2019 Vision Board!

Holy cannoli you guys!! I just spent the day with some of my closest girlfriends making vision boards on Canva.com! OK first of all – what a phenomenal way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Holla for the ladies in my life – whoop whoop!

Has anyone here used Canva‘s free program? It’s fantastic and there are so many template options for social media, marketing, vision boards, and much much more. Definitely worth checking out – I am beyond thrilled with the way my vision board came out. Check it:

OK so now all I have to do is invoke the playful red panda totem, become a youth mentor, travel to Australia, write my #1 New York Times bestseller, give a TED talk, find/fall in love with/and marry my lion soul mate, start my Girl Power! coaching business, and get into the best shape of my life!

BRING IT ON 2019! Yeow!


Dreaming of Trails

It’s time for a much overdo installment of “Things I Find Awesome”, so here goes. I’m reading three completely awesome books right now and they’re all about trails.

First up is Scott and Jenny Jurek’s North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail, chronicling Scott’s push to record a Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the AT and his wife Jenny’s experience crewing for him. Most people take 5-7 months to complete the route which stretches 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine.  Naturally Scott ran it in 46 days. As you do . . .

Second is The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing The Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience by Jennifer Pharr Davis. She held the AT FKT for years and was the record Scott Jurek set out to beat (and he only beat her by like two hours) so it’s safe to say Pharr Davis is a fucking badass and I’m stoked to read her version of digging deep to conquer the trail.

Third is a book simply called On Trails: An Exploration. This one, by Robert Moor, delves deep into the history of trails, how they form, and how they help us understand the world. I expect to consume it rapidly with the bliss and curiosity of a very happy, very small child!

So of course, with all these idyllic woodsy thoughts swirling about my head, I woke up this morning from some pretty awesome trail dreams. But honestly, the Appalachian Trail has never really called to me. First of all I would want to do it much more like Bill Bryson did in A Walk In The Woods and much less like a hard core thru-hiker. And second, the AT always makes me think about Deliverance much more than spending peaceful time in the woods. That said, there are two new trails that are definitely on my list of totally awesome things to do in this lifetime:

1) Chile’s 1,700 mile Ruta de Parques (Route of Parks) which connects seventeen (yes, 17!!) national parks from Puerto Montt in the north to Cape Horn in the south.

2) Greenland’s 102 mile Arctic Circle Trail which has really killer start and endpoint names – Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut – and is usually free of snow in the summer, ha!

OK that’s it for this edition of Things I Find Awesome! I hope all is well in your worlds. Sending love & light!

My Kinda Tri – Logistics

Inaugural MyKindaTri 112-Miler Logistics:

MODES OF TRAVEL: Car, Feet, Bicycle

PACK LIST: Cycling kit to change into, road bike/shoes/helmet, two water bottles w/ plain water, hydration pack w/ 80 oz. water mixed w/ ON Essential Aminos, two Clif Builder bars, two NuGo bars, one StroopWaffle, four Gu gels, one pack ProBar Bolt energy chews, one small bag potato chips

5:15 AM         Drive from Boulder to Manitou Springs w/ my sister
7:00 AM         Hike the Manitou Incline = 0.9 miles, 1,982’ elevation gain
Run the Barr Trail = 4 miles
Ride home = 107.3 miles, 4, 134’ elevation gain
Sister drives the car back

112.2 miles (41.9 miles longer than the Half IronMan)

6,116’ (3,800’ more than the Half IronMan)

5:15 AM         Drove 105 miles from Boulder to Manitou Springs w/ my sister
7:05 AM         Hiked the Manitou Incline = 0.9 miles, 1,982’ elevation gain
7:50 AM         Arrived at the top, made a short video
7:52 AM         Ran the Barr Trail = 4 miles
8:29 AM         Arrived at the bottom, made a short video, changed clothes, snacked & hydrated, said goodbye to my sister
8:38 AM         Rode to Sedalia = 56.7 miles, 2,182’ elevation gain
Unknown       Got saved from a torrential downpour on HWY 105 by a kind stranger who drove me 48.6 miles to the intersection of RTE 93 and RTE 128
Unknown       Rode home = 10.1 miles, 157’ elevation gain
5:15 PM         Arrived home, fed the dogs, took them for a short walk, ate pasta
6:30 PM         Absolutely insane windstorm began, battened down the hatches, climbed into bed grateful, safe, dry and warm
9:00 PM         Fell asleep for a solid nine hours of recovery

71.7 miles (Still 1.4 miles longer than the Half IronMan!)

4,321’ (Still 2,005’ more than the Half IronMan!!!!)

20 ounces plain water
60 ounces ON Essential Amino water
One Clif bar
One NuGo bar
One StroopWaffle
Two Gu gels
Four energy chew
One bag potato chips

~ Research bike paths and road surfaces in order to stay on pavement
~ Find someone crazy enough to join me

My Kinda Tri, Part 2: I Think He Said His Name Was Dan

I’m no hitchhiker, but when I looked up from my now dead phone and heard a friendly stranger offer me a ride, I knew I had to take it. The traffic on Highway 105 wasn’t slowing down and the storm I was cycling into was getting worse. If there was a comfortable shoulder on the road I never would have stopped pedaling, in fact I would have ridden even harder to get to a gas station faster, but the situation I was in was too dangerous to keep going.

He jumped out of his white pick-up truck and into the pouring rain, taking my bicycle from me as I crossed the street. I hopped into the front passenger seat as he was lifting my Trek into the back bed. This, I already knew, was strange for me—not just the acceptance of help, but the allowing of a non-cyclist stranger to handle my bicycle. I didn’t care if he put it in gears down or scraped up the handlebar tape, I just wanted to be safe and dry.

Adrenaline was high and I jabbered away about the decidedly inaccurate weather forecast, the lack of shoulder on a road I’d never been on, and all the SUV’s that were trying to nudge me off the road. Finally when I took a breath he reached out his hand and introduced himself. I think he said his name was Dan. My best guess told me he was about twenty years older than me.

“Where are you riding to?” he asked.

“You’re gonna laugh but I’m going to Boulder. I still have fifty miles ahead of me,” I said, almost disbelieving it myself.

And laugh he did. I can only imagine how preposterous that would sound to someone who was not into long distance cycling.

Dan was driving south and I had been riding north, but no matter what I was relieved to be off the road. I figured he would bring me to the nearest gas station or café so I could dry off and wait out the storm.

“Actually I’m going north too. I passed you and then made a U-turn to come back and see if you needed a ride.” He turned the truck around at the first opportunity and we were soon heading back towards those ominous black clouds. “We’ve got a shop up the road,” he continued. “Do you want to go there and get dry?”

“I will go wherever you are willing to take me. Thank you,” I said.

It was a short drive to the construction shop Dan ran with his brother in Sedalia, CO. Dan drove the truck around the corner and put my bike in the garage. Meanwhile I made friends with the office dogs and ate a protein bar while my phone charged up. I sat on the floor so as not to get their furniture wet and figured out my plan.

My sister was at work and no one else knew what I was up to. I’m not one to make a rescue call unless I’m in a real emergency. I’ve actually only done that once and it was due to acute blood loss from a gash to the knee that required stitches in the ER. Looking at a detailed weather report I knew I had over an hour and a half before the storm passed through the area. With three more hours of cycling ahead of me I started to get worried.

A few minutes later Dan came into the office and said he was heading home and could go my way if I wanted. I agreed figuring he’d get me at least a few more miles up the road so why not?

Back in the truck we talked about how hard it was for his brother to find help at the construction company. “So I commute down once a week to help out,” he said.

I cocked my head and looked over at him confused. “Where do you live?”

“Casper, Wyoming.”

“You’re driving to Wyoming?!!”

“Yes,” he replied calmly.

“Right now?!!”

That time he smirked and nodded his head. “Well it’s Friday.”

The one pick-up truck that didn’t try to hit me and actually made a U-turn to come back and help me was being driven by a guy going 250 miles farther north than me. OK then . . .

Dear Universe, I’m listening.

“I can drive you as far you want. We’re early enough to beat rush hour and it’s no big deal to me.”

For the first time since I’d gotten on my bike six hours earlier, I relaxed my shoulders and exhaled.

“You are my hero.”

Rain splattered on the road and windshield as Dan told me tales of his childhood in the wide open spaces of Wyoming, a state with a total population of 500,000. I laughed, comparing that to the crowded northeast and the two million people I once shared twelve miles of Manhattan with. In middle school he found out he was colorblind when his dad insisted he wear red when they went hunting.

“I couldn’t figure out why it mattered since everything looked the same to me,” he said.

“Yah we don’t have a lot of hunting in Connecticut,” I replied.

Dan has a liberal leaning niece and a wife who makes floral arrangements for weddings. He’s also a conservative Republican hunter with a gun in his truck. And yet the rain kept pouring down and I instinctually knew I was safer here than there.

We talked about the precious entitlement of Boulderites and how every time I see one cross the street without looking up I want to drop them off at Columbus Circle on Central Park South and let them walk out into New York City traffic. He joked about the CU Boulder college kids needing counseling when Trump got elected and I respectfully stifled my flinch.

On route 470 Dan explained DOT stickers and how weigh stations work. Over time conversation moved to Governor Hickenlooper. Maybe all the state’s new marijuana money isn’t exactly going into the school system like it’s supposed to and rumor has it he may run for president in 2020, how about that? We talked about FOX news and CNN and how no one teaches or learns critical thinking anymore.

“News used to be news!” I cried. “It wasn’t about anyone’s opinions. It was just Peter Jennings and Dan Rather telling us the facts of what actually happened.”

“Right!” he cried back. “And if something felt like it was off you were smart enough to know you needed more of the story.”

Minus the gun and the workingman stench, I felt like I was in the car with my dad.

The rain slowed back to a drizzle and the sky lightened up but Dan kept driving. He circled back to the liberal leaning niece and how he just could not agree with her on transgender issues. Internally I cringed. This was the invisible line in the sand and we were in deadlocked traffic somewhere south of Golden.

It’s one thing to joke about college kids needing emotional support to deal with the unexpected outcome of the presidential election, but quite another to not support transgendered people. What could he possibly say that wouldn’t be offensive and how on earth could I react in a way that felt true to my convictions but also kept me from being murdered on the side of a highway by a stranger? I made the choice to hear him out, to ‘listen to learn’ as Alison Armstrong would say in her books about understanding men.

“It’s the bathroom thing that I don’t get because there’s always going to be some jerk who takes advantage of that. ‘Oh today I’m going to shower with the girls’,” he mocked. “Child molesters exist; they’re out there and they will do whatever they can to get into proximity with small children. It just feels like you’re putting all the kids at risk for the convenience of a small portion of the population.”

It was a perspective I have never once considered. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that anyone who’s not outwardly supporting something is therefore vehemently against it but that’s not where Dan was coming from. To him it’s not an issue of keeping kids safe from transgendered people. He knows they’re not the problem. He wants to keep all children safe from actual pedophiles, the creeps he knows will bend the rules to take advantage of the weak.

He wasn’t saying transgendered people are wrong for wanting to use a bathroom appropriate to their personal expression of gender. He was saying child molesters are a real problem and this extension of rights creates a loophole for them to further their crimes.

It was an incredibly masculine point of view and though I didn’t exactly agree (for the simple fact that it leaves transgendered people out of an equation they would very much like to be a part of), I had no immediate or intense argument against it. So we just kept chatting. About cops accidentally shooting to kill in the heat of the moment. About how if you can just slow down you intuitively know who the good people are. About how there’s too much worrying these days . . .

The sun peaked through the clouds and I insisted Dan drop me off at the corner of routes 128 and 93. It was his last chance to swing east and connect with Interstate 25 north before finding himself in downtown Boulder and it would leave me with a delightful ten-mile ride back to my house.

“I learned a lesson today Jenny,” he said as he pulled my bike off the back of his pick-up and shook my hand. Really Dan, you’re the one who learned a lesson today? “Pick someone up the first time you know they need help. There’s no use passing them and having to make a U-turn.”

Oh how far we can come over the course of twelve hours. At the onset this morning I really thought this would be a long straightforward somewhat boring ride. Isn’t it fantastic when the universe serves up so much more than we bargained for?

If I had done the Half IronMan as planned I would have known exactly where I’d begin and exactly where I’d finish. Barring an accident or injury, I can’t think of much that would be new or interesting. Maybe I would shave a few minutes from my overall time, but so what? I’m not a competitive person so I can’t say that interests me. I am adventurous though and that’s what makes MyKindaTri so beautiful. I got to invent an adventure and experience it for the first time with fresh eyes.

In the past I’ve somewhat sarcastically said, “Ask for an adventure and you’ll get an adventure!” Now I can add to that something much more satisfying and profound. Ask for a meaningful experience, and, if your heart is in the right place, you’ll definitely get one.

Thank you Dan.

Sending so much love & light!

My Kinda Tri, Part 1: Gravel Grind? What The Fuck?!

Oh my god you guys! What a crazy beautifully insane perfect day!

My sister and I woke up at 5:00 AM so we could leave the house at 5:15 AM. We got down to the Manitou Incline just after 7:00 AM. I immediately hopped out of the car and got to it.

The first time I did this climb I stopped often to catch my breath and take in the sunrise. This time I kept my head down and my pace steady. It’s a short hike, just under a mile, but with 2,000’ feet of elevation gain it’s been rightfully dubbed Colorado’s Holy Grail of cardio. I made it to the top in forty-five minutes and quickly took in the view from 8,590’.

The run down the last four miles of the Barr Trail is so much fun! It’s like a natural obstacle course with boulders jutting out on all sides, uneven footing, and many zig zagging switchbacks. Running on flat pavement is like mental and physical torture to me, but downhill on a trail is such a blast! I took off like a rocket and only stopped once to say hello to a deer.

At the bottom I took a few minutes to change my clothes and say goodbye to my sister. Then I was off on my bike heading for Boulder, 107 miles away.

The ride started off through a residential area. Then it hit up a rather gross industrial area, followed by suburban shopping malls and more industry before getting out into nature. My poor route planning skills became abundantly evident when I turned on to the Santa Fe Trail. Basically I blindly trusted RideWithGPS to create my route and it put me on a mountain bike trail. Not my best move (or theirs quite frankly).

For a while I kept thinking, “Oh how hard could this be?” And the trail was more than happy to answer back, “Really, really hard. This can, in fact, feel almost impossible at times.”

I slowly churned my way through big chunky gravel interspersed with patches of fine sand. My skinny road bike tires bounced in different directions off every rock and came to a screeching halt in the dirt. My back tire constantly fishtailed out from under me. I was spinning in my smallest gear trying to go fast enough to maintain what little grip I had on the surface yet not go too fast and lose control.

Often I had to jump off my bike and walk or even carry it over chasms and impassable horizontal wood posts, which I can only assume were there to keep the gravel contained. It was a little bit like mountain biking and a little bit like Cyclocross. At one point there was a guy running in front of me and I couldn’t catch him. I’m not even kidding! This went on for over three hours.

Tiny miracle of the morning: No flats, No falls.
Big lesson: Must research road surfaces!

I did my best to stay loose in my body but by the end of it my teeth ached from the chattering and my wrists and elbows were on fire. It was easily the most intense core workout I’ve ever had. And for those wondering why I didn’t just jump off the trail and onto a road . . . there simply were none in sight.

When I finally found my way back to pavement I cheered but my excitement was short lived. Six hundred feet later the route tried to put me on Interstate 25. I really wish I were kidding. At that point I sat on a barrier, ate a NuGo bar and found a new route with Googlemaps via Highway 105.

In order to get to Highway 105 all I needed to do was take Route 74 west towards the mountains and hang a right. That’s ALL I needed to do!! Well who here thinks Route 74 has even one lick of pavement on it? Anyone? WRONG! Route 74 to Highway 105 is 4.5 miles of loose pack gravel and sand. Hours behind on my expected time, I was hitting a wall and storm clouds were gathering in the north.

When I made it to Highway 105 I stopped to eat my potato chips and gawked at the beauty of this fully paved normal looking road that went on like that—all paved and shit—for a long time. Finally the route became what I had expected all along—farmland backed by the Rocky Mountains. For twenty miles I cruised with glee. I was so grateful to actually be riding my bicycle that I didn’t mind the drizzle and barely noticed the ominous clouds getting ominous-er and ominous-er . . .

Things changed quickly after an SUV with the road to himself sped up and came within about a foot of me. Luckily he was only trying to scare me but his message was loud and clear. Road rage from drivers who believe we have no business being on their roads is something cyclists have to deal with all too often. Unfortunately that stretch of 105 has no shoulder. There’s the white line and then there’s grass.

The rain became a downpour. I had all my lights and glow strips on but it was getting darker and darker by the minute. Traffic picked up and soon it was every other car that was not willing to give me an inch or hang back for ten seconds before passing. So that’s when I pulled off onto the grass, got off my bike and huddled under a tree.

Having been hit once before, I know from experience that it’s not worth taking the chance. And I could read the energy on the road—I was not in an area that took kindly to cyclists.

I took out my phone to check the time. It was already 2:30 PM in the afternoon and I still had fifty miles to go. I was riding directly into the storm, which by the way had been forecasted as a 30% chance of light rain. It was then that I noticed I had accidentally left the video recording on my phone and the battery was down to 3%.

Well, fuck.

The Inaugural “My Kinda Tri” 112 Miler!

I’m registered for this Saturday’s Boulder Half Iron Man. It’s the same event I did in Syracuse last year – 1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run for a total of 70.3 miles – with one BIG difference: this time around I REALLY don’t want to do it.

Last year I was nervous and excited. I truly did not know if I could finish in time. It was a feat I was excited to conquer.

Like a lot of things in life that are incredibly painful, you’ve got so much adrenaline pumping through your veins at the end that you instantly forget how difficult it was and focus instead on how amazing you feel about the accomplishment. The marketers at these races know this effect all too well so they immediately offer you a significant discount if you sign up right away for the following year’s event. It’s genius and it works like a freaking charm.

Now here we are, two days out and I can think of few things I want to do less. I’ve made zero attempts to find a wet suit. I haven’t been in a pool in months. In fact I heard myself talking to someone about the event a few weeks ago. I was droning on about how much I hate to run on pavement and how swimming always feels like drowning. I could hear the suffering in my own voice and my pathetic attempts to justify it.

This all got me thinking . . .

Why the hell am I justifying something I’m dreading? The point of physically challenging myself is to push my boundaries and see what I can accomplish in ways that create meaningful experiences and bring me joy that I can then do my best to translate to you. It has absolutely nothing to do with suffering.

So with that I will just say: I am not Iron Man. I am, however, the kind of lunatic that thinks a difficult hike followed by a trail run and a 107-mile bike ride in the mountains climbing through outrageous elevation sounds like an absolute picnic. Even when it’s painful, if I’m in the woods or on my bike I’m at peace and I see a direct beneficial correlation to my every day life.

In response to this revelation I’ve decided to scrap the Half Iron Man 70.3 and instead invent my own triathlon, which I know I’ll love every second of. I’m calling it My Kinda Tri.

My triathlon will start at the base of the Manitou Incline. Here’s a little reminder of what that bad boy looks like:

First I will hike just under one mile to the top at a 41% grade – zoinks! Next I will run 4 miles down the Barr Trail that zig zags through the woods back to the base. And finally I will get on my trusty royal blue Trek covered in white hibiscus flowers with fluorescent pink handlebars and ride just over 107 miles home with somewhere around 4,000′ more feet of elevation gain.

The inaugural My Kinda Tri 112 Miler is going down tomorrow. Wish me luck! I’ll post some videos from the road as I go.

Lariat Loop & Mt. Evans Recon

I’m planning a few rides a bit south of Boulder. The first will be on the Lariat Loop – a forty mile scenic byway that starts in Golden, CO. The second will be a 28 mile / 7,000′ hill climb up Mt. Evans to over 14,000′ elevation. Holy cannoli!

Here’s a sneak peak from Lookout Mountain on the Lariat Loop:

And here’s some recon footage from Mt. Evans:

The storm swooped in and I had to get out of there 🙂

I was actually only a mile or so from Echo Lake when I turned around and the elevation was over 10,000′!

Left Hand Canyon

Thursday I cycled from my house, up Left Hand Canyon to Ward, CO. It’s a 4,000′ climb over twenty-five miles. At the top of the hill there’s a tiny store called Utica Street Market. Thankfully I remembered to bring a few bucks because they only take cash. I scored a delicious homemade cinnamon bun which I quickly devoured like George Clooney eating breakfast in the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

It was a beautiful day and a seamless ride. There are so many rides like this around here it’s making me consider doing a whole series of “Views from the Bike.” What do you think?

Sending love & light from the ultimate prize = a completely awesome twenty mile coast back down to civilization!