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 segment 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.

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.