day254 – virtual run#2

Day 254 race report “Centreville Marathon”

I used my first virtual run I ran on March 21 for the Maine Coast Marathon.

I didn’t post about it but I think on Tuesday, I got an email from the race organizer about the race being canceled. Not a surprise at all after getting so many of this kind of emails for the last two/three weeks. Boy we are in the third week already of staying in place. Anyway, the race offered a virtual run, no swag. It was a cry fest on its facebook page. I guess all the big races were already canceled the first week CDC released its guideline about social distancing. This one was a bit far out in early may (May 9), so there was no word until this week. I have been checking its facebook page daily. Other people have been asking the same. A little can be said about the communication process here – share early and be direct. Yup, it erupted on its social media page. The community was not too pleased. You can read the anger people had. I can’t believe so other races, runners took it in stride, but this we just pour our anger at the race management – not really their fault, but we want them to hear us – “Enough with this Covid virus thing: we are angry and we won’t take it any more”. I just shrugged it off and moved on. I elected the virtual race option.

So I went out again this Saturday and did my virtual marathon run. People think, virtual mean we run it on the computer or internet. No. Distance-Running (like distance learning) is a better term. We literally run 26.2 miles. Some do it on the treadmill, some on their balcony, some in their yard. Luckily, I could do mine in my neighborhood.

I woke up late. Actually just poor planning. As you have read if from my other race reports, I usually take my race with upmost seriousness. Going to bed early. Layout all my clothes and gear the night before. Surprise for you non-runners, there are a lot of stuff to bring for a run like this: hat, clothes (layers) – undies, jacket, belt, watch, flashlight (for night run), reflector, socks, spares, towel, etc. Lot of lot of stuff. Usually I pack the night before. Not only that, you have to think food and drink. Since this is a virtual run, you would really have to consider what for each aid stop.

I didn’t prepare none of those until I woke up and said I will do a marathon today. My morning was actually interrupted by my boss, who had an IT issue and couldn’t wait until Monday. He called me and then my immediate manager. It had to be solved right now. So my blood pressure shot sky high. Not having eaten breakfast yet really put me in a foul mood. But the work got to be done. I logged into my work from my machine and fixed the issue. Everyone was happy but me. It was near noon by then.

I made lunch while also planning for dinner – with a virtual race still at the back of my head. Hey, you are going to run 5-6 hours and by the time you get back it would be dinner time. Then there is laundry too. Another surprising thing is when you work from home, shouldn’t clothes needed to be washed be less? I just did laundry like two/three days ago and now the hamper basket is full again. What give? I guess I have been running more while working from home!

Yup, another hiccup, there was no more food in the fridge. Wait before that, my most important piece of equipment for a virtual run, my gps garmin watch was low on battery. No watch meant no proof that the run actually happened. I forgot to charge it after my last run. It wouldn’t last for 5-6 hours out there. While that was being charged up, I made a quick drive to the market. Surprise, surprise. I brought everything but stuff for preparing my dinner. I only later realized this while running, what am I to eat after finishing the run.

During that time, I was filling up my water bottles. Prepared my one and only aid station (my house). I planned to do two loops around my neighborhood. On my second loop I would stop by my house to fill up and eat – have it set up like a real aid station. Really, by the time I left my house for my run, it was 3 pm. It was a late start. If the race would take 5 hours, I wouldn’t finish until 8 pm. Knowing it would take that long was demoralizing.

We were blessed with ‘nice’ calm weather. Sky was overcast. Orignally the forecast called for rain the whole day, even as late Friday forecast indicated. But rain had stopped by time I woke up. So the whole time I was out, was a cool 55F (12C), perfect running temperature. There were some mist, but I remained dry. I just hate running when it is wet and cold. I had one short sleeves and shorts. I didn’t lube up, and surprising did not get burn too badly. I had worn a normal underwear and it was rubbing the wrong way during the run, but I survived. Talk about lack of planning there.

Unlike the first virtual run, the whole run was slow and just draggingly slow. I went in the opposite direction this time to spice thing up. The loop I chose is really only 12 miles and so I would need to add two more miles to make it a 26.2. On the last virtual run, I did the two extra miles at the beginning. This time, I decided to add them in halfway. So it is more like a out and back. You add just enough so each loop would be 13.1. That what I did. I ran an extra half mile (out and back made it one mile to the Chantilly Library) in the middle of my loop.

One thing I did not notice on my first virtual run is how beautiful the neighborhood is. The cherry trees are blooming. The soft petals flow down as the wind blows. The ground is covered with white and pink petals. There is a lake. The lake reflects the trees and flowers. I could just stay there. No I got to continue on my run.

There were more runners out and about this weekend. Actually every day I woke up and I went outside and looked, everyone was staying put. But on Friday, half the people were gone (their cars were gone). On Saturday people cars were in their driveways but I saw a lot people being outside.

I generally love my run. I use the time to reflect on things. This virtual race was anything but peaceful reflection. It was more like when will this run going to end.

I saw the time elapsed. As usual, I tried to ignore and avoid looking at my watch too much. Half hour gone by quickly, then an hour and two. I got to ‘half way’ of my first loop around after 4 pm. I stopped for a break and my mom came out (she lives in the neighborhood) and took my picture. She didn’t get to see me on my first virtual run. I said she should be social distancing. She is considered to be in the at risk group – due to her underlining health issue and age.

Any way after the break, I added in the ‘bonus’ mile so I would end my first loop with 13.1 mile. It was way after six when I finished the first loop. I really did not want to run another loop. But I want that 26 miles. I told myself it is still not too late to turn around. I could have my dinner and we could attempt it on another day. How tempting that was. I arrived at my house. I was out of water in my bottle so I needed to top off. I grabbed an orange previously prepared to make it easier to peel while on the go. Off I went for the second loop.

I was not doing great with my time. I already calculated that it would be impossible to finish by 8 pm. With three hours on the first loop, I wouldn’t finish until 9 pm. I kept on praying, Dear Supreme Being, I don’t want to be out here till 9 pm. Have mercy. I was hoping maybe just 10 mins slower than my normal run. Passing my mom’s place the second time, but this time I did not stop. I continued to the Library for the extra mile. The sun started to set. It was a cloudy evening, so no pretty sunset. The cloud was so thick it was just a haze when you looked up. There was no golden glow. Just gray. I had my flashlight on me but I hoped it wouldn’t too quickly get dark that I would need to use it. 7:30, then 8 pm. I was counting down miles. 5 miles left. Five miles is five miles too far. On a normal day it means 40 more minutes. But tonight, who knows, it might be another hour.

I know the route well, completely had it in my head. I know if I get to that traffic light, I would only have about 2.5 miles left. I turned on my flash light by then. I did not check my watch but it got to be after 8 pm. I told myself, only way forward is to finish. To finish means I have to keep on running. Pushing on is the only way to finish. Surely my legs were hurting. Old wound too. Put that out of your mind. Got to keep running. I got to the traffic light. There was only a straight-a-way part now (rt 29 Lee Highway). Passed the sign that said 29th Infantry Memorial Highway. wohoo a piece of history. Never saw it there before. Now where is the sign of welcome to Centreville? The neighborhood became more familar because this is my hood! I ran passed all the stores. My house is outside the business district. Only a mile to go. There was still a hill to climb. It felt like downhill to me.

I imagined some of my last miles of previous marathons. Morgantown came to mind. I told myself, did you remember that crazy last mile? Or the JFK? It was dark and we (me and a lady) ran through the neighborhood just like this one. It was a joy reliving the moments of my previous races. But there was no actual finish line to cross for this virtual race. No one would greet me when I finish. No medal or celebration. It was just a virtual run. But I had to press on. Last mile.

I was so close. There the 26th mile marker I told myself. In reality there was none like that. Come on, only point two mile to go, I said. I got to get to the firehouse where I started. Can’t stop now. Yes the finish line was arbitrary decided to be the firestation. The last mile is always the hardest. There was no cheering as I reached it. I calmly stopped my watch. Good Lawd it was 8:40 something (actual time, not bib time). I did not look at the elapsed time. I was completely drained. No matter how tired I was, make sure that watch data was saved. I’m not gonna run this all over again. Now that felt like a real marathon. I haven’t experienced this for a long time (at least since January).

Imagine though running another marathon or even the third time with no rest in between, how would the body handle it. Yet I plan to do just that in couple weeks, I would do a 52 mile run (a double marathon for my Roanoke virtual race) and in June, if the race is still on, I would be doing a 70 mile run (8 miles shy of doing a marathon three times).

For naming – I haven’t decided which race I will apply this virtual marathon toward. For now it will be called the Centreville Marathon. Hey, we might make it an annual event. FYI, Centreville has no running club, and we don’t have our own marathon ever. Yup, this is the first.

map of my run. Time 5:41:09. Distance 27.19. 3218 Calories burned

Epilogue: my mom was at my house since 8 pm because she heard me saying I would finish by 8. The last virtual marathon (same route) only taken me only 4:45, so a 5-hour marathon finish is very reasonable estimate. She had prepared dinner and brought a lot of other stuffs, soy milk, pears for me too. I was dead tired though but did eat after a long relaxing shower. Then I couldn’t keep my eyelids open. That concluded the day.



Day 234 / Race Report

Not sure when is Shamrock Day but Happy Leprechaun!

I am grateful to finally run it – the Pot of Gold 10K. It was a great day. Cold. I think it was 26/28 F (not sure about temp in Celcius, mayby -1 or -2) when we started. It got warmer once we were about a mile in the run. There were also some wind.

Hey usually I don’t do a race report on smaller races, since I do so many of these kind of races all the time. But since I drummed it up so much leading up to it, I should let everyone know how it went.

It was a new course to me. My first time running it. I have done severy races in the area of One Loudoun (shopping center), so it was not totally new to me. Still, the 10K course was the first time I was running it.

I have ran enough 10K to get a feel of the timing and pacing. I forgot to wear my Garmin watch so, I used my phone to track the run. I normally don’t like running with the phone. I ran with it this time, thinking I would take some pictures during the race (I didn’t).

A bonus was I got the reverse split. crazy right? The longer I ran, the faster I got during the race. That’s scary.

I was far from getting on the podium this time. I was ranked 12th in my age group.


JFK race report

Day 198 / First 50 Miler / Long Post

It has been two years in the making. The race was within my expectation. I was (well) prepared and finished the race within my expected time. It was long but was not too hard. I was feeling great throughout the race. We had near perfect fall running temperature. I was well pleased with everything.

I heard about this race from my friend Jenn, who ran it in 2017. At that time, I had ran three marathons and really no desire to punish myself to do an ultra. 26.2 miles was my thing and no longer distance than that. I thought people who ran ultra were crazy.

But Jenn was something else. She is always so cool, and speaks with a Hawaiian ascent. She left me with a deep impression after she said she did the JFK. When she said she did the JFK, I had to asked her a few times what was that. Apparently it was America’s oldest ultra. It is quite famous in the running community especially in our area. This can be considered a local race, with an hour from the nation capital. I was the only one of budding runners who was clueless about it. She set a dream in my heart there and then that I wanted to run the JFK too.

My goal was, to do the JFK, so that if Jenn was going to run a longer ultra like a 100 miler, I would be ready to pace her or be part of her handlers.

I know at the time even with three marathons under my belt, I was in no shape mentally or physically to do a 50 miler. In fact I couldn’t comprehend how far 50 miles is. Some might feel they could train up in a year, but I was a little wimpy. I felt I would need at least 2 years to get there.

I decided to only take a baby step and planned to do a 50k ultra by the following year. I chose what now looking back was one of the easiest ultras. I glad I did it. You can read my report all about the First Landing 50k seashore marathon (I will provide the link whenever I get to it). I thought at the time, that was the hardest thing I have done. That was the end of 2018.

Now brought us to this year, with a new confident of having done the 50k ultra. I was itching to sign up for the JFK. I don’t remember when I signed up, probably sometimes in March/April after a careful consideration. The rest then was history.

I ran a few other 50k this year before doing the JFK. Three of them: Eastern Divide 50k, Marine Corps 50K, and Old Glory 50k. They were helpful. Eastern Divide was one that was planned as a training run for JFK, while the other two were incidental. However, they were great, looking back, in getting me ready. The Eastern Divide and the Old Glory were much tougher than the first 50k. Having done the Old Glory, JFK’s mountainous trail portion was truly a joke.

I also signed up two other ultras that in the end I didn’t do: High Bridge and Iron Mnt. I’m not sure if I have done those, would I have been overtrained? Praise God for how things turned out.

My JFK race was pretty much in line with my expectation. My goal was to finish within 12 hours. The course cut off time was 13 hours. I set a stretch goal (A-goal) to finish at 75% percentile, which is 11 and half hours. I did it (close enough to call a success, by finishing at 11:30:30).

What I did not anticipate was how long and tiring the middle section was. I had planned to treat the race in three phases, the first trail section, the middle canal section, and the final rolling hills on the road. I expected the first segment would not be exhausting because I would walk with everyone else due to most people are not good at running on rocky trail. I placed my hope that I would still be fresh by the second part. The second and the third part was supposed to be like a 50k ultra, with couple miles extra.

The trail section was 13 miles, and the canal section was 26 miles, and the final road section was 8 miles.

At the start, there were a lot of people. They said the race was sold out. There were supposed to be 1500 1200 entries. However, I don’t think everyone came. I was at the bib handling out table the morning of the race and saw many bibs were uncollected by runners. I felt maybe only a thousand of us crossed the start line.

We staged at the Boonsboro High School and from there walked about 800 yards to the starting line because there were not enough parking spaces in the downtown area of Boonsboro. The town was really small!

I started at the end of the pack, but only 1 and half minute had elapsed as I crossed the starting line. I figured, I was not a strong runner. This was my first 50 miler and I already expected to finish around 75 percentile (meaning 75/100 will be finishing ahead of me). I didn’t mind starting at the back. Besides, if I am fast, I could pass people.

The first two miles were on the road to Old Mountain Inn, where we would enter the Appalachian Trail. These first two miles out of the town were 1000 feet climb (maybe 1800 over 5 miles). Most people walked. I ran and passed a lot of people because I did not want to get stuck behind those who I believe couldn’t run on the trail. If they refused to run on smooth pavement, they likely would not run on rocky trail as my logic goes. I arrived at the Old Mountain Inn in 30 minutes (doing a 15 minutes pace). The pace was not fast but, compare to people who were walking, it was a fast pace.

I entered the trail with great enthusiasm. I was surprised that people in front of me did not slow down (meaning I had caught up with my pace group). The first part of the trail was downhill. Then it got a bit technical as the trail narrows. People started stopping. The people behind me impatiently murmured that you supposed to run down hill. People were walking downhills and it was on a single trail and was difficult to pass. I kind of expecting this. I told those people behind me that the trail would widen up ahead, since I ran this section before during the preview event, I knew.

Personally, I don’t think the trail was not hard to run. There are some technical parts, but the trail, since 56 previous JFK events was stomped ‘flat’ by thousands of feet. When the trail widen out, people in the rear passed me and I along followed and passed the slower crowd up front. It did not take me long to pass most of those who were more cautious in handling the trail.

It was outside of my plan to run fast on this portion. However, I think this was the best part of the race. I ran hard compared to the rest of the race. Some might view this being stupid because I used up my strength when there were still 35 more miles to do. A few times during the trail portion my calf seized up as I leaped across some rocks, but luckily, it passed without further incident.

I entered the second segment, the canal, one and half hours ahead of schedule. Originally, my plan was to enter at near the cutoff time. However, I finished the trail in 3 hours, this included the half hour on the road section. The trail only took me two and half hours to do. This time was even faster than my preview run. At this point, I was with the 30 percentile people – there were only 300+ people ahead of me.

The canal segment was not that exciting. However, my friend David was first to greet me and cheered for me. He was my support team. My other friend Brian was supporting me remotely! It was my first race with a crew. He had everything with him. I did not depend on him beforehand, so did not tell him what I need. He came up with some of my favorite snacks and candies. I had hot spots on my left foot. Unfortunately, my friend did not bring with him any cream or powder; he had band-aids. He was right, I did not ask him to bring those. Luckily, I had an extra pair of socks and I swapped the sock of the left foot. My foot was fine for the remainder of the race.

The canal section was a whole marathon length. We had plenty of aid stations. Many people I passed earlier on the trail passed me back. It was expected because most people were road runners. I was doing around 14-15 min mile and I think people were running at around 10-11 min mile. I felt each mile was very long.

I knew I could do it. At the same there was the uncertainty of how many miles longer I could keep going. The whole canal section could be a hump. My goal was to get to the next aid station. Usually, they were about 2-3 miles apart. The longest distance apart was closer to 5 miles.

Also I had couple goals, and one was to get to Antietam Aqueduct or Taylor’s Landing, where my crew would be. It was very emotional each time I saw David. Taylor’s Landing was the hardest for me, because that was the last time I would see him. He said I only have 11 miles to go. It seemed short but at that time, it was beyond my expectation to say I can do it. There was only two miles to get off the canal from Taylor’s Landing and we would enter the final road section. It was a long two miles. Rain started falling. I was feeling cold.

In fact, I was cold the whole day. I dressed in two layers a short sleeves and a long sleeves technical shirt. I had a pair of shorts on. I thought in the morning when the temperature reached 50 degrees, I would get rid of my long sleeves, I was never warm enough to do that. As the rain fell, I regretted not to carry along my rain jacket. Originally, I thought I wouldn’t mind the rain, however, as you were getting cold and I was not running fast enough to generate enough heat, an extra layer, would be a welcome. The rain did not last. I was saved. If it had come down hard, I might have called it quit with 8 miles left to go.

The last 8 miles boistered my spirit again. I think the time was around 4:30. I had been running for 10 hours. It was longest and fartest I had ever run. I found the rolling roads were much easier to run on. In truth though my pace did not change that much. We passed people who were walking or were doing walk-run. Three hours to do 8 miles, we were more certain even if we were to walk, we would make to the finish by cut off. My goal then was to get within the final 3 miles. We had three aid stations spread out for the final stretch.

The reason I used ‘we’ here is, someone caught up to me and was following from behind. I felt she had the power to overtake me, but she did not do so. I did not turn around but kept on going until we got to the first of the last three stations. At first I found it was annoying of her tailing me. She seemed to be just a step behind me – not really drafting, but I felt she was very near, the feeling she was on top of me. However, I did not say anything. Readers, if you remember, I like to follow other people too, so I tried not to mind, if she decided to follow me.

After the aid station, implicitly, she was running by my side. We exchanged info and such. She said, don’t mind her if she is running slow and I shouldn’t mind to leave her. I don’t mind pacing next to her. I believe she was a stronger runner than I, now after reviewing her pace from the whole race, the segment she was with me was much slower and she was running much faster earlier. Regardless, she paced with me and me with her to the very end. It was very good to have a companion at this final stretch. (Fair to say, another runner, Kim, paced me through a hump for 5 miles to Taylor’s Landing).

As we got to the 2nd of the 3 aid stations, the sun had set. We put on headlamps. Some/many did not have them. Just the two of us were prepared and I was glad we had them. People on the forum said we did not need it. True, we probably could do without because the terrain was easy, but it was good to have. There were many places without street lights and it was total darkness.

The last aid station was far compared to the first two, it was 3 miles instead of two and it was just within a mile from the finish. My companion, Marnie kept at my side. Couple times, I felt I wanted to tell her to leave me, but she stayed. We finished. I hit my goal. I felt I had superhuman strength to run the last eight miles. With Marnie, I did not walk at all. Many people we passed at the last segment, were walking. I would be walking too if not for her.

The race itself compared with my previous ultras was pretty much kind of a cakewalk. I felt the Old Glory was much more enjoyable and challenging. JFK was just long and (can be a bit boring). What I got out was friendship and experience, which is invaluable.

ETC: total number registered was 1200 not 1500. At least 959 people started, and 867 finished within the 13 hours limit.



Day 192 Old Glory Ultra

pet peeve. I just found out I mis-numbered my blog posts and so I went back to the last 20+ entries and corrected them. I screwed that up big time. It is my pet peeve if the number is not in sequence after discovery.

I just did the old glory (OGU) trail run (on Saturday) and it was just a long long weekend. I won’t able tell all about it. It was a 50K ish run. The actual miles were about 29. Still, I won’t complain about the missing two miles. It was intentional. The race director said it is a trail run and give or take couple miles is a norm. It was a tough course with 7,000 ft elevation change. However I enjoyed it tremendously.

It was almost a race I had to skip out. About twenty people did not show up. Only three of them wrote to the race director about it and requested deferral. The rest were no shows. About 30 of us finished. We and at least I was, had a lot of fun. It was my best racing experience I had. Trail running is a total different beast than road running.

My best friend who also my normal camping buddy, had a slight misunderstanding days leading up to the trip. I was going to go camping and then it was canceled and then I found it was still on. Luckily it was resolved peacefully early Thursday morning. My friend thought I dumped her for the race (well I kind of did), but she was mad at me for not telling her about the race. Whereas I was on the otherhand, thought she dumped me for going camping solo and that the stars had aligned perfectly for my race weekend. A chance in a million! We now found out it was one big misunderstanding. Still I have to make a peace offering once I get back.

Now about the race itself, I camped the night before and night after at the race site. The race took place at Kairos Resort in Glen Lyn, Virginia. It is about 6 hours south and west of DC. It was not any type of resorts that usually comes to to mind. There is no skiing. I don’t think it is a hunting ground. Sure there are bears and wild turkey. They do not have and probably won’t be building lodges. It is just a campground with many miles of dirt trails for bikes and ATVs. It is a remote place and normally runners don’t go there for running, but it was perfect for us for our race. The closest ‘real city’ is an hour away. I have heard some people got Airbnb from Princeton, WV, which is much closer. But I camped on site.

Why it is called a resort is we have a camp store (Ed’s place) and a Bathhouse. Those were two places that were heated, but because the temperature was so cold Friday night, the water pipe froze and there was no water to flush the toilet on the race morning or water to shower at the end of the race. It was kind of to be expected. They had couple of pottajohns. For guys going to the bathroom was not a problem, since we can just go behind a tree. I think the ladies too.

The temperature was below freezing. I went to bed early. My water jug was partially turned to ice. However the temperature went up on Saturday on the race day midway. We had a perfect running temperature. Oh, I had to make a real fire to cook because my gas canister for the jetboil was too cold to work.

This was the second year of the race. The race director think it will gain popularity. I like the aspect of camping out the night before the race. However, it was too cold for most friends and families and even runners. Most runners are not campers like me.

The trail was challenging. It was my first real technical trail race. There are rocks, stream crossings and mud. The race director warned us not to zone out. I did couple times and the first time, I rolled my ankle and the second time, I missed a turn. We were miles away from any easily accessible roads. They would to use ATV and 4×4 off road vehicle to even get to our aid stations. Man, I thought the race was done for me at the half way point and I was about to walk out to the nearest aid station. Pain went down and I continued to run the course.

I finished in 8 hours but the first guy finished in 4 and half. The last person finished at about 9 hours. We all finished before dark. The race director said the course is tough but it is not the toughest out there. I think it was very enjoyable. I viewed it as 30 miles of hiking (and I ran in hiking boots). I wish to do again either next year or the year after if schedule allows.

Oh, why I love ultras, all you get for the race was a bowl of chili and a trucker cap. I love my trucker hat. I ran with mine on. The finisher patch did not arrive on time and the Race Director apologized for that, we said, that was not why we run. We got a high five from the RD at the finish line.

Love the trucker cap. Me coming in strong for my chili bowl. I was the probably the only one wearing hiking boots because I don’t like muddy running shoes and wet feet. I know, got to work on that if I like running ultras.


MCM no. 44

Day 186 race report

I woke up the morning of the race at around 3 AM, having slept maybe 5 hours. Originally I set my alarm for 5 AM, but I felt I needed more time to prepare. The night before, I was too tired to pack my things after coming back from a hiking trip. It was the first time I woke up this early for a race. I know, with Ultras, there might be a day I will be at the course by 1 or 2AM in the morning.

I had my early breakfast. Cold breakfast because I was too lazy to cook. I had to have some food in me. Packed. We had to pack a second breakfast because by the time the race starts, I would be hungry again. I was out of the house by 5. I took the metro (light rail) to the starting line. Metro opens at 6 just for this event. I drove to a far away station in Springfield instead of taking a closer one, Vienna. The reason being, is to avoid making a transfer. I did this race back in 2017, and by the time waiting for transfer, I could barely made it to the race start, given that time, I missed the first train and had to wait for a second one that was like 15 minutes later. That 15 minutes was a big different. This time, no transferring and I made sure I was at the station 15 minutes prior the first train in order not to miss it. I barely made it on time for that due to not familiar with the station and the parking. The train moved out the station exactly on the dot. I got on my train. There were lot of runners like me. My race started at 7:30. I got to the race around 6:30. But there were a lot of people when I arrived, 30,000+ of them. It took us some time to leave the station and to get to the starting line. This time I came a little bit earlier and avoid the crowd like I did back in 2017. But there were still a lot of people. From the metro, we had to walk about a mile to the runners village. By the time I got to the village, and gone through security check, the starting time was near (only 30 minutes left). I walked up to the starting line and that was a long walk too (maybe quarter mile long). 50K has only 1700 runners and we felt many has dropped out due to the rain.

We had a tropical storm blowing from Texas. It hit us around 7-10 am. I have been watching this storm system since the beginning of the week. We were hoping it would skip us. There were a lot of water coming down from the sky. Bucketful of water. The race started on time. Luckily the storm did not last too long (maybe for couple hours). It came down early and then went out of the area, fast moving storm. We had sunshine for the rest of the race.

Having run the course before, this time I was well prepared. I did not go out too strong. Last time I tired myself out by mile 13. This time I am doing the Ultra 50k, which added about 4.8 miles more. The course still remained much the same. We did the extra 4.8 miles at mile 4.5, when we left the normal marathon race course and run a 2.4 miles out and back before rejoining the marathon course.

By mile 4, the elite runners already caught up with us. We ran about half a mile with them. Note we had a 25 minutes head start. We left the regular course at mile 4.5, and came back in. By the time we came back in the course many runners already ran passed. It was raining heavily at the time. Many runners were already walking. I assumed they were doing 16-18 mins per mile. We the 6:00 finishers were still going at 11:33 mins per mile. This was one of the greatest concern for the ultra runners. We would come in from behind and it would be a challenge to move pass the slower runners. While there were a lot of people, I was able to still pass them. Based on simulation, we would be passing 6000 people the first few miles. We passed a lot of people, but it was very hard to keep count. I was running between 10:30 a mile and 12:30 min a mile pace depending on the crowd. Experience definitely helped at this point. In the previous Marine Corps Marathon, I was expending too much energy weaving in and out of the crowds that by mile 13, I was completely exhausted. This time I was basically going with the flow and passing when I could. I know I would pass them, but I did not get frustrated if the person in front was a bit slow. I know they would a bit slow until the very end. Since they closed both sides of the street, I could run on the opposite side. Not many people did (they fear of being DQ I think for going off the course). I ran mostly on the opposite side (or on the median) to pass people. And it was great. I did not have to weave in and out the crowd too much.

Most people were respectful, they used hand signal to let people know they are stopping. There were not too many people running in big group this time. I could get by most of the time. There were just a lot of people. The course did not really spread out until their mile 13 as expected, our mile 18.

The rest of the race was mostly uneventful. Being an ultra runner, I brought my own water and food. I had more experience than the rest of the crowd. I did not slow down at many of the aid stations unless I ran out water. I got some oranges and gels from the aid stations later in the race, when I did not see that many people crowding there. I felt I was one of the few around me who could keep the energy up. I ate early in the race, before even the first official food station. I had real food (peanut butter sandwiches). I did not “hit-the-wall” until final two miles. Even then, the last minute gel got me through. One word about those gels, it almost turned my stomach inside out. I thought I was about to double over and throw up. Maybe I was drinking too much water by that time.

About pacing, I was with the 6:00 hour group. I was mostly in front of them. They were going maybe 30 seconds faster than the supposed pace in the beginning. We were running at 11 min pace until mile 5. Then the pacer decided to make a time correction by walking couple minutes. I had my 5:00 (hour) marathon pace band (I felt as long as I get to the 26.2 mile, I could finish the rest of the way). I arrived at the 26.2 mark exactly at 5:00 on the race clock. The last 4.8 miles took me an hour to get through.

I walked much more in the final few miles. I stopped for beer (from the crowd) and a picture. Bummer too the rain ruined my camera phone. A fellow marathon maniac ran up to me and we took a picture together with her phone at the final few miles. The final hill was hard. Having ran it before, I knew the hill was not long, so I pushed on. It was hard. Many other people flew by me. I crossed the finish line at 5:58:something on race clock time. I did not run a perfect even pace, but it was the first time, I arrived exactly at the time I wanted to arrive.

I think picking a 6:00 arrival time was arbitrary. I felt it was a bit too fast for me. I could have picked 6:15 or 6:20, then I would not have felt so rush. I did not want to push too hard, since I have one more race (a 50 miler) in three weeks, and that one I have been training on/off for over a year. I hope this race did not ruin my body for that one. I was not supposed to go all out on this race. I felt I was nearly there.


Baltimore Marathon

Day 183 / race report

First off, this is a good race to run. It was beyond my initial impression. Baltimore surprisingly is beautiful. I signed up for this race last year immediately the day after they held it. It was my plan/goal to do the king crab challenging, which was to run three races: the Frederick Half in May, the Baltimore 10 Miler in June, and the Baltimore Marathon (or Half Marathon) in October. It seemed an extremely difficult thing to do at the time and I have been worrying about for two years. But Ha, it was just like any race, the moment I stepped on the course and ran, before I knew it, I was at the finish line.

I have heard about the Baltimore Marathon the moment I started running and that was about two/three years ago. Baltimore is near where I live relatively speaking. I live in near the nation capital in Virginia, where two states meets. We informally call this area the DMV – DC, Maryland and Virginia. We are blessed with so many races here. The Baltimore Marathon is one of them.

Even though Baltimore is considered my neighborhood (by the census data) but it is on the other side of the river (on the Maryland side). For all my life, I have felt Maryland is in another country. I am sure the Maryland people felt the same about us Virginians. Baltimore is about an hour away from DC and this made it feels even farther from us. But I live about an hour from DC too in another direction. The race allowed me to be a bit more familiar with Maryland and Baltimore.

If any are doing destination marathon, Baltimore is not a bad choice. The race took place in downtown Baltimore at the Oreole Baseball Stadium (Camden Yard) and finished at the Harbor. I parked my car at M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens), which is just next to Camden Yard–they had free event parking for us. Surprised! I had to pay for parking if I run in DC or in Richmond. Hotels in the city are a bit pricy but there are plenty. I booked an hotel about 15 mins drive away, that is, outside of the city. It was not bad. Know that I was in Baltimore back in June to do 10 Miler and unfortunately at that time, I made a poor choice in staying a place that was kind of sketchy, just leaving it at that. Do your research of where you plan to stay. Any hotel that needs to have a bullet proof glass in front of the reception counter to protect the staff like in a bank, I would think it might not be a good location to stay at. My hotel was like that.

I read many things about Baltimore that is not very flatering, such as a city that can’t afford to pave its roads. It is known for potholes! We don’t even have to go into drug or crime or murder rate. Good thing is every block I ran, there are two or three police officers, so I felt completely safe the whole time. There was an incident where a car did not obey the police direction and almost ran me over, but that probably can happen any where. Of course, cars hate us runners. We blocked the downtown roads for 4-5 hours. We heard a lot of honking. I don’t think it was hey, congratulations but more like what is wrong with you guys running on the roads. There were angry long and loud honking errupting everywhere, because they closed the roads for us, and people were upset.

What I surprised about is how beautiful the city is. On a normal day, I wouldn’t walk around in Baltimore after hearing that people being beating to death is a normal thing in this city during the day, but on the race day as I ran through various neighborhoods, there are really nice people out there and who actually live there. People came out and cheered us. I was offered gummys, oranges, and water and beers. This was in addition to the official aid stations. The Baltimore Harbor, which was the half way point and the finish line is absolutely awesome.

How did I do? I was not running for a record (no PR). I signed up with the 5:15 pace group, which is kind of slow for me since my average is around 4:30-4:45 finish but in the last two marathons I ran kind of slow and finished at 5:30, and that was about a month ago. So, 5:15 expected time was reasonable for me. I stayed with the 5:15 group for half the race until pasting mile 13. Then I ran at my own pace and it felt great finally freed. At mile 20 I caught sight of the 5 hour pace group. I was hoping to pass them in the next three miles. I passed them. I was kind of hoping to pass the 4:45 group too. I crossed the finish line at 4:53, still it was a very good time.

It felt good to have strength for the last couple miles. I did not hit the wall at all. This was the first time running a marathon without being exhausted at the end.

The tireness came only after crossing the finish line and I went to bed early. Other than that, the race was very good!


Camden Yard. I just love this stadium, because it is beautiful!

Starting line. The green shirt people are my pacers. They were awesome. You can see the 5 hour pace team in front of us.

Our pace strategy was to run slower the first few miles, but would pick up pace after we get going. We walked through all 15 aid stations.

Our pacers set goals for us! Our first goal is to get to the zoo next to Johns Hopkins Uni.

Johns Hopkins. Also a beautiful campus. A beautiful morning.

Next up. We headed into the city. Beautiful neighborhood.

The famous Penn Station. Hear a lot about this station. Seeing this means we are in the city.

We are near the half way point. This race, they had the half marathoners start at our half way. We got here after the half already started. They said they had the half marathoners run in their own lane so they wouldn’t block us who were passing by. I arrived at mile 15 in 3 hours, which was slow for me, since normally by 3 hours, I would have done 20 miles already.

I did not take pictures on the second half. I was too focus on running. People say there were a lot of hills. True but I ran in more hilly places (e.g. Morgantown). Hills here were too easy for me. Also there were a lot of people walking after the half. It felt good to able to catch up to the people who were running the half.

Another thing interesting about the race was the relay team event. There were three exchange points (6, 13, and 20 mile). We marathoners were slow and tired but the relay runners, they just blasted out their exchange chutes at full speed, was something I love seeing.

Finish line at the harbor. I had my lunch and enjoyed the view.

More sightseeing. An Old ship. Constellation.

The finish place was very festive! In most marathons I have done, usually, no one is around by the time I come in. This is because, the half marathoners usually finish before the full, and are long gone by the time those running the full finish.


Mountain boys

Day 172

I will try to make this short. My race report usually goes on and on. The past weekend, I went to West Virginia and did the Morgantown Marathon. Boy, was it hard. To compare to previous marathons I ran, this was an ultra level marathon. I was knock out by mile 19. I walked then for three miles and finally picked up running again but was going at 15 min mile, very very slow jog. By mile 25, I walked to the finish. I finished at 5:10; the orginal target goal was 4:40-45. So I might have gone out a little too fast in the beginning.

The course could have been tougher but I saw at many hills, the race path was diverted to an easier path. In my mind, I was thinking, thank God I don’t have to go up that hill. Though the course was made easier, it didn’t mean there was no hill. The whole course was hilly. We are in West Virginia, where there is not flat ground! There were hills that go up for a mile long. Mile 25-26 was like that. A whole mile of uphill. They had to put it at the end! Some people mention mile 20 as well, but I was walking at that point and do not remember if it was a hard climb.

One thing I noticed was even walking was tough. You would think if you couldn’t run, you would walk to catch your breath, but while walking, my muscles felt like they would not want to take another step. At that time, if the snag wagon came by, I would have taken it and gave up on the race. I never thought walking was hard before, but in this race, walking was hard for me.

The race organization was great. It started on time. They managed it like a 10,000 people race even though there were only 2500-2600 people registered and only about 250-260 people ran the full marathons. There were lot of food, water station, and after party. They have a pace vehicle! I thought I was running in the olympic. I couldn’t catch up to it though. There were many road crossings but they had crossing guards through out. We ran on closed roads for most of the race. There was one point though, I think one or two cars broke through a roadblock at an empty stretch. I know some people did not like us running on the road.We were in West Virginia, and to my mind, it is the wild wild west (their state slogan is ‘wild and wonderful’, indeed).

crowd support: It was not like other big races, but some neighbors came out. I am thankful for the frozen grapes at one of the houses. Unfortunately, no one offered me moonshine on the course. I was kind of hopeful to get some moonshine in WV.

Final word. They say run to conquere Morgantown, but I think the mountain boys conquered me.


Race #3: Eastern Divide 50k

Day 132 race report

I got down to Blacksburg a day before the race for package pick up. I like able to avoid the rush. The drive was not that long but it felt forever. I could run a 4 and 5 hour race but I can’t stand driving four hours. I was going crazy and was verge of delirium for wanting to close my eyes for a bit. I stopped for coffee after two hours at Harrisonburg. The rest of the way was uneventful. The coffee kicked in about an hour later when I was near.

I had about an hour and half to spare after arriving and I went up ti Mountain Lake (Pembroke, VA) where the race would end and nosed around on the state roads. I was not able to find the start line but I was driving around a bit on the mountain roads. The place is beautiful. I didn’t have a map with me so I didn’t want to wander too far. After an hour I got off the mountain and went back to town.

I went to race director’s briefing. Aftereard had dinner and hit the bed by eight. I had to be up by 4:30 for the race.

The race had about 10 miles of trail with a lot of running on the fire roads. I thought I would do well since it is really a road race. I finished in 7 hours. It was much slower than I anticipated. For some reason, I just didn’t have the energy to run. I ran maybe the first four miles and the last four and walked most of the way. I average about 4 miles and hour. It was a fast hike.

The Cascade Fall was beautiful. I didn’t spent too much time looking at it before making the climb up to Butt Mountain. Then we ran to mostly on the ridge line to Wind Mountain. We finished it at Mountain Lake.

I didn’t see the lake during my run. I was looking down and watching my footing the whole time.

I probably wouldn’t do it again. I felt the elevation was challenging but the race was mostly boring. Physically I was challenged. I wish I was in a better shape. In the end It felt like a one long hike.


Race report

Seashore 50k Natural Trail Marathon / December 15, 2018


Post race report – NCR

Everything is much a blur but I will try do a post race report. Everything went as planned (somewhat). I arrived late to the hotel the