Yesterday was a mid day run in which I ran up and down the south slope of Doug two times. It was painfully slow and included a fair share of power hiking but I am just starting out and don't see any reason why I won't be running the full climb in a week or two. I have battled with injuries, heart issues etc. since September and I know it is from my usual plague of too much too soon. I am trying to actually be wise and build slowly this training phase. After starting my run yesterday a light rain soaked the rocks and cooled me down and the run was quite refreshing. I was surprised to find several other runner's cranking up the same slope at the same time as me. It is nice to come across other lone athletes working toward their higher goals.
Tonight's run started as a clear and crisp evening as the sun dipped down to the horizon. I decided to run up the east side of the Irvine Climb part of the route of the MOUNT DOUG GUTBUSTER series. This route was my favorite last year and I easily summited via the Irvine climb hundreds of times. I haven't really frequented the trail since moving further away from the mountain last June so it was kind of like being reunited with an old friend. It is amazing the amount of detail I remember about this trail and I can basically run the route blindfolded and know where each foot plant goes and where each rocky outcrop is located. After a pretty good first summit I took a breath at the top and enjoyed the setting sun over the Olympic Range in Washington and over down town Victoria. I then bailed off the south face planning to ascend via the previous day's route. The descent went fast but I could feel my legs getting fatigued by the time I reached the point where I was to turn around to run back up the South slope. I gave the second climb a good effort but alas found myself power hiking the last half to the top. This summit was completely different than the previous, apparently some low clouds blew in from the Georgia Straight and were streamlining around the top of Mount Doug. It was nearly dark and the cold fog and wind swirled around me leaving a vacant imprint in the shape of my body as I whizzed through the thick bank. The summit was cold and windy and if I hadn't just been to the top 30 minutes earlier I would have sworn it was a different day. I took a minute to enjoy the grandeur that each summit evokes before finally returning back down the steep south slope.
I love the summits of mountains and I enjoy what being on top of any high prominence represents. Summiting means that you are at the highest point of your little universe there is no possible way you could run up to a higher point. It is a nice thought to know that the extreme effort that comes with propelling the human body up the steep slope of whatever peak has finally come to an end. A summit is a finite point in space, a goal, and a perfect destination. Peaks also give the summiter a strong sense of accomplishment and have the ability to empower. The view is inspiring and refuels the soul and spirit and also gives a boost of moral and energy to power the arduous journey back to wherever it was that you slithered out of the lowlands to reach the mountain at the start of your journey.
Of all the pain and suffering that accompanies long distance and particularly trail running it is the burn in the quads from running hills that I find the most enjoyable, if that makes sense. I love the feeling of the lactic that builds up as your legs are spinning down the mountain. It is like a slow buildup and really begins to burn the lower you descend. I guess I am weird but I love the pain of running hills (as long as it is just the burning associated with lactic and not injured muscles or joints).
The last few days a song by Jonsi (Icelandic musical genius of Sigur Ros) and DJ Tiesto (one of the most popular Dutch trance DJ's) called Kaleidoscope has been playing in my head and i-pod almost on loop. I think this song has a sound that could easily accompany someone on the beginning of an epic journey. I think that the beginning of a journey is always somewhat dreamlike and full of hope, before the reality of the challenge changes the mood of the journey. Since I am embarking on my own journey towards new fitness and strength and setting records for summits up Mount Doug the song has really helped to inspire me and keep me focussed and motivated. Give it a listen, it is a bit slow but that is how I like to start any journey of epic proportions, partly to pace myself but also to enjoy the twitterpation associated with the newness of something not experienced before. Enjoy! Original and High Contrast Mix (Faster).