Recovery week

I had the opportunity to spend the week after the Bear 100 in Salt Lake City with my family, visiting my sister and her two-week-old baby girl, and trying to coax my legs back to life in time for my favorite annual tradition, hiking rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon with my dad. It was enjoyable to spend time with my family and catch up with a few friends. But as usual, physically recovering from a hard effort is seriously unfun. 

After I finished the Bear 100, I was up for most of the night drinking lots of water and struggling to breathe. I was extremely dehydrated, probably the result of a gradual failure to take in enough fluids during and also after the race. So that was two nights without sleep, and the next few were also limited thanks to sore feet and "the jimmy legs," in which involuntary muscle contractions and cramping kept me awake. By Tuesday I had to start testing whether my legs still worked since our rim-to-rim hike was Friday, so I set out for a two-hour easy hike on the Jacob's Ladder Trail in Corner Canyon. My feet, which were still covered in raw blisters, felt surprisingly okay, but my legs were mostly dead. Starting something like the Bear 100 with tired legs means — like post-Stagecoach 400 rebuilding during the spring — I'll probably spend the rest of the fall operating at reduced capacity. Honestly, that's fine with me. As long as I'm healthy, I'd rather have a steady trickle of adventure at 60 or 70 percent power, than take long breaks coupled with big training bursts in hopes of achieving that elusive 100 percent. That's one of the advantages of being a mediocre athlete no matter what, in my humble opinion — the fun doesn't have to stop.

I certainly do wish I could have been a little healthier during the four days I spent in Salt Lake, because it would have been nice to really get out and enjoy fall in the Wasatch Mountains. The day after my Jacob's Ladder hike, I had lunch with my sister and then had two hours of free time before I planned to go visit my grandmother. I told my sister I was going to get a pedicure for some help with my mangled feet, but instead I ended up in Big Cottonwood Canyon, hiking up the Broads Fork Trail. Whoops. It was worth it, though — trading some foot relief for ninety minutes of bliss. I was even able to run most of the descent, as my running muscles are actually less achey and tired than my uphill hiking muscles right now.

Another thing that happened this week is I found out my standing in the White Mountains 100 lottery, which is a disappointing number 42 on the wait list. I thought I'd be okay with not getting into the WM100 after three years of successful rides around the hundred-mile loop north of Fairbanks. But I'll be honest — I was slightly devastated that I didn't get in for a fourth year. One of the reasons is that the Susitna 100 has been cancelled in 2013, and I didn't put in for any other winter races. I've mulled it over and decided I'm not willing to put up with the extended travel or expense it would take to race the Yukon Arctic Ultra, and the Arrowhead 135 is already full even if I did decide I wanted to make a trip to Minnesota. So, for the first time since 2005, I find myself without any kind of winter goal. Winter is my season. I could be perfectly content hiking mountains and going on leisurely bike tours all summer long, but I really do like to be "on" and training with purpose during the winter. So the lack of direction is disappointing. I'm still not sure what to do.

Beat joked that since my blog reports have been getting so few comments recently, I should poll readers to see what training efforts or trips might make my blog less boring. Ha ha. But then creating a poll helped me think about what I might want to do to compensate for my lack of races this winter. It's on the left in the sidebar of this blog. Please weigh in!

Other than that, it's time to start training for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, which is less than a month away. I've spent so little time on a bike in the past two months that even my sit bones have gone soft — also for the first time since 2005, I've lost my one superpower: my "iron butt." That coupled with my dead legs should make for an interesting training block indeed. But I don't even really care because I'm so excited to get back on my Moots and crank out long rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is good to be home again. 


  1. It's not a 100 mile race but there is a new one in Homer you may be intrested in. It's a 100k and is called the Homer epic!

  2. 1) Revisit your old flirtation with winter mountaineering


    If there really is a race called The Homer Epic, it would be preposterous if you didn't enter.

  3. Russ — thanks for the reminder. I completely forgot about the Homer Epic. I think it's the same weekend as the WM100, so if they decide to hold it this year, that would be a great one to consider. The course includes some of my old bike training routes, and at 100K it would be a fun thing to try on foot.

    Ingunn — winter mountaineering is something I'd love to dabble in again, but I currently live too far away from both winter and mountains to build the skills I need. I've considered looking into a guided trip to Mount Shasta or something similar next spring, just to dip my toes into "real" mountaineering.

    As for the book. I know, I know. Sigh.

  4. Hi Jill! I have enjoyed your blog. Will you be doing the stagecoach 400 again? I'm new to mountain biking and will attempt to finish that race in less than 5 days. Getting a lot of enthusiasm from you, Brendan and Mary Collier. Any tips on finishing the stagecoach? Congratulations on finishing The Bear 100

  5. Nobody's commenting on my blog either. Except for Karen :) Thanks Karen. I guess I need a poll too. By the way, it looks like you will be heading to McGrath this winter. Snicker. And, your recovery weeks are sort of like other people's hard weeks. Just saying.

  6. Anonymous6:11 PM

    Long time reader here. I don't post much but can tell you that, as a cyclist, I connect more with your posts related to your bike escapades.

    Mary in NC

  7. hmmm...Leah + Jill bikepacking part II - rain! And, if we did the Condor route, there might actually be snow.

  8. i would have to agree that the bike posts are the most enjoyable

  9. Erika8:14 PM

    I have to throw in a vote for the running posts, because I'm a runner. I don't think you are actually a mediocre athlete, like you say, but I am encouraged to read about someone else who puts as much effort into this type of insanity without expecting the payoff of a win.

  10. Anonymous8:15 PM

    As a many year reader I really appreciate your adventures. I miss them when you forget about us for a few days:)It's not really about whether you are on your bike or your feet...It's all about what's going on in your head. You are the best!

  11. My vote is for more bike posts. :-)

  12. Hey Jill...I haven't been commenting much lately mostly cuz I'm SO not into running...(so don't have much to say on that subject)...but never fear, I'm always peeking in seeing what you've been up to and marveling in your exploits.

    To hear how beat up your legs/feet are after these runs (and that you keep going back for more) just blows me away. Sure hope you aren't doing any permenant damage...funny thing how the injuries of our twenties and thirties can really come back to haunt us twenty years later.

    That's why cycling is my chosen recreational activity's extremely low impact to the body (except for the occasional hitting-the-dirt part, which I try to keep to an absolute minimum).

  13. What about that Togwotee race in NW Wyoming?

  14. There's also the Tuscobia ultra in late December in Wisconsin,

    Same deal as Arrowhead but it should be a fair bit warmer and is a LOT flatter! I've doing the 150 mile this year.

  15. Ha! I'm kinda amused that some of you are voting for more bike or running posts. I did ask for input. :-)

    Matt — while I do sometimes feel "beat up" and/or tired, I sincerely believe it's not in a damaging way. I believe this is a natural, healthy process of tearing down and rebuilding, because our bodies are still biologically more suited to moving all day than sitting all day. I also believe that the more problematic stuff starts to happen when increase the intensity of our movements, rather than the overall time spent doing them. Not that speed or intensity are bad things — but I do think overall obsessions with these qualities is why there's such a stigma that "exercise leads to injury."

    Togwotee seems like a great place to ride a snow bike, but I wasn't aware that Dave B was still putting on the "long" race. It's a long way to travel for a 30-miler. And thanks, Alicia, I was looking into Tuscobia. I'll be honest, when I heard "warmer and flatter" I thought, "but the brutal cold and the hills are the most intriguing part of Arrowhead!" Still, I might be interested if we didn't already have plans to spend Christmas break in Alaska.

  16. Anonymous1:51 PM

    I agree that your writing is entertaining no matter what the subject is...but can't help putting a vote in for lots more writing about running adventures :)


  17. Anonymous4:51 PM

    i read your blog regularly... i just don't post. we were in the canyon doing r2r2r with some of our (yours and mine) mutual ak friends on thurs... hanging on fri... left on wed... what a glorious place! sorry for not ever commenting...

    you and beat could collaborate on a post comparing ccc, tds, and utmb. i know you may not have done all 3, but you've been in and around the area enough to surely have opinions! :) thanks!

    kristin j z former ak'er

  18. Anonymous4:51 PM

    oops... i mean, we left on saturday... geesh...

  19. My absolute favorite posts/stories are all from your multi-day adventures. I vote for more trips, expeditions and backcountry adventures! If we're getting votes now that is :)

  20. Anonymous6:51 PM

    There is a joke distributed by organizers of WM100 that everyone on wait list has a very good chance to get in if he or she waits till the last week. Unfortunately being number 22 on the list it does not seem so..

  21. I agree with Ingunn, "If there really is a race called The Homer Epic, it would be preposterous if you didn't enter."

  22. I started following your blog because it was about MTBing and the areas you were riding in were so photogenic.
    I still read regularly, but to be honest, running isn't my thing. I can appreciate the challenge, the photography and your experiences but I don't really have anything to pass comment on.
    But do keep the writing coming. Perhaps just more while testing out those "sit bones".

  23. I just want pictures, please. Lots of pictures. I don't care what you do so long as there are pictures. And maybe no frostbitten toes.

  24. Maybe, if Beat is going all the way to Nome you should fly to one of the villages on the trail (like Unalakleet or Koyuk) and ride the rest of the way to Nome. Different scenery and this way you can greet him at the finish line. We can either house you guys or find housing for you with friends.

  25. Anonymous10:36 PM

    I started following your blog years ago because of the snow biking, and because it was in Alaska. Nowadays, I have to admit that I usually 'skim' over the running exploits (and the California stuff)... not because it's not good writing/ photos, but simply because I just don't 'get' running. I suppose every reader has a different reason to be a blog follower, right? Go back to your roots! -Rachel

  26. The homer epic 100k is on Saturday, March 16 2013, the week before the Whites 100 so they don't conflict date wise. The wait list for the whites is a strange beast - it was huge last year, with over 50 folks on it, but everyone but one person made it in. I think if you are willing to wait to the last minute there is a good chance to make it in.

  27. Anonymous10:04 PM

    re: White Mtns. 100

    From the Fairbanks News-Miner:

    "In the past three years, Plumb said, anyone who has remained on the waiting list has gotten into the race, even last year when there were more than 50 people on the waiting list at one point. Inevitably, some people who won spots in the race end up dropping out, as do many people on the waiting list.

    “The wait list is bigger this year, so that probably won’t be the case,” Plumb said."

    --Tom, Fairbanks


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Another crash

My night on the PCT