Day330 clubs

One benefit of associating with a running club is you get a chance to run with them. And it is a place of exchanging ideas and learning of new races.

I started out running by myself a few years ago. While there is the internet, but a lot that I read or find out usually a bit different from actual.

In the beginning I was looking for races to run in Virginia. While races are out there, you just need to find them. A lot local races were not reviewed and their event dates usually known only to the “insiders”. There were a lot of surprises.

So I haphazardly signed up for races. Some were within my expectation and some were a bit different. I liked all my races though. At the beginning I did not even know what I like. I searched for DC races, and somehow I totally missed DC Rock n Roll but found the Potomac River Marathon. They were vastly different from each other. One was 30,000-40,000 runners the other was about 100. I did not know much. I did signed up for both. I was glad I did not have a strong preferences otherwise I would have missed out. For example, when I signed up for the Potomac Marathon, what I was looking for at the time was a big atmosphere race that a Rock-n-Roll gives, which the Potomac Marathon was not. However, now a day, I prefer low key, backyard informal race more like the Potomac Marathon.

In one of the events I signed up I got connected to an informal meetup running group. I have been running with them ever since.

Those were the early days of trial and error of meeting people and doing races. I am still doing it for most part.

Why I am writing all these, is it is easier to do things with a group. I have been running more and more and now dabbling into the ultra and trail running. I want to meet similar people and train together with them.

Over the weekend, I got a sense of how that feel like. It was a community of ultra runners. The people there were training together for their ultras.

We don’t have groups like that here in my area. Maybe they do exist but I have not bumped into them yet.

The race director there formed their group of trail running because they don’t have one. That was a big inspiration for me. I am not going to form one myself though.

But the energy and inspiration I got from them was blood pumping. What I meant was like my friend – he ran all night at the camp while he was there! Even at 3 AM in the morning, he was still running. That was to me inspiration and motivation.

I am looking for a small group of 10-20 people like that… locally if possible. PA or WV is not too far away either, so I don’t mind a bit of travel to meet up to do runs.

Future plans: from the past weekend, I learned of a few races from their group and I want to run those, such as, Eastern States, Black Forest, Hyner Ridge! They called them their triple crown. They are hard races!

You need serious support group to do those races. It always has been my plan to connect with people and recruit them to be my pacers/support.


Day329 running weekend

After three weeks of staying inside and being inactive, I went to Tyrone, PA and had a weekend of just to run. It was one of my first running camp ever. Unofficial running camp. The RD said most people only run for one day, but my friend and I stayed the whole weekend (I arrived on Saturday night).

I have been very low key after getting back from Atlanta. First was the self quarantine, but after that was done, I was just low in energy and motivation. I found excuses not to run every day either due to the heat, or not enough time, or rain. Can you believe we had thunderstorm every evening last week? And every day was 100 degree?

I went to Camp Anderson this Saturday and Sunday. It was a virtual run. They called it run your own race RYOR (like bring your own beverage). The race was organized by the Allegeny Running Club. This was their second year hosting. Unfortunately due to COVID the event has to be virtual.

We all picked a day to go there and run. Most would pick a weekend. I think there were 30 plus people signed up. With this past weekend being the last weekend of July, a lot more people showed up. We had a night of free camping too.

It was a tight knit community. My friend is from Morgantown, WV and he was there was there after work on Friday. He brought couple of his people up from West Virginia. He was posting on his facebook page about doing loops at 3 AM. I like running friends like that – just going and run in the middle of the night or at any hours. I was so excited. That is the crazed passion I have and Aaron was one of the first people I met who shares the same craziness like me.

Our race does not require us to start at a particular time. It was an endurance race. We could do a 3 hour, 6 hour or 12 hour run. It just required us to run the time in a single event. Majority chose to do the 12 hour. My friend did the 12. He started at 11 PM on Friday and ran to 11 AM the next day. He was the only one doing it in the middle of the night. The rest went to sleep. Night time running was hard and I found that out when I arrived on Saturday evening and had my own night time running.

I arrived late because I was dragging my foot the whole saturday morning. I finally got into my car by noon and it took about 4 hours to get to Pennsylvania but I ran into heavy traffic on my way out of town. I was falling asleep behind the wheel. After couple pit stops for coffee, I arrived at the camp. I started my run at 6 pm, planning to run till midnight.

Aaron was still there. He joined me on my first loop around the camp because I said I didn’t have the course map. He said, he would guide me for my first loop. That was amazing endurance for him haven’t been sleep for more than a day and has done 12 hour run the previous night and was still out there to do a loop with me. I am telling you it was not easy. The course was not easy either.

The course is over all was not the most difficult one I have done. It was about two miles long, which is not bad…shortest ultra course ever. The first mile is just running around the field. I know. When I first signed up, my thought was this is like in elementary school where we had to run around the field to do our mile. How can that be fun? Now years later, we consider that is enjoyable given there are 10-15 people cheering you each time you pass by.

The second mile is climbing a ridge. It is not the highest ridge I ever climbed. It is just couple hundred feet. The first few times, you can run it but as the night progressed, running became walking/crawling. The elevation wears your muscle out. I am all sore after two days of doing this.

By the 7th loop, I said to myself I don’t think I can do any more. The heat got to me. I was running much faster than I thought. I pushed on doing the 8th loop. When I reached the top of the climb I felt light headed. And after taking several steps, I felt naseated and I started throwing up. Everything came pouring out. That was the end of the night for me. I felt better actually now but I felt it was wise to call it a night. I only finished 4 hours.

I stayed for the night. The next morning I felt better. More people came. We started early. I tried again to run my 6 hours. I did it this second time with no problem. After four laps, I was basically crawling. My goal was only to do eight. I was much weaken because I did not eat the night before. I know too not having run for three weeks, my cardio strength has declined. I did pull 10 laps by the 6th hour and finished before the heat of the day kicked in. My last lap did not count because I came in after the 6th hour but I am happy nonetheless. It was hard with the heat and climb.

Mileage wise it was not a lot. 20 miles in 6 hours? Normally that is a time for a marathon or a 50k. I take the 20 mile this time.

I stayed for the rest of the day to watched people struggled their remaining 12 hours. The final field was only four people. One was struggling quite badly at the final two hours. The day was hot. I passed by a bank on my way home, the temperature showing there was 99 degree, and at that time it was past 6 pm. The temperature must be over 100 during the afternoon. I think one runner was suffering from heat exhausion (like I did the night before).

It was a wonderful weekend for me. Camping, running, meeting new people. I felt it was one amazing weekend.


Day327 MCM canceled

It is official. There won’t be a Marine Corps Marathon this year.

Not disappointed at all since this has been the pattern of last four months. Kind of expecting it because MCM is a big event and there is no way to host any race over 500 people people in this period much less the MCM usually draws over 30,000 just runners alone, not counting volunteers, law enforcement officers, street performers, vendors, and spectators. You are probably looking at a crowd twice to three times that size.

I still have couple more fixed (known) races, like the Richmond Marathon, Grayson highlands, Laurel Ultra, Highbridge Ultra. All those are really iffy now whether they will be held. All these have smaller crowd maybe 100-150 people except for the Richmond Marathon. Highbridge probably has even less (50 runners?) but Richmond likely is going be canceled (It has several thousand people).

Other than this I was kind of optimistic on Old Glory (November) and another ultra – something Lake. I have not signed up but waiting till the last possible minute so as not to be disappointed.

Just the other night, I was debating whether to run the JFK again, they accept 1200 runners! It is a big race, and I decided to sit it out this year. JFK is also very expensive ($300) and I didn’t want to sign up and get the email later saying it will not be taking place.

I have high hope for a Fat Ass run (Philadelphia). I didn’t get to do it last year due to my trip to Chile, so I will try not to miss it this year.


Day322 A run in Atlanta inside perspective

[long read] It has been a week since my 100 mile attempt. It is like a dream now that it is over.

Through out the process I have been asking myself how I feel. I felt excited and anxious during the planning and still is and am very much respecting this distance. I did not finish but was not disappointed. I wrote up the report how I can do it better so that I would be able to finish next time. There were not a lot of thoughts going through my head during the run, unfortunately. The main reason I like doing long runs is to take my mind off things. It is very relaxing to me. This race was anything but that. I for few times I zoned out and I suffered (by getting lost). Most of the time during my run, I had to be on tip top attention focusing on navigation and time management. Two areas I did poorly and resulted in not being able to finish. However, I feel relieved and a sense of achievement from doing the run.

I started the year training for the 70.5 mile Laurel Highland race, but due to Covid19 and it was canceled/postponed. Running a 100 mile was on my mind but it was set either for end of the year or later in 2021. It was only after doing the GVRAT, I felt I was ready to tackle GSER, which pushed up the time table quite a bit. I found out about the race quite late, mid May I think, and same for the race director. She threw out the idea of the race around late April. I checked it out and felt I had a high chance in running it and it would serve a good preparation to a tougher (real) 100 mile race. GSER being a virtual made it easier, the pressure to succeed is less than in a real race.

The final couple weeks before the race – I was in a funky mood, some kind of depression, maybe because I had just finished the 1000k of the Tennessee run, and there was not much else to do. I took the two weeks easy. Really easy. No running. Just only slept and ate. Not only that, I was lazy and procastinated in preparing for the 100 miler. If anything I think that led to me being underprepared, such as running in the heat.

As those of you who have been following my blog, you knew the last few days before the GSER event were hectic for me. I was scrambling studying the maps, getting my stuffs ready, my pack, my maps, and choosing the start time. There were tons of things to do and I was stressed out, when I realized I wouldn’t able to handle everything. Life and work didn’t make things easy. I should have taken a whole week off work beforehand. I felt I was couldn’t get the basic things ready as I like. I was going crazy and angry. I was not sleeping well. I didn’t adjust my sleep time for a night time start. Even the trip to the airport was stressful.

Thursday 8:00pm. Atlanta. Landed in Atlanta and was going through final packing. One thing I did well was I arrived at Atlanta a night before. By utilizing the 7/4 weekend holiday, I flew in on Thursday night.

I had the Friday off, and originally, I wanted to run early Friday around 5/6 AM. However, after hearing people say, that it is hard to reach Stone Mountain by closing time, indeed, 13/14+ hours, I figured I needed either 2/3 AM start, for extra buffer time. But I was flying out Sunday, noon, so 2/3 AM start on Saturday was out of the question. Techinically 2/3 AM start on Friday is doable but I would miss the sleep the first night in Atlanta. Hence I decided to settle for a Friday evening start. It was a wise choice.

Friday 6:30 pm. I arrived up at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain. Uber dropped me off (they wouldn’t let cars go up). In my race preparation I know to expect hiking up to the top for the start. It was about a half hour hike.

I was still adjusting the start time and originally set at 6:00pm, but I felt I might be running too fast and would get to Stone Mountain too early in the morning before they were open, they open at 10. So I moved it an hour later to 7:00 pm, timing to be just right that I would reach Stone Mountain at 10/11 AM the moment they are open to ascend the mountain there. In reality, I did not reach Stone Mountain until 4/5 pm. I was off on my planning.

The afternoon was hot. I was sweating bucket of water. The 2 L of water along with an 8-12 oz flask, were quickly gone. It was supposed to last me for the whole night, but I think it only lasted couple hours. My pack was full with food (mostly granola bars). By the way I carried most of those back with me, and did not eat them. I stuffed some bars in my shorts too. I was fully loaded. I had other stuffs like flashlights ready though darkness was still couple hours away.

Kennesaw trailhead was easy to find. I crossed the parking lot, got to the sign and took some pictures. There were people around. The parking lot was full. I think there were about 50-75 cars. I followed some other people and began to walk up on the Kennesaw Mountain Trail.

I didn’t run yet, trying to conserve as much strength as possible because I knew I would have a long night plus the whole day tomorrow. My expected finishing time was 30 hours. I hope to get as many hours as possible during the first 12 hours. I was secretly hoping to get near the 50 mile mark by morning. 13-14 hours, that was the original plan. As you read on, things quickly didn’t go my way.

The climb was about 1 mile long. I knew this since having studied this part closely beforehand and the trail map/sign indicated that as such, confirming my knowledge. I was smuck about my hiking skills. This was child play in my mind. It is a popular trail for local people. I saw all kinds of people. Families, couples, lovers, some carried their cat in a basket/or strap to their chest (like it was their infant), dogs were not allowed on the trail unfortunately. There were some who were really not fit to hike. I passed them as quickly as possible when they had to stop to take a breather. Some were wearing masks, many didn’t. I had my face covering on. I pushed on. Sweat was dripping down. It was not easy to breath. I got to give it to the heat.

I reached the upper parking lot. No car was allowed up there but those of the park police. There was a good overlook and you could see Atlanta in the distance. Wow That was like 10-15 miles away. Knowing I should be there by morning, kind of imagining the path in my head (my run would take 35 miles to get to Atlanta, to the inner city). I followed the next set of trails to reach the summit. I stoped to take some pictures. Giddily excited. This would be it, my starting point for my first 100 Mile attempt. Everyone’s starting point, not just mine.

6:56 pm. Started my watch about 6:56 pm. I was using both the Strava and Garmin to record. Off I went. I didn’t really run down hill, but I was kind of slowly jogging, back down using the same trail. Once I reached the upper parking lot, I followed the road down as according to the turnsheet, instead of the trail I hiked up. The sheet was very accurate at this point and I was praising it in my heart. All the turns were spot on. I had a great outlook. It was hot, but all system were go. Little did I know that was one factor that would derail my whole operation.

The first marathon (25-27 miles) had many turns. There is a new direction every quarter miles. The guidance was very detailed. It told you which side of the road you should run on, traffic and how to prepare for the next turn. There were a lot of reading to do while running. Yet I had those down pretty much. I read them many times already, on the plane and in my spare time. In truth, now having run it, next time all those bit of information can be ignored. There was really only one road, Kennesaw and Roswell, for the next 5-6 miles. I wasted a lot of time trying to follow exactly everything and it slowed me down tremendously. Who care when I pass the Big Chicken or the OK Cafe? This was a preview of the whole run.

Still I was taking things slowly. Better get the turns right than missing them and getting lost as I told myself. I had no problem leaving the Kennesaw Mountain. I was running to Marrietta on Kennesaw rd. It started to sprinkle somewhat by the 2nd mile and I had to put away my phone since it was not waterproof. I kept my map and turnsheet safe too, each inside a ziplock bag.

Running to Marietta was not a problem. I realized my pace has been much slower than normal. My breathing was not that good. It was only about say 3-4 miles. So I need time to “warm up” even though it was 90+ degree that night, a joke of warming up. I made my way across Marietta Park. Saw a man proposing to a woman and we all clapped when the woman accepted. I continued on. I drew strength from people’s clapping.

This part was very easy. It was just one road Rosswell st. By 6 miles, my first 10K, I checked my distance and time. My distance already differed from the turnsheet by 10%. So either my watch was wrong or the turnsheet was wrong. However, this kind of situation is to be expected because we know in a race unless one run a perfect path (they called a tangent), you are going have more distance than the official course. Also our GPS watch is not a “scientific” grade instrument – they are wildly inaccurate due to many factors (many people didn’t know). More of this to come. It was kind of a foreshadow that extra miles are not good, but I quickly suppressed my doubt. Indeed throughout the night I added as many as 10 extra miles as you will see.

8:00 pm. Sun was starting to set, but the heat was oppressive. Past 8 actually. I know I was doing a much slower pace than expected but I kept telling myself, that is normal because I wanted to save energy. You want to run very slow in the beginning so have the energy to push at the end. I got my experience from running a lot marathons. I know 100 miler is nothing like a marathon, but principle should be the same. I was not too worry about my pace. The slower the better as long as I am ahead of the curve.

I was doing mental math on the distance/time. I know as long as I keep a 3 mile pace I would be able to finish. 3*33 hrs = 99 miles. 3 mile pace is like 20 minutes per mile. I was not too worry about that because I was doing around 4-5 miles per hours at the time and banking the extra mile. So I saw my speed as a graph in my head and comparing that to the minimum/maximum time allowed for the race. I was planning to bank a lot of extra miles. All this though was wishful thinking, soon throughout the night I was constantly battling with just barely staying ahead the curve and that was a serious problem.

9:00 pm. I reached the first neighborhood and turning off the from the main street. I think in a real race there would be a race station there. This course previously was used in a real race. I tried to drink conservatively. Yet the night was hot. I was hot and sweating. I finished all the water in my flask. This neighborhood has a local runner who knew our race director well, since it was mentioned in the turn direction. The turnsheet was telling people to wave to the guy and pee in his lawn and steal his moonshine etc. I like that. Well I didn’t know the guy and didn’t feel comfortable of stopping by his place drink his stuff and relieve myself. There was no need I still have plenty of water, or so I thought.

9:30-10:00 pm. Now it was completely dark. The moon was up. A full moon or close to it but I didn’t have enough light to see. I was already suffering from night blindness from my flashlight and from the constantly checking the turnsheet. This section took me into a trail system. There was one car left in the park parking lot – they shined their light at me – newbies, you don’t do that to people because you blind them. They were mounting their bikes on the back of the car. I was really exhausted. This trail system had been my nightmare during my preparation because the only instruction on the turnsheet was to find the semetary and use the GPS map. I couldn’t use the GPS map. There were ton of trails and side branches. The sign at the gate said park close at dark! I never break any law / local ordinances before. But I had to do this. We are going to YOLO this, I was telling myself.

I was already very tired by then. There was a picnic table. I sat down. Restudied the map and gps map. Luckily the trail has their own map too and signage. They numbered the various points, which made it easy, I just had to go from one numbered point to the next, like in frisbee golf. This was a new map I didn’t have before the race and I wish I did. But studying the new map I had an idea how the race path would take. So after eating some fruit gummies, I started off. In my head it seemed just few minutes break but I probably stayed for 20-30 mintutes or even more. It was way too long to check the direction. However, I said I have to take this slow because I don’t want to get lost in the park. This was the kind of pace for my whole race. None of this usually happened in my other races. I was both panicking internally yet at the same time was telling myself, I am still ahead of the game.

There were a lot of turns in the park. But each turn there was a park sign with a map. Each turn was only about few hundred feet/yards away, very short distance. I did not run. I just hiked. It was slow going but I told myself it is dark, and I was on a trail I never been on before. There are some technical stuffs, rocks, branches, hill climbs and downhill, all the elements that can disable me. Once you are hurt, the 100 mile run would be over. I was only maybe 10% of 100 miles done and there was still a long way to go. I do love trail. I love night run because it is intense. At any other time, this would have been my joy. Yet I had to control myself not to run it. It was not my turf. I wish I had a trail buddy there.

10:00 pm. I found the semetary. I heard noises there and thought people were partying up there. However once I reached it there was no one there. I know those were noises from real people. Ghosts and supernatural stuff does not scare me. At least not that night. In my mind I got to do this 100 miler, no matter what. I checked my watch and know I was way behind schedule. I wanted to reach the Braves Stadium by 10 pm and now it was 10 pm I was still stuck in the trail system.

Luckily the crazy trail section ended shortly after and I was on a wide bike path, which was very runnable. I ran on many bike paths before. I felt I finally could do some speed work then. There was one biker passing me from the opposite direction. I was not alone. The moon was higher and brighter.

11:00 pm. Sometime later I reached Acker Mill Ln/Rd. Hallelujah. I saw my first convenience store. I think the time was close to 11. All my water was out by then. I went in. Refilled. Got some soft drink. I don’t remember what. Could have been mountain dew since that is my favorite. During the whole run, I tried many different drinks as many as possible! Heavenly for me to drink sodas. The break was much longer than I wanted. But got to push on.

Things got a little hazy from there. I was still optimistic. So far I hadn’t made any wrong turn, just the park and direction was slowing me. Then the trail splitted. I saw the direction and I know I had to leave the bike trail at some point to get on the road. But when I did, I arrived at a street crossing not mentioned in the turnsheet. I checked the GPS, GPS showed I was off track. Looking back it now I was just a little bit off, maybe like a few dozen yards. I was actually in the right place. In my mind though I thought I was half mile off, the scale on the google map always confused me. I thought I have to follow the trail a little bit more (the turnsheet distance might be off here too), So I went back on the bike trail. This was my first mistake of the night.

I was in my best mood. My body finally “warmed up”. This was where I could really run for hours and run fast. I felt strength and I love night run on an empty trail and so I pushed on. It was uphill too and I love hill work, that my strong suit. So I poured my strength out and turned off my mind. I was in zone so to speak. You know it. I was running blindly into the wrong trail.

Maybe for a mile or even two, my spider sense told me to stop. I then realized then there was no more right turn. Either the turn sheet is screwy or I am off track. I pulled out my phone quickly checked the map and the route track (at that time my phone still worked and it had the race route showing). OMG I was completely off. Miles off. I really hated myself then, knowing in my heart, I was probably at the right place in the beginning and blindly ran these extra miles. Nothing worse than having to turn around and run those miles again (I think I was now 1.5 miles away from the turn off). No matter, it is a 100 mile run. I had built enough buffer for stupid mistake like this.

It brought to mind of my recent made running friend, who did the Black Forest Ultra in PA earlier in the year. He told me his story of getting lost early in the race and later couldn’t finish the race due to being out of time. He was the fastest dude I met running mountain trails. I had a sinking feeling, this could be me, though I could run fast, but as long as I keep making silly wrong turns, I would be done for.

12:00 am. I headed back to the turn off point, much more slowly. I believe I was walking back instead of running. Got off the trail finally at the right place. Checked the turnsheet and GPS. It did mention about Highway Interstate N some point at where I was confused. The turn direction was to follow the yellow line (and I found it). No matter. I crossed road. I was so close to the Braves Stadium at the time and I understood the geography of the place, having studied this part in my race preparation, so even without the turnsheet I could navigate this part. Sometimes your own instinct is better than the directions given. It was past midnight by then. Took some pictures of the stadium. A lot of people were hanging out at the the Battery. I guess it was a hip place to hangout. They have bars and stuffs. The turnsheet instructions were very detailed here. It was like a scarvenger hunt. Look for the Big Baseball. Run under it. Look for such and such Hall, which I didn’t know it was a drafthouse. But I found it after wandering around the place. Look for set of four stairs, didn’t find those. I went down a different stair and crossed a wrong street.

My spider sense said I was lost. Headed back to my last known location. Forget about the set of stairs, moving on to the next instructions, it said look for the parking lot. There were like 6-7 lots there. They all have color code. I wish the RD would say, enter the Orange Lot or the Red Lot. I lost so much time at the Braves stadium. Those were all useless instructions. The key was to find the predestrian pathway to cross over the interstate outside the stadium. The most simply instruction for myself if I am going to redo this is just follow the private road (battery rd) around the standium, maybe take 10-15 minutes and get out of there. No need to play scravenger hunt in the ball park, looking for this and that landmark, which was completely waste of time. I think I lost 30-60 minutes there looking for this and that clues. The predestrian skywalk was easy to find. Jeeze. That was only thing needed.

1:00 am. Bye bye stadium. I guess it was 1 am by now. I was still pretty fresh. My blood was flowing. I had some setbacks but again night was still early. I had maybe 5 hours more of darkness and I could do another 20-30 miles before day break. I got to make a lot miles now the night is a bit cooler. I was still sweating bucket but the temperature was around 80 degree. I was wearing long sleeves and felt like 90-100 inside.

My next point was to reach 26 miles/marathon. At the stadium my watch was reading 19-20 miles. In my mind I have less than 10 miles to do. 26 mile point did not seem that far. 6 hours for 20 miles. 6×5, 30 hours for 100 miles. I was still in the game. By Golly that was not true. 26 mile point was at a street called Tuxedo. I don’t know what happened next but this 6 miles took me forever to get there. Really literally the almost the whole night to get there.

Things are very vagued here, maybe because it was deep in the night. Might be my sleeplessness is causing memory lapse. Well I had to go back onto the trail. I didn’t mind. I think it was pretty easy. I got off the trail again, didn’t know where or when. The next neighborhood was pretty confusing. I had to make a turn into an unmarked street called green river something. The turn sheet instruction was clear about looking for the house address on the brickwall, but I must have fallen asleep at this point. I was in my rhythm again and I just wanted to run for a long time. I didn’t like to pause and check the turnsheet every two-three minutes.

As such I passed the turn and also continued for half mile or more again uphill I think. Again hated myself for running the extra mile as I headed back. I found the turn now I was awake. The whole neighborhood was pretty confusing. It was small like a parking lot, or square, with a lot of small houses. It was a music school or something but no one was around. I knew this during my preparation. You have to go behind a big parking deck etc. I got lost many times there and had to stop each time, checked my map, checked my turnsheet, checked map, double checked. There were many turns. This maze was worse than the Stadium. I cursed at the turnsheet. At least at the Stadium, there were signage and things were big and massive (and logical). Here most roads don’t have signs because they are private roads. They even used chain link to block off some of them. I found the church parking lot the turnsheet mentioned. It was a humongous church. I felt confident of being back on track.

2:00 am. Tuxedo Rd was where I had to turn but it was still no where in sight. I passed through the pacer community. That was the road name. West Pace something. At this point I really wanted to use the restroom. But we were in a residential. I wouldn’t pee in people lawns. The thought did pass my mind a coupple times. Just go behind a tree. No one sees you, but who know I am in a rich neighborhood. They sure will have all kind of sensors and night vision camera. There are a lot of nice houses. Massive mansions. Yet no sidewalk. What happened next was the pacer road measurement was conpletely wrong! I think on the turnsheet the distance was like .4 mile but in actuality that stretch was like 3-4 miles long. A big different. I don’t remember how I handled my pee problem. I think I held it in until morning at a potty station.

3:00 am. I made it to 26.2. By that point my watch was showing 30/32 miles – 50K. I was way way behind. 50k now according to my watch but on the turnsheet, I had only ran a marathon. I was streaming both internally and externally. 8 hours for marathon was insanely slow. I got to do 3 more. (8×4, means my ETA is now 32 hours to finish the race). I was still in the game, but my speed advantage was dwindling. My next target was to make it to mile 50k mark per turnsheet, not by my watch mile. That is only about a 10K, no a 8K. It shouldn’t be that long. However. The Tuxedo community is also massive. Also a very rich community. Yet no sidewalk. Some of the distances were also off. So I was running blind most of the time. I missed every single of my turns. Most costly was the last turn. I think I was another half mile or mile passed the turn had to come back. This on the turnsheet was correct. It was a real 0.1 mile, but I ran 1 mile more. Purely was my mistake here. I think every street there was called Tuxedo. It was a Tuxedo nightmare. And people there didn’t sleep either. Where all these cars going in the middle of the night 4 AM for God’s sake? There was no sidewalk, but I constantly had to get off the road to let cars pass by.

I said I must push on. I still got this. I was still maybe an hour ahead of the buzzard. Worse outcome would be I just on pace and would have to battle the pressure of the cutoff the whole way. The battle of attrition I call it.

5:00 am. Long story short. It was like 4/5 am I got to 50K. I was very upset by this time. All my advantage was now gone. I was barely making the cutoff if there was one. Soon it would be dawn. The sun would be up and a hot day expected. My goal to run to 50 mile during the night failed. Epic Fail, because I only did 30 miles in the last 10 hours. My night time advantage was gone. I didn’t and couldn’t accept that the turnsheet was wrong. I felt I was just running too slow. Indeed I was too slow. I was beating the air. I was not sleepy but frustrated. There were many people on the road. I passed by what I thought was a strip club. People were all standing outside making out and stuff. Laughing and making noises.

6:00 am. The rest of the night was uneventful. I got to Beltline, another bike path/ trail to rail exactly at the cutoff, maybe 10 minutes after the cutoff. I was afraid I couldn’t find it. This was one of the longer segment in the first half. Straight into downtown Atlanta. The morning had dawn. People were out now. I looked at joggers and jealous at their speed because they were fresh. I used to run like they do. Fast. Now I was slowly plodding along one step at a time. Even the slowest person was passing me. I had ran the whole night more than 12/13 hours now into the race. I was not sorry because I knew I had another 20+ hours to go. I felt my heart was exploding and legs were heavy. My next goal is to reach 50 miles. I was hoping to get there by a certain time, I was thinking noon-ish. I felt I could still make it. I was hoping to rewach Stone Mountain by 1/2 pm. If I do, I am still in the game. Even if 3 Pm I would still be OK.

7:00 am. Every step was hard. My strategy was to do 1/3 2/3. Run one mile walk two. I had no problem at the Beltline. I sensed my pace increased. Didn’t feel good but I was catching up all the lost minutes. After that I got into the city of Atlanta. My progress was slow but enjoyed all the sights the city had to offer. The city needs a lot of fixings. I got to the Olympic part. The environment was not welcoming. The neighborhood was scketchy. I was disappointed but also kind of expected it from the rumors I have heard. Atlanta there was no paradise. It is not a shiny city as seen from afar.

10:00 am. It was very slow going. Hours ticked by. Orginally I wanted to get to Stone Mnt by 10. 10 AM went by. I was still in the middle of downtown Atlanta. My next goal was to get to mile 50. Stone mountain was at mile 62. However mile 50 seemed so far away. Of course I had done 10 extra miles already from getting lost. That was like 2-3 hours lost time. At this point the turn ditections had become easier. There were only a few streets. No more scravenger hunting. There were still a couple weird comments from the RD, like heading to L5A, something like that. The clue was completely over my head, and I just ignored it. I understood, the race was tailored to the local runners, because they would recognized the references.

12:00 pm. Each Road was like like 5 miles long. I no longer cared about if the turnsheet was wrong or not. The longest segment was Josiah L William Rd. It was forever. I only used the paper map by now since my phone was acting up. I lost internet so along with everything. However, my map does not correspond to reality. The street names were changed. My map showed the older names. It was frustrating. (No one makes paper map any more, hence map being outdated). I knew I was on the right track but there is no way to be certain exactly where I was or which street I just passed. No matter because there was no turn, just one straight road.

1:00 pm. I got to mile 50 around 1-2 pm. I was joyous. It was very hot by then. I made countless stops to stores and got water and sodas. I stopped a bit maybe 30 minutes for lunch at a lake. Tuna – I had those tuna for salad/sandwich, that was probably the best I had in the whole race. I was definitely behind on my calories count. I felt it in every step/but didn’t realized it at the time. I thought I was just low on sodium. I know I was very behind schedule too. I still had 10 more miles to go to get to stone mnt. In my mind I could do it. It wouldn’t be too late. I felt if I can still get to Stone Mountain by 5 I would still be in the game. I could still finish this race. 50 miles mark was a good point because you could fold it in half to get you expected finish time. I guess I got there in 17 hours. So my finishing time would be 34 hours. The race gave 34 hours. I knew I had about 1 hour to spare. I knew I wouldn’t make any wrong turn any more, So the last 50 miles would be faster/ taking less time. Yes a reverse split! I was still cheerful as I sent in my progress to the Facebook page. I had my internet back, but I could no longer bring the map track back up. I stopped using the phone. My watch was already showing mile 57 something, might have been mile 60. I was happily chatting away! I got my strength back to run.

As I was thinking, how crazy it would be to do a reverse split on a 100 miler. People will laugh at me. Only I knew the truth because of the extra miles I had been putting in and it is possible to do a reverse split.

Afternoon: Hours ticked by. I saw the looming dark clouds. I read the forecast that there would be 30% chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. It was both welcoming as well as fearsome. I need a cool off. A rain would do me good. Yet I don’t like getting wet. I did not pack a rain jacket, lack of room. I got to ascend the mountain before the storm. It would not be good to be up there during it or after it. It is an exposed place of granite rock, and very slipery when wet, like standing or wet marble at an incline. I couldn’t able to ascend if ground is wet. I was walking now most of the time. No more 1/3 – 2/3 thing. It was very hot. Rain didn’t come.

I expected this. I wouldn’t mind walking because when evening comes I could run again. Walking is fine as long as I could make close to 3 miles an hour, I wouldn’t be that far behind. I saw I was making around 2.8-3.0 pace. So I was good. I was three hours away from the Mountain. I was keeping track of all the miles/minutes gains and losses. I still had an hour to spare according to my mind clock. I still had hope! I could do this. I had about 14-15 hours left in the race, surely I could do it, as long as I don’t get lost. The second should be easier than the first half. There were only two major roads, El La Ponza something and Peachtree. I will be doing 40 miles on those.

Late afternoon. I got to Stone Mountain around 4:30. It was longer than I thought. I was exhausted. I got to a bench. I didn’t want to tackle the mountain yet. Sun was blazing. I sat. Fixed my feet. I had blisters. Cleaned those up. Wiped myself down with a wet wipe. Cooled down. my water was out but I know I can get them after the mountain part. There is a gas station immediately at the bottom. I was at the bench maybe 45-60 minutes. It was an unwise decision. I don’t know why I did it, but it was too hot at the time. I wanted to lay down and sleep. However I was not sleepy. The advice someone gave me before the race is you have to constantly make forward progress. Once you stop, you are pretty much done. I had a sense as I laid on the bench, this is Waterloo. I might not make it pass this point. Such thoughts scared me. I gathered my strength and got up. Up to the Mountain I went.

5:30 pm. what I didn’t realize is how hot the afternoon was and how hard the trail up the Stone Mountain could be. As expected I was completely exposed on the bare rock. The reflected heat was hot. It is also about a mile up. Yet unlike Kennesaw, this was a technical climb. It is boulder scrambling. Running was out of my mind. If I am fresh, yes, it would be a great run, but not in my current condition. I labored up. Some parts, I had to get on my hands and feet. I used the railing but it was burning hot. If I slip I would be rolling off the mountain. I think it took more than an hour to reach the summit. Near the summit there was a tree and sat down on a boulder under the tree. Dude, someone pooped there, nasty. All the toilet paper and poops. Dude. they supposed to carry their poops down the mountain.

Anyway, I had a bit more to go. I didn’t want to come back down. I explored a bit hoping there would be a shop or restaurant up there. There was a building in the distance. When I got there. Nope. It was closed.

6:00 pm. I slowly made my way down. I think by then it was six PM. The turn sheet said used the path or the service road. I chose the service road thinking it would be easier. It was longer. I got lost too and went down on a side trail. But I descended. Just kept going down till you get to the bottom. I thought I was still on the right track. I got to Robert Lee Rd. The turnsheet said follow Robert Lee Rd to the parking lot. Here I didn’t check the map. It might have been my phone was quarky or my head was from heat exhausion, but I made the worse decision in the whole race. I thought either way Robert Rd would take you to the parking lot. I took the right but it should have been the left. I think I walked 2-3 miles before realizing I wouldn’t get to the main parking lot. Holy guacamoly. Only way of course was to backtrack. I was fuming.

7:00 pm. I knew it. Race was over. There is no recourse. I did do the calculation in my head. That turn was the last straw that broke this camel’s back. All hope was lost. I told myself I could not afford any mistake and here I was. I cried. I got back there to the main parking lot, still not at mile 62.2 yet, but my watch already showed 70+ miles done. The park was closed by now. I was still using the turnsheet (I think it did say take a left on Robert Lee). Somehow, I overshot the turn off. I went to what I thought was another exit but the gate for that was closed. I couldn’t get out. It was anticlimatic. I no longer cared how long it would take to get me out the park. The parking lot was empty now. I was pretty sure before my ascend I read, park close at dusk. Now was only 7. We had one to two more hours till sundown, why is the park closed? Later, I read it was because of July 4th celebration, and earlier they had a protest, that might have led to closing the park early. I didn’t know any of this until the next day. The protest made it on the evening news – about armed men parading around at the site.

The South revered their Civil War Heritage but in the current climate that is seen as racist. I grew up in the South and the Confederacy was always seen as pleasing to me. I did not know I was indoctrinated and came to accept a lot of Southern symbolism and values. What were passed as honor and glory was truly a veil to cover the dark history that was rarely mentioned, supression/slavery/Jim Crows. Off topic, I know, though I grew up in the South, no one would consider me their southern boy, because I look Chinese! Silly for me to claim the Southern Heritage. My great-great-great Grandfather didn’t fought in it. In the end, the thing what matters is you have to treat people with respect and dignity. Those things, like Stonewall statues, was an era past. They fought for the wrong causes and lost (South kept saying state rights) and it is time to move on. Systemic racism is real both in the South and in the North. Blacks are being treated as second class citizens and I believe as an immigrant I fare much better. Any way. enough ranting. It is a hard topic.

Well the first thing is I need to get myself out of the park. I could climb the fence, but I was too tired. I didn’t want to break anything (bones). I didn’t have the comfident that I could do it safely. Luckily a park officer showed up. He pointed me and this other guy who was also stucked inside how to get out. We had to walk maybe quarter mile – half mile to the other gate. Surely that gate was open for exit and I totally missed it the first time I passed by. There was an officer there. I guess I was afraid getting near the officer the first time so totally discounted it to be a way out.

I sent in my fairwell on the race Facebook group page. Finishing the 100 miler was no longer within my reach. I know I still have 10 hours left to do about 40+ miles. Technically in good time, 4 miles an hour is easy peacy, but not today. I could barely get two miles an hour. I had hope once darkness falls my faster pace would return. I wrote to them that I was quitting. They were very supportive saying in this kind of heat and for me to put in 100K is no easy feat. I love them. O you could make friends anywhere you go in the running community.

In the back of my mind, I remembered one of my race director (for the OGU) said, at some point in an ultra you would come to a time you want to quit. He said, he always tell his runners to sit a bit, cool down, and maybe half hour later, you would find the strength to do it, so don’t quit too soon.

After I posted the message on the race Facebook group, I felt a sense of relieve. No longer was I worry about finishing or clock management. I walked on. I really wanted to call an uber right there and then and get off the mountain, but I said, I should pause a bit even though I pretty sure I wanted to quit. I continued using the turnsheet and got to Main St. This next few directions were all easy. I knew them by heart. There was the gas station before a new bike trail start. I went in. Watered up. Got soda. Got batteries for my headlamp, even though I already decided to quit, one part of me wanted to continue on, and I would need strong light once darkness falls. I brought my dinner. I didn’t remember what I ate. I wanted noodle soup but they didn’t had it. I think I ate a can of peaches and emptied a bottle of muscle milk. I felt great. But dinner costed me another hour I believe. Yet I didn’t care because I was no longer in the race.

8:00 pm. It has been 25 hours since I started. I traveled a bit more, maybe one or two more miles and got to the next gas station. Speedway. The sun was setting and I can see that. My decision was if I press on, it would be dark soon. But now I was really sure I wanted to quit. My pace did not return. My rash burn was bothering me all over. I could apply gel and lotion to fix them, but since I am already quitting, and where I was still kind of a remote place. I rather getting pickup during the daylight hours than in the dark. I was telling myself, is there any value to push on until midnight or even 10 o’clock? I already reached my goal to make it to mile 62 on the turnsheet. The answer was yes, I got to put in my miles for the other virtual race, Tennessee GVRAT, however, that is so silly. I got two months to do that one. So I should make the speedway gas station as my final (finishing) point. I smelled awful. Even I couldn’t stand my own stench. Only after you stop you started to notice all kinds of things. I went in to the Speedway and brough the Axe deoderant and sprayed myself plenty. Still didn’t smell good. The Uber took quite a while to get to me. There was no where to go but to wait for the Uber.

8:30 pm. My garmin indicated 77 miles done. I took one more look and reluctantly pressed the stop button. 25:35 (25 hours and 35 minutes). I think 25 minutes was waiting for the uber. My race was officially over. Race mile though was 62-63 miles.

The rest of the adventure was just that. I was fell asleep the moment I got in the uber. No longer could I stay awake. The night was cool. The driver had his window down – maybe I was too stinky or maybe due to fear of coronavirus. He was young, in his twenty or even late teens. He was the first Uber guy with his mask on the whole time. The price was very reasonable I think $25 and not $90. My first Uber guy did not wear a mask! But the first guy picked me up in a BMW. I think the second one was a toyota. I respected what this guy did though. I had my own mask on too. The ride was long too, maybe an hour or more to the hotel near the airport where I stayed for the night and flew back in the morning.

I did not regret the decision to quit. There is no if, like I could finish or not. Not going to play Monday Quarterbacking. What’s done was done. I did not feel badly that I did not tough it out. I felt I gave enough to the race. It was not my all, but enough at the right point. I knew I still had some left in the tank, meaning I had not reach my limit. At least I felt I still have about 20 miles and might able to squeeze 30 miles. But to go for that emptying the tank point, I felt I would hurt my foundation and the risk was very high I might not reach the finish point even if I gave my all (100% sure I wouldn’t able to do it). It was no longer fun. I was cutting my loss early.

I hated getting lost. I hated hours wasted at various places. Yet I knew I could still come back and do again. I had great confident I definitely can redo this race and finish it. I felt I already won it – a weird feeling in what seemingly a failure, but I felt I really achieved my objective, that is to reach 100K. 100 miler is just that, you have to come up solution for the unexpected during the race, being flexible and to be able to push on. The last 40 miles were an insurmountable problem for me at the time.

I am not making light the 40+ miles left to do and those would not be easy miles. I am not comparing myself to those who did the remaining 40 miles and toughened it out. I respect greatly those who finished. 100 miles is no joke.


Day319 Back to normal

Things are back to normal for me. I am scratching my head what to write.

I have not started back on my regular run. I should be able to run. I feel healthy. 100M /100K, did not sap me of my strength. At least, I don’t think it was that damaging to my body. I am much relieved.

The reason I have not been outside is just out of concern of my fellow neighbors. Virginia as I know, unlike New York, does not have mandatory travel quarantine. But out of abundant caution, I am stayimg indoor and away of other people for at least two weeks since I came from a state that was considered one of restricted states (by New York). Don’t be selfish.

I had a race this coming weekend. Cat50K. However, I already wrote to the RD saying I won’t able to make it, doing a self quarantine. It would have been the first race since the this Covid19. I will miss it a lot.

We don’t have many races to the end of the year. Many races will continue to be canceled.

I am thinking of signing up a virtual race in July once my quarentine period is over. It will be in Pennsylvania. Mountain running.

In the Fall, I signed up the Marine Corps Marathon but it is very iffy if that it will take place.

I am looking at JFK 50. I have not signed up.

There is also the OGU, and Farmville 50K.

As for normal marathon, I am thinking either Gettysburg, and Portland, ME Marathon.

I have Richmond Marathon. But any big marathon is iffy.


Day318 recovery

I have gone over the turnsheet today. It was really messed up. I am not feeling regretful or angry about it, because there is no one to blame but myself of not double checking it before my run. It played a role in me not finishing the 100 Miler but it was not a significant role.

My getting lost was not due to the turnsheet being wrong.

The one major flaw of the turnsheet was the distances on it were inaccurate. This either let me to pause too frequently to check on it.

So I finally get myself together and fix the turnsheet while my mind was still fresh.

I don’t think the race director is intentionally messing with my mind though, but I felt like that at the time while I was out running it.

Now I have perfected the sheet, I have to run it again.

Not having a reliable direction was a newbie mistake. The Old school way is to have those down cold. Since now a day most people have a pretty good cellphone, turnsheet and map are things of the past. This race was testing the old ability because my phone was not available.

I fixed all those errors I found. There was a place even missing a turn. Just a minor mistake. I remembered making that wrong turn in the middle of the night on my run and saw the warning sign posted – do not enter – on the fenced gate that blocked the entry, I knew I was at the wrong place.

I was able to study the map in depth now and located some of the restaurants and food stores. Babylon, one of the places that peaked my interest is not a stripped club, but they do open from 5 pm to 5 am. I was telling myself I was going to stop by and getting some food regardless if it is rated R. It is a Hookah bar (smoke bar), or are they playing with words?

I found the locations of some of the Whole Foods stores and Kroggers. I think there is one Trader’s Joe too. All good stuffs. I was whinning that there is no good store in Atlanta. Now I found them. They were at a part of race I didn’t get to last time. It seems similar to Northern Virginia. I am going to get a hotel in that place. I found a couple asian restaurants, and a thai as well. I have a high hope of getting tom yum soup at the end of my run.

life running

Day317 Second take

I already made plan to try again at the end of August to run the same 100 miles again. After looking at what went wrong, I think I can get over the huddles. August can’t be hotter than now.

Any way, once the time comes I will prepare better.

Going to sleep on it for now. Hotel and flights are cheaper now than when I got them before. Maybe because of the coronavirus has become more severe, or maybe this time I am booking farther in advance.

Body-wise, A bit sore all over. It was not as bad as my first half marathon/marathon. I remember back then, I couldn’t walk after finishing. I feel it when go up and down the stairs. I haven’t felt like this for a long time. And kind of happy about it – like old friend! Seriously, last time I was like this…I can’t recall, maybe two years ago in Delaware.

I studied the strava/garmin data. I did slow down a lot. It was a downward trend. Yes, was a very bad news. In my mind, I thought I was staying steady, but data is showing otherwise.

Going share some pictures of the run.


Day316 100 mile review

There were a lot of things went well and I also made a lot of newbie mistakes. In the end I did not finish. The 100 mile run is not easy.

They say running a 100 miles is to overcome issues that crop up along the way. To finish you have to overcome those. Some can be anticipated ahead of time, but some only pop up as you run. I found you can’t prepare for every contigency.

What went well for me? The start time was better than expected. It was one of big concern – because I couldn’t start too early or too late since I have to make it to Stone Mountain during time when it is open (from 10-8). Also I would have to pay attention to the finish time, you don’t want to finish too late, or else can’t find a ride home. It is best to finish during day time. I chose to start at 7 pm on Friday night. It was hot. But actually that time, already became cooler. Most of the run, I had some cloud covering. It could have been hotter still. The first few miles, I had some sprinkling of rain. Luckily no thunderstorm, though it was forecasted. I am so thankful, because there is no way for me to get up on the Stone Mountain when wet (it is very slipery).

It was really really hot. Even after sun down as I ran throughout the night I was sweating crazy. My body kind of adjusted the next day but was not enough. I knew I was dehydrated because I couldn’t pee. I tried to drink as much as possible and was water logged. I was glad there were gas stations that were open. They were on the way. Some though were not open. I had tough time finding any that were open at 3 am in the morning (They say they were open but door was locked – it could be the employee was sleeping in the back).

The route was nicely planned. I went through the safest part of Atlanta during the night. The run started on Kennesaw mountain. It was way out of Atlanta, and costed me an arm and leg to go out there. People at Marietta, the town just nearest to the mountain, were very friendly and they live up to my expectation of southern charm. I come from DC area, no one in DC would give you a second look or say hi or smile, that is the culture in the DC area – and it is normal. But here in the suburb of Atlanta, people are quite charming.

So I made my way throughout the night in the Atlanta Suburb. I arrived at downtown Atlanta in the morning. Oh by the way, some neighborhood in Atlanta is 24-7, people were still standing outside at 4am in the morning. Not good people I know. Luckily they didn’t bother me. By the look, I think they were pimps and prostitutes. I don’t remember the name of the locale, but the bar/or whatever it is, Babylon was interesting. I never met any real hookers in real life, and so it was sort of an eye opener for me. Well they didn’t bother me and I passed by.

Inner Atlanta was ya, unexpected and also expected. It was around 6 ish, when I arrived. I passed by a very poor neighborhood. It was definitely scary. I lived in poor neighborhood when I grew up, but it couldn’t prepare me for this. The people didn’t bother me; it was just a different feel. They are people of color. That is a mark of Atlanta, a huge population of African American.

I came across many different parts. Saw wall paintings. You can say they are part of the culture or part of a dysfunction society. I have seen more black people in Atlanta than my whole entire life, so was kind of an experience. I came across a small BLM protest on my run, (Black Lives Matter) organized by mostly by white people, you can tell to see who marched in it, while I was sitting by the side of the road outside the gas station/convenience store with couple back people around — and it was almost a joke or insult. You have a serious economic inequality here and all the social programs of the past half century didn’t make a dent and people parading around saying BLM. It is a bigger issue – I have visited Indian reservation (Navajo), and pouring money and food assistance didn’t get people out of proverty but instead highlight something seriously wrong with our nation.

People open your eyes to see the condition of black people. I know BLM is about anti police violence on black people…but look at the bigger picture. I came across several police officers and they are white. I also saw an older black man asking direction from a police … my heart skipped a beat and I think the black gentlemen too (long story: we were locked in a park at Stone Mountain, they closed the gate early due to the 4th July celebration, and we couldn’t exit the park). However, I didn’t get to interact with many blacks except for one of my uber driver. Racial tension definitely is more pronounce in Atlanta than in DC. Here in DC we are like one happy family.

An observation, and I read about this too, when a community is poor, there is hardly any ‘good’ grocery store. As I was running, only place I can get food was at a gas station, and their choices were all junk food. I was so used to running in my own neighborhood in Northern Virginia where I have Giant Food, Whole Food, Safeway, Walmart. There are array of good stuffs here in Northern Virginia. Not so in Atlanta. There is no 7 Eleven in Atlanta either. I came across of a lot of Fried chicken places. No wonder we are so rich up north. It it is quite a different feel down in Atlanta. On the side note, I miss asian stores/restaurants — because I couldn’t have Tom Yum soup on the run. High salty soup is very beneficial for long run.

OK let discuss what didn’t go well. My pack was too heavy. There were many reasons that let me to not finishing the run. But one of the contributors is a heavy pack. I repacked it three or 4 times. In the previous post, I mentioned of taking the larger 18L pack instead of my smaller 6-8L. However before my run start, I swapped back to the smaller pack, and cut out half the stuffs. It was a wise decision, however, it was not enough. The weight though was still heavy. The reason being was I carried the full load of water, close to 3L and food, more on that later, because I didn’t expect any store to be open until day time. The weight issue really kill me. I carried the electronic gear, flashlights, phone, battery charger, wires, stuffs I normally won’t have on me on my usual runs. I also had a first kit, and a lot of food – way too much. More on this later.

Second, dress. I was debating wearing short sleeves versus long sleeves. I chose long because I wanted to avoid sun burn and I didn’t want to carry sunblock. Sunblock is heavy, even with the travel size. I could have put a dab of cream in a ziplock. Initially I had a bunch of ziplock bags, however, when I packed my suitcase, I tossed them out at the last minute and came to regret that decision. I was over heating the whole time in my long sleeve. It was made with breathable material, however, the heat sapped my strength. About mile 30 in I was done running. I walked until mile 77 ish. However, the chance that I could finish on time was out of my grasp. The race was pretty lenient, because if you run 1/3 of the way and walk 2/3 you can finish within the time limit. I was cutting close.

Cooling. I didn’t implement active cooling strategy. I should have pour water on me. I should have soaked my towel and cap with water, that would have helped a lot. I did this for other races but forgot to do it on this race until after I already decided to quit. If I implement this earlier during the day, I think I would have gotten farther in the race and might have finished. I was concern of ‘wasting’ the limited water I had.

Third issue, was food. 100M requires / expends a lot of energy. It was one issue I kind of knew but didn’t pay enough attention. I estimated of expending about 4000-5000 calories. By the time I stopped, I already used 8,000 plus of calories and that was only about 60% into the race. I should have prepared or know I would burn 12,000 of calories. I was vastly undestimated my needs. I understand it was impossible to reload myself that amount of calories within the race time, but my failing was not having any in my body other than fruit juice and other sugary drinks cut into my performance. I believe what killed me was by the 24th hour, I was out of energy. I could still walk but running was impossible. Understand that if I don’t put in energy, my body would start burning the muscles to fuel the expenditure and that was very bad indeed because muscles take a long time to regrow and be redeveloped.

What about the 2400 calories I packed? Since swithing to a smaller pack, I had to take 1200 calories out. The other 1200, I ate maybe 200 -400. They were granola, and it was very dry. They say, don’t try anything new on race day!! I didn’t take that advice. So I carry those heavy bars on me and did not really eat that much and took them back home. I should have jettisoned them a quarter way in when I felt I am not going to use them so to lighten my load.

The core of the matter of why I couldn’t finish is I got lost too many times. I can’t blame the turnsheet. There were definitely some errors on there, but some of the parts I caught them in my preparation. I marked them by hand on the print out, however, I didn’t use thst print out. I reprinted a new turnsheet on double side and the new turn sheet didn’t have the marking. I lost about 10-12 miles of keep making the wrong turn. My map was outdated too, and a lot of street names were changed. I wished I had memorized or more familiarized with the route. This was the first time I was running a race using turn sheet and map. I spent maybe 12 hours learning before I came up a system how to do it efficiently. Those first 12 hours were costly. Also I probably was sleep deprived. How I kept missing the turns was I kept zoning out in my run. It was horrible and frustrating. I was so used to running by zoning out because in all my races, there were either someone in front of me or the trail is blazed and those were easy to follow. But this race was like a scavenger hunt. You have to be on your toes. I was not used to it.

What new way I found? One is to keep your turnsheet and map out at all time! My phone gps died on me on some portion. That was the worse thing that can happen. Also the route on the phone kept disappearing. I had a lot of problem with it. Only by morning, I started to use exclusively a map and turnsheet and I became better at it. What I originally did was I kept my map in my pack, and every so often I would pull it out. It wasted too much time. It required stopping midrun to check the map and turnsheet. So in the end I found a way to fold the map showing only the next few sets of turns. It helped a lot. This is from hiking skill – but I was dumb and didn’t translate the skill learned in hiking to my running.

Night run was also worse in that I kept getting night blindness. The flash light was too bright. Every time I checked the turnsheet and then looked back up, I was blind. My vision took too long to recover. I did use a red filter lamp, but there were times I forgot and blinded by my own light. Those were reflected light too. I felt next time, I should wear an eye patch on one eye like a prirate!

What else I didn’t talk about? Flashlight/batteries. My headlamp was dying and I didn’t get batteries for it until at mile 62. By then I had already decided to quit, but I did buy batteries for the headlamp at a gas station 🙂 The whole week leading to this run, I was telling myself to buy batteries. Batteries was one of the concerns and I couldn’t make time to get them before my trip. It was a shot in the foot. During the race, I used a handheld bike light. It was heavy. I did have a very light handheld one, but it lacked batteries. So it was like a consolation at my last pit stop I brought new batteries, though too late.

My biggest concern going into the race was pain and sleep deprivation. Noted that I didn’t sleep on Thursday, because I was trying to reset my sleep to the morning but wasn’t successful. During the race slept deprivation was not that big a deal. I was full of adrenaline the whole time. I didn’t fall asleep until I was in the uber, heading back to my hotel. However, there were still 40 plus miles, if I tried to finish the 40 miles, I bet sleep derivation would play a big part whether I would finish or not.

As for pain, I didn’t feel too great a discomfort at mile 77. There were still 40 plus miles so I don’t know if I could have survive the pain. As some people say, the race just only get started at mile 80. The first 80 miles were just warm up. The fun stuff, and I missed that experience.

The pain I got at mile 77 was chafing. I believed my butt was bleeding from the chafe. I applied vaseline before the run but wasn’t enough. Also my underarms were chafed. I properly could have endured the pain for the next 20-40 miles, but it was definitely no fun. I wish I had kept some vaseline in a ziplock bag so I can reapply halfway in the race.

Blisters started to form at mile 75. They were not too bad. I took off my shoes. Popped the tiny blister on one of the toes. Put some body glide on my feet. Changed to new socks. I believed it would have last for the next 20-40 miles. This was the first time I do blister care in mid race and I was so proud of myself. The aid kit came in handy! They even have the safety pins for popping blisters! I was so impressed.

My “planned chaos” really killed my race. In my hubris I was hoping to pull through even with many mistakes I made. It was a series of small mistakes building up and finally I couldn’t handle it any more.

Conclusion. There were a lot of what-ifs. The race was only about 2/3 in. Who know what other problems the remainder would bring. However, I could have done a lot better in the first 2/3 by carrying lighter stuff, packing better food and eat them, study, really study my run (map and turnsheet), keeping the body cool, wearing better clothes, managing or minimize chafing issues, sleeping better on the day before the race. All these would have made a difference.


Day315 race day

By the time this post is published, I should be near the end of my run, probably 24 hours into it. There will be a proper race report after I get enough sleep – either I finish it or I DNF (not finish) halfway.

Pretty much the same theme from previous posts. I couldn’t really sleep during the day time. My Hotel is comfortable. It is one of the better inn and I got a very good deal, something close to 50% off, granted no one is traveling at this time…, or you would think. I couldn’t resist not sleeping the night of and ruin my Friday morning :(, ah, got to suffer tonight.

Atlanta airport is completely different than Dulles (IAD). There are so many people. ATL being one of the busiest airports is no joke. Stores are closed but they have vending machines in the airport! I was thinking earlier where would people going to eat, for those who have to transfer. I can say it was so much more crowded here!

Weather was OK, not too hot, granted it was 9 pm. There is a chance of rain on Saturday afternoon. I should be OK. Will let you know. I probably passed it or in the middle of it.

Altanta in what we call a phase 3 so I shouldn’t have problem getting food. However, I am kind of annoyed by Walmart closing early! I thought they are open late, but I think they now close at 8pm. They are still operating under a phase 1 reopening! Well probably a good thing.

Most of my run will be during night time. The morning stretch will be going toward in the suburb and remote areas.

Still going to do according to plan. Going to head up the trail around 6-7 in the evening. There is no rush. I have a window from 6-midnight, in order to not rush and catch the flight home after finish. I need to be back at the airport by noon. So I need to finish no later than 10:30 on Sunday. Meaning 2AM is the latest time to start (still within a safe margin), and anything after that is tempting fate and I have been getting a series of bad lucks for this trip of days leading up to it. So the earlier the better, so I could finish at sun down too around that time the following day. The later I start, means the less time to sleep after I’m done and also increase the risk of DNF. Will see if this was a smart move.

I repacked my pack once arrived at my hotel. I brought a bigger pack 18L in addition to my normal 6-8L. It is big for running. I tossed this in the suitcase at the last minute. It is a day pack for hiking, so running might be a challenge (I did use it to run a few times before). Since I am expecting most places to be closed, I am lugging my own food supplies with me. I tossed in a water filter too just in case I couldn’t get water and will rely on nature to provide. I study the map, there is a few places that open 24 hours, so I am not too concerned. It is a tough to run 100 miles while carry such a pack. I pretty much decided to use this bigger/heavier pack though.

I have about 2500-2700 calories packed for 34 hours. Not a lot but will be sufficient to pull me through. Most of them are sugary, such as candies, beef jerky, and bars, so not sure if they can starve the hunger. My math might be wrong, in my mind they look more 1000 calories at most.

I have not calculated how much calories I will be burning, maybe over 30000 and probably closer to 5000-6000. Hopefully I will get some supplements on the way. The choices I had were not ideal since I couldn’t get to Walmart and now is a bit late to do things. I wish I have real food. They got to do and hope there will be real food along the way.

I brought some food too, to leave behind at the hotel to eat after I finish. I might go to a McDonalds or Wendys once I’m done, unless it is midnight.

Just when I was about to finish this post, I came across an article of a planned protest at Centennial Olympic Park, which is my finish line. I couldn’t find the time. It will be evening during my finish time (7-9pm ish). Out of all the luck…this is probably the worse. Yesterday, I was even imagining heading into Atlanta with the full fireworks display in front of me as I triumphantly finish my first 100 mile run. Such romanticism. Now I have plan around to avoid the protest. I can’t control the course, but I can control the finishing time. Oh by the way, I just read, no fireworks this year due to covid19. bummer.

Edit to add: I quitted the race a little over halfway point when I don’t think I could finish. I still got 40 miles to go and about 10 hours to do it, however I was moving at 2 miles an hour. I was hoping the darkness will give me the umph, but it didn’t come. So why suffer for another sleepless night. I will hopefully write a report why. Called an uber, and hour later, I am back at the hotel.


Day313 – last minute

Nothing much was done today. All that I planned didn’t come into fruition. I’m racing against the clock on many fronts.

FedEx print center, last night I checked they were open late but tonight I went there they were closed. They have the new limited hours from 10-6. So I will have to go there tomorrow to have my turnsheet laminated.

I gave up laminating the map. I looked at it. It was too big. The streets were too tiny. I might as well memorize the path and rely on my phone from time to time and trust my turn sheet.

I tested my GPS. It is a piece of crap. Like previous experience, it didn’t do jack. I should have brought a more expensive model.

I did some shopping today. I think I know what I will eat. I will go light on the calories this time. Just barely enough to get me through. In the past I ate too much and it slowed me down. I need to find the sweet spot.

I was able to read one of the runners most recent race report. He finished it last week. The report was very helpful. He failed to meet the cut off at the Stone mountain before they locked the gate. He got in but couldn’t make it out before the gate closed.

I wouldn’t want that to happen to me. I am not that good in scaling fences in the middle of the night especially when I am half dead after doing 62 miles.

So at least I should push my start an hour earlier so looking at 3 AM start at the latest.

I have been rethinking the start time a bit. I might going to do a night run by pushing the start time even earlier starting at 6-7 PM, so I could make it to Stone Mountain in the morning, 8-9 AM instead of in the evening, the gate should be open by then. This will get to finish around 12-1 midnight the next day.

Doing a night start completely mess up all the gas station stops because likely they will be closed most of the time I am in the city because it will be in the middle of the night. I will be in downtown Atlanta around 2-3 AM when all the eateries are closed. By the time they are open I will be doing the last 40 miles on the Stone Mnt trail. There does not seem to have a lot of places to get food on the trail until I get back into the city and by then it will be 8-9 pm the following day.

The report scared me. I am afraid of pain. I never push myself beyond my pain point. The guy wrote that at mile 80, he felt the pain and blisters and everything including tireness from lack of sleep. I don’t know if I can handle that. I ran 60 miles before. At that time I knew I still had enough in me to push on. However, mile 80 is something I never experience before…and I don’t know if I will be willing to push on. I know it will come…I read many reports about it. No one is an energizer bunny. I am afraid I might break.

conclusion/decision. Start time has me worry. Most likely it will be an early start at 2-3AM. Alternatively I sleep in on Friday, and run at night at 5PM. This is very high risk because who know if I can sleep during the day. If I can’t fall asleep during the day, I will be screwed. To force myself to sleep in the day, then I shouldn’t sleep on Thursday night. This will also hamper my ability. In the end, I am still running out of time. I wish I knew it earlier and readjust my sleep time several days ahead. This is part of ultra learning curve.