Impression

Day 103

I have been to many great hikes. Last weekend was one of those perfect hikes. In term of work out, It was about there. I wasn’t totally exhausted but I got blisters, probably from getting my shoes wet. I got chaffing, probably from wearing cotton clothing. My hips was bruised from carry the weight of the sack, my friend was saying what do I carry in that thing. I brought more than enough food to eat. It was just perfect but my friend had the Friday meal ready for me. She also gave me ‘brownies’ that was good for lunch. We hiked out early on Sunday. So I saved three meals. I had about three meals left over.

One thing I learned was I need to get the system down. I have been out a dozen of time but it still feels like 4 or 5 times. I still don’t know what to do or how to pack. It took me too long to organize or get dress in the morning. Twenty some minutes to take off my clothes or putting them on is way too long :). And I only had one set.

Routines. Routine is good. I need to get myself down on routine. Like what to eat and how to cook. Even boiling water took me longer than my friend who cooked her entire meal.

Bearbag. Yup. I forgot how to do the PCT style hang. It took me too much time getting the robe over the tree. Got to remember to bring a small pouch to put a rock in to throw it over the tree. It was just unbelievable. There were many things I felt I know, but actually doing them, they felt like the first time.

I slept great. I love sleeping next to the creek and also on the ridge.

Another thing I appreciate from this hike was it was a preview of the run I will be doing in two weeks. My run will be on the road but it will have similar elevation change as the hike was. I will be running on Blue Ridge Parkway.

The whole hike was generally peaceful. I had no great alarming thoughts. I was feeling generally calm and happy. My life was peaceful. In the past, hikes provide me a mean of escape, this time, I was not running from anything. It was as pleasant as a walk in the park.

Torry Ridge BP

Day 102

It was a beautiful hike. My friend and I spent a couple days doing 20+ miles. The first night, we hiked a mile to the camp site. There were three other people there already. They happily let us shared the camp. They were using hammocks and so there were still room for us to pitch our tents.

We got up at usual backpacking time, and after breakfast we set out. There were a brief rain for maybe 30-45 minutes. We actually got back to the car and sat until the storm passed, since there was no rush.

We hiked a short loop, 20 Minutes Cliff/Overlook — that was what it was called. It think it took us more than 20 minutes to that.

We then got to the Slack Trail Overlook and continued hiking up on the Slack Trail to Torry Ridge. We did the whole trail and reach Sherando Lake. We stopped for a twenty minutes lunch. The lake was a popular spot. We saw several other families out and about at the lake. But we pressed on since there were some rough climbing for the rest of the day.

He hiked up Torry Ridge again, and that was a tough climb with a full stomach. The rest of the hike was not so clear to me since I didn’t look at the map for this portion. We hiked to the Torry Furnace to connect to the Mill Trail, which runs parallel to the Torry Ridge Trail. We did the whole thing and at the end we had to climb up. That was one of the most intense climb especially when we were tired (it was around 5-6 pm by now). We could have camped below in the valley by the river but we want to leave early the next day with less mileage. Based on the map, if we camp at the ridge, we only have about 5 miles to do the next day.

We met another backpacker and he said the ridge was too windy. However, we decided to press on ahead. It was indeed very windy. Luckily the temperature was warm. I was able to sleep but the wind kept my friend up.

The next day was an easy down hill hike and we were out by 10.

Misc – Random Thursday

Day 101

I signed up for few more races. Now don’t remember what I signed up. The biggest race was JFK 50 Miler in November. I wrote about of not doing this race because I might not recover in time for December hiking /trek. Couple things, Earth shattering thing happened in my life last week, what do they call it? YOLO? I felt I have a new leash on life and what I immediately did was registering for this race. If I don’t do it now, I might never ever do it. There you have it

I signed up for Crystal City 5K. They will host a 5K ever Friday in April. I also signed up for Mother’s Day 4 miler. Originally, I was going to go out of town that weekend to do some training run in the mountain, but decided to stay put.

I learned from a few things from my friend B, who is doing some fitness courses with me. I was motivating to think on one worse part of my body and do something about it.

Action. Action. I got a new watch! Garmin 235 something. It was an upgrade from my previous Garmin 35? Something like that. The newer watch has more function like I could read my email / notification on the watch. It buzzed a lot through out the day.

Weekend! I live mostly for the weekend. This weekend I will head out to the mountain, Doing somewhere from 10-20 miles hike with a full pack. We not sure where will will be going. The original site Torry Ridge seems to have some road work and we might not able to get to the trailhead. White Rock is our back up plan. Will see.

I started running again, few miles at a time. I did about 15 miles this week. Yes, it is a far cry from 40 mile week.

Locally the cherry blossoms are blooming. There is a kite festival this weekend. My friend brought a kite of a whale and she is going to fly it. It is humongous. I will be out of town though. My Cherry Blossom 10 miler race is next week. I will be looking forward to that. Then another week, I will be doing the first marathon for the year.

That’s it.

Time sink

Day 100 – Last couple days I have tried to stay away from phone, social media such as Facebook, and blogging, and email.

My friend K and I have been discussing about these things over Sunday, how technology companies are bothering being unethical in designing their product that it is impossible to put down. The phone has features that will keep you on as long as possible. I have been notice how true that is.

How much time do I spend on my phone? How much time is left for anything else? So I have been more conscious on what I am using my phone for. If it for checking email, I got to do it quick. If some emails are too long, then they won’t get read.

I have been following blogs through my emails. So each day I limit myself to read one or two blogs and I got to do it quick — avoid the infinite scrolling blogs. Facebook, maybe only check once a week, and limit the time to maybe five minutes.

Even with writing blog, … Keep it short. If it is over 5 words, it is too long. Haha. I really find myself no time for anything.

Especially guys, my friend said, they need their sleep to produce testosterone. Their phone keeps them up and they won’t get their sleep, and so result in guys with weak body etc. Being a wimp. So I start to take heed, to sleep earlier. I’m thinking to keep my phone in the car!

17.75

Day 99

I have been quiet the past week in term of running and really about two weeks since I put up 40+ miles. I really didn’t do much running due to work. I did not have to stay over time but it was extremely stressful and I was a zombie after I got off.

For example, one day after work, I got on the train as usual thinking it was my train. I was sure it was my train, but didn’t realize it until it was like 10 stops later. My train does share the same track as this train until the split three stations down. Even then there was no excuse for mishearing the announcement at each station in which they would announce the color of line and destination. I missed it for like 10 stops until I looked out the window and saw the airport. My home was not any where near the airport, so only then did I realize it was the wrong train.

The whole week was like that.

Finally weekend came. What a relief. I had a full day. I had a race on Saturday morning, a 17.75 K, about 11 miles long, in the Prince William Forest. 17.75 represents year 1775 when the US Marine Corp was incorporated.

I signed up this race originally to get into the Marine Corp Marathon in October. Those who successfully finish the 17.75 race is can bypass the lottery system for the marathon. However for me, I already got into the marathon because I will be doing the 50k ultra.

The race started at 7 but we were advised to get there by 5 because we had to take a bus to the starting line (no car can park at the start line). I set my alarm for 3:30 since it would take about a hour to drive to the bus stop. I went to bed too late and slept through it. Luckily my mom called me at 4 though for an unrelated issue but that woke me up. To the race I went. I already had my clothes laid out and so, even though overslept I was not late.

The morning was cold. The previous night we had a hail storm and high wind. Temperature steadily dropped from I think from the 50s to 30s and reaching 32 at 6:00 am. I was cold. I haven’t run for a week.

The start for me was not good but I was in high spirit. There were more than 3000 runners. Surprisingly there were not a lot of fast runners. Most people around me were taking the race in a relaxing pace.

After a mile we entered the forest. We had trail, gravel trail. Most people were road runners and were not used to mud and streams and rocks. I felt at home. They tried to go around puddle by getting off trail and going behind trees, etc. I stayed on trail and ran through any mud I found.

Still because I think of lack of preparation, by mile three I was done. I was out of breath and my body wanted to stop. I couldn’t keep the pace and people whom I passed earlier were now passing me back.

The trail portion ended and we got on paved road for most of the way. I as now tired. I had to reached deep inside me, by looking at the sky and trees and detached myself from the race. It helped. For rest of the race, my breathing calmed down. I could breath easily by mile six. I muscles though were not good.

There were lot of hills. I think the first six miles were up hill and the remaining were mostly down except for I think at mile 9. There were couple of gigantic hills. I had to walk on those hills.

I didn’t race so much for time. I was basically done by mile 6, so for the rest of the race, I was just hoping to finish.

The last mile was a struggle. Everyone sped up, I was too but it was tiring. The feeling of crossing the finish line was both a relief and a feeling of checking off a box. I got my medal and food. I got my photo taken.

The whole race was well organized. I took a bus back to my car and rushed to the next event.

Thinking

Day 98

I am still thinking how did I run a minute faster than my normal 10K time on yesterday race.

Bluemont race map

It was an out and back course. The map showed km 4 to 5 is shorter than km 5-6, where the turn around point was. I don’t think I cut the course, because I definitely turn around at the cone.

The turn around might have thrown off my gps watch.

I think on the second half I ran faster because it was down hill. I have not done the split yet because my watch was wrong (I think), so its data can’t be trusted.

Here is the elevation profile.

Elevation showing a mirror image of out-back route, second half being down hill

Bluemont running

Day 97 – race

A quiet weekend and it is just what I like. No big plan. I woke up and went to a local 10K race. It is about a hour from home. I ran a good time here every year. This was my third. While at the course, I didn’t have good vibe that I would do well this time. My shins were still hurt (been like this for two weeks, since that late Wednesday night run). Body doesn’t do well in recovery when I overtaxed it. Still a race is a race. I started at the end of the group. The race was sold out but there were about hundred of us lining up. The temperature was mild for this time 38F (5-6C). I dressed in dual layer short sleeves. shorts. It would warm up to 50 later. The sun was actual warm but we have strong wind 30kph wind. Consistently blowing.

I like this race because it is far out the city two counties over from DC, on a farm land. You can see the mountain range where I do a lot of hiking. Out in the rural life is slower. It fits my personality.

The course is only 15 minutes from the Appalachian Trail (Snicker Gap). The original plan was to finish the race and head to the trail to do some trail run, since my marathon is all about hills, and this trail has plenty of them. Ashby Hollow and Buzzard Hill is known as the roller coaster because it goes up and down many times in this 10 miles stretch. I hiked this section like four times past year.

However after the race, I was cold. I had my downs jacket on but still cold. We had after race party at a brewery across from the farm. I stayed for lunch. They lit a fire pit, and I have been next to it for the past hour. It felt so good. This is what my friend meant when she said about waking up to a warm fire and have breakfast next to it. It is definitely one of the 50 joyful things to be thankful for.

They haven’t posted the race result yet, but unofficially, based on my watch, I should PR this race, finished at 47:58, shaving a minute from my last record, but my watch also reported the course is short by 0.2 mile. It would explain why I was a minute and half faster.

Looking down the valley, near blue ridge
From Brewery Patio

Update: It’s official: I PR’ed it and finished at 47:56.