I had planned on exploring the volcanos of Hood and St. Helens in the upcoming summer months. I can now cross one off my list a little earlier than planned. This past weekend I had the pleasure of hitting the PNW classic of running the 33 miles around Mt. St. Helens. Doing this in February is, from my understanding, almost unheard of. The weather here in Portland has been out of control good for this time of year. Now, I recognize that for those that enjoy snow sports it is less than ideal, but selfishly for the point of this post I am commenting as a runner.
I jumped in with a few vets (Jason, Brian, and Yassine) who have all run the route more than a handful of times each and just went along for the ride. I was not quite sure where I was going to be from a fitness standpoint and was a bit worried that I might hold the group back. The last month or so has had some fairly solid training but the move out here has my baseline fitness lower than I normally would be this time of year. If fact, last July until January has been some of my least consistent training in 5 plus years. I am happy to report back that I was not dropped and left for dead at the base of the volcano. I feel great for being on my feet for almost 9 hours but I can feel that I am not as strong as I should be. I am not overly sore or beat up. I even went out for an easy recovery run Sunday just because I felt like running some more. The big thing I notice is the lack of "pep in my step." It will come with time and consistency. Each run seems to inspire me to a little more than the last and having spectacular views available all around is driving that desire to get out even more.
I am grateful to have a body that is capable of moving relatively quickly though rugged terrain now I just need to tune it to where it deserves to be. Below is a video of the day. There are some amazing views captured but it still does not show off the whole story. It feels like being on another planet in some sections of the trail. Words cannot describe how excellent it is out there. I am sure I said the word "awesome" 50 plus times and I meant it each time it came out.
Training - Feb 16-22
65 miles 13,500 ft/gain