All the hard work is over. My two big peak weeks of training are complete, and now I am tapering in the last three weeks to the biggest challenge of my life thus far. The focus this week was road mileage, and I finished out with 74 miles of road and 41 miles of trail for 115 miles total.
While road miles are typically boring, my highlight was the Devil’s Dome Loop in the North Cascades. This 41 mile trail adventure circumnavigated Jack Mountain near Ross Lake. A fellow I met at the Echo Valley race, Dave, invited me on the trip planned by his running friend Luke from Vancouver. I won’t go too into the details of the trip, but let’s just say it was an Epic. Read Luke’s great trip report here if you’d like the details. Steep climbs, miles of snow running, technical route finding challenges, downed trees, bushwhacking, and stream crossings filled our travels. In the end, we all finished and were stronger individuals for it. As my first Army ROTC mentor, Master Sergeant Edwards, put it, ‘Misery Builds Character.’ The three of us came out Saturday with a lot more character under our belts.
With hundreds of miles, more than I can count, under my belt, I am looking forward to spending some time reflecting on what this has all meant. Long distance running, by nature of having nothing else to think about, provides you with an near infinite amount of time to spend thinking, brainstorming, planning, and brainstorming life. This run here in three weeks has been a year and a half in the making. Along the way, I’ve had so many incredible experiences on the most beautiful trails, conversations with amazing people, conquered mountains and pushed through physical boundaries. I’ve been in over my head at times and failed often. But I’ve grown and learned. While the journey to this point has been astounding, there’s one more journey left.