C&O Canal Towpath Marathon

Day 175 Race Report

If yesterday was a fluke, today was not. I again started the race late. All I got to blame is myself. I got to race of what I thought was an hour early and took my time eating my breakfast. I had a lot of fried rice. Somehow, as other people gathered up, I was staying confidently at my car. I saw other cars were still pulling in and thought I had plenty of time. Somehow, I took today starting time to be the same as yesterday. However, in fact the marathon started half an hour before the half.

By the time I walked up to the starting line, only the half marathon runners were still there. I don’t know why I did not check the race website for the start time beforehand. I made another rookie mistake.

The race director kindly informed me the race has started and I should start running. He told me the course and which direction to go.

Luckily, being half an hour behind was not as bad as yesterday of being an hour and half behind. I tried to catch up to the runners. I know they were about three miles out. The course was out and back four times and so I saw them usually running in the opposite direction but I never caught up to them. The closest I got was within two miles.

I was not able to catch up to any runners but I did catch up to those who walked. Officially I finished at 6 hours but unofficially my garmin time was 5:34 about the same as yesterday.

The weather was hot. I did not lube up myself today because I woke up late but surprisingly I did not get chaffed. Halfway through I felt a bister was developing on my left foot but I readjusted how I planted my foot and in the end no bister. I did not know you could do that.

If you think how could someone can run two marathons within two days, the answer is simple, you run very slowly. I tried to run fast but I was unable to do it. My time was 45 minutes slower than usual.

Was it hard for me? A marathon is a marathon. It seemed when I was running, the course seemed unending. Eventually, it did end. It was hard in that sense. However it was not extremely hard. I am at a point now in my training, where doing 20+ miles for a long run and the next day going out and do it again is typically what the plan calls for. I am supposed to be doing that much miles during the weekend.

I ended up using the races for my long runs.

Marathon and a half

Day 167 (race reports)

three races in one weekend – SHF Abebe Bikila Intl Peace Marathon, Arlington 9-11 5K, and Parks Half Marathon

Total miles ran for the week was 46. Mostly all on the weekend. I did 4 miles during the week. I was mostly recovering from my backpacking trip. The tumble at the end of the trip injured me more than I initially realized. My lower back was out of wack for couple days and my left ankle was not so good. On top of it all, I woke up one day, with a knot in my neck/upper back (I couldn’t turn my head to the left, making runing difficult). Luckily, they all went away on race day.

This week should be either the 4th or fifth week of my training, but last two weeks pretty much no running due to the Roan Trip – a week of preparation beforehand and a week of recovery. But even with very little runing, it was pretty satisfying to run a race.

Here is the race report – three in one. I signed up to run a half marathon and a 5K, which is no big thing, but at the last minute (last Sunday or Monday) I went and signed up for a full marathon on top. I have been on the fence about the full for maybe a month. On paper, that was the amount of mileage I was supposed to run any way, but it seemed daunting because I never run three races on a given weekend before.

I got to say even after running so many marathons, there were still lessons to learn. It all came down to preparation. I should have packed the night before and I should have slept early.

I had about four hours of sleep the night before – my own undoing. The race didn’t start till 8 AM. Some started as early as 6, with the Race Director’s permission. The bulk of us, started at 8.

I left my house around 6 but my head was a bit whoosie. I don’t even get up this early for work or church.

I swallowed some oatmeal and got to the course with plenty time to spare.

The first half of the run was pretty much on pace. I ran a 2:01 (hr:mm) for a half. Then I started to unravel after that. I lost my water bottle. It felt off from my hydration vest and somehow I never noticed when it happened. I was pretty much out of it from lack of sleep. I really didn’t need it since water stop is at every two miles but still, I am one of those guys — if something is out of place I would think about it all the time. So for the rest of the race, I was scanning the course for my water bottle.

I caught a second wind by mile 17-18 when I was being chased by another runner (#840), well not sure if I chased her or sh was chasing me. She chased me for couple miles until the turn around point (between mile 19-20). I stopped. I needed to stop. I was out of it.

The first half, I didn’t need to stop but second half I stopped at every station. My stomach was not doing too well. Later, I think it was because I had too much sweet (starburst candies).

Then it was pretty much a struggle to the end. My underwears were giving me rash burn. It never happened before in previous races. It was uncomfortable. I tried readjusting them throughout the race but it stuck to my left thigh and cutting into it. I wasn’t wearing the stretchable one. So every step was painful as it rubbed and cut into me.

Then my shirt too was burning me. The right sleeve was cutting into my arm. There was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t bring any cream or lotion with me in my vest — they were left behind in the car. I felt the heat and rub burn with every swing of my arm.

I kind of find my tempo on and off between water stations. I probably could keep my tempo if I didn’t stop for water. I wasno longer running for time but to finish. So every water station was a stopping point. I picked up the pace on the last mile and finished it. Somehow, a marathon always seems so long but eventually, the finish line comes into view, there is a sense of relieve.

That was my first race of the weekend.

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My second race started at 6 pm. It was a 5k. I kind of take it as a joke. A 5K, I could run it with my eyes close. Unfortunately, my body didn’t take it the same way. I had on compression socks and so I didn’t feel much from my legs.

However, my breathing was another matter. I couldn’t breath. I think there was too much lactic acid in my chest. Every time I suck in breath, all my chest cavity hurt. I hoped I was not having a heart attack. I am so young to…

Any way, I huffed and puffed through the first couple miles. That was the most difficult 5K ever. The pain didn’t go away until the last mile. I put on speed and rushed to the finished line. My time was little over 30 min, averaging near 10 mins mile.

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My third race was on Sunday. This was much easier than expected. I ran on tired legs, but after the first few miles, I was used to it. My breathing was under control. I didn’t start too fast. I built up my pace with each mile. I was expecting a large hill and hard climb at the end, however, the hill was smaller than I imagined. While every one paused to walked up, I sprinted up. I think it was less than 100 ft at mile 8. I ran this course last two years, but it was not how I remebered it. I had so much left in my tank this year that I blazed through the last mile. The course finished on a downhill. I used that to my advantage.

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Aftermath.

I was sored the whole day and next. I couldn’t squat down. My quads took a beating. Not sure when I can run again. I will try any way.

Looking back, I enjoyed the three races. The mileage was high but it shouldn’t be something that I couldn’t do. I think I am ready now to do a back to back marathon – it is no longer beyond my ability.

Also, I ran two of the races this weekend with my friends. Though we all ran at our own pace but we celebrated together at the finish line. The race was much more enjoyable because of them.

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.

Mini race day

Day 119

I ran a 4 miler on Mothers’ Day. I forgot my Garmin watch, so there is no detailed data on the run. I ran this course in 2017 and I did much better this time. I finished, running at 8:30 pace. Not my fastest.

My take away was 4 miles were quite long a race to do. I started out slow but I didn’t feel I was moving slowly. It might be due to lack of warm up and so the first mile was a warm up run for me. At mile 2, I was on pace and was actually going too fast for my body to handle. At mile three, I stopped at the water station, because I was feeling it – tired. Normally, I would skip the water station on short races. After the rest, I was able to gain back my pace and finished my last mile on pace. Still several people passed me by right before the finish line.

My next big race is this coming weekend. I plan to do a back to back half and full marathon (like the goofy run) to get a feel of running when I’m tired. This would be my first time doing a Half and then a Full in two days.

The following weekend after this will be Memorial weekend and I will be traveling to PA for a backpacking trip. Hopefully, I have plenty to write about once I get back.

Running in the rain

This weekend was pretty intense too, but wasn’t like last weekend. Some people say I have a lot of energy.

I don’t remember what I did on Friday. Ah, I took a half day from work on Friday and went to Harrisonburg to watch my cousin’s graduation from James Madison University. They were forecasting heavy rain that evening and the ceremony was outdoor. They cut out or shorten many of the speeches and called the graduates name to come on stage at the beginning in case the rain comes and they would have to cancel the ceremony. The rain came as the ceremony was ending.

Students walking on stage to receive their diploma.

I got home at a decent time. Originally, I had expected not getting home until midnight. We spent a lot time on the road. The trip was special because I got to spent time with couple other cousins who were riding with me, normally wouldn’t see them.

On Saturday, I left for Frederick, MD. It was not too far from where I live but it was far enough that I decided to stay over night there. I had to go there early to pick up my bib for the Sunday race and I also signed up for a 5K on Saturday night. It was so cool that this race gave out 4 cans of free beer at the end of the 5K. I only took one…I didn’t want to get drunk or be dehydrated the night before the big race.

Sunday: Frederick Half Marathon is one of the big time races at a small town. I was surprised of the services and race support they offered. The whole town came out to support us.

Worse of all, it was raining buckets of water even before the race got underway. During the race, the rain alternated between light and heavy. I had my rain jacket on, and it helped but everything was wet.

I finished at a bit slow at 2:02. I got tired about at 10 miles. My ankle though wasn’t healed yet but did not bother me. I was afraid I might trip again during the race. I think I have recovered from my last marathon. I had enough breath in me. The course was familiar since I did a pre-run on the course couple weeks ago.

The reason I was slow might be because I didn’t (couldn’t) go to the bathroom before the race until the race started. I never had this problem before. I tried to go but nothing came and when the race about to start, I had such a strong urge to go. I thought it was race jittery. So while running, I hit the first pottojohns I saw and floodgate opened literally. Running with a full bladder probably costed me 5 mins.

I ran in my trail shoes. I brought a bunch of shoes with me, but decided to go with the trail because it might do better in the rain. It did.

I carried my phone with me but the rain was too much for me to take pictures.

Funny thing, I read beforehand that they asked us (runners) to leave for the starting line at least 30 minutes before what we think we should be there. Apparently I forgot. My hotel is only at most 10 minutes away, but boy, did it take me 45 minutes to get to the parking lot. There were a lot of road closures and detours and traffic. I was aiming to get to the course at 6, but didn’t arrive until 6:45. As the race started, I saw people were still pulling in. Boy was I nervous that I couldn’t get a parking spot and couldn’t start on time. Next time, read and follow directions (printed in the runner handbook).

As I ran, I saw a lot of fast runners were passing me from behind, I think because they got to the course late!

Also we parked on the grass lawn. It was Frederick Fairground. We (cars) totally ruined the lawn. Rain and car tires don’t go well together. There were cars that couldn’t handle the mud well. Smaller cars couldn’t get out the parking lot at the end of the race.

Fairground: we finished on the race track. It was special because I have never been on a horse track before. It was much bigger than what I thought. It must be exciting to see horses run on the track! I felt I was a thoroughbred as I ran on it!

This was taken on Saturday before the rain turned it into a mud pit.

What I packed. I didn’t end up wearing my swimming truck because I was afraid I might get chaffed in bad places. I was tempted though. Wool socks were good. No blister.

There were a lot of people, thousands I think. I didn’t take any picture of the crowd though.

Here 15 mins before the start and no runners willing to line up at the 7 min pace. They came later. I guess many were stuck in traffic or stayed in their cars until the race about to start due to rain. (I don’t run at 7 min pace though and I moved back to my pace group after I took the picture). Rain was not heavy at this point but a few minutes later, it really came down hard.

Really though thousands of people were there.

Intensity

Day 115

I came across a training article. The concept is pretty simple and logical, but it occurs to me that it is an important truth that I have overlooked.

The concept is we train in three phases. The first is foundation. We build a good foundation and hopefully the last three years, I had a solid foundation. Then come the real deal where we pursuit after our goal by increasing the effort/power and intensity at the growth phase. Lastly (third phase) we maintain our level and perfecting our goal.

I think intensity is the key. I felt in a lot of things I do in life, I reach a mediocre level and normally stay like that with very little growth. What I missed was I have not really amped up the intensity to get to my potential. And I have gone through life/everything in a boring kind of way.

I came across the article at the right time. Intensity is what make what I am doing exciting. What drives my passion is doing more of the things I like.

I attended the talk (secret church) last week and there was segment on having a passion for God. What drive Moses to know God more? It was to know God’s glory. And the speaker was saying did Moses see enough of God’s glory already? He was a guy who spoke to God in front of a burning bush. He saw the Red Sea parted and many other miracles. What drove him to ask God, to show him more of God’s glory when he already seen more than anyone else in the world. The answer was it is never enough.

In parallel, I never experience enough of running. It is not a bit different for me to do a 5k or 10k or a marathon. Some might think (those who are not a runner) ask whether it is enough since I have run 8 marathons already. Nope. The experience of running my eighth one was just as exciting as running my first one. Related to intensity of what we are talking about, I actually want more! Some call it an addiction but I think not. I could easily be satisfied with one race! But because I love it so much, and my body is able to handle it, I am upping my races both in quality and quantity. I don’t need more race to have the same ‘high’, which is those who have an addiction needed. Any way…

Running a 10K is just as fun, except it is just too short! Haha. Sorry for those who were dying on the course when I did mine, I don’t mean to put them down. 10k might be the hardest thing they did.

Last weekend I did the Pike Peek or Peek’s Pike, whatever it is. This post was originally about this race but I got suck in on the topic of intensity from something I read.

Why I love doing 5k/10k is it bring out community. Almost anyone can do it. You will be surprised if you think you can’t run a 10k. I got it that many couldn’t do it but some, a few who attempted, I applaud them.

The race is usually open long enough so even those who walk (fast walk) can finish. That was a reason you get to see many who are not a fast runner on the course.

Runners are a friendly bunch, but with the slower crowd out, it is even friendlier.

The crowd support was great on this one. For the race, we ran down Highway 355. It has 4 lanes going each way, but they closed three of the four lanes, so that they can have more room for runners. We ran down most of the way. There was a festival at the end (Peeks and Roses). I had to be somewhere so I didn’t stay too long. I stayed long enough to see the slower people finish (last few). I think it was the 1.5 hours crowd.

That was that. I probably can go on and on. I love the race and will do it again.

Roanoke

Day 109

It was probably my 8th marathon, but who is keeping count? My training was about the same compare to previous times except for lacking in long runs this time. Even though it was only couple days since the race, things are getting blurry. Statistics wise I didn’t do as well as in my previous marathons. I was much slower. It shows that without working on hill runs, I did poorly on hills. The whole race was about running up the Roanoke mountain and that is about 1000ft. The whole race has about 7000 ft in change of elevation and the topographical map shows about 600 ft at the most extreme portion. Everyone just walked up except for a few who were running for prizes.

I walked. They said we ran over and on top of three mountains. The first one, Roanoke was the hardest and longest. Mill mountain was in between and was really on our way down from Roanoke Mnt and I don’t really consider that a mountain. The third one wasn’t as high as Roanoke Mnt nor Mill Mnt but it was unexpected more difficult for me. I guess I lack the will to tackle it any more after running up the first two. I just walked along with everyone else. I did a walk run going up the Roanoke Mnt but when I got here, I couldn’t muster a run.

Running downhill was fun. It was pure joy. They say watch your knees. I had no problem the first long downhill, but second downhill, I couldn’t manage it any more. My run was like a walk. It was still better than flat! It think it was at mile 15-16 when I broke. It came early. I had a big breakfast and ate all the right thing the night before — spaghetti. Maybe my metabolism is way too high, at mile 16, my tank was empty. It was screaming – what spaghetti, where was the spaghetti you ate. It’s not there.

I don’t remember how I was able to recovery. The crowd support from the community was amazing. I love the volunteers, always. They were the sweetest people. At the food table, I had some gummies and fruits. I think the strawberries helped. I didn’t take some Gu (gels) they were handling out. I think some of the stuff I drank – they were offering scratch energy drink, which I never had before, kind of upset my stomach. I felt I drank too much water also. There was water station almost every mile apart and I drank at each of them until I felt i had too much water and about to release back out in the other direction. I don’t know how I was able to get to mile 20. It was a mile at a time.

I saw my mom at mile 22. At that time it was just plain tiredness. All the hills were behind me by now. There were little ones here and there. The tip to myself was don’t find any excuse to stop, if I stop, I wouldn’t able to bring myself to run again. I was feeling loopy. I was crying, yet no tear. My emotion was all over the place. There were only four more miles but they were the longest miles I ever did. The ‘wall’ was over. I got new burst of energy. The feeling was great – hence I was crying. I saw a flag and thought of ‘the Lord is my banner’ and I cried as I ran. I think at that time there were two more miles left.

Then there was one more mile. Everyone by then was gone at least to my mind. Those who still could run already passed me while I was feeling loopy. All those who were around my pace disappeared. I looked far ahead. They were gone. Somehow the people behind me weren’t catching up either. I passed the 4:45 pacer a few miles back. I was alone. I felt indeed it was the longest mile.

But you know what? They had to put one last hill right before the finish line. I don’t remember seeing the 26 mile marker, but I had a sense the end was near. I saw the hill, but the finish line was not in sight. I turned and said to the runner next to me, I was no longer alone then. I felt being crowded by two or three other runners. I said last hill. The people watching also echoed out last hill. I pressed on. The runners passed me.

I turned the corner. Saw the finishing chute ahead and the crowd. My vision grew dimmed. Only thing I saw was the finishing clock above the finishing line 4:43/4:44. I ran as I never ran before. My mom said she waited at the finishing line and didn’t see me at all because of couple other larger runners were in front of me blocking her view and suddenly I appeared, she said she couldn’t get her camera ready at all as I ran through the chute passing other runners.

My lung was screaming. My back cramped up. I did it. They put a finisher medal over my head. Then the rain started literally. I was just overjoyed. I forgot to stop my Garmin watch! Oh no have to rerun the course. Ha!

My exgirl friend first told me about marathon and Roanoke was her first. The things she told me about really matched up as I ran it. It took me three years to tackle this race. I know I shouldn’t think about my ex any more but I just couldn’t help it. It has been near three years working toward to this race. Every step I took there was like stepping on sacred ground. Weird feeling.

Having obtained it now after working so hard toward this, not cheap, but I didn’t value it. It was just another medal and another marathon. Some day, I will have run in all fifty states and have 50 medals. So this is just one in many for Virginia.

But I am happy at the same time.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despis├Ęd straight:
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
        All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
        To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129

In our Sunday school class, we talked of what things we went after that in the end let us down, and I thought of running this race. Well sort of. It is done now. On to the next one.