Monday, February 9, 2015

PCT Planning - Permits, Tentative Schedule, and Reconnecting w/Rosies

My life is packed full with photography projects, planning of the PCT, and regaining fitness right now.  99% of the time I am able to keep my head screwed on straight, but I feel the burnout coming.  Knowing that feeling is something that makes me that much more excited for my PCT summer!

Lets start out with the fact that I bumped my start date forward to April 11th.  I've adjusted my plan accordingly and have left in a very generous number of layover and zero days.  I don't think I need all of these days but I am using this as a reminder to take my time to enjoy this journey.

Just a lil peak at how this party is starting.
Created via Craig's PCT Planner
With the predicted record number of hikers as well as the predicted low-snow year, I decided to start my hike on the early side for someone with my pace.  What this means is that I will get out just in front of ~60% of other hikers - hopefully that means that resources won't be depleted when I get to them.  It also means that I'll hit the High Sierras earlier than is recommended for the average year, which could go one of two ways.  The snow could be low and I'll carry on.  Orrrr, the snow could be high... which will pose another decision.  I either chill at Kennedy Meadows, or, I trust my 4-month long mountaineering class skillz, and head out anyway.  I think the smart decision will be apparent when I'm there.  I would like to travel through the High Sierras with (new) friends, but, again, we'll see how things fall out.

One thing I didn't mention that I'm excited about is the fact that I'm going to reconnect with two old Rose friends at the start of this adventure.  Amelia and I are Gamma Lambda Chi O's and she has generously offered to not only house me the night before my trip but to give me a ride to the trailhead.  This is no small thing - Amelia is saving me both stress and time.  She's really helping to start this trip out on the right note.  And for the bonus points, another Rosie, Steve, will be traveling with me for the first leg of my journey.  Again, I couldn't be happier to have support as this journey kicks off.

Outside of that, I've applied for my PCT Thru Hike Permit and secured my CA Fire Permit.

Yay for my PCT permit application!
I'll feel a little more warn-n-fuzzy as soon as the real deal is issued ;)
As soon as I get my enhanced driver's license, I'll apply for my Canada entrance permit as well.  That should be the bulk of the technical deets.  Next up will be the condensed version of how I'm packing all of my food!
Hint:  My boxes will be wrapped with Minion duct tape!

Till next time.
~This Little Engineer

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Thru Hike Syndicate Ambassador

It's official!  I've been selected as a Thru Hike Syndicate Ambassador for 2015!  As an ambassador, I'll be sharing all of my PCT adventures with a broad community of outdoor enthusiasts and I will have the chance to put some amazing products through the wringer while I'm at it!

My mantra for the bigger life changes I have been striving for in the past few years has been "Why Wait?" It comes from a moment in 2013 when a friend so easily voiced her desire to section hike the PCT.  Hearing my long-term goal of thru-hiking echoed in her words, I realized that putting off my life goal was arbitrary.  After that, the technical pieces of time, support, and money fell into place, allowing my thru-hike hopes to be realized!

2015 is going to be another great year to remember!  As much as I look forward to living in every single moment I'm out on the trail, I also look forward to working with Vasque FootwearDarn Tough Vermont SocksOsprey PacksLeki USA, and Nemo Equipment!  And, to everyone reading this, I ask you, what goals have you been putting off?  And, really... why wait?

Thru Hike Syndicate on Facebook
Thru Hike Syndicate Tumbler

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Looking Back on 2014

Rather than focusing on the 2014 goals I did or didn't hit, this post is going to be dedicated to celebrating the little things that I am thankful for in the past year.

Career / School
I started art school in the fall of 2013.  Since then, I've managed to give every class 100% of my effort and maintain my Art School 4-point-0.  I'm 5/7 quarters in to finishing my degree and will start my first of two portfolio sessions on Monday.  I've made friends, I am positive when I'm at school, and I have contacts in the faculty that I trust will speak to my work ethic and talent.  Most importantly, I am passionate about entering the field of photography!

Fitness / Triathlon
This past year had a rough learning curve for maintaining a base-level of fitness while being a full-time student again.  I started out on a training plan, but, with my primary focus being to get everything I could out of the gift of an art education, I kept missing workouts.  Every time I couldn't give my fitness plan 100%, I felt terrible - like I was letting my coach and my own body down.  It took me a few months to come to grips with the fact that I needed to adjust my expectations.  2014 became a year I needed to get back to the basics of just enjoying the fitness I could maintain while prioritizing school above all else.  On the personal side, I wore my Betty Ambassador kit with pride in a few running races, a sprint triathlon, a duathlon, and an all-women's bike camp.  I also pulled on my ambassador jacket every time I went out to support friends & family as they took on their own goals!

Adventure / Backpacking
As much as my return to college wasn't conducive to a consistent workout plan, it WAS conducive to having time off every 3-months between quarters - I spent those times off extremely wisely ;) Outside of a hiking on the weekends when I could, I spent my birthday thru-hike/biking The Enchantments, and the summer break was spent out on the West Coast Trail.  I also made a quick trip up Mt. St. Helens in the most beautiful weather I've had on that mountain.  All in all, a great year for fitting in trips where I could and it proved to be an asset for testing out gear I plan on using on the PCT this summer!

Little Things
One of the bigger pushes I made this year was to move to all organic and some homemade beauty products.  Outside of toothpaste (strangely, one of the hardest non-organic product for me to give up), I'm 100% organic.  I'm am making my own face wash, face lotion, and deodorant, too.

One fear I had in leaving Ironman/Engineering was that I'd lose touch with my those communities.  That is one of the big reasons that I have continually been making extra effort to keep in contact with friends that I don't see on a regular basis - I am very happy to have maintained, if not strengthened, so many of my invaluable friendships.

Outside of that, I have been enjoying all o the extra time I've had with my beautiful pups this year.  On afternoon class days, I wake up with them by my side and on so many photo days, I just drag them along.  Aaaand, I've been riding my re-built Nishiki on errands around my neighborhood.  She's a heavy old bike...but she reminds me to feel the wind on my face at a slower pace from time to time.

All in all, 2014 has been a really great year.  I'm thankful for all of the good stuffs it brought and I look forward to rolling into 2015 with all this momentum for reinventing myself!

Till Next Time,
This Little Engineer

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Strive to Appreciate - Teresa Nelson's Story

In wrapping up this most recent quarter of Art School, one project rose to the top as my favorite.  It turns out that I love creating lil videos showcasing some of the amazing people in my life.  I'd like to send out one more big thanks to Teresa Nelson for sharing this story with an open-heart.  She worked on this project with my classmate and me with the same diligence that she spent guiding me through my first few years of Ironman training.

Till next time,
This Little Engineer

Thursday, December 4, 2014

America the Beautiful

Alright, all.  I made my Tri-Themed Gift Lists and had intentions of making a backpacking-themed list to follow...

...but all that feels right is telling everyone that I believe in the National Parks System.  If you're in the USA, one of the absolute best gifts you can give those you love (and yourself) is the chance to get out and see our parks.  As much as I love traveling abroad, there are so many magnificent places in this country I have yet to see.  Sooooo, get an America the Beautiful Parks Pass and make 2015 the year you visit the floor of the Grand Canyon, the year you canyoneer in Zion, the year you see your first hoodoo in Bryce, the year you stood in awe of the big walls of Yosemite, and the year you found the wonder of the Rain Forests in WA...  Really, just get out there and fall back in love with the land that is our country.

Till next time,
This Little Engineer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Michaela's Ironman Story

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a triathlon teammate & friend, Michaela, on a video project the week before her first Ironman.  The following is a short video that captures that grey area between the months and months of training and actually experiencing your first Ironman.

This Little Engineer

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Gift List | RUN

Alright guys, as always, less is often more, but I'm trying to throw out a handful of gift items for those of you still searching for the perfect items for your athlete.  The following is a list of my running favs that I use over and over, year after year.

The other two legs of this tri-themed gift list can be found here:
Holiday Gift List | SWIM
Holiday Gift List | BIKE

Holiday Gift List | RUN

Lululemon Lined Dance Studio Pant
A few posts ago, I mentioned my favorite lined Lululemon pants.  Since those aren't currently in production, I highly recommend their close second, the Lululemon Lined Dance Studio Pant.  These are a AFTER run pant.  I wear the glorious full luxtreme Speed Tight to actually run in during the fall/winter.  They are perfect but what feels amazing as soon as you're done with your run is pulling on warm & cozy, super-soft casual pants after a workout.

Gore Women's Alp-X 2.0
This jacket is actually meant for cycling and is featured in my previous post as well.  Though it's meant for cycling, I still run in this jacket as it is extremely comfortable and really traps in your body heat for those COLD runs.  What is better is that you're not purchasing a separate jacket for both bike and run.

Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve
My go-to top during the winter as a base layer is a Lululemon Long Sleeve Swiftly.  These tops breathe extremely well and fit smoothly next to the skin.  It makes them perfect on their own or easily layered with other items.

Smartwool Cozy Mittens
Gloves or mittens to keep your digits warm while you run area  must.  Though I favor Smartwool brand items, cheaper glove liners work as well.  I prefer mittens to keep my fingers just a little bit warmer.  I like having 2-3 pairs around - I guess I'm a bit of a snotty runner as my gloves need to be washed weekly.

Skida Alpine Headband
If you haven't noticed the trend, I'm really in love with the Skida brand (remember to check out their +1 program if you order one of their products)!  I have one of these headbands and am hoping to add a second one as this is also on my wish list this holiday season.  When the cold months hit, I really just love pulling out my bright and fun headbands for winter activities.  Beanies tend to be a little too warm for me (and make my head sweat), whereas my ears freeze.  Headbands are perfect for my activities!

Half Buff Neck Gaiter
I always always have on a neck gaiter in cold weather.  This half buff is the perfect size to wear as a headband in warmer weather or as a neck gaiter to be pulled up over your nose/mouth while you run.  This is another item that I have a few of for winter running/skiing/hiking months, so I don't think you can go wrong in picking up one of these for the person you're shopping for.  Best yet, pick one out that matches their beautiful Skida ear warmer.

Smith Optics Facet Sunglasses
Top off your fresh accessories with a pair of fun sunglasses.  I don't usually wear my wind blocking sunglasses when running - I tend to reach for something more fun that has dark lenses.  The shades listed stay on snugly without causing any pressure points.  These smiths also have little rubber grippy type sections on the nose, so they stay in place when I'm active.

Petzl Tikka R+ Headlamp
Considering that winter means shorter days, there's a good chance you'll be running in the dark at some point this season.  For that reason, I recommend getting a headlamp that will both stay in place and recharges (yay, environment).  I've had good luck with the Petal Tikka R+ Headlamp and would recommend it to others.

Nathan Streak Vest
Continuing on the theme of staying visible, I'm rather fond of my Nathan Streak Vest.  It improves my visibility while running in darker conditions without restricting my movement.  It also doesn't hurt that it doesn't look too dorky and is easy to clip my blinking LED lights to for even more visibility.

iPod Shuffle 2
There is nothing that gets you through long miles like (great friends and) tunes.  2g has always been enough storage space for me and I tend to prefer the simplicity of the clip.  It's easy to switch through songs you don't like and I can't imagine I would ever look at the screen of the larger iPods while working out.  The best part about this little gift is that you can have a personal note inscribed on the back for free.  My iPod shuffle was actually a gift from JC back in the day and I still see the quote he created for me every time I put it on.

Yurbuds are a great gift for those of us who find ourselves running in the rain a lot. The caps on these have protected my headphones form getting wet (even though they are designed to be sweat-proof) on 3+hour long rainy runs.  The ones I have actually required you to send in a photo of your ear next to a quarter (for reference) so they could size them properly.  If these one-size version fits as well as my older, sized version, these will make a great gift.

The Original SPI Belt
My SPI belt was purchased before my first half marathon back in 2007 and it's still in perfect shape.  I use mine for nutrition and as a race belt (purchase toggles for $2 or make your own to hold on the race bib).  This will fit an entire marathon worth of powerboat gels for me though it starts to get a little bit bouncy at that point.  There are way more fancy race belts out there...but sometimes simplicity really is where it's at.    The other thing I will mention about race belts is that it's ok to have more than one - I have a second one in my backup "oh shiet" bag (which always lives in my transition bag) that has saved me more than once at a race.  The bonus is that this belt is machine washable, so quite easy to clean up after you accidentally spill a race gel all over the inside of the pouch.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT
If you feel like really splurging on you runner, I watch capable of tracking heart rate and a few other stats is very nice.  You can get a more simple watch for a pure runner, but your triathlete might be especially thankful for a Garmin 920, which has swim, bike, AND run features.  This is definitely a bit overkill... but oh, so fun!  I still rocking the 910, so I'm going to be jelly of those who add this to their arsenal this season.

Nun Energy Sampler Pack 
Finally, I've been a big fan of Nuun over the years, but I'm really in love with their newer Energy-specific electrolyte tablets.  If your runner enjoys Nuun as well, I'd highly recommend picking them up a sampler pack of the Nuun Energy tablets as a stalking stuffer.  It gives them a perfect chance to try all of the energy favors to see which ones they'd like to add to their training regime in the future.

Till next time.
This Little Engineer