been so cool to run on the runway while planes were landing or taking off on top of you.

Security was heavier than usual 10K. They had hundreds of agents and airport polices on bikes surrounding us. They had helicopters and drones flying overhead — saying taking pictures though I think more for security. We went through security check but we didn’t have to take off our shoes or go through those milliwave detectors. I didn’t bring anything in but my phone and ID, but I could have. They used the handheld metal detector sweeper on me. When I arrived in the morning the parking guard asked me: what is my purpose of being here! I said to run. He let me through. Isn’t it obvious, there are thousands other cars behind me that we were obviously there to run? We were using the air and space museum parking lot that is next to the airport. Museum doesn’t open until 10. Normally, I don’t think anyone would park there at that hours.

Would I do again? maybe. I had to get up extra early to leave the house in time for the race. And our race was delayed for a bit (like 15/20 mins) because a bunch of people couldn’t get through security in time and the organizer decided to wait for them.

After the race, I was very cold and I went home to sleep for the rest of the day until evening. Not sure why I was cold, maybe I wasn’t feeling well.

Sunday was really a lost day. I ran maybe 5-6 miles in Reston while waiting for my friend to finish church and for her call. She was waiting for me to call but I didn’t. She didn’t call me until near 1pm and my moning was gone doing nothing. If I knew ahead of them, within those six hours I could have squeezed in the long run.

Then I couldn’t get to the lunch place because my friend moved up the time and I was still out in Reston while she was in DC and I wasn’t aware until she texted me asking where am I. She then promised to bring me lunch. I wanted to decline and gool for a run but she wasgetting mad at me for skipping church and now the lunch. So I waited for another three hours at a park boat launch place, where we were to meet. I ate around 3:30 when she showed up. I was no longer hungry, but food was food and good stuff. Again if I knew I had to wait for three hours I would be running in my stomping ground around DC instead of sleeping on a bench like a hobo. DC traffic and parking is bad even on Sunday, so I couldn’t blame her for taking too long for getting to me. It took couple hours to get from one side to another. I normally run on Sunday afternoon, but since she was kind of mad at me when I said, I couldn’t make it to lunch, I dare not turn down her kayaking event. We launched around 4 pm and kayaked until 5:30. With each minutes ticked by, I knew my Sunday run was toasted but I still had hope I might be able to get some run in at the end of the day. After kayaked, we had plan to go to her house and she would cook for us. And I was hoping to be in and out within an hour since she sleeps early. However, the dinner took 2 plus (near 3) hours to cook. We watched a documentary and a movie. Ended up my whole evening was gone. I got home dead tired and before long it was midnight. Guess what! I ran into traffic on the interstate on the way back to my home so I got home extra late. And on a Sunday night! They closed all lanes but one. So no running at all. Murphy law.

Total mile for week 6 was 20-24, maybe 26 miles. I was aiming 60-70. It was the lowest mileage I put up.

I was not happy. I wasn’t mad at my friend but myself for not being more resolved to run. Dinner was good though. I brought a half gallon of icecream and wolfed down after I got home. My friend also made icecream but it was too chocolately and salty. The icecream sated my anger a bit.

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.