Yakima 50k, Sea Kayaks and trash talk on the Lhotse Face.

The Yakima 50k ended up taking a lot out of me.  Waking up that morning, I was sore, crooked and misaligned from sleeping in the back of my truck. And yes, hungover with wobbly legs and a bad squint from the bright sun bouncing off canyon walls. Why I had committed to running 31 miles on an out-n-back course notorious for 10,000 feet of gain?

Maybe because it was a chance to escape the grayness of Seattle for the sun of Eastern Washington and run in a wide open environment. Maybe for the physical and mental challenge, the camaraderie of other runners,  the great volunteers with junk-food laden tables every 5 miles or so, and the sweeping views.
James told us to watch out for rattle snakes and scorpions.
So I decided to drink a lot of water and go have fun. I tried to run hard, like I have for my last two runs, but the early climbing rapidly took the wind out of my soles. Over 2,000 feet in the first two miles! Ouch. But the views kept getting bigger as we climbed out of the canyon and so did my eyes.
The day really melted away. Some people shudder at the thought of being able to see their run mapped out for miles and miles on the horizon. I feared that greatly when I ran across the great plains last spring. But I’ve found that there is something hypnotic about watching a small dot on a horizon slowly get larger and larger.

All that said, it felt great to cross the finish line. My legs were shot and I was bone tired from the miles, the climbing and the wind sweeping across the highlands. I ran the entire race without knowing what time it was; part of my on-again, off-again strategy, also known as ‘ignorance is bliss.’ I finished in something like 6:45, considerably longer than the fictional clock I had in my head and my last two 50ks. It is amazing how long miles and your mind can distort time. A big thanks to the volunteers, Rainshadow Running, and to Nichole for the company and driving my tired (but happy) ass back to Seattle.

And so the last two weeks have played out with a slow return of energy and gradual diminishing of aches and pains. Along the way I followed some vicarious adventures:

Congrats to my friend John Fiddler for finishing 51 days/730 miles  of solo paddling down the Sea of Cortez.  He’s joined back up with Kathleen and they are off for a couple years of adventure travel and volunteering, not to mention a wedding in Thailand.

In my last post I mentioned Ueli Steck and Simon Mor who were (notice the past tense) attempting a new route on Everest, no doubt extremely fast and with minimal protection. Many of you probably have heard of the recent violence on the south side of Everest with clashes between some western climbers and some Sherpa. I’m sad that happened in the first place and more sad that it directly involved Ueli and Simon. It sounds like a lot of arrogance and poor manners all around. I think Alan Arnette has done a good job of trying to explore the issue without taking sides. Kathleen and John’s friend Chad Kellog wrote a very good dispatch about the event. It looks like some of the first summits might be tonight for us on the west coast. .

As for me, my next big run is Sun Mountain 50k in a couple weeks. It should be a beautiful run in the Methow Valley with good friends. And in a little over a month I will leave for Kilimanjaro. I have not been able to put in the miles that I need to realistically run around the base of the mountain. But I remain hopeful. Expect a blog post in the near future about a trip I am co- leading with my friend Dorjee Sherpa to Everest Base Camp this fall. We are still looking for team members!

Be safe in life, no matter how big or small your adventures are. Above all, enjoy them.

-Seth

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