Moose: 0, Kristen: 1

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  I spent most of mine working on unpacking the apartment, and it’s looking a lot better!  My closet is pretty sweet.  Hopefully I’ll be done by next weekend and have some pictures soon!  Despite being excited about how the apartment is coming along, I had my first mini-homesickness on Sunday.  I think it was brought on because I spent all morning seeing tons of people on Facebook posting cute fall pictures and talking about races they had run today, and then I went out to my car to find it covered in frost.  It’s definitely not fall here anymore!  After working on the apartment for a while I just started to feel pretty down about everything, so my husband suggested going out for a run on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  I’ve been dying to do this ever since we moved here, so we headed out the door with about 40 minutes left until sunset.  Andrew was going to walk while I ran 3 miles.  Everything sounded like a good plan, until we parked our car at Earthquake Park and started walking towards the trail – and saw this!

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I feel like it’s pretty easy to tell when you’re about to have a wildlife sighting in Anchorage because you’ll see someone taking a picture and figure out that something must be there.  And that’s what was happening with these moose.  We came around the corner to see two men taking pictures.  They were so close to the babies and the mom looked pretty mad.  She was HUGE too!  Andrew and I kept our distance and watched the moose for a while.  The babies were walking back and forth all over the trail, but the mom was standing in the woods not moving which had us worried because we knew she wasn’t comfortable.  At one point a baby stated running towards us and the mom starting moving too and I was like “NOT TODAY, MOOSE!” and started power walking back to the car.  We ran into a family with a baby and they decided not to try to get any farther on the trail either.  I was all ready to give up on my run since I’d wasted 10 minutes dealing with the moose and daylight was quickly fading, but the family gave me some directions to a nearby parking area farther down on the coastal trail and I decided that I’d go for it and just cut my run short.  As we were driving we noticed a ton of cars pulled over and people taking pictures of something and I thought “Not again” until I saw what they were all looking at!

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This is Denali, the tallest mountain in North America and it’s located 4 hours away from Anchorage!  When we went there on our honeymoon my husband and I started talking about moving to Alaska, so I credit it for our move.  And there it was, just hanging out on my evening run!  Denali is notoriously difficult to see due to the fact that it’s tall enough to make its own weather patterns, but you can see it late in the day from Earthquake Park and the coastal trail if it’s a clear day.  So with Denali in the background, I headed out for a quick 2 mile run before sunset!

IMG_3286Credit for this one goes to Andrew!  He should be my full time running photographer  :)

IMG_3290A seriously awesome view from the trail.  So many people were watching the sunset!

I will definitely be coming back to this trail again in the future, but you better believe that I will be on high moose alert!  Also, it was pretty hilly so this might not be the best spot for long runs.  I fully plan on trying out every inch of the coastal trail which will probably take months to do since it’s 11 miles long.  Hopefully I don’t let any other moose cut my future runs short!

What’s the craziest reason you had to cut a run short?  What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen on a run?

Fall Fitness Challenge: Week One

Hi everyone!  You may have noticed in Monday’s post that I’ve joined the Fall Fitness Challenge hosted by Nora at Adventures of a Mother-Daughter Running Duo!  The following bloggers have joined up too:

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Ariana at HappyLife.HealthyLife | Brandi at Noteworthy Running | Michelle at Fearless Beauty Fitness | Kathy at MamaMarathoner | Diane at Runnin Rocker | Alicia at NeverEverBeenSkinny | Kristin at Exploring Domesticity

The challenge is to do at least 10 minutes of exercise a day.  And I’m excited to report that I did that, although most of it was not “traditional” exercise!

Last Friday:  I RAN through the airport with my coworker to catch our flight to Anchorage!  Plus I spent 45 minutes teaching a mock lesson to my trainers so I think those both count.

Saturday:  I was super sick all day, but managed to get my dance on at Oktoberfest in Alyeska!  There’s a local ska band in Anchorage and they were playing all night.  So much fun!

IMG_3240Fake pretzels are healthier than real ones

Sunday:  I carried the last of our belongings into our apartment, including our bed, 2 dressers, a mattress, and the new sofa that we bought Saturday night.  That is one way to get in an arm workout!

Monday:  Andrew and I went for an hour long walk on the Chester Creek Trail, which is where we learned how crazy pretty it is!

Tuesday:  My first run in Anchorage, which you can learn more about here.

IMG_3255I have a weakness for creekside trails

Wednesday:  Hours of unpacking and more heavy lifting.  I hate moving.  On the bright side, my closet is almost done and it looks awesome!

Thursday:  Another 3 miles on the Chester Creek Trail because you can never have too much of a good thing!

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As for my other goals:

1. Get completely moved in to our new place:  Nope.  But I’m hoping by the end of this weekend it will be mostly done!

2. Step up my running game: I ran twice this week which is awesome because I’ve barely run this month at all.  Baby steps here, but I’m thinking I can get in 3 runs next week!

3. Join a gym: I’ve been asking around at work to get an idea of what the gyms here are like.  I’m probably going to start calling places next week, but I just had too much to do in the apartment this week to devote any time to this.

4. Start cooking more: I don’t even have dishes yet, so this one has clearly not been accomplished.  Maybe next week?

5. Go pumpkin crazy!  This one definitely happened!  Out of the 3 pumpkin yogurts I tried this week, Oikos was my favorite!  I will be stocking up on that at Walmart this weekend  :)  I also tried Quaker Pumpkin Spice oatmeal and it was pretty good, but kind of fake tasting.  I need to try to make my own!

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I’m loving this challenge so far because it’s definitely making me more conscious about what I’m doing when I get home from work and clearly I need all the help I can get.  Also, I don’t feel guilty eating pumpkin flavored yogurt every day.  I love fall!  By next week hopefully I’ll meet goal #1, continue to do great with #2 and #5, and start with goals #3 and #4.  Wish me luck!

What are your goals this week?  What’s the best pumpkin thing you’ve eaten in the last week?

My First Run in Anchorage!

Hi everyone!  I’m so excited about this post because it’s about a pretty awesome event.  Remember your first run ever?  Your first race of each distance?  Or your first run in your current city?  I do, and I think as a runner it’s so important to remember those crazy moments in your running history.  And I’m very excited to report that on Tuesday I went out for my first run in Anchorage!  Yes, technically I ran here in July during the Her Tern Half Marathon, but that was the kind of run that involved no thinking about a course and some protection from moose/bears due to the amount of people running.  On Tuesday, it was my chance to finally discover what a typical run will be like here in Anchorage!

After trying to pick a running route out of the crazy amount of trails here in Anchorage, I decided to go with the Chester Creek Trail starting at the Valley of the Moon Park.  It’s a 45 second drive away from our apartment which means it will definitely be walking distance as long as the weather is good!  It was 43 degrees and the sun was setting (we’re losing 6 minutes of sunlight a day!), so I chose to wear long, thin leggings and a fleece-lined shirt with gloves and an ear warmer.  It was the perfect outfit because I didn’t feel too hot or cold.  There were a lot of other people on the trail, and they were all wearing different things – some wore t-shirts but most wore long sleeves or even coats!

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It was hard getting myself out the door for this run – not only had I not run in a week, but I was pretty scared to run alone for the first time in bear and moose country.  My supervisor wears bells on her shoes when she runs alone, but I don’t have anything like that!  But I sucked it up and got myself out the door anyways.  I thought it was perfect running weather and my body really loved not feeling overheated after weeks in the Lower 48.  The first mile was along a busy section of the trail and there were a lot of other runners/cyclists, so I felt pretty comfortable about the wildlife situation.  There were tons of turn offs on the trail, and I’m sure I could spend months exploring where each one goes!  But for now I stuck to the main trail.  Mile 2 was spent running along a more secluded section of the trail and it was seriously the best feeling ever to be running through the woods alone, with a perfect view of the snow-covered mountains and falling leaves.  It was the first time in a long time where I felt myself totally enjoying my run without any worries about training, pacing, weather, etc.  It was the best feeling ever!  And it finally hit me that this is where I live and I’m so excited that I get to run here whenever I want!

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IMG_3253I had awesome snowy mountain views for half of my run!

I finished my 3 mile run with one of my fastest mile times in a while and a lot of excitement about running in Anchorage!  Yeah, I’m going to run into some bears and moose while running.  But I didn’t do it on Tuesday, so I’m just going to keep running with wildlife awareness (although bears should be asleep soon!) and hope that they stay far away from the Chester Creek Trail!  I think this will be one of my go-to running routes for a while, and I’m so excited to see how beautiful this trail will be in the winter.

Bonus picture:  on the way home the sun was setting and we had some serious alpenglow on the mountains!  It’s when the pink colors of the sunset show up in the snow on the mountains and it looks beautiful.  I didn’t have the chance to get a picture of it until we got back to our apartment, and this doesn’t do it justice.  But since I’m sure you’ll see much better pictures in the future, I’ll leave you with this:

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Can you remember the first run you did in your current city?  What things do you love/hate about running there?  Anyone else have to worry about moose all winter long?

Here’s To New Beginnings!

Hi everyone!  Guess what?  I’M BACK IN ALASKA!  And I’m beyond excited about it, even though it’s in the 40s/30s here!  After a super tearful goodbye last weekend when I left Philly, I was so nervous about being alone in Seattle for a week of training, starting my new job, and dealing with moving into our new place in Anchorage.  And I was pleasantly surprised!  I didn’t cry or feel homesick once in Seattle, and in fact kept my nights busy with running, shopping, and hanging out with friends.

IMG_3229Late night PSL run to the first Starbucks with my old coworker and her sister!

I did pretty well in training and got great feedback on the mock lessons I taught, and I’m now a certified trainer for the teen health program that my company provides!  And although I was sick all weekend, we were able to get everything into our apartment, including our new sofa that we bought yesterday!  And I’m in LOVE with the place!  I mean, check out this beautiful (and snowy) view from our bedroom window!

IMG_3241There will be no indoor pictures until it stops looking like a bomb exploded inside

Now that I’m finally settling in to our permanent life in Anchorage, I’ve got a few goals in mind!  I’ve been talking about a few of these for a while, but during the rest of October I plan to:

1.  Get completely moved in to our new place.  It’s a bit of a mess right now, but I think I can get everything unpacked and organized in the next two weeks, even with my job keeping me busy!

2.  Step up my running game.  Since the Beat the Blerch half, I’ve run only twice!  I’ve been super busy, stressed, and overheated in the crazy 80 degree “fall” weather down in Philly, but now I’ve got a lot of running to make up for!  My goal is at least 3 times a week until it’s time to start training for my half marathon in March!  And I’m hoping I can get brave enough to join up with the Skinny Raven Sports Pub Run on Tuesdays!

3.  Join a gym.  I weighed myself at home, and the results were not pretty.  The combo of eating all my old favorite foods and not exercising was not good.  Since moving to Alaska I’ve gained 10 pounds, and I need to get back down to my Lower 48 weight!  Since it will be harder to run outside starting in November/December once it’s dark and snowy outside, this will ensure that I can always get a run in.  And some of the gyms here even have classes I can take, which will keep things fun!  I’m going to try to see if I can find a place that offers yoga or barre classes!

4.  Start cooking more.  I’m so excited to FINALLY have our own kitchen, and it’s got room for lots of cooking – including space for my Kitchen Aid mixer!!!!  I didn’t have that in Philly!  So I’m going to start cooking more and eating out less so that I can be healthier.  I think my crock pot is going to be my new BFF as the weather gets colder!

5.  Go pumpkin crazy!  It may look like late fall here (especially with the snowy mountains in the background) but I’ve still got time to eat as much pumpkin stuff as possible!  I feel like drinking PSLs in 35 degree weather makes more sense than 85, so it’s not that hard to get excited!  And after reading Scoot A Doot’s Pumpkin Yogurt Throwdown, I’ve got some good places to start!

IMG_3242I am SO excited for lunch tomorrow!

 And to help me reach some of my goals, I joined up with some amazing bloggers for a Fall Fitness Challenge!  It’s hosted by Adventures of A Mother-Daughter Running Duo and I’m pretty excited because that was one of the first blogs I ever started following when I started blogging one year ago!  Nora and her mom are posing a challenge to do some kind of fitness activity for at least 10 minutes per day.  Since I’m hoping to get back into shape, I’m really excited about starting the challenge!  Technically, I spent 2 hours doing heavy lifting on Sunday so I’m off to a good start.

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I’m excited to get this blog back to its fitness and running roots!  Every Friday we’ll spend some time talking about what we did each week and I’m looking forward to the extra motivation to meet my goals.  Wish me luck!

Do you belong to a gym?  What do you look for when joining one?  Have you ever joined a running club without knowing anyone?

Friday Five: Running Fuel

Hi everyone!  Fun fact:  By the time you read this, my week of training will probably be over and I will be heading back to Alaska after a month of being in the Lower 48!  I’m excited to start unpacking everything in our apartment and finally meet my students and the few coworkers in the Anchorage office!  Plus running in 30-40 degree weather sounds much nicer than in the 70-80 degree weather I’ve had for the past month and I can’t wait to explore the running trails in Anchorage!

Anyways, I’ve been so busy the last month that I’ve had to skip a lot of Friday Five linkups with Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, and Mar on the Run.  But this week I’m back because it’s about one of my favorite things:  food!  More specifically, food that we use to fuel our running.

20140529-215718.jpgI never let myself run out of these!

Before a run:

1.  Oatmeal:  Specifically anything cinnamon or brown sugar flavored.  Right now I’m all over the Better Oats Maple and Brown Sugar Steel Cut Oats, which I buy at Target.  It’s so yummy and filling, and it never makes my stomach hurt while running!

2.  Pretzels:  For some reason, If I’m starving before running and I eat these I feel pretty good!  I’ve also eaten them after long runs and I think the salt really helps me feel better!

During a run:

3.  Jelly Belly Sport Beans:  I love Fruit Punch Sport Beans!  They taste pretty good and they don’t ever make me sick or feel like I’m in pain while running.  I usually go through 1 entire pack during a half marathon – I take 3 every 30-45 minutes after the first 45 minutes of my run depending on how I’m feeling that day.  Nothing else I’ve tried has given me the same boost of energy I get with these.

After a run:

4.  Chocolate milk:  As soon as I found out that chocolate milk is used by athletes to refuel after they run, I was sold!  You don’t need to convince me to drink chocolate milk after a long run  :)  Darigold is my favorite brand, but I think that’s a west coast thing?  It’s really delicious though and is seriously the most perfect thing after a long run or race!

5.  Nuun:  Specifically Strawberry Lemonade!  After a long run, Nuun really helps me feel better faster.  I’ve started craving it after long runs and love the fizziness!

Sadly, donuts didn’t make the list.  They’re awesome for a post-run celebration, but I like to eat well right before and after I run because I’ve learned the hard way that pizza is not good pre-run fuel!

IMG_3098Nutella isn’t the best post-race fuel either.  But sometimes your inner Blerch wins, you know?

What are your favorite types of fuel before, during, and after a run?  Who else is obsessed with post-run chocolate milk?

Seattle is For Hill Lovers

Hi everyone!  I’m now officially two days into my training and loving Seattle so far!  This might sound weird to people, but Andrew and I have been together for so long (over 8 years!) and I forgot what it’s like to live alone!  I can chose to eat whenever/whatever I want, can plan out my evenings without thinking about anyone else, and can stay up late in bed reading blog posts without bothering anyone.  And I’m loving that it’s in such a fun city!  Seattle is having gorgeous (and slightly hot and humid) weather right now and I’ve been trying to take advantage of it while I can.  Especially since my husband texted me a picture of the snowy mountains back in Anchorage!

Since I have all this alone time after work, I decided to make sure I explore Seattle a lot since I’m so close to the downtown area.  And the best way for any runner to explore a new city is by going for a run!  So on Monday night I had a fabulous dinner (at Chipotle of course) and then went back to my hotel to change before walking down to the waterfront for a 3 miler.  As I walked down there, the hill got steeper and steeper.  I was seriously dreading getting back up that thing!  Once I got down to the flat area by the sound, I ran past the market area, all of the piers, and finally out to a cute park that had amazing sunset views of the sound and the mountains!

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At that point I realized that I was going to have to run back up that hill at some point, so I took off toward the Space Needle.  Selfies were taken of course.

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After getting up there, it was pretty dark out and running uphill was starting to make me feel sick, so I ended my run by staying on flat and busy 3rd Ave.  It was pretty populated and I didn’t really feel worried, although I did have people cat calling me and homeless people shouting (at me?  or other people?) as I ran by.  I’m not used to that after my summer in Seward!  By some amazing miracle 3 miles happened right before I had to go up the big hill leading to my hotel, so I was able to walk up it instead of run.  On the way up I was passed by a guy that I saw running down by the waterfront, and it made me think about how awesome I would be at hill running if I lived here!  Even the walks to and from training have been awesome exercise and I feel like any race I ever run in this city will be super hard!

In other news, job training is going really well!  It feels so awesome to be preparing lessons and learning how to teach again, although teaching sex ed is very different from what I did as a student teacher!  I got through our first mock lesson today with no issues so I’m excited for the next 3 days of training which will be spent getting familiar with the specific curriculum that I’ll be using with my teen groups!  The highlight of training so far was learning that there is a killer donut/coffee shop down the street from my hotel and that they have pumpkin spice everything!  I’m not sure if I can expense that kind of thing, but you better believe that I’ll be there every day until I fly out!

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Now that I’ve been on one run in Seattle, where else should I run in the Downtown/Capitol Hill area?  Is there any food I need to try before I leave?

Back On The West Coast!

Hi everyone!  So I’m officially back on the west coast!  Sunday was a pretty crazy day – I drove from State College to Reading to pack my suitcases (the checked bag obviously can’t be over 50 pounds so that was fun to do), dropped Andrew off with his sister, and then had a really tearful goodbye with my parents at the Philly airport before flying out to Seattle for a week of job training!  I’ve never flown alone and I’m terrified of planes and get really bad ear pain so I’m pretty impressed I handled it as well as I did.  And it was worth it, because I had a town car waiting for me at Sea-Tac and it took me to my amazing hotel that’s a 10 minute walk from Pike Place Market/shopping and a 25 minute walk from my training!  Looks like I’ll be doing a ton of walking this week and I’m really excited because the weather looks awesome!  Oh, and my hotel is super vintage and awesome and my room is legitimately bigger than our apartment in Anchorage.   It has a bedroom….

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…and a living room!  And a separate kitchen too!

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My new job training starts Monday and while I’m excited, I’m super nervous too!  I will obviously not be working at this branch so it’s not like I’m meeting my coworkers yet, but I’m meeting all the important people in HR and I definitely need to make sure they like me so I can keep my job!  It’s going to be an interesting week but I’m looking forward to spending time downtown, going for some runs hopefully, and eating my last Panera and Chipotle before I fly back to Anchorage on Friday afternoon!

In other news, I spent the weekend as a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding in State College and it was awesome!  The reception was in a barn 40 minutes away and it was beautiful, but COLD.  Imagine being in a strapless, knee-length dress in an unheated barn and it’s 39 degrees outside.  Out of all the warm days we’ve had since I came home, it had to be on the first day that it got cold!

IMG_3177The view was awesome but this picture does not convey how chilly it was!

 The most annoying part was that everyone was like “You’re from Alaska, how are you cold?”.  Well first of all, I’m not FROM Alaska and you know that because you went to high school with me.  Second, it’s not like people wear short dresses and flats around Anchorage when it’s cold out and don’t feel cold at all.  Give me some pants and boots and I’ll feel a lot better!  But it was totally worth it just to see how happy the bride and groom were.  She was my maid of honor at my wedding, so I was so happy to be able to be part of her special day too!

At both weddings, we made sure to do our signature pose while getting ready:

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And then got a little silly after we were married:

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It’s so much fun to watch your best friend get married!  We’ve been friends forever so I wouldn’t have missed it, even though we live so far away from each other!  I’m excited to be ending this post on a warm and fuzzy note.  Stay tuned for updates from my week in Seattle and hopefully I’ll be able to finally blog about some running stuff again!

What are the best places to run in downtown Seattle?  What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done at a wedding?

You Can Never Have Too Much Wawa

Hi everyone!  Thanks for all your support for my last post.  I’m feeling better and haven’t cried since Thursday morning so I think I’m doing better!  I feel like I was in some kind of dark place and was overwhelmed but now I’m feeling a lot better, especially after talking to my parents about everything and getting their support with the move.  I think I’m just really overwhelmed with all the new things that will be happening in the next few weeks and seeing how easy it was to fall back into my old routine in Philly made me want to stay here instead.  I know that we needed a big change in our lives and that Alaska was the right choice, but it’s definitely tough to remember that when I’m in Philly with my favorite people.  I feel like all I’ve been doing for months is writing depressing blog posts and I’m really looking forward to FINALLY settling in to our new lives in Anchorage and things calming down!  I feel so lucky to have so many people out there reading my crazy posts and helping me feel better!  Thanks everyone!

IMG_3096Repping Alaska on Broad Street!

Now on to the real reason I’m here:  My time in Southeastern PA is coming to an end.  My best friend is getting married on Saturday, and we’re spending Friday and Saturday up in State College to celebrate before I fly out to Seattle for training on Sunday.  I’m still terrified of flying alone (especially since saying goodbye is going to be insanely hard and sad) but I think I’m feeling ready for it now.  And luckily I’ve had an awesome week and a half here!  I got to see my family, friends, and most importantly, Bella!

IMG_3093Selfies with my BFF!

I’ve also been hitting up all of my favorite places to eat and shop in the area and I don’t think I could physically eat or shop any more!

Where I ate the most:  Wawa.  I went there at least once a day.  Mostly for their pumpkin spice coffee (it’s perfect with some fat free french vanilla creamer!) and breakfast sizzlies.

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My favorite meal:  This one surprised me, but I loved eating at Chick Fil A more than I thought I would!  Why is that not a west coast thing?

My least favorite meal:  I ate at Federal Donuts in center city and was not really impressed with my donut/fried chicken.  It must have been an off day.

My favorite dessert:  A tie between Turkey Hill chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream from the grocery store and a milkshake from the Shake Shack.  So good.

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What I totally forgot to do: Eat cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. And you know they won’t taste the same up in Alaska.

The best place we went: We spent Wednesday walking around Queen Village/Old City with my friend Carly who has an awesome apartment there. I love all the old houses and cobblestone streets, plus we got to eat at Franklin Fountain and they have the best hot fudge!

IMG_3114Seriously, their hot fudge is insane.

Where I bought the most stuff:  TJ Maxx/Marshalls obviously!  I bought some awesome stuff:  4 pairs of running/yoga tights, some fleece-lined running shirts, and fleece-lined tights for non-running occasions.  I think I’m ready for this Alaskan winter!

The cable show I was most addicted to:  The Great Food Truck Race (all the seasons are on demand!).  We won’t have cable up in Alaska since we’re trying to save some money so I’m binge watching everything!

The thing I missed most about living near Philly:  The way people talk.  It’s nice to have everyone around me saying “wooder” (water) and “jawns” and no one thinks it’s weird  :)

The amount of days I felt too hot:  all of them.  Dear god, it’s hot here.  Running in 80 degree weather with humidity feels so hard!  Speaking of running, I only ran once here because I didn’t know how I would do with the humidity.  It turns out I did terrible in it and it was such a bad experience that I didn’t try it again.  Although I’m hoping for one more run before we leave for State College since the weather is getting a tiny bit cooler!

IMG_3108Running around Carsonia Lake in my neighborhood and trying not to pass out

I totally underestimated how much we’d be able to do during our time here, and we didn’t get to do a few things that I’d planned on doing.  We didn’t go camping because my sister was unexpectedly home for the weekend and we wanted to see her.  We also didn’t get to pick apples because it was too hot out and we had no idea how the apples would turn out.  It’s too hot for pumpkin carving too!  But I think I got a lot done though and I don’t have any regrets.  It’s sad that I won’t be back here for another year, but I’m so happy I got to come back here at all!  I can’t even begin to explain how hard leaving will be, but I think it’s going to be okay.  Philly will always be in my heart, but Alaska is definitely calling me back.

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And in closing, writing this post made me notice a few things:  I definitely make the same face in every selfie I take, I am obsessed with food, and I belong in a colder climate.  For the record, when I’m back in Alaska I will be completely overhauling my diet and either joining a gym or signing up for Barre3 online classes because I definitely need to make up for the past month.

Philly people: what’s your favorite Philly food item that you can’t live without?  Would you rather stop at Wawa or Dunkin Donuts for coffee?

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Hi everyone!  Sorry for the longish break in posts, but I’ve been so busy at home!  Between visiting our friends in Philly, seeing Andrew’s family up in Bucks County, and staying with my parents in Reading we’ve been all over the place.  And it’s kind of weird.  I mean, I love Alaska and I’m happy there.  But part of me is sad at all of the things I gave up and it’s been making me want to come back.  Between grad school and the different jobs I’ve had, I’ve been all over the northern and western suburbs of Philly as well as all over the city.  So it’s really weird going back and remembering what it was like to live here.  I grew up dreaming about living in a old, pretty stone house in the countryside surrounding Philly (Doylestown, King of Prussia, or Exton in particular!) but those kind of houses don’t exist in Alaska.  I always dreamed of being able to afford Flyers season tickets, but now I live in a place where they don’t even show Flyers games on TV (and we won’t have cable anyways).  I had a perfect little family with my puppy Bella, and now she’s not able to join us in Alaska and has to stay here with my mom.  It’s been a total mess of emotions being here.  After days of randomly crying over stupid stuff, I’ve realized something:  this is no longer my home.  I have no idea where I’ll end up in life, but Philly probably isn’t it.  And I’m not even missing some stuff that I had – I’m missing hypothetical things that I wanted and now can’t have if I live in Alaska.  I was pretty miserable in Philly towards the end of our time there so I don’t know why I’m feeling like this.  Moving is such an emotional experience and I had no idea how much it would affect me!

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Really, I just think this is a confusing time.  We haven’t moved into our place in Anchorage yet, so we don’t really have a home at the moment or know what to expect in the upcoming winter.  I feel like I’m stuck in between what I’m imagining Anchorage to be and what I know Philly is.  And I’m letting my fears take over and cloud my perception about home.  But let’s be real here, life in Philly was not perfect.  If I still lived in Southeastern PA, I would have:

  • Family close by…but I’d have to drive an hour to see them (in traffic).
  • A job working with great kids and an office in Philly…but I’d be overworked and underpaid while driving through hours of traffic between students.
  • Pretty running trails…that took at least 30 minutes to drive to since my own neighborhood was rough and even on the trails I’d be worried about my safety.
  • Lots of races to run…but no running club to join because my town didn’t have one and it took too long to drive to one anywhere else after work.
  • Amazing fast food like Chipotle, Panera, and Chick Fil A…but I’d probably be more unhealthy because I’d eat there all the time.
  • TJ Maxx and Marshalls…but probably less money since I’d be shopping more
  • Flyers games on TV…but a huge cable bill (with Comcast AKA the most evil company in America)
  • The possibility of living in a big beautiful house in the suburbs or a fabulous place in the city…but that’s pretty far fetched considering how much I was making and our prospects in growing in our companies.
  • Friends to hang out with…except most of them have moved away too.
  • A longer fall season full of pumpkins and apple picking…but a hot and humid summer which is the worst.

So really, I’m not missing much.  Anchorage might be one big question mark for me right now, but at least it’s a new place full of possibilities.  We’ve already got friends there, I’m going to join a large and active running club, I can walk to the coastal trail for awesome running, and we live in a busy part of town with lots of fun places within walking distance.  Oh yeah, and the mountains are right there!  So even though it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to my family (I’ve cried a few times already), I know it’s the best choice for now.  I’ve got an awesome new home to get excited about!

Have you ever moved away from home?  Did it feel weird when you went back?  What do you miss the most about home?

Hanging Out in The Lower 48

Hey everyone!  After racing on Saturday and resting on Sunday, I spent a day visiting some fun touristy places in Seattle!  I’ll be heading back to Seattle from October 5-10 for training for my new job, but we couldn’t resist fitting in some fun times before flying to Philly!

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IMG_3022Iced PSL at the very first Starbucks.  They spelled my name right!!!

IMG_3025The view from Queen Anne Hill

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IMG_3036Selfie with the Freemont Troll!

Now that I’ve gone from small-town Seward back to a big city, I’m noticing some things:

  • IT’S SO HOT.  EVERYWHERE.
  • I haven’t had cable since April, and wow are there a ton of Alaska shows on TV now.  Spoiler alert:  most of those shows don’t represent what it’s really like in Alaska.  The people from Alaska: The Last Frontier live near a town that’s bigger than Seward.
  • Taylor Swift’s new song is awesome!  The things you miss when you don’t have a radio station in town that plays new songs!
  • Traffic is terrible.
  • I will never get sick of Chipotle.
  • PSLs taste so much better when you buy them at a real Starbucks instead of the only Starbucks in town AKA the one inside Safeway.
  • Gas is 20 cents cheaper in Seattle than in Anchorage.  And it’s 50 cents cheaper in Philly!
  • I can no longer run at night unless I want to get murdered.  And the sun sets an hour earlier down here  :(

But honestly, it’s nice to be back down here enjoying all of the things that I won’t have up in Anchorage.  And now for the best news ever:  I’M BACK IN PHILLY!!!!  Until October 5!  I’m so happy to be back with my family again!  And I’m going to eat all of my favorite old foods and shop at all the stores we don’t have up there.  TJ Maxx, get ready because I’m going to buy everything you have.  And the employees at Wawa will know me by name after only a few days.  I CAN’T WAIT!  Also, prepare for tons of pictures featuring this fabulous cuddle bug:

IMG_3045Bella helped me write this blog post

We have spent hours cuddling already – I’ve missed her so much!  We won’t be able to bring her back to Alaska so I’ve got to squeeze in as much cuddle time as possible.  I’m so happy that she remembered me after all this time apart!

If you only had a short amount of time in your hometown, what would you do?