How I pick races

Day 168

There is a famous math/computer problem in which a salesman is trying to visit every city on the itinerary, going through each city only once and doing it in the most efficient way (in a shortest path/time). There is probably a solution to this optimization problem.

Well I thought my attempt to run in all fifty states is a traveling salesman problem and I stayed up many nights trying to come up a best way to do all fifty states in some logical order, until I spoke with my good buddy – a wise woman, but it shows how foolish I was. She immediately pointed out, that after each race I always come back home each time instead of traveling directly to the next state and this makes my problem really simple.

It doesn’t matter the order of states I choose to visit because the overall cost of visiting every state will be the same.

So because of her word, I would continue to pick any state to run each year as long as it is not one I have been to!


I did a short 3.5 miles run yesterday. Legs are still sored. I felt my body is recovering fine. It is after all from running a marathon. I felt all those things about tapering and reverse tapering do not really apply this time. Got to get back into training.

I have been searching online about how to run a faster marathon… don’t we all? It is kind of boil down to of how many miles ran during training.

Marathon and a half

Day 167 (race reports)

three races in one weekend – SHF Abebe Bikila Intl Peace Marathon, Arlington 9-11 5K, and Parks Half Marathon

Total miles ran for the week was 46. Mostly all on the weekend. I did 4 miles during the week. I was mostly recovering from my backpacking trip. The tumble at the end of the trip injured me more than I initially realized. My lower back was out of wack for couple days and my left ankle was not so good. On top of it all, I woke up one day, with a knot in my neck/upper back (I couldn’t turn my head to the left, making runing difficult). Luckily, they all went away on race day.

This week should be either the 4th or fifth week of my training, but last two weeks pretty much no running due to the Roan Trip – a week of preparation beforehand and a week of recovery. But even with very little runing, it was pretty satisfying to run a race.

Here is the race report – three in one. I signed up to run a half marathon and a 5K, which is no big thing, but at the last minute (last Sunday or Monday) I went and signed up for a full marathon on top. I have been on the fence about the full for maybe a month. On paper, that was the amount of mileage I was supposed to run any way, but it seemed daunting because I never run three races on a given weekend before.

I got to say even after running so many marathons, there were still lessons to learn. It all came down to preparation. I should have packed the night before and I should have slept early.

I had about four hours of sleep the night before – my own undoing. The race didn’t start till 8 AM. Some started as early as 6, with the Race Director’s permission. The bulk of us, started at 8.

I left my house around 6 but my head was a bit whoosie. I don’t even get up this early for work or church.

I swallowed some oatmeal and got to the course with plenty time to spare.

The first half of the run was pretty much on pace. I ran a 2:01 (hr:mm) for a half. Then I started to unravel after that. I lost my water bottle. It felt off from my hydration vest and somehow I never noticed when it happened. I was pretty much out of it from lack of sleep. I really didn’t need it since water stop is at every two miles but still, I am one of those guys — if something is out of place I would think about it all the time. So for the rest of the race, I was scanning the course for my water bottle.

I caught a second wind by mile 17-18 when I was being chased by another runner (#840), well not sure if I chased her or sh was chasing me. She chased me for couple miles until the turn around point (between mile 19-20). I stopped. I needed to stop. I was out of it.

The first half, I didn’t need to stop but second half I stopped at every station. My stomach was not doing too well. Later, I think it was because I had too much sweet (starburst candies).

Then it was pretty much a struggle to the end. My underwears were giving me rash burn. It never happened before in previous races. It was uncomfortable. I tried readjusting them throughout the race but it stuck to my left thigh and cutting into it. I wasn’t wearing the stretchable one. So every step was painful as it rubbed and cut into me.

Then my shirt too was burning me. The right sleeve was cutting into my arm. There was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t bring any cream or lotion with me in my vest — they were left behind in the car. I felt the heat and rub burn with every swing of my arm.

I kind of find my tempo on and off between water stations. I probably could keep my tempo if I didn’t stop for water. I wasno longer running for time but to finish. So every water station was a stopping point. I picked up the pace on the last mile and finished it. Somehow, a marathon always seems so long but eventually, the finish line comes into view, there is a sense of relieve.

That was my first race of the weekend.


My second race started at 6 pm. It was a 5k. I kind of take it as a joke. A 5K, I could run it with my eyes close. Unfortunately, my body didn’t take it the same way. I had on compression socks and so I didn’t feel much from my legs.

However, my breathing was another matter. I couldn’t breath. I think there was too much lactic acid in my chest. Every time I suck in breath, all my chest cavity hurt. I hoped I was not having a heart attack. I am so young to…

Any way, I huffed and puffed through the first couple miles. That was the most difficult 5K ever. The pain didn’t go away until the last mile. I put on speed and rushed to the finished line. My time was little over 30 min, averaging near 10 mins mile.


My third race was on Sunday. This was much easier than expected. I ran on tired legs, but after the first few miles, I was used to it. My breathing was under control. I didn’t start too fast. I built up my pace with each mile. I was expecting a large hill and hard climb at the end, however, the hill was smaller than I imagined. While every one paused to walked up, I sprinted up. I think it was less than 100 ft at mile 8. I ran this course last two years, but it was not how I remebered it. I had so much left in my tank this year that I blazed through the last mile. The course finished on a downhill. I used that to my advantage.



I was sored the whole day and next. I couldn’t squat down. My quads took a beating. Not sure when I can run again. I will try any way.

Looking back, I enjoyed the three races. The mileage was high but it shouldn’t be something that I couldn’t do. I think I am ready now to do a back to back marathon – it is no longer beyond my ability.

Also, I ran two of the races this weekend with my friends. Though we all ran at our own pace but we celebrated together at the finish line. The race was much more enjoyable because of them.


day 164

I started the week with high hope that I would run all the miles like last week. The week is almost over and it look unlikely I am any where close. I feel like a big failure this week.

Total mileage so far is 4. The goal is around 60. Why? I think the reason is … it is so hard to get the run in. Just a little lack of discipline derailed my week. Like Tuesday after my club run, there was happy hour after. I know I should have skipped it but couldn’t resist the temptation.

Wednesday instead of running, I spent the time preparing for this weekend trip. I looked at the map, entered the coordinates into the gps unit, and read the trail note. By the time I finished it was late.

Today, I could have run in the morning but didn’t. In the afternoon, I am traveling to my campsite. Starting tonight my friend and I will backpack 50 miles on Roan Highland. We won’t be back until Monday night. Hopefully, I could put some mileages to make my running goal but likely will not.

Good weekend

Day 163

Sunday came and went and I did everything that was needed. Nothing too spectacular to write about except that I did all my runs.

It was a good weekend, with a morning 10k race, then made it to church worship (plus Sunday School – Adult Bible Fellowship) which orginally, I thought I wouldn’t able to go, then a lunch event and a movie in the evening. All these I normally wouldn’t do because no one (the right friends) to do with and also they were time being away from running and getting things ready for another week. It was one of those few times or it might have been the first time I spent a weekend with my friend K doing other things than hiking. I wrote about the sacrifices to make in order to put in my runs and these would have been them. In the end though I didn’t have to choose between running and friends. I did all my runs (hard ones) before the events, so on Saturday and Sunday were like strolling through the park. It was anti-climatic. Maybe I became more efficient over night!

I enjoyed the 10k race though. It was my forth time running it (I did it every year since 2016). It was an emotional race because it was my first race I ran that started me down the path of running a marathon. I set my personal course record, though it was not my fastest 10k ever. It was one of the races my former girlfriend and I did together. I know every turn and hills there is, yet it was still a suprising race. I was running on tired feet but I didn’t know I still have it in my at the end (last quarter mile) to gun for the finish line. It was that burst of speed that helped to shave off couple minutes. Any way, it was a good race for me. I wanted to run a perfect race and that was pretty close.

Looking ahead this week, it would be a challenge to get all my runs in for this week because of an upcomming backpacking trip starting Thursday night to Monday night. I will have do grocery shopping on Tuesday, or even pack on Tuesday. There doesn’t seem much time left for running.

Last week run summary:

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 8 mi. I think it was a hard and hot run

Wednesday 0: birthday event. I slacked off and didn’t run afterward but it allowed my legs to heal (from shin splints)

Thursday: 10 mi. I stopped in the middle of the 3rd loop and couldn’t reach 12 mi. Time constraint

Friday: 20 mi. It was a breeze looking back and very happy I did it

Sat: 11 mi. Night run. glad I did it but I sufferred the next day in my 10K.

Sun: 6 mi. The 10K race, and my legs didn’t want to run that hard. I wanted to put in couple more miles in the afternoon but didn’t get a chance.

total: 55 miles

short post

day 162

I will keep it short as I have to sleep soon. Thank you faithful readers for reading my stuff. I don’t think I am that entertaining but it is encouraging there is someone out there reading my rants and complaints.

I am about to finish my second week of training and looking back, I did rather well. I complained about my runs much less than the first week. I think I found my groove now (I stopped using the word rut). I hope by week three I will fall into some kind of routine.

I survived the Saturday. I am glad I moved the long run to last night because it is virtually impossible to do it today. It was hard to squeeze in a 10 miler today.

In the morning I helped my cousin move. I was kind of upset because I felt I shouldn’t have been there. They had enough people. It was very disorganized. There was no one taking a leadership role. There was no clear goal what to move and by when. It was because they could move bit at a time for probably the next month and they were in no rush to leave the old place. Nothing was packed. There was no moving truck. They tried to arrange one at the last minute and they couldn’t secure it. The whole morning was to find a rental truck while everyone was just standing there (at least I was). I felt the day was wasted. I moved two no three biggest things off my schedule just to be there to help, and regretted it.

I left at three while a few remain till the evening moving still bit by bit of things to their personal cars and transporting them to the new place. I got to go. Not my style. Nope, I am not sharing my truck.

Oh, and I got my truck waxed and vacumn and shampooed today. It smells good. like brand new.

I started my run at 7 pm. I had 11 miles to do. It was not as daunting as last night. Amazingly I wasn’t sored. My shin splints didn’t return. All healthly. I wouldn’t say my legs were fresh but it was not dead weight that you feel when after running 20 miles. So it was a good sign.

The temperature was moderate 65-70 (around 18-20C). There was a lady I passed, she was wearing long sleeves. It was a good run.

I didn’t use my garmin since I didn’t charge it since last night. It is about dead. I ran a set route I know is 10 miles. I use the garmin for the eleventh mile since I can’t eyeball a mile by distance. I finished around 9:30.

I had a profound thought on running while I ran but now I have forgotten. I will write about it if I remember again. I think something about if I have a life outside of running. I thinl I do. Yah, kind of morbid thought when you are running alone in the dark and you think why am I out here.

Long run

Day 161

I did it! I ran my long run on Friday. My long run was supposed to be tomorrow but there are just too much going on during the weekend and the risk was high I might not be able to pull off a long run at all. Long run is usually my hardest run because it is just unbearably long and any little distraction would cause me to give up.

So after looking over the schedule and my legs are still relatively fresh, I attempted to switch up my run to Friday at least for this week and so did the run tonight. It is certainly risky too to have the long run on a Friday night instead of on the weekend due to shortness of time. I would have to do my run after work and I have to finish it before the last train leave the station, so I can catch the train back home and so not be stuck in downtown. Train stations remain open a little longer on Friday. Still I wasn’t sure I could fit a twenty miler within the four/five hours windows.

In theory I could run a twenty miles in about three hours but that is under normal race condition. However long run usually is quite another beast. Last week, I spent 9 hours doing it. You want to do the long run in slow speed. I don’t rush my long run. As long as I finish, that what count.

Well I decided to try any way. My motivation was to finish early enough so I can catch the train home. I use our club run routes because they are familiar to me (I dont have to think on where to turn) and their distance are known to me. The fun thing for me was to remember all the routes we did, and to not get bored. Each route is about 3.5 to 4 miles. If I do it five times I should get 20 miles. Normally it takes about 45 mins to an hour to run a route. Note, since it is in the city, we stop for traffic lights and the stopping time is included. There are a lot of lights.

The first loop/route I did is called the Square because it looks like a square/rectangle on the map. I went down 19th, to Constitution, to 12th, to P and back to the Circle (DuPont).

The second loop, we usually refer to as Rock Creek. We have a few variations but usually it is running up on Connecticut, then to Carvert, to Rock Creek, turn on Pennsylvania, take a zigzag and cross the street to M, follow M to New Hampshire, and back to DuPont.

The third lap is called Behind the Lincoln. This is one of my favorites. From New Hampshire, to Washington Circle, through the circle and get on 23rd, to Lincoln Monument, cross the street and run behind Lincoln Monument, get on Independence, here there is a normally a choice to run either up 17th, or go for the bonus mile. Tonight, I chose for the bonus mile, by crossing over 17th, continue to stay on Independence, run until 15th, basically go around the Washington Monument, turn on Constitution, get back to 17th, turn and follow 17th to Connecticut, and back to DuPont.

By Fourth loop, I was tired. I chose the easiest route for me to do (and I planned to run this twice to get the twenty miles). It is called the Hexagon, because it looks like one. This time, the route begins on Massachusetts, to 14th st, follow 14th to Constitution, turn on Constitution, go until Virginia Ave, turn on Virginia, and go until 22nd, turn on 22nd. Follow until New Hampshire and turn to get back to DuPont. This is the easiest route.

The last loop:

With some extra mile I did here and there, by the time I got back to DuPont I had 17 miles. The time was around 10 pm. I was very tired at this point and feeling a bit hungry and wanted to call it a night. The dinner I ate at 5:30 was all gone. But there are three more miles left. I was debating to quit and head back home. Yet there was only 3 miles left, the buck of the run already completed. In my mind I was nervous about missing the last train out of DC. So I pulled out the phone to check when is the last rain supposed to come. I was relieved to know I have another hour and half before the train arrived. Still I was very tired. Know I could do it, gave me fresh strength. It was a Friday night and first day of school (moving day for a lot of local colleges/uni), so a lot people, students and their families, on the street. It gave me the will to finish.

I haven’t decided what route to run for the fifth loop. I could do the Georgetown route but it is kind of dark to go there. I would finish with some extra miles. I didn’t want any extra mile.

In the end I decided to have my own route by running down Connecticut, turn on Constitution, maybe go behind the Monument, and headed up on 14th. Stop when I get to three miles and hopefully it will end on 14th at my workplace where I left my personal belongings before the run.

I finished it. It was an amazing feeling! Like in a race all kinds of emotion bubbling up. No longer was I sleepy or tired.

I wanted to go to McDonalds (the only store that opens late) to get a milkshake and a burger, but I remembered I had a bag of grapes and some left over lunch as well as a cheeseburger my friend gave me. I was very hungry. I ate them all. Still was hungry and I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and then it felt good.

The weather was nice for tonight run. When I started it was around 70 (20C). When I ended, it was a few degrees cooler. I ended up feeling cold. There was some breeze and with wet clothes, I felt cold. The hot coco did wonders.

Amazingly I didn’t feel sleepy. I made it to the 11:26 train. I tried to write this post on the train but felt asleep. My stop is the last stop, so it doesn’t matter for me to sleep through all other stops as long as I know to wake up for mine. Got home. Still tried to finish up the post but felt asleep again. I finished the post in the morning, but now have to start thinking of the Saturday run … A new day. Still I am very happy to get the long run out of the way.


Day 160

It is only a couple days into my training, and I already encountered trade-offs and sacrifices. Yesterday I went to a birthday party and with that I couldn’t made the run. I was supposed to do 8 miles but it was 9 pm by the time I was free. I could have made the run but in the end it didn’t happen. The body won. I was too tired and lazy to go back out to do it. I needed the rest though. My shin were hurting at the time.

With the needed rest, I had fresh legs today. The shin splint seemed gone from both legs. I put in 10 miles. I kind of wanted to do 12 – 14 to partially made up for yesterday missed miles, but by the end of my 10 miles today, I didn’t have the will to do it. I stopped for bubble tea and rest was history. I now am sleepy and have no strength to run another two or four miles.

I am going to call it a day. I know I should run more when I am tired since I will have to do that for my race. I can’t imagine how to push for 20 more miles after running 30. That got to be running when I don’t want to run any more. That is why now most of my daily run is 10 or more miles. And i Should run them even when I am tired and don’t feel like doing it. It is a real race condition.

This weekend is going to be tough. Not just the run but personal life issues. I committed to help my cousin’s moving. I don’t know yet how my long run fit in. Then on Sunday too, I have several events related with my best friend. Time time time is what I need.

It is only technically my 2nd week of training and I am facing with choices and sacrifices. Should I go do such and such or should I run? Tough choices. I need to be more efficient too. I am still a beginner and haven’t had my schedule down, that is why I am facing such dilemma.

(I missed my mom’s birthday due to my run tonight)