day287 50K around Centreville

[old post] I wrote this up to recap last weekend run. Boy don’t they come fast. Happy Memorial Day!

I did a 100k the week before, so it was no surprised I tried a 50K the following weekend. I started to be more familiar with the roads around my neighborhood and a few nearby neighborhoods as well. I am always searching for a new place to run.

I did a virtual marathon couple months earlier when we first started the shelter in place Centreville [Marathon]. Originally, I had no name for this 50K, but Centreville 50K seems appropriate, though the race went through Chantilly and Fairfax as well. It was not a virtual race, I didn’t attempt any virtual race when I started out. I have started to run high mileage, and so hearing 50k doesn’t daunt me as they used to be. A 50k was just another run.

I started to enjoy the longer runs more because I am not dying during a long run. There is this point they call it the wall when your body is out of energy (glycogen) and it has to either convert your muscle cells to energy, which is typically the case or to convert fat cells (as I read it somewhere) to energy. It hurts and you can’t run fast and if you are dehydrated, you can’t think well either. You feel really mess up. So most people hate hitting the wall.

But now, not every long run will cause me to experience hitting the wall. Maybe I am better at constantly fueling the body with high sugary drink and food. That is a great feeling when you could run indefinitely and not feel tired. Quite a contrast from before. If you read my first couple virtual marathons, they were a struggle to finish. Now, it is like running a 5k or 10k for me. Well almost.

It was a low key 50K run. I knew it would be a long run 20+ miles but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. My weekend plan like any other weekend was to run until I drop.

The mind is a funny business. If I feel a hard run is coming up, I would avoid doing it. I woke up pretty early. Thinking back, there is no need to fear a long run. However, I was putting the run off the whole weekend. I was going to go out at 7-7:30 and have it done but it took me the next five hours to get myself out. First I told myself, I had to have breakfast. Then I did various stuff including uploading my blog. I delayed further by browsing on the facebook page. There are so many people showing various places of where they were running and I could not separate myself from it. Then I started to feel hungry again, so I said I need to eat again, since it would be a long run, you need a lot of food for energy. Ended up, I didn’t step outside until 12 pm.

Luckily I had all my runner pack and snacks all ready the day before because I wanted to do the long run originally on a Saturday, but my body didn’t feel ready. The 12 miles on that Saturday was a struggle. How I hated that run. This run though was a breeze.

Sunday run was totally different even though I started late. I knew it the moment I started running. Usually I need 2-3 miles to warm up to pace. There was no struggle at all, I was in my rhythm and on pace right at the beginning. It is a long run so my pace was slow but it was not dragging slow like on Saturday. You can tell. My breathing was better. I was not struggling for air. My legs were fine. They were not heavy. There was no pain or discomfortable anywhere.

The idea was distance. I need lot of them. This one was to rack up ton of mileage (I am in a 1000k virtual race and need a lot of mileage during the weekend to keep my standing). With the late start, destination run was out of the equation. I wouldn’t have the time to finish the run if I were to head for Reston or to Springfield unless I am willing to come home the next morning and the next day is a work day, so it was out of the question. My boss wouldn’t be pleased if I had showed up half dead. Destination runs would take more than a day. I decided to just run a boring loop. In the end it was a hybrid. I combined the routes of the last three weekend runs together. It was a mini destination run to my old neighborhood. The idea hit me while I was in the run itself.

I ran down on Stone road as I usually do. It was quite familiar to me, having done so many times in the past two months. Stone road became West Fields and then became Walney until I reached Lee Jackson Memorial. While from time to time I would make some loops into the neighborhood, which I also quite familiar now, to rack up the mileage. I was able to turn what normally a 4 mile run into a 12 mile run, that takes skill! That was my first leg. That was quick impressive to make a run three times as long in a relatively short stretch of the road. Apparently a coworker of mine saw me on the road, and she later emailed me about it. At the time, I was totally focused on my run.

As usual I made a pit stop at my mom’s place. She was home and I was able to top off on food and water and I stayed maybe 20-30 mins.

By then I already had in mind where I wanted to go. The time was after 3 pm. It was late but not too much. I was not pressed for time because now the sun doesn’t set until 8:30 and doesn’t get dark until after 9 pm. I have plenty of daylight. I wanted to head to my old place where I lived during my high school years. It is about 4-5 miles away and I planned to do loops there (at least once) at the ‘government center’, that is what that area is called. It started as the Fairfax county government center but now it has been redeveloped as a commercial and hip residential place. I feel our county is rich enough to rival our state government, that it even has it own district, very similar to our nation government district (in DC). I grew up running loops in this place (of course back then it only had only one road and now it is a whole maze).

That was my aim. I knew I could get 15-20 miles from going this place easily.

I took a new way there by using the county parkway. Instead of strictly following it like the previous week when I ran to Springfield, I took some turns. At first I ended up in an unfamiliar neighborhood since they had redeveloped the place. The street name was familiar though. I ran down Monument drive. After couple miles I came out to the area I recognized.

I drank too much water before the run and I needed to make a pit stop. Only store I could think of was to go into the grocery store. At the same time I could refresh myself with drinks and snacks.

I ordered a cold chocolate mocca, but because I had my face cover on, the lady gave me a hot one instead due to the confusion of the word ‘ice’ and ‘white’. Beat me how that two words get mix up. The outside temperature was pretty warm and I was dripping with sweat. Oh well let not give her a hard time. She did repeat my order couple times, it was like do you really want this drink and I thought I’ve heard her but in the end she still got it wrong. Maybe because people don’t drink coffee that late in the day. Hot and cold though was in a different catagory.

There marked the end of my second leg. I was hoping a quick in and out to use the bathroom and then top off with some liquid and calories and be on my way. Now I had a big cup of hot liquid in my hand. I couldn’t run unless I drink some of it and it was too hot to just gulp it down. I went out. They had a park nearby with benches. I sat on one of them and watched the traffic and enjoyed my hot brew. It was most relaxing part of the run to say the least.

Once my coffee was done, I hit the road again. Spinned around the government center. I used the old 5K race (PR birthday bash/Run Your Hear Out) route there. I finished in the shopping center and there were a few employees from a restaurant on break and they clapped for me as I went by to the invisible ‘finish line’.

By then it started to get late and I headed back home following almost the same way as I came. No stop for a 2nd cup of coffee. My mom was no longer there to answer my call either when I passed by her place. I was a bit disappointed. I carried enough water on me though. I zigzagged the remaining miles to get 31 miles out of the run.

At the last couple miles, I passed by a thai restaurant. It has been my habit to eat at a Thai place on my run. So I went in and ordered the usual Tom Yum Soup and Thai icetea. I really need to learn how to make these. I saw you can order the powder on Amazon. Any way I told the guy, I am going to run home and come back with my car. So I finished my last couple miles in my fastest time and it was the most motivated mile ever! I wanted to take a shower too when I got home, but I didn’t want my food to get cold.

I mentioned in another post the down side of having the long run on Sunday was there no time to wind down afterward. I got my food around 8:30. I went and did grocery shopping and I think I didn’t get to eat until 9-9:30. Then with stretching and showering and cleaning up, it was midnight by the time I went to bed.

The worse thing was that late afternoon coffee kept me up until 2 AM. I don’t know when I felt asleep, but I felt I was awake the whole night. Luckily I was fine the next day. I was a bit tired in the morning but it was a satisfying run.

Watch data with map. 7:47 hrs and 31.5 miles



Day286 Night Run

Sometimes I have a lot on my mind and running helps sort those out. Tonight was the opposite. I wish I have something to think about but my mind was peaceful as a calm lake.

The run finished quick. It still took over two hours but I didn’t feel it was a drag. A night like this I could run forever. I always like night run.

When I started running in my neighborhood few months ago after the stay at home policy went into effect. There was some trepidation about running alone in an empty street. It took some time to get used to it. I used to run in downtown DC and there are always people no matter how late. But it is different out here in the suburb. Things get quiet real fast after sun down. I kind of like it now. It is just me and the pavement and occasionally a car passes by.

Most sections are dark. In some neighborhood there are street lights but not everywhere. There are places like interstate exits or entrances or under the underpass, there is no street light. There is a section where it is completely dark. I can’t see anything. So I have my handheld flash light and sometimes I double up with a headlamp. I found running in the dark is kind of cool because I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how dark, I will reach a place where there is light soon. That kind of thoughts cheer me up.

Is it dangerous? Sure it is. On couple occasion I tripped and fell. It hurts for sure. I never fell real bad though. Another kind of danger is being run over by car. This is more a problem during day time than at night. Cars do not really see runner. I have many times crossing the road and a car would turn right in front of me. I had one time being right in front of one and the car drove on. I was quick to leap out the way. Most drivers look to their left instead of right. So I would be in their blind spot if I am crossing from their right to left. This had happened quite enough time now I would stop at the intersection and wave at the driver to make sure I have their attention.

Tonight run was short. I have double up the mileage after couple days of rest. It felt good to able easily handle a half marathon each night. A year ago, it was unimaginable that I could do that.

Watch data: 13.14 miles in 3:10 hours.
I stopped at my mom’s place for dinner. The watch kept going because I don’t believe in pausing the timer.

I was able to ponder on the pastor yesterday message but it will take too long for me to write it out. I will save it for another post. I got to say, I love virtual church. I attended the Bible study class yesterday night while outside running my half marathon. I wish to be able to do this from now on. Save so much time. It was a zoom video meeting call too. I kept the phone in my pocket though.


day284 weekly run summary

Monday-Sunday. 0 6 6 6 6 12 31

Total for the week: 67

GVRAT: 229

I am so near to 270 miles. Hopefully by the end of this week, I should get pass it because it means there are only 1000 miles left on the challenge. By Saturday there are 100 days left on the challenge.

Runing about 10 mi/ day will get me there. The current projectory is about Sept 3, 2020, when I will finish.

I’m debating with myself if I should run today. I felt sleepy mostly but my body seems fine now.

I ran a 50k. I was still fresh and wanting to go for a 60K but dinner got in the way. It was still early too, only 8 pm at the time. I felt I could squeeze the last 10k with 2 hrs left in the day. I didn’t. Instead I did food shopping and cleaned up and ate. A reason I don’t usually have the long run day on a Sunday, I feel I won’t get enough rest afterward.

watch stat. 70 miles of weekly total. I rounded down on my set

day283 run

I was trying to run a bit farther yesterday, but my body gave out after 6 miles. I have been conditioning to do 6 miles every day and yesterday it bonkered on me after 6 miles. I dragged it out to 12.

watch stat: 12.5 in 2:37 hrs

It was hot even at 6 pm! Last weekend I was freezing and this Saturday I was near melt down. It could have been worse.


day280 Fall plan, 24 hr run likely

I got another email of a race being canceled or moved to a virtual race. I elected to do it virtually.

This race, Parks Half Marathon, is scheduled for early September, but the race organizer couldn’t secure the necesssry permits for it at this time due to all the closings. It is possible that by September, things start to ease up, but when you plan a race, it is usually a few months to a year in advance. As of right now, the location of the race is on MD park and MD recreation and parks has no foreseeable date on the reopening.

This is in a way a good news for me because after signing up for the Parks Half Marathon last year (I signed up my races a year in advance too), another race director, whom I truly enjoyed his events last year, revealed about hosting a 24 hour race and I really wanted to do it except that it falls on the same weekend. I follow the policy of first come/first serve to avoid all the ‘drama’ of shifting dates around – so if a race is on my calendar, I try not to move it. I believe if you move it once, you gonna move it twice, so it is better not to move it in the first place. I have gazzillion races on the calendar, moving one will neccessitate of moving a bunch of other stuffs, someone will cry when that happens.

Someone will definitely cry. We (couple of my running buddies) have an annual 9-11 memorial 5K run that weekend too, so if I am shifting my races around, I won’t be making to that run either. We will see. That race draws a huge crowd, and so it is likely to be canceled too, then I have a perfect excuse to skip town 🙂

The cancellation of the Parks Half Marathon opens up for me to do the 24 hour race. I am excited because I always want to test my limit and I have not done one before. I am on the wimpy side and need my sleep every night. I too am easily fall asleep, even if while standing up. A 24 hr will indeed be a challenge for me not to fall asleep. The race director even offers saying there will be a ‘resting’ area for those who want to take a nap, that is just too tempting.

Other fall plans: Run the JFK 50 again. This time I am not scare. People have started to train for it (24 weeks out). Another race is the Philadelphia Marathon on the same weekend Nov 22, I think. My running buddies are doing that and very tempted to join them. I am also thinking of Gettysburg Marathon on Oct 18. Very tempted to sign up. In the past, I would already have done so, but now, with the virus around, all traveling plans are on hold.


Day279 weekly run summary

Indeed a week already.

I ran so much I lost count in my head. Luckily they’ve all been tracked and logged. weekly Total 103 mi. GVRAT: passed 160 miles. My goal is to get to 270 miles, then there would only be 1000 miles left.

Monday – Sunday: 6, 6, 6, 7, 4, 62, 12

I have been writing every day about my run, even though I promised only to do it once a week to avoid you readers of getting bored with me going on and on about the same thing, but I just can’t help myself.

I am doing about almost the same number of runs as before. They are really training runs. Yet last two months has been a struggle to get my training in. All sudden this virtual race came on. It was not like other virtual races which were like a consolation price for not able to do the actual race, but they have too many medals around and had to do something about them. This virtual race is the first of its kind. There are so much energy and passion in this one. Many people from around the world join in. We met in Facebook and posted on our runs and stories daily. We Virginians are well represented. I am proud to put in my run numbers.

High numbers too I put in. I ran my first 100K over the weekend. It was killing two birds with one stone. I have beem wanting to do a 50 mile / or a 52 mile (double marathon run) since I scheduled both of these two as real races but both were canceled. The double marathon was initially scheduled for April 18, and The 50 miler was initially scheduled for May 3. I have been attempting to put in a 50 mile run over the last 3 weeks but chickened out usually at the last minute.

One thing about running is it is the hardest to taking the first step, which is so true for me. As long as I get myself out the house, I can run, but before then, I hate thinking about how hard it is going to be and how much time it would take, and ended up, I ended up sleeping in instead of doing the run. 50 mile run needs a lot of time 13-15 hours for me. I don’t want to start at 10 o’clock and come home at 1 or 2 am in the morning. It has been a struggle for me to get myself out of the house before 10.

However, the Great Virtual Race Across Tennesee (GVRAT) changed my mindset completely. I can’t wait to run out of the house every morning. By 7, I am out the house, some day it was cold, but still, I was out there. Some day, I was too tired, but I was out there. Sometimes, I dare not wait to change into to ‘run outfits’ for fear I would change my mind on the run. I rushed out the door in the clothes I’d worn to bed the night before. Only thing matter was to run, and to record the run.

How is my body holding up? I think it needs a blog post all to itself. I have not broken anything. It was nothing I couldn’t handle. I had a blister from last week. Still I hadn’t taken care of it. They say you have to pop it. I hate popping thing. So it has been with me on one of my toes. It bothered me on my run sometimes, but I can tolerate it. I don’t claim I have high tolerant for pain, but this minor thing, I can stand.

It is still too early to evaluate how my body is handling thing. I hope to come back at the end of the month and check again. So far body is strong. After a sleep, it recovers. Sunday has been rough, the day after the 100k long run. I slept the whole day to recover and only got up for my meals and slept again. Only until the evening came, did I got up for good and put in the day run (12 miles). The funny thing is all the tireness gone as soon as I started running, and came back once I stopped. I guess I could keep running!

So my body is worn. Every time I move, my bones crack. It is like cracking the knuckles. It felt good afterward. I know when joints crack like that is not good. My hip cracked when I moved it. My ankles too. My whole body actually. Every turn I make had noise. I like to stay in bed and stretch and hear them crack. I feel though week #2, is easier than the first week.

There are so many things I want to write about, especially on the last long run. 63 miles, there’s a lot to talk about. They will have to wait for another day. That’s it for now. Hope everyone have a good week.


Day278 Fairfax County Parkway Run

Run yesterday 62; GVRAT total 149

Last couple weeks I ran north on the County Parkway to Reston. Yesterday I decided to run south, since the starting of where I entered the highway is at mile marker 26. I figured if I run south, I would have a marathon distance. Doing an out and back would give me a double marathon with change.

I enjoyed my runs to the north but not so much to the south because they were hardly any people on the trail. It might be because yesterday was kind of cold, 34 F (near freezing) in the morning and later got up to the high 40s.

Amazingly the cold and blustery wind didn’t bother me that much. I dressed well, with gloves, and face buff.

Some sections of the trail need to be repaved because roots are starting to take over and creating uneven surfaces. I saw bikes rather go on the road than on the trail. Also some places need better signage. Most of the trail has no street lights, making it unfavorable to ride on it at night.

Enough said, I felt I was the only one on the trail. Not that it bothered me, it is better to run alone. Yet I felt mostly bored since the scenery was about the same. There were no businesses, no house, and mostly devoid of people. The 20+ miles were hardly developed in term of businesses unlike the northern section. There are some rich estates. Maybe that the reason they like being in the remote area and away from the bustling of city life.

My goal was to get to Springfield from the County Parkway. It was a long way. I followed the mile marker until at mile marker 5, so technically there were few more miles to go. The trail was diverted to somewhere. I didn’t try to find out. I reached where I wanted to reach, that is, what used to be called Springfield Mall, now it is Springfield Town Center. The mall of course was closed due to the shelter at home policy. I had lunch from a nearby Thai carry-out.

After my late lunch (4:30 pm), it was a long way home. I didn’t reach home until 15 mins before midnight. I have been out on thr road for 16+ hours. My mind and body was about to shut down.

County Parkway southbound. It was an euphoric moment to reach this point where the highway split, because in the past, I have always driven here in a car and have found the trip long. So here I was that I ran the whole way!
The County trail diverts into the local neighborhood from time to time. I have arrived at my final destination, Springfield mall, which is about a block away, along with the Metro station (light commuter rail). My family was asking if I am taking the rail back home, now I ran 33 miles.) I told them I plan to run back on my return trip.
On a normal weekend there won’t be any parking spots available. There are some cars now and they got my hope up that the mall was open. Unfortunately, the mall was locked. Cars were probably employees of from the restaurants there, because they can still be open for take-out orders. It was an anticlimatic as I turned back around and run 7 hours back home. I was hoping for some good food at the mall.
Around 8-8:30 pm now, and I was happy finally to reach this part. This is the exit off the County Parkway toward my old house. I was getting off here too. I think the mile marker is 20, there is about 13-14 miles to home. The rest of the way, I could run with my eyes closed.
The picture was taken on an earlier as I was passing by and heading out to Springfield. These new homes are built on what used to be a church. One thing I like to do when I am on a run is to look at the architecture. It saddened me that the church is no longer there as I was looking for it. Granted it is not any 200 years old church like in DC, and there is no law requiring preserving this little history. I felt a bit of my childhood is lost. The neighborhood is transforming. Our county is growing at 16% in population per year, and there is not enough housing. Only way is tear down the old and replace them with the new.
watch stat. 16 hrs. I got lost for 2 hours. It should be one straight way of out and back, but you see on the map a bulge in the middle section. I was wandering about at that point looking for the trail and for a place to eat. A future goal is to do 100k under 14 hours.

Day276 the other side

total 7. GVRAT total 83

I thought it would be a quick one. I had on road shoes today instead of trail. For six days I wore trail shoes (my usual get to), but I have been running on road (sidewalks). So today, I said why not switch it up, let wear the road shoes since I am going to be on the road any way.

Lo and behold, my impulsive self decided to head off to a different direction and I ran in the park instead. It is mostly paved but there were sections where there was the creek crossing and mud and of course trail. I haven’t been back to this neighborhood park for couple years. It was actually big enough to get lost in. I laughed at my own irony of wearing a pair of road shoes and running on the trail. Afterward it was just a muddy mess. Ruined them.

I had fun and ran relatively fast. I felt fast though my clock said otherwise. I think running is a mental thing. I no longer care what my watch says any more. Every year it says I am getting slower, but my brain is saying I am running fast. It is an area I rather not let science / data telling me what to do 😉 Let not follow the data here.

The park is beautiful. I didn’t know Centeville has something like this. I always we are a bunch of herd they tried to cramp as many people in a tiny area. Yet there this big parks with many acres of land with nothing but fields, streams and trails. They do have big mc mansions around. Ha, I didn’t know Centreville has those either. The park is like their backyard. Probably is paid by the county too. What a deal. It is the other side of Centreville!

Body wise: It is getting better. It heals up rather quickly. I am not that young any more, and I am glad to see it snaps back. Now I have to do this over again for the next 14-15 weeks until I reach 1270 miles (Note I found out the actual distance is 20 miles longer than I thought).


day275 normal run

Day 6 into GVRAT. Put in 10k this morning. GVRAT is about 76 ish. I lost track. There is a site to log all this. I am aiming for 1250 miles, so it is still couple weeks away to reach 10%. I passed the 5% mark!

I tried not to look at the ranking or streak. This is an individual race and challenge. I am dropping on the ranking now because other ultra people are putting in 15-20+ miles everyday. That was my earlier goal, but it is hard to do.

I’m no longer at 75th or even 125th. I might drop down to 500 or lower. I knew that. I hope to be part of the 10% group. With 17000 people signed up so I am looking 1700-2000th place, which is good enough for me.

I am barely maintaining my miles. Supposingly to average about 10 miles a day to make it to the finish line on time. So far day six with 70+ miles in is good. I hope to build in a buffer in case I need to take a day off or so. I hope to have a day off every couple weeks.

My body starts feeling it. This morning though, I didn’t need a booster to get me out the door. I woke up and ran out the house.

However, afterward, was more a walk. I did run some. I tried to run more on the uphills.

The body is trying to recover from the weekend run. I hope it will be soon, so I could put on another high mileage weekend. We’ll see.

It is a four month affair, so pacing is important to get myself to the finish line.

I plan to go on location for the last 100 ish miles either in July, on 4th weekend, or in August, Labor Day. Will write more about when the time comes.

Mile 4 of my 6 mile run. My lovely neighborhood. Nothing much to see, but it is breath taking to look at after a run up the hill and you can see the valley kinda of all the shops in Centreville. Cloudy today with a bit of early morning mist

day274 run and rocket

run 6 mi; GVRAT: lost count ~70 I think

Today run was in no way easy. I remembered the encouragement from the race director who wrote something about getting the first step in and it gets easier once you started.

I didn’t want to leave my bed this morning. I am no longer a morning person. I like to stay in bed as long as I can. And can sleep until noon everyday if allowed to. However, real life won’t let you stay in bed.

So, I got up and ran, admittedly it wad not really, something I have to do, but I needed to get it done so I can do everything else. Off I went. It was 10 degs cooler, probably like 5 for the rest of the world using Celsius.

I walked the first mile. My bones and all my body felt worn. I skipped dinner last night and instead had two bowls of icecream. They didn’t give me the carb I needed. It was not until mile 3 I felt my blood flowing and my legs freed up.

There’s always consequences. They say runners can eat anything. It is not true. Not having the energy when you need it is not fun.

I was thinking about rockets and stuff, maybe influenced by a blog I read in the early wee hours. I like rockets. I like the tremendous power it needs to get a lift off. In highschool Physics class, we calculated the benefit of having the boosters separated at different stages, and each time it does so, the rocket gains speed.

So I felt like at mile three, my booster finally came off. I was flying uphills and downhills. It was not my fastest run but I like the feeling of flying.

I like running in that during that brief moment everything in life became clear. They became less important, the only thing matters is the steps in front of me and even that came effortlessly.

watch data. 6 miles on the dot. time 11:40