Showing posts from January, 2013

On running tired

All week I felt like I was on the verge of getting sick, although I could never be sure. On Wednesday I set out on what has to be my worst run since I took up running. I went to Rancho park for my favorite ten-kilometer loop, ran the first mile feeling winded at normal speed, and started to seriously lose steam in the second mile. By the end of mile two my whole body ached and my stomach was lurching, so I took a five-minute break laying on a bench overlooking the valley. It felt so nice to lie down but too chilly to stay there. I decided to cut my run short and take the easiest route back to the ranch in case my stomach really started to rebel. But I was so nauseated and dizzy that I could only run for short intervals, and when I walked it must have been slowly because I finished my shortened run a full 90 minutes after I started, with less than five miles distance. I felt wrecked.

"I'm getting sick," I told Beat, but then on Thursday I woke up and felt not any worse. …

2013 dreams, spring and early summer

Daylight is beginning to creep back into Leah's and my evening bike rides in the Marin Headlands. On Thursday we got out for our favorite loop from the bridge, watched a beautifully hazy sunset, listened to coyotes howl as burrow owls swooped through our headlight beams, and remarked how warm it was because 45 degrees and moonlight sure beat the pouring rain that was happening at my home only forty miles south. It was a typically beautiful ride, and we topped it off with some fantastic Chinese food from this unique fusion place in the Mission.

As we buzzed with endorphins and chili sauce, we schemed possible bike tours for the spring or summer. The adventure planning reminded me that I'm still making my wish list for 2013. Spring and the first part of summer are bound to be the time for a bike tour and micro-adventures, but there are a few endurance challenges that I hope to include as well:

May 11: Quicksilver 50-miler. Fifty miles is the one major ultra distance I haven'…

Backpack or sled?

Our training trip to Yosemite gave me a chance to test out a system to use in the Homer Epic 100K, a race that I haven't really started training for yet (still doing more biking than running) and that seems like a long time off but in reality is less than eight weeks from now. I have almost as much fun mulling the strategy of these types of races as I do running them (mainly because winter races are so dependent on weather and quickly changing trail conditions, that any rigid strategy is bound to fail. Creating multifaceted strategies based on a large number of possible outcomes is a fun challenge.) But I'm still undecided on one fundamental aspect of the Homer Epic — how to carry my gear.

One thing I knew was that I don't love pulling a sled. In the past, pulling sleds in the range of 30 to 40 pounds absolutely prevented me from running in all but the best trail conditions or fairly steep descents. I'm just not strong enough; the anchor clamps down and I end up expen…

Right place, right time

As early morning's shadow crept like a curtain down the granite cliffs across the valley, I walked across the ice-crusted snow and found a rock outcropping to claim as my exclusive seat for the show. 
Behind me, the rising sun projected a stream of golden light, creeping down the high peaks of Yosemite and illuminating the backside of Half Dome. I watched previews of color form on sparkling ice and distant snowfields, waiting patiently for the main attraction — the moment the angled light of sunrise touched the frozen mist of Yosemite Falls. 
A faint crimson was the first color to emerge, followed by a hints of yellow and green. As the sun climbed higher into the crystal blue sky, the falls burst into a full spectrum rainbow, with colorful mist floating through the air before freezing into snow and settling gently onto the slope below. Nature's version of Hawaiian shaved ice, striped with every flavor on the shelf. I smiled at the memory of eating a multi-color snow cone in t…

Ghosts of Outdoors Past

It's probably one of the best things about social media — at least in my view: Every so often, a person or image from long ago or far way pops up at a random time and suddenly redirects your thought stream. I was all set to continue my 2013 goal list this evening when my friend Jen uploaded an album titled "Oldies — College Days" to Facebook. And of course I got completely lost in them, flipping through all 250 re-photographed glossy prints, digesting the scenes and trying to remember the placement and people in any picture I was remotely involved with. Too much fun — only for me, of course. But then again, everyone has these kinds of photographs — pictures of their youth, quick captures of incredible life moments. They're always relatable, these pieces of the storyline, and I usually enjoy looking at friends' old photos. And anyway, I couldn't help but move a few to my blog.

The top photo is a group shot taken before a hike down Quandary Canyon in the San R…

2013 dreams, winter

Well, it's the middle of January and I'm well overdue in the blogger department of "listing my goals for the coming year." Because if you write it out, you're more likely to at least try most of it. And of course adventure plans have been on my mind quite a bit since the year started. I recently went to see my doctor about a large lump on my big toe. He diagnosed it as a ganglion cyst and used a giant shiv of a needle to drain out an impressive quantity of gelatinous goo. The cyst is benign but has the potential to come back and cause issues, so as a precaution he took me off running for a week (I talked him down to four days after asserting my need to be mobile during a trip to Yosemite this coming weekend.)

 I'd planned to start ramping up my running miles this week, as I have 100K race coming up in mid-March. But, ah well. I've enjoyed some wonderful afternoons on my road bike. Today I caught a wave of inspiration and veered off the pavement onto the …

The short but full life of trail-running shoes

This weekend, Beat gave me a new pair Hoka Mafates, the fourth pair I've owned. It wasn't a special occasion; he's just sweet and orders shoes for me because he knows I'll probably continue to use an older pair until the shoes are literally in pieces. But I was surprised, because my third pair of Mafates aren't even that old. They were Beat's birthday gift to me before UTMB, in August, which was only five months ago. It seemed ridiculous that I should already need yet another pair of shoes, but when I put the new Hokas next to the old ones, the evidence was clear.

I have no idea how many miles the old shoes have on them, but I can think of more than 300 miles of racing they've been through (UTMB, Bear 100, five 50Ks, and a road half marathon.) Not to mention all of that rugged hiking in the Alps, a muddy fall here in Cali, and a life that's about 95 percent trail use. Still, relative to most runners who race ultra distances, I tend to log lower-mileage…

California cold snap

It's been cold in the American West this week. Where I live, a winter cold snap means frost-coated leaves in the morning, ice patches that linger through the day, unobstructed sunshine, azure skies and clear visibility that gives depth to the farthest horizons. So most everywhere else it's cold, but here, it's perfect. 
Beat had quite a bit of Iditarod prep to work on this weekend, including molding a new sled from a sheet of plastic. So I spent a quiet weekend writing and reading ... oh, who am I kidding? There was still a much higher ratio of running and riding. On Saturday, Beat and I got out for a hill climb up Black Mountain, 10.5 miles with 2,800 feet of climbing. Physically there wasn't much notable about this run, but the views were nice.

On Sunday I joined a girls' ride with Leah and Heather, and took the opportunity to wear my new Castelli bike skort. I'm finally starting to part with some of my more ancient active wear (like a pair of Nashbar bike s…

A little housekeeping

There was a "winter storm advisory" for the Santa Cruz Mountains above 1,200 feet on Thursday, so I set out in the afternoon to see if any rare white flakes had graced the tip of Black Mountain. There wasn't any snow, but there was thick frost forming on the gravel and smooth ice across puddles. After a week of smoggy inversion, the air was so clear that I could look out across the valley and see intricate details in the cityscape and red sunlight stretched over the white domes of the Mount Hamilton Observatory, some 25 miles away. It was a beautiful afternoon, punctuated with a toe-tingling descent into the eerie quiet of the canyon at dusk — and finally, for the first time this year, actually dressed warm enough for the 2,700-foot plunge (thanks winter storm advisory.) Happy Hour. Or two.

I've been working on some blog updates, and I wanted to address something you may or may not have noticed on Jill Outside ... ads. Sigh, I know. It's an experiment. I'm w…


Liehann was the first of my good friends who was serious about racing the Tour Divide, and had a plan in place for June of this year. This weekend, he was over at our place discussing the build of my Moots 29er, researching Rohloff hubs, and mulling the finer points of bikepacking kits. On Saturday morning, we coaxed Liehann out to his longest foot race to date — the 35-kilometer version of the Crystal Springs Trail Run. Although he'd never been much of a runner before moving to the Bay Area from South Africa in 2011, Liehann recently started venturing over to the dark side, reasoning that all training is good training. He was off to a great start for an exciting year.

Then, on Monday morning, Liehann got on his mountain bike to commute to work, along five miles of paved bike path between his house and the Google campus. It had rained on Sunday and the pavement was slightly damp, but he didn't think much of it as he pedaled up a pedestrian bridge that passes over a busy freew…