While my training for the 50K was slipping I continued to create ideas of future adventures. One after the other… I envisioned myself thru hiking the PCT, running a 100 mile foot race, getting as fit as a Navy Seal, skiing better than when I was 22. Time will only answer many of these visions I have posed.
This weekend I went to Cooper Spur; a resort that lies below the Eliot Glacier on Mt Hood. My run/hike for the afternoon was no doubt a challenge. Uphill, followed by downhill. The run was only 8 miles round trip, but I ascended 3000 feet. The experience was beautiful, however like so many things in life it just did not feel right. I felt like I was seeking a feeling, a state of mind, an experience that was just barely out of reach. Pretty easy to not find something, when you do not know what you are looking for.
I did spend a good chunk of this adventure reflecting on the last few months and how happy I have been to get to help my dad install our five circuit sprinkler system. The project has been a ton of work, but certainly worth it.
My journal entry for the day was short and simple:
“Epic afternoon in the mountains. Reflecting on it tonight... Next time I'll pause and soak in the moment a bit more.”
Today presented an amazing opportunity for reflection, time with friends and a fresh reset to life.
Ben, John, Patrick and I went on one heck of an adventure at Smith Rock State Park and the surrounding areas.
I felt so much gratitude, peace and security on this beautiful day.
- 22 Miles
- 7:45 Hours
- 4 Bad A$$ Dudes
- 3 Peaks - Grey Butte, Eagle Roost and Misery Ridge
Live your legend. ^^^
I spent five months training, planning and getting clear on why I want to run the Mt Hood 50 miler. Today is the day, I am off to the races, I am off and away.
My alarm sounds at 4am. I am awake in a quiet campground filled with people, horses and animals sleeping near. I brew some coffee, use the restroom and spend the next hour preparing for the adventure ahead. My morning routine is relaxing and consists of nothing more than nourishing my body, some reading and getting dressed. All of my gear was in order the day prior.
5am rolls around and my supportive girlfriend jumps out of bed to drive me half a mile to the start line at Clackamas Ranger Station. The wait is almost over.
I checked in, got my bib and lubed up the areas of my body that would otherwise suffer.
530am: The race starts in minutes and I cannot help but just feel an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude. I guess all the training truly did prepare me for this moment.
After a few announcements and some race information from the coordinator we are off.
My girlfriend Nicole stops at mile one to make a silly comment. “Go Scott! You only have 49 miles left.”
The miles begin ticking by as I enjoy some early morning conversations with fellow runners. Little do I know but I am running with an international fleet of 100+ crazy ultra marathoners all with one common goal. Finish a 50 mile foot race in less than 12.5 hours. The elites will finish in sub 7 and by the end of the day more than 25 people will DNF.
Aid station 1 by Little Crater Lake is manned by some cheery and smiling faces. At this point my body is just warming up for the challenges ahead. My mind is at peace and it is just me, the forest and runners spread wide.
Aid station 2 at mile 9.2 was energizing. I saw my parents for the first time and a few other people that braved the early morning hours.
Mile 10 blessed me with an incredible view of Mt Hood and a truly meditative experience. I paused for a few minutes to take in the view, forest and just how incredible it was to be experiencing what I was. A true adventure!
Aid station 3 near Frog Lake was my first turnaround at mile 14.2. I took my time (2 or 3 minutes) to consume some calories, salt tablets and share my thanks to those that volunteered to help support us. Again, I was off. I settled back into a comfortable 10 - 12 minute / mile pace.
Within a mile the elites who started a whole hour after me crossed me running in the opposite direction only to pass me up within a few miles. Wow! They were cruising at sub 8 minute pace. Incredible to see what the body is capable of with the right team, tools, training and attitude. Inspiring!
At this point in the race my mind and body are still feeling full of energy. I feel alive, present and grounded. The miles continue ticking.
Around mile 24 I did not pick my feet up enough and got SLAMMED. I am grateful that my body crashed onto a soft section of the trail. There were several other runners that were not so lucky. These crashes resulted in bruised and battered body parts, twisted ankles and in many cases DNF’s. Who said running was a safe sport? If you try to beat nature you will inevitably lose.
After my stumble I stood up, brushed off the dirt, laughed a little and picked my pace back up.
I hammered out the next 6 miles at sub 10 minute mile pace. My mind and body were floating down the trail toward the start line which represented aid station 6. I spent 5 minutes with my feet resting on a cooler, filled my body with nutrition (coke, candy bars, banana and blueberries) and I was off for the second half of the race.
From this point on things got hard. Real hard. Mentally and physically I could feel myself slipping in and out of states that I had never experienced before. At times it seemed as though the temperature got higher with each foot step. It was only 11am and pushing 90 degrees. Not ideal for a run.
Aid station 7 at mile 33 was fully exposed. The volunteers offered me up a hat full of ice and filled my water bladder with ice. This was truly a life saver. Right before taking off from AS7 someone wished me luck with this statement: “Good luck! The next 11 miles are the hardest.”
Leading up to mile 38 there were many times in which I wanted to turn around and go back to the start or just take a nap on the side of the trail. I made it through some of the most challenging mental and physical moments of my life. For that I am grateful.
The video below was taken during some of the harder moments of the race. I was question why I was really out there. For the challenge I guess. To see what I am really mentally and physically capable of.
With each foot step I was getting further from the finish line, but closer to the turnaround point. The miles seemed to get longer, although I know they were still the same 5280 feet as the last. I kept pushing on.
At one point when I was a few miles to the final turnaround I started asking everyone that past me going the opposite direction: How far to the aid station? I got different answers from everyone. 1 mile. 2 miles. 3 miles. This was frustrating. I do not know why I even cared especially because I knew how far it was. Maybe I was hoping for a different answer.
The final turnaround represented another milestone. A place to relax, nourish my body and thank everyone helping me out that day. After 10 minutes in the aid station I was off for the final 10 miles of the race. The hardest miles of the race. I would soon be climbing a few thousand vertical through the heat of the day and digging deep for the strength to push on to the final aid station.
The final aid station at mile 44.7 was incredible. It was all downhill to the finish line from here :) I watered up and set out to finish this puppy.
The last 5 miles of the race put me on an emotional roller coaster of happiness and such a sense of accomplishment that I felt like crying. My girlfriend Nicole met me at mile 49 to run with with me. Seeing her brought a rush of relief. A feeling that I had almost done it. I had reached the final 2% of my project. Often the hardest part.
My mom met us to run the final 300 yards. Talk about a magical moment. And, to see the smile on my mom dad, Nicole and everyone else watching just because I completed a 50 mile foot race was incredible. It was equally inspiring if not more for me to see how happy people were.
This experience taught me a lot and affirmed some of the drastic changes i've made in my life. Running empowers me to experience some of the most beautiful places on earth, experience pain, challenge myself to finish what I started and never give up.
Remember it is possible for everyone to change. You have to fight. The big battle is won inside of you not outside against everyone and everything. Challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday. You just might amaze yourself.
I want to thank all of my family, friends and people rooting for me. It is you who inspires me to be a better me each day and for that I thank you.
Summit as friends!
Lessons from my First 50 Miler:
Gear List for a 50 Miler:
I have recently started training for the Mt Hood 50 mile trail run coming up this July.
Many people have asked me - Why would you ever want to run 50 miles?
My response has been simply for the physical and mental challenge of doing something beyond my current limits. I am not setting out to prove anything to anyone other than myself. To do so would forfeit me of the true reason.
Responses have been no different than when I share about some of the other awesome adventures my life has taken me on. “That sounds miserable.” “Ralfffff!” “Running 50 miles sounds like hell. 2 miles sounds like hell.” “You are crazy!”
I felt a need to get clear on why I am going to put myself through the physical and mental challenge of such an endeavor. So here we go!
I have been a marathon runner since the young age of 17. Through this experience I have come to find no limits in what is possible during life. A deep understanding of what I am truly capable of has been found during 26.2 mile runs and beyond. Many people finish a marathon and move on to the next challenge in life. Going back to a job they do not like. Raising a family. Buying a home. Adopting unhealthy habits. And more… Not always bad, but often times so.
My next challenge is to run 50 miles. I am doing this to experience a greater level of physical, mental and spiritual strength than ever before.
Physically, I am capable of many things. Skiing extreme terrain, climbing mountains, running marathons, rock climbing. I have found no physical limit. I have covered over 40 miles in one day by foot, but never 50 in one consecutive foot race. Am I physically capable of this? On July 12th my preparations will be put to the ultimate test.
Many things in life are mentally challenging. Quitting an unhealthy addiction, running 26.2 miles or biking 850 miles from Hood River to Ogden Utah. I am sure your list is quite different, but a challenge is a challenge. Life is full of them!
In order to complete a 50 mile foot race in good shape I must commit to training for the next 17 weeks. Everyday! I must persevere through the voices in my head that tell me to quit. I must find a new mental ceiling of what my mind can achieve. Through meditation and focus I believe that not only this challenge is possible, but the ones to follow.
I have come to believe in a higher being and my connection only grows stronger with each foot I put forward. Often times all there is between me and one bad decision is the spirit of the marathon. Sometimes something else! I have found through many challenges that when my mind and body have reached complete fatigue I must dig deep inside for something more. I have always been able to find it. It is time to raise the bar.
Am I capable of raising my current bar of what I am physically, mentally and spiritually capable of? I think yes!
I look forward to sharing what these 50 miles bring into my mind and life. I do not know what to expect other than one wild adventure.
Summit as friends!
Friday afternoon I ran across a message on Facebook asking for someone to sweep an organized fun run called The Bad Ass 50K and Marathon Trail Fun Run. A voice in my head was screaming to take on the challenge of gaining 9000+ vertical feet during the course of a 32 mile run through the Central Oregon desert.
I volunteered to sweep the trail with a bit of hesitation because of my 26th birthday marathon ran just 5 days prior. My mind and body were stoked for the next adventure.
My coworker and fellow ultra-marathoner picked me up at 545 Saturday morning. We drove out to Skull Hollow Campground near Smith Rock and discussed the event ahead as the sun started to rise. My excitement began to build as he spelled out to me his trail marking strategy, the major intersections, hill climbs and additional details. This was going to be one bad ass adventure.
We arrived at the starting point (Skull Hollow Campground) around 7am and waited as runners began to show up.
By 815 there was some 40 runners anticipating what was ahead of them. Each one of us was running 10, 20, 27 or 32 miles (majority were running 10).
Runners began to disperse across the trail at different paces. I settled into dead last with a sluggish 13 minute mile pace and was content knowing that thousands of feet of climbing and miles were waiting ahead.
By mile five I had gained 2000 feet in elevation and stood atop Grey Butte where my eyes overlooked a magnificent desert landscape with the cascade mountains in the backdrop.
I started descending Grey Butte and my ill trained quads started burning. It felt like an on and off wall sit for the next five miles. By mile ten my body began to clearly tell me that a 50K was not going to happen today, but I had the strength to push through the challenges that lie ahead.
I ran up Coles Trail, hit an out and back to Nicols Spring and began zig zagging down Cougar Canyon.
As I got deeper into Cougar Canyon my mind started drifting back to a story that Jeff shared with me during the drive to Skull Hollow just hours before. This section of the trail is known as Cougar Canyon because one of his friends once came upon a fresh cow kill in the canyon surrounded by cougar prints. I have a hard time getting this story out of my head for the next few miles, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I reached a turn in the road and where we could have continued descending into Smith Rock State Park there was a left hand turn up a hillside that would take me to the Burma Rd Saddle and a major decision point.
Do I turn back and run a 20 miler or push on and experience an additional 2000 feet of climbing and a full marathon. I fight through the voice telling me to take the easy option and turn down into Smith Rock State Park for a full marathon route.
I zig zagged down into the park and took in some views that I had never before experienced. As Monkey Face came into view I prepared my mind for the steep and grueling climb that lie ahead.
People started giving me rather odd looks as I scaled the hillside faster than them with streamers hanging off my pack. I did not care. My mind and body were in a state of zen. I was present.
Scaling Misery Ridge was only half the battle. I now had to descend roughly 1000 vertical feet. At this point my quads were screaming at me. I kept telling myself that I was getting much stronger.
I ran a few miles up river toward Burma road where the next 1600 feet await. These few miles rolled along some of the most peaceful areas in the park. I passed a few people that asked what the streamers were for. There face gazed in utter amazement as I explained the adventure I had been on for some 5 hours now.
I walked up Burma Rd, picked up the intersection marker and scanned the landscape to find Scar Trail. This is a very steep section of hill climbing that takes you up to a viewpoint known as Eagle Roost that overlooks all of Smith Rock and the Cascades landscape.
I turned around after a five minute rest at Eagle Roost and started a brutal descent of over 2000 vertical feet in a little over 7 miles to finish the run. Today, I ran roughly 27 miles and gained 7000 feet in elevation. This was right near the top of my list for physically challenging adventures.
With each passing mile I found a deeper reason for why I run. I run for the freedom found in the hills, the peace of mind, the thought provoking clarity and the simplicity of the sport. I run for the beautiful scenery and areas I get to explore. I run for the mental and physical challenge. I run because I love it.
This day was more than just another run. It was an experience that enlightened my life and brought me a sense of true being. It made me feel more alive.
I learned that my mind is getting stronger with each experience life throws at me. Deep in me there lives a burning passion for running that was just a small smoldering ember only months ago. I am learning how to push through the voice in my head that starts screaming at me to give up. The one that tells me I am not fit for this. The one that wants me to fail.
I started running again a little more than a month ago. After a month and half off you could say the running legs were rusty. Several weeks of rapidly increasing my mileage and summoning up the willpower to experience my first ever birthday marathon was one of the best choices I made all year. And, this was my 26th birthday. Perfect!
My strategy for the day was to run slow with a 3:1 run:walk ratio, pack all of the food and water I would need into a small backpack and run on only trails. The day was partly sunny, mild temperatures and full of positive energy.
I set foot out of my front door at roughly 9am and started running down the peaceful river trail near my house. The miles ticked by as I enjoyed the music pumping through my mind and the sound of my feet pounding the trail.
Near mile 16 I approached a slope with ice and BAM. I crashed straight the the ground, land on my tail bone and instantly begin questioning the worst. Did I break or bruise anything? After moments of self check I realize i’ve managed to scrape up my arm pretty good, but other than that all is well. I recollected myself and starting running again.
As I approached mile 22 I could really start to feel the miles wearing me. Oddly my mind was in stronger running condition than ever before and was ready for the final miles ahead.
Mile 26 clicked on my watch as I approached my neighborhood and as always I was engulfed in a feeling of euphoria. My eighth marathon is now in the books.
My 26th Birthday Marathon Stats
Summit as friends!
Today's Goal: Run my first 50KM ultra marathon; happy, healthy and free.
I started my run at 7am this morning and quickly settled in to a comfortable pace that included a 3:1 minute run:walk rhythm. This strategy would prove to be a leg saver for the later miles of the race and provide a rather quick recovery.
Around mile 7 it started raining. 3 miles and a few hundred feet in elevation later that rain turned to sleet then to snow. It is at this moment that I screamed with such enthusiasm that the runners behind and in front must have thought I was mad. At this point I realized just how happy I was to have a pair of fleece gloves and a hat. Fo me, these two items were the difference between hypothermia or an enjoyable experience.
I saved the last few miles for some rather deep personal reflection on just how far I have traveled these past few months and how important my environmental support has become. Today, I am truly grateful to have a group of loving family, friends, mentors and colleagues that support my journey. We need always remind ourselves that a team is one of the strongest assets we hold and without it our goals will be much harder if not impossible to reach.
Huge thanks to the volunteers at this years Flagline 50K. You guys were awesome and and helped aid me in achieving my goal today.
Thanks for reading!
Today, I set out on Six Lakes Trail for a 20 mile run in preparation of next weekends Flagline 50K in Central Oregon.
I experienced a true sense of meditation. I saw only two people in the first few miles then not a sole for the next 15. I experienced a peace of mind that allowed me to leave everything and only focus on where I was and what I was doing in that very moment. I was present.
It was beautiful to carry my body down the path and hear nothing more than my own footsteps, breath, the wind and surrounding wildlife. With each passing lake I learned a little more about myself, where I was and where I now am. I am grateful, happy and free.
The forest is full of magic like this. It can transform as person. It can make a rude person nice, a sad person happy and stressed person at peace. It will not talk back to you and will always give a second chance as long as you respect it.
Stats from the Run - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/375725095
Training That Changed My Life
My marathon training and recovery journey started roughly four months ago. My mind and body were in a dark and disconnected state. To put it honestly; addiction was killing me on the inside in more ways than one. I was spiritually dead, my health was suffering and my mindset was poor.
I have come to realize that there is so much more to life. I started running again, really laughing, learning who I am and loving me for me. I am truly grateful today for having an epiphany on South Sister in May that has literally turned my life 180 degrees.
It was June 2nd 2013. I had been sober for 23 days and my energy level was powering up. I knew deep down my spirit for the marathon and dream to qualify for the Boston Marathon was still a smoldering ember. I was not willing to let that ember die.
To me, the marathon is a 26.2 mile run that provides a testing ground for the human minds physical, mental and moral strength. It is a confidence builder that teaches the individual to dig deep inside for energy stores they never thought existed. My desire for another test began burning hotter with each passing day.
I made the decision June 2, to sign up for the Sunriver Marathon for a Cause. This time I am running with clear purpose. My mission is to get healthy, run strong, fast and free and ultimately qualify for the Boston Marathon. I call my dad "one of my biggest fans" and share my latest goal.
I am going to run a marathon in three months and put forth as much effort as I can to qualify for Boston. My dad and others have their doubts: bearing in mind that training for a marathon is generally a six month endeavor. Not to: mention I have just given up a very unhealthy addiction that was controlling my life.
I pick up my marathon training book written by Jeff Galloway and turn to the training plan for a goal pace of 2:59:00. I have had this page bookmarked for years, but always failed to follow it due to a serious lack of commitment and perseverance. The plan started 14 weeks ago and I now have 12 weeks before Sunriver. I hit the fast forward button and start my training according to week 15 of the plan. I do not advise anyone take such action.
Training goes quite well for the first 2 weeks. I ease into running 10 miles, go to yoga classes regularly, cross train and lift weights. Sunday June 16th calls for a set of 10-12 one mile repeats at 6:45 minute / mile pace. My mind and body are yet to become interconnected again at this point and I fail to realize that my muscles are still far too weak for this pace.
That days training results in a strained and highly inflamed knee that will take weeks to heal and set my training back. Or so I thought!
The next week all of my runs are replaced with aqua jogging and cycling. I was not mentally prepared for the set back caused by the knee injury and really needed a long run to build my confidence. The day before IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene I manage to convince my body that a 22 mile training run is going to happen despite picking up my training only 3 weeks prior. This utterly pissed my knee off. I now know something is really wrong and cannot help but think of the worst case scenario. MRI's, surgeries and months of rehab continue to run through my mind during the next few weeks.
In the weeks that follow I take my standup desk down at work, stop running and supplement every run with an aqua jog session in the pool, ride my bike more and start swimming. Miraculously, I come to enjoy swimming, something that I truly disliked up to this point and my knee begins to feel better.
Injury provides athletes with a great opportunity to learn and grow or be defeated. If we choose defeat we will either lose out on a miracle or repeat the same mistake later in our career. It is entirely up to our mindset and actions that follow whether we thrive off a set back or allow it to ruin us. I took this as an opportunity to stare my fears square in the face, adjust my training program and push on. Several weeks later I was able to ease back into running on trails, pavement and building my mileage.
July was a month filled with amazing experiences and key training sessions. On the fourth of July I was blessed with the strength to run Mt Bachelor and Tumalo Mountain in Central Oregon. This training day set in motion a huge confidence booster that would guide me in the weeks to follow. My knee was no longer in agonizing pain and things were moving back on track. Two weeks later my friend Lucas and I slept on the summit of South Sister and awoke to a truly magnificent sunrise. And, the following week I soloed Middle Sister via the Pole Creek Trailhead after a 10 mile morning run that was just under goal pace. Mountain climbing was just icing on the cake to a month of perfect training. Each footstep was strong, healthy and brought me closer to the starting line.
August was a reflection of July with more energy, strength and faith in my program. My training called for a run of 30 miles, which was just not enough for me. I had to follow that run with a a climb of Mt. Adams in Washington at over 12,000 feet. In just under 48 hours I completed a 30.33 mile run and summit of Mt Adams. This provided a huge sense of accomplishment that I do not think I have ever experienced. The human mind and body a truly capable of amazing things we just have to set them in motion.
After this run my training program calls for weeks of taper. This is a period in which I ease back on training and let my body prepare itself for a race. The weekend following my 30 miler I set out on a short afternoon trail run in a thunderstorm that spirals out of control. I ended up taking a wrong turn and running 20 miles down the Horse Creek Trail in Central Oregon. After this screw up I take a few days off of training to reflect on what I learned about myself and determined that this was just one more step on my journey to the marathon.
With each passing day my anticipation builds. At this point I have done all I can to best prepare for a race that will change me forever. I try not to build doubt into my mind, but a piece of me knows that three months is simply not enough time for the human body to go from running 0 miles to 26.2 at a 6:52 minute mile pace. I adjust my goal accordingly and set zero expectation for myself. I simply have a goal to run the best marathon I can and enjoy every moment.
Scott's 2013 Sunriver Marathon Experience
Marathon day is here! I awake at 5:30 to a star filled sky, cycle through my hydration and nutrition routine. Read literature that sets my mind in a positive direction and affirm myself that I have taken all the steps and done all the work to get to the starting line with confidence.
My kind girlfriend Nicole and her sister drive me to the start line. We arrive 45 minutes early and I use this time to warm up. I run 1 easy mile, 4 * 200's and do some light stretching. The morning is crisp, beautiful and full of positive energy. My family and some friends wait at the start line and I have friends afar cheering me on.
At the start line I look around at the 200 some participants and realize our stories of what brought us here may differ but at this very moment we share one common goal of finishing the marathon. As the minutes shrink to seconds before the start my mind fills with an overwhelming sense of joy. The announcer starts counting down from ten and we are off.
I start running at my goal pace of 7:00 - 7:15 minutes per mile. I plan on walking for 15-20 seconds at the beginning of each mile after the first. Mile one ticks by and my sudden stop clearly shocks the group I am running with. I pick up my pace again to 6:40 minute miles. This pace will ensure that I stay within my target mile pace range. My 5K split is 22 minutes. I am right on target for today's goal. At 10K, 13 Miles and even 16 miles I am still on target, but I feel the great marathon wall approaching.
As I near mile 18 my body begins screaming at me to stop. Just walk for a mile! You can give up now!
I see Nicole and get a short stint of energy that carries me through those negative thoughts. As I near she begins screaming words of encouragement, tells me I am doing great and that my family is just around the corner. Despite all the moral support my body was not taking it. My muscles were begging for a slower pace. With an ever climbing heart rate and sense of pain my body's physical ability to maintain 7:00 - 7:15 minutes per mile pace begins slipping away and quick.
I share a smile with myself as I settle into an 8 minute mile pace and begin thinking back on all the work I put into get here. I have worked as hard as I can and am going to continue at a pace that keeps my body happy, healthy and free. Each passing step gets harder, but brings me closer to the finish line. I think back to a chapter of Jeff's book titled "Magic Marathon Words". I am truly thankful for this section. I continue uttering words like relax, power and glide that are followed by positive affirmations.
With each passing mile I come to peace with a little bit more pain. I am in a true state of zen. This time allows me to reflect on the miracle of the marathon and how it can really transform an individual. How it has transformed me.
"These last few months have taught me some pretty serious life lessons that have completely changed who I am as a person. If you knew me before I was sober then you would know both sides of my personality. One of the biggest things I have learned is that failing to reflect on our mistakes will almost certainly ensure that we repeat them until we take a moment to stop. Injuries are part of being an athlete and simply part of life. They create opportunities for us to learn and grow as individuals. With a positive mindset almost anything can become reality. Even a marathon in three month's time! And, freedom from unhealthy addictions is possible. I am living proof."
At mile 26 part of my mind is telling me to walk to the finish. This thought is quickly washed away with a feeling of the finish line so strong that I feel it pulling me along. I can hear the announcer and screams of excitement growing louder as I feel my body moving closer to the finish line. I feel a sense of accomplishment blowing over my shoulders as I approach the finish and my family and friends come into view. Their excitement flows through me and creates a huge sense of energy.
I cross the finish line in 3:15:51, just short of my personal record by 10 seconds. My friends and family congratulate me and I share with them my gratitude for them being present. I spend the next hour nourishing my body and nursing my muscles back to normal function. I can say the Sunriver Marathon was beautiful and a huge success for me. I will be back again.
I really want to thank my mom for her patience, love and kindness through this, my dad for his support at every marathon Iv'e set out to run, my brother for his guidance, lessons and wishes, my sister for her positive energy and happiness, Nicole for her loving heart, smiles and non-stop energy, Bobby Lindstrom for guiding me on this journey and everyone else that supported me and continues to support me to this day.
I still have my mind focused on running a sub three hour marathon in 2013 and completing the Flagline 50K on September 22. This journey has only just begun! My mind and body feel interconnected again and I have a true sense of purpose. I am certainly not the best person I can be, but as I strive for excellence each day I get closer.
Thank you for reading!
In the face of fear we cannot give up, for that means we have succumb to that fear and fear is the root of evil.
My girlfriend, her friend Jessie and I cruise to Elk Lake late Friday afternoon where we plan on a relaxing afternoon with her co workers, followed by an evening of camping at Wikiup Reservoir. I save my marathon training run for this afternoon so we can leave town a little sooner. My intention is to run an 8 mile loop through some beautiful forests and past Horse Lake (a place I had visited last summer).
Prior to departing on my run I meet Nicole's coworkers whom are kind, welcoming and eager to convince me against running in a thunderstorm. Unlike most people I love the rain. It refreshes my life, washes away some of my craziness and reminds me to be grateful. Today's, storm had my name all over it. I share some last words with everyone, they think I am crazy and i'm off with no more than 16oz of water, my GPS and the clothes on my back.
My run starts in a thunder, lightening and rain storm at the Horse Lake Trailhead across from Elk Lake Resort in Central Oregon. My feet carry me down the trail to a trail junction. One of the trainers told me I should turn left here. This left turn would have welcomed me with an enjoyable 5 mile loop and beauty. However, I followed the voice in my head that wanted something more. I continue down the trail to Horse Lake. The feeling of rain, thunder and lightening is all around me. At times the thunder is so fierce that I feel it pounding inside me like a second heartbeat. Miles of the trail soon turn into a creek that is 1-6 inches deep at times. The longest creek section I ran must have been a continuous 1/2 mile. I remind myself of a backpacking trip through the Olympic National Forest years ago in which it rained for three days straight. Although, I am soaked this current experience does not compare to the prior.
By the time I arrive at the lake my body has experienced natures bath. I had been running for just over 40 minutes and was eager to get back to the company of others, warm food and a relaxing couch. I recalled the loop that Nicole and I had ran the summer prior being just over 8 miles. Perfect, I thought! What I failed to recall was us running back to the trail T and taking a right. I continue running around Horse Lake and down the Horse Creek Trail, unknowingly towards HWY 126.
I feel a growing sense of being lost and lonely that I cannot seem to escape. The miles tick by and the forest environment changes. The trail slowly disappears for longer and longer sections and it is vaguely defined in the thickening, moist forest floor. During a 1/2 mile section I feel totally lost. The trail looks like nothing more than an Elk herd had recently walked it. As the trail fades back into one that is well defined and highly traveled my mind returns to a state of sanity. Any normal person would have turned around when they realized they were not on the same trail they recall. At this point I am 10 miles down the trail, my mind begins to fill with thoughts of others and how worried they must be. Turning around is not an option. That means I will have to run 20 miles which is not on the agenda. Or is it?
My feet continue to carry my body downhill towards an un known destination. At mile 11 I see a sign pointing towards the Horse Creek Trailhead. This sign is a motivator for me that soon drives me insane. Often times seeing trailhead signs means you are within a few miles of your destination. Today, this is not the case.
My GPS ticks 12 miles and I make a joke to myself that I just might run a trail half marathon today for the first time in my life. I hit 13.1 miles and a trailhead is nowhere in site. 14 miles, I scream vulgar words of anger. I can't help but think of the others that are stressed and worried for my safety. The resentment towards myself builds as my mind fills with the poor decisions that brought me to where I am now. Mile 15 , I continue telling myself that despite being in a beautiful place I have the right to be just plain pissed off. I YELL! I WANT OUT OF THIS DAMN FOREST. Mile 16, finally a state of relaxation. This is the mind state that I am usually in during adventures when myself and others are not worried about my safety. Mile 17, I cross the Horse Creek foot bridge and feel that the forest is controlling my mind. I am going crazy.
Finally, mile 17.09! I reach the trailhead only to be met with an unfamiliar gravel road. Where the hell am I? I quickly decide to start running down the gravel road. I approach a T in the road after a 1/2 mile and a sign that says "HWY 126 - 9 Miles". I SCREAM! At this point my emotions are out of control. I know Nicole and her coworkers are worried sick and likely soon to be calling Search and Rescue. After all, I was only going on an 8 mile run. My mind wants me to sit down and cry. My body and strength continue dragging me down the road. I cannot expect anyone to travel up this random road at 7:00PM this evening.
I must come to terms with the fact that I will be running a full marathon today, in wet sneakers. All of my prior marathons included plenty of water, fuel and support from others. Today, I have 16oz of water, no food and no cheers from others to power me along. My body is tired and depleted of vital nutrients, but I find the strength to keep moving forward.
Mile 18, my water is empty and the sound of Horse Creek makes me want to just run down and fill up. I envision myself puke sick as a result and start telling myself that I am not thirsty and I am not hungry. It works, at least for a little while.
Mile 19, my stomach begins to cramp reminding me that I have not eaten anything for more than four hours. During runs of this length I start fueling after the first 45 minutes. Not today! I reaffirm the thought that I am not hungry.
Mile 20, I approach a bridge where the gravel road turns to pavement. I still have 6 miles before reaching the highway. I can't even begin thinking about what I am going to have to do to get home to Bend.
Mile 20.08, I see a Jeep heading towards me. A rush of happiness and gratitude fills my body. The driver stops and I tell him I have been running in an unknown direction for over 15 miles. I ask the driver for a ride. He replies yes I am willing to drive you back to the McKinsey Bridge. I hop in! He introduces himself as Herb. He was heading up the road to a fire lookout for the evening. You are far from where you started. You know? Yeah! Roughly 25 miles as the crow flies Herb says. Wow! I really got myself in a pickle. Herb asks what my plan is for getting home. I am going to call Nicole and try my luck at a hitchhike. He laughs, still amazed at my recent adventure.
Herb drops me off at the town store in Mckinsey Bridge, I thank him and he drives off. Again, I am alone. I ask a lady for 10 cents to use the pay phone, which by my luck does not work. Great! What is next? There are no cars coming and I need to make contact with Nicole to let her know I am ok.
I start walking across the highway towards the Inn. There is sure to be a phone there. As I start crossing the highway I see a car traveling in the direction I need to go. I throw up my thumb and by faith they stop. A car full of three girls returning from Eugene ask me where I am headed. I tell them my short story and they welcome me in. There names are Tammy, Faith and I do not recall the third. Faith lets me use her phone. I call Nicole and she is in tears. As I tell her I am ok, I can't help but choke up a bit myself. She tells me Search and Rescue is on there way to the trailhead and she has been talking with the Sheriff for some time. I ask her to please call off the rescue. I am safe and found! We tell each other we love one another and and hang up the phone.
Words can hardly express my gratitude for this ride all the way to Bend. I was provided with a sandwich, soda, tea and fruit snacks. I begin to feel alive again. Tammy and I share a spiritual conversation and she helps calm my mind and forgive myself for my mistake. The girls read some poetry and sing music as we travel into Sisters. Tammy offers to drive me back to Bend and I happily accept. Nicole and I agree to meet at her sisters house.
I arrive at Elena's home around 9:15PM where I am welcomed with dinner and a warm shower. These girls are amazing and I thank them for all there help and acceptance.
I can honestly say that I learned some things about myself and life in general during this awesome adventure.
A huge thanks to - Nicole for her patience, care and action, all the trainers from the Athletic Club of Bend for their patience, help and acceptance of the situation, the Search and Rescue team that did not have to rescue me, Herb for saving my legs an additional 6 miles, Tammy and her daughters for driving me back to Bend and Elena for hospitality at the end of the road.
At the end of the road we are faced with a choice to learn from our experience or hold a resentment which will prevent our growth. I choose to learn!
Thanks for reading!
"Summit as Friends"
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