Dead Horse 50k

My blog is desperately behind and I’m basically just going to start with the current moment but I have a couple of things I want to document on here… one of which is that I ran my first ultra-marathon back in November!

Katie and Georgie talked me into signing up and I felt like a giant imposter because when I say I “run” I really mean I’m the queen of the power hike.

At the start of the race I pretty much felt totally out of place. I had done all my 20 mile trail runs solo and had to be self supported so there I was hanging out at the starting line for a race with aid stations every 7 miles with a 3 liters of water. Whyyyy??

It was a super pretty course as one might expect for Moab. The weather was a perfect November day for a long run: chilly in the morning but not too hot during the middle of the race.

About mile 12 I crashed hard. I felt like crap and was envisioning chasing cutoffs for the rest of the run (because I was not quitting). When I reached the aid station at mile 14 I discovered the joy of Sprite and gummy bears and life got much much better.

Despite my face in the photo below around mile 20, the sugar rush had done its work and I literally felt better as I finished the race than I did at that midpoint.

I did it! I completed an ultra! And then promptly signed up for another for this coming summer.

Colorado 12er: Jura Knob

So, along the way, I got talked into running the Dead Horse 50K next month in Moab [I’m sucking so much at blogging… Dead Horse was now over a month ago]. By the time my birthday “run” was over it was time to actually go out and do some running. To help myself out, I mapped out a 20 mile run (that actually turned out to be a little bit less, but that’s okay) run with “only” 4,400′ of elevation gain.

The morning was chilly in the crisp, perfect way that happens in the fall. I hiked a lot on the uphill section and felt pretty crummy for awhile but the scenery was gorgeous. This section of the San Juans near Coal Bank  Pass seems very different from the Ouray area.

Note to self: figure out nutrition so I don’t feel like utter shit on every training run for my 70k next year…

I made my way up the ridge and to the one section that required a little bit of scrambling. In this case, that meant some really cute belly flop drag myself up.

After this, it was an easy ridge walk up to the broad summit. It was really cool to be able to see so many peaks I’d been on recently from Cow Benchmark over towards the Stony Pass area.

The run back towards the car was a little bit less enjoyable because I had chosen a trail that was really popular with mountain bikers so I was constantly having to step to the side and let them continue downhill. (Mountain bikers! Don’t pass a runner and then take a break just a minute down the hill and let them pass you and then repeat the whole thing again!)

My route came out a little bit shorter than I’d planned but it was a totally lovely fall day in the mountains.

2018 In Review: By The Numbers

Hallelujah it was better than 2016 & 2017.


Although 23 peaks is my second lowest summits since 2014, reaching them involved 47,500′ of elevation gain, the second highest gain since 2014. I simply did most of my climbing here at home which makes for lots of elevation gain.

I added seven county highpoints to the tally: one in Colorado, three in Utah, one in Nevada, one in Oregon and one in Washington.

You can clearly see the rebound happening here! You can also see how there were fewer peaks but with more mileage and elevation gain.
Again, not as many peaks but more high (and high quality!) ones


The line between these two seemed to further blur for me this year as I started to run as often as possible in the mountains (mostly power hiking up and running down) in order to maximize time and mountains visited. (Incidentally, this lead to me running my first 50k in November.)

In 2017, I hiked 29 times and ran 46 for 150 hiking + 184 running = 234 miles. Well. About that. In 2018, I count 28 hikes but 77 runs (which is still meh) but… for a grand total of 646 miles. I signed up for a 70k in July with lotsssss of elevation gain so I’m expecting to see these numbers climb in 2019!

#damselNOTindistress Life Hack: Meal Planning

I briefly showed my meal planning process on Instagram Stories but long time friend Doug asked me to do a post about it so he could copy my system and he figured some of you might want to as well!

While we have a grocery store in Ridgway, it is prohibitively expensive to use it as my main shopping location. This means I have to drive 25 miles north to Montrose to do my grocery shopping. In order to avoid spending my gas money on necessities and not on play, I have to be efficient with my trips.


Meal Planning:

I use Google Calendar to do my meal planning. I created a calendar specifically called “food” and I use it to make sure that I have a way to feed myself every meal during the week. Using Calendar means that I have flexibility to shift things around if something comes up (I just eat leftovers instead of cooking a new meal, I accept an invite to go eat out with friends, etc.) without erasing or just making mental adjustments. The calendar format means I can also see what events are coming up during the week: for example, I’m phone banking Thursday night and the host is providing dinner so I don’t have to feed myself.

I’ve gotten more into cooking lately so I tend to sit down with my latest go-to cookbooks (Run Fast, Eat Slow and Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow) and pick out meals I want to make that week. In general, this happens sitting in my kitchen on Sunday night when the pantry gets a little bit low so I can scheme ways to use any leftover ingredients floating around the kitchen.


Grocery List & Google Tasks

As I add meals to the calendar whether it’s simple things like sandwiches or more elaborate meals, I open Google Tasks in the calendar window and create a grocery list from the ingredients. Google Tasks is definitely not perfect but I do like that I can have it in the same window as the calendar when I’m putting things together.

I started doing this just before school started (yay, structure in my life!) and I’ve started organizing the list by how I shop in the store so that I can shop efficiently. (You’ll note that I also put general Montrose errands on this list. Google Tasks only supports one level of subtasks so City Market doesn’t get a task but Home Depot, Jo-Ann’s, auto parts stores, etc. do.)


In Store: Google Tasks App

While shopping, I use the Google Tasks app to make sure that I get everything on my list. I am totally that person actively walking through the store on my phone because it’s my list. I have things set to not show completed tasks, that way my list actually gets smaller as I walk through the store.

Before I hit the checkout, I quickly pursue the completed items list before I leave out a key component for something by accidentally marking it as completed. The next week, I just clear all completed items before shopping so I have a fresh start that week.



This doesn’t particularly affect me but you can’t share Google Tasks between people while calendars can (although my wise friend Liz opened a Gmail account with her partner for household bills so that might be a workaround since Google Tasks supports multiple sign-ins).

I would appreciate collapsible sub tasks in Tasks as well. I think it would help me be better about forming a “Montrose game plan” if I could just see the stops I need to make.


Why it works for me

I have a bad habit of leaving lists various places or starting multiple lists. Sometimes  I’ll think of something while I’m at school or out and about and like the ability to use the Tasks app to add things to my Montrose list. I like this more than the commercial grocery apps because it’s more flexible.

Birthday Loop: High Above Ouray

When Katie was visiting earlier in the summer, we’d planned a long run high in the mountains above Ouray. Enjoying the run without running from monsoon thunderstorms meant pushing the run off until fall. Part of me was afraid to try it because it sounded like a ton of elevation gain and I was pretty sure it was going to hurt (spoiler: the uphill at mile 12 did hurt). Yet, Katie didn’t let it go and finally I agreed that it would make for a badass birthday hike-run.

It totally was.

We left Ridgway early and hit the trail in the dark. I love hiking through sunrise in the mountains: seeing the light hit the ridgetops and work its way down into the valley is really a wonderful feeling.

The colors were just starting to pop but fortunately, completely fooled us on how wonderful they’d be in a few weeks:

The uphill hike seemed to go super fast and I was surprised how quickly we found ourselves on the ridge. I’d looked at this ridge a million times but standing on it for the first time, I got to add to my mental map of local geography.

I also added several peaks to my list from up there within just a few minutes.

Then it was time to set off down the ridge. There were lots of ups and downs and we had to decide which peaks to skirt and which to climb (the only non-optional one was the ranked 13er on the ridge)

The ridgetop was pure giddiness. Including Mountain Prancercise…

This photo was taken on the shoulder of an unranked 12er bump on the ridge that didn’t, at first glance, have a clear cut route to the top. As we traversed around it I found a gully that I thought might go to the top. We carefully picked our way up the loose rock and pulled a couple of stout scramble moves and found ourselves on the top.

I think Katie and I would both agree that although the unnamed peak wasn’t our actual highpoint for the day, it was actually the emotional high point.

Just a few minutes after our unoffical climbing objective, we found ourselves on the actual highpoint of the hike.

These mountains, man. From here, if I’d have had binoculars I could have picked out my house to the north and mountains every other direction as far as I could see.

From there, we had a small (500′ climb) that felt like 2000′ and then the huge descent into town. After eighteen miles and 6600′ of gain, we were both worked. Quickly completing the car shuttle we hustled home to our crockpot dinner and devoured all the food.

Thank you so much Katie for going along on this dream adventure of mine! I had a blast!

Slacker Saturday 13ers: Canby and Galena

A few weeks ago, I had a friend offer to let me borrow her Jeep while she was out of town in case I wanted to tackle a big hike. I didn’t particularly have a big hike in mind but I told her that I would certainly come up with one.
I called Nadia and asked if she and Stella would want to join me for a ridge hike to some mountains.
It turned into the best ridge walk slacker Saturday of 13ers.
The weather was fantastic. The company was great. The views were mountains in every direction.

Colorado 13er: Golden Horn

Back in July, my friend asked me, mid-concert in the park, drinks in hand, if I would like to climb Golden Horn that weekend. I’m never one to turn down mountain adventure so I agreed, although I was slightly concerned about how slow I might be headed up the mountain.

After what felt like an early start (but not to shabby since we live close enough to wake up in our own beds), we found ourselves at the trail head cruising rapidly up towards Upper Ice Lake. Above the lake, I finally got to solve the approach question from Fuller Lake towards the ring of 13ers above the basin (I had a storm come in when I first attempted Vermilion from Ice Lakes).

I’d climbed Fuller Peak (on the left) and Vermilion (center) in 2015 and was very excited to head up Golden Horn (on the right)!

I’d almost forgotten how much I actually enjoy(?) relish(?) feel alive(?) when making my way up loose San Juan rock. The weather was perfect as we worked our way up the gully to the Vermilion-Golden Horn saddle.

Once we were on the summit, we were treated to a fantastic view of the Wilsons:

A gorgeous view of upper Ice Lake and all of the San Juans:

As we headed down, the sky got really moody and we felt an urgency as we headed down the mountain. The rain started just as we started descending the headwall into the lower basin.

I’m always so glad to hike with Nadia because she is totally willing to gush about these mountains with me the whole time.

I’ve seen Golden Horn now from several angles and every time, I think of this fantastic day and smile.

July Visitors!

While my project in Washington somewhat dragged on, I had events starting to pile up in Ridgway that I needed to get back for. My boss started calling to set up some summer meetings but more pressingly, Cindy had purchased plane tickets months ago and Katie was coming out for hanging out with people during the Hardrock100.

Since Cindy was only in town for a couple of days, we went out hiking on Sutton Trail. Although it’s steep, the views of the amphitheater are amazing. Plus, we got mixed up in another group of hikers that were actually a ton of fun. After our hike we drove over Red Mountain to Silverton and then headed back to my place for lunch and some wine and porch sitting.

The next day, we drove up to Telluride to check out the views and ride the gondola. Apparently I only Instagram storied my photos since I don’t have any! Again, we basically meandered back to the house and found ourselves catching up with pretty mountain views as old friends do.  It was so much fun to share my home with you, Cindy! I know I’m in the middle of no where but you win the award for first friend to buy a plane ticket to come!

Katie’s visit out this way for Hardrock events slightly overlapped with Cindy which was actually a lot of fun. After Cindy headed back to the midwest, Katie and I decided to head up Bridge of Heaven. This is one of those hikes I’ve wanted to do but was sort of dissuaded from because of all its elevation gain!

We started from the Dexter Creek side and quickly attained the ridge line and then pushed our way up to Bridge of Heaven proper.

By the run down, my legs were feeling it but it was a good way to start getting in some solid elevation gain again!


Although I’d been in Washington for a long time, I had to make a quick trip up because my oldest nephew’s dad was getting married!

Before the wedding though, my mom and I had Friday to spend together. I needed new running shoes so I convinced her to drive up to the flagship REI in Seattle so I could have a nice big selection (and still earn a dividend). We had a lovely time shopping together (and she insisted on buying me the dress I wore to the wedding) and then for lunch, I took her to a little spot that a dear friend had shown me a few years ago.

My mom and I both love oysters, especially raw. As we settled into our table, she pointed at a map on the wall and said, “Now I like that map.” I, the map obsessed daughter, laughed, because the map showed Pacific Northwest oyster growing locations.

Midway through our first dozen, Mom declared that we would be getting another. I basically spent the entire meal giggling at how excited she was.

The next morning, Mom had some errands to run so I asked her to drop me off at a trail and I got in some (humid) miles before the wedding.

Although, around the ceremony, it was really hot the wedding was really wonderful. I got lots of Andrew hugs:

They did such a good job of including the kids (all four of them!) including having my sister come up for their parent-kid dance to dance with Drew:

I hate garter tosses and bouquet tosses but watching Andrew and Junior giggle together as they waited was pretty adorable:

Since there was music, there was my family dancing. No one should ever expect differently:

Congratulations JJ and Destiny! I’m so happy to have you both (and your whole crew of munchkins) in my life.

The whole darn family: Mom, me, Emily & Kevin, JJ & Destiny, and the whole troupe of kiddos.

Life These Days: Summer 2018

After what seemed like forever in the Northwest, I finally wrapped up projects at Mom’s house enough to come home. It was time for trail running and COLORADO SUMMER.
I was inspired to buy a Roomba to make my life better. First, I named it John, because white dudes should clean more. And then I realized that I loved John, so I renamed it “The Boyfriend”
I found time to read books:
And then heard that same Jonathan P. Thompson speak right here in my little town.
The FSJ Invasion crew came to Ouray:
I got to hold some pretty famous stuff. (Yeah, that’s MJ’s Wooden trophy and a Grammy base…)
Life is sweet.