Don’t stop… unless you want to die!

“Unless you want to die?” That’s a pretty dramatic statement to make but with this story, that’s the only statement to make… I ran for my life,  looked death in the eyes and thankfully it looked the other way.

Let me rewind a little bit and explain… I’ve been traveling somewhere every weekend, trying to explore more of the Pacific Northwest, chase the sunshine, wander nature and to create crazy memories. This specific weekend was no different. We decided the last minute to pack up and drive to Bellingham, WA. I’d never been and I knew nothing about the area or what to expect.

We arrived around dinnertime, walked through some shops, got Thai food and decided to find a park to hammock at, wanting to enjoy the last of the sunshine. We looked up parks and found one that seemed especially beautiful. There was a trail you had to “hike down” to get to it but it was right on the beach and looked liked it offered trees that we could pitch our hammock in.

As we reached the park around 7:30pm, we admired the view from the car, changed into proper shoes and made jokes about life, our future and the crazy things we had seen all day. When we made it down to the beach, we were beaming. It was absolutely beautiful. There was train tracks that lined the coast, bright green trees, people were huddled around different inlets, swimming, having campfires and laughing. It looked as if it was a scene from a movie.

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Trying to find good trees to set the hammock up in and a place to escape the people, we began walking the tracks, taking pictures and enjoying the view. Once we were about a half a mile away from the beginning of the trail, we felt not only confident but super comfortable in our environment. There was no one around and it was what appear to be a peaceful night.

As we stopped to take in the view, I pointed out there was a tunnel at the other side of the long inlet. Both intrigued, we put our belonging down and begun running on the tracks, skipping every other railroad. My heart begun beat, faster and faster.  The smile on my face was growing and I felt invincible. In that moment, everything felt perfect.

As we approached the tunnel, I froze. “Did you hear that?” Jake looked at me, “hear what?” I grinned with joy, “ the train!” Confident that it was far, far away, we began running, trying to make it to the tunnel before it would pass us to go in the tunnel. By the time we reached the tunnel, our adrenaline had kicked in. We were beaming with excitement as we watched as the train pass where we had started, roughly a mile back and slowly approach us.

As the trained neared, we jumped onto the track, standing in front of the tunnel and quickly snapped a couple of pictures. We were high on the fact that though the train was far enough away, we were “living on the edge” doing something most people don’t and enjoying our Saturday evening.

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Jake pulled out his phone and we began recorded it! We were amped. Laughing and waving to the passengers on the train, we stood off to the side with pure joy. As the train went through the tunnel and disappeared, we talked about how cool that had been! It was so close, so real and was like nothing we’d ever experienced.

Suddenly I heard laughter and turned around, trying to find where the noise was coming from. At first I couldn’t find it but as I looked back at the tunnel, I watched two large men emerge from the hillside, climbing down onto the tracks.  I whispered to Jake, “look, we have company.” We watched them cautiously and continued to talk as the men came right over to us.

Both the men were holding, 32 oz beers in their hands and didn’t seem to mind that we were there. We made about 45 seconds of small talk and as we headed toward the tunnel, they also did. The men got a little ahead of us and as we walked behind them. Jake grabbed me, pulling me to his side. The guy turned back asking, “you mind the smell of marijuana?” Wanting to keep the peace, we both quickly answered, “no man, go right ahead.”

We kept walking and it got silent for a minute. You could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel. As we neared the half way point, Jake laughed, “wouldn’t it be crazy if a train came from that way?” The two men laughed and without even thinking I said, “IT IS!”

In that moment, my instincts took over… All I knew was I needed to turn and run! Jake quickly responded to me saying, “no” and the other men continued to laugh…Oh how I wished the distant train horn I was hearing was from the train that had passed only minute before. But something didn’t feel right and I knew there was a train coming straight for us! Instantly the ground began to rumble, and the light at the end of the tunnel disappeared. I bolted. Both fear and panic rushed through me. The train was in the tunnel with us. Running was all I could think about and it’s what I did. I don’t remember turning back to look at the train. I didn’t need to, the ground was shaking and I knew it was on my heels. The light was gone and you could feel it approaching.

My eyes were focused on the track, each step focused on my footing, praying I wouldn’t trip and hoping to break free of the tunnel. As I began to get closer to the light, I turned back, to see where Jake was but he was right by my side. His eyes were locked on mine and I could see how his only worry was getting me out alive. In that moment I not only saw his love for me but also experienced it in a whole new way.

He grabbed my hand and we ran hand in hand for about two seconds. As we reached the opening, we dodged for the left, slipping into the wires and sand blocks that lined the track. We were only feet from the train tracks. I looked to my right and saw one of the guys who happened to be in front of us, trip and roll off the tracks to the left, where he lay out-of-the-way.

Jake grabbed me, trying to push my up over the wires and to a safer landing but he couldn’t and the train was already upon us. He threw his body around me and sheltered me. And in that moment, I turned to see the 40 mph train coming right for us. The lights, the horn and the force of the train, all shook my body. My first thought was, “God please, I hope we got our legs clear” and as I panicked more, I feared if we were even clear of the train. Closing my eyes for a second, I began to feel the wind of the passing train. I opened my eyes quickly to see the end of the training flying past and within seconds it’s was a mile away. Instant relief flooded my body. We were okay!

It all happened so fast. My heart was racing, my legs were shaking and my adrenaline was pumping. Jake and I jumped up, he checked to make sure I was okay and we hugged panicked. Everyone was swearing, the fear and panic that was now mixed with relief was almost impossible to process and express.

The guy to our right jumped up and we instantly looked towards the tunnel. There was only three of us and four had gone in. The guy began yelling for his buddy and when the guy yelled back, I silently praised God. I was fearful for what I was going to find. And then the guy stumble out of the tunnel and explained he didn’t make it so he hit the deck and hid in the corner, pinned up against the wall and to be honest, I’m not sure how he survived.

After that, minimal words were exchanged between us and the men. Everyone was speechless and no one was stupid enough to go back in. That train had been twice as fast, come from a different direction and everyone knew the track was unpredictable. The men turned to climb back up the hill and Jake and I turned the other way were we began our descent out. Amazed at what had happened and thankful we could walk away… This was the first time in my life that I felt I looked death in the eyes and man am I thankful that it looked the other way.

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5 reasons why a Leavenworth getaway is a good idea!

1. The weather!

During the summer, your almost always guaranteed sunshine, warmth and if your me, a good old sunburn! This weekend wasn’t any different and the temperature was in the 100’s which didn’t disappoint.

2. The views and the nature that surrounds you!

Mountains, hills, trees, parks! There are so many places to explore, things to see, rivers to float and hikes to be had!

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3. The brats!

I’m pretty sure Leavenworth has some of the most famous bratwurst and boy are they good!!! I’m not even a bratwurst kind of girl but “when in Rome” you try things…. like ever kind of flavored mustard they have, sauerkraut and much more…

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4. Lake Wenatchee!

Man was it beautiful! The mountains that consume the lake, the smell of campfire from those camping and the coldness of the snow melted waters! It was a trip highlight for me that not only provided a beautiful view but a wonderful place to rest and a relaxing dip!


5. Shopping downtown!

Whether you like shopping and massive crowds or not, it’s fun to go downtown for a little while… to walk through the cheese shop, to try every sample they’ll let you, visit the hat store, wander the Christmas shop in summer and to explore all the other classic Leavenworth iconic shops!

This weekend was just the oasis I needed and was filled with fun dining, shopping, exploring and nature! Boy am I thankful for mini road trips and looking forward to Friday and where the wind might take me next!

With love,

-Jess

Running to be FREE…

Peace. Simplicity. Freedom. Power. Bravery. Love.

These are just a few of the words I think of when I think of running.

There is power in disconnecting, give your brain a rest and giving your soul a chance to breath.

No music. No GPS watch. No phone. Just you!

You’d be surprised how much peace, beauty and life you see.

The sound of the wind. The birds chirping. The cars buzzing past. Your breath. Your heartbeat and your steps…

It all just reminds you of the freedom running through your veins. The power to go. The power to do. And the power to move.

This is why I run. Why do you run?

Pushing through our mental barriers!

IMG_2656.PNGOne of my favorite parts of spring and summer is that it’s SUNNY (I know almost a miracle in the PNW) but further more, it’s easily the best time of year to run! With the sunsets, the warmth of the sun rays on your back, birds chirping, wildflowers that line the streets and the happiness that’s in the air, running after works seems like the best way to end a day. Unlike during the seasons when the clouds are socked in, the rain has been falling for days and all you want to do is go home and hibernate.

Coming out “hibernation season” is always the hardest. This year, it’s been an interesting process getting back into running 6+ miles a night. I got so use to doing the minimal and running my standard “two miles” that I stopped pushing myself… And ultimately, I stopped experiencing what running is all about! Of course it feels good to have time alone, be outside and enjoying nature, but the mental exercise is what its all about and is just as rewarding as the physical!

As I ran nightly, I realized I wasn’t pushing myself so I asked my sister to run 5 miles with me. Honestly, I’m not sure where this number came from… I think I just doubled my normal mileage and added a mile, wanting to “push myself.” Plus, lets face it… I may have eaten so much Thai food and other yummy things the day before that I knew I needed the extra miles 😉

As we started out, I felt exhausted. I instantly regretted the phone call in which I begged her to do this with me… Shaking my head , I told myself “suck it up Jess” and on we went. Finally, after running for a few minutes, I glanced down at my Garmin (GPS watch) expecting to see at least a mile but the 0.55 miles that the watch displayed, hit me hard. NOT EVEN A MILE?1?! I wanted to quit right then. My mind instantly went to, how could I get out of this? Maybe she’ll want to turn back after a mile.

You see in this moment, I was getting in my head. Normally, I can easily run two miles but the thought of the 5 miles was psyching myself out. Thankful having someone else there, made me continue running and while I did, I felt the part of me that wanted a “challenge” grow even stronger! I wanted to be able to proudly say I had pushed myself!

Here’s the whole point to me sharing this story … the further I ran, the harder I pushed, the better it felt and the more I didn’t want to stop… At about three miles into the run, I got a rush of energy. I was in the zone and I took off. I instantly forgot about all that I was facing and all that what was happening around me! I ran through the anger, worries and anxiety that I had been facing. I began smiling and I began praising Jesus. Each step, I felt myself overcoming it and each step, I felt blessed.

I listened to my heartbeat pounding, my breath picking up and I pushed through it, smiling bigger and bigger each step! I felt free and let me tell you, it felt AMAZING!! When I came to a stop, turning back to wait for my sister, a grin covered my face… All I could say was, “this is why I run!”

We ran 6+ miles that day and when it was all said and done, I felt on top of the word! The experience only reminded me how running is what I like to say “85% mental.” It’s about pushing yourself, giving it everything you’ve got and striving to be the best person you can be.

Telling yourself you cant isn’t going to get you a crossed that finish line! You have to believe in yourself and believe you can because it’s not going to be easy! You’ll have to be able to push through leg cramps, bad weather, people telling you can’t and (or) that your not good enough and you’re going to have to be the one telling yourself you CAN!

Just Stop & Breath – Literally!

Lately, life has been so fast pace that sometime I think I forget to stop! I’m one of those people who loves to stay busy! I’ve always got to be doing a million things, be with someone or on some sort of adventure. While it can be very productive and I seem to accomplish a lot done in a day, when I crash, I crash.

Over the last 9 months, I’ve moved, started a new job (while juggling an old one I’d had for three years), quit both of those jobs, started a new one, have gained and lost relationships, attempted to stay in shape, explored new places, started serving at my church and currently find myself in a sea of all sorts of new things.

The thing is, life is always going to be CRAZY. And waiting for things to slow down is like waiting for snow in a desert. It just doesn’t happen (Okay- maybe sometimes but for the most part, it doesn’t happen) and that’s okay… we adapt and it becomes our new normal.

This past week I found out my parents are moving to a new place (3-4 hours away from me I might add), my dad took a new job, my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer and given 30 days to live, I was sick and in and out of work and so on and so forth…

See in the moment, I felt completely overwhelmed. It was easy to get distracted by the noises around me, the things I needed to do and list I needed to accomplish. I found myself almost doing more just so that I didn’t have to stop and think about anything because processing change isn’t always easy and the feelings aren’t always fun.

When Friday approached, I was worn out… It was almost like the joy had been sucked out of me and honestly, I had nothing left to give. I spent my lunch break walking in circles around my building, trying to get fresh air and trying to just breath.

By 4:30 pm, I had multiple invites to go out to get drinks, dinner, see a comedy show, etc… While I contemplated what to do, where to go, and how “wild” of a Friday I really wanted to have, I was hit by the realization that I had been trying to outrun having alone time because I didn’t want to deal with everything that was swarming me. Though it wasn’t easy, I told everyone I was taking a “me” night and went home.

If you’re still readying this, (I’m impressed) here is my point in all of this! By the time I got home, I was almost emotional. I had spent the whole week worried about everyone and everything else that I forgot to worry about myself…

I decided to go for a run to clear my head and enjoy the last hour of sunshine and it was almost an immediately sense of relief. As the sun was setting and my worship music was up loud, I couldn’t be distracted by anything else! The only person I could thinking about was me… Running is 85% mental and as I pushed myself… ran harder, faster and further, I felt blessed!

All the things I was worried about seemed so small in comparison to everything I had… I had begun to focus on all the negatives of the week that I forget to think about all the positives… like this beautiful planet I live on, the God who loves me and created it, the family I have, my boyfriend who’s one of my best friend, other quality friends, a place to call home, a job that I enjoy, freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want (even when I should be resting), and the ability to run! Running is one of things that brings me joy. It’s my happy place and I couldn’t imagine not being able to do it.

It’s easy to take things for granted and to get consumed by life but in this moment as I ran, I was reminded of how important it is to just STOP… to BREATH, and to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Alone time is fundamental… So I hope this weekend, each and everyone of you, has time to slip away and do whatever brings you joy… Serve yourself for a little while and be refilled because you can’t fill others until you are full… Enjoy the sunshine, read a book, paint something, take a spontaneous road trip, hike a mountain or go for a run…just do something that sparks life into you! Do something for yourself!

With love,
Jess

It isn’t about the destination but instead, the JOURNEY!

Often people joke about life, hiking and long trips being about the journey and not the destination. Usually the comment is made when the destination does not hit the spot. Maybe the town you thought would be thriving was a dive and there was nothing there but a run down motel that you had booked from online, or maybe it’s your life. Every destination has not been what you would have picked. Instead,  you try and “convince” yourself, the journey and the growth that comes from those destinations make it all worth it. Well if you think this blog will contradict that, you better stop reading now.

This past weekend, I decided that I wanted to summit The Brothers. This beast is 6866 ft high and is a 16-18 mile hike (depending on what website/flyer you look at). I was enthusiastic. It had been an accomplishment I was itching to check off my list. Last summer, I set out to hike it and while I spent at least one day a week up in the mountains, I ran out of good weather and The Brothers was never summited. So this year, after I ran my first half marathon, I told myself, “you’ve got to get up there.”

After convincing my dad… Don’t judge, every girl needs a hiking buddy. We loaded our packs and began the hike. The Brother is essentially a three-phase hike. You’ve got the beginning, Lena Lake portion. Which is a beautiful and popular trail. Then the next phase is the valley of the silent men. Its a quite and beautiful valley(ish) trail that winds beside the river. Once you reach base camp, you begin the last phase which is the straight up portion. Each phase ranges from 1.5-3.8miles and is worth it!

After hiking almost 7miles (one way) to the base camp, the sun quickly began disappearing as the clouds began packing in. My dad looked at me. Both of us in amazement. The plan was to summit in one day and the day was young. We had rushed through the first two phases and the weather was not supposed to turn bad until the next day. “Should we set up camp now?” I hesitated and watched as the summit above me became solid clouds. “Yes.”

Almost seconds after we had found a spot by the river, cleared it of any uncomfortable rocks, set up the tent, inflated our mattresses and rolled our packs out, the rain began. With not much to do, we deiced to jetboil some soup for lunch and then took a nap while in food coma. When I woke at 4pm it was still raining and much harder. I rolled back over until 5 ish and while the rain got harder, the tent began leaking. Every seam meant a fountain of water. Soon our sleeping bags were soaked. Both of us instantly feared the worse. What if it rained all night?

At 5:30pm, I rolled back over to face my dad. It was still raining and he was passing the time by sitting there with his reading glasses on, reading his bible. I began laughing hysterically. I had known his pack was heavy but now visible saw why. He had packed his whole room…

As I listened to the rain, I knew what had to be said…”Dad, I would not be offended if you want to go back.” He laughed and looked at me. “Really?” I could feel his excitement. He jumped out to look at the clouds. The rain was stopping but we could see new clouds rolling in. “Hurry, lets get out of here.”

We quickly packed up and began our decent down the mountain. As the sun was setting, we began tripping over our own feet, the rocks and logs . We started working as a team, calling out major rocks, times you’d need to step down and times you’d need to step up. It was seriously one of the best team building experiences. By 3 miles in, it was pitch black. We threw on our headlamps and began talking louder as I began getting freaked out by the animals. At one point we stopped for something and we could hear the thumping of an animal nearby. I was FREAKED out. Lets say I was not only praying but reciting verses “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..”and so on.

When we reached the last switchback on the trail, I was beaming. We had made it. Nothing was stopping me from jumping in the truck that was waiting for me. Now in the moment, I was sore and could not help but think, did I really just hike 14 miles with a 40 pound pack on for no reason?

However, when I woke up the next morning and in my own bed, may I remind you. The wind, rain and cold air was affirmation we had made the right choice. My dad called me laughing, “looks like we made a good decision” and I agreed as I looked up the weather in the mountain and saw it was freezing, raining and very windy.

In the end, the trip was amazing and I wouldn’t have changed it. I can’t wait to crush it next summer, in the sun and with the warmth on my back. This failed attempt, has only made my desire to conquer The Brother greater. Yesterday (when I attempted to summit) was my first time I’ve ever turned around on a hike and while it wasn’t my first choice ( it’s never fun to quit) it was a good choice. The Brothers is a tricky summit with tons of loose rocks and you need your vision.

Overall, my dad and I had a growing experience, built amazing memories and I got the exercise and Instagram photos I desired. All in all, the journey though different than the destination was just as much fun. So my challenge to you is to find joy in everything. Whether its the journey or the destination, there is gonna be amazing things that come from both. Embrace life, push your limits and grow.

With love and laughter,
Jess