Friday, October 24, 2014

Cape Cod Memories

    Two years ago I met my best friend Jamie in real life for the first time at the Cape Cod Half Marathon. They actually call it the Cape Cod Marathon Half....but whatever. I am so thankful that Twitter brought us together and that she and her husband traveled out to the Cape to race with me. My life has been forever changed by their awesomeness.

Cape Cod Half Marathon 2012
      One year ago my amazing friends Stuart and Stacey ran their first marathons on the course. I also had the opportunity to meet my Twitter friend Sarah for the first time as she tackled the "Clam Chowdah Challenge". It was another epic weekend.
Cape Cod Marathon 2013
I spectated because I had ran Mount Desert Island Marathon the weekend before.

      I am so sad that I won't be there this year but I can't wait to hear stories from those that are. Have an incredible race weekend. Take photos for me. I am definitely homesick for Cape Cod.

    Also a shoutout to my family and friends running the Monster Dash in KC. My Dad is set to run it as his first 5k alongside a large number of my loved ones. I am also terribly sad that I can't be there. I'm just homesick all around apparently. Have a great race!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

*tap tap tap* Is This Thing On?

Several times a week I think,"I really need to write a blog post." Then I #1 Never find the time to do so. #2 Can't think of anything to write about. Plus with each passing week it feels like my blog post must be even more then I get frustrated because nothing I say is that profound. (Ha!)

After all this time I have finally decided to give myself a break. I am going through a large life transition and it's okay to slack in some areas. I am sorry that it had to be on this blog. I have at least put forth an effort on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (FOLLOW ME!!) I don't know why this page seems so daunting.

I'm not going to bother with writing a ginormous recap of my life over the past  5+ weeks since my last post. IT'S BEEN BUSY!! I mean, crazy busy. I keep asking myself,"Am I in over my head?" The answer to that is more than likely a big fat yes. I am barely finding time to eat some days. This is no exaggeration. I don't know how I will be able to maintain my life to this level long term. Something has got to give...I just don't know what.

I've been keeping up with my friends races and I have to admit that I am green with envy. I was once a racing machine. Now it has been almost 12 weeks since my last race. That is crazy talk. I have tried to stay motivated and still knock out some mileage but it becomes more difficult every day. I often ask myself WHY? Why am I running all this mileage? I even cut back on mileage and I still ask myself why I am doing it. Is it because it's familiar? Is it because it's part of who I am now? Is it because I fear my friends are going to greatly surpass me in fitness? I don't know. Perhaps it's a bit of everything.

I am thankful that I still find so much joy and happiness in running and fitness in general. I am frustrated because my schedule is rapidly creating less time for it.

Our lives are fluid and things are always changing. I am trying to navigate through this hectic time without sinking the boat. It's just been difficult to do as of late.

All that being said, the reason I am so conflicted and frustrated is because I enjoy all the things in my life. I like my job. I enjoy what I'm doing with it. I enjoy the extra income that it brings to my family. I love to run. I love how it makes me feel. I love that it keeps me fit. I love my workout classes. I enjoy the company of the people there. I love how it has made me stronger. So don't feel too sorry for me...I've brought this all upon myself.

I am sure there are others who have gone through this phase of life or something similar. How did you get back to feeling like yourself again amidst the chaos? I am open to suggestions. I do not enjoy feeling so stressed out about time management.

I think it's necessary to end on a positive note. So, I will tell you that last weekend I ran 16 miles FOR FUN. The husband was at work so I had extra time. It was awesome. Then this week during a kick butt workout I noticed that my arms are really starting to tone up. This greatly excited me. I'll have to post photos soon (check out my Facebook page, for reals). I am also surprised at the workouts that I am able to do. My strength and endurance have definitely increased. I just need to start working on speed again.

Have you had any victories lately, big or small?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Changing Seasons

    It's hard to believe we're already this far into September. Time is moving quickly and I'm hanging on for dear life. This time of year is welcomed by pumpkin and apple flavored everything. By this point most people are so over the heat and humidity. They rejoice at the thought of throwing on a hoodie and snuggling up under a blanket on the couch. In most places you can actually smell autumn in the air and you "ooooo" and "ahhhh" as the leaves turn vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red.

     I adore this time of year.

     Since I'm in a completely different climate here in southeast Alaska, it pretty much felt like fall all summer long. My hoodies, jackets, and boots have already been used quite a bit. All the rain has kept the area nice and green for now. I did pass over one small, lone red leaf the other day while running. It made me smile.

      I feel like my life right now is changing seasons. There are many aspects of my life that are changing and I'm having to adapt to. First of all, I moved to this small island and there are no quick/easy/cheap ways to leave it. I am so many time zones behind a majority of my loved ones. What does this mean? At least three times a week I either accidentally call or text someone SUPER late or they call or text me SUPER early. (I just got a new app to help this situation. I hope it works.) These changes makes me feel slightly disconnected.

       Due to our remote location I already miss small, normal things. I miss being able to go into a store and try on clothes. Although there are a handful of stores here, they are expensive and generally don't carry what I've been looking for. So instead I must order online and wait an extended period of time before receiving my goodies that may or may not fit correctly. I miss Chipotle. ha! I know that I shouldn't confess this, but man I miss it. Actually I really miss just having a variety of restaurants. (sigh) Next time you are able to easily go out for Mexican or Thai...or whatever-Think of me. As I said, things have changed and I'm adjusting.

      Now as far as my relationships go, well I have some pretty incredible people in my life. I'm beyond grateful to have loved ones that genuinely go above and beyond to keep in touch with us. While I'm on the subject I just want to brag a little:

 Jamie and Mike became Ironmen after years of working towards their goal. Janell became a triathlete and has really uncovered a passion for it. MB and Sam are not only incredible athletes, they've also started raising money to bring clean water to small villages in Kenya.

       I'm thankful that even though my relationships have had to change to account for the distance, that they're all still there for me. I'm also extremely grateful for the new friends that I've already made here. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have Lauren over this weekend and totally geek out together. Good friends make all the difference in the world.

      Another big change is that I'm not training for a fall marathon. Is it weird that I'm a bit envious of people posting about their training? I wish I were training for a marathon. There's no greater feeling of accomplishment. However, it's just not in the cards right now and I'm still learning to accept it. (Not very well either as I've still been logging some decent mileage.) I have opted to broaden my fitness horizons and I started taking classes last week. They are geared towards strength and conditioning. Before my first class I felt like an above average fit person. After my first class I felt really out of shape. It's crazzzzzy how inferior I felt/feel. My body has been aching in all sorts of new places. I can only hope that this cross-training will help build me into a better athlete. It's something I've never considered doing before but I'm adapting to my 'new' life.

       Lastly, I started a new job. What I refer to as my "First Grown Up Job". I have a set schedule. I'm utilizing my education and experience. I'm working full time for the first time in 7 years. (Although for several years I was working part time and going to school so it felt like I was working full time.) I am elated for this opportunity and I hope to greatly succeed in it. On the flip side, the new job is bringing with it its own set of challenges outside of work. Prioritizing time is essential. I just started and I already am overwhelmed with my lack of time. You know this idea called "Meal Planning/Prepping"? Um, yeah... I'm going to need to figure that out-QUICKLY. I know so many of you are experts in juggling all of life's tasks and I look at you in admiration. I know that I will find my balance soon.

       When a new season is upon us we can either embrace it or cling to the past. I'm trying to embrace it. I know there will be growing pains. I know that there will be times I'll need to stop and reevaluate things. I recognize that even though change is scary, it often brings with it the opportunity to grow and mature as a person. I can't wait to see where this new season takes me. Follow along.
   How do you like my new blog design? Since there is so much change going on in my life, I figured this site needed to reflect that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sitka Cross Trail Classic Half Marathon

    A few weeks ago I was able to participate in this awesome race. It totally blew my expectations out of the water. I am already REALLY looking forward to running it again. In fact, I have a few friends that plan on traveling 4,000+ miles to run it with me.

    Bib pickup the night before the race was quick and easy. I met one of the race directors and she gave me an overview of the course. I loved this personal touch. Plus I realized that the race start was just a few minutes from my front door. It's the first time I've ever been able to walk to the start of a race from my house. That was a definite perk.

The race shirts were long sleeve and I adore the design.
   Since our household goods had arrived a couple days before (we just relocated to Sitka), I was able to sleep in my own bed before the race. YAY!! After 10+ weeks this was awesome!! Due to the close proximity of the start line I was able to sleep until an hour before the start. Double YAY!
    I snuck out of the house and did an easy jog to the start. I did a race day no-no and decided to use my brand spankin' new Nathan Hydration Vest. I knew there would be water stops but I was super excited to give it a test run.
    I checked in with the organizers as requested and then sat around in the small airport stretching and chatting with Sara. I had met her at the Alpine Adventure Run and it was great to not feel lonely at the start. There was a nice, calm vibe in the crowd. It felt like we were all about to go on a group run together.
    The weather was perfection on race day. Complete perfection. It was chilly and foggy at the beginning and warm and sunny during the latter half.
    A few minutes before the start they had us gather for a group photo. I love these smaller races!! We all chatted a few minutes after and then lined up for the start. There was also a full marathon option, which required 2 loops. Soon we were off into the fog.

Photo credit to Christine Davenport
    During the first two miles I was trying to get adjusted to my hydration vest. There was some adjusting and tightening of straps needed. Once I had it set than it was great for the rest of the race. I enjoyed the run surrounded by like-minded folks.
  There were two woman that were near me that were dressed similar to one another and discussing pace. I listened in. I had zero race strategy going into this. I knew the route would be switching back and forth from road to trail a few times. I hadn't ran on about half the course so I didn't know what to expect. It was nice to hear them talk about when they planned on slowing up, because then I knew what I was in for.
    Pretty soon we were cruising into Totem Park. I was a bit nervous that I would somehow take a wrong turn, but everything was clearly marked and the volunteers rocked. Not only were they pointing us in the right direction(s) but they were all exuberantly cheering. I couldn't help but smile every time I passed one of them.
Photo by Harriet McClain
    A few people passed me in that section but I really didn't care. I was running at a pace that felt good. I didn't know how much energy I needed to reserve for later so I was a little conservative. I made it through that section of trails and popped back out onto roads.
    Just to prove I don't always take great race photos here's one from that section.
Hey look The Pace Twins! (Doesn't everyone nickname other runners?)
   There was a police officer to help us with the road crossing. He was awesome and we didn't even have to slow down at all. We ran straight through the intersection and headed towards the forest. I don't remember much about this area except I believe there was a water stop. I was just excited to get on the Cross Trail portion of the course.
    By the time I entered the trails again there were three other women directly in front of me (including The Pace Twins). They set the pace for the single track portion. I was beyond happy to be in a small group because the forest can be scary to me when I'm all alone. I felt like we were in this together. They kept a nice pace and it was good to know I had help if a bear jumped out, or I fell on my face. This portion was actually more technical than I thought it would be. Eventually it opened up to the wide gravel path that I recognized.
     I felt much more confident. My body was finally starting to feel normal after all the traveling and hotel living in the weeks leading up to this. I started feeling really good at this point in the race. I wanted to pick up the pace but I overheard that a big hill was coming.
Now as you can see my Garmin only logged around 12.5 miles. The GPS always has issues when I'm in the woods here. Anyways, you will notice a few nice inclines.
       I loved the random race signs along the trail. I also enjoyed the few spectators that had made their way out to cheer. On the super steep hills I power walked up them. There was seriously no use in running up and wasting energy when I could walk just as fast, if not faster. It was so beautiful and peaceful.
      I found myself completely alone by mile 8.5ish. I remember running by a water stop and asking if I was winning. They laughed and said I was winning the bright yellow socks division. Woot Woot!!
     Running across the bridge at the waterfall was incredible. I had never been to that area so it was a special treat for me on race day. There were people there cheering. I don't know if they were there just to cheer or had happened upon the race, but it was nice. One lady yelled out," You're not even sweating! You better run faster." This made me smile and I charged up that last large hill you see. I had planned on walking up but there was a man at the top cheering for me. Okay, he probably wasn't actually there for me....but I really didn't want to disappoint him. So I kicked it into gear and conquered the hill, acting like it was no big deal.
     Then that downhill was steep. Actually several of the down hills were a bit nerve-wracking because of the gravel. One slight misstep and I knew I would be scraped up pretty badly. Usually I fly down hills. I had to really restrain myself because I didn't want to get busted up.
     After that there was a small out-and-back section and I realized I hadn't really been alone. Runners that were ahead of me cheered me on. When I flipped back around I did the same. I love the running community!!
    I decided I could easily pick up the pace now. I cruised down that final sweet downhill, cautiously. Then I turned left onto the road and that's when I realized how messed up the mileage was on my Garmin. I also realized I was going to easily come in below 2 hours. This made me happy since I was having such a fun and joy-filled race.
    Once again the volunteers were so awesome!! They were cheering like crazy as I passed by them. I hope they know how their enthusiasm really made this race special.
    I was a bit nervous about how running across the rotary was going to go. As I approached it though the lady with the Fire Department (I think that's what her shirt said) was on high alert and she smiled, cheered, and shouted directions at me. I didn't have to slow down at all. The final intersection had a police officer there and he also did a fantastic job at directing runners and traffic. 
   Finally I was in the homestretch that is on a walkway by the harbor. There was a lot of pedestrian traffic. I had to dodge a few people. As I neared the finish there was a kid shouting that there was a runner and to please clear a path.

     I came through the finish to smiling volunteers and spectators. They also had one of THE BEST post race setups I've ever seen. They had so many food and drink options that I could have easily eaten an entire meal there. I really appreciated all the fresh fruit. I tried to divert my eyes from the donuts and cookies. HA! I chatted it up with other runners about how amazing the race was. I was sad that I didn't have any sort of support system there to celebrate with me. That's just one of the downsides of being new to the area.

Half Marathon #11 in the books!
     My fantastic impression of this race didn't end here though. The race photographers totally rocked my world. The race photos were priced at a very reasonable rate AND they donated the proceeds to Sitka Trail Works. This made me want to high five everyone. I happily ordered photos without hesitation. Wait there's more...I contacted the race photographers asking if I could purchase the digital images to use here and they sent them to me at no cost. So flipping cool. Thank you Christine and Harriet.
    In our race packets the organizers included a form and envelope to donate to Sitka Trail Works. I know it is much delayed but I'll be passing on the love to them. I really appreciate the fact that this race is about giving back to the community.
    So if you find yourself in Sitka, Alaska next August I urge you to sign up for this race. Even if it's a rainy mess that day I promise you'll have fun. 

$25 Road ID Gift Card Giveaway

I recently lost my Road ID and it made me really sad. I just received my new one and I absolutely love it. I even added on a few badges. I would post a photo but then you guys and gals would constantly be calling Joe asking for me. (Ha! Kidding.)

I feel like this is an important item to be wearing, especially while out exercising.
 Enter to win. This will only be going on for a few short days. 
This will be sent as an E-Gift Card.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Alpine Adventure Run 2014

    When I registered for this race I was still living on Cape Cod. I was absolutely elated to get in. I must not have comprehended what mountain running really was though. **Spoiler alert: It is more difficult than road running. Also, when in a rain forest it is slippery and a bit dangerous.**

    We arrived to our new city of Sitka on June 24th. I figured by race day, July 19th, that we would be nice and settled into our new home. Instead we were still living in a hotel. Ugh. (We actually are just now getting settled into our home all this time later.) Anyways, in the weeks leading up to the race I quickly realized the amount of fitness I had lost over the course of our cross country move. Being a slug on a 4 day ferry ride was icing on the cake. During all our travels not only was I unable to keep up a real routine, but my diet consisted mostly of eating out. I felt like I had to work harder each run. My breathing felt more labored. I was however stoked about running in the perfect 50-60 degree temperatures with a chance of sun on a good day.

    The week before the race a veteran of it offered to take me up the first 2 miles of the course. I am extremely grateful to Travis for taking the time to guide me and later assure me that I could do it. By the time we made it the 2 miles up I was sucking air, drenched in a mixture of sweat and rain, and smoke was coming off my thighs. Okay, maybe not, but it sure seemed like it. It was up. Then up. Then up, up, up, some more. I told him I was glad that I had registered before seeing the course because I may have been too scared to register if I had been in the know.

This is what my Garmin registered on race day. It lost reception a few times throughout the course though.
These are some photos I took before race day.
     I woke up around 7 and was at the start by 7:45 for the 9 a.m. start. I didn't want to take my phone with me or have it sitting around so Joe took it with him. I felt so vulnerable without my phone amidst this crowd of strangers. He went to have breakfast and get to the top of Harbor Mountain for the finish. I had decided it would be best if I didn't push myself too much during the race. I wasn't (and still am not) experienced enough to really try to hustle and potentially hurt myself. That's not saying that I am in anyway a 'fast' runner usually, because I am not.
   Packet pickup/check in was easy and well organized. Since the race caps at 75 runners there were standby runners there waiting to take a spot if it opened up. I collected my cool shirt, number, and nervously stretched out.
    Sitka is a small island and everyone seemed to be in little groups. I admittedly felt very alone. I looked around and everyone seemed pretty much at ease. I was a newbie that hadn't even ran the entire course once. In fact, I hadn't really ran much trails at all in the last few months. I began to question my decision and wondered if there were some sort of "chicken exit" that theme parks often have.
    The race directors had a pre-race meeting and it really put me at ease. They are obviously highly respected by the community and love this race and the area dearly. They explained the course and how mountain rescue would be at various checkpoints. They would radio our numbers in as we passed each one. It made me feel relieved that even though I was running by myself there were people looking out for me.
     We all made our way outside to the start. I found a spot towards the back. I knew I didn't want to hold anyone up that wanted to move quicker. No need in making people pass me on those narrow trails. Soon we were off.
Photo by Cassie Gillespie
      The first mile wasn't all that bad. We ran the road to the trail head, then it narrows to planks and the elevation is not bad. Just lots of up and down on the planks and trail. It seems like after we pass over the Cross Trail is when the elevation picks up. I ended up behind a man in a kilt. He had on a rescue swimmer shirt. I thought he would be the perfect person to stick by. The poor guy had to put up with me the entire race. At first he kept asking if I'd like to pass him. "Nope." "No, thanks." "I'm good." He must have realized that he wasn't going to shake me and eventually we would chat back and forth throughout our journey. He has no idea how thankful I am to have had a running buddy. I was scared of being all alone and falling, or being eaten by a bear. Thank you David for your kindness.
      So we ran up the mountain. Then we trudged up the mountain. I kept remembering what Travis had said about not stopping, to just keep moving forward (errr, upward). It was around 55 degrees, rainy, and foggy. As I climbed my race bib slowly was tearing off, corner by corner. When it was finally down to one measly corner I grabbed it and held it in my hand. I didn't want to accidentally lose it on the course and I needed it for my checkpoints. Eventually two girls were right behind me and I asked if they wanted to pass. They did. It was starting to feel more and more lonely up there. Don't worry, I had still Mr. Kilt. (I didn't know his name yet.) I made it to the first checkpoint and stopped to drink two full cups of water. My heart was racing and I wondered if my legs would remember how to run after all those stairs. Another girl passed me. I didn't mind....but I needed to catch back up to Mr. Kilt.
     It felt glorious to run but it was pretty short lived as more stairs and planks were in my future. It was so foggy that I could barely see 15 feet in front of me. I thought maybe that was a good thing because I couldn't see how far I had to fall. When I would hit a downhill I would carefully find my footing. I'm sure I could have shaved some time off by cruising down the rocks or wood stairs. I really didn't want to risk hurting myself though. I would pick up my pace on the gravel and mud and slow down to a walk at times on other terrain. 
     Mr. Kilt and I talked about other races, the Coast Guard, the area, and how our quads ached.
     My body temperature was all over the place. The course was unforgiving. I was having an absolute blast though. I couldn't believe how much fun it was. I loved the fog, the rain, the mud, and the small fears that were driving me forward.
Photo by Don Kluting
    I remember walking on those rocks and thinking, "A Tough Mudder or Spartan will never seem as badass as this."
     My Garmin lost reception now and again and the fog was so intense that I had no way of knowing if I was close to the finish or not. Then suddenly I hit a certain gravel area and knew I was on Harbor Mountain in the homestretch. It was downhill from there. My body felt so relieved to be moving downward. My mind was relieved that I was done with the hardest parts. I picked up the pace a little and cruised down the gravel path, grinning from ear to ear.
   I didn't see any other runners. Every now and again a spectator would appear amidst the fog to cheer me on. Then I did something stupid..... I had made it the ENTIRE race without so much as a tumble. Then I decided to jump over the finish line onto soaking wet gravel. I do think I made a last impression though. I am sure my phone will be ringing like crazy- any day now- with people wanting to be my friend here in Sitka. (face palm)
     They had an awesome post race food setup. Everyone was in good spirits. A few course records were broken.

    My official time ended up being 1:59:27. I was absolutely thrilled with it. The best part is that I didn't even ache the next day.
    Overall I am beyond pleased that I ran this race. It was incredible. Everyone involved was so helpful and sincere. It was the best way to be introduced to some of the Sitkan community. I really hope to find some runner friends soon and hit up more trails. Who knows, maybe I'll try running this again next year.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Our move began 55 days ago.

FUN FACTS since then:

I traveled over 4,300 miles. 

I ran with 15+ friends. 

I still am not in my new home.

I haven't slept in my own bed for 55 days. 

I have lived out of suitcases for 55 days. 

I have slept on an air mattress for 16 of those nights. 

I raced in 2 half marathons and a 5k.

I have ran over 210 miles and biked over 45 miles. 

I have ran in 16 states. 


    Running in Southeast Alaska has been pretty amazing so far. It rains often (okay, most the time) and it's a nice consistent 50-60(ish) degrees. I don't have to worry about waking up insanely early to beat the summer heat. In fact, I can wait until midday and still feel nice and cool. I don't remember the last time I had to apply sunscreen due to the almost constant fog that hovers over us. My once rarely used running jacket has become my favorite piece of running apparel. It's just the right amount of coverage for the weather here without being smothering. Instead of being passed by mostly vehicular traffic (like on Cape Cod) it seems like pedestrians rule the land here.

    I've had the opportunity to explore the trails a few times. Each time I've almost had to pinch myself. Everything feels, looks, and smells exotic to me. I can stop and graze on salmon berries and blueberries mid-run if I want. My mind is ever aware of the threat of bears and the need to be noisy so they won't want to wander my way. I am continually reminded of how lucky I am to have these experiences. As I stood at the top of a ridge the other day, after an arduous journey to the top, I was overcome with emotion. This is my life. I get to run across various states. I get to meet incredible people of rich character. I get to traipse through a rain forest. I am so lucky.

This move, this journey, has been long and stressful. However, I am thankful for these sometimes fleeting moments of clarity where I am simply thankful for it all.