Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thrilling Run

The weather here has been dark, windy, and very rainy. YES I live in a rainforest. This recent (and never ending) weather trend has been trying. You either have to hit the treadmill, cross train inside, give in to the comfy couch, or just say f--- it and run off into the doom.

This is my first winter in Alaska. This has been the first year that I've worked a consistent 40 hour work week since around 2008. I love working with young people but it can be exhausting. Ya know, because I am SO OLD!!! That's what they think. ha! This is the first time I've done consistent strength training and ran most of my miles on trails. I'm sure all these factors have slowly been wearing down my body and/or mind.

Don't fret I have a sunny vacation planned in a few months. Woot! Plus I (along with a couple of my siblings) surprised my parents with plane tickets to visit me in June. Woot Woot! Between these two trips and all my friends that will be visiting this summer I have so much to look forward to. I just need to get through the next couple of months.

I'm pretty much over this weather but it has seasoned me. When I lived on Cape Cod I was constantly checking the weather and trying to figure out when to run. Now I have no choice. It's either run at _____ or don't run at all. And really, I just assume it will be dark, cold, rainy, and windy.

The other night a few #runsitka folks decided we'd run on some trails after work. Why I thought this was a good idea.....I do not know. It was right after we'd received over 4.5 inches of rain in 24 hours and it was still raining hard.

By the time we were ready to run it was down to just Geof and me. I was not going to wimp out. So off we went into the woods. (Into the woods to fetch the Cooooooow....sorry I'm a musical geek. I digress.) 

The Run:

Geez, this is scary. I'm sure I will adjust soon and this will be fun.
There is a moving light up ahead. Wonder if it is someone that wants to hurt us?! Oh my gosh, a second light just appeared. They are trying to be tricksy. Get ready to fight.
      "Good evening"
Okay, it's just two nice hunters packing out. Whew.
I can't see. I can't see. This headlamp is useless. Really it's just reflecting off the raindrops and not helping me at all.
       "Geof tell me a story....a happy story. It doesn't matter what it's about."
Focus on his words. This is not that bad.
AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! A bear is in hot pursuit of us. I know they should be hibernating but maybe all the rain has them on the move and our bright colors and lights are enticing them to chase us. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
This was not a good idea.
I will not let the woods win. I am brave.
I am fairly certain I am running 6 minute miles. (I wasn't)
         "Is this our out?"
Freedom!!!!!! I am so happy.
 The point of this post? Sometimes life is crazy but freedom and happiness await.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

CJ's Resolution Challenge

 A short video I made of my virtual race

Thank you Janell for creating this awesome race and allowing me to run it from afar. 
I am always excited to run for CJ and to help fight autism. 

To find out more about the on-site race that is held in Pennsylvania in January 
or the virtual option go to:

We would love to have you join in the fun next year.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CJ's Resolution Challenge

 You have until 11:59 p.m. EST tonight (DEC 31) to register in the virtual division of CJ's Resolution Challenge. The cost is $25 & includes a long sleeve tech tee and a beautiful handcrafted wooden medal.

Sometime between January 1-15 you run *walk or crawl* as many (or as few) miles as you can within 3 hours. This does NOT mean you are obligated to run the entire 3 hours. It just means that it is your max allotted time. Roads, trails, treadmill, whatever you want. All proceeds are donated to various organizations related to autism awareness, autism research, and families affected by autism. 

My best friend Janell is the amazing founder and race director.
Start the New Year off right and help some people along the way. Tell her "carpediemcrystal" sent you. Those that are sign up and mention my name are entered into a drawing for a surprise gift.

"These medals were made at Elkwood Arts, a licensed vocational facility that provides sheltered employment and training to disabled adults. They produce quality handcrafted products, such as these medals, almost entirely from certified PA hardwoods. We are so proud that in our efforts to support those affected by the challenges of autism that we can support them too!"

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Glimpse at My 2014

    I had a few goals/resolutions for 2014. I punched some in the face, some punched me in the face....some just downright didn't happen. I am happy they motivated me though.
  • Run a sub-4 hour marathon. DONE! In May I ran the River Towns Marathon in 3:55:28. 
  • Run a sub 1:45 half marathon. I didn't have that many opportunities to race this distance. I don't believe I would have done it though. I may have gotten close. In February I ran a half in 1:47:07. Maybe someday I'll get there.
  • Log more trail running miles. DONE! Moving to Alaska has it's perks. Lately I've been logging a lot of miles on the trails.
  • Bike 750 miles DONE! I am at 754 cycling miles for the year. Woot!
  • Weight train at least 52 times this year. DONE! I have more than accomplished this, especially since I've been training with a group here. I am SO much stronger now than I was in January. 
  • Run 1,200 miles DONE!  I'm at 1568 as of today. 
  • Run a marathon with my best friend Janell.  DONE! We ran River Towns Marathon. You can click on the link above to find out how that went.... I want a do-over!
  • Race in a new state. DONE! I raced in New Hampshire and Alaska.
  • Run with my sister Alisha. Did this happen when I was in town?!?! I can't remember. I did get to run with my mom for the first time though.
  • Swim. Nope. Besides swimming around a hot tub. HA! 
My best friend Janell held her Inaugural running of CJ's Resolution Challenge. It was cold. SO COLD!!! It was a HUGE, RAGING success though. I can't wait to run it virtually this weekend. 
*You can still register for the virtual race until 11:59 EST on December 31st*

    I ran a race in New Hampshire with all these awesome people!! I miss New England for many reasons and these faces are definitely each a reason. The day before the race we were worried about a ginormous puddle (errr, pond) on the course. Thankfully it wasn't there on race day. There was a lot of snow and ice though and PR's for a few of us too.

I was deep into marathon training and I remember this 11 miler being absolutely awesome,
 and beautiful too. I miss that scenery so much. 

Joe and I volunteered at the Boston Marathon for the 3rd year in a row. It was good closure for both of us to experience this before moving west. 

I ran a marathon and afterwards I cried for many reasons. 
Mostly though I cried because it was a "See ya later" to Jamie and Mike. 
 Photo by Cape Cod Runner
I said SYL to my Cape Cod Run Club.
Later that month I traveled back through Pennsylvania and said "See Ya Later" to Janell (and Aaron).
My life is better because of them. I am better because of them. 
I cannot wait until some of them visit this summer (at different times)!!

 We visited our family and friends in Kansas City. It was such a wonderful time and it went by way too quickly. I'm really hoping some of them will come visit us so we can spend more time together. 
We arrived in Alaska....very tired.
Photo by Don Kluting
 I ran in my 1st ever mountain trail race- The Alpine Adventure Run
7 miles of tough terrain with intense fog. I had lost some fitness during the move but I was super proud of my performance.  THE RACE WAS INCREDIBLE!! 
Photo by Harriet McClain
  I ran the Sitka Cross Trail Half Marathon. Fantastic course. Perfect weather. I was a bit under-trained but it was a top notch race and I can't wait to run it again in 2015 (with Jamie and Mike)! 
 I got a job. I started strength and endurance classes. I stopped seeing much daylight. 
My friend Lauren and I were lucky enough to catch this view one evening. 

 I hiked to the top of Mt. Verstovia for the first time with Joe and some friends. 
It was such a fun day and we were rewarded with breathtaking views. 
 I PR'd at the Whalefest 10k with a time of 48:22. I also decided to start a running group called #runsitka Here's a photo from a trail run of ours. 


We hiked up Gavan Hill a couple of days after Christmas.
Just livin' the Alaskan dream. 

I hope you enjoyed an extremely brief recap of my year. 
Here's another favorite photo of us from 2014
 Photo by Lauren Allen of Gypsy Mountain Photography

Monday, December 22, 2014

Running In The Dark

    It seems like everything in my life somehow relates back to running. To catch you up on a few things lets rewind a couple of weeks.

    I had made plans to meet up with a few people for a night run. I didn't end up having my headlamp with me and neither did they. It was cold out and there were surely icy spots but we took off into the darkness.

   The run was a bit challenging because of the total darkness. I had to carefully run and hope for the best. During certain portions, especially on the trails, I was terribly worried about twisting my ankle.....or worse. Soon we were out of the trees, at the end of the road, and staring out at the ocean and moonlit mountains. We all stood in awe at the beautiful sight. I felt peace wash over me. On the way back I wasn't scared or worried. I thought about how lucky I am to be able to have these experiences.

    If you've followed my blog and/or social media you know that I've had an adorable basset hound for 10+ years. She is the sweetest thing ever. She definitely has made moving around much easier on me. I always have had her to snuggle with and explore my new town with. She's been my friend when I'm new to the area and have no friends. She's comforted me when I've been lonely. She's just been the best friend a girl could ask for.
I mean cute is she?
    I recently found out she has cancer and I am heartbroken. So far she has behaved completely normal and I'm happy that she's unaware of her diagnosis. I know that my time with her is short though and it's been a struggle for me. I know not everyone understands the connection that humans can have with animals. It's real though and I assure you that my heart ache is also real.

    So I find myself scared and worried. I feel like I'm back running through the darkness again. I hope that they'll someday come a point when I pop out of the woods and find that same level of peace I had that night though.

     Until then I will cherish everyday. I will be grateful for all of my loved ones. I will remember that time is precious and we must make the most of it.

It's easy to get caught up in life....remember to stop and smell the roses.

Monday, November 24, 2014

My 30th Year

My birthday is tomorrow. I will turn 31 years old. Where does the time go? 
Here are just a few of my favorite random things about my 30th year, in no particular order:

Anything involving my running group in Massachusetts
I sure do miss all the amazing people I met and ran with weekly (not all are pictured). They kept me motivated and inspired every day. I'm thankful to have so many of them still encouraging me across the miles. 

 The time Dave convinced me to ride the Cape Cod Marathon course with him
....and I flipped over my handlebars onto the soft sand. That could have ended badly but I fortunately was right by the beach when I decided to have an accident.

I love how this randomly appeared in my yard last December.

That day I let my young nieces 'fix' my hair. 
 It was terrifying. ha!
I love that so many of my family members started running! 
They've even started racing...and placing in their divisions. Say whaaaat?
I got to visit my dear best friend Janell in Pennsylvania a few times. 
I absolutely treasure every moment I spend with her. 
I'm counting down the days until her visit here this summer.
I was able to help her put on the Inaugural CJ's Resolution Challenge 
+ be a member of TEAM CJ!
 If you're looking for a fun, crazy race in January then check it out. Team CJ will also be making another appearance in fall 2015. More info to follow.
My husband won some pretty awesome awards. 
I know I don't talk about him or his job often.....but he's pretty rad. 
He is a true hero and that's not just because he puts up with me.
 I finally was able to visit Mt. Rushmore. 
As I kid I missed seeing it by about an hour.
It was just as awesome as I hoped it would be.
p.s. I love the random kid that photo-bombed us.
 I volunteered at the Boston Marathon for my 3rd consecutive year. 
After 2013 I needed to get back to this race. It was incredible. I am so sad that I can't volunteer in 2015. It's always a highlight of my entire year.
I worked with some of THE COOLEST people ever. 
Leaving that job and those people was rough. Can't they just move here?
I traveled to several races and hung out with awesome people.
I PR'd at this particular half marathon which made it even more fun. I am so lucky to know these people!! We are all a special kind of crazy.
I finally was able to visit the amazing Jamie and Mike's home.
Our friendship has always been a bit unusual because we've never lived in the same state as one another. I was so happy to be a guest in our best friends home for the first time. Plus running in 2 races during a snow storm was fun.
I helped run a friend or two into a new PR.
I really did nothing...except run with them and believe in them.
I was able to run the KC Hospital Hill Half and was cheered on by family...again.
I love running this hometown race.
I love that my family showed up to support me in the rain storm.
I moved to Sitka, Alaska. 
I was able to run in each state I passed through along the way too.
It was difficult to leave Cape Cod but I'm enjoying our adventure here so far.  There is nothing quite like this beautiful place. I can't wait to continue exploring.
I ate a lot of sushi.
That is all.

I started a running group in Sitka.
I am excited to be meeting new people here that love running too.

My 30th year was good to me. I can't wait to see what my 31st will bring.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chasing Waterfalls

    I love the running community. I really can't say that statement enough. A few weeks ago I decided to begin forming a running group here in Sitka. As long as I connected with at least one other runner, I would be happy.

    Since then I've met some incredible people....and they just so happen to love running.

    A few days ago Devin messaged me and it turns out she grew up in Massachusetts. I felt oddly connected to this stranger because we've ran some of the same areas and endured some of the same weather. We decided to meet up this weekend for a run.

   It was dark and horribly rainy during our original meet up time so we decided to delay. After a few hours the skies had slightly lightened up. As I stood in the rain waiting for her to show up I hoped she was awesome. We had planned on running 10-12 miles. That can be a long time to spend with someone if it's awkward.

    Soon enough I saw a chick in black tights and purple top running my way. I knew from the moment she approached me that she was my 'kind of people'. She smiled big and we immediately started chatting. She stowed some stuff in my car and then informed me she'd invited some other friends. I was thrilled. A few minutes later Will and Ira came running up, dressed in shorts. (I mention this because of how cold and rainy it was.)  We discussed the plan and quickly decided we should hit the trails since there was a nice group of us. We were headed into the rainforest within a few minutes.

    The trail was pretty empty. I don't know if that's because of the storm or just because it's late November in Alaska. As we traversed through the forest together it felt familiar to me. It felt like I knew them and that we've ran together often. At first we were avoiding the large, muddy puddles. Eventually we all threw caution to the wind and splashed right through the muck. I felt alive.

   My hamstrings started shutting down at one point due to a leg workout the day before. Devin was so kind and motivational. I had to walk a bit because we were going uphill for so long and the terrain was a little sketchy. The guys would run on ahead and then wait for us. We developed a nice rhythm. Eventually we made it to our destination, a beautiful waterfall.
  We decided to wade through the water and get a close up waterfall experience. It was around 38 degrees and rainy. I was not about to jump underneath the cold mountain waterfall....but the other three did.We then turned around to run the 5.5ish miles back....drenched. Hey, at least our shoes got washed off halfway through the run.
    As we tiptoed across rocks and slipped through the mud we spoke about how running expedites friendships. We spoke about how these sorts of adventures are worth way more than material things. We cheered each other on and even stood in silence appreciating the views at times.
    My birthday is on Tuesday. I'm in no way freaking out about getting older yet. I do often think about how lucky I am to be capable of such feats though. I could not have done this same run 10 years ago. 

    On our final stretch 'home' we started talking about food; as most runners do as the end draws near. The rain continued to pour down and my feet narrowly kept avoiding being tripped by roots. I was thankful. Isn't life grand? 

    As we ran back into town Will peeled off in one direction and Ira in another. Devin and I happily continued to charge through the rain together. We discussed how we were at a satisfied state of exhaustion. Soon it was time to say goodbye to her too. 

    That run, wait....that experience, was exactly why I love the running community. They started out as strangers but now I feel like they're friends. I hope we get to meet up again soon.