Leesburg 20k

Day 157

I finished today run with ease. It was a race so that helped. I ran faster than normal training run. Twice as fast. I was not trying to win any medal though. I finished last in my age group. I was ahead of my expected time however. That is a win for me.

The run took two hours for me. It was hot and I was drenched in sweat. I poured water on me. I finished the race completely wet from head to toes.

I felt the vibe. It was an out and back on the W&OD trail with the race started from Leesburg and went near Purcellville. I think we were like two miles from there. We turned around and headed back to Leesburg.

Though it was hot, it was much cooler than yesterday. We started early. I had to wake up at 5 AM for this. I got to the course kind of late and almost couldn’t find a place to park. Last year I was there before anyone and I could park in any spot. I arrived 45 mins later than last year (but 45 mins before the race start.

I felt fresh even though I did a 20 miles yesterday. It is good to run on fresh legs. It was only the first week of my training so everything is fresh. I know the feeling after 10 weeks in, I don’t think I could do a race after a long run.

My run from yesterday though was not the usual long run. I broke it into three segments, with about 7 miles each. The middle segment was a 6 miler. The middle segment was a torture, but the last one was really good as the sun was setting.

I am not sore yet. I have a blister on one of my toes. There is an onset of shin splint on my right leg. I will keep an eye on it. Monday is usually my rest day. I am thinking of shifting it to Wednesday to better fit my schedule.

I love Sunday. Well, weekend in general.

Middle of a long run

Day 156

Boy is it hot! I am 7 miles into my long run and now stopped and got sidetracked here. I had my biometric taken for the TSa pre check screening. That is another story. I am not so happy to pay a load of money so that I don’t have to go through extra check like removing my shoes before boarding an airplane. So I am happened to be near the Manassas and is a perfect place for a long run.

There were a bit of people on the trail. I prefer running where no other people especially people who are strolling on the trail. I only came across another runner during the whole time.

The place is beautiful and it definitely gave me a work out. Elevation isn’t bad but it is cross country running. The path is grassy, gravel sometimes, dirt, and mixed with some inclines. It certainly a good place to train and I don’t have to drive out to the Shenandoah. It has been a while since I run on such rough terrain.

Second day

Day 155

If the first day of training was hard, the second day was tossing in the towel.

It was Hot. I didn’t feel like running. But Run I must otherwise how will I run when November comes when it is icy and cold and the course is hard?

I just need to get into the rut again. Rut?! Did 8 mile today. No extra mile. I basically was done by mile six but had to push till the end. Having a set route helped.

Man man I’m starting complaining. Running is so boring… And I got to do 17 miles tomorrow and 10 the next day. I don’t know. With this attitude of mine, I am not sure if I can last for 14 weeks. It should be 17 miles no problem, why not add couple more and round it up to twenty.

The Route today was a modified Rock Creek plus Lincoln with the normal extra bonus mile run around the Washington Monument (all these are from our normal club run routes).

From the Dupont Circle, headed toward Connecticut Ave to Carvert, to down along Rock Creek, passed the Kennedy center, looped behind Lincoln, looped around the Washington Monument via Indepdendence Ave (because it is fenced off and under construction forever), and up 15th st, turned left on Constitution, turned right and followed 17th st to connecticut back to DuPont Cir.

After completing, I treated myself to a large Kung Fu tea – strawberry-lemon-green tea with herbal glass jelly. No sugar and lot and lot of ice.

Funny I used to run miles and miles around Washington without complaining or needed a treat.

Start

Day 154

I finally started my formal training today. I pulled out a 16 week schedule I found on 50 miler. I am couple weeks behind so, it will make it 14 week plan.

I looked at the mileage I am supposed to be doing. It is not looking good. The summer was supposed to slingshot me into this level but because the last two months I have been battling with my illness, I am basically starting at zero.

I have been with the club ad running at least 8-10 miles a week, but that is really not enough. Ya, I have been doing marathon and all. That was June and now is August. How fast time flies. Haha, I suppose to be doing 50ish mile (total) by end of this week. I think I can get up to 20 ish. Will see.

I did 4 two days ago. 2 miles yesterday. Trying to do 8-10 tonight. I did 3.7 so far. Still a few more miles to go before I sleep.

It is a start. It feels go to be back in training!

Day after

Day 147

Actually it is like five days after but still it feels like a day after. I ran for the first time. My soreness has gone down. I ran 7 miles today. After 3 miles fatigue set in. It was a great feeling. Kind of. It was like an old friend. It brought back memory of the race and the feeling of being at mile 20 during the marathon, trying to struggle to the finish line.

I had a half hour break and did 4 more miles to finish the 7 miles. I ran with my friend and I didn’t tell him I did a marathon a week ago, so he was running fast (8 or 9 min pace) and I tried to keep up with for most of the distance. It was a great feeling to run fast again! That pace is near my peak speed. Of course I was out of breath near the end.

Looking ahead, this weekend, I am doing beach camping. We will bike and hike and maybe kayak. It is mostly a relaxing weekend. I will do some long run (15-20 miles) on the beach. Totally excited. And swim in the ocean and bay too.

Reflection

Day 146 – full race report (Jack and Jill)

The marathon course by itself is one worth seeing. The course started from Hyak (aka Snoqualmie Pass, which is not near the Snoqualmie forest at all) and ended in North Bend. North Bend is about 45 minutes away from Seattle. The course is point to point, started from the top of the pass end in the valley, with a total about 2000 ft of elevation change, all of it was downhill with maybe 15 ft of uphill. The trail is on an old rail track, so any change in elevation is gradual. The path is wide, a double trail and even 3 or 4 people can run side by side. It is mostly gravel. The tunnel section is paved asphalt or stone.

The race is known for running through a tunnel of 2.5 miles in complete darkness, no light except from either end of the openings. Look can be deceiving. It seemed near but 2.5 miles is far away. We lost sense of perspective and even our sense of balance in darkness. Most people couldn’t maintain their pace. GPS watch was completely useless.

We wore head lamp. But I turned mine off, to kick it up a notch. There were enough light from other people’s lamps for me to see and made out the path, but other people couldn’t see me. It was kind of dangerous, like running with my eyes close (even if I had my light on). I dressed in complete black. Nothing reflected off me except for my shoes and my water bag. Others wouldn’t able to see me as I slipped in beteeen them and passed them by like a ghost.

The place was damp and cold. I felt the draft blowing through. Cold is relative but I had on two long sleeves, and a short sleeves underneath. There were reverberant too inside the tunnel. You see light reflected off people’s clothing. It was an unforgettable experience. I ran (walked) it alone the day before, so I was familiar with the feeling. It was more scary to be running alone. As a group, I felt like we were doing a prison break.

Besides the tunnel, the whole course is scenic. Mountains and valleys can be seen along the course. It was one breathtaking sight after another at every turn. Pine trees are everywhere, probably (Washington) Douglas fir and other pines. It was breathtaking. In the morning there was mist and fog surrounded the mountains and trees. That morning had a bit of drizzle. I didn’t mind. Not many people mind. The rain came to keep us cool.

One thing though, we had to park at North Bend, which was not a bad place at all. It was truely beautiful when I finished the race and looked back up the mountains surrounding it.

As for that morning, we arrived before the crack of dawn at a park, which I don’t remember the name. We were in no mood to enjoy the view since many of us didn’t sleep the night before. I had to wake up at 2AM to get to the bus pick up site for the 4:30 bus. There were 700 of us, so it took a while to transport us up the mountain. If anyone considers running this course, either have someone drop off at the starting line or take a bus up the pass. Most people took the bus. Buses were for runners only during the morning to the starting line. Later in the day, buses would take runners or family or friends members to/from between the finish line and the parking lot.

Everyone brought their breakfast with them. I got more. I prepared a 3 AM meal, a 6 AM meal, and an 11 AM meal. I figured food is my source of energy. I needed to eat. Unfortunately, I lost my 6AM breakfast on the way. Not sure where I lost it. I later didn’t even need my 11 AM food, as seen from all the left overs I carried back. I could have run faster without the extra weight.

We had a staggered start. I think there were at least 5 waves. I started in the last wave and it didn’t feel crowded at all. I passed close to 200 people. Only a few people passed me back. I was racing with the 4:50 (finishing time) pacer, she handled it with ease. She was running close to 4:40 and I was aiming for 4:30 or less. She of course left all her runners behind at that speed. She was a bit confused about her pace since the tunnel section has messed up everyone GPS watch and mine included. They had pace band but I don’t know how she couldn’t keep the pace. Maybe she is bad at math. Our distances and pace were all reported incorrectly. The 4:50 pacer thought she was 10 minutes behind and couldn’t figure out why, hence she was running with me. She finally passed me at mile 21. I saw her again at mile 24 where she stopped and I think she realized she was 20 minutes ahead of her pace by then. She waited and finished at 4:50, a few minutes after I crossed the finishing line.

The race was well organized. We had aid station with water and Gatorade every two miles. You know the race director has thought it out, that Gatorade was served in Gatorade cups and water was in the plain cups. Usually Gatorade was placed up front (first table) and water on the second table. The volunteers called out which one was which. There were stinger/gels at certain stations but I didn’t use any of those.

I hit the wall around mile 18-20. I slowed down to walk and run. I ate my peanut butter sandwich. I recovered a bit. I was too full to eat earlier but I should have eaten to avoid hitting the wall.

My energy returned. I might have able to finish at 4:30 but I felt I didn’t want to push myself. My original goal was just to get to mile 20 and walk the rest of the way to the finish. I know even if I walked the rest of the way, I would still have plenty of time. I reach mile 20 in 3:28. I could run a 10K when I was healthy under an hour. But I was kept on running and was expecting at some point my heart/body might make me stop and I would walk. However, that moment never came. I checked my pace, I was doing 13-14 min mile pace.

Since haven’t had much training run over last six weeks, my quad muscles started to hurt halfway in the race. Luckily they didn’t cramp up. Down hill usually make it worse since it keeps using the same muscle group without rest.

I couldn’t walk once after crossing the finish line. And not even talking about climbing up the stairs for the bus, which was impossible. I pulled myself up. I don’t know how other people did it, but I had such a hard time getting on and off the bus. For the next two days, squading down was a trial.

I didn’t stay too long after the race. The post race food was the usual stuff. There was no pizza but they offered some kind of pasta. I didn’t take any. I took a carton of muscle milk and a bottle of water and couple bananas.

They also have another exactly same race the next day. I didn’t go for the second day but I can imagine someone signing up a second day too. I can’t imagine the race director and volunteers coming out for another day. One day seemed to be all I could take. I appreciate all the volunteers to make it possible. Our first day is like a preview for them. I hope their second day would be just as good.

What else did I do? I cleaned up, unpacked my stuff, I ate like a pig and slept for the rest of the day.

The next day, I went out to Seattle and visited the farmer market. I saw the original Starbucks store.

For the rest of the trip, I drove up to Surrey and Richmond and Vancouver, BC. I ate to my heart content there. I am not much a travel blogger, so I won’t share too much. Vancouver is a nice and big city. I was amazed by its public transportation. It was unlike what we have in the DC area.

As now I am on my way home back to the east coast. I finally understood why Seattle airport is called Sea-Tac. I thought it was a cute and weird name. Sea-tac stands for Seattle-Tacoma. It is kind of boring after knowing the truth. That is a kind of secret I took from Seattle.

Race Completed

Day 145 – Jack and Jill Marathon

I did not have to use every minute available to complete this race and that in itself is a good news. I finished it an hour and half ahead of time!

It wasn’t my best time but I was very happy though. I felt like I broke a record. Indeed, it was a miracle that I could even run.

One lesson learned was that even though the race said I have 6.5 hours to complete, but I started on the last wave and that cut in to my time and in reality I only have about 6 hours to finish (race close at 1pm). So in the future, if I ever plan to use the full time allotted, I must factor in the wave start time.

As expected marathons unlike ultras did not provide food at the aid stations. I also didn’t eat most of the food I brought with me to the course. Here is a picture of the left overs. It looked like as if it was for the start.

Update: I checked the last finishing time for the race. They extended the race beyond 6:30 hours of the race clock time. (The last recorded time was 7 hrs chip time, so they were very generous). My worry of losing time at the wave start is not a concern for this race. Though for future races, the time it would take crossing the starting line should be part of the pacing calculation.