Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I just signed up for my first 100 miler

Crazy? Stupid? Crazy stupid? I just registered for the Zion 100 Ultra.

The climb up Gooseberry Mesa is insane, and breathtaking!

I love Zion National Park. It's probably my most favorite place on Earth. Living in Kanab, UT, Zion is practically in my back yard. It's my kid's first "playground". It's my Sanctuary. It's the first place that Steve and I explored together way back in the day, over 10 years ago, when we were still living in Pennsylvania, and the thought of living here was just a wishful little daydream.

I love to run. I love to run a lot. And far. And especially in the middle of nowhere. I love hopping over lizards and running up steep (very steep) hills. I love the desert. I love Utah. So naturally the next logical race for me to enter would combine all of these things -- Zion 100.

I ran the Zion 100K last year. That's 62 miles. I remember thinking "I will never make this. Never!" and around mile 50 I got an incredible burst of adrenaline to push me 12 more miles at a pretty good clip to the finish line. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life.

Here are some pics from last year's race. You can see why I'm anxious to go back!

Desert + Jill + Running = happiness

Probably my favorite part of the course -- although the uneven terrain made it hard to find a pace. I thought these rocks looked like dino tracks. I was starting to really, really look forward to seeing Steve at mile 50.
Views that stretch for miles

Stopping for a quick snapshot. Why not!? Look at this view!! (and I'm still smiling!)
High places :)

I remember looking out at this crazy looking landscape and envisioning Pillsbury dough biscuits. I think I was delirious, or hungry (or both).
Martian landscapes

Feeling rejuvenated on the edge of the world. Ready to head back to the aid station -- dying for a pickle (I still remember that craving).
Feeling badass!

Possibly THE BEST sunset of my life. I knew I had only about 6 miles to go. I had to run back DOWN that gigantic hill that is Gooseberry Mesa. All I could focus on was getting here before the sun went down. I needed Steve to see the monster hill I ran UP! :) Admittedly, going down sucked pretty hard as well!
My savior at the end. Steve paced me the last 14 miles xoxox I love this guy more than words!

I'll admit. I almost want to puke when I think about running 100 miles. There are so many thoughts running around in my brain. How will I run 38 MORE miles than last year? I remember crossing the finishing line and saying to Steve -- "thank GOD I didn't do the 100 miler!" (I think he said something like... "I bet you will next year.")

Right now my main focus is to overcome this very annoying, nagging plantar fasciitis problem. I've been feeling pretty good over the past few days (since my cortisone shot on Friday).

When I was asked to be an Ambassador for Ultra Adventures late last year, my heart nearly exploded with pride and excitement. I could not be more excited to represent these guys. The cast and crew of people who make up Ultra Adventures are family to me. It felt like that from day one. They really care about the people in their races and want to see them succeed. I am a newbie here. I am still learning.

I'm looking forward to scoring my first belt buckle in April. (I know my mom's probably wondering what I'm talking about.... heh... belt buckles are the most common finisher’s prize for 100 milers)

I'll be posting a lot about my training and all things running. I welcome any tips or suggestions. Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adventure Time at Yellow Rock

Today was a pretty great day.

pretty cheeeezy, I know.

We went on an epic, amazing hike with some pretty amazing friends. J.J. didn't whine AT ALL (ok, maybe like one time...)

Behold -- Yellow Rock.

Yes, it's really THIS yellow. Pretty awesome :)
The hike to Yellow Rock is a relatively short hike, just west of the Cottonwood Road in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But it's tough. The going requires some steep scrambling and is fairly strenuous. Rocks are very loose and.. did I mention steep? The kiddos were real troopers. They remind me of mountain goats! So fast and agile, no slowing down.

Tucker Photo Bomb!!!

Just another Sunday afternoon outdoors

This trio reached the summit first

Lucky little kiddos

Nothing beats an afternoon outdoors with your pooch

Me and my best hiking bud

Goofing around on the world's most gigantic yellow rock

Love these two, mother and daughter. Both amazing ladies.

Mackie enjoying the great outdoors.
Yellow Rock is a gigantic playground filled with unreal colors and scenery that will blow your mind.

Come visit us and we'll take you here!
Us :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grand to Grand Ultra - I'm IN!

I'm kind of freaking out right now.

Something pretty amazingly terrifying and awesome just happened. I received this email that says:

"Dear Jill,
We are pleased to advise that you have been awarded the local scholarship for Grand to Grand Ultra 2015."


The Grand to Grand Ultra is the only self supported stage foot race in North America - 6 stages, 7 days, 167 miles. SELF SUPPORTED. That means you must carry everything -- food for 7 days, gear (like your sleeping bag, met, etc.. everything).

This is a photo of my friend Julie (in front) during one of the toughest stages of the race in 2013.
Photo: Courtesy of Grand to Grand Ultra

A description of the race from the G2G website:

Participants will encounter a mix of desert and other terrain including hard packed sand, soft sand, sand dunes, forest trails, red rock climbs, rocky roads and slot canyons. The starting line is situated at a remote location on the north rim of the Grand Canyon with breathtaking vistas at an altitude of 5344 feet (1629 meters). Campsite 1, which is your campsite on the evening before the start of the race, is close by.

The finish line is on the summit of the Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase and provides participants with a rewarding view back over the course that you will have just completed. From an altitude of 8658 feet (2636 meters), look back over the cliffs and enjoy the most amazing panoramic landscape of your journey framed by hoodoos and two billion year old rock formations.

Throughout the course, you will trek by geological mesas, buttes and cliffs and enter into a series of unique canyons, hollows and valleys. Part of the long stage will have you cross the majestic coral pink sand dunes. One special highlight is when the course takes you into an isolated slot canyon. Keep an eye out for wildlife and flora along the route including the endangered California Condors, big horn sheep, mule deer and unique cacti.


Stay tuned as I prepare (and freak out) for this most amazing opportunity of a lifetime. I'm ready. Bring it on!