Day 211

Either so much has happened or nothing has changed. It has been all talk about running but I still haven’t stepped outside my house for a practice session.

It was good I got a little hiking done over the weekend. It was not much, just under 6 miles. In the past, that would serve a warm up. Still I did not capitulate on it to get some running done.

A new year brings new (or renew) resolution. I did not care to make any this year. It is surreal we are in 2020. Maybe the trip of a life time really dulls my senses on the mundane things of life.

It was not until last night, when I went to church, I was awaken a sense of passion.

The reason we do things is drive and passion and resolution. The pastor expounded on the word ‘resolve’.

I have been disappointed in myself in being inactive physically (as well mentally) last five/six weeks. It is not what I want of me.

I have a bunch of bucket list items! Many of them will take more than a few years to do, like paying off my car loan! The passion is just not there to do them…

Resolve means a decision or an ultimatum and a declaration. There is not and should not have any further discussion. I need this kind of will. To make a final decision. To make up my mind and put away my distractions.

I renew my resolve to run in this new year.

We seek transformation. To change from what we are not to what we want to be. Transformation means a radical change. Each year, I look at myself, and I want that kind of change. To be a year unlike any years before.

To change means to cast aside something. My pastor from a previous year reminded me in a sermon, no matter if last year was good or bad, we leave them behind. We pick up and look forward to expect and do something new.

My ‘vision’ for myself this year is to see myself crossing the finish the after running 70+ mile at 1 or 3 AM in the morning. Why? I am dreaming to finish by 1AM. No DNF. Run even if is raining that day or Cold or lack of sleep or tired, I will push through. This is my transformation. That is my biggest race for 2020…unless I want to attempt a 100 miler in the next winter.

PS. The pastor gave stirring speech about seeking God and renew our commitment to the Almighty. I found that it can be applied to all facets of life, like running.

Mountains and Valleys

Day 210

The kind of race I like best is one that goes up and down. Yes it iss hard to run where there are hills, but it is what so fun about it. Thinking back, my memorable moments last years were the Baltimore Marathon where there were ‘tons’ of hills and Morgantown, and Jack and Jill in Seattle.

Life is kind of like that. Having came back from Patagonia, I was feeling very good. Nothing is compare to that kind of experience. Now back to daily grind, I seem to be in the low valley.

I have not run much since getting back. I have to get through this rut and refocus my mind. Who knew running require so much much mental power! I feel so weak in my resolve right now.

I went on short hike today on Sugarloaf Mountain in MD. I was a very light excercise but it got me outside the house. Yay!

off running

Day 209

Since getting back from the trip a week ago, I only ran once and that was about one to two miles during my lunch break.

I really have to give to the two holidays…no wonder people talk about gaining weight and messing up their diet during this season. I did not have as strong a resolve as I did in the past. Xmas and New Year really throw a wrench in my running plan. I was hoping to immediately started back on my running regiment once I get back, but now I have been off it for unimaginable long time (3 weeks).

With the new year tomorrow, I hope to finally get back into it again. Maybe I should start running tonight!

Back to reality

Day 208

I’m back from my short vacation to Chile just in time to be home for Christmas.

I saw a lot of things and ate well and slept well. The trip was well worth it. I was lucky to be part of the journey.

Before I was able to board the plane, many things happened that I thought, wouldn’t able to make it. Two months before the trip, protests broke out in Chile. It has no direct effect on the trip unless the state department put out a travel restriction, but it created an uncertainty and fear for the safety. My coworkers and friends urged me not to go when they heard about it. We assure them that most of our travel would be away from the crowd. I was checking constantly on Chile situation fearing a revolution might break out any time. Our fear was unfounded.

Then my work situation became very rocky. We had swings from having minimal work to being overloaded with too much to do. We had many people taking their vacations and leaves. My boss did not want me to go though I submitted my leave request almost five months before anyone else, because he needs me to hold down the fort when things become busy, and did not accept my request until at the last minute. All the signs pointed to that I should stay put. I was going crazy.

I got a funny feeling that the trip would be cancel by our team captain when there was very little communication until she confirmed that the trip was still on two werks before we departed, that in itself was nerve racking. I pretty much did not hear from her until we were about to leave for the airport.

But we invested too much into the trip. The god of the universe must be playing a comic joke on me. There was no way I wouldn’t get on the plane.

The first couple days after arriving, we stayed in Santiago. We explored on foot around the city, I think the Italian Park District / or where the protest was going on. We got to see the riot suppression police in action. We climbed a short hill that gave us the overviewed of the entired district. We entangled with the protest on our second night after dinner and was chased by the crowd and police. That was some heart thumbing moment. But both the people and police were friendly toward outsiders. At no point were we in danger.

Every night there was a protest there. One night the smoke from the tear gas canister even blew into our living room and we were 12 floors up. We got a taste of what tear gas feel like; and it was very diluted by the time it got to our floor room, but still those are some powerful stuff, causing our eyes to water, and nose to run and throat to choke. It was like smelling onion but worse.

We left Santiago on the third day to fly to Punta Arenas, and then to Puerto Natales. We gathered our supplies and entered the Torres Del Paines the following day.

We did the O Trek in seven days. Most people do the W trek hiking either from east to west or west to east. The O trek is a big circle that incorporate the W trek on the loop back to the start.

The first couple days were easy hiking. The last couple days were a bit harder. The hardest day was crossing the mountain pass. I came ill-prepared and did not expect snow, wind and the cold – all deadly combination. The pass is not hard to get through but ice and snow and some tricky footing put enough fear in me of not going attempt crossing it a second time. I could have died up there if the temperature was any lower and the pass was a bit higher and longer to get through. If it was 10 minutes or 20 minutes longer, I would have collapsed.

I was foolish enough to wear just one layer plus a windbreaker. It was enough to stay maybe 10-15 minutes outside in near freezing temperature but not when you are completely soaked and the pass I think took us at least two hours to cross. I was too cold by the time I came to my sense to add a second layer and I couldn’t wiggle my fingers to put on my gloves. After many attempts, I decided give up on getting my gloves on. Both of my legs were frozen stiff too and I lost all feeling of them. For the first time I understand the value of having a rain pants. I got those but left them at home thinking little wet, wouldn’t kill me.

I couldn’t be happier when we got to Central (where the entrance/exit locates). We stayed a night at Central in order to climb Chileno to see the ‘Towers’, the famous Torres. The stars did not aligned right for us. The next day, it was raining and cold, we got up to top of the mountain but did not get to see the any spire/tower. It was too windy and cold, we snapped a picture and immediately descended back to Central and took the bus out the park.

We spent a night at Punta Arenas before flying to Puerto Montt, which is a short drive to Puerto Varas. We stayed at Puerto Varas for a night before flying back to Santiago. We stayed another night at Santiago before flying to Calama and taking a bus to San Pedro, to vist the Atacama desert.

For rest of the trip mostly was traveling from place to place. When time allowed, we aired out our wet clothes and tents, which was much easy to do once we got to hotter and drier climate. Atacama desert was worth seeing. We visited Vales Acoritis (Rainbow Valley) and at night we star-gazed.

Monday, we left San Pedro, and retraced our steps back to Sandiago and then took an evening flight to Atlanta and then back to DC by Tuesday morning.

On my way

Day 207

I plan to stay offline for the next 2+ weeks for my trip to Patagonia. I should be back by Christmas. I am going to Chile. I guess many have been wondering where am I going. I kept it semi-secret because not wanting to jinx it. It is a trip I wanted so badly. Now within couple hours away from boarding, all is assure I will be on the plane and flying out. Actually, I am still on my way to the airport, anything can happen.

Also I won’t be running during those time away. This would be the longest time that I ever would stop running. Hopefully, when I get back, I can start my training. People think it is easy…but each race is hard and training is harder still. I will be training for three ultras, with the longest one being 70 miles. The nearest one will be four months away.


Day 206

Time is something we don’t have enough. There are so many things I needed to do before the trip but you can only do so much.

I was trying to finish the stuffs at my workplace but I did less than I wanted to be done. What can you do when you are short handed. I feel bad for the person who is covering for me.

I also wanted to do some work while I am away to lessen the burden of my helper. I know I am stressing her quite a bit. Feeling bad for her just not enough. I am feeling sick about it and feeling guilty of going. Still I will be going…with a heavy heart.

Unfortunately, I am currently not able to pack the laptop into my travel bag. I am doing backpacking and almost everything in my backpack is essential. A laptop just won’t cut it. Also, how will I get internet access? I will be in the wilderness most of the time. I looked into satellite linkup but that cost almost as much as my trip.

I have been quite stress out ladt couple days. I have less than 36 hours till point of no return. The trip is a go.

It will be a good trip, if only…!

I know for god’s sake, I am going on a trip of a life time and I should just relax. Many people make this trip possible.

Going places

Day 205

This post is hard for me to write. For some people (like my hiking friend), they love traveling. For me, I have such a fear, stressful/worrying kind of fear of going to places, no matter if it is local or is far away. I am content to stay at home. I know a coworker of mine too who shares my view and she is happy just by staying at home for her vacation. I like to tease her about it. Really, I was teasing myself too.

However, I have been going to many places recently due to backpacking and running. They do help me to build up a higher tolerant of fear.

I am an immigrant and came to the US when I was a child. Traveling shouldn’t be strange to me. However, I remember I did not want to come to the US back then. At the time, I did understand why we had to or how much better for us to move. I had to go where my mom was taking me. It was silly of me to have wanted to stay back at my home country than to go, now thinking back. Now I really love the US, having grown up here, there is no other home for me.

I had similar occasions while growing up during my teen years, when we would have to move to a different place. Looking back, it was not that many times, but each times were like a life changing event. Luckily in the recent years, I have not had to move. I have been staying put at the same place for a long time.

Last few years were kind of stressful, when I started running. Running let me to explore places around my neighborhood, to places where I normally don’t get to. I usually just drove/walked from my house to the bus/train station and to the grocery shop, which would be the extend of my travel. However, with running, I needed to put in the miles and it forced me to go to new places. I had to run a little farther to places I normally would not go.

Pretty soon, I was not just running just around my neighborhood, but running in other parts of our county/city. I would take my car to a new place and ‘explore’ it on foot. Pretty soon after, I was doing races in my neighboring states. I don’t have to, but one of my goals is to run in all 50 states kind of make me have to travel outside my area. I have traveled to about five states now (not including the state I am in). I wish I can add, pretty soon I will go run marathons in another country. Not yet for now.

Backpacking kind of get me through my fear of traveling the last couple of years. I am still much afraid, but I have been doing it with a friend, and I was not afraid when I was with her…unless she herself becomes afraid as once time she was. I have hardly done any backpacking just by myself.

Having a companion definitely helps. My trips for my races to Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia were all done with my mom. Haha! I went to Maryland to race (NCR and Baltimore Marathon) by myself (though the first half marathon in Maryland, my mom came with me, but subsequent trips to Maryland were all done alone by myself). I have become a pro now! I mentioned a one of previous entries, that Maryland is no longer a ‘foreign country’ to me.

Now next week, I will be out of the country. Really get out. This is my fourth times in my life. I have my passport and documents ready. Yes, my hiking friend will be going with me, but I have still been terrified about it. I have spent many sleepless nights staying up or awaking in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep because of it.

No one made me to go some would say, but I am going to go. I am taking it as a dare. I am not a globe trotter. Sorry I probably won’t blog about my travel – I wish I could. I am gritting my teeth and will get on the airplane next week with butterfly in my stomach.