Day380 Stone Mill 50

I ran the Stone Mill 50. There are reports out on the internet about this race, so I won’t go too much into it. Yes there were swamp pits and stream crossings. Most trails are dry and runable (smooth). It is enjoyable if you like trail. Not for clean road runner people though.

This year is their 10 or 11 years. There are couple runners who did every single race. The race course at least has changed couple times. The rough year was 2016/17 when they added the lake segment. Due to lack of volunteers or lack of flags, some runners got lost or miss a turn. We this year, as I can tell, benefitted from prior years oopses, and it was near perfection. There is usually a volunteer or two at each major turn. I spent the last few weekends learning the trail, so almost everything went off without problem. I don’t think this is necessary to run this race but always good to know where to go beforehand.

I had couple lucky breaks through even with ample of flags and volunteers. There is this hardly noticeable connector trail between Long Draught Trail and the road (about one to two miles ish) and I have wandered around few weeks before looking for it. I thought I got it when a local resident who had ran this race showed it to me. Unknown to me the trail splitted in half, and there is a place to cross to the other side of the stream. There is no path showing to cross at that section (because no one uses this connector trail). Luckily a runner behind me called out saying we have to run on the other side. That saved us from deviating from the course. We did not see a course flag or ribbon telling us to cross over. The runner behind us probably had done the race before and knew.

I have done couple trail races out in the country side. I am good with trail finding trail and following the blazes and reading map since I have been hiking in the wild. I usually don’t get lost. You kind of develop that 6th sense. I have done hiking without light (not recommended) and your feet can tell where trail is by feeling. I ran at Signal Knob without flashlight couple weekend ago!

I got to say though the blazes for this race was good but they could improve some more. I have seen RDs in other races have a system in flagging the course. This race though seemed to flag thing haphazardly (as mentioned in other’s people reports). The flag only was there to confirm you are on the right path and often times, it lacked indicator if you should turn or not. Here how I see other RDs have done it. They should only flag at one side, say on the right side. As long as you have the flag on the right, you are on course and heading in the right direction. Also They should use double ribbons to indicate a turn. There would be a third flag to indicate/confirm you have made the correct turn. Somehow this race they don’t make it obvious that a turn is coming and you should pay attention.

This year Stone Mill 50 usually had sufficient flags/ribbons. However, their flags gave mixed-signal. They flagged everywhere and they mixed it all together. What I mean is sometimes their flags were on the left and sometimes they were on the right. You had to pay attention to both sides. They also had small flags on the ground and ribbons on trees but they all were used for the same thing. So sometimes you had to pay attention to trees or posts and sometimes the ground. Sometimes you see flags and sometimes you see ribbons, so you got to look out for both. It was just annoying. Flags are small but have reflectors, which is good for night time. Ribbons/streamers are good during the day time, because they are long and easy to spot. One thing that bothered me is there was no turn indicator. They just put a single ribbon and you never know if you should turn or go straight because it means the same thing! I found this super annoying. I was familar with the trail so even if they did not have any flag or ribbon I would know where to turn at most places. For example, there was a three way split (like a Y intersection) and our course ran one branch of the Y the first part of the day and the second branch on the later part when we looped back. I was familar with this intersection so I know where to go, but the two runners before me were from out of town and they were clueless since the course is flagged on all three sides, which is insane! I helped them of course. These kind of tricky intersections should be mentioned in the director’s briefing. How do you know which way to turn at such intersection? Lucky though usually there is a volunteer nearby or a runner nearby who knows the way. Usually there is another flag within a tenth of a mile so you can get a confirmation. Their flag system lack turn indicator.

That was a mouthful. I did not get too lost in the race. The course had about 4 trails (Greenway, Seneca Clopper Lake area, Muddy Branch (not muddy at all), C&O, and Greenway again, and Seneca Ridge). They are all public trails and are blazed by the county so just follow them if needed if flags/ribbons are not available. My race prep helped. Another thing the race director could have done is give out a turn direction sheet and trail/mileage ahead of time (most races I did have a turn by turn sheet except for this race). They provided us a low resolution course map but that was not very helpful. They also provided a Strava link. Strava was good for most part except there were certain places I don’t think was correct because it was not actually real Strava data, but hand drawn in. Unless you are local residents, you might be in trouble (there was no trail there). The race is not friendly to out-of-area runners.

In most races there would be a pre race briefing that the director would point out some gotchas and things like that. We did not have one due to Covid measures. I doubt in previous years RD would brief runners on problemtic sections of the trail (otherwise the RD would have some kind of announcement on the website for this). One Gothas was you have to run in through a building (Stone Mill ruins). I wish the RD would have pointed this out. It was just a cute thing to do to run through it. I missed it and went back for it when the volunteers mentioned. Not a big deal. I lost maybe a tenth of a mile to walk back and run through the ruins. Yes it was flagged but again I thought the flag was to indicate going straight instead of a turn… When you saw the flag and the aid station in a tenth of a mile, who thought it was a turn away from the Aid Station? Things like that are just annoying.

I don’t mean to hammer the RD too much. Flags might not have been done by the same person, so you get all kind of crazy stuffs. They are probably done by volunteers. I still give it a 9/10. They were usually not an issue, just a few places I mis-interpreted the flag meaning and went farther than I should.

The course is probably exactly 50 miles as measured by a GPS device. I added 2 extra miles to my pace chart before the race thinking the course will be long. It was good thing I did. The final miles from my Garmin was 51.5 miles (understand that my GPS might not be accurate either – none ever is). Those extra 1.5 miles were on me though. Some were from walking around at the Aid Stations. Some extra miles were from not making the right turns.

A big oops for me was looking (or fail to look) for Seneca Greenway from the C&O portion. It was not hard. But a volunteer told me there would be someone there telling me where to turn. So I was not paying attention much to the flagging. They were flagged every quarter mile anyway. So I missed the last flag on the Rd. We were running on the road at that time. It was hard to pay attention to both sides of the road. I was running on the right side. The correct turn was on the left and they flagged the left side. I was only paying attention to the right because I saw the county trail blazes on the right. So I went probably quarter mile off course till reaching the end of the road and was wondering where were the flags. So I went back and saw the course ribbon and also other runners. I say that was my lucky break. I pulled up maps and stuffs and a passerby pointed to some other directions. My six sense was telling me something else too. Lucky, out of pure luck I ignored all those false leads, and decided to head back to look for the last flag. That was a lucky break. I only lost at most half an hour! That was the only place that could easily have gotten me 1 hr or two off course and I would have DNF. I take that 30 mins lost time happily.

Now I got that off my chest. I knew always what can mess me up in a race is wayfinding after learning my hard lesson in Atlanta over the summer. For this race I paid unusual extra attention to map studying and when I couldn’t do it from the map, I went to the course in person (being tipped off from other people’s reports). The place where I got lost, was one I did not do a map study or have gone in person (It was the week, I went to Signal Knob instead of to the course, else I could have caught it). I also felt that section was a low priority since I probably has ran it during Spring when I did the Seneca Greekway 50K. Nope it was not the same section. So I made my mistake.

Let start back from the top. I love this race. I first learned of it last year in 2019 when they made a call for volunteers for their spring 50k. I volunteered. I never done trail races before then. Well I did a 5K/10K the previous October (2018). I have fallen in love with it since. There was also my ultra at First Landing in December 2018, but that was not a serious trail race (not as challenging as this one). This one was a real in the woods trail and a long one. So This year, I ran the Seneca Greenway 50K in the spring just at the time Coronavirus broke out in our region. We got the race done before the shutdown. This time again for Stone Mill, we got the race done, just as a second wave is breaking out, and a possible shutdown in our area in near future.

Earlier in the year, I did not intend to do the Fall edition of the MCRRC races, Stone Mill 50, reason being it is too cold to run in November. I read about the freezing stream crossing. No way for me. I hate being wet and cold. 50 miles are lot of miles. People said this year we had one of the best weather in the race history. I would run it anyway.

So how come I ended up running it? Cabin fever I’m telling you. Being stuck inside since spring due to the corona and with all races canceled, when I first learned there is a live person racing (as oppose to virtual racing), I signed up. Remember about a month ago I snucked out to PA to run the Gettysburg Marathon, even though it was cold that day 32F. And before that in July/August I did Rocking the Knob in PA and Camp Anderson (was a virtual race but we ended up meeting unofficially in person with a bunch of people). It was also very cold for this weekend. The wooden bridges we crossed during the race were iced over.

Yet I was all thrilled. In person racing! Yay! I signed up a month ago after they posted online that they got the permit from the county to host the race. Since then, they were fighting with the State Transportation department to get the road permit. They got it about couple weeks ago on an appeal! This week, just two days before the race, Governor Hogan went on a press conference – talking about measures due to the spike of corona cases in our region (a second shutdown is likely). We caught a lucky break that our permits were not revoke. So the race was on.

I scrambled to buy my race day food. I needed a new watch. I wish I got a new pair of shoes but it was too near to the race to try new thing. I ordered socks from Amazon. I tried out those toes socks, ended up did not wear them. Got a new headlamp. Kind of OK. Not a big fan of the model I got, but it was functional, and helped me through the race.

I packed on Thursday night. Repacked again on Friday …because I was debating whether to get a hotel near the race site to reduce the travel time on race morning, otherwise I would have to be up by 3 AM to get ready. I wanted to be on the course by 5 (first wave started at 5 – we had wave start, which was every 5 mins with 10-20 people would start). Looking back, I should have gotten the hotel.

With all the planning, I ended sleeping at home. I got home late on Friday after going to MD to pick up my bib after work. I knew it too, to fight against traffic coming back to Virginia. It was 8pm by the time I reached home. I had to do some last minutes shopping for race day food. After that was done…still I have not really eaten dinner. It was 10. I knew I had to be in bed by 8 to have 8 hr of sleep. Couldn’t really fall asleep at all, maybe I was too excited and maybe was not used to going to bed this early. I overslept of course. I set alarm for 3:30 but I snoozed it till 4. Then o Sh*t I need to be out the house by 4. I knew but still wanted that extra mins of eye closed. Staying at the hotel might have been a wiser choice from racing perspective (but I was not willing to spend money, and also covid concern, and the hotel I wanted was sold out).

I got up. Repacked again for the third time. We were given two dropbags. I hadn’t planned what to put in them. One would be returned to us and the other would not. By now I just tossed things into my car, what ever I saw I grabbed and tossed them in. My truck was full of clothes – it was like a closet. Three pairs of shoes. A pair of sandals. Probably 10 pairs of shirts – long sleeves, short sleeves, shirts for changing mid way, shirts for the end. couple jackets. A bunch of supplies, med/emergency kits. Bandaids and wraps. sissors. tapes. pens. Just tons of stuffs. Some are in their poaches some not. Two – three flashlights. Tons of food, water, drinks. I had my breakfast, left over from dinner the night before. I was not very efficient or organized. I got to the course around 5:15. It was cold. I had two layers on. a shorts and a long pants. I had two jackets (both were fleece). I spent maybe half hour at the course organizing, repacking for the fourth time. This time for real. The goal was to lighten my race bag.

Funny story. I decided to take my phone charger with me to charge my watch midway through. My watch usually dies around 10 hours. So I need a charger if I want to keep my watch alive. This charger is big and heavy. I thought of getting those lipstick charger but forgot to order. So in order to carry the charger, I had leave behind my med kit. Guess what! The med kit was needed about an hour into the race. The guy in front of me rolled his ankle and it was a bad roll. We think he later dropped from the race. I really wished I had my kit with me. Later on, another runner came by, she had hers and so helped the dude out. She was probably worked in medical field. She asked the guy a series of questions, like a doctor. If he has taken this or that med, if he is allergic to this or that med. She was extremely careful. She mentioned a dozen of different medicines, some generic versions and she would say so. I think she is a pharmacist. Not that she wouldn’t share her meds but she really cares about the dude as a pharmacist or one of those health professionals. For me and friends when we go camping and hurt, we just say you want Aleve? Here take it and that would be all. It is up to the patient to know what to take or not. So a lesson learned – Don’t go into the woods without a first aid kit!

The race started on time for me. Rumors were flying that not all showed up for the early waves. We had 250 signed up but only 119 finished. Not sure how many no-shows or DQ/DNF or dropped. 119 included many who went over the 13 hr limit. They were not DQ. I am proud that I ended with 12:37. That was my goal to finish under 13. I felt I needed 14 hours.

The race started strong for me. We were in our group of 7 for the first few miles. Then they all left me except the dude who rolled his ankle. I had trouble of seeing. My glasses fogged up. They were bouncing around too much anyway. I had to take them off. I am literally blind without them. I got through the first four miles without problem though. Night training without flashlight helped but I don’t recommend this for everyone. The dude in front of me was kind enough to call out branches and stumps for me so I could avoid them. Ironically he was the one got hurt from a tree root not long later. I felt very sorry for him. It was his first time running a 50. He told me to leave him. I waited until another runner passed by who helped him. I probably lost 5-10 mins there.

With the sun up, it was easier to wayfind. I had no more incident for the rest of the race. I was stronger than I anticipated. Even though people of my wavestart left me, they went out way too strong, and the later I was able to catch 5 out of 6 (I’m the 7th person). A few people in groups (only two groups) behind me caught up, I was not fazed. I do know I needed to get away from people in my group and those after me because by way we are seeded, it is not likely they would be able to finish based on last year stats. I checked the names, not many of the last group finished (three in my group and 3 in the last group – that is like 70% failure rate, note this included those who finished beyond 13 hr limit, if not including 13 hr limit I think the failure rate is at 90% or higher). I didn’t want to ended up with them, knowing they wouldn’t have much a chance in finishing. At the time, I did not know how strict the RD would in enforcing the 13 hr limit. The RD was all barks but no bite. We only know this after the fact. Still even if we know, we never would test and RD patience.

So I need to run faster than my group to assure that I would finish within the time limit. Those who caught up to me were either seeded further up but arrived late and so started late or misseeded (some registered late). You can tell whether they are a strong runner or not. Strong runners don’t breathe heavily. They don’t get tired and they run efficiently and effortlessly – like a gazelle. And they are fast! But most slow runners are the opposite. Their form is ugly and graceless. They run like a wheel falling off. You know when you watch. When they passed me, I know, they don’t belong in our waves. They should be in two or three or more waves ahead.

So a few passed me (one actually, the pharmacist) but I ran at my own pace. Because of the wave start, there were not a lot of exchanging place in the race since we were artificially spreaded out. Everyone were spreaded along the course. By the time I started, the first runner was probably 5-6 miles away and the distance only lengthened as race progressed. There were not much as hope of catching anyone unless they were mis-seeded by the RD (RD attempted to put the fast people to start first and slow people in the rear based on prior race results). So those few that passed me, I did not see them again. Of the 6 other people in my wave, one was injured so probably dropped. another slowed down after a mile – she did not want me to follow her and she never caught back up. I finished with two other army people. We had a good time. Of the leading two runners in my wave, I caught the lady about five miles in. Her pacer who started with her though was no where in sight. In all I think I did pretty well.

About the two army guys, I did not catch them until near 20-ish miles. They were fast but not what you think as fast. They did weird 30 sec run and 30 sec walk. It was extremely annoying. But their 30 secs run was super fast. I couldn’t catch them. For me I needed a long time to ramp up speed. So they were always ‘blocking’ me. Most people would step away and let you pass. They seemed to oblivious to people behind. Usually by the time I caught up to them I am out of breath. Any way, I always ended up behind them. A few times they let me passed but at the aid station they caught back up and they were so quick at the aid station and off they went while I was still readjusting my pack and eating. They were super efficient. It took me like 10 mins to get my headlamp out but for them, they had them in their pockets and only took them a second to have them on. So I lost to them in efficiency. We finished together. My hiker buddy would say, Antin, you need to put essential things in easily accessible place.

In the final 8 miles, I did not bother to pass them again. We were leapfrogging throughout the race. I was pretty tired by then. The lead guy was pacing. He has been doing so the whole race. They were just chitchating nonestop. Never had I seen a guy talk so much and they were not telling any story, they just went back and forth with nonconsequential stuffs — like women, sorry ladies. To me was meaningless chattering. I guess they are good friends. They were really into their conversation – and I was behind them for hours but I was ignored until near the end of the race. There was no break with their back and forth. It was like a slow jog around the neighborhood, and the two dudes just enjoying a nice walk. Yet I learned their pace was spot on at 15 min per mile with no diviation all while doing 20-30 sec walk/run. Amazing. They were not tired. I discovered it was like a pace for running a 100 mile and not 50 mile. The lead guy has done this race 7-8 times. I think this was his 9th. He was experienced. The other guy was his first 50. Last 8 miles, I learned to be patience with them and tried to immitate their pace (not mastered it, but at least I saw it in action and know it might help me with my 100 miler if I spend time to work on it). The pacer was a natural! He ran without a watch. He probably could run the course so much faster, but he was pacing his friend. From this dude, I learned about being efficient at aid station, and being efficient in pacing. Don’t rush but always swift (isn’t it opposite of each other?) Just amazing to watch. A few times I snoozed just a bit and fell so far beind them and it would take me 30 mins to an hour to catch back up – that is how fast they were moving. It is because they walked a lot, that I could catch them up. I can ramp up my speed but only over a long distance and I suck at stop and go.

Me and these two army dudes, we did not run fast but we caught ‘a lot’ of those who started strong but faltered later. I think we passed about 20 people through out this race (noted we had wave start, so in theory, we should not able to catch anyone). We ended skipping 4 waves ahead (maybe caught up to the 5:30-5:35 starting wave group), we were the 5:50 wave group.

That is pretty much the outtake. Be efficient. I enjoyed the race tremendously. Previous reports about this race were spot on. People were not that friendly. Most of them I think have defense backgroup – a lot grunts so they are not that welcoming to strangers. I think pretty much reflect the DC area. It was a no-nonsense approach to running. Everyone kept to themselves. There is not much of a runner community atmosphere. You only catch the running excitement at a large running events when a lot of out of towners mixed in. Or smaller races like 5k types then you can feel the energy. Still a race is a race.

A final word, always Aid stations and volunteers are the best. We had good aid stations – even ones that were previously announced as water only, had full aid station things, meaning food and all kinds of drinks. I think volunteers supplied them on their own accord. I like fruits at many of the stations. I had a beer! Love the soups. I didn’t expect real food due to Covid measures. Best to have them on a cold day. My heart was warm.


Day316 100 mile review

There were a lot of things went well and I also made a lot of newbie mistakes. In the end I did not finish. The 100 mile run is not easy.

They say running a 100 miles is to overcome issues that crop up along the way. To finish you have to overcome those. Some can be anticipated ahead of time, but some only pop up as you run. I found you can’t prepare for every contigency.

What went well for me? The start time was better than expected. It was one of big concern – because I couldn’t start too early or too late since I have to make it to Stone Mountain during time when it is open (from 10-8). Also I would have to pay attention to the finish time, you don’t want to finish too late, or else can’t find a ride home. It is best to finish during day time. I chose to start at 7 pm on Friday night. It was hot. But actually that time, already became cooler. Most of the run, I had some cloud covering. It could have been hotter still. The first few miles, I had some sprinkling of rain. Luckily no thunderstorm, though it was forecasted. I am so thankful, because there is no way for me to get up on the Stone Mountain when wet (it is very slipery).

It was really really hot. Even after sun down as I ran throughout the night I was sweating crazy. My body kind of adjusted the next day but was not enough. I knew I was dehydrated because I couldn’t pee. I tried to drink as much as possible and was water logged. I was glad there were gas stations that were open. They were on the way. Some though were not open. I had tough time finding any that were open at 3 am in the morning (They say they were open but door was locked – it could be the employee was sleeping in the back).

The route was nicely planned. I went through the safest part of Atlanta during the night. The run started on Kennesaw mountain. It was way out of Atlanta, and costed me an arm and leg to go out there. People at Marietta, the town just nearest to the mountain, were very friendly and they live up to my expectation of southern charm. I come from DC area, no one in DC would give you a second look or say hi or smile, that is the culture in the DC area – and it is normal. But here in the suburb of Atlanta, people are quite charming.

So I made my way throughout the night in the Atlanta Suburb. I arrived at downtown Atlanta in the morning. Oh by the way, some neighborhood in Atlanta is 24-7, people were still standing outside at 4am in the morning. Not good people I know. Luckily they didn’t bother me. By the look, I think they were pimps and prostitutes. I don’t remember the name of the locale, but the bar/or whatever it is, Babylon was interesting. I never met any real hookers in real life, and so it was sort of an eye opener for me. Well they didn’t bother me and I passed by.

Inner Atlanta was ya, unexpected and also expected. It was around 6 ish, when I arrived. I passed by a very poor neighborhood. It was definitely scary. I lived in poor neighborhood when I grew up, but it couldn’t prepare me for this. The people didn’t bother me; it was just a different feel. They are people of color. That is a mark of Atlanta, a huge population of African American.

I came across many different parts. Saw wall paintings. You can say they are part of the culture or part of a dysfunction society. I have seen more black people in Atlanta than my whole entire life, so was kind of an experience. I came across a small BLM protest on my run, (Black Lives Matter) organized by mostly by white people, you can tell to see who marched in it, while I was sitting by the side of the road outside the gas station/convenience store with couple back people around — and it was almost a joke or insult. You have a serious economic inequality here and all the social programs of the past half century didn’t make a dent and people parading around saying BLM. It is a bigger issue – I have visited Indian reservation (Navajo), and pouring money and food assistance didn’t get people out of proverty but instead highlight something seriously wrong with our nation.

People open your eyes to see the condition of black people. I know BLM is about anti police violence on black people…but look at the bigger picture. I came across several police officers and they are white. I also saw an older black man asking direction from a police … my heart skipped a beat and I think the black gentlemen too (long story: we were locked in a park at Stone Mountain, they closed the gate early due to the 4th July celebration, and we couldn’t exit the park). However, I didn’t get to interact with many blacks except for one of my uber driver. Racial tension definitely is more pronounce in Atlanta than in DC. Here in DC we are like one happy family.

An observation, and I read about this too, when a community is poor, there is hardly any ‘good’ grocery store. As I was running, only place I can get food was at a gas station, and their choices were all junk food. I was so used to running in my own neighborhood in Northern Virginia where I have Giant Food, Whole Food, Safeway, Walmart. There are array of good stuffs here in Northern Virginia. Not so in Atlanta. There is no 7 Eleven in Atlanta either. I came across of a lot of Fried chicken places. No wonder we are so rich up north. It it is quite a different feel down in Atlanta. On the side note, I miss asian stores/restaurants — because I couldn’t have Tom Yum soup on the run. High salty soup is very beneficial for long run.

OK let discuss what didn’t go well. My pack was too heavy. There were many reasons that let me to not finishing the run. But one of the contributors is a heavy pack. I repacked it three or 4 times. In the previous post, I mentioned of taking the larger 18L pack instead of my smaller 6-8L. However before my run start, I swapped back to the smaller pack, and cut out half the stuffs. It was a wise decision, however, it was not enough. The weight though was still heavy. The reason being was I carried the full load of water, close to 3L and food, more on that later, because I didn’t expect any store to be open until day time. The weight issue really kill me. I carried the electronic gear, flashlights, phone, battery charger, wires, stuffs I normally won’t have on me on my usual runs. I also had a first kit, and a lot of food – way too much. More on this later.

Second, dress. I was debating wearing short sleeves versus long sleeves. I chose long because I wanted to avoid sun burn and I didn’t want to carry sunblock. Sunblock is heavy, even with the travel size. I could have put a dab of cream in a ziplock. Initially I had a bunch of ziplock bags, however, when I packed my suitcase, I tossed them out at the last minute and came to regret that decision. I was over heating the whole time in my long sleeve. It was made with breathable material, however, the heat sapped my strength. About mile 30 in I was done running. I walked until mile 77 ish. However, the chance that I could finish on time was out of my grasp. The race was pretty lenient, because if you run 1/3 of the way and walk 2/3 you can finish within the time limit. I was cutting close.

Cooling. I didn’t implement active cooling strategy. I should have pour water on me. I should have soaked my towel and cap with water, that would have helped a lot. I did this for other races but forgot to do it on this race until after I already decided to quit. If I implement this earlier during the day, I think I would have gotten farther in the race and might have finished. I was concern of ‘wasting’ the limited water I had.

Third issue, was food. 100M requires / expends a lot of energy. It was one issue I kind of knew but didn’t pay enough attention. I estimated of expending about 4000-5000 calories. By the time I stopped, I already used 8,000 plus of calories and that was only about 60% into the race. I should have prepared or know I would burn 12,000 of calories. I was vastly undestimated my needs. I understand it was impossible to reload myself that amount of calories within the race time, but my failing was not having any in my body other than fruit juice and other sugary drinks cut into my performance. I believe what killed me was by the 24th hour, I was out of energy. I could still walk but running was impossible. Understand that if I don’t put in energy, my body would start burning the muscles to fuel the expenditure and that was very bad indeed because muscles take a long time to regrow and be redeveloped.

What about the 2400 calories I packed? Since swithing to a smaller pack, I had to take 1200 calories out. The other 1200, I ate maybe 200 -400. They were granola, and it was very dry. They say, don’t try anything new on race day!! I didn’t take that advice. So I carry those heavy bars on me and did not really eat that much and took them back home. I should have jettisoned them a quarter way in when I felt I am not going to use them so to lighten my load.

The core of the matter of why I couldn’t finish is I got lost too many times. I can’t blame the turnsheet. There were definitely some errors on there, but some of the parts I caught them in my preparation. I marked them by hand on the print out, however, I didn’t use thst print out. I reprinted a new turnsheet on double side and the new turn sheet didn’t have the marking. I lost about 10-12 miles of keep making the wrong turn. My map was outdated too, and a lot of street names were changed. I wished I had memorized or more familiarized with the route. This was the first time I was running a race using turn sheet and map. I spent maybe 12 hours learning before I came up a system how to do it efficiently. Those first 12 hours were costly. Also I probably was sleep deprived. How I kept missing the turns was I kept zoning out in my run. It was horrible and frustrating. I was so used to running by zoning out because in all my races, there were either someone in front of me or the trail is blazed and those were easy to follow. But this race was like a scavenger hunt. You have to be on your toes. I was not used to it.

What new way I found? One is to keep your turnsheet and map out at all time! My phone gps died on me on some portion. That was the worse thing that can happen. Also the route on the phone kept disappearing. I had a lot of problem with it. Only by morning, I started to use exclusively a map and turnsheet and I became better at it. What I originally did was I kept my map in my pack, and every so often I would pull it out. It wasted too much time. It required stopping midrun to check the map and turnsheet. So in the end I found a way to fold the map showing only the next few sets of turns. It helped a lot. This is from hiking skill – but I was dumb and didn’t translate the skill learned in hiking to my running.

Night run was also worse in that I kept getting night blindness. The flash light was too bright. Every time I checked the turnsheet and then looked back up, I was blind. My vision took too long to recover. I did use a red filter lamp, but there were times I forgot and blinded by my own light. Those were reflected light too. I felt next time, I should wear an eye patch on one eye like a prirate!

What else I didn’t talk about? Flashlight/batteries. My headlamp was dying and I didn’t get batteries for it until at mile 62. By then I had already decided to quit, but I did buy batteries for the headlamp at a gas station 🙂 The whole week leading to this run, I was telling myself to buy batteries. Batteries was one of the concerns and I couldn’t make time to get them before my trip. It was a shot in the foot. During the race, I used a handheld bike light. It was heavy. I did have a very light handheld one, but it lacked batteries. So it was like a consolation at my last pit stop I brought new batteries, though too late.

My biggest concern going into the race was pain and sleep deprivation. Noted that I didn’t sleep on Thursday, because I was trying to reset my sleep to the morning but wasn’t successful. During the race slept deprivation was not that big a deal. I was full of adrenaline the whole time. I didn’t fall asleep until I was in the uber, heading back to my hotel. However, there were still 40 plus miles, if I tried to finish the 40 miles, I bet sleep derivation would play a big part whether I would finish or not.

As for pain, I didn’t feel too great a discomfort at mile 77. There were still 40 plus miles so I don’t know if I could have survive the pain. As some people say, the race just only get started at mile 80. The first 80 miles were just warm up. The fun stuff, and I missed that experience.

The pain I got at mile 77 was chafing. I believed my butt was bleeding from the chafe. I applied vaseline before the run but wasn’t enough. Also my underarms were chafed. I properly could have endured the pain for the next 20-40 miles, but it was definitely no fun. I wish I had kept some vaseline in a ziplock bag so I can reapply halfway in the race.

Blisters started to form at mile 75. They were not too bad. I took off my shoes. Popped the tiny blister on one of the toes. Put some body glide on my feet. Changed to new socks. I believed it would have last for the next 20-40 miles. This was the first time I do blister care in mid race and I was so proud of myself. The aid kit came in handy! They even have the safety pins for popping blisters! I was so impressed.

My “planned chaos” really killed my race. In my hubris I was hoping to pull through even with many mistakes I made. It was a series of small mistakes building up and finally I couldn’t handle it any more.

Conclusion. There were a lot of what-ifs. The race was only about 2/3 in. Who know what other problems the remainder would bring. However, I could have done a lot better in the first 2/3 by carrying lighter stuff, packing better food and eat them, study, really study my run (map and turnsheet), keeping the body cool, wearing better clothes, managing or minimize chafing issues, sleeping better on the day before the race. All these would have made a difference.


day 257 virtual run#3

This weekend was originally planned to be a trip to Laurel Highlands in PA, Trip#3 to Pennsylvania, but with the stay at home order from our governor, it is not wise to run about. I am sure people of Pennsylvania would not be trilled to have me there either. Their trooper/park ranger might give me a citation for not staying at home. Our state is like theirs, out count of number of infected continue upward with no end in sight. They projected now that our state will peak by May 21. Truly no one know when it will end, but having a date is reassuring.

There are a lot of people still on the road – I am sure they all were making the ‘essential trip’ allowed under law. This is something I noticed during my run. It is not like during a winter storm when the whole city is truly in a lockdown. During a winter storm, everyone stay put, you don’t need the government to tell you not to go out.

Did I mention since yesterday, our state…no the CDC has issued a recommendation to wear face mask in public. It was kind of expected finally. Of course face mask offers protection, that is why doctors and nurse are wearing them. I know, we did not have enough face masks and PPE for the public (even they are hard to come by for the health workers) but that was no excused of not recommending general to protect themselves. I had on a self made one from a bandana during my run. How useful that is, is questionable. Still I think it was better than nothing. I was happy to see so many people started wearing them on my run! People do listen to the CDC. Well, mostly asians though, they have been stockpiling on masks! Ha!

So I did another virtual run just to get it over with. A third virtual run for the third week of being staying at home and for the third marathon being canceled. I did it this time for the Blue Ridge Marathon #runblueridge, which was to take place on April 18. A virtual run around my neighborhood is better than not running at all. So this weekend I woke up earlier. Ate (fueling they say like a car), cooked my dinner too and off I went. I didn’t charge my watch this time, but it was showing full or near full. The time was 10:58. I started my watch immediately and didn’t wait for me to get to what I considered a “proper” spot for the starting line. You know at the race, you line up, wait around, listening to the announcer giving the count down, a then off you go. I like to mentally set a place as the starting line. For the last two virtual races, I walked to our nearest fire station. No this time, I just took off the moment I stepped outside of my house.

Yes I checked my watch, making sure my watch is on and tracking. Very important. A virtual run is all about the watch data.

I ran two loops around the neighborhood going the opposite direction than last Saturday. Having ran the course before for other virtual races really helped. You generally know where each mile is (mentally).

All the cherry flowers were gone by now. There were still some on the trees but no where as pretty as last week. The weather indeed was fantastic this weekend. It was completely different. We have sunshine instead of the oppressive rain cloud.

I had on my home made mask over my nose and mouth and it was hard to breath, especially on a run. I was suffocating. Couple times, I felt like I was about to faint for lack of oxygen. I caught myself swaying. How do people run with a mask on? I told myself hang on, you will get use to it. Think of it as high altitude training. After a few miles, I could start breathing normally. It was still annoying but I knew I could run the whole race with the thing over the face. Yes, sipping water was a challenge, since I didn’t want touch the mask much.

I did not have many great thoughts like in previous run. I came up with several ideas for blog, but now I have forgotten them. Lack of oxygen hindered much higher brain processing. I observed myself at time I can only have a fragment of a thought here and there. I was swimming in various disjointed stuff flowing in and out of my head.

I finished my first lap, stopped by my house and fueled myself with Gatorade and snacks. Then off I went for the second lap. I didn’t feel great at all. The first few miles of the second lap, I had my mask off because I was drinking, and how glad I was to breath freely. Then I put it back in place and plodded on. The second lap was over uneventfully.

I did walk the last couple miles. This time I did not carry snacks on me and couldn’t refuel myself as I was being worn down. A marathon is still a marathon – hard, no matter how many times I ran one. Funny I was hitting the proverbial wall at mile 24 instead of much earlier. Then my watch started complaining that the battery was running low. OMG. I got to hurry. There were two more miles and I didn’t want it to die now, otherwise the run would not be recorded. I got to mile 25. Still a mile left. My watch was flashing, warning me that it was really about to die on me.

Decision, should I stop my watch now and save the data, or should I game it hoping to get to mile 26.2? Luckily, but this time, I felt like running again and running fast. Also a funny thing with me is I usually get a second wind. This was my kick. I kept looking at my watch until I got to 26.2 and stopped it. There was still about a mile left to my house, but I am not going for 27 miles today. A 26.2 is good enough to post to the marathon event.

I then stopped by the grocery store to buy some snacks and drinks, oh, I was thinking of Corona, the beer. A proper after marathon celebration. No, I resisted the temptation and went for a Powerade and coconut juice instead. And as I walked a mile home carry all the stuff, I felt stupid that I couldn’t drink while walking, both my arms were full with grocery. And if I stopped to drink, I wouldn’t want to take another step, so I was dying of thirst, while holding eighteen or twenty bottles of Powerade under my arm as I lumbered home. What a sight. When you were thirsty, you want to buy the whole store. I was a dummy. Why I didn’t want to buy just one bottle? It was more expensive per unit than buying in bulk. Yup, a dummy.

That felt like a real race though. After crossing the finish line in a race…you usually still have to get to your car and usually it is quite a walk. So this virtual race did not end at my doorstep but a mile away from it. I thought that was funny, the irony.

One great thought I had was on making decision for my life. Each step I took was like each day when I wake up. I made a decision for the past three plus or 10 plus years, to keep going and not look back. Ya, I could stop, but that was no solution. I would be stranded. I will write more about it maybe in a future post. I was glad the run is over.

Watch data. distance 26.21, time 5:29:44, elevation 801. A picture of my neighborhood: see all the parked cars, everyone is staying at home as they should.


Reston X Miler (10 Miles)

Day 240 / Long post

I better get to it before I don’t want to write about it any more. My usual practice is to only journal about my big runs, and this 10 miler is not what I considered a big race. Still it was pretty awesome of overcoming hurdles to get to the finish line, just like other marathons I have done.

I was very excited to run in the Reston X Miler race because it was a local race hosted by Potomac Running (shoes store), so it is one of the PR races that I do all the time. They were the first people, I came to know about running and running competitively (hmm as recreational competition). I grew up in a family with little money to spare — basically we wereat or even below the proverty line (that is another story or blog post in itself), so joining a running club or sport was out of my mind when I was young (in fact it felt normal not to do the sport as most kids think of sports – we still played outside of course but not where we have to pay to play) and paying someone money so that I could run was completely an insane idea, even until recently in my family. It is a running joke within our family, that I should pay them instead and they would watch me run and do whatever a race would do like taking my picture or jotting down my time and posting them online. Their point is why pay when you can do it on your own for free. It seemed very silly to ‘starve’ myself so I can pay to run in a race. $40-50 is a significant chunk of mulla for a weekend ‘fun’.

But I have come to embrace racing near and far and have probably done close to hundred of them by now. I lost count. Say 20 races a year, and I am in my fourth year, or so about 80 races with some quick math. Most of my results are posted on Athlink if it ever gets there.

As I said, I don’t usually write about the smaller races but only marathons and ultras, which I have done about 20 of those.

But the Reston 10 Miler has become a tradition for me, having done it every year. However this year, money is very tight. Normally I paid for all the local races (from PR Races) by purchasing a race pass (or more) at the beginning of the year and use the pass(es) to redeem the race when they come. This year, I have no money for race p/asses. I was broke and still am.

My lucky break came when I got a tax refund from the government. Everyone was telling me to save the money. Ya, sure. The first thing I did was signing up the Pot of Gold (took place the previous weekend on March 1, which I blogged about it), and this one, Reston X. I felt since it was almost no chance of running it, and finally the chance came, I should memorialized it here.

Races are not too expensive that I can’t afford them but they were enough to make me pause. Is it worth it to throw down $100 for these two races (Pot of Gold and Reston X)? That could have been my two weeks worth of food money! I am to the point of counting pennies! So I didn’t sign up until the last moment when the extra money showed up. I know, this is not the wisest way to manage money. But but, I really like to run in them. I admit, I’m an addict runner.

See, the background story is more interesting than the race itself! I will get to the race soon.

I showed up bright and early. The race was at 8AM. I woke up around 5 – 5:30. Really, I take racing seriously and religiously. I went to bed really early too, making sure I have my full 8-hr of pilot rest. My friends kind of joke about I couldn’t wake up for church for the 11 AM service each Sunday, but if there is a race, you bet, I will be bright eyes bushy tail at the zero dark hour. I don’t even need to set an alarm. My body just wakes up on it own. Ha!

Time change was this Sunday. Yes the Day Light Saving kicked in. Not complaining about lacking an hour of sleep. It didn’t mess me up. It was just still dark when I left for the race and very cold (relatively speaking), but I was ready. A bit sleepy for sure, but no one was on the road at that hour.

I grabbed a quick bite. Warmed up the Instant Oat. Our microwave broke, so it was not heating up. Fidgeted around the machine. It was humming along but no heat and the light was off. What give? I didn’t whack it but really wanted to. No avail. So I ate it cold.

I have been ready the night before, laying out the clothes I would be wearing. A lot of thoughts go into this. I had a long sleeves underneath, with a short sleeves (T-shirt) on top. For the pants, I wore long. No need for long johns but I was not as brave as the day before to be in shorts. I felt I gave everything the previous day, and today I just wanted to be comfortable today. As a runner, you know to plan for 10 degrees warmer. What this mean is say the temperature is going to reach 40 deg (F), so you should dress if it were 50 deg, because that will be how your body would feel by the middle of the run. To do that, you must be willing to stand the cold of the first few minutes before it reaches the right temperature. Not on this day though. I know it would get warm later in the race but no way would I ditch my get up. I then put on a coat and headed out. I was toasty warm. That how I like it.

Since I wasn’t able to pick up the race bib the day before, I had to get there a little early. The place opened at 6:45, I believed I was there around 7.

I already checked the course the night before (map check), visualizing the run before I slept. There were bit of details I was not familar with, but the course was basically a normal 5K + 10K, plus an extra mile in the beginning. I ran 5k’s and 10k’s at the location too many times and know those routes by heart.

Unlike other races, I was a bit tired having done a 32 mile run the day before. So there was very little warm up I wanted to do. Instead I stayed hunker down in the school cafeteria (the race staging ground) until close to the time of starting. The only warm up I did was a few jumping jacks with the whole crowd. PR races usually have someone to lead a warm up for few minutes. Those were the extend of my warm up for the race.

Normally speaking, the weather was very good for running. I believed it was 26 when I woke up, but by the time the race started, it was probably around 32-35. It would continue to climb to the 40s and reach 60s by end of the day. It was relatively calm without wind, unlike the day before. However, I just felt cold. I know it was a mental thing. I felt I had nothing left in me to fight the cold since I left everything on the course the day prior in another race.

I knew this race would be a hard one. So I tried to tell myself that ten miles shouldn’t be too bad for me because I normally can do it in my sleep. I kept reassuring myself, it is just a 10K plus another 5K. Easy. I would finish in 1.5 hrs at most.

Things were not good at the start. I could feel the pain on the back of my right heel with every single step. I tried to do it as gentle as possible, shifting my leg, moving my ankle, just trying to find the best position that it would hurt less.

Over time the pain became dull and later disappeared completely, to my joy! I could run. My left ankle, the one I rolled, was not an issue. I could pound as hard on that one without a problem.

However, pain on my right foot was not the only issue. I had problem breathing. I felt I couldn’t take in deep breath. The left of my left shoulder blade would hurt if I did. I knew this condition. It happened once before last year, when I had like three races over a weekend, and on my last one the pain came when I tried to breath. So I knew, there was no point in trying to run fast. I can only run as a pace my body could take at the moment. I will have to do a google search if other runners experience this kind of breathing problem.

I slowly picked up the pace as my body allowed me. Seeing the first mile, then the second mile sign and the third. I skipped the first water station. No need to take water now.

By the way, many people passed me during the first few miles. Note, I didn’t line up to the front of the line but at what I felt was appropriate for my condition (10-12 min group).

Still many people passed me. I wasn’t bothered by this. I was too busy monitoring my foot and lung. It was just an observation that those people I normally left them in the dust, now I couldn’t even keep up with.

At no point did I panic. I ran enough marathons and I know this was not one. I was always afraid of being disqualified for not running fast enough. I did the math in my head, with two hours to run, I would not be disqualified. Only thing is to press on. One step after another.

My goal then was to reach mile marker 6, since that would basically ensure that I would finish. I also know the neighborhood, so I had in my mind every turn that was about to come. I know almost every hill there and when to press hard and when to ease up. Familarity with the course really helped.

I don’t remember when I started feeling better, whether it was mile 5 or even before that. By mile six I was flying. Those people who passed me earlier, now I was chasing them down. I saw everyone I passed was exhausted. They were out of breath and they could barely maintain their pace. I was on the other hand fresh. As fresh as I can be.

I had a new goal then, to be the top 100 finishers. I really felt I could do it. I looked staight ahead and saw bunch of runners after runners. In my mind I started counting off. 30 runners here and over there 20. I could do it. I could pass them. I pressed hard. The more people I’d pass the higher the likelihood I would be able to reach it.

Miles were flying by. There 4 more to go, then 3 more and 2 and last mile. There were probably 10 more people I saw that I felt I could over take them. But it was hard! I was staying with them, passing some still but it was slow going. I was running out of time here because the race wad about to end. I did not exactly know where the turn would be to the finish line, but I knew it was about to be there in a few more minutes. I only could keep trying in closing the gap at it.

Funny though as I was passing people, I think going back at mile 7-ish, there was a black guy, passing me on my left. I looked over. The dude was young and he had on a sweater, not a runner outfit but he seemed enjoying and not sweating at all. He passed me with ease just as easily as I was passing other ‘slower’ people to my right. In no time he disappeared out of my line of vision. The point was he was not even trying. He was as if just a warm up run. Dude, you know if he was running for real, he be gone. It reminded me to some people say running at a 7 min pace is like for me running at a 12 min pace. Instead, he seemed just like he was fast walking and he was passing me by. I was amazed. People on my right ignored him like they were ignoring me. They were too focused on their breathing and maintaining their pace to see the guy. I was floored.

The finish line came in sight. There was a lady I was trying to pass as there were about 200 meter left. I passed still some more people maybe 4-5 more, but there was this lady who wouldn’t yield. She had what is known as the kick. I do too, but she out kicked me and blazed to the finish line. I know it was rather stupid try to win the last few seconds because we were chip-timed and not gun-timed. To be able to finish just one second or half a second ahead doesn’t mean you have bested the other person. It could be the other person started way later than you, so though you beat the person to the finish line, but that person might have ran the race in a shorter time still according to the RFID chip, so would beat you when the result is announced instead of who crosses the finish line first.

It seemed I am a bit competive. Actually, I don’t really care. It was all about running the hardest. Other people only serve as a reference point for me. They do make me run my hardest (I don’t run like that in training).

As I crossed the finish line I saw the time on the clock, it was not a ‘fast’ time. I know in my mind my fastest time for a 10 miler was 1:20. The clock was showing no where near that. I had 1:32 for this race. After looking back from the last few years’ results, this was in fact my slowest 10 miler.

Sad it may seem, I did not get rank into the top 100 finishers. However, I was thrilled of having a blast as I was trying to over take people. It really seems silly to do so because by the time I picked up my pace, the people I passed were not at my level – so it felt more like competing with the easy crowd (I felt like taking candies from little kids). In the end it is all individual effort. Running is really an individualized sport. It is always me and the clock and no one else.

I mentioned about timing. Most runners do not care about it. In a sense, true. Clock only matters to the first couple finishers. The rest of us were just participants. We ran not to win because that is an unrealistic goal. But clock does mean something. I ran in a ‘race’ where the clock was not even on, and that was a downer for me.

I am still young. There are still chances that I would be able to improve on my time. I could imagine maybe in another 10 years, where no matter how hard I train, my result just won’t show. Age will be a factor. That would be interest to see what motivation do I still have to get myself onto the course. I suspect it would be still almost the same. It’d be seeking the thrill of running ‘fast’. Yes, fast is relative.

I just love maps, so here it is
I think I had a reverse split!! Not as dramatic how I described it in the blog, but yes, I was picking up the pace with each mile
life running

week 9

Day 180

First off weekly miles ran: 25 plus 18 miles hiking.

Got to put those hiking miles in otherwise, my running look pretty shabby.

No long run this past weekend. I originally scheduled a marathon race. It was another Potomac River Marathon just like the one I did a week before. Note they (race organizer) called it something different, but basically running on the same C&O Canal towpath. I signed up for this race back in spring. I have been doing races with this organization, Health and Safety Foundation, for couple years. On last Tuesday though I decided to defer the race until next year. Luckily this race has a very flexible deferral policy.

I also deferred another race (50K), which is supposed to be taking place this coming Saturday. It is not because I am nervous. I think I am ready.

Somehow, I don’t feel like running that much recently. I know at this point in time, it shouldn’t matter how I feel, I should stick to the training plan and run my miles. There are only a few weeks left until my final race. I still like running, but some other things seemed to be more important.

I am struggling with prioritizing. Previously, I am all for first come first serve. If there is something I like, but my calendar already has something in it, I would not move my events that are already booked.

Now I started moving things that were set around, all hell break loose.

I have been going through some soul searching last whole week. Nothing much came out of it. I do like running but there are other things more important. I have been skipping out churches on Sunday and my time with my friends. Though they understand that I do what I like, still it kind of hurt when I have to put them on a balance and weigh which choices I should do.

This past weekend, I went hiking instead. It improved my mental health somewhat. I kind of coming out of it better than when I started. My problem was not resolved. I did not come out with flesh vision and passion. The best thing about this hike was my hiking Friend K, got herself a trail runnin shoes. It was not like she was going to run with me. She does not run. However, she ran me on the trail for at least five miles on rough terrain. All the time though I was trying to stay away from running, and there she was running. I was thinking she got to be tired soon, at least for someone who doesn’t run and we were on trail (mountainous), even real runners get tired. I don’t she was doing it for me, she said and I believe her that she would still run the trail even if I were not there. I got home, and slept for four hours until evening.


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.


double marathon coming up

Day 174

I just finished a marathon today. I will do another tomorrow. I will write more on this in another post of how people do or more marathons without rest. Back-to-back marathon is not too hard a thing to do. I found a secret.

I did Altis Cross County Marathon. It is a small ultra like race. There were 80 ish people running the full and about the same number running the half. Unlike other big names, this one was really low key but it has everything about a good race. I like the food and candies they offered. It had some trails to run on. The ground had everything: we had sand, asphalt, concrete, and dirt and might have some gravels. Luckily no water crossings.

Any way, this race was one I learned an important lesson about life. Not everyone running in a race have the same purpose.

I got to the race about an hour before the start time. I got out of the truck and saw a group 15-20 people was doing some warm up or at least I presumed they were warming up. They were heading out around the lake and I thought I would just follow them. Who would have known they were the advance starting group (first wave). The race director didn’t mention anything about this. I am not blaming the RD. Usually for small race RD is very flexible to different runner’s need.

However, I was blindly follow them to the point of missing the start. I did not time myself but when I came to my sense that these people were not going around the lake but instead was going farther out than I was comfortable. I could have turned around. I could have asked them where they were going, but a guy was being rude to me. He said he couldn’t help me and that the starting line was the other direction. We were like an hour out and probably have gone 3-4 miles already. I started being anxious. I guess my vibed was infecting the whole group I was with. More on this later.

I saw the race has now started. The real runners were catching up.

The race had two laps of out and back. I continued to walk with them. I would not want to splint back to the starting line. Actually, I was still curious where they were heading and was tailing them. Part of me did not want to believe that they were runners and I had goofed. At the turn around point, one of the guys told me to stop tailing them because I was making them nervous. The guy was mean and I sensed if I kept on, he might do physical/bodily harm to me.

This has never happened to me in a race and if it was really a race I wouldn’t tail them either.

Any way, I was quite disturbed. I calmed myself down, got away from them, by following them from far away. By this time other runners caught up and the trail was full of people. I fet a bit safer. I walked back to the starting line with them.

After passing ‘go’, I started running and started my garmin watch. I figured the race gave a generous time of seven hours and with about 5 and half hours remaining, I could still finish if I started then. If anything I just used it as a long run. I glad I was not disqualified from the race. The race was not bib timed, so it didn’t matter when I start (The RD was really generous). Actually he didn’t know I started that late. We all used the race clock. I started about an hour and half late but that was ok. Official time, I finished at 7:10, and my garmin time was 5:30. I ran 28 miles based on garmin measurement. If I added in the extra 9 miles walk before my start, that means I did a total of 37 miles. I was going to add two more miles but figured I didn’t want the race timing person to wait another half hour for me. I already finished after 7 hours (the supposed total time allowed for the race). I accidenally did an ultra and got an official finishing time (for the marathon). For that I was glad.

Any way, I was angry at myself for making such a rookie mistake. I did not check where I was going and followed the wrong crowd. I did not keep track of the ‘warm up’ time. However, in the end, it was no harm no foul. I could have been DQ for late start or failed to finish within the allowed time.

I was angry/frustrated also because I always thought myself a nice guy but there were people telling me to go away during the race. They said I made them nervous – how was it my fault? I should not let a random stranger bothered me. I always thought everyone in the runner community are welcoming. I shouldn’t let one person ruin the whole. I was bothered at the time because it was totally not within my expectation.

There were others who encouraged me during the race, such as saying keep it up, good job, you can do it, keep going. Or they simply smiled at me. Not everyone are mean. However, I was quite shaken. This was one of emotional races and left a salty taste.


5k report

Day 74

I ran the “Run your heart out 5k”.  I was so close to running my heart out. It was 27 seconds away from my personal best. I finished at 24:27 and my best was 24:01 on the same course set on Feb 2017. 


Hike report – Buckhollow and Sam’s Hill

My friend called it Heaven’s Hill because after a long climb you arrive at the top and is greeted with a vista and you feel you are in heaven.