Showing posts from December, 2010

Snow makes everything tougher

The weather threw Missoula some curveballs this week — 35 degrees and raining followed by refreeze and snow, four inches of new snow, blowing blizzard and 35 mph wind gusts. Despite the ever-shifting conditions, Beat and I were able to get out on his new Fatback twice, with an evening snow run that added up to three genuinely difficult and long workouts. The interesting thing is I've been using the Garmin Forerunner he gave me for Christmas, and the numbers are a bit demoralizing. But I'm not sure what I expected. Snow adds an impressive amount of resistance to any effort, plus cold, extra weight of gear, etc. Either way, I used to come home and say things like, "That was hard! That felt great!" Now I come home and say, "19 miles? In four hours? Really?" Either way, I'm having a lot of fun with the Garmin, and even more fun with Beat's Fatback.

Beat actually let me ride the Fatback the entire time on its inaugural ride Monday, around the Deer Creek L…

2010 in photos, part 2

The year 2010 started for me on a clear, strikingly cold night in downtown Juneau, Alaska, as a small group of friends and I walked out of the Alaskan Bar and Hotel shortly after midnight. As the chill bit in to my meager layers, I gazed up at Douglas Island ridge; its sharp edge loomed beneath an explosion of stars. I remember thinking about the possibilities that might lie beyond that ridge — a life less constricted by geography, job obligations and the shadows of personal failures. I thought about the world to the northwest. I thought about the rest of Alaska, about Anchorage. I wondered if that world would reveal itself to me in 2010. I did not yet have any concept of the adventure I was about to embark on — an incredible journey through an incredible year.

January, "Winter of Discontent:" Through the scope of the year now behind me, I view January as a desert I had no choice but to cross. January was a difficult month. I was ambivalent about my life in Juneau, busier at …

2010 in photos, part 1

Each December I have a tradition of picking my 12 favorite photos of the year, one for each month, as a year-in-review exercise. This year was particularly difficult because 2010 has been such a dynamic year that simply picking pretty photos to summarize each month doesn't really achieve the reflection I'm looking for. So I'm doing a two-part series. Part one is simply my favorite photos of each month. This doesn't mean these photos are technically or aesthetically the best (as I begin to dabble with better equipment, I'm finally starting to understand just how limited my scratched-lens Olympus Stylus camera really was.) No, these photos are simply my favorite for various reasons. For part 2, I picked photos that I believe best represent the events of the month — the photos that capture my thoughts and impressions now that the year is done. Look for that post soon.

January, "Hell Storm:" A fierce winter gale whips a fury of snow near the wooden cross on Mo…

Home for Christmas

The last time I spent Christmas with my family was 2004. Six years ago. Distance in Alaska and jobs in the newspaper industry created an insurmountable barrier to traveling home for the holidays ever since, so I was extra excited for the opportunity to head back to Utah for a long weekend this year — even though it meant coaxing Geo on yet another thousand-mile I-15 trip through intermittent whiteouts and nearly getting stranded on an onramp near the Continental Divide during my late-night trip south.

A lot has changed in my life in six years. But as it turns out, nothing has changed about Christmas. My large extended family still gathers in the primary room of an LDS church to eat Fourth-of-July picnic food (fried chicken, potato salad and ice cream), play silly games and sing off-key. My immediate family still exchanges the same gifts (Old Spice and Twizzlers for my dad, "normal" (non-outdoor) clothing for me), eats individual game hens for dinner even though no one, not e…

The picture just keeps getting bigger

(Photo from my lunch run on Tuesday, during the only spare 90 minutes I could find to get outside so far this week.)

“You’re leaving again Wednesday?” an acquaintance asked in an incredulous tone.

“I’m driving to Utah to spend Christmas with my family,” I said. “I haven’t been home for Christmas since 2004.”

“Didn’t you just get back from California?”

“On Monday afternoon,” I said. “I went to San Francisco to run in a race, and to see my boyfriend.”

She gave me the same raised-eyebrow stare that I’ve seen frequently lately. I got it from co-workers when I told them I had to make an early exit from the office Christmas party — the one I helped plan — so I could grab a little sleep before it was time to fly to California to run 50 kilometers in a trail race. I got it from members of the local bike club during my Tour Divide talk, when a friend in the audience forced me to admit I was training to run a winter 100-mile ultramarathon in Alaska. I got it from casual friends when I told them I wo…

Rodeo Beach 50K

I wasn't a runner.

My first foot race was part of a spring triathlon called the Homer Sea to Ski, in 2006. I put in a just-shy-of-30-minutes 5K, crushed the mountain bike climb and then proceeded to stagger around on cross-country-skis for a 45-minute 5K ski. My next race was the Veterans Day 8K in 2007, when I came in at 43:26 after a 7-year-old boy breezed by me in the final mile. If I am honest with myself, I really didn't run any of the 4 miles of the Mount Roberts Tram Run in 2008 or 2009. I knew I liked hiking but had more than one hiking companion tell me I "walk kind of funny." I knew I was strong on climbs but clumsy everywhere else. As I stumbled my way down Thunder Mountain in Juneau earlier this year, one friend finally told me, only half jokingly, that "you know, some people just aren't good on their feet. Maybe you should stick to wheels."

I wasn't a runner, but I don't like to be told what I can and can't do.
This spring, during …

Tour Divide presentation

Tonight I gave a presentation for our local bike club, Missoulians on Bicycles, at their annual holiday party. My photo presentation highlighted my experiences in the 2009 Tour Divide. I rarely deal in public speaking, so I stumbled through the introduction but loosened up after that.

There was a really good turnout, which was surprising. I was told to take about an hour and ended up blabbing on and telling stories about the photos in my slideshow for nearly two, but no one left and a lot of people complimented me afterward. I had a lot of fun. My Tour Divide presentation and I are available for bicycle club meetings, corporate retreats, motivational conferences and other events as long as travel expenses are covered. :)
I brought a section of the book I am working on but didn't even have a chance to read it. As for that long-standing book project, an independent editor is currently reading through it in order to give me feedback about it. I want to go forward with publishing but no…