Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018 in numbers

Like many outdoor enthusiasts, I love tracking numbers. The year-end totals are especially fun. Added together, all the little jaunts up mountains gave me enough elevation gain to climb into Low Earth Orbit. I've run enough miles to travel from Boulder to Washington, D.C. I've ridden enough to get from Boulder to Juneau. I spent more than 10 percent of the year — 37 days — on the move outside. 

Last December, I was so down on all things 2017 that I didn't even bother to compile my year-end numbers. "I exercise way too much to be so bad at it," I muttered to myself. I'm more embarrassed than proud by the bulk of it. 

Ultimately I regretted not having a 2017 in numbers on record. This is my choice after all. My most cherished hobby. My source of inspiration. My spiritual communion. My thin strand of hope for good things to go on in the world. This is my life ... quantified. 


Run: 165.4 miles with 38,435 feet climbing.
Ride: 123 miles with with 14,495 feet climbing.
Time: 63 hours, 27 minutes.

January was a relatively warm, dry month that required more creative training for my planned 350-mile hike on the Iditarod Trail, coming up in March. The difficulty of every excursion with my 70-pound cart isn't adequately reflected by mileage or climbing, but such is the limitation of statistics. When I wanted to kick back, enjoy the sunshine, and relax, I managed a handful of long afternoon rides.


Run: 226 miles with 25,519 feet climbing.
Ride: 53.4 miles with 7,008 feet climbing.
Time: 77 hours, 10 minutes.

I was able to kick the training up a notch with more excursions into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, where fierce katabatic winds sweep down from the Continental Divide. No one better understands the utter feebleness of a human in the wild than those who have stood on a snow-swept slope to face a 70-mph wind. Every excursion to Niwot Ridge helped me feel less and less ready for Alaska. I spent the last four days of the month racing on the Iditarod Trail, where I was absolutely flattened by wind and then cold. My training did nothing for me.


Run: 340.5 miles with 25,654 feet climbing.
Ride: 10.4 miles with 1,736 feet climbing.
Time: 120 hours, 23 minutes.

Oof. March was a toughie. The back half of the Iditarod Trail Invitational was a constant battle through wet, heavy snow. I struggled through a depth of exhaustion I've rarely experienced. The 2018 Iditarod ranks up there with the most humbling experiences of my life, eclipsed this year only by a relatively benign cabin trip in the White Mountains on March 18. I took this supposed pleasure trip two weeks after finishing the slog to McGrath. It was supposed to be easy — traveling 22 miles over two days. A storm and subsequent wind buried the trail in knee-deep snow. Deep-set muscle soreness and ongoing fatigue left my legs in such agony that was sure I couldn't go on. I contemplated setting up my bivy and waiting for anything else to happen ... death in my sleep if I was lucky. Ultimately I made it out, 11 miles in seven of my most difficult hours of effort this year. Six days later, out of both spite and love, I started and implausibly finished the White Mountains 100. But damn, my legs did hurt.


Run: 107 miles with 23,051 feet climbing.
Ride: 193.6 miles with 24,764 feet climbing.
Time: 54 hours, 35 minutes.

April started out surprisingly well. Alaska had shredded my quads, which took a number of weeks to fully heal, but my legs didn't seem too bothered by bike rides. I felt relatively chipper in the warm spring air and even took up running — actual running, not sloggy snow hiking or sled-dragging or cart-hauling. Toward the end of the month I broke my pinky toe after stubbing it on my bed.


Run: 23 miles with 6,431 feet climbing.
Ride: 554.5 miles with 72,552 feet climbing.
Time: 65 hours, 56 minutes.

The broken toe was a good excuse to forget running and go all out with biking. I dug up a pair of stiff-soled hiking boots that I purchased back in 2002 and and pedaled my heart out, without a care in the world.


Run: 118.9 miles with 26,149 feet climbing.
Ride: 437.1 miles with 48,740 feet climbing.
Time: 77 hours, 36 minutes.

After the strain and stress of my Alaska races, I decided there would be no more racing in 2018. June reinforced this decision, as I fell back into a slump and struggled with low-key, recreational runs. During rides, climbs that had been a piece of cake a month earlier felt like pedaling through invisible mud. I still went outside a whole lot, because it was June, the mountain trails were opening up, and post-winter-pre-monsoon season is oh-so-brief.


Run: 174.1 miles with 53,241 feet climbing.
Ride: 197.8 miles with 25,036 feet climbing.
Time: 83 hours, 10 minutes.

July came and I perked up, again. This month had lots of fun bike explorations as well as on-foot adventures, as friends from Australia and Switzerland came to visit and requested hard mountain training runs. I spent time in the San Juans during the Hardrock 100 and Ouray 100, and began to regret that I had no similarly intense experiences on my horizon.


Run: 135.6 miles with 50,663 feet climbing.
Ride: 386.4 miles with 51,673 feet climbing.
Time: 85 hours, 24 minutes.

August was my favorite month of the year in terms of exercise. I was riding yet another physical high in a month with abundant adventure opportunities, despite the heat and wildfire smoke. The numbers reflect my zeal, with more than 100,000 feet of climbing in August alone. I finally pedaled up Mount Evans, played in the mountains as early autumn descended on the high country, eked out an incredible solo birthday hike on the edge of my comfort zone in Rocky Mountain National Park, and spent the final week of the month traipsing over Alps above Chamonix, France.


Run: 202.3 miles with 67,756 feet climbing.
Ride: 0 miles.
Time: 65 hours, 12 minutes.

September was a little more difficult for life reasons, but I did enjoy spending the majority of the month in Germany and Switzerland. I embarked on a number of amazing hikes along the Swiss Peaks 360 race course through the Valais Alps, and later explorations in Grindelwald and Kandersteg. I love Europe but it definitely brings out my social anxieties, which is part of why I was struggling. Also, I'll admit there's something wrong with a month that has no bike riding.


Run: 60.2 miles with 12,110 feet climbing.
Ride: 340.5 miles with 36,775 feet climbing.
Time: 52 hours, 50 minutes.

October brought snow — lots of snow for October — and I was a giddy puppy. I finally pulled out my fat bike after not riding it at all during the winter of 2017-18, and it has been a happy reunion. This month had great rides, but I again struggled with the little running that I did. My biomechanics are fine, but my breathing took a sharp turn for the worse, and I felt dizzy whenever I kicked up the pace, which is to say run instead of walk. There were a few days toward the end of the month where I decided that running and I should take a real break. But this conviction didn't last. It never does.


Run: 83.7 miles with 19,120 feet climbing.
Ride: 262.1 miles with 29,144 feet climbing.
Time: 65 hours, 25 minutes.

November was mostly notable for a bikepacking trip around the White Rim over Thanksgiving, and short excursions in Fruita and Moab. I started to feel antsy for a return to "real" training and signed up for two races — both running 100-milers in March and May — less than a month after I swore off running. Sigh. But hopefully, come 2019, I'll be able to dredge up some confidence in an arena where I have not had much success in the past five years.


Run: 180.9 miles with 19,137 feet climbing.
Ride: 94.6 miles with 9,216 feet climbing.
Time: 70 hours, 24 minutes.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I caught a death-cold that left me more or less bedridden for the better part of two weeks. Christmastime adventures in Alaska made up the bulk of the month's activity, with super-slow sled-dragging for low mileage but a hefty dose of strenuous time on my feet.

2018 total: 

Run: 1,817.6 miles with 367,266 feet climbing.
Ride: 2,653,4 miles with 321,129 feet climbing.
Cumulative climbing: 688,405 feet (130.4 miles)
Cumulative time on the move: 881 hours, 32 minutes (36.7 days)

It's been a good year. My "running" total is actually my highest yet (I count all on-foot activities as runs, because there's a wide gray line between the two in my world. Usually, walking-pace efforts are the more strenuous efforts.) In the new year, I'd like to skew more time toward riding, but I keep signing up for these silly foot races. Also, someday, I'd like go for a million feet of climbing in a year, but I'll save that goal for a while yet.

Bring on 2019!


  1. Impressive stats! You made me look at my stats for the year.
    6750.2 miles biking with 497,405 feet climbing
    626.2 miles running (mostly skiing but some hiking) with 95,276 feet climbing
    Cumulative climbing 592,681 feet
    Cumulative time on the move 883 hours, 6 minutes (mainly due to the hours on the Tour Divide this year.

  2. Dang Jill...your end of year stats are huge! I'll have to look at mine I guess (I don't run, just bike). They will be quite meager in comparison I'm sure. Way to go, ESPECIALLY for someone fighting a crazy hormone / thyroid thing! I doubt very much that I know anybody who can hold a candle to you. You are (and have been for a long time) my inspiration to go longer and deeper than I think I can. Hope to FINALLY do some bikepacking this year! Thanks for being my inspiration!

  3. Way to go!!! My favorite part is how happy you look in most of those photos. I even recognize the spots where you took two of them :)

    Guess what? My big goal for 2018 was a million feet of climbing, and I did it. I'd been hovering around 900,000 feet for years so I made an end of the year push to make it to a million. Most people think that this certifies me as insane. Perhaps they're right.

    1. Wow! The closest I ever came was 850,000 feet in 2015, and knowing how much effort it would take to reach a million, I am dually impressed. Congratulations!


Feedback is always appreciated!