Day394 oho the 3rd 50k

A few weeks ago I mentioned about running the 50K fatass on Bull Run Trail with the Virginia Happy Trail people, or do a 50K on Waterfall Mountain (also their trail), or join a guy running on the W&OD trail (Day391). In the end, I didn’t do any of those that weekend (Day392). But then in the following weeks, I was able to do all three of them. I wrote about hiking on the Bull Run a couple entries back and then visited the Waterfall Mountain last weekend (last entry Day393). They all have been a blast. This 3rd run, on the W&OD was of the best of them all.

It started, unexpectedly couple days ago, I had one of the most spectacular runs (on W&OD).

Our team has been doing the circumpolar run (CRAW) around the globe as a virtual run, that is, we ran it at a place of our choosing, and pretend we are running around the world. This ‘race’ is divided into 12 regions. We were about to finish the second region.

I was not sure whether we could complete it on Monday because the miles left over were a lot for our group (twice of our daily run total). We had about 80 miles left when I went to bed the night before. By morning we got it down a bit (we have people on our team that are on the other side of the world). Then as the day progressed it was down to 60 miles and then to 50 miles. In my mind, if the group could get it down to around 20-ish miles then I and a lady could finish out the region, because she and I could do some big mile before the day is over. But through out the day, miles barely bulged much.

By noon time, I went out and did a 5K. I told my group I would run some more miles after work – gave them a number about 10-ish but I told them we should try to close the region if possible. Some put in a bit more miles. By 5PM, the last person posted to the group that there was only 32 miles left. Everyone said, they finished their posting. A few of them though did not reply (a way to drive me crazy), but I assumed they would not run any more miles since based on past history that was mostly the case. Our group is pretty low key. We rank 131 out of about 200 groups (there are another 100 groups bottom of the pile but they are really not real contenders because they usually have only have one or two people running on their team). Our group is not too shabby compare to them, but we are not really seriously able to run for a prize (there is ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ ranking price). Our team is not even a silver contender. That is true, we all agreed that this CRAW event should not become a pressure. So far, I am well-pleased with how we are doing. We are not fast and we are not dysfunctionly slow (most of the bottom 100 teams are dysfunctional – like one person on a team doing thousand of miles while the rest of the teammates are doing like 10-20 miles). Our team is mostly balanced.

However, as I looked at the remaining miles to close the region, I said we could finish it. I know we have a strong runner on our team (S), and she said she planned to run after work too, however, she is in the West Coast, so as I was leaving work, she was still working and and she did not confirm yet, and so I was not certain how many miles she would be doing or if any at all.

She had been running 10 miles the last couple days, and I did not want to over burden her to run another 10 miles today. She is a newbie ultra runner, who just said to have stepped into the ultra world of running her first 50K a few weeks back.

I asked her if she planned to do 5 miles or 10 miles. If she would do 5 miles, I would have to run 26-ish miles (marathon).

In my mind, it was game on. I was ready to run a marathon or more. I love the challenge. I told myself even if it is a 50k, I can do it.

We had warm weather. It had been cold on x-mas and the weekend that followed, but on Monday, it rised 20 degrees to around 50s. As I left work, it was still around 50 but I knew it would drop back down to low 30s when I finished by midnight. Brrr.

I was ready. I packed my hydration bag with a long pants but I had shorts on, planning to put the pants on later in the evening. I put on a double layer top, a t-shirt underneath and a long sleeves over it. I tied around my waist another long sleeves, for just in case. I hate running in the cold. Put on a glove (just the left one because I lost the right one over the weekend at the Waterfall Mountain.) I carried a hand torch and a giant head lamp on my head. I put couple packs of gels in my hydration pocket and an extra bottle of water in my vest’s other pocket.

By the time I left my work building, it was near 5:30pm. I had until midnight to count as a finish for that day. This was about 6 and half hours. I know I ran 50k in 6 hours before but tonight I had to do 32 miles (which was a mile more).

The extra half hour allowance was not that much extra time. Because, I was not in race day condition…first, it was the time of day. In a normal race, we would start in the morning. Now it was at the end of the day. The body is not as strong or fresh at night than in the early morning. Also in a race, there are rest stops and aid stations. This time, it was self-supported (I had to carry everything on me like water, extra clothes, flashlight(s)). This would slow me down. Also an important factor is race day crowd support/race director/timing device and finish line, which would have given me the extra drive. Lastly, the course. At an official race, the course is usually controlled, but this run was not. I would have to stop for all traffic lights and at street crossings, which would eat into my time. (A 10 min pace could easily become a 12 min pace by waiting for 2 mins at a crossing.)

However, I was prepped and hyped. Let run this 32 miles in 6 and half hours. So I stepped out. I had a course in mind. The W&OD (Washington-Old Dominion) Trail is within walking distance (maybe a mile) from my workplace. Recently I learned someone ran a 100 mile on that trail doing a out and back from Arlington to Purcellville, so 32 miles on it is doable.

At first, I did not know which way to go, then I decided to run toward Arlington instead of Purcellville, since I could get better support (gas stations/restaurants) going into town than away from town. Also I am more familiar heading into town (Arlington/DC) than going the other way. I believe too it would be warmer by a few degrees. The suburb tends to be cooler.

The sun had already set. I could feel the temperature dropped. As I started running, I warmed up a bit but I decided to keep my second layer on, knowing it would continue to drop through the night. Let it be a bit warm now than cold later. I figured I would be the frog in the pot, and I might not notice the gradual change in the temperature. Fingers-crossed.

I decided to check in with my group every 10 miles and to keep them posted. First 10 miles I was strong. I got to Arlington where W&OD trailhead is. My group posted a few more miles by then. There are ‘only’ 18 miles left they said. The time was 7:15 then. I took a 15 minute break. Not intended, but by the time I started again it was 7:30. The night is still early and, it gave me a big boost that finishing the Region is within reached.

I had not heard back from S. I know she would not fail me, but then I would not want to put 10 miles on her. I could run 18 more miles, but I also wanted to be back at my car and not be out for that long. I did not expect the rest of my group (other than S) to run any more based on the past four months we were together (we only put like 30-40 miles per day). I felt we squeezed enough out of them already.

So I continued on toward DC using the 4-mile run trail, which was a ‘continued’ of the W&OD at a light around the corner. I felt I should give S some buffer and in case she couldn’t run, I could go back out to run. The fewer miles I have to do later on, the better.

I didn’t get hungry, but I knew this was an ultra and I need food in order to keep me going later on. About a mile, I know there was a Giant, our local groceries. I stopped there before and knew they have a foot long Italian breads, with cheese and salami. I love the salt content. I set that as my turn around point as well as grabbing that italian bread.

Around mile 15, I got a message from S. She got off work. It was around 9pm. She confirmed she could run 10 miles later that night. I took my second break at mile 17. Why is this significant? Weariness has taken in. I started to walk a bit instead of running. I had still 5 more miles to the car. I told S, she might only need to do 6 miles and at the same time updated the group of my progress. I told them that I would have 22 miles by the time I finished, basically 6 miles for S to do. I also was at the West Falls Church Metro station (our subway), and if our group had enough miles, I would take the train back to my office. No one posted any more miles. So I went on with my run.

However, during the last hour, someone (actually multiple persons) updated their miles and it was the 6 miles total needed, but neither S nor I knew about it and they did not let the group know. My team. grr. But we did not know. Everyone was aware we would be finishing the Region, yet none of them spoke up about having enough miles. S started doing her 6 miles and I did my remaining 5 too.

I arrived back at my workplace where my car was parked and told the group I did it. Entered my miles and so did S. We finished our region, 3094 miles in 73 days. We had a few miles over. (A team member on the other side of the world then started the next Region, I guess it was like 8/9AM for her the next day, which is perfect, since we do not want any time off the clock. Talk about a relay)

I did not mind that my run was not a 50k nor a marathon. What matter was we finished the region. It was a team effort. Mondays are normally my rest day from running, so the less miles I needed to do the better. Yet, there I was running a 22 mile on a cold winter night.

I was a bit miff about certain team members who did not communicate to the rest of the team of what they did or plan to do so enable better plannimg for everyone since this was a team effort. The reason is none of us want to run extra miles that do not count toward our goal. We all could run, but if we could be inside, we would choose to be in.


We celebrated the end of the region. I was happy that I finished the run at 10pm instead of at midnight. I still had to drive home, shower, and eat. I still had my Italian on me. I was carrying that foot long in one hand while running and had a bite every so and then whenever I had to wait at a street crossing. It looked ridiculous. However, now I wanted a proper meal. By the time all said and done it was midnight.

I was enjoying the run. It was as exciting as an actual race, since I know every mile I ran counted toward the team mile. I had the biggest kick (or runner high) in such a long time. I felt asleep with a smile.


Day291 Long run to high school

[long post] Back about a month ago, I went on ‘a walk‘, which was really a long run but I was very under-motivated at a time and was too ashamed to call it a run. All my races were being canceled at the time and my training for my biggest race of the year (June 13/Laurel race) was derailing faster than I can blink, since I want to train in the woods for that race but couldn’t do it because all the parks were closed (and we were supposed to stay at home) – led to no LH#4 trip. I know I could have sneaked into the woods and no one would care or be able to find me. Virginia has a lot of woods and national parks. Rangers can’t cover all of them. There are places no one would go to.

The walk ended up being a 24 mile run, but was short of a marathon which was what I truly targeting, since the last few runs earlier were virtual marathon runs. This one fell short and couldn’t be used as a virtual marathon.

The cool thing about it was I got to see my neighborhood – the big neighborhood what I normally don’t get to see when traveling in in a car. I experienced how big my community really is. It is a new perspective knowing it is big, yet also feeling good that I could walk around it. If you look at the map, the path I ran has a triangular shape.

Near the tip of the triangle, is where Main Street intersects Lee Hwy and becomes Rt 236, and I decided to turn back at the time because I never walked across that street before (crossing over to Main). I felt that was a new frontier. It was like in the Lord of Ring, when Frodo and Sam said after taking one more step, they would left Shire behind. I was there not daring to cross it that day, because it would have taken me outside my zone (neighborhood) and into Fairfax city.

Well, this past weekend, I crossed the street and continued on much further, in fact all the way to my former high school. I spent the afternoon exploring that new area, basically running up and down on Lee Hwy and Fairfax Blvd (same street but their name changes along the way).

I got to my high school. It was remodeled after I graduated. It looked a lot different. I have been back maybe once or twice to watch a play and at another time for a football game (something I didn’t experience while I was in school, it was all 20+ years ago). Funny how time flies. I felt it was just yesterday I graduated. I was feeling though, that this run was like the first time being back. I was wondering whether our senior class gift to the school is still there (most likely not). This moment was strange too since school is out due to the pandemic. There were a few people around. Some were running on the track. One father was taking picture of his daughter who was in her graduating gown. There were many signs posted along of the side walk congratulating the seniors because they were denied of a formal graduation ceremony.

Sadden that this year there won’t be a high school graduation celebration

At the time though, I wanted to see if I could run to my university, which was another maybe 5 miles away. In the end, I was hungry. It was about 6 pm in the evening. I scratched the plan to run to my college, since there are fewer restaurants near the college, because it is outside Fairfax City.

So I continued down on Rt 236. Got my dinner. There are a bunch of asian stores in that area, where I was. Annandale is known as Korean town (now Centreville has taken over that title; or has become K2, 2nd Korean town). No, I didn’t get to Annandale yet, but its influence can be felt.

The sun was hot. My pace became a walk. I walked for the next couple hours after dinner basically around a 6 miles block, by turning on Pickett Rd, and again on Fairfax Blvd, which took me back to my high school, after passing Fairfax Circle.

The rest of the journey was uneventful. I saw a beautiful sunset as I was heading west. Fairfax Blvd becomes Main St. I stayed on Main Street, which later becomes Lee Jackson Memorial. Once I crossed back onto Lee Jackson, the rest of the run was like the previous ones. I was in a familar territory, my neighborhood. Funny, a month ago I wouldn’t have considered that to be familar to me.

Why am I going into all these details? It can be a little dry even for those who know the geography. Get to the point, right? I passed through many sections of my “big town”. From Centreville, to Chantilly, to Government Center, and Fairfax Corner, into Fairfax City. Fairfax City is not small.

Centreville and the surrounding areas have been blooming like crazy for the past 20 years, even last 5-10 years, the place has become unrecognizable. They are still building it and transforming as we speak. To me that is very exciting, because I live in a dynamic city. For example, while growing up, Centreville was not a Korean town. There was only one Asian store there. Two actually, a Pho place. However, over the years, now almost every store has become Asian, mainly Korean, exaggerating a bit here. The best things are they stay open late into the night (pre-pandemic). There was once a Korean restaurant that opened 24 hours. I never went out that late, but my friends said it is typical in Korea.

Example of Asian influence. Bubble tea stores are popping up every where. Bubble tea was going to be my dinner, though I ended up with a bowl of Pho, from few stores down. By the way, Pho doesn’t taste good as a carry out. Regretted of getting it.

In contrast, Fairfax City, while is still ‘expanding’, as I ran through it, has kept in its historical state. There is of course much history behind, since it was established 1869, but has existed long before that. I would say, the residents or local government has put a halt on it being transformed too quickly, because in the 50s, the surrounding area was growing at 60% [wiki] in population. That is quite a scary number (from 299,000 to 489,000) of people for the region in 10 years time. I think Fairfax too struggled to keep up at that pace. Things have slow quite a bit, especially the heart of Fairfax (the city).

Note, we have Fairfax City which is inside of Fairfax County. Sometimes they seem to be synonomous, but Fairfax is self-ruled, I think (and is separate from the County). While many other municipalities like Centreville does not have self-ruled, and is under the County’s management.

I felt I have walked into the past as I traveled down Fairfax Blvd. It was how it look maybe 30 or 50 years ago. It was just a weird feeling. Having been living in Centreville, and also working in downtown DC, I have come to expect new buildings and the modern look. But as I ran, I was saying huh, how come there isn’t any tall building here or there. Or why is there a strip mall here? There were a lot of ‘huh’ moments. It seems the locale is 20-30 years behind time. It is changing, but it is not doing as fast as out in the extended suburb. There are not many buildings/houses over three stories. Most of them are single story, flat. There are a lot of “green space”. All the surrounding places around Fairfax City has exploded with ‘high density’ this and that, but it seems Fairfax City is still a low density area. The image I had in my mind was like New York City Central Park being surrounded by all the skyscappers. I’m not complaining though, but that is how it comes across to me. I get the residents’ sentiments. People want to feel their root, how things look when they were a child here.

I came across a ‘house’, but it was like a farm to me. It might have been one. They kept all the land and now zoned as residential. There is a house at the very far end of the long driveway. This is rare in a city. I have not come across a lot of houses with a driveway, and one that is long, where you almost couldn’t see it. I said wow, I never expected a farm to be inside a city. Centreville and Chantilly used to be farm land too but now you can’t find any. You could if you drive a bit out to the next division/county over, e.g. to Cox Farm, where my sister loves to bring her kids there. We still have the street name called “Centreville Farms Rd” or Franklin Farm Rd, but no farm there.

To me, it seems people don’t want their neighborhood to be changed too quickly. Yet it seems also they are being left behind.

I was thinking, how come our city is not like say New York, or LA. Of course no one wants to be like them, at least not to have their troubles. But there is a good side in how ‘efficient’ city is when it is planed or organized. I have spent most of my running time, running in DC, or around my house in Centreville, and I just love the inner city feel (at least the rich part). I felt Fairfax or Centreville is missing something. It seems they lack a ‘vision’ of having a coherent master city plan. DC is a planned city. Yes, we have ton of growth. And Yes we have people who don’t want changes. But as I ran through the city (Fairfax City), I felt things got built or placed randomly. We do have zoning laws, but it doesn’t seem being done right.

Another thing we lack is an identity. We don’t have something to make Fairfax City unique. We have a lot of streets named after Confederate Soldiers/generals. This little history too I think one day will disappear because there is a movement to push back anything that has to do with the Confederate because of its tie to slavery, and the negative aspect (white supremacy), as seen in recent years’ protests, and antiprotests, and racial killing.

In DC, we have a lot of statutes and monuments and museums and government buildings to showcase – a tourism magnet. But in Fairfax, when someone speaks of Fairfax nothing really comes to mind. People make fun of it by saying we have Bulgogi (Korean Bbq). There is a video out there on Youtube made a few years ago comparing Fairfax with Arlington. Arlington has Starbucks. I think we have more than that!

I felt the city should have visible symbols that they can be proud of. We have a Fairfax Museum. I have been there, but it is nothing anything close to being like a museum in DC. There is nothing we can be proud of. Our identity mainly stems from being a suburb of DC. Fairfax City is even less developed than its surrounding. The whole city is underdeveloped, which is not neccessary a bad thing.

It does have an university, which was actually built outside the city because it couldn’t find enough land in the city (or that people doesn’t want anything to change within), that was where I was going to run to, but changed my mind as I was heading there.

Our county too lack a distinct identity. We are known as having one of the largest school system. We are supposed to be a pretty rich county, something like top 10 or even higher. We have tons of trails, for which I am glad. We have couple well known towns, mainly Reston, Herndon, Tysons, Vienna, Centreville, and Annandale. I leave out Alexandria and Falls Church for a reason (they have their own thing – self rule). I felt we can do better in term of having the infrastructure to support ‘future growth’.

Another example: The county has now a place for all its adminstrative building (in Fairfax Corners). But it seems to be a half baked idea. Not all the government functions are located there. I felt they should. We zoned it as such, why not make it a full blown the seat of the government for the county there? But we have too much money. We have three or for four different locations for the county HQs (headquarters). Might be a good thing. We have divided the county into “areas” by number internally, e.g. Area 1, Area 2, Area 3. Is there area 4? There is the north county, and south county. The government center, is on the west county, but we don’t call it as such. Weird, it is neither north or south. Don’t ask me which area it belongs. The area number seems to be labeled as such by construction people or some engineers/city planners (internally) and was never a name supposed to be used by the public. Schools though are divided by area number (weird right?).

It brought to mind as I ran, that DC has Wards (political sub division). I felt our county would be better if we are divided into wards, like DC. I don’t know why it is better, but at least I felt each Ward then would have its own identity. Ward 1, vs Ward 10. It is a bland identity, but at least it is something. Yes, voting wise, we have district – I am belonging to the Springfield congressional district even though the actual Springfield area is 20-25 miles away! They gerrymandered my area into theirs for historical reason. Don’t remember how many years ago that was. It is meaningless. I don’t vote for Springfield issues. There is probably some wise man, saying I got this wrong.

Another similar thought on identity is we should bid for an olympic event in our area. This actually came up last year or the year before when we tried to submit a bid – I think Baltimore did, they tried to get the Washingtonians to join them, though a lot of people I talked to were laughing at the idea – horrible idea to bring an olympic here to DC with our high security concerns. But we should make the place ‘tourist friendly’, and a successful olympic bid would do that. Also we should have a stadium or two, with at least one for the university. We should help our university to get into div 1 for its football program. Yes everything is about sport, especially football, in our nation. We should have national standing, and even internationally if we have an olympic here. The Washington Redskins were looking for a practice facility. We should have built one for them. However, many people opposed it. Not in our backyard, they say. Imagine every weekend tailgate party; the noise and mess of 40,000-80,000 fans streaming through your quiet neighborhood. No way, they say. I have attended a ‘big’ school with a football program. Ya, you can’t sleep or study with a game on.

I have traveled to couple other countries. I saw how they arranged their cities. There is some desire for my local area to be like that. Fairfax county/city right now feel a bit of being in the backwater.

Bland architecture. I felt the whole city is like this. Having been in “better” places, this has a rustic feel in the middle of the city. Not that they planned it that, but time passes them by. Not making fun of it.

Those were just some silly reflections. Not sure if they will ever get any where. I am not a politician nor have plan to become one. I see it as quirks or wrinkles of my locale. No one has tried straighten them out. Maybe some did and failed.

I got home after the sun has set. It was a long 41-42 miles run. My watch battery was low and I had to stop the gps tracking 6 miles short.

Watch data. 35 miles. I stopped it 6 miles from home. I ran the remaining miles using Runkeeper to track. (not posted).
Destination: My former high school. It was recently renovated. Now it is a lot better looking. When I attended there, it was a flat ugly building, said to be built in 1936, like the shopping strip photo.

[a walk]



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.

day264 week summary

It’s Week 13 or something. About 7 more weeks left before my race if there is one.

Total is around 25-30 miles something. It is much much less than I want, but what do I do? I am sorely distracted by the coronavirus as you can tell from my previous posts.

Monday – 4. I felt so guilty of not doing my daily run, I got out and ran on my supposingly rest day. Monday usually my rest day. But what to rest when the whole week has been resting.

Tuesday – 6. I think was 6. I don’t remember how I feel. Usually bad. I haven’t workout at my max heart rate and now each run is like a struggle.

Wednesday. 7. Might been more. I think I really enjoyed the run by today

Thursday. I think was 0. I think I goofed off that day.

FridaySaturday. 0. I started to have amnesia. Each day blended together. I felt I did go out and did 10 miles but the memory was so vague. I don’t remember what happened. Then for Friday night, I planned to wake up at 3 AM to do my 52 mile run on early Saturday, but it wasn’t meant to be. I chicken out. The weather wasn’t too good, the wind was strong, it was cold. yadda yadda. It was raining. I then went to bed again around 6 am in the morning and woke up at noon time. Nope still not good to run. I went back to bed around 3 pm after eaten lunch and did my laundry. Woke up around 6 pm. The weather was nice then. Sunny. Nope don’t feel like running on an empty stomach. More the same until Sunday morning. I laid in bed at night and watched videos.

Sunday 12-13. I felt I had another chance to do a run. Woke up at 3 am again but it was too dark outside to be running. I was a big wuss. I didn’t get out the door until it was 4 pm more than 12 hours later. Doing just one loop. Yay. done.

I don’t know. Actually I do know myself. I hate long runs. The thought about it would make me want to put it off. With run. I have to just do it. It is not bad once I get going. The hard part is to get going. Or I have to lie to myself, like let go for a walk.

I hate being the only one out there. The cold and dark thing bother me. However, those were exactly the things/feeling I like. I like being alone by myself on the road or in the woods cranking at it. Weird. I can’t explain it. It is a both a love and hate. When I run I feel to be myself – the real me. I am not very good at it but I do feel I am in my element. I am in my world and I could go on and on. The world disappears before me. Pyschologically, probably is disassociation. I am in my own world. There is a peace there.

Then of course I get exhausted, and nothing matters any more by that time, and I couldn’t keep a single thought straight, yet my body is still able to hammer away. During the run, I had clear insight of how to describe it and then it became incomprehensible now. Readers will have to wait till next time when I remember about this. I hate to get that tired and yet I love it.

Injury: I don’t really have any yet. I know it takes time to build up the base again. I wish running is easy. I can tell by fourth and fifth run my legs do not like me very much. They are hinting saying they are not ready for this. Running involves luck. I am not always at my peak. I feel it takes luck to have everything together – my mental game and my body to coordinate together. Finger crossed no injury.


weekly run summary

Day 231

This starts getting fun and I’m looking forward writing it.

This would be my fifth week. I have 15 more weeks before my Laurel Highlands race.

Total: 56-58 miles

Monday: rest. I didn’t want to rest because the week before I only did 9 miles* (plus 20+ miles of hiking), so I had fresh legs. In the end I rested anyhow because I wanted to put up big number again. Trust the plan, I told myself.

Tuesday: 4 mi. first day back running. It did feel heavy, not tired heavy but heavy from not haven’t run for a long time.

Wednesday: church and rested too because of time constraint. Ah, I know I need to wake up earlier so I could put in a run. Try again next week.

Thursday: 4 mi. second run for the week. Started to feel very good. Didn’t want to stop.

Friday: 13-14 mi. felt great and didn’t want to stop. Started the run early at 6 pm and finished by 8:30 pm. I would have ran some more but I had some work left at work to do and had to head back.

Saturday: 20 miles. I went back out to Buzzard Hill-Ashby Hollow. At first, I thought I wouldn’t able to do the whole thing because I got up late again, but lo, I was much much stronger this time. I could actually run some miles. At least for couple miles I could run under 17 min per mile! That’s the goal. I am still pretty slow though, 18 miles in 6 hours, that’s basically fast hiking (3 mph)!! I need to get that under 5.5 hours (race cut off speed). I double checked, my watch was showing 6k ft of elevation gain, so I had 12k ft of total elevation change. That’s a lot.

Sunday: 16 mi. Arlington/airport loop. The usual. Running on trail embarrasses me (frustrating too). I had to get back on road to feel that I could run. Running on trail now is still more like hiking than running. It was good feeling to know you could run and run fast. What a big different between trail and road!

I don’t hate long run now. Sunday has always been my best day. I do want to do Ashby Hollow again this weekend but also want to go somewhere else. Thinking about doing the Peak! Also The Little Devil’s Stair is cool too.

This post is already long enough, but while out on the trail, I met a volunteer who helped out at my last big race, the JFK50, he recommended me to try running up the Priest. This place is a bit far away, but it peeks my interest. I haven’t been there though (I was at the foot of it last time) could have gone up last year if not for the lyme desease.

Sunday Arlington Run – I love this route. Miles 7-11 have some big hills. My hill training out in the woods helped me finally able to run up on them
Buzzard Hill & Ashby Hollow. My training ground. 2nd attempt. Hope some day able to run the whole thing in 5 hours, even 6 hours is good enough for me (currently took me 7.25 hrs to do)
Friday run, Rock Creek to around Haine’s Point. I haven’t gone this far south for a long time. Very quiet place, but popular for cyclists during warmer time. My watch ran out of battery after mile 9 (I added our club run normal square route then to make it a 13 mile run). Haine’s Point is also part of the route for our local marathons and big races (DC RnR, Marine Corps, Air Force Half, and Cherry Blossom 10 miler)

weekend plan

Day 230 / Long hilly run tomorrow

If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. So this weekend I am heading back out to Ashby Hollow.

Last time I started about 7 miles north at Snicker’s Gap and ran to Ashby Hollow before turning around. I was planning to run the whole thing, but I started out a bit too late and I was a bit unmotivated…also the body just didn’t feel in the running condition. I ran but it wasn’t the good vibe.

This time I will start at Ashby Hollow and run south maybe 7 miles before heading back and if time allows I will run north for few miles (around 5). It should give me 20+ miles day.

Good weather is expected.


Long run

Day 161

I did it! I ran my long run on Friday. My long run was supposed to be tomorrow but there are just too much going on during the weekend and the risk was high I might not be able to pull off a long run at all. Long run is usually my hardest run because it is just unbearably long and any little distraction would cause me to give up.

So after looking over the schedule and my legs are still relatively fresh, I attempted to switch up my run to Friday at least for this week and so did the run tonight. It is certainly risky too to have the long run on a Friday night instead of on the weekend due to shortness of time. I would have to do my run after work and I have to finish it before the last train leave the station, so I can catch the train back home and so not be stuck in downtown. Train stations remain open a little longer on Friday. Still I wasn’t sure I could fit a twenty miler within the four/five hours windows.

In theory I could run a twenty miles in about three hours but that is under normal race condition. However long run usually is quite another beast. Last week, I spent 9 hours doing it. You want to do the long run in slow speed. I don’t rush my long run. As long as I finish, that what count.

Well I decided to try any way. My motivation was to finish early enough so I can catch the train home. I use our club run routes because they are familiar to me (I dont have to think on where to turn) and their distance are known to me. The fun thing for me was to remember all the routes we did, and to not get bored. Each route is about 3.5 to 4 miles. If I do it five times I should get 20 miles. Normally it takes about 45 mins to an hour to run a route. Note, since it is in the city, we stop for traffic lights and the stopping time is included. There are a lot of lights.

The first loop/route I did is called the Square because it looks like a square/rectangle on the map. I went down 19th, to Constitution, to 12th, to P and back to the Circle (DuPont).

The second loop, we usually refer to as Rock Creek. We have a few variations but usually it is running up on Connecticut, then to Carvert, to Rock Creek, turn on Pennsylvania, take a zigzag and cross the street to M, follow M to New Hampshire, and back to DuPont.

The third lap is called Behind the Lincoln. This is one of my favorites. From New Hampshire, to Washington Circle, through the circle and get on 23rd, to Lincoln Monument, cross the street and run behind Lincoln Monument, get on Independence, here there is a normally a choice to run either up 17th, or go for the bonus mile. Tonight, I chose for the bonus mile, by crossing over 17th, continue to stay on Independence, run until 15th, basically go around the Washington Monument, turn on Constitution, get back to 17th, turn and follow 17th to Connecticut, and back to DuPont.

By Fourth loop, I was tired. I chose the easiest route for me to do (and I planned to run this twice to get the twenty miles). It is called the Hexagon, because it looks like one. This time, the route begins on Massachusetts, to 14th st, follow 14th to Constitution, turn on Constitution, go until Virginia Ave, turn on Virginia, and go until 22nd, turn on 22nd. Follow until New Hampshire and turn to get back to DuPont. This is the easiest route.

The last loop:

With some extra mile I did here and there, by the time I got back to DuPont I had 17 miles. The time was around 10 pm. I was very tired at this point and feeling a bit hungry and wanted to call it a night. The dinner I ate at 5:30 was all gone. But there are three more miles left. I was debating to quit and head back home. Yet there was only 3 miles left, the buck of the run already completed. In my mind I was nervous about missing the last train out of DC. So I pulled out the phone to check when is the last rain supposed to come. I was relieved to know I have another hour and half before the train arrived. Still I was very tired. Know I could do it, gave me fresh strength. It was a Friday night and first day of school (moving day for a lot of local colleges/uni), so a lot people, students and their families, on the street. It gave me the will to finish.

I haven’t decided what route to run for the fifth loop. I could do the Georgetown route but it is kind of dark to go there. I would finish with some extra miles. I didn’t want any extra mile.

In the end I decided to have my own route by running down Connecticut, turn on Constitution, maybe go behind the Monument, and headed up on 14th. Stop when I get to three miles and hopefully it will end on 14th at my workplace where I left my personal belongings before the run.

I finished it. It was an amazing feeling! Like in a race all kinds of emotion bubbling up. No longer was I sleepy or tired.

I wanted to go to McDonalds (the only store that opens late) to get a milkshake and a burger, but I remembered I had a bag of grapes and some left over lunch as well as a cheeseburger my friend gave me. I was very hungry. I ate them all. Still was hungry and I made myself a cup of hot chocolate and then it felt good.

The weather was nice for tonight run. When I started it was around 70 (20C). When I ended, it was a few degrees cooler. I ended up feeling cold. There was some breeze and with wet clothes, I felt cold. The hot coco did wonders.

Amazingly I didn’t feel sleepy. I made it to the 11:26 train. I tried to write this post on the train but felt asleep. My stop is the last stop, so it doesn’t matter for me to sleep through all other stops as long as I know to wake up for mine. Got home. Still tried to finish up the post but felt asleep again. I finished the post in the morning, but now have to start thinking of the Saturday run … A new day. Still I am very happy to get the long run out of the way.


Leesburg 20k

Day 157

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love Sunday. Well, weekend in general.


Middle of a long run

Day 156

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

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

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



Day 111

I woke up early and got to church for the morning Easter worship. We were told to come early, lest there won’t be parking spots available at the layer service. Normally, I attended the night worship, but today there was neither Sunday School (they called it Adult Bible Fellowship) nor night worship. I didn’t get to see my friend. Sunday is the day I get to see my best friend.

I couldn’t really focus on the sermon. It wasn’t a hard one, just a three point sermon. One thing I was struck with was Christian can’t stop talking about Jesus because of his resurrection.

Similarly, I can relate to that because I can’t talk about running and I think running is the best and greatest and everyone should join me! I talked much about running than anything else. When I wake up, I run. While during the day, I day dream of running. And when I go to bed, I still think of running. I am compel to spread the gospel of running.

With plenty time left in the day, I went for a run, unlike other Sundays since I didn’t get to see my friend, there was no eating lunch together like we usually do. Our family doesn’t do Easter Brunch either. Worship was over by 9. I hadn’t eaten breakfast and my stomach was rattling. Across from the church was a McDonalds and so I went there and had an egg muffin. They substituted the sausage with bacons. I don’t like bacons. O well. I don’t waste food.

I already planned to do a long run. So the food helped. Nearby the church was a paved trail (4-mile run and the W O & D) and I have been running there almost every Sunday for the past month. I attempted my longest run there yet what is called the Arlington loop. Basically run to DC and back in a big loop. The whole loop is around 18 miles (I think, it felt less).

It was my first time attempting the loop on foot. I biked it last week. The day was nice 18-22C. I got to the trail I think before 10AM. Pretty much I was the first car there. There were occasionally other people passing by.

I wasn’t particularly tired, having done a 12 mile run a day before. I had plenty of rest. I eased into a gentle run. It was a long run by definition. Not long after, I think at about mile 2, I was joined by a DC club runner, he was doing a little faster than I was doing around 9:30-9:45 min/mile. I followed him for the bulk of the way. It was good to have a pacer! I complained to him that he ran a bit too fast for me. I lost him near DC.

I continued on and stopped for lunch in Crystal City, the store I wanted to at was closed, so I had pizzas and a lot of sodas. Afterward, I could hardly move and walked couple miles along the airport and I ran the remained few miles back to my car on the Four Mile Run trail.

I didn’t timed it. I ran at least 14 miles. I know last time I biked, we had about 20 miles though we did not do the full loop that time, we biked halfway and turned around. I don’t think though the whole loop is twenty miles. At most it was 18.

Once I got back to the car, I brought out my bike and biked the whole loop again. It was a fun ride and I finished it at much faster time. I wanted to bike around twice but changed my mind.

After the biking, I started to feel a bit tired. I skipped the swim portion. I was going to hit the pool for some water exercises. The next day though waking up was a bit difficult. All my muscles and bones were tight. I blamed myself of not stretching after the run. Monday is my rest day, so no running.