Himlan is a peak performer at law, road racing

Jill Himlan is making a name for herself on the local running scene. (Photo by Randy Weiss)


There’s something about growing up on the ocean that will never leave her …

Many wonderful memories of a charmed beach life along the Santa Cruz coast with her loving family.

And for Jill Himlan, now age 27, there were even early dreams of becoming an Olympic runner and being a math teacher – a blending, if you will, of some natural abilities and what she really loves.

Her life course was set.

Or so she thought.

“Jill is a delightful daughter who has always set lofty goals and is driven to achieve,” says mom Patti, an office manager for a guitar business. “And she continues to do this in her adult life.”

She was a high achiever in high school. Ran track. Played volleyball and hoops . Graduated with honors.

And not just any honors.

Himlan was valedictorian of her 2002 Santa Cruz High senior class of nearly 300.

College came next, as a math major at the University of the Pacific in land-locked Stockton, where she also ran cross country.

“College was a lot of work … and a lot of fun,” she states.

Only weeks before graduation and her Olympic running dream behind her, her dreams of being a math teacher were fading, too.

While running with teammate Jessica Daley, she had an epiphany of sorts as they were sharing life, as best friends often do.

“How about law school?” Daley offered.

“I thought it was a great idea!” says Himlan.

But she had to move quick as the LSAT testing was only about three weeks away.

She picked up a prep book, studied hard and passed.

She was quickly accepted at UOP’s McGeorge Law School in sea-less Sacramento.

“I always liked school but I really loved law school,” she says with a smile so big that it’s definitely credible testimony.

After graduation in 2009, she passed The Bar Exam and landed at a big law firm in inland Fresno, where she specialized in construction defects and credits’ rights.

And after a short while, the enthusiasm began to wane.

She needed something different.

A new challenge.

Maybe a change of scenery?

A big law firm wasn’t quite what she expected, so she kept her eyes open.

She surfed over to Craigslist one day and found it buried deep in the classified section.

Himlan, center, is a lawyer at the local firm Griffith & Thornburgh, LLP.

Under ‘Legal.’

And it sounded too good to be true: a legal position at Griffith & Thornburgh, LLP – a cozy law firm comprised of 16 professionals that could open up a new world of opportunities … and it was right in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world:


And, um, not to mention, by the beach?


That was February. As in 2011.

She checked it out, quickly applied, interviewed twice … and bada bing, bada boom — she got the job.

Life began moving very fast in a great and exciting way — like the way it is when she runs.

Next up was packing her stuff and finally moving down the coast.

And where does she, ultimately, land in March?

In a happy place called SUMMERLAND.

It was meant to be.

Jill Himlan relaxes with her “kids,” dogs Piper and Sophie.

She’s been here for six months and has been very busy settling into her new life with her “kids” — dogs, Piper and Sophie.

No surprise that they love the beach too.

It’s this quality of life that she was hoping for in this fantastic “Jill Journey.”

And you could say, she has already made a splash on the local running scene — weekly Nite Moves summer 5K race victories and top finishes in her division; first half-marathon in Topanga three months ago; winning her division in the Summerland-Montecito half-marathon two months ago.

Her absolute “faves” are the 10k races, though at last month’s McConnell’s Ice Cream Endurance Events, she entered the 5K and was the first female to cross the finish line at 19:10.

“But, the longer distances add a different, more challenging mental component. You need to be fast but you also need to be mentally tough,” she claims.

She may now be leaning towards half-marathons.

Early Sunday morning, she’ll step it up — literally and figuratively — to hopefully find herself amongst the elite front-runners in the Pier to Peak (P2P) half-marathon grind up to La Cumbre Peak.

“There’s 400 people signed up to run this extremely tough endurance race — as compared to a traditional half-marathon,” says Jake Clinton, P2P Race Director.

“I can’t wait!” Himlan says.

She is, however, trying to overcome a recent and painful bout with shin splints.

It will be a “game-day” decision.

That means she has had take it easy, as of late … which is pretty tough, as busy as she usually is running around is in her new life: a young attorney launching her career with specialty in family, bankruptcy and business law, working out at Spectrum, playing the sax, hanging out with her kids, doing some trial, er, trail running. And, yet, she still has time to give back to others — you can sometimes find her at Dos Pueblos High assisting with the cross country team.

“Jill is great,” says Leslie Wiggins-Roth, DP cross country and track coach. “She is a natural fit on our team and is so adored by the girls. She has an incredible amount of running experience that she willingly shares. It’s great when she is able to join us!”

Though leaving work at 3:30 in the afternoon is challenging most times, she has the full support of legal associates.

“Jill brings the same persistence and dedication to her legal practice as she does with her running,” states Joseph Sholder, a legal partner at her firm.

“It’s really great that a young lawyer like Jill brings a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to our firm,” adds senior partner John Rydell, III.

Himlan is looking forward to an upcoming trip to her native Santa Cruz to see “the fam.”

Older brother Brian works with their dad, Eric, building custom cabinets and recently found his ocean-calling in life, as well — shaping surfboards.

“He’s awesome at it,” proud sister Jill says.

Though not a surfer, she just loves the beach and gets there every chance she gets … plus, there’s exploring her new community and making new friends.

“We are very proud of her and still are looking forward to all the many things that she has yet to accomplish as she is just getting started,” says her proud papa. “Jill has always been a pleasure … we’ve never had to ‘push’ her … and I love her and miss her very much. Be sure to put that in there.”

And it’s safe to also say that…

In sport.

In life.

Every day and (hopefully) this Sunday …  Jill Himlan is a (Pier to) Peak Performer.


  1. JILL I AM SOOOOO PROUD OF YOU. This made me cry, you are such a sucess and they forgot to mention the best “skipper”(sister) anyone could ask for. A best friend, a loyal friend and overall a great sister(even though we aren’t blood). I swear we were split up at birth. Anyways, you motivate so many people to do what you have done. I will always look up to you and miss you sooooo much. Keep up the great work and keep winning those races. I love you!
    Zabia…. AKA: Barbie