Day378 zero

I picked up a Gatorade Zero while shopping for food for tonight dinner and also preparing for my Saturday run. Today is only Tuesday and I have two more nights to do shopping before the big day. I try not to run around too much on Friday the night of. That night I will need to hit the bed early since I plan to be up by 4 in the morning.

So I picked up so cucumbers. I hate eating them by the way but I saw some runners commented that they have ton of water and it prevents clamps. I need those cucumbers.

Then I saw the Gatorade. This might be disgusting so skip this if you are fetish. The race director sent out the announcement that there won’t be any potty johns available at the starting line because we can’t have people crowding at the bathrooms. Also the school building will be locked. We won’t have access to the facility. This is all for Covid mitigation. So do all our business at home. There won’t be any restaurant open at that hour either. You guess it…We need a plan B. I know I will be at the course early because I live far away. I don’t take chances. Better get to the course early. This runs counter to what the Race Director is telling us, don’t come early. We can’t hang out at the starting line. Everyone can only have 5-10 mins at the start. We only go to start when it is our time to go. We all have a personalized start time. So I know I will need to go to the bathroom…with all the waiting. There is the bottle and a blanket for covering 🙂

Any way, I laughed when I saw the Gatorade Zero. It reminded me of my 100 miler run where I only drink zero calories stuff and ended up being so depleted. I was thinking not again.

It has 0 calories, 7% sodium, 0 carb, 0 sugar, 0, protein, and 0% (50mg) potassium.

That would do it.

That’s all for now. I am still thinking up my meal plan for the race. It will be challenging due to covid mitigation plan, meaning I will be mostly self supported.


Day376 small run

I had one of the best runs last night. It was just 10k. Just nice distance. I ran too many long miles and those were slugfest. I like short and fast runs.

It felt fast to me though the time showed otherwise. I felt I ran the fastest ever. Zoom Zoom. Due to corona virus, there have not been any 5K or 10K in the area. I use 5K and 10K as a stress test, that is, to run my heart out. For some reason, I could not run fast if I feel it is a ‘training’ run.

Normally last couple weeks, I did not have the motivation to do night runs. Either I was hungry, tired, sleepy, cold, or just wanted to watch youtube videos. I was slacking. The fear of lack of training for my race could not move me out of the door.

Yet last night, I faced with all the same situation. I was cold after leaving work. I was wearing three or 4 layers and was still cold. I had not eaten dinner. The sun has set (we turned our clock back so now it gets dark after ,5:30). Funny story, I think the construction people in the area forgot about the early darkness, they were still doing road work in the dark! I thought that was funny! Oops.

Any way, we had the coldest night so far. I made up my night to suit up and stepped out. I did a loop around my house. Did not feel like I was doing it. Feet did not want to run. However, my body started to warm up. So I stopped at my house and delayered. I dropped my two jackets. Took off my long sleeves and only have a tee on. I wrapped a glow jacket around me and headed out the second time.

The cold evening air felt alive! I loved it. I stretched my legs and ran. It was cold but alive at the same time. Originally I wanted only to do 3 miles but it was not enough. Halfway through, I decided to stay out a bit longer.

People at a church gave me a chill for a different reason. I did not expect anybody therrle but then cars started pulling in. They had an evening prayer virgil for the election today. The place was dark and it was just spooky as I ran across it. I felt better once I made the connection that they had a special prayer night. My church also sent out similar announcement – to pray for our nation (I think mostly so that Prez Trump would win). There though kind of panic in our area of fear of rioting. Stores in DC were boarded up. Though Virginia is calm.

I turned around and ran back home.

Why I wrote about the run? I had a thought this morning while in the shower. (Oh my the way, I was freezing once I got back in the house. I had to put back on 4 layers of clothes and were shaking in my bed.) My thought was our life consists of tiny events like a run here and there. It is like those tiny gears in a mechanical watch. The tiny gears drive the bigger gears, and those drive even larger gears so forth.

I have been only blogged about ‘big events’ relating to my runs but forgot about the smaller yet boring daily runs. Maybe because I felt they were not as important.

I actually have something I wanted to write but did not get a chance. On Sunday, I got my act together and went out to the Seneca Trail to preview the course (part of it) for my race.

I glad I went because I spent about three hours looking for that one turn off that looked weird on the map. I traveled about 8 miles back and forth at that particular point searching it. Some people pointed me here and there. I actually got in my car and ‘case’ the neighborhood to find where the trail ends. Glad no one called the cops on me. Eventually I found something I thought that would be it and decided to go home. I ran into a local trail runner and I popped the question if she knew where the course turns. She said yes, she will be running in the race two and she knew exactly where I was talking about. She said she volunteered at that turn in a previous years and noted some people missed the turn. She offerred to lead me there. I went with her and indeed, it was sneaky because it was not a path and unmarked in any maps. The whole point of this narative is I felt a bit relieved, I resolved one suspicious turn for my race!

I might write why this is important in another blog post about the seneca run.

OK that is all today. Outtake: I am looking forward to a big race so I can write about. Sometimes though a small nightly run is a gem.


Day373 seneca run

I was training for Seneca 50 Mile run over the weekend. The good news is it will take place. The race organizer won the appeal and gathered all tge necessary permits.

I signed up last month when they posted they got the permission from a local school to stage their start and finish line on site.

It is kind of a late signup. Nornmally this race sold out quickly once announced. I was lucky maybe due to COVID uncertainty that throughout the summer the race was only accepting entries as wait-list only, meaning those who signed up are not charged until the race is definitely is going to be held. Not too many people jump on the wait-listed registration. Neither did I.

Remember I signed up their sister race in the spring and ran it the week COVID broke out in our area. At the time, we were on edge whether the race would be canceled. things were going downhill the whole week leading up to the race. But we held it and ran it. I don’t remember if there was any COVID mitigation plan at all. Did I even wear a mask?

With COVID dominating the news cycle running an in person race was pretty low on the list.

Then now, we kind of think we got this. We have this and that races started up again. I did the Gettysburg Marathon in PA. Seneca will be the first one here in the Washington DC area.

They say all the eyes will be on them to do this properly.

So yeah, I was excited when I felt we can do it.

We all joked around on the race Facebook page, that now we start to train for the race with about two weeks remaining before the race after hearing the news that the race will be on!

Me too. It finally sinks in of how am I going to run 50 miles. Given I have done it once and did it in 11.5 hours, this race should be easy right? But last year, I specifically was training to run it. This time around, I don’t have the confident. I have not been training that hard.

Over the summer I was running in Atlanta, all the paces I was calculating were off. My point is I don’t think I am that tough guy as last year. My pace sucks. If given enough time I could run 50 miles, but to run at a certain pace and finish by a certain time, I don’t think I can do it.

The race limits us to 13 hours. That seems plenty right? I checked previous year results. Some people took over 14 hours. I think there will be a lot who will not able to finish this year. 13 hours is tight for me. I have to run a perfect race, in my opinion. I hope to reach half way by 6 hours and use 7 hours for the last half. Of course if I could do it faster the better. There is no way I will get to mile 50 in 5 hours.

So last weekend both Saturday and Sunday I headed out on the race trail. It was good the race is local and I could use the trail as much as I want. It is kind of late to train, but any little bit helps. Saturday, I did 13 miles. It was hard. My body refused to run fast.

On Sunday, I did about 14 miles on a different segment. This was even harder because I kept getting lost. (Those who has access to my public Strava data can see I was walking back and forth trying to find the right trail. It was a good experience though. I rather getting lost in the practice than on the race day. I remember how painful that was getting lost in Atlanta, while my clock was ticking down. I don’t want a repeat here.

Why? even though it is a local trail, I have not been on it. It is in the Maryland side. As I mentioned before, we Virginian have very little association with the Marylanders. They are like a foreign country to us. Every time I go to Maryland, I get lost (exaggerating a bit), but normally, we stay out of Maryland.

I plan to go back out this weekend. There is one or two places I am not sure about. I checked the race course on Strava, and it looked fishy because the course shows it was going over people’s houses and backyards. I need boots on the ground to confirm.


Day312 The Crunch

I am feeling the crunch, but things are happening. Wheels started spinning as I am in the final preparation. Final? No, more like finally getting my crap together. Things are taking shape.

I had the maps printed out. 20+ pages of them. These are in addition to the paper map I brought. I have been so spoiled with water proofed maps , ones I used for my hiking (from National Geographic), but my street map for Atlanta is the newspaper quality and really poor stuff, really not for outdoor. I hate using it, especial I know there is a chance of rain. It will just melt when it becomes wet. I plan to go to FedEx tomorrow have it laminated, but then it will make it hard to fold. How I miss the National Geo ones. Those were the best. Will got to do what I have. I am thinking after laminating it to cut out portion I don’t need. Really am out of time for an art work project now and why did I not do it two weeks ago? Shooting my foot here.

I got my map and have looked over it several times. I am at maybe 60-70 percent familiarized with it. There are some pitfalls and I noted those. I still wish to have the whole map memorized. I am out of time so more like will wing it. I do wish use Google map too (street view) to see some of the turns. But no time for that because that will take at least 5-6 hours. I don’t have that much time.

To do: I need to circle out some spots where I can get food/ and bathroom breaks. Google map would help here.

decision. Do I pack my food or do I buy them in Atlanta. What snacks am I taking along? Snacks will be my main source.

to do: I need a list of food I will be eating

To do: I supposed to be packed by now, but not yet.

to do. making a packing list. Two lists, one for the run, and one for the trip. some important things are anti chafe cream and balm – you know certain areas are going to hurt really bad after rubbing it for 50+ miles. We are doing a 100 here. The worse thing is no way to swap gear at mid run. It is a do or die mission.

accomplished. I got my final set of maps and have been going over couple of times. Felt very accomplished when I weeded out half the maps, I think I could do without.

accomplished. I got the map traced out.

accomplished. I got my turned direction printed out in two sided on to sheets of paper. To do need to laminate them because they are the most important thing to get me from start to finish.

accomplished. set a start time for my run. After reading the facebook page of runners comments, I got a good idea of when I should start. Originally I was planning 5:30-6:30 start but people were advising an earlier one. I am moving at a start at 4:30 start. There should be just enough light.

to do: talking about light! I need batteries for my flashlight and headlamp. Need to check all gear. plus spare. I never ran that long in the dark – we are talking from 9 pm to 4 am, good 7-8 hours of darkness.

accomplished. researched the start location and the constraint. There are two main mountains: Kennesaw (the start) and Stone Mountain (the middle/finish at 63 mile). I need to get to Stone mountain before the gate closes. It closes at sundown so 8:30 ish. It takes me about 15.5-16 hrs to run that distance, granted I took a 2 hour lunch break on a previous 63 mile attempt. So looking at 14-15 hours, with no lunch break, I should start no later than 6 am to get to Stone Mountain by 8 pm.

I don’t like taking risk, so I am thinking to start at 4:30. My Hotel is 45 mins away from Kennesaw. So It means waking up at 3 am, with 30 mins prep. I need to leave the hotel by 3:30 latest. Oh be the way, when I get to Kennesaw, I need to climb 1-2 miles up. Race starts at the summit.

If the stars aligned, I hope to finish the next day early in the morning. I never done a 100 mile before…so all the calculation is useless.

On Stone Mountain, I hope to back summit and down before sunset. say 8:30 or 9 pm. Then the next six hours, I hope to run back to the city, hopefully, get to mile 80-85 ish. I hope to see sunrise on my last stetch as I arrive back in downtown Atlanta. That will be the best case scenario. The expected scenerio is I will see sunrise at mile 85/87 on Peach St. I will run/walk the next 15 miles during daylight and arrive downtown at around noon. Got to finish no later 2:30 pm or will be disqualified.

If I can’t reach Stone Mnt before Sunset, the race will be over and the run will be in vain.

Also predicting finishing time is really up in the air. I was thinking of a midnight start, but I wouldn’t want to finish in downtown Atlanta at 2-4 am in the morning. 4-4:30 am starts is only appropriate.

Kennesaw and Stone Mountain is really the two high points for this run.

Tomorrow is really the last day to get all the things together. Thursday will be mostly execution: flying to Atlanta, get to the Hotel, make a pit stop to get supplies. Hit the bed as early as possible. Like 8 pm. Up by 3 am. Then show time.

Decision. I might have to get all that I need at the airport after landing even though it is ridiculously expensive – water, sodas, candies, jerky, bread/sandwiches, and batteries. Then everything else will be picked up at a gas station/store along the run.


final prep

Day 197

I am feeling much better this morning. I remember that last year around this time between the last race and the new year, I suffer similar the feeling of blue.

I think I got over it by signing up races and training in the winter specifically to prepare for this coming weekend (a year out).

In those dark nights, I think the only thought was to run and survive the cold. This morning my thought was, regardless the circumstances I will focus on something unchanging. I know I will get through it. I am just happy to be out there this weekend and run.

I am pretty excited about the race. It will be a big weekend. It is considered America oldest ultra marathon (50 miler). You can read about the history at their website JFK50Mile.

I learned a bit about out current race director. RD for a big race usually would not make a different. But they are usually the one to be blamed for anything that goes wrong. In recent history there were some high profile races where things went horribly wrong. However, I think this race, we have it in a bag.

My friends too are excited about the race for me. Some will come out to the course. There are people making cookies and cupcakes. I will be looking forward to those.

A guy at my church came up to me and said he ran it in 1981 when he was a young man. How cool is that?

Am I nervous? A little because I have not done that distance before and I am not sure if my body will hold it together. However, I break down the course into two segments and neither of them are too bad. The first is the trail portion about 13-15 miles. I think I will do fine.

The second segment is a 35 miles (actually 24 or 26 + 6 or 8), isn’t too bad. I believe I have the strength to do it. When I start faltering, I think would be the final 2 or 3 miles and I trust that my experience in long distance running will push me through.

ETA: My logic doesn’t make sense. Breaking a long race into two halfs doesn’t shorten it a bit. What I left out is the first part is fairly easy. I will mostly hiking on the mountain so by the time I get to the second part, I should still have plenty of energy to run 35 miles, of which the distance is closer to what I have done before.


Old Glory Ultra prep

Day 190

I don’t like counting my chickens before they hatch. But I am overjoyed that this weekend I will be running another ultra: Old Glory. It would be my fourth lifetime ultra. It really came at the last minute so I am scrambling to get my mind into running shape and line up my logistical support. Physically, meh, I haven’t trained as I should. But Ultra now starts to get easier. I am not as fearful about them as with my first and second one.

It was not a last minute sign up. I signed up for this race back in the summer after doing the Eastern Divide and before I got sick. It was part of the three race series: the Eastern Divide, the High Bridge and the Old Glory.

High Bridge race was last month but I couldn’t make it (I went to Wild Oak). Luckily, the race director allowed me to defer it until next year. I thought I would also have to defer for the Old Glory too due to overbooking with my hiking events.

It is not really overbooking – because I have a policy of first-come-first serve. I will do what ever first on my calendar. If it has been on the calendar longer, it must be important and anything that comes after it usually are less important. Do older things first! But then sometimes that isn’t the case, that is when hell breaks loose like this time. Then I have to evaluate what thing I value more.

For me it is hard to choose between running and hiking, which was what happened. If it is purely on the activity, I will always pick running first because that is my joy and passion. Nothing get between me and a race. How often do I go out to the woods by myself just to hike? Almost never. Unfortunately, this year, I gave up three races already (two of them were deferred) and Old Glory would have been my fourth. One of it though was really worth giving up on a race (Roan Mnt backpacking). When you add spending time with a friend to the equation, things get murky and that was what happened.

My hiking buddy also planned this weekend hiking/backpacking trip (we changed venues and dates couple times) for months and it landed on my race date. Actually, that was how I missed the High Bridge race too. I race every weekend almost so I told her not to worry about checking my race calendar. I will suck it up when that happens.

So I have been holding my breath with a hope maybe I still get to run the Old Glory. Finally, I got a message yesterday that the hiking/backpacking trip would be canceled and she won’t take me along. Well it was kind of my fault to suggest that the trip is too cold to do. I camped in colder weather before though.

With the hiking trip canceled, now all my race machinery starts humming again. I am wishing for warm weather. I checked the race director emails, got the last minute race instructions, got the race location and start time, cut off time and now I am studying the course. Basically I need to get my brain into racing mode. Yup, weather will be nice for running. Low 50s. Perfect.

This race would be the last long run before my dreaded 50 miler (JFK50) coming up in two weeks. I am still in denial about that.


course preview

Day 188 JFK prep

There are a lot things to say. The most important was I was out on the trail running again. I haven’t run that much due to various reasons. Weather, scheduling conflict, and probably plain laziness.

I ran on Tuesday. Didn’t do it on Wednesday because of church. Thursday was because of the weather and I had to fix my car (it had a recall for defective airbag). I finally took it in to have it serviced. Friday was my nephew’s birthday. Normally I do my long run on Friday!!! And skipping it really hurts. Yet it was for my nephew. Also I am just lazy trying to find excuses to skip out on my long run.

So today, I had my run. It was out of this world awesome. I woke up at 3 again 3 in the morning to make it clear. I left the house a little before 6 and drove to Harper Ferry, a place north and west of where I live and where Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland meet.

It is a beautiful place and has historical significant, just don’t ask me what it is. It was mentioned in my history book.

I got there just in time before my shuttle leaved. I was there because a volunteer has offered to shuttle us to Boonsboro about 30 minutes from Harper Ferry, where we would run the first portion of the course for the JFK 50 mile race later this month. We would run from Boonsboro to Harper Ferry on the AT (Appalachian Trail).

I love trail running and just not doing it enough because mountains are so far away. I know I only live about an hour away and I am complaining that it is far.

I am awesome on the trail compare to many city runners because I go backpacking and hiking frequently. My feet just know where they are supposed to land and I don’t have to look at the ground. I run on uneven surfaces as if I am on the road. And I am strong on hill running. I can run miles now up steep hills because I am an ultra runner! It is like I am in my element when a race takes place on a mountain. Best of all I don’t easily get lost.

I am bragging of course. But most runners because they are coming from road running, are very careful about where they are stepping and so would miss the trail or get off to a wrong trail (because they don’t look at where they are going). This is no lie. At the very first mile onto the AT, there is a side trail leading to a camping shelter for backpackers. Many runners would inadvertently ended up at the shelter because they were too focused looking down. The JFK has been around for years, and so over the year, the path to the shelter were widen by lost runners! I can’t help but laughed when I saw the situation. Our driver has warned us not to end up at the shelter.

In fact the whole AT trail in Maryland are widen (and eroded) by us runners. What can we say? We even made the AT feels very flat in Maryland.

Though I think I will do well in the JFK 50. I will run conservatively. On the trail portion, I will walk (keeping a 16-18 min mile). Then on the Canal portion, it will be a normal marathon. I hope to run it in 5:30 (5 and half hours). The final 10K, I will just have to endure through. The whole race will probably take me 11 hours. People are telling me to break the race down with a 2 mile warm up, a half marathon on the trail, then a normal marathon gravel, and a final 10K on road, and a 2 miles cooldown walk/run.

It was so beautiful this morning. I crossed into Harper Ferry before the sun was up but as we ran, it was just gorgeous. The trail were filled with laughter and people. Look the leaves are turning!

Where is this? It was maybe 3 or 4 miles into my run. It was so cold. I was freezing. Temp was around 32 or 33 (yup freezing). Luckily there were no wind. I ran in two layers until the sun was up and I got rid of my outer layer. After the run, It took me 6 hours to warm back up. Yup, I crawled in my bed after a nice long and warm shower and stayed in bed after. But I love the cold so much. Yup, up since 3 AM.

I met Kathy, Wendy, and Amy on the trail. Kathy though didn’t finish. She might have gone off the wrong trail. I waited for her for an hour at the end but she didn’t come out. I then left after Wendy and rest arrived.


Filler post

Day 149

Sometimes in TV shows or especially in long anime series, they would put in fillers because the writer needs some time off.

I hope this is not a filler but I don’t really have anything in particular I want to write about. Maybe it is a filler.

I just finished my last dose of my medication. I should be completely rid of the Lyme causing bacteria in my body. How can you tell? People asked if I am to see a doctor again to have them declare that I am healed. Nope. Or Maybe. There is no more blood test as far as I know that can show that I am bacteria free. I am not sure if they can tell, but base on what I read about how they test for Lyme disease they can’t. Many people seem surprised by this.

I am tired from the past trips. I haven’t unpacked my things yet. Last night though, I did laundry. I won’t say much but that were a lot of clothes. Any way, the next trip seems to be challenging in term of navigating because there seemed to be lack of map and direction. So last night, I opened the map of the place. Indeed we will travel off the map for part of the hike. Some of the trails we will be using are not shown on my map because they are not officially recognized trails. We will be doing some bushwalking too. Even the leader of the hike is saying, let hope we won’t get lost. I don’t think we will get completely lost, but we might make a false turn here and there. And by the way, we will hike a bit in the dark. Luckily, I think the moon is up. Where are we going? Dolly Sod, especially, the southern part called Roaring Plain.


Pre race

Day 143

It is two days before the race. I signed up for Jack and Jill downhill marathon back in who know when. It is my first far away (Seattle) marathon. I had to book a flight and hotel and car rental.

I have been eyeing this race since when I first heard maybe back in 2017. My friend did it and liked it a lot. Flying to the west coast costs lot of money and originally I was planning to doing only marathons in the east coast and eventually work my way to the west. However, my friend was going to run with me in this race and I was so excited, however she was injured during training and won’t be able to make it.

At the moment my health is not that great and that is an understatement. I really don’t know if I will be able to finish it. Last week, I could barely run a mile. I will try any way. Couple days ago, I was able to do 5 miles and that was the longest run so far. My body is recovering from the Lyme disease. I am one week in of taking antibiotic. I have two more weeks left.

I know now at least I can do 5 miles. If I can do 5, I probably can do 10. I did the math that as long as I could run 20 miles in four hours (or 4.5), I can finish. Will see. My plan is to run 2/3 of the time and walk 1/3. For the first 5 or 10 miles, I don’t have to walk. Then from 10 to 20 miles… I might have to start walk and run. Maybe every 10 min run couple with 2 min of walk. Then 20 – 26 mile , will likely all walk. I will need to bring a pen with me on the run to calc my target pace.

After all the money spent on this race, it is too late to back out. I just need to rest well today and tomorrow.