Race #3: Eastern Divide 50k

Day 132 race report

I got down to Blacksburg a day before the race for package pick up. I like able to avoid the rush. The drive was not that long but it felt forever. I could run a 4 and 5 hour race but I can’t stand driving four hours. I was going crazy and was verge of delirium for wanting to close my eyes for a bit. I stopped for coffee after two hours at Harrisonburg. The rest of the way was uneventful. The coffee kicked in about an hour later when I was near.

I had about an hour and half to spare after arriving and I went up ti Mountain Lake (Pembroke, VA) where the race would end and nosed around on the state roads. I was not able to find the start line but I was driving around a bit on the mountain roads. The place is beautiful. I didn’t have a map with me so I didn’t want to wander too far. After an hour I got off the mountain and went back to town.

I went to race director’s briefing. Aftereard had dinner and hit the bed by eight. I had to be up by 4:30 for the race.

The race had about 10 miles of trail with a lot of running on the fire roads. I thought I would do well since it is really a road race. I finished in 7 hours. It was much slower than I anticipated. For some reason, I just didn’t have the energy to run. I ran maybe the first four miles and the last four and walked most of the way. I average about 4 miles and hour. It was a fast hike.

The Cascade Fall was beautiful. I didn’t spent too much time looking at it before making the climb up to Butt Mountain. Then we ran to mostly on the ridge line to Wind Mountain. We finished it at Mountain Lake.

I didn’t see the lake during my run. I was looking down and watching my footing the whole time.

I probably wouldn’t do it again. I felt the elevation was challenging but the race was mostly boring. Physically I was challenged. I wish I was in a better shape. In the end It felt like a one long hike.

Race + recovery

Day 128

I use the WordPress app on Android to write my posts here and I am delighted they finally updated it to a newer version. It might not be as good as the website version yet, but I am happy of some improvements I noticed.

That has nothing to do with what I want to write, but I am a tech junky so it excites me.

I did the Baltimore 10 miler on Saturday. The past few posts I mentioned how tired I was with my running, and I am still tired, but you know the cure for a tired runner is not to rest but to run some more!! Heehee! I am recharged from doing a 10 miler.

In truth, the 10 miler was a struggle. Mentally and maybe physically too I was not ready for it. I finished it. It was not my fastest. Remembering in April, I did the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and finished it in 1:20. I finished the Baltimore 10 miler in 1:27. It was not really a harder course. There were some inclines but so did DC one.

My goal was to finish under 1:30 and I did. The course was mostly an out-and-back. The first couple miles were in the zoo. Then we ran to the lake, I forgot the name of it. We then ran around the lake, which was a mile itself. We came back. We did a loop in a part of the zoo and arrived at the finishing line.

I didn’t stop for water. There were a station like every mile apart. I did use the potty at mile 4 or so. I could have held in but I wasn’t going for time. It provided me much needed rest. I felt so good afterward.

The day was hot. It was a fine day for running. I wanted to run fast but I didn’t have the air or breathing for it. I felt I was choking for air most of the time. My body felt like it was being stuck in first gear. Couple times I got into my rhythm, but I soon lost it.

The last mile was hard. I had a bit of a surge going but people still was passing me.

I glad to finished it. I am going for the king crab challenge. They offer a special medal for doing three races (Frederick half, Baltimore 10 milers, and Baltimore marathon). I had two out three completed.

Day 124

Day 124

I’m trying to get back to my run schedule. But feeling tired generally.

What happened : I had two great runs last two days, doing about 4 miles each day. It was hard to breath until couple miles in. I was easily get winded. Legs are still tired. I am hoping tonight run would be better. Overall, I think this recovery period is much better than the last. Also, my knees and ankles are not hurting. Both of my left and right ankles are strong (I rolled them two weeks ago). They were ready on race day.

Looking ahead, I have a backpacking/ camping trip (50 miles hike) this coming weekend. We have next Monday off for Memorial Day. It will be a four days trip, the longest ever for me.

Next week, I will be running the Baltimore 10 miler. I plan to run a half marathon the following day, though haven’t registered for the Half yet.

I went to church last night. It helped me to refocus and I needed it. We continue to learn about the meaning of belief, which is a strong conviction.

It reminds me to think about my conviction of my running. When I don’t feel like running, I have to go back to my fundamental belief. What do I know about running and why do I run, and what do I hope to accomplish. It is not that I ever will doubt myself, but thinking deep about it, propels me forward.

I believe the more I run, the better I get at it. I believe that I will improve and run faster and longer. I believe I could get at least a 3:30 time for my marathon. Breaking 3 though is a stretch — currently I don’t think it is within my ability but I need to grow my faith. Because of what I believe, I act upon it by going out and run.

Spirit controls the soul and body. Spirit is the mind or where ideas come from.

Two for one

Day 123 / York & St Michaels

I did a half marathon and a full marathon in one weekend. It was amazing. Looking back it doesn’t seem that hard because I have done hikes at that length over a weekend, but I was fearful when I signed up. Granted hiking and running is not the same thing.

For one there is no time pressure for hiking but with running I am on the clock! I could ignore the clock but I never willingly run a slower time on purpose.

There are too much to talk about. I won’t able to say everything. First, location, St. Michaels is a small historical town founded in the 1600s somthing. It has that quaint old feel. It supposes to be very beautiful but I didn’t get to see the harbor/ or pier where they keep their boats. We ran through some remote part of the island with a lot of trees. So only saw trees. The route is pretty boring. Whatever lacking in attractions was made up with the runner atmosphere. There were tons of people running this race. They had to use four different waves. There were thousand plus runners. So hotels and inns were all filled. I camped out and it was a pretty nice experience but I didn’t get much sleep because by the time I got to the site it was late and I slept after 10 and woke up at 3:45 to start packing. I was afraid to get caught in small town traffic with a thousand cars trying to get to the start line. The race started on time at 7:10. I finished in 2 hours.

What I got out from the race was it is good to have a coach! I was running with someone who was behind me with her trainer. It was very distracting to have the guy constantly motivating the lady. I just couldn’t run fast or slow enough to get out of their ear shot. But I wish I have a personal trainer who would tell me how fast to run at a certain portion.

That was that. St Michaels is a good race. I might go back there if they have a full marathon.

Now about the York Marathon (YMCA race), it was more than I expected because it was on the PA Heritage trail and it was beautiful. Running a trail marathon always beats a road marathon. It was flat. It was really a road marathon but on a less used trail. We hardly see any other people from the general public. The trail is 23-mile long and there are mostly farm land on either side. So it was a heavenly place for runners.

The race supports were great. They had radio team (probably there was no cell coverage), and they had profession road crossing crew. There was a water stop about every 2 miles.

The race was long because I ran slow (not by choice either because my body refused to run any faster). I kept mostly around 10 mile pace and was targeting a 4:20 finish. I finished at 4:24. I was hungry by the half way point. They don’t have food at this race only water and Gatorade. There were gummy bears at one station though I am not sure if it was provided by the race or was it from a bystander. I was too tired to care and just took them.

I hit the wall at mile 18 and didn’t really recover. There were a lot of strong runners. It was a Road Runner club qualifying race or something. We got to see some really good looking runners. Amazing!

I finished it was what I can say.

Mini race day

Day 119

I ran a 4 miler on Mothers’ Day. I forgot my Garmin watch, so there is no detailed data on the run. I ran this course in 2017 and I did much better this time. I finished, running at 8:30 pace. Not my fastest.

My take away was 4 miles were quite long a race to do. I started out slow but I didn’t feel I was moving slowly. It might be due to lack of warm up and so the first mile was a warm up run for me. At mile 2, I was on pace and was actually going too fast for my body to handle. At mile three, I stopped at the water station, because I was feeling it – tired. Normally, I would skip the water station on short races. After the rest, I was able to gain back my pace and finished my last mile on pace. Still several people passed me by right before the finish line.

My next big race is this coming weekend. I plan to do a back to back half and full marathon (like the goofy run) to get a feel of running when I’m tired. This would be my first time doing a Half and then a Full in two days.

The following weekend after this will be Memorial weekend and I will be traveling to PA for a backpacking trip. Hopefully, I have plenty to write about once I get back.

Sunday reflection

Day 118

I like to spent Sunday to reflect on and review what the past weekend has been. It has been a normal weekend. There were weekends when I had a plan like a race or a backpacking trip. This weekend started with a plan and as the day approached, the plan kind of unraveled. It was not a bad weekend but it could have been even better.

Originally, it was going be a hike on Saturday with a group of people. It was another hike for noobies. I was looking forward to it. Then the hike was placed on my shoulder and one by one people dropped out. It is typical that people drop from an event, speaking from experience. I don’t think it was just because I was leading it that people were dropping out. In the end it was me and another dude. I was counting on him not showing up because over the week he never reached out about ride and where to meet.

I ended up doing the hike by myself. It didn’t bother me a bit. It was better that way because I could hike faster by myself. When I got to the trail parking lot, it was full, so I did some exploring driving a bit farther down the road and found another lot. There was no cell signal to contact the other guy about a last minute change of location. The other lot was secluded. There were only two cars there. I checked one of the cars out and it had an ultra trail running sticker on and I know there must be probably a trail around and the driver was probably running on it.

I pulled out my map of the area and saw the trail connects to the AT (Appalachian Trail). I had all my running gear with me and I was planning to run on the trail any way if no one showed up. I put on my Nathan 7L camelpak (don’t know the real name/ it was quite big, it holds 2L of water, I don’t use the water pack though). I packed my lunch and snacks and water. Put on my trail running shoes – Salomon 3. The trailhead was around the bend on the other side of the road. As I started, a hiker just finished his and I asked how long it is and he told me 4 miles to the AT. It was much less than that (I think about about 2).

I started running. The trail was kind of nice to run on. The uphill portion was gradual. I ran and walked. Actually, I am quite out of shape for uphill. I could only run a few minutes before I was out of breath.

At the top at the Pass Mnt Hut, I came across a thru hiker (one who attempts to hike the whole AT, about 2000 miles), Lost-n-Found. He started two weeks ago from Harper Ferry doing Flip-Flop, now SOBO (South Bound). He did part of the north bound portion last year. We talked. At the time, I didn’t recall his YouTube channel, but afterward, I think I saw some of his videos before. It was very cool to chat with him in real life.

I got to Mary’s Rock and stopped there for lunch. I only had a sandwich and I was rushing to start that I didn’t put any spread.

Mary’s Rock was kind of cool. I was there maybe two winters ago but that day was very cold and I didn’t go out to the outcrop, and I didn’t know how beautiful it is. I took some pictures. It was foggy but I love the rock formation.

The original hike was calling for 6 miles and Mary’s Rock would be the turn around point. I felt it was still early, around 11AM and I could put in more mileage. I decided to do my ‘weekly’ long run. I checked my map, if I want to get to the original parking lot – BuckHollow (one that was full), and come back, it would add 15 miles. Currently I had done about 5 miles up to Mary’s Rock. Twenty miles would be the total. Sorry if my math doesn’t seem to add up.

Surprisingly, I got to the BuckHollow parking lot at 1pm. I ran out of water by then, but I had with me a Sawyer water filter. I replenished my water by the stream. I love drinking from the stream! I took a different route back, using Buck Ridge instead of BuckHollow. Boy that hill was tough. It is two miles straight up. The photo doesn’t do justice how steep it is.

I forgot how hard it is to run up this hill. It was maybe a 2000 ft change in elevation. It was tough. I gave up running up that thing after maybe five minutes. Even walking up on it, was tough. I calculated that with my current pace I wouldn’t be back to my car until 7 pm. K and I in our previous hikes here, saw runners running up and down this as if it was flat!

The hill goes on forever. My friend K, named this hill the Heaven Hill because you will see heaven once you get to the top. I got back to Mary’s Rock, sometimes after 2. I stayed at the Rock a bit, having my fruit cup. It was beautiful. I was very hungry then. The two slices of bread I had earlier did not provide enough calories. Rain started. As I got off Mary’s Rock, I ran into lost&found, the thru-hiker I met earlier. We chatted some more. He told me he got some trail magic from someone.

Rain was on and off with some drizzling. I picked up my pace.

Running downhill, I came across many people. I rolled my ankle several times, mostly on my right ankle (the stronger one) this time. It didn’t hurt but it put the fear in me to not run too fast when I’m tired. Doing downhill was easy, but every time when I came to uphill, I was too tired to run.

I got back to the car by 4:30, way ahead of my expected time. It was my longest trail run practice thus far, totalling 20 miles and took eight hours to complete. Not spectacular. If it were my 50k race, I would get a DNS (did not finish within the specified time).

The trail is not smooth and it is rocky on some parts. It is worse than running on concrete, but it was very beautiful. Wild flowers were all around.

I enjoyed running on the trails a lot. It was very peaceful. It wasn’t easy. Mentally, it was very satisfying. I don’t remember what went through my mind, however, I felt it was a time well spent with God. All my problems from life disappeared at the moment (escape mentality), though I think I can deal with real life now because of the run.

When nothing to do

Day 117

When I have nothing to do, I read up on races and what races to run. I came across a funny race called Flying Monkey Marathon. I won’t able to do it this year but this race attracted my attention.

I have been too overly concerned about a race course being certified, but this race has none of that. It claims running for running sake and not about time and getting qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I like the snub it gives to other ‘toughest’ marathons. This one seems pretty tough. There are rolling hills. It is probably as tough as the Roanoke Marathon, which claims to be the toughest road marathon.

It got me thinking, that next year I should do all the marathons with flying in its name. So Flying Monkey will make the cut and Flying Pig too.

I also came across the Rocky fatass run. I think it is a 50k. It is interesting to run to all the spots in Philly as shown in the Rocky movies. I learn about what it means when a race calls itself a Fatass race. It means no support and is informal.

Edit to Add: Another race that caught my attention is Crazy Horse. Not related to flying, but hey, the name sounds cool.

Also the Air Force Marathon is related to the flying theme.