Welcome to Virginia – The Trek

When most people decide to run a marathon, it is a carefully made decision. In my case, Magnum and I decided that we would participate in the Damascus Marathon the day before at 5 p.m. The marathon goes from Iron Mountain Shelter to the Marathon Gas Station in Damascus. Our decision was motivated by the fact that some of our friends had just walked past the shelter because they were feeling well. Their new plan was to hike 2 days of 20 miles and camp 2 miles outside of town. As a result, we decided we should beat them to town instead.

Since we originally planned to take 2.5 days to get to Damascus instead of 2, I had a lot of extra food and a huge dinner. My dinner consisted of: ramen with dried vegetables, 2 tuna packets and 3 oz of cheese. For dessert I had some Nerd clusters and a honey bun.

Our alarm went off at 5am the next morning, so I was in my tent by 7pm. I hoped that my huge meal and a good night’s sleep would bring me success.

Unfortunately, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I was immediately on high alert because something was rustling in the camp. I knew where my fellow hikers had hung their food bags and it sounded like that was where the noise was coming from. The more I listened, the more worried I became. What if it was a bear trying to get everyone’s food?

I knew I had to check, so I grabbed my goggles and stuck my head out of my tent. As I waved my light around, I saw a pair of eyes staring at me. It was a deer; a herd had decided to come and visit the camp.

Relieved when I saw it wasn’t a bear, I lay down under my duvet to sleep for a few more hours.

The next morning I started walking at 5:30 am. I started with full headlights to make sure I didn’t trip, but it wasn’t long before the sun started peaking over the horizon.

The morning kilometers seemed to fly by. The trail follows a ridge to Damascus, so it is flat and easy to walk. I averaged about three miles per hour and before I knew it I reached the first meeting spot, a spring at mile 13.5.

By the time I left spring, it was starting to get warmer, so I put up my umbrella to give myself some shade and put on my headphones.

The afternoon miles were slower, but there was a lot to do to keep myself busy: I finished an audiobook, listened to a podcast, and heard that my company was making layoffs.

The last part certainly provided some nice stress to keep the afternoon kilometers interesting. Luckily I wasn’t fired, but my company ended up cutting 11% of its workforce.

Our final meeting point was at mile 24. I made the mistake of sitting down for 15 minutes because my feet started to hurt. Unfortunately, that was just enough time for all the muscles and tendons in my legs, ankles and feet to stiffen and ache. The last two kilometers were a bit of a slog, but it’s always fun to walk through a walking town.

The marathon ended up taking ~11.5 hours and was worth it. It felt like a cool milestone to know that I can rack up so many miles, even though I definitely don’t want to do that regularly (yet). I also avoided damage that a zero couldn’t repair.

The Broken Fiddle Hostel had a great covered porch with comfortable couches, which was the perfect place to lounge the next day.

Here’s to Virginia for the next month!

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