game on

Day 280

Though I don’t have much to say, this weekend instead of running the High Bridge Ultra (50k) I will be heading south and west for a backpacking trip. I will probably the last one until Patagonia.

I will be packing tonight once I get home. I have a bit of running to do beforehand. The weather has turned cooler now, and we might face near freezing temperature up on the mountain. I will have to dig through my stuff to pull out the winter/fall gear for the trip. Also the food situation is not good. My mountain house dehydrated food packs won’t arrive until Friday. I am thinking I might have to run to Walmart tonight to get some food otherwise I might be hanged high and dry.

I hiked the the McAffee, Tinker Cliff, and Dragon Tooth loop previously but that time I was a completely noobie. This time around I should know what to pack and have a little bit more sense of direction.

For the trip, we are leaving from Arlington around 6:30pm. I think it is a 4 hour drive. We have to hike couple of miles into camp, so we probably won’t arrive until midnight.

The next day, I heard we are planning to do 18-20 miles, to the other side (North Mountain). On the last day we might skip Dragon Tooth, but still there will be something close to 15 miles before we are out of the woods. It will be 30+ miles total.

I am ready.

Labor Day Weekend

Day 165 / Roan Trip

Instead of running 50 miles last week I hiked/backpacked 50 miles on Roan Highlands. It was the longest backpacking trip I did, totalling 4 days.

I started on Thursday after work. My friend and I drove 7 hours down to Tennessee. We did not quite get there. We ended up at Damascus, Virginia and we were going to camp at a campground but unfortunately the ranger told us the it was full and we were not allowed to camp (at the picnic pavilion).

So we continued driving hoping to reach our destination by midnight and hopefully still able to set up tent camping at the Mountain Harbour hostel, where we would leave our car.

We passed by the Cherokee National Park on our way and we decided turned off the road did a stealth camping there. We survived the night uneventful (yes but, we almost ran over a bear when a cub ran toward our car). Bears are my friend’s mascot and she would have been heart broken.

The next day we continued on our trip. We came across a beautiful sight at Lake Watauga. It was a foggy morning. We got to experience the Smoky Mountain without having to go to the Smoky.

We arrived at the Mountain Harbour Hostel and we left our car and took a shuttle to Ervin, TN about 50 miles away. They dropped us off at the trail head. We hiked the Appalachian Trail back to Mountain Harbour Hostel (Hwy 19E), passing Roan Mnt and Carver Gap on the way.

There were many hard climbs. There were miles of uphills. The highest point was Roan Mountain at 6000 ft, which we reached on Sunday. There were many stunning sights. Tennessee is unlike anything we have seen in Virginia. My friend said after hiking in Tennessee and coming back to Virginia, mountains here are like hills. They are flat in comparison.

Physically, I was not too tired from the trip. The trip was hard but nothing compare to the runs I have been doing. I am physically fit and strong.

I learned from the trip to bring more water, food, and to be better at find paths. I got a chance to lead on the first day where I was the designated person to sweep the trail of snakes. We didn’t see any (at least not me) but people spotted coperheads and big black snakes.

Most importantly I should not have left my hiking boots at home. I was tripping and falling the whole weekend. My left ankle is kind of messed up. I hope I can still run a marathon this weekend.

There is no word for me to describe the trip. It was magical. The weather cooperated. The experience could have been like the time I went to Peru except that I felt it is less so because it is closer to home and it is always available for me to go back.

I like it the trip not so much about the sights but the time I was able to spent with my friend. It is worth a million to see the smile and joy on her face as she glazed at the sunrise or sunset each day while we were on the trip.

I tried to make every effort to go on every hiking trips she plans but I know the chance of doing that is less and less as I am ramping up my effort and focusing more toward my running. Boo, she said. It is certainly I could go back to Roan Mountain any time but not every time I get to go with my friend. Running is still my passion and everything.

I made many other sacrifices for my running and many of those I gladly made without a second thought but giving up on backpacking with my friend, is almost unimaginable painful. I tried to combine running with backpacking, though so far I was not able to pull it off.

On this last trip, I brought my running hydration vest and shoes, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my friend at the camp at the end of the day while I do my miles. My running would have been just as long as the hike itself and it seems so silly to hike the trail during the day and then run the whole thing over, while the others sleep/rest – I wouldn’t mind but I would make others worry about me.

It is almost time to put backpacking away. I took up backpacking to help me be a better runner/ now trail running. I have reached my goal and I have become a stronger runner.

quiet

day 164

I started the week with high hope that I would run all the miles like last week. The week is almost over and it look unlikely I am any where close. I feel like a big failure this week.

Total mileage so far is 4. The goal is around 60. Why? I think the reason is … it is so hard to get the run in. Just a little lack of discipline derailed my week. Like Tuesday after my club run, there was happy hour after. I know I should have skipped it but couldn’t resist the temptation.

Wednesday instead of running, I spent the time preparing for this weekend trip. I looked at the map, entered the coordinates into the gps unit, and read the trail note. By the time I finished it was late.

Today, I could have run in the morning but didn’t. In the afternoon, I am traveling to my campsite. Starting tonight my friend and I will backpack 50 miles on Roan Highland. We won’t be back until Monday night. Hopefully, I could put some mileages to make my running goal but likely will not.

Race plan, and last night run

Day 159

The people I run with are organizing to go to Boulder, CO next May to run a 10K. I haven’t signed up yet but gave my word that I will go. We will all going to stay at a house together. I have never done something like this and always been wanting to do it like a Ragnar race but couldn’t find enough people to do it. I think we will have a fun weekend with all my running buddies together plus some new friends. I know about ten people, there will be many more going come later. We already are in the process of booking a room. It will cost me a fortune. Before this I only plan on travel for marathons. Traveling far for a 10K seems a bit excessive. However, this is a group thing, so there is an exception.

As for my 2nd week training, I took the Monday off but my shin still hasn’t healed and my left shin is starting to hurt. Yesterday my club run was canceled due to weather. I ran 8 miles by myself. I ran fast too because I was angry at something my best friend told me and I felt powerless to help. Anger really got me worked up. That might have caused the left shin to hurt too. Now I have shin splint on both legs.

I started taking fish oil and omega3 supplement on top of one a day multi-vitamin. Let see what they will do to me. Not sure if I need them, but just in case.