Length: 365+ Days 😖
It’s been a while since I’ve added to my story, and, well … it’s not due to lack of content. .
The tailend of 2017 and all of 2018 was a period full of “firsts” and goal completions. It was also a year of pushing myself to new limits and accomplishing things I never really thought about doing.
After finishing my goal of summiting all of the volcanos in Washington with a successful Rainier bid, I took a short break and thought about what to do next.
So what have I been doing? Glad you asked!
I ran my first marathon
In November of 2017, I decided to see if I could run a marathon. I had been running semi-regularly to keep my fitness up for my mountain climbing endeavors and thought, “hey, why not?” Up to this point I had run a couple of half marathons and a bunch of 5Ks, so I grabbed a random training plan and set a couple of goals. Goal Primary: Complete the marathon. Goal Secondary (but really, it still is primary because that’s just how I roll. Usually): Complete the marathon in under 4 hours.
Yes I set a goal of completing my first marathon in under 4 hours, having never run further than 13.1 miles in one go. And you know what? I did it! And it hurt! I ran the 2017 Seattle Marathon in 3:55 and some change and swore I would never run another marathon — especially another marathon in Seattle — again! Ha!
I summited Mauna Loa
Tiff and I took a vacation to the Big Island over New Years and part of that trip included hiking to the top of Mauna Loa – 13,678 feet. The trail begins at 11,000 feet above sea level and the drive from the beach to the parking lot was awe-inspiring in itself.
We climbed up to the climber’s hut and stayed the night at 13,000 feet. It was coooooold and there was snow. So much for the tropical paradise! I actually got a bit of altitude sickness while getting our gear ready that evening and had to crawl in the summit cabin to get some rest. Tiff didn’t have any issues, except for the cold.
The next morning, we got up to watch the sun rise and then made the looooong trek to the opposite side of the crater to the true summit of Mauna Loa. It’s not that far distance-wise, just 5ish miles? However, the lack of trail and the navigating sharp lava rock made to going slow. We summited after much longer than anticipated and got back to the car just as the sun was setting. The rest of the vacay was spent by the beach with many lava floes. Oh, we also tagged Mauna Kea, but that’s a drive up so it doesn’t really count.
(Gah, there was so much more to this trip … I really need to do a write up!)
I summited Aconcagua
In January 2018, I joined my buddy Joe for an adventure in Argentina in an attempt to summit one of the 7 Summits – Aconcagua. At 22,381 feet, Aconcagua is the highest point in the southern hemisphere, and the highest point in South America (well, all of the Americas). This was an epic expedition of 3 weeks and I still fully intend to do a write-up of the experience, but I’ve struggled with telling the story. It feels as big as the climb.
I won’t say a lot here in the hopes it will motivate me to do the whole post, but spoiler alert – our climb was a success! Here, have a few pictures:
I ran some more
I didn’t really have anything on my radar after Aconcagua so I just kept up my running and continued to commute on my bicycle. There were some fun runs (Hot Chocolate 15K, Seahawks 12K, etc.) and then in May I decided to run every day for a month. #RunEveryDayMay
I ran. Every day. For the month of May. It sucked. It was hard. I didn’t want to do it every day. But I did. And I learned something about myself. I learned that I prefer quality runs over quantity. I would much rather throw down 13 miles in one go and take a recovery day than plop a 5K everyday just to keep an arbitrary streak alive.
But I completed that nonetheless. Which brought me well into hiking season. And led to this bright idea …
I signed up for a 50K trail race
Running. Hiking. Mountains. Trails. How had I never seriously combined these things in the past?! I mean, I grew up on the trails here in the PNW. I’m a speedster when I hike and climb. I’m someone who likes to get to the destination or summit quickly to enjoy the view instead of taking my time on the journey. Get me to the top!
I’d been reading about these ultramarathons and they sounded right up my alley. So I signed up for a 50K in one of my favorite places – Bend, OR.
I did some backpacking
What’s a summer without throwing on my pack for a night or two in the woods?
I did a solo trip up to Navajo peak with my pup Kirin who did his best to keep up with me. Got caught in a gnarly storm while moving camp which resulted in us both being soaked in the tent. Luckily, we were able to dry out pretty quickly.
Tiff and I did a couple of trips. The first was up to Little Heart and Big Heart Lakes off Foss River Road. Great hike, great trail, and a nice secluded camp spot. We were, however, mauled by mosquitos and spent a good portion of the first afternoon either zipped completely up in our coats or else cowering in the tent.
We also did a multi-day trek on the Pilot Ridge Loop up by Glacier Peak. This was a beautiful route that traipses along a portion of the PCT. We did have the misfortune of timing this trip when half of Washington State was on fire so our views were mostly of haze and smoke. I woke up in the middle of the night to go talk to nature and thought it was snowing – it was ash falling out of the night sky.
I ran through the Enchantments
I’d been up in the Enchantments a few times over the years, the last time thru-hiking in a blizzard. Because of all the running I had been doing, I made it a goal to run the ‘Chants in a day. 18 miles of pure awesomeness. I got to join my buddies Tony and Tyler (who are both ultra beasts) and we blasted our way up and over Asgard Pass and wound down and out via Snow Lake. What a great day!
I explored the trails around Rainier
As part of my ultra training, I took on some serious trail distance and ran a couple of beautiful loops around Rainier. Spray Park, Mowich Lake, Carbon Glacier, Tolmie Lookout on the NW side; Skyscraper, Fremont Lookout, 3 Burroughs on the East side.
I ran my first ultra marathon!
That 50K I signed up for and trained for months for? It finally came. And I did it. Once I decided to sign up, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing so I wisely enlisted the aide of a coach. Shout out to Bri Graves of Cascade Endurance! She helped me set up a training plan to get me to complete my very first 50K.
I ran another marathon … in Seattle
Yeah, remember when I had said I’d never run another marathon in Seattle after 2017’s race? Never say never. I had gone to Chicago to support Tiff as she ran her very first marathon – the 2018 Chicago marathon. And I was totally jealous. And she did awesome. So, I decided I was going to sign up for the 2019 Chicago marathon. I also found out that there was a time qualifier that if I were to beat, I would have guaranteed entry. So I signed up for Seattle again to try and snag a Chicago qualifying time.
And then I got hurt training. Totally thrashed my hamstrings and had to scale wayyyyyy back on running. And it sucked. And I hated it. I worked with a physical therapist to get me on the mend and he totally didn’t say not to run Seattle. I love double negatives. I succumbed to the fact that running Seattle would be a game time decision based on how my legs were feeling.
I woke up on race day to cool temps and blue skies and decided to go for it – I’d just take it easy and run at my easy pace to get another 26.2 under my belt. 3 miles in, I realized easy wasn’t going to happen and my legs agreed. I kicked it up and decided to go for it for as long as my hamstrings would allow. My hamstrings started complaining at mile 16 and my shoes gave out at mile 20 (don’t run a race with 400+ miles on your shoes). But I pushed on since everything else felt great. I crossed the finish line at 3:20:50 – just missing the Chicago qualifying time by 51 seconds but coming in 35 MINUTES faster than my previous marathon. I PRd by 35 MINUTES!
Also, I still got into Chicago via the lottery.
So, that pretty much sums up the year. I still need to post a couple of adventures and will strive to do that in 2019.
I’m taking the winter off-ish in terms of epic events so I can just have fun snowboarding, but look for new adventures coming soon!
I look forward to the stories you keep promising!