Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 in races

Singletrack and smiles during the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography
This past year stands out as my "racingest" year ever. Although I love to train (which, as many of us know, is just an adult excuse to go play outside), I have generally limited my competitive efforts to two to four (usually completely outlandish) races a year. Beat, on the other hand, has no time for training but he loves to race. So he just races into shape, then races to recover, and generally just races a lot. Now I've found myself sucked in to the allure of near-constant racing. I enjoy the community and challenge. Racing fuels my competitive drive to "best" myself by completing something that a larger part of me feels I have no business completing. (This is why I generally aim for long and tough events that are a challenge just to start, let alone finish, and then don't concern myself with the smaller details, like getting faster.)

Anyway, this was a great year of racing. Since December 18, 2010, I've completed eight ultramarathons, one half marathon, one 100-mile snow bike race and one 25-hour mountain bike race. Today, I look back on my year in racing: The numbers, the results, and my favorite part: The long-winded, photo-heavy race reports.

Pirates Cove. Photo by Beat
Rodeo Beach 50K
December 18, 2010

Trail run, 31 miles, 5,900 feet of climbing
Finished in 6:58
Tenth woman, 45th overall

Race results
Race report: 
"I wasn't a runner.

... 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 down Thunder Mountain in Juneau earlier this year, one friend finally told me, only half jokingly, "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."

Photo by Coastal Trail Runs
Crystal Springs 50K
January 8, 2011

Trail run, 31 miles, 4,500 feet of climbing
Finished in 6:13
First woman, 17th overall

Race results
Race report:
"The director doled out medals to age group finishers, and then handed me a mug. The mug said, "First Place Finisher." I looked back at the race director, confused. First in what? He must have sensed my confusion because he said, "You're the first woman. Congratulations."

The girl in the cute shorts ... the woman in the black shirt ... there were several females that finished just a few minutes after me. But they were all behind me.


Beat, who officially finished one second behind me, jokingly pouted. 'I never win anything.'"

Photo by Beat, from a hike on the race course two weeks earlier
Pacifica 50K
January 23, 2011

Trail run, 31 miles, 7,550 feet of climbing
Finished in 6:38
Seventh woman, 34th overall

Race results
Race report:
"Since when did I become the kind of person who ran three 50Ks in a month? I would have never foreseen it a year ago. Then again, I wouldn't have foreseen much of what my life has become. This is a good thing. I have always found my greatest rewards hidden far outside my comfort zone."

It was 20 below zero and 2:16 a.m. when I snapped this self-portrait
Susitna 100
February 19-21, 2011

Foot race on snow while dragging a 30-pound sled, 100 miles, 3,700 feet of climbing
Finished in 41:16
Fifth woman, 15th overall

Race results
Race report:
"Over the past few days, I visited with many of my friends in the Anchorage area, and always got the same question — "Why are you running it this time?" My simple answer was to see if I could. In my mind, the Susitna 100 itself wasn't the journey I sought. I was looking for a more internal experience, amid a daunting and unfamiliar physical challenge, with the knowledge that unlike many of my more epic adventures, I would be sharing this experience with somebody else, somebody I was in love with. What would the dynamics of that be like? For me, all of those aspects were more intriguing than the simple act of traveling to Alexander Lake and back. And for that reason, even when I was at my lowest moments of the race, I never found myself wishing that I was on a bicycle instead."

Photo by J. Rose,
White Mountains 100
March 27, 2011

Snow bike race, 100 miles, 8,800 feet of climbing
Finished in 17:55
Third woman on a bike, 32nd overall (bike and ski)

Race results
Race report:
"I walked with Beat and Kevin to the finish line, where they finished together in 35:41. The volunteers, who had been awake for more than 36 hours, showed just as much enthusiasm for Beat and Kevin as I would have expected for the front-of-the-pack. I realized that why I go to these places — stark and demanding, lonely and difficult — and why I'm so happy in these places, is because it's in these places I find greatness — in myself, in the people I love, in the people I meet, and in everything surrounding us."

Trail running at its finest. Photo by Beat
Berry Creek Falls 50K
April 30, 2011

Trail run, 32 miles, 7,900 feet of climbing
Finished in 7:50
First woman, fifth overall

Race report:
"I made one tactical error when I arrived at the 25-mile aid station about three minutes before Beat and lost self control on the delicious spread of race snacks. As a cyclist I have a "feast or famine" style of fuel intake, but I am learning during running I have to take my calories in smaller, more frequent doses. I made the mistake of eating three brownies and spent the final 10K wracked with stomach cramps."

At the top of Rose Peak. Photo by Ohlone 50K volunteer
Ohlone 50K
May 22, 2011

Trail run, 31 miles, 8,700 feet of climbing
Finished in 7:27
20th woman, 111th overall

Race results
Race report:
"I was feeling extremely good today. Honestly, I felt fantastic. This was strange as well because I purposely loaded my training in the days just before this race. We rode 40 miles on Saturday, ran nine relatively fast miles on Friday, and time-trialed a 2,600-foot climb on Wednesday, to say nothing of my Banff/North Dakota week, which, on top of the 105 road miles and 15 hours of mountain biking, included 46 miles of trail running. The reason was to start the Ohlone on slightly tired legs. That's how you learn how to run 100 miles."

Photo by Coastal Trail Runs
Canyon Meadow 50K
June 4, 2011

Trail run, 31 miles, 5,300 feet of climbing
Finished in 6:10
First woman, tenth overall

Race results
Race report:
"Wow," I thought. "I'm actually racing! This is what it feels like to race!" Honestly, during all of the competitive events I've ever participated in, I've never had to face an outside competitor so directly (since I'm usually mainly "racing" myself and there's no one else around for miles.) I fluctuated between worrying that this woman thought I was an deluded aggro type, and strategizing my attack if she managed to pass me again. But the sprinting itself felt amazing. All of the soreness in my legs drained away and a warm rush of adrenaline filled my blood. This must be the beauty of a sprint finish — all of the fun of running fast without having to pay for it later."

Smiles come easy before mile 20. Self-portrait
Tahoe Rim Trail 100
July 16, 2011

Trail run, 100 miles
DNF at mile 80

Race report: 
"More crocodile tears. Sometimes you just have to let it all leak out. And sure enough, I started to accept my failure and feel better about my situation. The sun was rising over the Nevada desert, casting more gorgeous light over the Tahoe Rim. It was a beautiful morning, I was alone in the mountains, and I had just run farther on dirt than I ever had in my life. There was nothing else past this — except for the nine-mile walk of shame I still had to make to the 80-mile cutoff." 

You'd never know Beat just ran for 200 miles straight
Internationaler Greifenseelauf 
September 17, 2011

Half marathon, 13.1 miles
Finished in 2:07
1,338th woman, 5,589th overall

Race results
Race report:
"I admit I was surprised when Beat got out of bed at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. I expected him to pass out after his shower Saturday night and not wake up for days. Or maybe I was hoping for this. Either way, despite his apparent inability to walk without a pronounced limp, he was still all-in for the half marathon in Switzerland that afternoon."

Photo by Dave Nice
25 Hours of Frog Hollow
November 5-6, 2011

Mountain bike race
13 laps, 169 miles, 13,950 feet of climbing in 22:03
Second solo woman

Race results
Race report:
"The Jem Trail is actually the first piece of singletrack I ever rode on a mountain bike, on a borrowed Cannondale 12-speed way back in 2002. The trail is still every bit as thrilling and fun to me as it was back then. It flows across the plateau like a ribbon in the sand, contouring the rolling landscape with banked turns and a smooth surface that promotes high speeds. I could ride it fifteen times in a row happily, and ambitiously hoped to log this many descents."

The Long March: 45 miles on Thanksgiving Day
Racing the Planet Nepal
November 20-26, 2011

Trail race, six stages, 136 miles, 29,500 feet of climbing
Finished in 48:05
16th woman, 109th overall

Race results
Race report:
"Beyond all the small details of the race was the simple yet deep satisfaction of having completed one of the toughest — and yet most culturally and personally enriching — journeys of my life. In time I would reflect on the thresholds I had crossed, but for now it was time to simply celebrate and bask in the warm sunlight. We hugged new friends and toasted glass bottles of soda and beer to a race well run. I hoped in time my body would forgive me for the relentless struggle through weakness and pain. Pizza was a good place to start."

Coyote Ridge 50K
December 10, 2011

Trail run, 31 miles, 7,130 feet of climbing
Finished in 6:50
Fourth woman, 21st overall

Race results
Race report:
"My training over the last six months means there's not an ounce of speed in my legs, and I was purposely conservative, so I didn't come close to setting a PR. But out of the seven 50K's that I've completed, the Coyote Ridge 50K felt like my strongest, most consistent run yet. I didn't have side-stitches. I didn't get hurty foot. I didn't experience the sensation of my stomach turning inside out and purging its contents all over a rice paddy. I just ... ran."


  1. Nice one Jill.
    All of us "Freds" out here can totaly understand where you are coming from. Have a great "holiday season" and looking forward to following your exploits next year.

  2. Holey Schmoley Jill...I now officially feel like SUCH a slacker! To say that you've been busy this year is a vast understatement! I'm glad you write about all your experiences! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and Beat! Enjoy the weather over the next week...looks like it's going to be a banner Holiday Season for us Cali folk!

  3. It's hard to believe that your annual accomplishments could continue to get more impressive but they do!! But most of all I am happy to see that you are so happy and that clearly comes through your recent writing. Happy new year to you, Jill. Glad to know you'll be coming my way in 2012.

  4. Ahhh all of these races look freaking awesome!

  5. do you have any symptoms or suffer from adrenal fatigue?


Feedback is always appreciated!