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.

Bluemont running

Day 97 – race

A quiet weekend and it is just what I like. No big plan. I woke up and went to a local 10K race. It is about a hour from home. I ran a good time here every year. This was my third. While at the course, I didn’t have good vibe that I would do well this time. My shins were still hurt (been like this for two weeks, since that late Wednesday night run). Body doesn’t do well in recovery when I overtaxed it. Still a race is a race. I started at the end of the group. The race was sold out but there were about hundred of us lining up. The temperature was mild for this time 38F (5-6C). I dressed in dual layer short sleeves. shorts. It would warm up to 50 later. The sun was actual warm but we have strong wind 30kph wind. Consistently blowing.

I like this race because it is far out the city two counties over from DC, on a farm land. You can see the mountain range where I do a lot of hiking. Out in the rural life is slower. It fits my personality.

The course is only 15 minutes from the Appalachian Trail (Snicker Gap). The original plan was to finish the race and head to the trail to do some trail run, since my marathon is all about hills, and this trail has plenty of them. Ashby Hollow and Buzzard Hill is known as the roller coaster because it goes up and down many times in this 10 miles stretch. I hiked this section like four times past year.

However after the race, I was cold. I had my downs jacket on but still cold. We had after race party at a brewery across from the farm. I stayed for lunch. They lit a fire pit, and I have been next to it for the past hour. It felt so good. This is what my friend meant when she said about waking up to a warm fire and have breakfast next to it. It is definitely one of the 50 joyful things to be thankful for.

They haven’t posted the race result yet, but unofficially, based on my watch, I should PR this race, finished at 47:58, shaving a minute from my last record, but my watch also reported the course is short by 0.2 mile. It would explain why I was a minute and half faster.

Looking down the valley, near blue ridge
From Brewery Patio

Update: It’s official: I PR’ed it and finished at 47:56.

Forward

Day 91 / lent

Midweek is when I look toward the weekend. Not only because I can’t wait to finish my work but because what I will do on the weekend will determine what I should be doing today. Like if I have a big race coming up, then I should rest up now. It is either run or not to run and how many miles. There are still plenty work left, I can assure you that. With weekend only couple days away, I got to decide what to do now.

This coming weekend, I am overwhelmed with choices. 

Plan A: stick with the plan. Go out and run the Rock and Roll DC half marathon on Saturday, which I signed up like a year ago and then enjoy the Sunday off with my loving friend and go for a hike in the afternoon and dinner at night. A full day of worship.

Plan B: Same as A, but add a 10K run/ race on Sunday – Pot of Gold 10k. But the cost is I will miss worship unless I go to the 11 o clock service, but doing that will bump my Sunday class, which I enjoy attending.

Plan C: upgrade my half marathon to a full one and run on Saturday, basically not much time for anything else. C is for Craziness. I am definitely not ready to  run a marathon. Should I believe myself go run a marathon? And do A/B of Sunday.

Plan D: D is for Don’t run at all on Saturday but instead go on a hike with my friend on the North Mountain. On Sunday, I could do A/B.

Likelihood of doing each decreases as goes from A-D. 

I really can’t decide without some value system or goal. I might as well flip a coin and leave to chance. Truly I guess I am conflicted with between running and see my friend. Three of them was about more running and the last choice is no running.

If the way to evaluate is based on passion, I would pick either C and D. If I pick based on logic then it will be either A or B.

I have been doing my runs during the week but I haven’t completely recovered (since last Wednesday). Not sure why it is taking so long. Normally, just a good night sleep would bring me back to 100%. Plan D is a good plan because I’m tired and need the rest. My friend going say I am disobedient again, because I know I shouldn’t run but is going to run.

Last night, I ran 8 miles. I finished 4 miles with the club and did an additional 4 on my own because I thought I lost my head buff. So I was retracing the steps but couldn’t find it. I only discovered I had it over my neck the whole time when I got home and started undressing. I wouldn’t have run the extra four miles if not for this. It was really cold and I didn’t even realized the buff was on me.

This morning woke up with a stiff calf. Ya, I didn’t stretch after the run. I will take it easy tonight, no more running. Got to honor the day of rest.

I noted that lent has started. It is a time for some reflection.