Near miss

Day 153

If I don’t write about this, I won’t be able to move on.

Over the weekend I and several others headed to West Virginia Roaring Plain which is southern part of Dolly Sods Area.

The trip was a one night camping and the next day a 15 miles hike. We camped at the trail head. Apparently there is a nice big area in the woods for our big group of 7. We brought along several newbies unexpectedly.

The trail was technical and we have never been there before. Even experienced hikers had hard time finding and staying on the trail, so we read from the trail notes we brought along. It was my first time encountered such a challenge. It was beyond my level. I was given several chances to locate the trail during the hike and I failed to find it before others did.

I had a GPS unit but it didn’t really help to stay on track because the resolution was not high enough. If it was off by 50 meters, that is a big distance in the woods. I always know we are near a check point but we are never right on the check point at places where we should be turning. So every time we lost a trail we scattered around to search for trails. The GPS was of no help. There are many false trails too. Plus, my GPS North alignment was off by I think 30 degrees. So wherever it says to go in one direction, I couldn’t trust it. Which direction is the real direction whenever I looked up from my unit, I would ask myself. I had to use my phone compass to confirm. It was good still to have the unit because at least I could find how far I have walked and where I was on the map. However in term of picking the next direction to walk to reach the next checkpoint, the unit was way off, it was all pure skill from my hike leader, that we found the next point. She did spectacularly there. Also a handheld GPS is not like a car GPS, it updates at an interval, and what shown on the screen was the last update, which could have been five minutes ago. I could have forced an update on the position but there is usually a delay. I couldn’t trust it.

We lost the trail a few times. The worse was we had to look for an oak tree to make a turn at a rocky outcrop. We couldn’t find the oak tree. We passed it by a few time. I think we spent an hour there going round and round. We even backtracked for a mile. I got blame for this since my coleader at the time didn’t know she was backtracking but everyone else knew. She blamed me for not telling her.

At last someone, my coleader’s friend (he was an experienced hiker) pointed out the small oak tree we passed already several times. The light bulb lighted in us. We knew then we were on the right track. My leader then fan out to search for the next trail (teepee trail) we supposed to take and found it. That was the most difficult trail to locate. The reason was some of the carne were knocked down so we couldn’t find it. The trail was way up and out from where the oak tree was. It was unexpected.

The rest of the hike was pretty easy. We got to the forest road (FR 70) and entered a next forest where the trail was wide and blazed. There were only three miles left to get back to our car. Unfortunately we hiked very fast then and the newbies (or one of the newbies) couldn’t keep up. We didn’t worry because my leader’s friend was the self-designated sweeper (last of the group) to catch any the stragglers. Unfortunately near the end our sweeper friend couldn’t figure the way and they had to backtrack to FR70.

By the way, I am normally a sweeper on most hikes but my leader wouldn’t let me be one on this. She wanted me to be next to her to keep an eye on the trail. I ended up usually in the middle position (4th person down) in the group.

For us, after didn’t see them coming out the forest we went back in to search for them. Later we decided to send a group home first, while two remained to wait at the trail head. While I left the mountain we got the text message from ones who separated and their intended heading, which was a miracle in itself because the cellular signal was poor/non existent in the area. So we went back to pick them up. Of course the ones who got lost in the forest were not happy, even though it was a happy reunion for us.

Everyone said there is a lesson to be learned. One, was to wait up and keep everyone together. I won’t disagree with that, but I don’t think that was the main lesson. I have been in many hikes where I was hiking alone and got separated from the lead (since I was usually the sweeper). I think the main lesson is communicate what is expected from the participants. Most newbies had a rude awakening that they might have died in the woods (if they were not able to come out). They were never expected to be alone and lost.

I felt that according to common outdoor rules and I learned this very early on in my hiking experience is to have a map and know where we are going. It is generally expect that we can find our own way out. I knew this because I got left behind on my very first hike.

Second is this, and we did well, is an inexperience hiker is to team up with an experienced one. That was the reason nothing worse happened. Our sweeper friend was confident even when lost that he could leave the forest in his own power without the need of a search party. He did. I was as cool as a cucumber except for the other new guy with him. He took care of the inexperience one.

Third is communication. My leader relied on her friend who took the rear, on any hikes it wouldn’t be a problem except on this he didn’t know the trail (and didn’t ask about it), though he should have. I think both he and my lead was overconfident. If we had taken time to show him the map and the way of the last segment of the hike he even if separated he still would able to proceed. We were trusting his common sense to find the way because the trail was easy compared to what we have been hiking the whole day.

Though his backtracking was a smart decision, it wasn’t the best. If he has remained in place our search team would have located him (with only say 30 minutes). He wouldn’t had to backtrack and ended up walked an extra 6-10 miles out. The backtrack costed 4-5 hours. They were like only half a mile from the car when they got lost. They backtracked because they think we ourselves were lost. Any way a lesson learned.

My friend who led the hike was quite shaken from the experience, mostly dealing with everyone blaming her for the fiasco. I felt yes things like this can happen and people can get separate and lost. But also those going on a trip should be prepared with the necessary tools like maps and compass, and knowledge of how to use them. etc. None of them printed a map out. They have themselves to blame.

As for me, I am not that much being bothered. I just have to remind people that they have to be responsible for themselves on the next trip I lead. True people are not really blaming me any way, I am just a co-lead. They blamed the lead.

By the way, I learned my lesson of bring a map and compass after being left behind in the woods the first few times, when I went hiking with my current leader. I always was able to find my way out by luck! And usually I got left behind at an ‘easier’ section. That said.

19.5 Review

Day 150 Summer / review no 5

[Last] month review (May) can be found here. Every time I write this, I feel like doing a project, except I have no idea what I am doing. I just feel it is right to write a report.

This month/quarter had me twisted in a knot but finally everything sorted out. Well kind of.

I ran couple of races. York Marathon in Pennsylvania and Eastern Divide (EDU) in Roanoke VA. And I thought, I was exhausted from those. I probably were.

The big news was my doctor told me I have high cholesterol. I took the news like I was about to die. I started fasting. No more eating out, no more candy, no more soda. I started to lower my calorie intake. I fasted from food at least once a week, on every Monday and on first of every month. My friend taught me to cook. I wanted to eat healthier. I was handling fine. At least I thought so. It went on for about three weeks, until I began to get weak, very weak.

I didn’t do less though. I kept to my running and camping. We went to Laurel Highland and I had a blast. It was one of those places I wanted to go for a long time.

I got so weak though soon I was not able to run nor hike. People in my running group when they saw me begged me to go home. I persisted but soon I had to give into my body. I was no longer could run a four miler. Then even two milers were like running a marathon.

I went to see the doctor, luckily he was quick to identify that I got Lyme disease. I was put on antibiotic and finally as of couple days ago, I finished the treatment. I regained my strength just in time for me to do the Jack&Jill marathon two weekends ago.

I pretty much back to where I was, being strong again. Granted with almost two months off from my training, there are a lot to catch up. I canceled the 40 miler ultra for August. I am now focus on my September and October marathons. The next report will probably be about those races.

I felt I have come a full circle. The training plan I had for the summer, well they had to be adjusted. It was pretty much toasted. Luckily not too many things were affected. I learned definitely where my limit is. If the body refuses to move, there really not a lot of way to force myself to do anything. I always believe mind over the body, but that only applies for short duration like during a race. It is much much harder to do it during a long illness. I got a taste of being not able to run. Really really not able to run at all when I was seemingly healthy (well I thought so was healthy at the time). I now believe people when they say they can’t run, they really can’t run. Now at least I got back a body that can.

Finally, I can begin my summer training. It is not too late.

Last: https://antin.blog/2019/05/14/19-4-review/

York: https://antin.blog/2019/05/19/two-for-one/

EDU: https://antin.blog/2019/06/15/race-3-eastern-divide-50k/

Jill: https://antin.blog/2019/07/31/reflection/

Two for one

Day 123 / York & St Michaels

I did a half marathon and a full marathon in one weekend. It was amazing. Looking back it doesn’t seem that hard because I have done hikes at that length over a weekend, but I was fearful when I signed up. Granted hiking and running is not the same thing.

For one there is no time pressure for hiking but with running I am on the clock! I could ignore the clock but I never willingly run a slower time on purpose.

There are too much to talk about. I won’t able to say everything. First, location, St. Michaels is a small historical town founded in the 1600s somthing. It has that quaint old feel. It supposes to be very beautiful but I didn’t get to see the harbor/ or pier where they keep their boats. We ran through some remote part of the island with a lot of trees. So only saw trees. The route is pretty boring. Whatever lacking in attractions was made up with the runner atmosphere. There were tons of people running this race. They had to use four different waves. There were thousand plus runners. So hotels and inns were all filled. I camped out and it was a pretty nice experience but I didn’t get much sleep because by the time I got to the site it was late and I slept after 10 and woke up at 3:45 to start packing. I was afraid to get caught in small town traffic with a thousand cars trying to get to the start line. The race started on time at 7:10. I finished in 2 hours.

What I got out from the race was it is good to have a coach! I was running with someone who was behind me with her trainer. It was very distracting to have the guy constantly motivating the lady. I just couldn’t run fast or slow enough to get out of their ear shot. But I wish I have a personal trainer who would tell me how fast to run at a certain portion.

That was that. St Michaels is a good race. I might go back there if they have a full marathon.

Now about the York Marathon (YMCA race), it was more than I expected because it was on the PA Heritage trail and it was beautiful. Running a trail marathon always beats a road marathon. It was flat. It was really a road marathon but on a less used trail. We hardly see any other people from the general public. The trail is 23-mile long and there are mostly farm land on either side. So it was a heavenly place for runners.

The race supports were great. They had radio team (probably there was no cell coverage), and they had profession road crossing crew. There was a water stop about every 2 miles.

The race was long because I ran slow (not by choice either because my body refused to run any faster). I kept mostly around 10 mile pace and was targeting a 4:20 finish. I finished at 4:24. I was hungry by the half way point. They don’t have food at this race only water and Gatorade. There were gummy bears at one station though I am not sure if it was provided by the race or was it from a bystander. I was too tired to care and just took them.

I hit the wall at mile 18 and didn’t really recover. There were a lot of strong runners. It was a Road Runner club qualifying race or something. We got to see some really good looking runners. Amazing!

I finished it was what I can say.

19.4 Review

Day 120 / Review#4 – spring time

What happens: A review of last 30 days from March to May. I felt a lot had happened and also not much at the same time. Last time I wrote a review, there was still snow and I did the first half marathon this year then. Note 30 days are not the actual calendar days but days of that were journaled (a meaningful day). I could also use the word entry, but I like day better.

As always, the last review can be found here [last]. I am still figuring out how I want to do this, if I should write strictly a summary or provide something new focusing the present (like provide a snapshot), or both.

Here’s a look back of the last 30 days.

1) running of the Roanoke Marathon. Its training spanned through several months. The race was a foundation for all the races I will do this year. The training was long and I felt I was a beginner runner all over. More on the race is in the report [race].

My goal this year is to be an ultra runner. My first trail ultra race is only a month away (actually will be my second, but it is a first one with hills). I did some mountain running and I gotta say, it is hard. Hills are not hills,… they go on forever. Roanoke marathon showed me that.

While hiking is a fun activity, to me it is also a training. I am pleased that I was able to do a great hike (backpacking) at Tory Ridge [hike]. I also started to train on trails during the weekends. I am not there at where I should be yet. There is still much to do to get ready.

Off tangent: I probably leave my review with one point hanging. I ran out of things to say…I have stuffs to write about but I found them boring (like doing chores). I like to go off tangent.

I started to write only on the weekend because that when things are happening. I do my races on weekends. I hike, backpack, train, and everything on the weekend. I do train during the week too, but each day mostly after work, there is only limited time and I want to hit the bed as early as I can. One thing I changed was going to bed early! It was part of the over all goal to be more efficient and choosing to do what most important.

Other major events were running the Frederick Half, (too lazy to provide a link), running the cherry blossom race, couple weekend training (Easter).

I looked back on my New Year Resolution couple days ago. Some of those were on the right track. I’m proud of my training and runs. Other things like eating better…Needs much improved, to try again.

I started going to gym last couple weeks. I like being sored on other parts of my body other than the legs. I’m so proud of this. Along the same line, I found a buddy who will do a mini triathlon sprint with me. Hopefully that will get me into the Tri world. I’m excited. It is all about ramming up the intensity.

Relationship. Everything is tied to people. I would like to ignore this aspect but it is really the bedrock of everything I do. It is through people that I found meaning in all my activities. I could say run in the woods by myself but then it is because I want to able to run with people in a race. I don’t know what I’m writing here, just taking a stab at it. I like to run for the sake of running too.

I thank God for friends and a group of guys who keep me on track in life. Having this group of friends is the biggest change in the last couple months.

Last couple months, my Friend K really got me back on track. I had a defining moment! I (or she) solved one of the biggest problems since the beginning (120 days ago), which was just lurking in the back and I had no idea how to tackle head on. I was much relief. I’m speaking vaguely here but really, it should change my life. Of course my relationship with K, and my perspective of everything changed. More to come. I now have more intensity and life than ever before!

[Last] https://antin.blog/2019/03/06/19-3-review/
[Race] https://antin.blog/2019/04/15/roanoke/

[Hike] https://antin.blog/2019/03/31/torry-ridge-bp/

Impression

Day 103

I have been to many great hikes. Last weekend was one of those perfect hikes. In term of work out, It was about there. I wasn’t totally exhausted but I got blisters, probably from getting my shoes wet. I got chaffing, probably from wearing cotton clothing. My hips was bruised from carry the weight of the sack, my friend was saying what do I carry in that thing. I brought more than enough food to eat. It was just perfect but my friend had the Friday meal ready for me. She also gave me ‘brownies’ that was good for lunch. We hiked out early on Sunday. So I saved three meals. I had about three meals left over.

One thing I learned was I need to get the system down. I have been out a dozen of time but it still feels like 4 or 5 times. I still don’t know what to do or how to pack. It took me too long to organize or get dress in the morning. Twenty some minutes to take off my clothes or putting them on is way too long :). And I only had one set.

Routines. Routine is good. I need to get myself down on routine. Like what to eat and how to cook. Even boiling water took me longer than my friend who cooked her entire meal.

Bearbag. Yup. I forgot how to do the PCT style hang. It took me too much time getting the robe over the tree. Got to remember to bring a small pouch to put a rock in to throw it over the tree. It was just unbelievable. There were many things I felt I know, but actually doing them, they felt like the first time.

I slept great. I love sleeping next to the creek and also on the ridge.

Another thing I appreciate from this hike was it was a preview of the run I will be doing in two weeks. My run will be on the road but it will have similar elevation change as the hike was. I will be running on Blue Ridge Parkway.

The whole hike was generally peaceful. I had no great alarming thoughts. I was feeling generally calm and happy. My life was peaceful. In the past, hikes provide me a mean of escape, this time, I was not running from anything. It was as pleasant as a walk in the park.

19.3 review

Day 90 – March Update

19.3 is not a race. It is just a recap and a reflection of the past 30+ days. My last report was on day 60. [1]

I have been skipping days so it is not exactly 30 days since. It is almost two months since my last report. I almost was going to put it off until day 100.  Maybe in the future I will do a report every 100 / 50 days or so.

Trying to get back into training mode since the last major race was hard. I have been running but not consistently and they were not structured. Finally the last few weeks, I am a bit more consistent that they looked more a real training. I put up like 30-40 miles weekly but I am still struggling.

There are many reasons why I haven’t been training as I should. I got to know a friend better and was having a lot of happy hours with her. It was my church time too, but my schedule got rearranged during the weekend. I spent more time at ‘church’ than before. Luckily time with the lady doesn’t spread to my work days yet. I think a lot of her though and kind of distracted me from my running. I didn’t specifically write about them. Readers can read between the lines. 

Though that wasn’t the buck of it. It deserves a whole posting in itself. It is hard to see things at ‘ground zero’. There were just too many things going on in my personal life. Who doesn’t? Motivation to run was quite low. My initial motivation to run was from my former girlfriend, because she runs, I run. Now I think of her less and less, so I  kind of searching for a replacement of what can  get me out of the door. They say I run, because I like it… It is hard to find what to like about it when I’m at the door and don’t want to step outside. I don’t run for fuzzy feeling.

 Plus the weather and everything seemed to be ‘against me’ when I was ready to hit the pavement. Don’t things in life kind of do that to everyone? When you really want to do something and the whole world is against you? Sky’s falling. That’s life. It is swimming upstream all the way.

I did several small/mini races and they are not too much to brag about. But they were fun to do. I was so close to beating my records on couple of them and was pleased.

 I am not on track with my new year resolutions and no idea how to fit it. It went well for couple weeks and that was all. I wasn’t regret making them as some would. It just mean I have to get back on the saddle. But things are looking to turn around.

My running schedule for 2019 (racing) is set [2] and mostly paid for. I recently registered for the MCM. I wasn’t sure though if a couple hotels reservations (for races) made were paid  in advance or I will have to pay when I arrive. They are spread out over the year, so they won’t hit my pocket too hard. 

Budgeting! I haven’t really set a budget. This year though I added up all the cost of running related for the whole year, so I kind of know how much. I won’t share it because it was shocking to my running buddies and it would be shocking to you guys. All my races are budget buster.

I hiked a few times and wrote about those. It has been exciting! My dearest friend (one and only who does this kind of things with me) and I haven’t done much last year, and the first quarter kind of put us back into the regular pattern. We try to hike/backpack twice a month. Weather and other issues prevented some of trips but overall we headed out the trail more frequently than before. 

Of course our goal is to get ready for a trip to Chile at end of the year. She has planned the whole thing already. This trip though kind of derails my biggest goal of running a 50 miler in November. I wrote about going to Chile vs running the 50 miler. I made my goals and she does her and we or I at least ended up in a rock and a hard place. 

I am thinking of switching one of my ultra races (Iron Mountain) to a 50 miler, but it means getting my body ready by end of August instead of November. Still trying to figure if I will be ready. I can have until June to decide.

Until next time then. My next report will probably be around June around Day 150 or 175.

[1] https://antin.blog/2019/01/12/review-19-02/#more-407

[2] https://antin.blog/races-to-run/

Review 19.02

Day 60 / Second Review – “December Update”

The last 30 days came and  disappeared like a flash. I blogged another 30 days! The highlight was the 31 miles (50K) race completed. You can read all about it in the race report. Before the race I didn’t think I was prepared enough. I, at the time, had no idea how I could run another 5 miles on top of running a 26 miles. Then there were all kinds of panic at the last minute regarding the weather not being optimal on the race day. In the end these fears were moot. The race went well. I did finish, and that all it mattered.

Continue reading “Review 19.02”