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.

Calm before the storm

Day 107
I am having a great calm before this weekend race. No marathon is easy. I don’t think this one will be any easier than the last one. Three more days. As they say, I hope to remain healthy until the race day.

I had a nice run last night. I almost tripped at the beginning for hopping on the sidewall curb and then lossed my balance. It reminded me to not to do silly/risky things before the race. The rest of the run was uneventful. I was running with some weight and almost couldn’t keep up with the group. It was another silly thing that could overtax myself before the big race.

Our family is dealing with some family emergency/crisis and my mom probably won’t be able to attend my race. I am also kind of not wanting to run but instead to go for a camping / backpacking trip. I will be packing tonight and get on the road after work tomorrow. Probably doing another silly thing before my race. I know racing is everything to me…but kind of want to drop it all and walk away. I could in theory go camping, then show up on Saturday early morning (5 am + 2 hrs from campground) for bib pickup and run and then head back to the woods for more camping before going home.

Don’t know yet. Will have to do all the planning tonight.

Pretty normal

Day 106 – weekend

The weekend unfolded as planned. It was a little better than planned because I picked up my bib on Friday instead of Saturday (I used the extra time to catch some afternoon zzz). The biking event went as expected. Me and another guy biked into DC for the cherry blossoms. It was part exercise and part social. The flowers were past their peak bloom but they were still stunning nonetheless. Heap of people. We couldn’t really bike, we dismounted and walked and then biked back to Alexandria.

The next day, I did the famed cherry blossom 10 miler. It was my first year running it. I was assigned to the red wave starting group (2nd wave), 3rd wave from the elite group. I got as close to the first wave as possible to see the elites off but couldn’t see anything. When it was my wave group turn to run, of course everyone around me was super fast. The entire race, I felt I was running backward and it was demoralizing that I couldn’t keep up with them.

My time wasn’t bad. I reached 5K point at 25 min (I ran 24 something couple days before). I reached 10K right on pace too at 50 mins and 15K at 1:15, still pretty much on pace. I was keeping a pretty constant pace. I finished about 30 seconds from my personal best but didn’t break it. It was close. I actually was not trying to run too hard because my marathon is coming up. It was still taxing no less.

At halfway I was a bit tired and my pace was slipping. A friend came out and cheered me unexpectedly. I heard someone shouting out my name from the crowd, of course my bib has my name, but I turned and searched for the voice. And saw my friend, someone whom I run with weekly, from the crowd waving. It gave me an extra boost for the next couple miles.

Also, I reached the part of the course where the marching band were performing, and they gave me a boost. I don’t know why I love cadences. My feet felt in step and I was surging forward. Too bad it was short lived. Once I don’t hear the drum any more, my pace slowed down and people were passing me again.

The event was well organized. I didn’t stay too long afterward. I had scheduled a fitness session at noon so, I left to get ready for it.

We did about couple hours of light exercises and hiked along the C&O Canal.

17.75

Day 99

I have been quiet the past week in term of running and really about two weeks since I put up 40+ miles. I really didn’t do much running due to work. I did not have to stay over time but it was extremely stressful and I was a zombie after I got off.

For example, one day after work, I got on the train as usual thinking it was my train. I was sure it was my train, but didn’t realize it until it was like 10 stops later. My train does share the same track as this train until the split three stations down. Even then there was no excuse for mishearing the announcement at each station in which they would announce the color of line and destination. I missed it for like 10 stops until I looked out the window and saw the airport. My home was not any where near the airport, so only then did I realize it was the wrong train.

The whole week was like that.

Finally weekend came. What a relief. I had a full day. I had a race on Saturday morning, a 17.75 K, about 11 miles long, in the Prince William Forest. 17.75 represents year 1775 when the US Marine Corp was incorporated.

I signed up this race originally to get into the Marine Corp Marathon in October. Those who successfully finish the 17.75 race is can bypass the lottery system for the marathon. However for me, I already got into the marathon because I will be doing the 50k ultra.

The race started at 7 but we were advised to get there by 5 because we had to take a bus to the starting line (no car can park at the start line). I set my alarm for 3:30 since it would take about a hour to drive to the bus stop. I went to bed too late and slept through it. Luckily my mom called me at 4 though for an unrelated issue but that woke me up. To the race I went. I already had my clothes laid out and so, even though overslept I was not late.

The morning was cold. The previous night we had a hail storm and high wind. Temperature steadily dropped from I think from the 50s to 30s and reaching 32 at 6:00 am. I was cold. I haven’t run for a week.

The start for me was not good but I was in high spirit. There were more than 3000 runners. Surprisingly there were not a lot of fast runners. Most people around me were taking the race in a relaxing pace.

After a mile we entered the forest. We had trail, gravel trail. Most people were road runners and were not used to mud and streams and rocks. I felt at home. They tried to go around puddle by getting off trail and going behind trees, etc. I stayed on trail and ran through any mud I found.

Still because I think of lack of preparation, by mile three I was done. I was out of breath and my body wanted to stop. I couldn’t keep the pace and people whom I passed earlier were now passing me back.

The trail portion ended and we got on paved road for most of the way. I as now tired. I had to reached deep inside me, by looking at the sky and trees and detached myself from the race. It helped. For rest of the race, my breathing calmed down. I could breath easily by mile six. I muscles though were not good.

There were lot of hills. I think the first six miles were up hill and the remaining were mostly down except for I think at mile 9. There were couple of gigantic hills. I had to walk on those hills.

I didn’t race so much for time. I was basically done by mile 6, so for the rest of the race, I was just hoping to finish.

The last mile was a struggle. Everyone sped up, I was too but it was tiring. The feeling of crossing the finish line was both a relief and a feeling of checking off a box. I got my medal and food. I got my photo taken.

The whole race was well organized. I took a bus back to my car and rushed to the next event.