The boring stuff / trip Laurel#1

Day 226

I left several things hanging in previous posts, because I ran out of time. Usually I write my posts either going to work or traveling home. I try to squeeze everything in before I ‘pass out’. I have motion sickness, so if I stare at something too long while in motion I get dizzy. It is always a race against the clock.

This coming weekend, I plan to head out to PA (Pennsylvania, did I spell it right?) to do the first of four segments of the Laurel Highlands Trail. I will run a 70.5 mile race there in early June. I plan to go out at least once a month in order to cover the whole trail. The last trip there will be a night run.

This first trip will be from mile 0 to mile 18. I will stay a night at mile 18, then run to mile 6 and spend a night there. If have time and ability go to mile 0. Then on Sunday I will go back to mile 18 for another night. Monday being a holiday, I could do some more hiking/running.

Depend on the ground condition, I plan to go to mile 23 too. My car will be parked at mile 18 the whole time.

I have been checking the trail condition. There is high chance there will be snow somewhere on the trail and possibly on the whole trail. Forecast for the weekend will be cold. I checked the one few webcams there and it was showing 6 inches of snow since last week. I am expecting temperature on Friday to be 17 or lower. Up on the ridge, I can expect possibly in single digit. I have a warm sleeping bag, 10/15F I think. Got to check. I might bring a second one to double up.

I am excited. I still don’t know how I can run much with a full pack on my back. I haven’t work that part out. I am balancing between safety and weight. The less I carry the faster/more I can run but I would be endanger of freezing myself at night. Best solution would have a ‘mule’ (that what they are called in the running world of your support crew who carry things for you – having a mule in a race is illegal though) who carry all my gear to the camp and I would focus on the running aspect. Unfortunately no mule for me on this trip. Who know? Maybe a miracle or an angel will show up. My hike leader won’t be coming on this trip.

It is the first or one of the few trips I am planning on my own. It was always good to have my hike leader do all the planning in the past. All I did was show up. This trip has this added component of planning. Not that I hate it, but I like to just wing it.

I could also carry my pack to camp first, drop the pack and then do the running. But how much time do I have left for the run? I don’t know but will see.

Another option would be carry my pack there on the first night. Camp and drop pack at camp, then run back to the car (12-18 miles). Take my car and drive back to the first camp and pick up my pack and drive to the second camp. All my camp spots were already booked. Otherwise…I just camp two nights at one place. This idea seems doable. I did not think of it when I booked the campsites.

Well a 12 mile hike wouldn’t take whole day even with snow on the ground. Probably 5-6 hours for me, which means I still have time for some running before night fall. (9-3 pm, 2.5 hours before dark).

I am excited. It would be my first camping/backpacking trip with a run component.

What I will actually do will depend on the situation once I arrive.

Old Glory Ultra prep

Day 190

I don’t like counting my chickens before they hatch. But I am overjoyed that this weekend I will be running another ultra: Old Glory. It would be my fourth lifetime ultra. It really came at the last minute so I am scrambling to get my mind into running shape and line up my logistical support. Physically, meh, I haven’t trained as I should. But Ultra now starts to get easier. I am not as fearful about them as with my first and second one.

It was not a last minute sign up. I signed up for this race back in the summer after doing the Eastern Divide and before I got sick. It was part of the three race series: the Eastern Divide, the High Bridge and the Old Glory.

High Bridge race was last month but I couldn’t make it (I went to Wild Oak). Luckily, the race director allowed me to defer it until next year. I thought I would also have to defer for the Old Glory too due to overbooking with my hiking events.

It is not really overbooking – because I have a policy of first-come-first serve. I will do what ever first on my calendar. If it has been on the calendar longer, it must be important and anything that comes after it usually are less important. Do older things first! But then sometimes that isn’t the case, that is when hell breaks loose like this time. Then I have to evaluate what thing I value more.

For me it is hard to choose between running and hiking, which was what happened. If it is purely on the activity, I will always pick running first because that is my joy and passion. Nothing get between me and a race. How often do I go out to the woods by myself just to hike? Almost never. Unfortunately, this year, I gave up three races already (two of them were deferred) and Old Glory would have been my fourth. One of it though was really worth giving up on a race (Roan Mnt backpacking). When you add spending time with a friend to the equation, things get murky and that was what happened.

My hiking buddy also planned this weekend hiking/backpacking trip (we changed venues and dates couple times) for months and it landed on my race date. Actually, that was how I missed the High Bridge race too. I race every weekend almost so I told her not to worry about checking my race calendar. I will suck it up when that happens.

So I have been holding my breath with a hope maybe I still get to run the Old Glory. Finally, I got a message yesterday that the hiking/backpacking trip would be canceled and she won’t take me along. Well it was kind of my fault to suggest that the trip is too cold to do. I camped in colder weather before though.

With the hiking trip canceled, now all my race machinery starts humming again. I am wishing for warm weather. I checked the race director emails, got the last minute race instructions, got the race location and start time, cut off time and now I am studying the course. Basically I need to get my brain into racing mode. Yup, weather will be nice for running. Low 50s. Perfect.

This race would be the last long run before my dreaded 50 miler (JFK50) coming up in two weeks. I am still in denial about that.


Day 131

I was surprised in a bad way when my family doctor told me I have high level of cholesterol in my blood and that I should take medication to lower it.

That scared the light out of me. I thought those kind of medications are for old people. My mom takes those. Wait, I am not young any more. Welcome to the party, I was told! My body is started breaking down.

Though initially, I have some bias of taking medications, I am resigned to the fact that they do help. You can’t play around with this. I did some reading and concluded my doctor is right.

I decided to take on a total life transformation, meaning, I will do everything in my life to live healthier. Three years ago, I started exercising by running, but not for health reason. However, I paid little attention on the food I eat or when I go to bed. Now I am seriously going to do all these things. I will count my calories intake and I will eliminate fat and sugar from my diet and if possible no more eating processed food. I was told my cholesterol level were high all my life, but now the news sinks in. I must do something about it. I want to live long enough to finish running in all 50 states.


Here’s an update of last weekend. I caught a cold or a combination of a cold and heat exhaustion. I was sick the Friday night before the hike. My fever came back in the middle of the night and have been like that the last few days.

I still went on the hike any way and did 26 miles. Luckily the fever left me during the day and my strength returned.

I was more exhausted than usual at the end and went to bed early, like at 10. From the hike, I picked up a couple ticks and I still found one on me yesterday. Yike! I got careless and didn’t spray myself beforehand. Hope, I didn’t pick up any Lyme disease.

Also from the hike, I got two giant size blisters on my bottom heels. They were painful during the whole hike. I think because I wore an old pair of socks and I didn’t pull them all the way up and they were wiggling at the bottom. So the extra bit was creating friction and voila blister.

I tried popping them after the hike but was unsuccessful. I was too tired and couldn’t bend my foot to reach the blister. I started cramping whenever I tried reaching for it. Later the next day, I was able to pop them.

I ran with the blisters on Sunday in the 5K race. I didn’t do so well. Finished at 27 mins. I was two or 3 minutes slower than usual.

Funny thing was I showed up at the race course and there was nobody there. Because I mistakenly went to the wrong place. Luckily the real starting line was about a mile away and I got to it on time.

I have been laying low the last couple days because of my illness. I am feeling much better today.

I ran too last night. Every step reverberated in my head – I had a headache still from the cold.

I’m hoping to be fully recovered by coming Saturday when I will tackle my 2nd 50K ultra. I will write all about it afterward.


Day 113 /long post on delight and peace

Everything about this weekend pretty much fell into place according to plan and I was pleased. I couldn’t ask for more.

In my life, there is someone special. I would love to spend every moment with her. This whole weekend, I was pretty much with her most of the time. She though wasn’t happy and I didn’t try to find out why. I was on the other hand, very happy inside, not because of her misery but because I overcome a struggle and was at peace.

I was assisting my mom planting some flowers last week and I looked across the street and saw a family also gardening. They were sweeping flower petals that fell from the trees. Their entire driveway was covered with pink flowers (they have a cherry blossom tree) and their was blooming last week.

I saw how peaceful and beautiful that picture was. And I was really jealous too. I want a nice house and family and was thinking when will I be like that.

Time is short though. I was thinking, that the family across probably might not even think that scene of few minutes from my perspective was beautiful. They probably thought, how much work they had to do to clean their driveway.

I had a moment of insight then, that we spent a lot time working toward a goal and that satisfaction is only last but a moment.

Thinking about myself, I spent months and years training for a race all for that moment of joy when I run across the finish line.

This weekend I had that joy. For the longest time, I have been struggling to find satisfaction and I have been contemplating the meaning of delight and friendship.

There was a girl I delighted but later we broke up because she delighted in someone else. Since then, only thing I delighted, is running.

Running will put a smile on my face. Running will brighten up my face and running will bedazzle my eyes.

I got to spent my weekend with people I love and doing the things I love. On Friday, I was at church with my best friend praying for mission work. Church and mission is what my friend love most. Though they are not my stuff, but I was happy to be there supporting her.

I didn’t go to bed until 3 in the morning. The next day though, I wasn’t tired. I woke up early and did my morning reading (on Facebook). I came across a post from my race I will do in June and it scared the light out of me. It reminded me that the race will be on the mountain.

So, I immediately got up, no more delay and got to the mountain trail that was about an hour away. My best friend and her friends planned to be there too later in the morning to hike on it. I got there first, started running it.

They came later and we had a good whole day of hiking together. Afterward, I stayed behind and did more running. I had a blast running on the trail. It was hard but it was not the hardest trail to run on. I did hurt myself toward the end of the day when I rolled my ankle. That was the end of running for that day.

I met on the trail a guy who have been running all his life. It was so good we got to talk like normal people but he has done so much beyond what I can imagine. He set a course record in a race he recommended me to do, I didn’t find out until later. He was humble and didn’t boast about his achievement. I wouldn’t never know he was such a fast runner.

On Sunday, it was pretty much normal. I woke up early around 5:30 because I had a race in Maryland. I got to the course around 6:30. Funny thing was the meet up location was so big people couldn’t find the starting line. Luckily, we got there early and was wandering around. I was misled by some people who ran the the race before. They led me to the wrong parking lot because they said it was there last year. In the end, I did find the right place.

The race wasn’t my best because I was limping for the first few miles, before finding my pace. My ankle was bothering me and I didn’t want to put too much force.

There was drizzling rain and it was a little cold. I still enjoyed the race nonetheless. There were 2500 other passionate people there and you could feel the energy.

Later, I went to church and had more time being with my friends. It was pretty much normal for the rest of the day.

I did some biking, about 16 miles. I was pretty much alone but it was a refreshing time after running the race. I didn’t do my long run so I wasn’t as tired as usual. I got to spent time pulling my thoughts together and writing them down here.

Random thoughts thursday

Day 112
No complaint. It has been relatively peaceful on all fronts. It means I should be writing more. I haven’t been good with my time management this week and spent way too much time on the phone and my sleep suffered. Still, I have been getting to work an hour early.

I am still recovering from my marathon. Every time I went out to run thinking I am all good, but as I started running, I realized it took twice the effort and I was only able to get half the speed. I have been racing with this dude on my run and I been losing to him every time now after the marathon. There was no contest. He beat me by a wide margin. There were days I can’t even keep up with him on a slow run. We used to be able to run neck to neck before my marathon.

I know I should take it easy and not to rush my recovery.

I still haven’t put together my training schedule. Someone suggested just do a long and two short runs. I had a 13 miles last week long run. So either this weekend, I need to put in a long or the following weekend I need a 20+ miles long. I don’t think I can put a 20 miler this weekend.

What plan do I have for this weekend?There a prayer meeting tomorrow and I will be there with my friend K. We will pray till midnight or whenever one of us tap out. I have been going to bed pretty late but I think I may be the one going to tap out first.

Then on Saturday, I am going on a hike. It will be easy though 5-6 miles. My friend told me lot of people will be there. Normally, it would be just me and her. We are bringing a lot of our ‘don’t hike’ friends to expose them to hiking. They all sounded upbeat and want to do it with us.

I think we will be back by evening. Sunday then would be the usual Sunday. I have a lot of up keeping to do, but probably I will slack off and go out and run most of the day.

Yesterday, while had some time on my hand , I ran through a wood in my neighborhood. It was so thrilling. I have been through the park several times but yesterday night I discovered a hidden trail and it is a dirt path, so I followed it. I was hopping through fallen trees and mud. I had on my nice running road shoes and was kind of upset they got mud on them. The fun part was I was not sure where the path leads. It was very secluded but I can see the path was well traveled.

I hope to do some more of that. I planned a trip today to go to a national park and run (The Wild Oak Loop) at North River Gap, Mt Solons, VA. I will write on it once I have done it.

Pretty normal

Day 106 – weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 105 – kind of a long Saturday Rambling

I feel like whining. I have been sleeping early and waking up early. Trying to square away my life. Boy do I need to get my life together. It was a little in that direction this week.

I put away reading my cheesy online novels. They are such a time sink. Most of the things I do on my phone are a time sink. Every time I pick up my phone, it could be 2 hours gone by without notice. Hence, I usually don’t sleep until past midnight. I controled myself this week.

I had a quite an adventure yesterday. Went out for lunch and left my phone at the restaurant. Luckily the staff picked it up and kept the phone for me. I later went to get it. It created a little anxiety separation for me. And my plan for the night was disrupted.

I was going to go out for maybe a 10 miles run and remembered that I signed up an evening 5K race at Crystal City. It was a rare event for me. People say I just signed up too many races and can’t keep track of them. I did this one last year. Pacer has this event, every Friday in April, you can do a 5K after work and then chill with a cold beer.

I didn’t chill. I was rushing to pick up my race package for still another race back in DC, the Cherry Blossom 10 miler for Sunday. I made it back into town before the place closed. Got my bib.

Still, I took the train home. Picked up my car, drove to the restaurant, which was back the other way across town. Got my phone, then realy chilled. It was 10 PM by then. In our beighborhood, there is a fad with popups like Kungfu Tea. They are everywhere now. So, I stopped into one of them and had my Kungfu tea before driving back home. The Tea kept me up all night and I caught up with most of the online novels. Went to bed with a smile. It is like an addiction to me! Late, very late to bed!

I am just a week away from my spring marathon. My best friend asked me how my running has been. Not ideal. It is too late to do anything about it. I had couple weeks of rest in March because of shin splints and also some personal matters that had kept me from running. I am slowly easing back in. It is like a reverse tapering, but before the race! Interesting.

We were blessed with good weather this week. It was actually quite good weather for running. I ran a 5k race last night. My time was 24:25. Not the best, but it was in the 24 min territory and that for me is good. There were not too many 5k where I got to the 24 min range, I probably can count them.

I had an amazing run Thursday night with the group. There was a new guy showed up. He and I were the fastest that night. We had a slow start but gradually increased our pace over a course of 4 miles. Half way I was out of breath. We eased back down for my sake. Then at the last quarter of mile, we went all out sprinting. That was the bomb, because in my life, I never tried to run my fastest with someone except for races. … I mean in a race I run with strangers, but this time, it was like competing with a friend. I was like a 5 year old. I totally emptied my tank on that last sprint.

No hiking for me this weekend, and kind of disappointed at this. Actually there is no hiking planned until the end of the month (and I might be leading it). Last week trip was so awesome, that it was kind of expected to have one every week. But for me, hiking/backpacking is a lot of work! I just like someone to do the work for me.

I think this weekend will be a normal one. I will will have a social biking today from 10-3pm to see the cherry blossoms. Then I should rest early, for tomorrow I will do the cherry blossom 10 miler.