Review 19.6

Day 200 Fall Review

My running season (7th) is finally over, with a cap of successfully completing the JFK. It has been an intense roller coaster ride. I went through the highest of high and lowest of low in my runs and in my personal life to get there.

My last report from Day150, was from early August. Instead of a report of every 30 days, I lengthened to 50 days, so I don’t have to write too many reports. A monthly or bi-monthly report has become a seasonal report. My one year of blogging just passed and I reflected on that recenly.

At the end of summer, I was ready for fall training for the JFK. I trained for about 9 weeks and then I don’t know what happen. I stopped. I still ran but I didn’t log my miles and basically went off the training schedule. Luckily I didn’t blew my JFK race. However, if I have kept to the schedule, I might have done better. I did well, but who knows how much better I could have done.

I wrote a race report on the JFK. The ultras that helped me to train up to it were OldGlory and MCM50k. I also did the Baltimore Marathon and Morgantown. I had a good time in both. I did couple earlier marathons (C&O1 and Altis) in September, however, I did not enjoyed those as much as the ultras and Baltimore. I thought it was an intense season, but now looking back, it was just about right.

When I was not running, I had several good backpacking trips. The whole season was a struggle between training and doing other things, which I also liked. Roan Mnt trip was pretty good. At Dolly Sods, our hiking group learned a good lesson. Our trips to Mt Pleasant (occurred in the summer) and to Wild Oaks were also memorable.

This season, I struggled with many things: my diet was totally off. I struggled with staying on my training. I don’t have a record how many miles I ran (tracked only up to week 9). I don’t think it was that much, around maybe 300 miles. I was lucky, indeed, and did not DNF on my races. I was also struggled with schedule conflict between racing/training/and other commitments.

There were always trade-offs and sacrifices. I had to cancel the High Bridge Ultra and plus a hiking trip to the Triple Crown — both had lasting effects that haunted me and I hate to have plan changed on me. One word on trade-offs, neither choice have the same value – say trading a race for a hike, or a hike for a race, may seem like doing the same thing, but is not. In life, I don’t think there is ever an equal/fair choice. I hurt those around me with my choices.

I dealt with couple times of low spirit in this season and sometimes I skipped my runs, especially the short runs. In fact I am still in the thick of it; yelp, season is over, but I still think about running. I skipped some of my races – big ones too, first time ever. I had to dig deep to find and regain a motivation to run and to overcome the busyness to train; too many things happened, things at my job at work and my relationship with other people. And even my weight training program was stopped. Only constant theme though was pushing on. I finished the JFK at a great cost. The season was a longer version of the race itself, except there is no finish line to cross and no crowd there to celebrate and no medal to receive. However, I am satisfied that the goal was accomplished and that is a reward.

Luckily I have been healthy throughout. I had short period of pain and shin splint and various ankle rolls and such, but over all was healthy. There was no injury serious enough to sideline me.

Looking ahead, I scheduled quite a few races for next year. It will be just as intense season like this one. God is good!

the night of!

Day 185

It has been a year since I started my first post! Thank you for putting up with my rambling.

I have run a ton of marathons since. The following are race reports given here for those who want to read them. DC:Abebe19, MD:Baltimore , PA:York, WA:JackJill, WV:Morgantown, VA:EDU, VA:Roanoke19, VA:Seashore50.

It is hard to choose a favorite among the races I ran. Each of them brings a lot of memories. I think running in Seattle was fun and so was Baltimore. I did two ultra marathons (EDU and Seashore 50K). I finished marathons in three new states (PA, WA, and WV). There are 44 states left to visit. California and Maine are two I plan to go to next year.

Tomorrow, I will run another Ultra. The Marine Corps 50K. They gave me the patch already before I even run.

I read it will be raining, but not cold. My expected finish time will be 6 hours. I ran my first ultra in 6 hours, and there is a chance I will be faster it because I will be running on the road!

I did a 18 mile hike/run today (From Pen-Mar to Annapolis Rock) on the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail. I think I will be ready. Fall is here and the leaves are beautiful.

Pictures just not able to show the vibrant color of the leaves. Paul, my hike leader. He will be camping, but I will continue on the hike by myself, since I have a race to do next morning.

Paul is carrying a big tarp because it will rain tonight.


I should get to bed soon. Got to wake up at 5 tomorrow for the race.

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/