Not even sure if there will be a race but the Laurel #3 over night trip is definitely canceled. I got words that Pennsylvania state parks no longer allow camping for the duration.
I might still go now my race schedule for April and May has pretty much free up. I might go as a day trip. Like last weekend, I arrived early Saturday morning (1AM) and left in the afternoon.
LH#3: I have options. But simplest is to camp at RT30, and run from RT 30, covering 10 miles in each direction. Possible date would be April 4. It probably during the peak of the outbreak, so the trip will likely be canceled. I haven’t picked another date yet.
LH#4: Night run of the last 10-15 miles to the finishing line. Possibly LH#5 if have the chance. Definitely needed. Last weekend, I found I did poorly in the dark. My night time vision is really bad, not sure if it was my head lamp battery was running low, but I couldn’t see the trail. When you can’t see, you can’t run.
Just toss this out there. I will refine the plan when the day get near. Of course, now I don’t have to worry about camping and lugging that huge pack any more.
With last week reports out of the way, I am ready for tomorrow. Again apologize for bombarding so many long posts. I am training for the Laurel Highlands Ultra in PA taking place in June. My training plan has been weekend runs locally and test/training runs on location. This coming weekend will be my second attempt going out there. (I blogged about my first training run a month ago, link will be provided if I get to it).
After the first weekend out on the Laurel Highlands Trail, I have greater confidence that I could run the 70 mile race in June. It won’t be easy but the trail is almost like running on the road in most places (or like the C&O Canal). The hardest part would be the beginning 6-8 miles climb, I think. I already have a general plan how to tackle the race, even without a need of going back out to the trail for more training. I will discuss my strategy after my final trip there in May if chance allowed. COVID-19 might make a mess of thing for my April trip or even my May trip.
I do plan to keep mostly with my original plan, that is, to go out with three more times. Each time tackling about a 20-mile segment. It would allow me cover most of the trail. The dates for the next several outings are:
3/14/2020 – Laurel #2 – early segment run
4/4/2020 – Laurel #3 – daytime tail end section of the run?
5/16/2020 – Laurel #4 – night time tail end run?
The second trip, Laurel #2 will be a modified of Laurel #1, since I hardly run on my first trip due to the slippery trail condition and the heavy pack I was carrying. This time, I am dropping my bag at camp#1 and run first then pick up on my way back.
Friday night: camp at Mile 18 (RT653). hope to arrive before midnight this time.
Saturday AM: run south out-n-back to Mile 11 (or 7) (total 14-22 miles) (3.5-4 hrs) (8.0a-12p) (or 3pm)
Saturday PM/Sunday AM: run north out-n-back to Mile 23-ish (8-10 miles)(to Camp Grindle Ridge) (2.5 hrs) (1-3.5 pm)
Saturday night: camp the 2nd night at Grindle Ridge (mile 23). Ya, I have to figure out how and when to get my pack out to mile 23. Do I do the run first and come back to my car to lug the heavy pack to camp? It is at least 5 miles away from my car. Also , Sunday, how will I get my pack back to my car? Logistic is a bear. I know I wish I have a human mule to carry my things. It would have made the run easier.
Sunday AM: run Mile -0.5 to mile 7 and back (14-15 miles) (4:20) (8:-12:20) if have time. This is a hard run though. I might swap Saturday with the Sunday run.
Sunday AM (option #2) run north from Brindle Ridge for about 7 miles out then run back to the car. Again, what do I do with my pack? Do I carry two packs – one for running and one for camping? Do I bring my full camping gear or swap for a UL (extremely light and basically carrying nothing)?
We will just have to wait and see. Last trip, I basically gave up the run on Sunday because it was so hard lugging the pack.
Last week was low mileage for me with a total about 9 miles. Lowest so far after having 50+ for last three consecutive weeks, but I figure I needed the low mileage rest.
As usual, Monday was a rest day. After three weeks of running, I was grateful for Monday
Tuesday: 4. Easy run with group. The weather is getting warmer. Legs were heavy.
Wednesday: 2nd rest day
Thursday: 5 miles. Also was a group run. Legs were still heavy but a bit better than Tuesday.
Friday: 0. traveling
Saturday-Sunday: *3-4ish. I would like to say it was supposed to be a run but turned out more a backpacking hike. Saturday, hiked 24 miles and Sunday 12. I won’t count them running though my body was sored from the activity.
The highlight was I went to Laurel Highlands to check on the trail, which I will be racing on it in June. The trail was not extremely hard, definitely runable in most section (‘groomed’ trail some say), but it is considerably a step up from my last ultra due to hilly terrains. It was not the most technical terrain I have seen, but I will be killed by a thousand cuts. It is flat on the elevation profile but it is anything but flat. 70-mile is not an impossibility but it won’t be a cake walk. People said to train for it as if it is a 100 mile race. One suggestion was to do 10k ft of hill climb per week. I intend to do just that.
Due to the trail being a point to point (not a loop), it was difficult to plan the training run logistically. I decided to ‘play it safe’ because of the cold weather and I camped at the race to-be checkpoint #1 (Mile 18) and intended to study the trail from mile 18 to 0. I was very tempted to run the whole thing in a day, knowing my ability I can do 18 miles any given day, however because of the remoteness and ‘what-ifs’, I decided to backpack by hiking it instead. It was definitely a wise decision.
I was much weaker than I anticipated. Even with just the hike, it exhausted me. If the previous weekend running in the woods an indicator, this weekend’s message was loud and clear: I was in no condition to ‘trail run’ it. I might call it running, but if I couldn’t put up 3 miles an hour, it was anything but running. On race day, doing 3 miles an hour will not get me to the finish line under 22 hours. I am not alarmed, given I have about 12-14 weeks left, I could train up for it.
The first night there was just straight camping. I hiked around for an hour looking for camp but that was just my stupidity of not studying the map before hand. I figured the camp was only about half mile at most from the parking area and I could bump into it. You can only go north or south on the trail, how hard can it be in finding the camp? I walked first north the back south and turned around went back north (I was so near then before turning around!) and explored some of the side trails, while really needed to use the bathroom! Yes and it costed me an hour wandering around in the middle of the night. The camp was really half mile away (South). It was 2AM by the time I close my eyes. My hiking leader would be laughing at me if she knew (she didn’t go; well if she had gone, I wouldn’t be in a jam).
The next day, bright and early, I decided to take my pack to camp#2 (at Mile 6), which is about 12 mile hike. Trust my plan, I kept saying to myself. Luckily, the snow on the ground was not much and they were fresh, about quarter to half an inch of snow on the ground. It didn’t make running impossible but the cold was a big factor for me to play it safe and decided to hike it with my pack instead of dropping the pack at where I parked and running the thing. Indeed, the ground was icy in part and I took too many falls to the ground myself. I left my trekking poles at home when the time I needed them the most was now; I had micro spikes in my pack but I was too stubborn to put them on — again my hike leader would shake her head if she saw me, like for all these years of camping and I still haven’t learned.
I arrived at the second camp by noon, exhausted, and also not haven’t eaten breakfast. I dropped my pack, set camp, ate and by 2 PM then proceeded to hike/run the remaining six miles (to Mile 0) on an out and back.
They say these six miles would be hardest in the race in term of elevation gain. It is probably a joke to those on the west coast that we complain about a thousand or two ft of elevation gain over couple miles, but to us here it is hard running! Everything is relative.
Indeed, I could hardly run it. I came across many runners on the trail in this last (first) section and one of them has ran the Laurel Ultra a few years back. He said, he knew of no one who would run up it, specifically on Spring Hill.
Next morning, woke up with body pretty much in a bad shape (bad meaning I didn’t want to run). I felt I couldn’t walk another mile. I asked myself, do I want to repeat to run to mile 0 and back, since it would be a perfect day for running it. It was much warmer and snow had melted. It would make great numbers for my runner log.
I pretty much knew the answer. I can’t find any resolve to beat my body any more but to hike (crawl) back to the car. I could definitely do it if I had to, but it would be pushing myself beyond uncomfortable. I knew it was not happening. It was really pointless to stay another night if I am not running it. Also I only had carried one day of food with me on my pack and I ate them the day before…unless I go back to the car. I always had more food in the car. But if I go to the car, why not just go home. The hike back was literally a crawl for me. That’s a wrap for the weekend.
Instead of running 50 miles last week I hiked/backpacked 50 miles on Roan Highlands. It was the longest backpacking trip I did, totalling 4 days.
I started on Thursday after work. My friend and I drove 7 hours down to Tennessee. We did not quite get there. We ended up at Damascus, Virginia and we were going to camp at a campground but unfortunately the ranger told us the it was full and we were not allowed to camp (at the picnic pavilion).
So we continued driving hoping to reach our destination by midnight and hopefully still able to set up tent camping at the Mountain Harbour hostel, where we would leave our car.
We passed by the Cherokee National Park on our way and we decided turned off the road did a stealth camping there. We survived the night uneventful (yes but, we almost ran over a bear when a cub ran toward our car). Bears are my friend’s mascot and she would have been heart broken.
The next day we continued on our trip. We came across a beautiful sight at Lake Watauga. It was a foggy morning. We got to experience the Smoky Mountain without having to go to the Smoky.
We arrived at the Mountain Harbour Hostel and we left our car and took a shuttle to Ervin, TN about 50 miles away. They dropped us off at the trail head. We hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Mountain Harbour Hostel (Hwy 19E), passing Roan Mnt and Carver Gap on the way.
There were many hard climbs. There were miles of uphills. The highest point was Roan Mountain at 6000 ft, which we reached on Sunday. There were many stunning sights. Tennessee is unlike anything we have seen in Virginia. My friend said after hiking in Tennessee and coming back to Virginia, mountains here are like hills. They are flat in comparison.
Physically, I was not too tired from the trip. The trip was hard but nothing compare to the runs I have been doing. I am physically fit and strong.
I learned from the trip to bring more water, food, and to be better at find paths. I got a chance to lead on the first day where I was the designated person to sweep the trail of snakes. We didn’t see any (at least not me) but people spotted coperheads and big black snakes.
Most importantly I should not have left my hiking boots at home. I was tripping and falling the whole weekend. My left ankle is kind of messed up. I hope I can still run a marathon this weekend.
There is no word for me to describe the trip. It was magical. The weather cooperated. The experience could have been like the time I went to Peru except that I felt it is less so because it is closer to home and it is always available for me to go back.
I like it the trip not so much about the sights but the time I was able to spent with my friend. It is worth a million to see the smile and joy on her face as she glazed at the sunrise or sunset each day while we were on the trip.
I tried to make every effort to go on every hiking trips she plans but I know the chance of doing that is less and less as I am ramping up my effort and focusing more toward my running. Boo, she said. It is certainly I could go back to Roan Mountain any time but not every time I get to go with my friend. Running is still my passion and everything.
I made many other sacrifices for my running and many of those I gladly made without a second thought but giving up on backpacking with my friend, is almost unimaginable painful. I tried to combine running with backpacking, though so far I was not able to pull it off.
On this last trip, I brought my running hydration vest and shoes, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friend at the camp at the end of the day while I do my miles. My running would have been just as long as the hike itself and it seems so silly to hike the trail during the day and then run the whole thing over, while the others sleep/rest – I wouldn’t mind but I would make others worry about me.
It is almost time to put backpacking away. I took up backpacking to help me be a better runner/ now trail running. I have reached my goal and I have become a stronger runner.
Sometimes in TV shows or especially in long anime series, they would put in fillers because the writer needs some time off.
I hope this is not a filler but I don’t really have anything in particular I want to write about. Maybe it is a filler.
I just finished my last dose of my medication. I should be completely rid of the Lyme causing bacteria in my body. How can you tell? People asked if I am to see a doctor again to have them declare that I am healed. Nope. Or Maybe. There is no more blood test as far as I know that can show that I am bacteria free. I am not sure if they can tell, but base on what I read about how they test for Lyme disease they can’t. Many people seem surprised by this.
I am tired from the past trips. I haven’t unpacked my things yet. Last night though, I did laundry. I won’t say much but that were a lot of clothes. Any way, the next trip seems to be challenging in term of navigating because there seemed to be lack of map and direction. So last night, I opened the map of the place. Indeed we will travel off the map for part of the hike. Some of the trails we will be using are not shown on my map because they are not officially recognized trails. We will be doing some bushwalking too. Even the leader of the hike is saying, let hope we won’t get lost. I don’t think we will get completely lost, but we might make a false turn here and there. And by the way, we will hike a bit in the dark. Luckily, I think the moon is up. Where are we going? Dolly Sod, especially, the southern part called Roaring Plain.
It was a long weekend. I took Friday off to drive down to Virginia Beach for the weekend. The three and half hours drive became close to six hours because of the traffic. The place was farther than I remembered. I was there six months ago for a marathon (First Landing Seashore 50 K). I was stuck in traffic in the DC area trying to get out of town. We moved about 18 miles and that took almost two hours. I was stuck in traffic when I arrived. It took an hour to just move three miles to cross the Hampton Rd Bridge Tunnel. Weird name. It is partly a bridge and a section of it is a tunnel. I sat there in traffic for an hour contemplation about the bridge and other cars around me. It seemed everyone is going to the beach.
I arrived at the first landing state park campground and settled in. Set up and everything was a breeze to me. I am used to ‘primitive’ camping so family/car camping is like living in a hotel for me.
I went there for a weekend event with a meetup group. I know the leader from previous trips I did. We walked along the Bay. I liked my campsite. Virginia Beach is in an urban area. We went out for dinner. I packed some Mountain House (dehydrated food) I ended up using those just for breakfast. For dinners and lunches we ate out.
The next day, we biked in First Landing State Park. I ran there before and was familiar with the trail. It was not a race. We stopped along the way to look at birds and flowers. It was my first time doing bird watching. We saw snowy egrets, indigo buntings, and grey heron. We wanted to find snakes too. We heard cottonmouth or water moccasins are native in the area, so we tried to spot them. They are venomous.
On the last day, we drove to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern end of Virginia Beach. We biked into False Cape State Park. Biking and hiking in is the only way to reach False Cape. You could also take a tour bus called a tram. It is the most prestine beach in Virginia. No one was there, at least we saw no one on the beach. It borders North Carolina. We actually crossed to the North Carolina jus to say we did it. There is a fence between the two states.
We hiked along the beach to get to where we left our bikes.
I am not a travel blogger and didn’t take any pictures. But here is the Garmin tracker that showed I’ve been near the NC border. I think they built a fence to keep NC beach goers out of the Virginia side and it works. You could see on the NC side, people drive their trucks in and there are condos and houses, but across to the VA side, there is nothing for miles. The beach on the VA side has nobody. The fence has a little gate for people to go across but no one crosses into the VA side.
I’m back from the weekend camping trip. It was a short stay. I got a little better at packing. The weather was warm, relatively speaking. It was a little bit above freezing through the trip and was quite comfortable. There were three of us. I had my fun. We arrived a little late, I think 8:30 or 9:00 pm.