Day353 rambling

I am itching for a 100 miler, since I have been receiving emails/Facebook feed from Umstead about this Sat by noon eastern, the deadline for people who deferred to register.

I have kind of heard of Umstead before when I was searching for a 100 miler to attempt. Apparently, this race is built for first timer ultra (100 miler), in that it is a 4-loop course. The course has a 30 hr limit. There are ton of guides available in how to do this.

I went to the website and found the previous RD wrote a detailed guide how to attempt the Umstead. I was so moved by it – in gratitude. I came across the guide before a year ago and what I read didn’t make much sense then. There were a deep aprehension. This time I reread it after two failed attempts at trying a 100 miler (GSER). The light in me lighted up. Oh, that what you mean by lomg runs, oh, that what you mean about not wearing new shoes, oh, that what you mean about eating during the running. All the points I learned in the hard way in Atlanta.

The guide is so good I want to reread it again. He briefly alluded to why new people like me failed at ultras, 1. topograghy (yes!), 2. food (yes, yes), 3. heat (yes, yes, and yes). All three were my primary reasons of failing the first attempt. That day was too hot, and I was not eating enough (just one tuna sandwich for whole 25 hrs day), and I was getting lost left and right and lost so much time. I was a noob of a noob! The second attempt was just bizzare — also a noobish mistake.

Any way Umstead says they will take away all three problems – It is a loop course so, every 25 miles, you are back at the starting point. It eases on the logistic management (food/drink). It is held in April, relative cool weather in NC, near Releigh. Meal, also part of the logistics for it is easier to manage.

The guide mentions about arriving a day or two early. So runners can check the course but warn, don’t walk the whole course! The RD is very kind in leading it through step by step of how to do this race for newbies! Like how can you fail if someone is guiding you at every step?

I am sucker for it. I am ready to bite hook and sinker. When can I register?

Other race are the C&O Canal 100, I think this one is easy too (also kind of a loop – out and back), and Devil Dog, probably not as easy, but is in my alley, so could be doable. Devil Dog though is too close and we still have the covid problem in our area.

that’s all. I can’t wait to train for my first 100 mile run. I think I should get it done this time.

health running

Day352 tired

I am a bit under the weather, with dizziness and just lack of strength.

I thought I had lyme disease again, but I went hiking and was fine.

Last August, I had the similar thing and there was a hike called the Devil’s little stairs, and I couldn’t get up to it before fainting.

This past Labor Day weekend, I attempted the Little Devil Stairs again, I got up on it fine without breaking a sweat. I was up on top before I even knew it and without a break. My team and I went on to hike five or six more miles in the surrounding trails before heading back to our car.

But probably something is wrong with my body. It has been difficult running. I can only run about half a mile before getting tired. There is no more that natural pace where you could lock in and run forever. I used to be able to do that.

Now a day, I walk on most of the runs I did. It takes a long time. A two hour half marathon becomes a three hour event. A marathon becomes 7-8 hour thing.

Not sure what is going on. Have been wondering if I need a break.

I took a break over the summer too. 6 weeks without running. It got worse instead of better.

I checked my number though. The three previous years I only ran between 600-700 miles per year. This summer, I ran 1000 miles. I am attempting another 1000-1200 miles before the year ends. Numberwise, this is a lot of mileage.


Day351 Whatz now

It has been peaceful for me. Yes once the GSER and GVRAT were done, I started the CRAW (running around the world virtually) with 9 other people.

That what we have been doing, one virtual race after another.

But it is different. Once you do it with another person, training becomes fun again. We swap pictures and stories and make believed narratives as if we are running around the world.

I have always dream of running an epic relay race such as the Ragnar. However, it is hard to find runners to do it. Yes I know plenty of average 3-5K runners, but sometimes for big races like Ragnar, you need people with more durability. They know too, so don’t sign up to put themselves through the torture. Serious distance runners are harder to find. They don’t do your typical social hour runs. Their small runs last couple hours long and longer runs, are 10s of hours. You don’t get to see them much because they are out running all the time.

For my team/group, I picked up a motley crew. We are a week in and hanging there. We have put in 400 miles and that is impresive. One gal ran a marathon over the weekend. I meant to do one too but couldn’t get myself together. No complaint. We have a few ultra people on our team, and a few super fast people but short distance runners.

My desire was to do it with six people …ultra running this thing. Our ultra people haven’t break-out yet. Many were recovering from the last event and need time to build up their base mileage. Me too. I was out for six weeks, and need time to build back up. No more 50-60 mile runs on the weekend for now.


Day349 virtual races

This is not a typical blog entry I normally do. I just needed a place holder for a bunch of races I did for this summer – virtual races, that some would call them training runs. In truth, I didn’t run them as real races. I want them to be real races but they are really training runs. My time was 30-50% slower. I usually couldn’t do them the first thing in the morning as I would do for a real race (there would be so much more preparation I would do for a real race).

My thought though, I am glad for the virtual races. In Maine Coast, I got a medal, one of my proudest medals for a virtual race. DC Rock N Roll, that was a bit mess up. I thought I did it virtually but I had problem with the registration website (Active didn’t send me the link to change to it virtual, and still didn’t – now it is in limbo). I ran it but no medal.

Most of the runs were geared toward preparing for the Laurel Highland ultra but that race was moved to September. As an aside, after doing the GSER, I felt I was not ready for Laurel Ultra and deferred it to next summer to give me more time to train for it. All this should be for another post.

GSER – virtual race in Georgia. 100Mi, July 3-4 run1. June 1 to July 31 (but extended to August 31 run2, and reextended to September 30). run3?

–May 23: Long run#4, to Fairfax High, 41 miles

–May 17: Long run#3, 50k around Centreville, to Government center/Fairfax Corner

–May 9: Long run#2, to Springfield, 62 mi

–May 2: Long Run#1 to Reston, 42 mi.

–April 12 Long run#0, to Fairfax Border, 24 mi run

-April 4 – v race#3 – Roanoke Blue Ridge Marathon (virtual) 5:29, report, double marathon (5/9)

-March 28 – v race#2 – DC rock n Roll (virtual) 5:41, report

-March 22 – v race#1 – Maine Coast (virtual). 4:54, report


Lastly, I did the GVRAT (Tennessee virtual race). I should write up a report or entry for this. This race or event was epic. I felt so tired to sum it all up.

I don’t think I will ever do it, so I will write it here. It occured over the summer from May 1 to August 31. Basically, a race from a famous race director. I never dream to be able to run in one of Laz’s races. He is known as the creator of the world hardest marathon, called the Barkley Marathon. I have heard of it when I started running marathons (my brother-in-law kind of hinted this is what you want to do).

Then on May 1st, I got a facebook post from Bad Mike. I didn’t know Bad Mike or remembered him, but there was his facebook post, but I think I ran in one of his races last year (probably the one I really messed up on – I won’t say which one). I said cool, sign me up, I want to run across Tennessee. That same day, I got out during lunch and ran my first mile for it. It was a huge goal. I want to run across the continental US, so Tennessee is a good place to start. It was virtual.

So I started running. The race caught on by word of mouth across the US and the world and there were 19000 people signed up. He originally thought ony couple hundred people would do it (my bib was around 10000) and that was on May 1.

I am not saying it was easy, but in the end, I finished it in middle of June, way ahead of schedule. It was a relief. As I started running, it did not seem too daunting at all. We were required only 5 miles a day, and so I ran around 10-13 miles and were able to do it in less than half the time. There were people who could do it even in a week (Vol state) on a shorter course.

Many people started finishing early, and Laz added extra features to entice people to run twice or even three times across. People wanted to do it, Laz was just there to give it to them. There was one who did 7 crossings. For most though finished even 1 crossing was a huge accomplishment. We saw many non-runners attempted, your every day 5k moms and grandmas, and even pets (dogs). Sorry if I am being stereotyping. Laz said, the race is for them, your average joe to reach beyond what they think is possible. There were, of course, stellar ultra runners (I met my idol from BC, Canada, who did it).

For me, I only did 1 and half crossing (reached 1000 miles). This is the most miles I did in a year, and I did it over a few months! The last couple weeks I would have to run close to 500 miles to finish the double crossing. Originally, it was a cake walk to get a double crossing, but I laid low a bit. It was a scramble to do 250 miles in a week. My body was bad, due to a long break after finishing the first crossing, I had very little incentive to run. I was like 6 weeks inactive. Trying to get my body back into running shape was hard. Now about five-six weeks in again, my body felt better. I won’t say it was back to top shape, but it is near a running shape where I can do a half marathon easily every day. Well not easily, but getting there.

I managed to reach the 1000 miles.


Right at the end of GVRAT was the start of CRAW. There will be entries about the CRAW – this one is also Laz’s race, but around the world. The story has not ended. To be continue..


Day348 here I go

This was written in mid August as I was trying to get my body back in shape. I had stopped running for the longest time, about 6 weeks. At first I thought only couple weeks off after running the 100 mile. Once you stopped, it was hard to get back on the habit of daily running.

I had a lot to post then, this mini post didn’t make the cut. By the way, I finished the 1000 miles GVRAT. Enjoy.


I did my ‘first’ half marathon after a long break. It was ugly. 3 hrs. I walked the last two miles. For perspective, I used to run it in 2 hours or less.

Why the rush to rack up my mileage? I am still in the GVRAT race to run 1000 miles this summer. I am at 795 miles. So about 200 miles left in two weeks.

Secretly I want to do 2000 km (that is for this race 1270 miles). Realistically that is kind of out of my range to run 500 miles in two weeks. It means about doing 35 miles a day. I am struggling at even running 10 miles a day. Originally, it was very doable, to run about 6 miles a day, but I goofed off for about two months. Here I am, being so behind on my miles.

Today the first five miles was mostly running. I had it that I only walk only after every mile. I try to keep my walking short (30 sec to a min at most) then run another mile. This is almost an interval training. By mile three I was into it. I wish I could be back in shape and to able to run without stopping.

By mile 6, I reached my high. I felt shiver running across my skin. Yike.

By mile 10 I hit the wall. Normally this occurs at mile 18-22. All I could think of at the time was a nice can of soda. By mile 13, all hope is lost. I couldn’t breath. I was hyperventing. I walked all the way home.

Now had a nice cold shower and my body is refreshed.

Oh my body is aching all over. It is like back to what I used to be. My left ankle is also giving me trouble. I thought with two months of resting would get it to be as good as new, but there is something wrong. I rolled it back in June.

Will I see a doctor? No… I’m stubborn. I will limp and run on a bad ankle.


Day347 Run review – full report (GSER 2)

They say don’t try anything new on race day that you haven’t tested in the training. This is a lesson I learned. It is more than about the shoes.

I have gotten cocky after so many runs and thought I got it. So after so many successful runs, I broke many of the runners’ ‘rules’. It was also the sense of trying to break as many rules as possible–as long as the body is ready, run however you like was my take.

Careless thoughts like these led to not being able to finish the run in Atlanta this time. The main problem still was the shoes. If I had the right pair, all these issues didn’t matter much. However, I glad, the shoes problem helped me to examine a deeper issue of being a bit too casual attitude toward my runs.

I went to Atlanta for my second attempt to run a 100 miles knowing I was not as well as prepared as I did compare to the first attempt. I actually expected to last maybe until 13 miles (that was my pre-run excessment and what I told a friend).

This race report will be a long one to examine various points comparing this run to the last run I did back on July 2nd (Day316). Both were unsuccessful attempts at running my first 100 miler.

The thought of doing a 100 miler again is just mind blowing. I was nervous. However, I signed up already and had been doing longer runs over the summer. 40-50 miles no longer seem as daunting to me. Also having attempted the same course two months ago gave a sense of confident that as long as I control the variables that caused me to fail the last time, I have a good chance of getting this one done.

The run though was still daunting, however, it can be broken down to smaller pieces. I rationalized before doing it. It goes: The pace for finishing is very reasonable. As long as I maintaining a 3 mi per hour average (fast walk) I should be able to finish within 34 hours (note 33 x 3 is 99), and I have an hour to do the last mile, or still maintaining a 20 mins per mile pace, and have 40 mins to spare. To me this is doable, since, I normally run at 4-5 miles per hour. Even with my lower aerobic performance at the present, I was not too worry in hitting the required pace, and thus finishing.

What also gave me the confident to try again was I knew what caused me to fail the first time. Armed with the information, I prepared for the second attempt.

Preparation. The fault of last time was due to lack of preparation time the week before in getting a lot of race day essentials done and I wrote I should have the week before the race off. This time around, I had most of the week off leading to the run. It was a very low stress week – I went camping even at the start of the week and put in some extra training runs.

Maps/turn sheets/pace sheet. I had those from the previous trip. I reviewed them a bit. Many concerns about break locations/food were moot. Most of the logistics that screwed me were fixed. My phone was working the whole time. I had batteries for the flashlight. I had plenty of ziplocks to waterproof the phone. Lotion/sunscreen, etc were adaquately prepared. Same with shirts. See further section on food.

Start time. was as important this time around as the last time. Last time was a night start. It had its benefits being a cooler run at night, however, I had difficult time finding my way due to poor visibility. This time around, I chose a late morning start (9AM), and it was almost perfect. this was an almost, except being, I didn’t anticipate of arriving at Stone Mnt (mile 60) in the middle of the night for a night time ascend, if I had gotten there. However, no trouble in finding my way.

A better start time would probably have been 11AM-12 PM, so I would ascend Stone Mnt with some early morning light. Any way, with the morning start, all the way finding was super easy.

One of my big concerns was entering the Snope National Park for the trail portion, but with day time, this section was easy. I almost stumbled on a root for going too fast, but that was better than stumbling in the dark when you didn’t see them like last time. I felt extremely please at my start time.

Heat control. I was very careful this time watching myself for being too exhaustive. Heat was a big factor. I kept cool well and slow down when I had to. It was still a hot day, but was nowhere near a meltdown as the last time.

The biggest thing that bothered me last time was heat exhaustion. I ran on a very hot day on my first attempt. I worn the wrong clothes for the weather. This time, I got it right. Splashed plenty water on me all the time, drank up and right kind of fluid (not sodas). Nutrition played a big role. Plus the weather was maybe 20 degree cooler due to an aftermath of a hurricane in the Gulf. I was lucky on both counts, that it missed Atlanta (no rain) but a very cool and cloudy on my starting day.

Pace control. Unlike last time when I was in a constant panic, this time I was as cool as a cool cucumber – physically and mentally. Mostly I know how far and fast I need to go. Last time, I complained the turnsheet being inaccurate. This time I used the same turnsheet. I know some portions the distances were a little off.

Last time this drove me nuts, e.g., if you expect the next turn to be 0.1 mile away (about a block) and it turned out say 1 mile away, you would start panicking when the turn didn’t show up. Also, you anticipate your running pace based on the distance done. And you ran say a mile (20 minutes, but the turnsheet said you only did 0.1, and you would panic because in your mind your have goofed at least 15 minutes to go a 0.1 mile. So last time I was constantly behind ‘pace’ through making the wrong turns, plus the turnsheet under-reporting the miles. The pyschological load was very heavy that time. Not this time around.

My strategy was not to look at the turn sheet for pacing. I had my own spreadsheet. With the distance from my watch and the spreadsheet, I knew my pace. As I mentioned it needed only 3 mi per hour to be on pace. I was on pace (ahead actually) the whole time, so never really in a panic mode. Most of all I didn’t get lost. My ETA was 4-6 hours early.

Wayfinding/Navigation. Last time I had a physical paper map, a google map on my phone, plus the strava map. None of them worked well. This was all very complicated to keep track (constantly searching where am I on the various tools) because electronic never works when you need them to. I had some signal problem that time, and the phone crapped out.

This time, I kept everything simple. Not touching the phone, I had a map, but it was in my pack, didn’t need to use it, and only was using the turnsheet. The sheet was spot on. All the visual cue/clues mentioned in the turnsheet, which I missed the last time, I found them all this time. Again might be due to day time start.

Night blindness. I had this problem last time, when my flashlight was either too dim or too bright and I was blinded by it. I said I should wear an eye patch on one eyes to keep my night vision. This time, I had on a sunshades, and they help! Yes at night, and I was not blinded. Though I had a hard time seeing my phone screen (too dark to see).

TIME MANAGEMENT/MINIMIZED MISTAKES. Sum it all up, I was making much better time than the last time because I didn’t get lost even though I was running at a lower pace. The time was managed better and I was ahead all the time until toward the evening. Each stop were done efficiently. I skipped some stops I didn’t need. I knew exactly what I want at each stop. This minimized wasted time and gave more time for running.

MILE Mental game. I had a better mind game this time. Things were snowballing in a good way. Last times everything went wrong, because one thing had gone wrong. This time, one right thing led to another and they snowballed positively!

FOOD/DRINKS. This was supposed to be my key to finishing this race. It is all about the food. Last time, I didn’t had enough and it got me to hit the ‘wall’ after 45/50 mile mark. Though I went minimal that time on purpose! However, if you checked that race report, it was a disaster. This time I got this covered.

As for food and drink: I started with six lunch bags in ziplocks. Each of them have 3 oreos, two tubes of SIS instance boost (much much less sugar than other brands), a tuna pack, two slices of bread with peanut butter, three poaches of Welch’s fruit gummies. The bag totaled to 850 calories. Multiply by six, I got the whole race covered. Plus I decided to go with protein shakes instead of sodas and they added 200-300 calories during breaks. (Race needs 10k-11kcal, food I got had 6-7kcal, but good enough)

Some choices could be improved on, but lacking calories would not be the reason for not finishing. The result showed. Yes, I was super tired the next day, but after a night rest, I recovered from the run. I think the calories were enough that I was not as exhausted after the event as some other races.

PACK. My pack was a way too heavy for runners due to all the food I was lugging along, but that was okay. This was the only down side. If the run had continued, this might be the thing that breaks a camel’s back. We don’t know. My plan was the pack would get lighter as we go since I would be eating the food. This was untested. I really wish to be able to find out. What I do know, the next day, after the run, my whole upper body felt like I have gone through an intense work-out. The good sore. However, if I had pushed another 60 plus miles, I might be telling a different thing. A hint of what wad to come was, all my upper body muscles were sored and stiffed, I didn’t leave my bed until 3 pm the following day.

It’s good to note: I never trained to run with such a heavy pack before. This could be a key reasons I failed. I have been thinking a lot on this point. More on it later. I hiked with a pack, but not run. The pack was great by the way! At the time I quit, I was still doing strong with the pack. However it can’t be overlooked, the pack was a liability.

I could try better to lighten the load next time. Also train on running with a 10-15 lb pack would have helped.

Note too: I was hungry most of the time (this is very different from the first attempt). Oreos were a bit too sweet and sugary. I didn’t enjoy the tuna much. I didn’t eat as much as I anticipated.

Now we are ready to go into what derailed the race. So far, the pack, a goofed too earlier a start time, me being hungry, those were bad signs. This post has already been long enough so I will try to wrap it up.

The Shoes. What happened? As I mentioned in previous blog entries, I stopped the run after I felt it was impossible to go on. I had blisters on both of my feet and they were not getting better but worse. It was caused by bad shoes.

I am not blaming the shoes company. I wore this brand all these years. I had different models before, and love the company and shoes. I had no complaints.

I mentioned being carefree on the shoes. In the past, what was limiting me is my body and not the shoes. I could wear any kind of shoes and still could run (except of being barefoot).

For this race, I was not being cheap either. I used a new (newer) pairs. The previous run, I was using the oldest/most beat up pairs. That was frustrating. Now the lesson is: Wear what is tested. That was a big lesson.

The new pairs were not comfortable. I had it for a time already but had not used them much. The reason, now looking back they don’t fit my style of running. A lesson here too, we all run very differently. A shoes might fit someone well, but not me. That was my biggest undeclared assumption. Shoes can change the way you run.

You can’t force your feet to fit your shoes. It should have been the other way. Yes, I found out now, shoes need time to mold to your feet. No wonder old pairs did wonder on my first attempt, while this new pairs did not. This also goes into preparation, Wear your race pairs during training. It was obvious to me now.

As I said, I ran with a ruck (backpack) on this second attempt. I didn’t wear one in the first or on any training run. This also is my hubris, thinking, hey, you could sling anything on the back, as long as you have the strength, it is no problem. I’m strong. This couldn’t be farther than the truth. The Ruck changed my running form (gait). The shoes didn’t compensate for this shift, because I was not trained with a ruck. My shoes were not designed for this half/runninghalf hiking form (a pair boots would have done better). Also my foot tissues/muscles did not get strengthened to carry on the extra weight. No wonder I got blisters. When the weight came down, it just torn the tissue between my layers of skin (not immediately but over 10,000 steps). Water/fluid would build up.

Now you see, the shoes and lack of training with the added weight, as well as my attidude led to a disaster.

What did I do? I realized things were not right even on the eve of the start. I brought two pairs. Pair A and Pair B. I already really wanted to use Pair A, but it was uncomfortable. Pair B, is also uncomfortable in a different way (a bit too tight). A thought was to bring both, however, due to weight, I left Pair B behind. It might have saved my race if I wore Pair B or brought that along to switch out!

Funny story. I was at Buckhead, almost to the 50K mark and sitting on the side of the road to dress my feet because of the blisters. A ‘homeless’ guy came by and asked if I want to buy some performance shorts for a very cheap price. He knew I was excercising, and maybe my pairs were not ‘sports’. I really wanted to ask him if he has shoes for me to buy, or if he could trade his pairs for mine. (I think the guy was a drug dealer and shorts were a code word). Yet, the thought crossed my mind to ask him for his shoes.

Another funny story, I almost thought of running barefoot because the shoes were so uncomfortable. If I had a knife or scissors, I would cut open my shoes to relieve the pressure.

At first, I thought I could stand it. Then by mile 18 ish, after the Braves Stadium, my feet were getting hot. I stopped and changed socks. They were signs that blisters were forming. Mile 30 were when they got bad. They formed and I had to pop them. I was hopping, I only need to stop every 10-20 miles to adjust.

Mile 40, It grew worse. My speed was hampered by this now. Unless I took care of it, my race was in trouble. No solution other than to pop them and changed socks. By 45, nothing helped. I couldn’t walk due to the pain. I already stopped tooany times. I could force it, but my speed dropped below 2 now. There are 60+ more miles. I need to keep my pace at 3 to finish. Blisters grew worse. I was walking on a layer of liquid under my feet and this was painful. I felt every step. I popped them as frequently as I could but they continued to pool water. I was out of ideas. I did applied all kind of first aid lotions I had. I know, unless the root cause is solved, the race couldn’t continue. I was out of ideas.

Future solution would be: Have medical tapes to tape blister. Have a pair of scissors. Tape the feet. I had tape with me, but they wouldn’t do, because they were too short. I need long strips of medical tape.

I might also misused my shoes. I think mine was for trail running. The run I did in Atlanta was on road/concrete sidewalk. Boots and trail shoes have a stiffer bottom and usually known to cause blisters when running on road-like surfaces. I know hubris, I have been running with trail shoes on road all the time. However, what worked in the past might not work for ‘all’ trail shoes! This again is back to training. If I have done a shake down run with the shoes on training, the problem would have been caught.

Finally back to the shoes, I am not saying anything bad about this brand or this model. It could be I got the wrong size. I felt now my feet has grown half a size larger. Also this is true, long runs make the feet swell due to liquid pooling.

I hope this report provided a good post-mortem. With failure, there are a lot of second guesses and what-ifs. I should take the main points, and learn from them.

What so heart breaking for me is of all the reasons I anticipated for not finishing, it didn’t occur to me shoes would be the main culprit. Looking back, hindsight is always 20-20, with the fog of war lifted. Running besides the body’s ability is the shoes. Yet shoes were never a big concern to me. It was the body that always my limiting factor. This attempt was an eye-openner.

I have seen people running with blisters worse than I had. It is basically turning your mind off the pain…and be numbed by it. But it was very hard thing to do, when you still feel the pain at every step.

What caught me off guard was I never dealt with blisters like this before. I ran 50 miler before and even last time, I put in 70 miles, no blister. There were small ones, but not one that covered half of my foot and both feet. This experience I could use. I read about it and now finally experienced it and should be better prepared against it.

CONCLUSION. I really enjoyed the second run this time around. Mentally, I didn’t have the pressure of last time. That is the good thing about running. It supposes to take your mind off things. I was out there for 15 hours and the time went by fast. I didn’t feel tired or exhaused, but energetic. For a run, usually I settle into a groove and my mind would wander and I would be in the most wonderful place. Yet 15 hours felt so short and I was still expecting to settle in and enjoy. My mind did not wander away at all. I was on task the entire time, yet was not stressed out. This was totally different from the first attempt where I was not able to focus, and was stressed out. I felt I had not even shown my stuff – truly running!

I wish I could have gone a bit farther like 20/25 or even 40 more miles more if not for the feet. At least that what I expected that I would die out from being physical worned rather than something lame (pun).


Day346 back to normal

It felt weird, now things are back to normal. Couple days ago, I was in Atlanta doing this run. It was not really my life goal. Yet I poured in energy and time for whole summer. It could have been the capstone for this summer.

I don’t know what to think of it but to move on. It was a nice experience. I learned more about ultra running when I thought I knew already so much.

It is different from doing ultra training runs in my own neighborhood than going to a place like an actual race and do it. The stake is higher. Everything before was a test run and this time is for real.

They say to train your run like if it is a real event. Mental barrier is real. It is hard to fool the mind.

What all the rambling is about? I don’t know, they are a bit of reflection on the Alanta run. I have a race report 99% done. While I ran last night, I discovered a few more things that I want to incorporate into the report.

A preview of it, is the previous blog entry I wrote immediately afterward. It is the shoes, but I found deeper things/insight than that. It has to do with training and preparation.

A thought too, there always plenty of reasons for why something didn’t happen. I could write a book on it – like the Fall of Rome. Eventually, I got to move on.


Day345 The run

Just in case some of you wonder if I finish the 100 mile run, no, I stopped after 15 hours into it. I was stuck at mile 45 for an hour and the prospect to go any further was impossible.

The blisters on my feet were getting worse. This was not from the poison ivy. Those blisters were pretty much healed. They were the new blisters formed from wearing a bad pair of shoes that I couldn’t break in.

Shoes I realized need a break in period…This pair were not that comfortable… I ran maybe 50 miles on them last week, and I thought that would do.

Why do I wear them? Inexperience. In all my 4 years of running, I never had a bad pair. I became so good with just wearing any pair that I started to buy them online. This is the first pair that I didn’t really like and racing in them were that. Every mile was uncomfortable.

I might have gotten the sizing wrong. Or it was just the wrong kind of shoes. It says neutral support for running. Normally, I need bit of arch support. These shoes are almost completely flat and hard. It was like running on a pair of wooden sandals. The shoes wouldn’t bend with me. It was driving me nut.

10:30 pm – Where I stopped to dress my feet for the hundred times (maybe the 3rd time). This is on Piedmont, couple blocks from Georgia’s Parlement house/State house whatever they call it. I was able to run a few more miles before ultimately decided to give up by midnight (I wasn’t moving fast, basically limping). The city was very quiet.

Not sure I am ready for a proper review on the run. I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I felt I got things right this time except for the shoes…I didn’t mind them, till they gave me blisters…I ran with blisters before…Any way, I will save it (like what did to fix the issue) for a full report.

health running

Day344 A second attempt – about to start

I am a few hours away from starting the run. As of right now I just woke up and still am very comfortable on my bed in the hotel near the airport. By the way, after having been of other city airport hotels, this is one of the best! It is comfortable and inexpensive and you don’t hear the take offs and landing or airplane flying over. How do they do it? I found out they originally were a Motel 6, but they renovated it and upgraded all around. It is on the level of Comfort Suites. It is part of the Quality Inn chain, but the quality I am getting is way higher than all the Quality Inns I stayed at. I just love the hotel and want to sleep in. I paid for four nights, but tonight I won’t be there!

Ideally I should have started the run yesterday because it was cooler and the chance of encountering rain storms during the run was lower (30% chance only), but today and tomorrow, my chance of running into a storm is around 50%. They are leftovers from Cat 4 Laura that made landfall in the Texas/Lousiana region couple nights ago.

However, I was not ready yesterday. I had not reviewed the map then and had not decided on the starting time. Since the starting time would determine the ending time, it needed to be chosen carefully.

Last time, I started in the evening at 6 pm and was aiming to finish at 4 am two days later. I thought of doing so again and maybe moving up the starting time by a few hours.

I woke up late and had company’s work to do. It was my day off but I didn’t finish those stuff on the day before my trip (computer issue kept me from doing them – it decided to run an update when I tried to do my work before my flight! My frustration level was through the roof). So I spent the morning doing my work. I was not done until 2 pm. I then went for lunch. I knew the run was not happening because I had not packed yet! I got everything laid out, but still did not have my runner pack in a final ready to go condition. 100 mile requires careful consideration of what to take a long.

Then I decided to go to Walmart to get a watch (you know the cheap one that have a stop watch feature?) but as I got there, I forgot all about getting a watch but instead got a lot of stuff for dinner and food for the run and food to eat after the run! I brought $30 worth of junk food. I probably wouldn’t finish them all – 7 cans of spagetti, lot of fruit cups, oreo cookies, packs of juicy fruit candies, instant cup noodles, package tunas and more. The watch would let me calculate the interval (time of a shorter distance, say 10 or 20 miles) during the run because I don’t want to mess with my main watch since that will track the overall 100 mile distance. Not having a spare watch is not a problem. I could still do it in my head and with paper and pen, it just a lot burdensome.

When I got back to the hotel, I separated the food that I will take along into 6 ziplock bags. The goal is to eat a bag for every 6 hours (6 bags for 36 hours). I counted up each bag to have around 850 calories. I have six of these. This is much better than my last attempt. Last time, the whole run I only carried about one bag calories of food and ended up only eating about 10% and the rest of my calories came from sugarly drinks and I felt it affected my performance. First not enough, so I was dying halfway. I remembered my heart was racing crazy from the energy drink yet I didn’t have the power to run, and I was drained. I was so scared that I didn’t want another Powerade. It was not fun when your heart was about to explode and the lung was collapsing. Breathing hurt that time. I hope to avoid that mistake.

Because I will be carrying so much food (6 meals), I am bringing my big bookbag. They won’t all fit in the smaller pack. It is a daypack from my hiking trip. It is heavy. Very heavy. I don’t like running with such a heavy pack! But I need the food, unless I have someone to carry them for me. This is why I wish I have local support crew (aid stations). Otherwise, I could leave all the food/drinks with my crew and they just have to show up at a given interval and give me the food. Last time I was hoping the stores along the way would be my aid station. However, drinks were easy to come by but not food! They had candies but no real food. Real food were out of the way and I didn’t want to take a detour.

I think the food I am bringing along will be enough. It still is less than what my body will consume though. Every 6 hours my body will be burning 2000 calories and I am giving back only at most 1000. I plan to buy muscle milk and yogurt along the way, they will add couple hundred of calories. No more sodas this time around. They have to be high caloric drinks. I know I will still shutdown after halfway, but at least I hope it will give me enough to press on.

I checked the map afterward packing. I am not too worry. I wish still I had memorized the turns. We do what we have to do.

As for start time. I’m moving it up real early to 9/9:30 AM with the aim of finishing at 7:30 pm on Sat night.

That was the main reason I couldn’t set off yesterday. I was already behind the start time once I figured I wanted a morning start instead of an afternoon/evening start.

Having an extra day, physically was a good thing. My poison ivy infection is getting better. My left leg is almost completely healed of the ivy reaction. My right leg started to get worse on my flight to Atlanta and yesterday the bumps (30+) started weeping/oozing, that is good, it means they will be healing soon. It was what I was concerned about that the blisters from the ivy will break during my run and the friction from repetitive foot moment will agitate the wounds and they would get infected. Now they broke while I am still at the hotel. I washed and cleaned them with the poison ivy specialty soap. I should be ready for the run. I believe they will dry out during the run.

Only last concern is my cardio aerobic performance. It degraded a lot compare to last time. Those who have been following my blog know I was struggling with my runs. My feeling is I can only do 13 miles at most and probably drag it out to 26. I don’t know if I will even reach 50, much less get to 100. That is a realistic assessment. I know it is bad luck to envision failure even before starting.

I do want to get to the 100. It is a long shot. Even when I was in my peak, that was very hard (in the realm of impossible) thing. Now I am four times worse. Only way to find out is go out and try. I am very nervous.

food: My main secret to get through the run
life running

Day343 Atlanta here I come

Ready or not here I come!

I am not ready, but I am going. About 7 weeks ago (July 1/2), I was in Atlanta to run the Great Southern Endurance Run (GSER). I was only able to do it halfway and vowed I will be back to finish it.

Here goes, this weekend I will be there to redo the run. However, I feel totally under-prepared.

I am not as frantic as the last trip there. I don’t know why. I am even less prepared than the last time. I reread my blog of my trip last time…and I said I will do better in term of preparation, like taking the week off before the trip…change my sleep time to adjust for overnight running, pack the stuff I need for the runs (last time was last minute packing and I forgot certain things like lipbalm, sunblock lotion), get a better map and turnsheet, laminate the turnsheet, and many other things.

I have done none of that. I am just showing up to wing it! I told my friend I probably give up at the 13th mile this time around.

Any way, I will be flying out soon in couple hours. My run will probably be tomorrow. I could start at any time (it is a virtual race), but once it is started, I have to stay to finish. I am picking for the best day to start…Thursday or Friday? I am also thinking for a day time start instead of a night time.

I want to lean toward a Friday start. I will check the weather tomorrow and then decide.

It is sad to see an empty airport here at Dulles International! Just like last time. I bet though Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International will be crowded.

Worries? I have a lot. Mainly it is the D*** poison ivy. I am much better. The blisters have stopped oozing. I am using a type of soap that basically said take 2 days to heal. I am on the 2nd day. They still itch but much less (90% less). The itch drove me crazy before the medication. But still, yesterday, a whole bunch of blisters/boils popped up on my other foot. I applied the medication. They have not started oozing yet. It might take two more days for this foot to heal. However, I will be in the middle of the run by then…so the blisters might get infected during the run. Right now they are about to pop, so I am very nervous to run with a bunch of those. It is very uncomfortable. I would take a picture, but it will gross you out! That is my worry.

I had a history of bad allergic reaction to poison ivy. This time the overcounter medication seems to be able to suppress it. However, I hope it won’t break out while I am in Atlanta…ya, the last couple times I had poison ivy, I had to go see my family doctor for antibiotic to stop it. I won’t able to do that while in Atlanta.

Coronavirus: Virginia number is half of that of Atlanta (Georgia). It has come down a bit but the number is like last time when I went to Atlanta (on July 1). Riskwise should be the same as last time.

How do I feel? Not stressed. I felt I have to do it, like an obligation. So I will face all kind of ‘adversities’ and get worked up, and interfere with many other people (coworkers) to have this trip done. The truth is its not. This is a pleasure trip.

On a happy note…for me at least, is when I get back I will start the next wild thing. We will run across the world! (virtually). I am really looking forward to that. For a week (3 weeks actually) I thought no one would want to run with me, but I found 9 random people yesterday (well not me, they found me) and we are doing it! We are running as a team, and we need 10 people because that was a requirement. They are from all over the places, some from Texas, Florida, England, etc. I couldn’t keep track of all their names.