Day281 Dream

As I pondered on my mission statement, someone asked me what I think is missing in my life? This can be answered in many ways. It is hard to answer – I wish it is simple as a concrete ordered list of items. Deep down, I don’t really know the answer.

There are people who are perfectly content of where they are in life. While life might not be perfect, they are happy of what they have or where they are.

Not me though. I am not sure if I can ever find myself at peace with the way things are. Sometimes though I do get too tired and lazy and start accepting the status quo, but that is not who I am. I have been contending with myself and my environment since day 1. Things can’t stay the way they are. I measure myself by changes each year and positive changes over a period of time, which I called growth. My struggle and inner drive is probably the proof that I am alive.

I wrote up a blog on this to answer this question, yet it remained unpublished (maybe some day I will). I wanted a rewrite, because while running an amazing thought came to me of how I will write this, unfortunately I forgot. Let this be a take two if you will. I don’t want to be too negative as one who is ungrateful of what the Creator has allotted to me.

I know I am already part of the one percent by living in a developed nation, and not just any nation, but the world only superpower. In many metrics, we outshine the second place by huge margin (it is not a perfect nation, but we have done well in many ways, especially in term of wealth). On top of that I am much much well off than many in the nation already. I might not the one percentile in term of wealth (many of my peers are, or near there), but I live a much comfortable life, not having worry when my next meal will be or where I will sleep. All bills are paid on time and best of all, there is a lot of money left over for me to ‘spurt’ on vanity spending for example, on races and running shoes — stuffs I don’t need to survive.

That said, I am not unhappy. There are something missing still. There are things I can have control over and there are things I have less to no control over. Obviously, we all fighting with the limited amount of time and money. I can only do so much in this amount of time. There is also talent. Say, even if I have eternity, I will not be a great musician, that is something I must accept.

I wish to do better in life. 1. What this mean I strive to make more money still. Much much more. Humongous amount. I talk as much about money as I do with running. Stocks and investments and 401K are my lingo.

2. A better job.

3. A wife. I found love once. I used to believe it doesn’t exist. Then encountered it, but it was like a mirage. I am a changed man though. A lot can be said about it. I think it is most ironic facet of life. There is a blog I follow, I think it called something the brokenspecs, which captured this irony. It is not simple. I can’t wrap my mind around it.

4. A house. I don’t really need one, but seeing other people buying, kinda make me go hmmm, why can’t I buy one too. Of course I can’t afford one yet with my salary.

5. Advetures. Life would be dull if it is just work and paying off debts and on the weekend either endless chores and too tired to do anything else. Having a focus or cause to pursuit is what make life real and worth living. I don’t get it exactly what I want or need to be satisfied. Over the years I came up with two lists: The first one is my bucket list items [BL], and the second list is what I find delightful [JY].



6. Religion. I am a religious guy in a way. I know I was taught that there is a god-shaped hole inside each of us, that can’t be filled but God himself. Whether this is true or not is religion. I wish it is true. The argument goes, if you have God then you don’t need anything. I am a simple guy, I can’t think too hard on these kind of things. I don’t think it is true. But by that argument, there are very few people who attain this, because most of us have ‘other’ goals in life than ‘seeking’ God. Any way, I think about this stuff a lot, and I probably not the first one in history to do so.

I prefer focusing on item 5. I can say a lot on it. I like to travel. So I need more money for this. Hope to go around the World one day! I already did in an airplane, but you know that is not what I mean. I want to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest. Visit Nepal to do trekking. Climb Kilimanjero and touch its snow. Go to Galapagos islands. When I went to Chile, I didn’t get to go to the southern most point (they called it the end of the world), so I would like to go back there. Travel on the silk road. Plus many more places.

Adventures – Trek. Hike the PCT, CDT, AT. Cross the USA continent, experience the Oregon Trail.

Running. There is no end to this. Run marathons in all 50 states. Do some ultras and triathlon. Escape from Alcatraz seems interesting.

Backpacking. Many adventures. Vermont. presidential traverse. Adirondacks: the great range traverse. White Mnt. camp in Alaska.

Other sports. I wish to able to Kayak more. Bike more. Learn how to ski. I hear skiing is a lot of fun. Swim.

Ya, we have only limited amount of time on hand. For me, I wish to do all these things within the next 10 years of life when my strength is still near my peak.

That is what I am struggling each weekend.


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.

Day277 one of those days

Random Friday – I am ashamed to put up any number today, because I walked 75% of the time than run. 4 miles done. GVRAT total ~ 86-87.

My body is fine with minor fatigue here and there on my foot. My spirit though is not like yesterday. I rather skipped prayer meeting for a run but the run didn’t lift my spirit. One of those trade-offs.

Forgot what I was going to say. This will be one of those aimless blogs. I had great thoughts during the run and was going to write about those too, but now can’t recall them. Had it all plan out.

A fellow blogger was blogging about childhood favorite things. This brings to mind of songs I remember when I was a kid as I was running. I like to hum during my run. Today I hummed How Great Thou Art. I don’t know the lyric to it but in my childhood, that was something I remember.

I wish for a normal life, but nothing is normal. The stay-at-home is supposed to be normal. It likes this is what life is supposed to be. You get to spend more time at home and to do the things you always don’t have the time to do, like cleaning and endleas chores. Then I said it is not normal to stay at home. I never have enough time. Why life is always so hectic?

Then in the middle of my run, I got to plan out this race across the America for real. You can’t just wake up and run out the door for it. Same for the real run down at Chattanooga. I can’t just go and do it.

I figure for the next 10 years, I will need to take a break 3-4 times during the summer to reach some of life goals. Cross the America will take 4-6 months. Hiking the Appalachian too will take about that much time. I might want to throw in the PCT and CDT. And the question is if I have $50000 what would I spend it on? A running vacation or downpayment on a house? I am struggling whether to do the sensible thing or to do what my passion dictate.

This reminds me I still looking for a mission statement for this year or the next so that my life has some kind of anchor. I know I have one – Run.

Oh I finally remember what I was going to write. Nothing earth shattering. Many people who embark on this epic journey pf 1000k GVRAT wanted to watch some documentaries on running, or podcasts. Fpr me I don’t feel like reading or watching on any those right now. What I feel like reading is the Canterbury Tales, and the Pilgrim’s Progress.

Hope y’all have an awesome Friday and weekend!


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

day273 weekly run summary

I figure if I post about my GVRAT run every day, my readers will have blog fatigue, so I will go back to my old format of posting an update once a week, like I did for my training run.

So this week so far, (Friday to Sunday) total 58 miles.

So I will go back to posting maybe a weekly update. I stopped training for my June race, which was canceled or postponed until Fall. I don’t know if I will run it then.

I did run maybe once or twice last week but I didn’t log them, until Friday when I signed up to run across Tennessee virtually (#GVRAT).

Friday: 6 mi

Saturday: 43.7 (recorded 42)

Sunday: 10 mi. mostly walk. It took me couple hours to finish.

Live tracking of where I am with the GVRAT. I am somewhere between Oakland and and Somerville. As you can see there are a thousand runners on my tail.


day272 recovery run

Run#3 distance 10 mi, GVRAT 58 mi.

I got lazy of measuring the distances on Google Map. I don’t know how to do it from the phone. There is some problem with the live tracking website, so I am running blind now until they fix it.

Today run was kind of hard as expected. I walked most of the way.

On ranking, 13000 people started. My ranking goes from 150 to 75 ish bouncing up and down. I have some fierce competitors. Usually in a big race like this I do fairly well. I think I will be at the top 10% or higher.

Narative (fiction). The first day was off to quiet start. There was no rush to get to the finish. Maybe a thousand some odd people lined up to start at 1 minute after midnight, the race official start time. It was a massive wave start. Basically people start as they arrived. I needed my beauty sleep, so I was not there when the first wave went off. Actually I didn’t sign up until the day of 12 hours after the race official start. At that point, many already had left. The check in was easy. I threw on my running clothes and shoes and off I went.

I didn’t really plan to be on the road for the next four months. It was really a flash in pan operation. I had no food on me or drink for the matter. I figured I would go until I drop. Winging it. So I started running. Along the way, I saw people just stopped and hang around. This was one of most casual race I am taken part in. I guess they were done for the day. As I ran I saw more and more people. I caught up with the crowd around mile 5 ish and I plodded on for a few more miles. Most have started to camp here or there for the day. I decided to go on further. There were about nearly 6 or 7 thousand of us, so finding a place to camp could be a challenge. Luckily there were enough land on either side of the road. The neighbors were friendly and welcomed us to camp on their front yard as long as we clean up after ourselves. Not a problem. I have gone camping enough times to know the Leave no Trace principle. (Edit to add: Ah, most took a ride back to Memphis for the night, and I didn’t know and roughed it out)

This is pretty big deal to have a first ever a race across the state. We have people from around the country and the world joining in on this event. Hey, with the summer Olympic canceled, this is the next best thing. Best of all this race is open to both the elites and the every day joe like me.

Everyone just chose an area and chilled. I don’t remember seeing any trees around. So people just scattered about. The mighty Mississippi is nearby. I imagine some went fishing. Some were barbequeing. Man, I left my camp stove at home.

I explored a bit and went to the post office about half a mile away and dropped off a postcard home.

The first day though, I survived on bananas from the race aid station and candies from the crowd. We were still in a remote part and there is no store around. I didn’t know at that time that the city is about 20 miles away. If I ran for another 5-10 miles or so, I would have reached ‘civilization’.

Oh well. The next day was a slow start. I was not a morning person. Might be because I went to bed too late the night before. I wanted to plot out a course to take.

I had a long day and was out until sunset, for a total 11 hours. I really put in the distance. With still 600-ish mile to go, I had to pace myself better. I immediately felt asleep.

The third day now. I started to feel hey this won’t be over soon. I did not want to go today but realized I can’t stay here. The race just started. I remember back when I was in Patagonia, each morning, we got up, we packed, and on our way. So this is the same. Just keep on treading and repeat. I put in just a nice 10 miles. I started to see some regular faces around me. Hopefully, we will all arrive at the finish line together.

The next portion of the run will take me away from the city. I don’t know if the battery on my phone will last. So there might not an update until I get to the next town.