Chasing Down My Motivation on Cougar Mountain

What?  I thought you brought the bread crumbs!  Photo uphillrunning.com
Feeling psyched to get out is an ongoing battle.  I used to combat it by living out of a van and simply parking at whatever seasonal destination I had chosen at the time.  Here it's harder - especially living at sea level.  Even if it's dumping at the Pass, it's difficult to get going while the Pacific Northwest is being North-wet.

But I have a list of runs that I want to do in my lifetime.  A bucket list of big distances that I want to travel by foot.  In terms of shortest to longest, they are:

  • Mt Hood's Timberline Trail, 42 miles
  • Grand Canyon's Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, 41 miles
  • Mt Rainier's Wonderland Trail, 93 miles
  • The Tahoe Rim Trail, 165 miles
  • The John Muir Trail, 211 miles
  • The Pacific Crest Trail from Snoqualmie Pass to Manning Park, BC, 261 miles

Photo seattletimes.nwsource.com
So I decided this spring that I was going to get serious about running.  Again.  Call it a late New Year's promise.  Whatever.  But running on pavement is boring and hurts, so I needed trails.  The best trails are 40 minutes away, or longer, and under a lot of snow right now.  So I was looking for a network of interesting trails that were a short distance away.  Cougar Mountain was the place.

Cougar Mountain Regional Preserve is a county park that sits at the southern borders of Bellevue and Issaquah.  Its web of 36 trail miles is also linked neighboring Squak Mountain State Park, just across the two-lane SR 900, and another 24 miles of trail, with up to 1400' of elevation difference.

Since 2003, the Seattle Running Club has hosted the Cougar Mountain Race Series.  Races of 5, 7, 10, 13, and 31 miles take place over six months from May to October.  I thought it would be cool to participate this year, but guiding commitments have me missing the first two races already.  So instead I decided to run the courses for myself - the club keeps pdf's and jpeg's of the courses on their websites (there's been three different courses since 2003).

Photo uphillrunning.com
So while I'm waiting for Snoqualmie Pass to melt out this summer, I'll be doing laps through the Issaquah Alps.  I'm in the 7-mile race series right now.  My goal is to build up to marathon distances, then to start building up endurance so that I can move 30 miles in a day, and again the next.  My list will be a combination of runs, cached fast-packs (where I have food and fuel cached for the nights, but traveling with clothes and camp kit), and unsupported fast-packs (where I'm carrying everything with me).  I know that I can't make this entire list happen this year - but I'd love to tick off two.  Or three.

Cougar Mountain Race Series Maps LINK