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.


day254 – virtual run#2

Day 254 race report “Centreville Marathon”

I used my first virtual run I ran on March 21 for the Maine Coast Marathon.

I didn’t post about it but I think on Tuesday, I got an email from the race organizer about the race being canceled. Not a surprise at all after getting so many of this kind of emails for the last two/three weeks. Boy we are in the third week already of staying in place. Anyway, the race offered a virtual run, no swag. It was a cry fest on its facebook page. I guess all the big races were already canceled the first week CDC released its guideline about social distancing. This one was a bit far out in early may (May 9), so there was no word until this week. I have been checking its facebook page daily. Other people have been asking the same. A little can be said about the communication process here – share early and be direct. Yup, it erupted on its social media page. The community was not too pleased. You can read the anger people had. I can’t believe so other races, runners took it in stride, but this we just pour our anger at the race management – not really their fault, but we want them to hear us – “Enough with this Covid virus thing: we are angry and we won’t take it any more”. I just shrugged it off and moved on. I elected the virtual race option.

So I went out again this Saturday and did my virtual marathon run. People think, virtual mean we run it on the computer or internet. No. Distance-Running (like distance learning) is a better term. We literally run 26.2 miles. Some do it on the treadmill, some on their balcony, some in their yard. Luckily, I could do mine in my neighborhood.

I woke up late. Actually just poor planning. As you have read if from my other race reports, I usually take my race with upmost seriousness. Going to bed early. Layout all my clothes and gear the night before. Surprise for you non-runners, there are a lot of stuff to bring for a run like this: hat, clothes (layers) – undies, jacket, belt, watch, flashlight (for night run), reflector, socks, spares, towel, etc. Lot of lot of stuff. Usually I pack the night before. Not only that, you have to think food and drink. Since this is a virtual run, you would really have to consider what for each aid stop.

I didn’t prepare none of those until I woke up and said I will do a marathon today. My morning was actually interrupted by my boss, who had an IT issue and couldn’t wait until Monday. He called me and then my immediate manager. It had to be solved right now. So my blood pressure shot sky high. Not having eaten breakfast yet really put me in a foul mood. But the work got to be done. I logged into my work from my machine and fixed the issue. Everyone was happy but me. It was near noon by then.

I made lunch while also planning for dinner – with a virtual race still at the back of my head. Hey, you are going to run 5-6 hours and by the time you get back it would be dinner time. Then there is laundry too. Another surprising thing is when you work from home, shouldn’t clothes needed to be washed be less? I just did laundry like two/three days ago and now the hamper basket is full again. What give? I guess I have been running more while working from home!

Yup, another hiccup, there was no more food in the fridge. Wait before that, my most important piece of equipment for a virtual run, my gps garmin watch was low on battery. No watch meant no proof that the run actually happened. I forgot to charge it after my last run. It wouldn’t last for 5-6 hours out there. While that was being charged up, I made a quick drive to the market. Surprise, surprise. I brought everything but stuff for preparing my dinner. I only later realized this while running, what am I to eat after finishing the run.

During that time, I was filling up my water bottles. Prepared my one and only aid station (my house). I planned to do two loops around my neighborhood. On my second loop I would stop by my house to fill up and eat – have it set up like a real aid station. Really, by the time I left my house for my run, it was 3 pm. It was a late start. If the race would take 5 hours, I wouldn’t finish until 8 pm. Knowing it would take that long was demoralizing.

We were blessed with ‘nice’ calm weather. Sky was overcast. Orignally the forecast called for rain the whole day, even as late Friday forecast indicated. But rain had stopped by time I woke up. So the whole time I was out, was a cool 55F (12C), perfect running temperature. There were some mist, but I remained dry. I just hate running when it is wet and cold. I had one short sleeves and shorts. I didn’t lube up, and surprising did not get burn too badly. I had worn a normal underwear and it was rubbing the wrong way during the run, but I survived. Talk about lack of planning there.

Unlike the first virtual run, the whole run was slow and just draggingly slow. I went in the opposite direction this time to spice thing up. The loop I chose is really only 12 miles and so I would need to add two more miles to make it a 26.2. On the last virtual run, I did the two extra miles at the beginning. This time, I decided to add them in halfway. So it is more like a out and back. You add just enough so each loop would be 13.1. That what I did. I ran an extra half mile (out and back made it one mile to the Chantilly Library) in the middle of my loop.

One thing I did not notice on my first virtual run is how beautiful the neighborhood is. The cherry trees are blooming. The soft petals flow down as the wind blows. The ground is covered with white and pink petals. There is a lake. The lake reflects the trees and flowers. I could just stay there. No I got to continue on my run.

There were more runners out and about this weekend. Actually every day I woke up and I went outside and looked, everyone was staying put. But on Friday, half the people were gone (their cars were gone). On Saturday people cars were in their driveways but I saw a lot people being outside.

I generally love my run. I use the time to reflect on things. This virtual race was anything but peaceful reflection. It was more like when will this run going to end.

I saw the time elapsed. As usual, I tried to ignore and avoid looking at my watch too much. Half hour gone by quickly, then an hour and two. I got to ‘half way’ of my first loop around after 4 pm. I stopped for a break and my mom came out (she lives in the neighborhood) and took my picture. She didn’t get to see me on my first virtual run. I said she should be social distancing. She is considered to be in the at risk group – due to her underlining health issue and age.

Any way after the break, I added in the ‘bonus’ mile so I would end my first loop with 13.1 mile. It was way after six when I finished the first loop. I really did not want to run another loop. But I want that 26 miles. I told myself it is still not too late to turn around. I could have my dinner and we could attempt it on another day. How tempting that was. I arrived at my house. I was out of water in my bottle so I needed to top off. I grabbed an orange previously prepared to make it easier to peel while on the go. Off I went for the second loop.

I was not doing great with my time. I already calculated that it would be impossible to finish by 8 pm. With three hours on the first loop, I wouldn’t finish until 9 pm. I kept on praying, Dear Supreme Being, I don’t want to be out here till 9 pm. Have mercy. I was hoping maybe just 10 mins slower than my normal run. Passing my mom’s place the second time, but this time I did not stop. I continued to the Library for the extra mile. The sun started to set. It was a cloudy evening, so no pretty sunset. The cloud was so thick it was just a haze when you looked up. There was no golden glow. Just gray. I had my flashlight on me but I hoped it wouldn’t too quickly get dark that I would need to use it. 7:30, then 8 pm. I was counting down miles. 5 miles left. Five miles is five miles too far. On a normal day it means 40 more minutes. But tonight, who knows, it might be another hour.

I know the route well, completely had it in my head. I know if I get to that traffic light, I would only have about 2.5 miles left. I turned on my flash light by then. I did not check my watch but it got to be after 8 pm. I told myself, only way forward is to finish. To finish means I have to keep on running. Pushing on is the only way to finish. Surely my legs were hurting. Old wound too. Put that out of your mind. Got to keep running. I got to the traffic light. There was only a straight-a-way part now (rt 29 Lee Highway). Passed the sign that said 29th Infantry Memorial Highway. wohoo a piece of history. Never saw it there before. Now where is the sign of welcome to Centreville? The neighborhood became more familar because this is my hood! I ran passed all the stores. My house is outside the business district. Only a mile to go. There was still a hill to climb. It felt like downhill to me.

I imagined some of my last miles of previous marathons. Morgantown came to mind. I told myself, did you remember that crazy last mile? Or the JFK? It was dark and we (me and a lady) ran through the neighborhood just like this one. It was a joy reliving the moments of my previous races. But there was no actual finish line to cross for this virtual race. No one would greet me when I finish. No medal or celebration. It was just a virtual run. But I had to press on. Last mile.

I was so close. There the 26th mile marker I told myself. In reality there was none like that. Come on, only point two mile to go, I said. I got to get to the firehouse where I started. Can’t stop now. Yes the finish line was arbitrary decided to be the firestation. The last mile is always the hardest. There was no cheering as I reached it. I calmly stopped my watch. Good Lawd it was 8:40 something (actual time, not bib time). I did not look at the elapsed time. I was completely drained. No matter how tired I was, make sure that watch data was saved. I’m not gonna run this all over again. Now that felt like a real marathon. I haven’t experienced this for a long time (at least since January).

Imagine though running another marathon or even the third time with no rest in between, how would the body handle it. Yet I plan to do just that in couple weeks, I would do a 52 mile run (a double marathon for my Roanoke virtual race) and in June, if the race is still on, I would be doing a 70 mile run (8 miles shy of doing a marathon three times).

For naming – I haven’t decided which race I will apply this virtual marathon toward. For now it will be called the Centreville Marathon. Hey, we might make it an annual event. FYI, Centreville has no running club, and we don’t have our own marathon ever. Yup, this is the first.

map of my run. Time 5:41:09. Distance 27.19. 3218 Calories burned

Epilogue: my mom was at my house since 8 pm because she heard me saying I would finish by 8. The last virtual marathon (same route) only taken me only 4:45, so a 5-hour marathon finish is very reasonable estimate. She had prepared dinner and brought a lot of other stuffs, soy milk, pears for me too. I was dead tired though but did eat after a long relaxing shower. Then I couldn’t keep my eyelids open. That concluded the day.


weekly run summary

Day 251 / week 9

I reread a year of my blog posts over the weekend on my training runs and it was funny that I always say I don’t run enough and that my training plan is derailing, but I always pulled through in the end for my race. I am always a crutch runner. Training plan doesn’t work for me.

I feel like I am at the point that the training is going off the rail about now. Isn’t it always around week 10? This time around I don’t have a schedule to follow. If I get off, I won’t know where to get back on.

There’s nothing to brag about this weekend. I supposed to go for a hill run, since literally I had nothing to do or nowhere to go. My face was glued to the screen, Facebook, Youtube, news sites, and it was hard to pull myself away. Finally, I made myself out the house around 2 pm on Sunday to at least put in a decent run.

total 62 miles

Monday: rest

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday 13

Thursday 12

Friday 11

Saturday: 0

Sunday: 26.2, a virtual run. What does that mean? I ran by myself.

Why a marathon this weekend? I signed up for the DC rock n roll (was 3/28) but of course it was canceled due to the coronavirus. I knew I have to do a marathon either this weekend or the next as part of my training. Since I felt fresh, I decided to do it a week early. Also who knows if the government will issue a lockdown order in our area. I read about people running a marathon on their driveway or balcony. I wouldn’t want to do that unless there’s no choice.

Also, I want to get a feel for the next virtual race. I signed up for the Blue Ridge (double) Marathon, which is to run a marathon twice, 52.4 miles. That too was canceled and we were encouraged to run it virtually on our own.

The farest I ever did was 50 miles. It will be a challenge.

For a 52-53 mile run, I am not sure if I would find the strength at the end. I will write more about when the time comes. I plan to do it on the weekend after Easter. It will be on the same course as this weekend run (planning to be out for 12-13 hours). As a virtual run, it could be hard or it could be easy. We’ll see.


why I run

Day 246:

I need some motivation to get me through this hump.

I have been floored by many cancelations of events due to the COVID-19. When it is about other people’s races, I didn’t really care but when it is about my race, it’s personal! Last few days one after another, my races are dropping like flies. I can expect not to run in an organized race until mid summer.

I understand the rationale of the cancelation and if I am the RD I would make the same decision. Yet we are a little selfish. The emotion is still there. I can’t say how upset I am. Yes, I am a spoiled child and want to whine a bit.

I am having a moment I know why I run and a moment why I don’t know why I am out there. I should run regardless how I feel.

I started running a little over three years ago when I did the first 10K with my girlfriend. Later that year we signed up for a marathon. Since then I have been wanting to run faster and longer.

I did not reach my objective to run fast but I have now run much longer than before. Marathons now seem to be easy. I could do a marathon any given weekend if I continue to maintain my fitness level.

I started to go into the ultra world and in 2019 I did four 50K races. They were so good. I plan to do even longer distances. Now I am no longer worry when I sign up a 50K. I don’t know about 100 mile races yet if I can do them. I do want to try. I might do another 50 mile next year and I might attempt a 100 mile. Devil Dog is pretty attractive to me right now. Grindstone 100 also.

I run not to race. But racing is the reason I am in training. I should try virtual races many marathons are now offering.

I don’t know. I need to get my head out the fog and start hitting the pavement again soon.