Station Identification

Hi, my name is Sean Gillies, and this is my blog. Blog is short for "web log". Individual posts to a web log are called "posts", not "blogs". I write about running, cooking and eating, travel, family, programming, Python, API design, geographic data formats and protocols, open source, and internet standards. Mostly running and local geography. I live mostly in Fort Collins, Colorado, and sometimes in Montpellier, France. I work at a startup named Mapbox, building location data services and products. I appreciate emailed comments on my posts. You can find my address in the "about" page linked at the top of this page. Happy New Year!

Running in 2020

I ran 223 times in 2020, one fewer than in 2019, but I went longer, further, and higher.

  • 346 hours, 29 minutes (9% more than 2019)

  • 1737 miles (+2%)

  • 224,822 ft (+24%)

I'm happy about my achievements. Here's a short list of my favorites.

The South Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Open Space became one of my favorite trails in 2020. The views toward Masonville, Longs Peak, and the Front Range are amazing. I've been collecting photos from one switchback. I live in a dry land and it's especially dry in winter between the fall and spring snowstorms.

January 4

June 6

December 27

What are my favorite things about running? I like the beginnings of long runs when my stiff legs start to soften. The smell of pines. The crunch-crunch-crunch sound of my feet on sandy trails. Bird songs. Animal tracks in new snow. Friendly hikers and runners. Solitude. The flattening grade at the top of a climb. Thinking about computing problems on short runs with no computer around. Leftover tea in my thermos and an apple and listening to NPR on the drive home from Lory. Most of all, I appreciate how running recharged me whenever I got low in 2020. I hope I'll be able to rely on running again in 2021.

My 2021 running program

I've been struggling to settle on running goals for 2021. I like goals and I've wanted to have goals, but I haven't been sure about about my choices. I've been toying with the idea of signing up for a 100 mile event, a long-term goal of mine, but woke up this morning with a feeling of clarity and committment. The right goal, or goals, for me in 2021 is to run the local trail races, all of the local trail races, the Gnar Slam. This means a 50 mile race in May, 100 km at the end of July, 13.1 miles in September, and 26.2 miles in October. I've run all of these before, but never more than 2 in one year. I'm going to enjoy reconnecting with the local community (counting on COVID-19 vaccination!) and solving some running issues that troubled me last year.

I went for a run at Horsetooth Open Space earlier today to celebrate and cement my decision.

D+ goal reached

After Northern Colorado's wildfires were finally controlled and air quality began to improve at the end of October, I set a goal to reach 200,000 ft of elevation gain on Strava before the end of 2020. Today I reached that goal on a short and steep run in Lory State Park. Because Strava doesn't count elevation gain for manually entered activities, that number doesn't include the 13,500 feet of climbing at Never Summer 100k. So I'm really at 65,000 meters D+ for the year. A lot of this was earned on Lory trails.

We're in a drought here. There's a little bit of snow on the top of Lory, but look at how brown and dry the Northern Front Range plains are.

So brown

Long shadows at 12:30 p.m.

It's interesting running on uneven trails with such a low sun angle. On the first leg, I was headed directly into the sun, squinting and treading cautiously. On the second leg, running up the Howard Switchbacks, there was better light but so many long shadows from every branch and rock. On the third leg, headed down the Timber Trail, very dim light in deep shade. The good news is that in 13 days we start getting more sunlight every day.