It’s PSL Time!

Hi everyone!  Sorry for the short break from blogging, but things have been busy on the job search front and I’m hoping I’ll have more to share with you about that later this week!  For now, I’m just going to say that I’ve been up in Anchorage for the last few days doing job interviews.  And I’m totally okay with running from one interview to another for the past two days because on Monday, the most incredible and delicious drink made its 2014 debut:

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Yes, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are BAAAAACK!  And I have already had 3 this week!  Now before I go any farther, I know that they are not healthy and since this blog is semi-health related I shouldn’t even condone this kind of behavior.  But I can’t help it.  And according to Buzzfeed and all the posts I’m seeing on Facebook, there are tons of people out there who feel the same way!  Fall is quickly approaching up here in Alaska.  The leaves are changing colors and this was my weather report this morning:

20140826-234112.jpgFor the record, Seward always predicts rain for every day in the foreseeable future.

I’m not going to lie, this is one of the main reasons I moved to Alaska!  I love fall and hate the typical hot August weather we get at home, so I’m all about wearing a fleece on chilly August mornings!  And I think that nothing goes better with crisp mornings than a warm, cinnamon and pumpkin flavored drink!

Now, I know that there are tons of bad things in PSLs.  I’ve been seeing this link going around on my Facebook newsfeed and while I read it and respected what she had to say about the ingredients, I’ve got a few things to say about it.  First of all, most things that typical americans eat and drink are full of stuff like this.  I think most people who drink PSLs are aware that there is no pumpkin in it and it’s full of sugar.  In fact, some people are fighting back agains the above website and posting facts that say that PSLs probably won’t kill you.  If you’re eating a clean diet and sticking to whole healthy foods like you should be, then you will obviously not be drinking these.  But since I’m pretty far away from a clean diet, I’m going to continue drinking PSLs all fall long.  Starting now.

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Why am I so crazy about PSLs?

  • I LOVE FALL.  It’s the best time of the year and once PSLs come out, I feel like it’s officially fall!
  • They taste awesome.  Warm or iced, it doesn’t matter.  It’s just a really yummy drink!
  • I love cinnamon flavored stuff.  Cinnamon rolls have been my downfall this summer, and coffee plus cinnamon is the best combination ever!
  • It’s offered for a limited time only.  This kind of marketing strategy makes me mad, but I’m totally on board with this one.  I will eat as many pumpkin things as I possibly can between now and Thanksgiving (or until I get sick of them!) just because I can.
  • PSLs have their own twitter account.  Check it out at @TheRealPSL!  I’ve never followed a drink on twitter before, but I guess this is the time to start!
  • You can’t recreate them at home.  You can try, but they taste awful.  Our office tried it last week and it was the worst Pinterest fail ever.  If you have your own coffee shop then you should totally try it, but for now I’m going to leave it to the professionals.
  • It brings people together!  My coworkers and I have been talking about this for weeks now, and we are so excited that we can finally drink them at work!  The local barista ordered some pumpkin spice flavoring from Khaladi Brothers and I am so excited to try that later this week!

I know that drinking PSLs is a bad habit, and I’d be healthier and save a lot of money if I didn’t do it.  But this is my one big seasonal drink obsession – I don’t care for Peppermint Mochas or Shamrock Shakes and I usually stick to iced caramel lattes so I think it’s okay if I go crazy once a year.  Luckily my wallet won’t allow me to go overboard, but I’ll probably still try to get at least one a week!  It helps that the only Starbucks in Safeway is not within close walking distance of my office, so I can try to resist them!

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Are you obsessed with PSLs?  How many have you had this week so far?

Friday Five: Five things I Love About Seward!

Hi everyone!  Time for another Friday Five with Mar on the Run, You Signed Up For What?!, and Eat Pray Run DC!  This week’s theme is 5 things that we love about something, and since I’ve only got 1 more month left in Seward I decided to write about my current town!  There’s so much I love about Seward, Alaska and it’s going to be hard to narrow it down to only 5 things!

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Five Things I Love About Seward, Alaska:

1.  I can walk everywhere.  Coming from the 5th largest city in the US, you would think that I’d miss big city life.  But it’s the total opposite!  I love that I can walk everywhere and there is no traffic.  There’s not even a traffic light here!

20140820-235212.jpgI just used this picture, but it shows the size of Seward perfectly!  Small enough to walk from one end to the other in like 20 minutes!

2.  It’s at the end of the road.  There’s something so cool about knowing that you are literally at the end of a 200+ mile road that leads down from the only nearby city.  It makes me feel like I really am living in the last frontier!

20140710-220938.jpgThe view from the end of the road.  All ocean from here.

3.  It’s got both the mountains and the ocean.  I’d rather take mountains any day (hello hiking!) but I’m in love with the fact that there is a beautiful ocean only minutes from my door that is filled with whales, marine mammals, and glaciers!  And while I love hiking the trails around Seward, I love running along the waterfront path too!

IMG_1427Checking out the ocean from the top of a mountain!

4.  The food is awesome!  We’ve got a place that serves caribou burgers out of a school bus, an oceanfront cafe that sells yummy cheesecake all day, and more places to buy super fresh fish than you can ever imagine!  We don’t have fast food, but who needs it when you can get crazy yummy salmon sandwiches and fries instead?

IMG_1467Seward knows how to keep it classy

5.  It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  I’ve been to some pretty places, but Seward is the best and that’s why we chose to come here for the summer!  Some days I feel like I could take 200 pictures and have them all turn out perfect.  For now, I’ll just leave some pictures of my favorite places in Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park on here:

IMG_0831Aialik Glacier

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20140622-194837.jpgFourth of July Beach (at midnight on the solstice!)

20140821-194924.jpgThe view from my office

20140707-184125.jpgTonsina Point

While I’m excited to start my new life in Anchorage, I’m definitely getting sad about my time ending in Seward!  I’m so glad there’s another month left of hiking, running, and eating.  I’m excited about all the final adventures we’re going to have here!

What do you love about your town?  Do you like small towns over big cities?  Who is totally ready to visit me in Seward?

 

 

Kayaking: The Perfect Workout For People With “Wimpy Arms”

Hi everyone!  Thanks for all your support on my post about my recent issues with anxiety – I am happy to report that things are going well and I seem to be doing better after 3 glorious days off!  It’s so nice to have my usual 3 days off again! Monday I applied for a bunch of jobs as soon as I woke up, and it put me in such a productive mood all day!  I was able to clean our room, do laundry, and run 8 awesome miles before hanging out with friends all night.  And Wednesday I had my first phone interview for a position up here, applied to over 15 jobs, and set up 2 more interviews! Wish me luck because as soon as I get a job I can stop worrying so much!  But the best day this week was Tuesday.  We woke up to the most beautiful, perfect weather and knew that this was our chance to check something big off of our Seward Bucket List:  sea kayaking around Fox Island in Resurrection Bay!  We are very lucky that our boats are the only ones going out to Fox Island, and therefore this is a free activity for employees!  We got our approval, threw on some clothes that could get wet, and headed out into the bay!

20140820-235155.jpgOn the Nunatak!

20140820-235212.jpgOur view of Seward from the boat.  No more snow on the mountains!

Andrew and I have sea kayaked in Alaska 2 times before this, and have kayaked on lakes many times back in Philly.  It’s a totally different experience in the ocean, and given my history with motion sickness I knew this had a chance of getting rough.  But I’d come across an article recently that talked about using kayaking as cross training, and even went as far to say this:

“Kayaking is an excellent cross-training modality,” Cotton attests, “especially for runners, who often have great legs and wimpy arms.”

Um hey, watch what you’re saying about my wimpy arms!  But the article totally pumped me up to give sea kayaking a try in this week’s workout plan!  Plus the crazy beautiful views don’t hurt either.

Once we finished up our lunch on the island, we got suited up and had a basic kayaking training with our guide, Ben.  There were only 2 other girls on the tour and one of them had never kayaked before, so I knew we were going to take it slow and just enjoy the scenery.  And once we were out in the water, I finally started to relax!

20140820-235457.jpgPretty waterfall with a rainbow – but if you look closely at the top center of the picture you will see 4 puffins (look for the white stomachs) in a crack in the rocks!

20140820-235302.jpgMore puffins!!!!  My favorite!

We first paddled by some waterfalls and a group of puffins (fun fact:  a group of puffins is called a “circus”).  After leaving the cove, we were out in the ocean and the wind helped push us along past seals, starfish, eagles, and jellyfish.  The clouds were so pretty, and the sun was so warm!  It was just what I needed to feel like myself again!

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Once we reached the north end of the island, we turned back.  This is when things started to get difficult – we were now paddling into the wind, and the waves were much more noticeable.  I could feel my arms and abs burning more and was very grateful when we could pull into a cove to rest.  But it was worth it because we had an amazingly close encounter with a sea otter!  They are usually very skittish but we were able to paddle very close to this one!

20140820-235435.jpgYou can already see the otter – it’s a tiny black speck in the center at the top of the water!

20140820-235446.jpgSea otters are my other favorite – we were so close we could see its face!

After the excitement was over, we were back to paddling our arms off until we made it back to our starting point.  I started feeling nauseous as the waves increased in size, and I was honestly pretty glad to be back on solid ground once we were done!  I think 3 hours in a kayak is my limit!  Clearly that guy was right about my wimpy arms too  :)   But it was an incredible day and definitely a good workout that gave my tired legs a break.  I fell asleep on the boat ride home and then we went to be really early, so it took a lot out of us!  I think I’ll try kayaking on lakes again once we live in Anchorage because me and the ocean do not mix.

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How can you try kayaking?  Look up nearly lakes at your local parks, and check Groupon for deals.  Many local and state parks will have kayak rentals if they have a big enough lake!  Sea kayaking is an extra challenge but if you live near the ocean you should try it out!

Have you ever kayaked before?  Do you have wimpy arms like me?

Sometimes You Just Really Need…

Hi everyone!  I’m starting this week off on an exciting note:  I’m back to my normal work schedule and have the next 3 days off!  Yay!  And boy do I need it!  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week were pretty scary – my heart pain came back worse than before.  It starts as a pinching feeling in my heart and sometimes spreads out to the rest of my chest and my upper back.  It comes at random times, like in the afternoons at work when I’m typing up passenger lists and listening to music (not stressful), or while standing outside with my coworker in the mornings waiting for our passengers to arrive (also not stressful).  There were no warning signs, but the good news is that there were no other symptoms I would associate with heart attacks like sweating, dizziness, nausea, arm pain, pressure, etc.  I also started feeling this weird “shaking” feeling in my heart – it felt like I was shaking, but my body wasn’t shaking at all, it was only my heart and insides that were shaking!  That new sensation totally freaked me out and caused me to do the one thing I didn’t want to do, which was Google my symptoms.  What I found was that many people experience this pinching/shaking feeling, and they all said that they were diagnosed with anxiety and many were prescribed anti-anxiety meds.  This basically sent me over the edge.  I don’t want to be on medication, I just want to feel normal again!

Once I realized that my doctor may have been right and I might actually be suffering from pretty extreme anxiety, I realized I couldn’t deal with this alone. So I started talking to my friends about it, as well as my mom.  It turns out that many of my friends have been through the same thing, and a few were even prescribed anti-anxiety meds and have been able to stop using them now.  The craziest part is that my mom told me that shortly after I moved up here she was feeling the same symptoms, and rushed to the hospital to get tests only to find that the cause was anxiety!  How is this so common?  Why is no one talking about this?  I felt so alone and scared until I learned that other people are/have experienced the same thing and have gotten through it.  It acted as a mini-breakthrough for me, and after talking to my friends we ended up having a fun night shopping for flannel shirts at the Fish House (this is what we resort to without any real stores in Seward) and going to an improv comedy night that our coworkers were hosting at a local coffee shop.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling much better than usual – and surprisingly much happier too!  I went all morning with only minimal inner shaking and very mild pains, and after having a successful morning putting a few hundred cruise ship passengers on our tour boats I celebrated with a blended caramel mocha from my favorite coffee place!  I seriously missed coffee and I swear I felt so much better after drinking it!  And the best part of the day?  IT FINALLY STOPPED RAINING!

20140817-224350.jpgFinally seeing the mountains in the bay again after rain/fog for 1.5 weeks straight!

The past few weeks of dealing with stress, sadness, and chest pain has taught me a lot about myself.  I’ve learned that there are so many things we want for ourselves, so many ways we think we can improve, and so many ideas of how we can finally be “happy”.  Facebook, blogs, and social media in general does this to us – we see the best parts of people’s lives and that’s all we compare ourselves too.  I’ve read so many blog posts that make me feel inferior because I can’t keep up with the lives that these people are living.  I’m not running 14 miles at a 7:00/mile pace at once or waking up at 5:30 to workout (I do wakeup at 5:30 to go to work, does that count?) or eating only non-processed foods – and you know what?  That’s fine right now.  I don’t need to measure up to anyone else – I need to be the best Kristen that I can be right now and not stress over the future or where I think I should be.  And I’m learning that to do that, sometimes you just really need…

  • To go running as hard and fast as you can and to feel incredible at the end.  Bonus points if your heart doesn’t hurt at the end.  Super extra bonus points if you don’t care that your idea of fast is running your last mile in 9:10 – and being super excited about it!

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  • To drink that coffee and trust that your body can handle the caffeine the same way it always does.
  • To find a ridiculous, probably unhealthy Pinterst recipe and make it for dinner.  This week’s recipe:  a grilled cheese sandwich made with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni that you dip in marinara sauce instead of tomato soup.  In case you were wondering, it was incredible.

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  • To watch Disney movies with your friends and sing along to the songs.
  • To hike in the rain and not worry about your hair.

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  • To call your mom and cry with her.  It feels so much better once you get it all out, and moms aren’t allowed to judge.
  • To eat that damn cookie.  Because fresh baked, crispy yet gooey cookies are hard to find, and if the crew of the Coastal Explorer can make them every day and bring leftovers back to the office you should definitely eat them.

20140817-224438.jpgWhen the boat comes back at 2:00 pm we all secretly hope to see one of these bags in the break room!

  • To start the Blogilates beginner month-long workout challenge and to really look forward to doing small workouts every night because it means you’re making yourself stronger (more on this later!).

Each and every one of those things happened this week, and they are the moments I want to focus on – not the ones where I worried about every detail about my scary unknown upcoming future/the rest of my life and what could go wrong.  I’m going to keep taking things one day at a time while calmly working towards my short term goals of finishing the Beat the Blerch half feeling strong, hiking all over Seward, getting healthier in my own way/at my own rate, and getting a PSL as soon as they go on sale.  Because YOLO, right?

yolo

Have you ever had anxiety like mine?  How do you focus on the positives when life is super stressful?  What awesome silly things did you do last week?

Friday Five: The Five Future Things I’m Excited About!

Hi everyone!  It’s Friday again, and this week’s Friday Five linkup with Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, and Mar on the Run is a free Friday.  So this week I decided to take a look at some future things that I’m excited about!  As most of you know, my future is a bit up in the air – I’m done with my current job in Seward in a month and I’ll need to find a job and an apartment in Anchorage in that time.  Everything seems pretty uncertain but I’m happy to report that in the past week I’ve discovered some exciting things on the horizon!

1.  We FINALLY bought our plane tickets to the lower 48!  Andrew and I are done with work in Seward on September 14 (how do I only have 1 month left?!) and we are going to be visiting Andrew’s dad in Seattle and the rest of our family in Philly before the grand finale:  being a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding on October 4!  We are so excited about the trip and feel that we definitely deserve a 3 week vacation  :)  The tickets weren’t too expensive, and we don’t need to rent cars or hotel rooms so it’s not going to kill my bank account!  Plus I get to see Bella again!  God I miss this dog!

IMG_0629I will be cuddling with her 24/7.  Gotta make up for lost time!

 2.  My next half marathon might not be a total hot mess.  I skipped last week’s long run due to some crazy stomach issues and then it rained all week (yes, so many excuses!), so last week’s 8 miler is being moved to this weekend!  I took a look at my calendar and I think with the time I have left I should be fine getting up to 10 or 11 miles before the Beat The Blerch Half.  I’m banking on some of my “fitness level” sticking around from the Her Tern Half, plus hopefully my new addition of hill repeats and more frequent runs will help get me there!  No matter what, this race is Blerch themed so as long as I can beat my own Blerch, I should do great!  And I will earn Nutella at the end  :)

3.  PSLs are coming back!!!!!!  Okay, I know what you’re thinking – didn’t I give up coffee in an attempt to get my weird heart pain/palpitations to stop?  Well in not so exciting news, they haven’t stopped.  They even happen when I’m not stressed or thinking about anything, which is slightly scary but I’m still going to blame it on stress.  I’ve been missing my afternoon coffee so bad, and seeing so many “coffee is healthy” posts on Buzzfeed and Facebook is making me wonder why I’m even giving it up.  I think just 1 cup a day (which I’ve done forever) will help me more than hurt me.  And today, I mentioned PSLs and the entire office went crazy.  One of my favorite coworkers even called the Starbucks inside the Safeway here in Seward to see when PSLs are coming (he must be new because he replied “October?”and hung up) and then she called one of the Starbucks in Anchorage where they confirmed the rumors online:  PSLs are back on August 25!  To all my haters out there, no it is not too early for pumpkin stuff.  I live in a place where it feels like fall for half the summer so I can totally justify it too  :)  #PSLsalldayeveryday

IMG_1769Throwback to last year’s first PSL of the season.  I think it was 90 degrees that day!

4.  I finally chose my big amazing dream vacation half marathon for next year!  I haven’t actually registered yet because if you read this post you’ll know that I can’t ever pull the trigger on race registration.  Plus I’m pretty poor right now.  But it’s one of the 3 on that post and I am DYING because it looks amazing!  As soon as I register I will let everyone know which one I chose!

5.  It might stop raining this afternoon…or possibly next week.  It’s been raining here nonstop (literally) for a week now and we are all slowly going insane.  I’m not talking normal rain either – I mean cold, hard, nearly horizontal, monsoon rain.  Umbrellas are useless here.  I have worn my rain boots to work for the past week and I have given up on doing anything to my hair.  All of our long boat tours are either cancelled or are turning around before reaching the open ocean because everyone is getting seasick from the 13 foot waves.  And I’m going stir crazy – I’m all for running in the rain but this is ridiculous.  Wednesday night it stopped for a few hours so Andrew and I went hiking out to Tonsina Point, where it quickly began raining again as soon as we took the picture below.  I am so excited to get my next long run in on a possible partly cloudy/drizzly day next week!  I know that Mobile, AL is the rainiest city in the US but I feel like Seward was overlooked!

20140814-201734.jpgThe ocean + the mountains + fog = a really pretty hike!

20140814-201742.jpgWe got a glimpse of sunshine yesterday!  Excited for more soon!

It’s nice to feel like I’m looking forward to something again – for a while there my future was really stressing me out.  Even just buying those plane tickets made me feel better because now I have a real timeline for the next few months!  And some PSLs and sunshine would cheer anyone up  :)

What exciting things are going on in your life this week?  And who else is pumped up about PSL season?

Things I’m Loving This Week

Hi everyone!  It’s been almost a week since my doctor visit, and I’ve been making some changes.  I’m still in the beginning stages, but so far I’ve been totally coffee free and drinking lots more water than usual.  I read that I should be drinking about half my body weight in ounces of water, and I think I reached that a few times last week!  It’s tough, but I feel better doing it.  And I’m realizing how thirsty I’ve been!  I even make sure to hydrate with Nuun after running so that I’m doing all that I can to rehydrate my body after working out.  I’ve also been eating more vegetables, although I’m still eating a few sweet treats throughout the day.  Yesterday our office had a potluck, and it was not my proudest lunch hour.  But we’re taking baby steps here!  I’m more aware of what I’m doing to my body now and I’m learning some self control.  I plan on focusing on healthier eating this week!

One thing I’ve been trying at the recommendation of all of you is yoga!  I’ve managed to do a few sessions off youtube, but with my crazy internet connection here it’s been tough to get through a whole session at night which is when I feel like I need it the most.  There is nothing like finally starting to relax and realizing that the video is not loading anymore!  I’m going to keep up with it and try a few different videos before I share more about how that’s going.  My heart/chest pain happens less often now, but I still woke up to some intense stomach pains the other day which intensified whenever I thought of something stressful (aka every 5 minutes) and didn’t feel better until my lunch break once the hardest part of my day was over.  It turns out that if I worry enough, I can make myself feel pretty terrible!  I even got myself worked up on a run this weekend and had such bad stomach pains at the end.  I’m hoping I can start dealing with my stress better this week, I seriously just want one day without anything to worry about!

20140811-000311.jpgThe view from my rainy run at 10:30 pm this weekend.  How I can be stressed with this view is a mystery.

In order to get excited about these new changes and keep focusing on the positives, I’ve been checking out some blogs online for advice.  In the process I found the following few articles online this week and I thought they were worth sharing!

  • According to this study, running 5 minutes a day will add 3 years to your life.  That’s reason enough for me to keep running!  My favorite part about this study was that the people who identified themselves as runners had a 45% lower risk of dying from heart-related issues.  Since I have a history of heart disease I find this very reassuring and will use this as motivation when I try to skip my next run!
  • This article is full of tips on making sure you’re running with good form.  I’m pretty sure I have terrible form so I’m going to take note of these things!  It suggests doing a head-to-toe inventory once or twice per run to make sure you’re running with good form.  I never think about it so I’m excited to try this next time!
  • A new fitness tracker that will give you an electric shock when you sleep through your morning wake ups or skip the gym!  It’s based on Pavlov’s experiments, and the point is that you will begin to associate oversleeping or laying around after work when you should be at the gym with a negative consequence (the shock).  I think it sounds terrifying and would make me hate working out, but negative consequences do help build habits so this might work for some people!
  • I totally understand this runner who says they love to run alone.  Yes to all of those reasons, especially number 8!  Running is a way for me to spend time outdoors, enjoying my surroundings and de-stressing after a tough day.  I think running with other people distracts from that, although it can be fun sometimes!
  • When looking up articles nutrition plans for runners, I stumbled across an article from Runner’s World on the Food Pyramids for Runners.  I’ve included it below.  Pyramid #3 is spot on!  Hoping I can get rid of the “donuts” section of my food pyramid!

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As for non-internet things I’m loving this week, I’ve got quite a few:

  • Water bottles that have measurements on the side.  I feel so good about myself when I’m able to refill it and say “Oh I just drank 24 ounces, here’s 48!”.  I love seeing progress towards my goals!
  • Running in the rain.  I’m talking a light drizzle with the clouds looking all crazy in the bay.  See the above running picture if you don’t believe me  :)
  • Books.  They distract me from my own life and give me something to look forward to each day.  My coworker just lent me Orphan Train and I’m so excited to start reading it!
  • Buying shoes.  I bought some new TOMS in Anchorage last week at Zumiez (I have never shopped there in my life) and they were on sale for $29!!!!!  They are wool and fleece-lined and incredible.  I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear them all the time!
  • The fact that the dinner cruise that our company runs ended last night!  From now on Andrew will get home from work 1 hour earlier and we can try to eat dinners together again!  Cooking for 1 in that kitchen is rough.  My coworkers and I took the final dinner cruise last night and had a blast though!

20140811-000247.jpgHanging out on the island in one of the few non-rainy moments we’ve gotten in days!

I can’t thank everyone enough for all of your support last week.  It’s hard admitting that I’m doing crazy things to my body with my lack of hydration, terrible eating habits, and total stress.  I’m going to continue to take small steps to getting healthier and hopefully I’ll continue to have successes along the way!

What are you loving this week?  Have you read any interesting blog posts lately?

Friday Five: My 5 Favorite Race Memories!

Hi everyone!  I’m very excited about this week’s Friday Five with Mar on the Run, You Signed Up For What?!, and Eat Pray Run DC!  The theme this week is “Top 5 Race Memories” and I’m so excited to look back on my favorite racing moments!  Focusing on these positive memories is definitely reducing my stress today  :)

1.  My first race ever.  In September 2012 I ran my first race – a 5K at Ridley Creek State Park (the same park where I got married and trained for every other race!) benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand.  It was hilly and I had no idea how to pace myself or deal with other runners – it was a mess!  I remember leaving and not being super happy about the experience.  But then a few days later I signed up for my next 5K and the rest is history!  Even if your first race is a mess it will always have a special place in your heart.

IMG_0415Race #1!

2.  My first half marathon.  If you read my blog at all you know how much this race will always mean to me!  This race was one of my bucket list items that I dreamed about doing even before I was a runner.  It consequently inspired me to start running and to keep running!  It was an incredible experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  If you want to sign up for your first half marathon, this should be the one!

20140225-231603.jpgOne of my happiest moments EVER.  I dreamed about this for so long!

 

3.  The first race where I felt like a real runner.  When I signed up for my first 10K ever – the Hershey 10K – I had no idea that it was going to be the biggest race I’d ever run up to that point.  I was nervous seeing all the people, but it turned out that the race course had a ton of crowd support and hearing someone cheering for me (my name was on my bib) was the greatest feeling ever!  When we ran through Hershey Park and saw that the entire staff was in there cheering for us I got emotional.  And when I finished 8 minutes before I predicted I would, I was the happiest girl on earth!  I left that race feeling like a “real runner” and it’s a feeling that I still get when I run longer races.  Oh, and we got milkshakes at the end.  Can’t forget that!

IMG_0834This was my very first race medal too!

4.  The first time I felt invincible in a race.  I won a free race entry to The Love Run Half Marathon in Philadelphia, and I was so excited to run through Philly in a race setting!  I started out faster than usual and loved seeing tons of people cheering for us.  I made it to the halfway point still going fast and thought “Hey, I might be able to meet my 2:30 time goal!”.  And then it started POURING.  Like, monsooning.  For the rest of the race.  I was cold, soaked, and my bib kept falling off because it was disintegrating.  But despite all the crazy things going on around me I stayed strong and continued to run at a faster pace than I’d ever run in a long run.  And I finished just short of my 2:30 goal, getting a 19 minute PR in the process!  It was the most amazing feeling knowing I’d run in the cold rain for so long and still didn’t slow down or give up.  If my bib wouldn’t have repeatedly fallen off, I know I would have beat my time goal and I’m hoping I can have another good race like that again soon!

20140404-010141.jpgBefore the monsoon

5.  The first time I felt fast!  I ran the St. Patrick’s Day 8K in DC this year and finished it way faster than I thought I would!  Although 8K isn’t quite 5 miles, it’s all I have to compare it to – and I ran it 10 minutes faster than my first 5 miler and 5 minutes faster than my most recent 5 miler only 3 months prior!  I was so impressed with how fast I was able to go and loved that I was seeing improvement!  The race scenery was awesome (we ran past the capitol and independence mall) and my friends Angie and Avery got to cheer me on which was so exciting!  Plus this race included a free post-race milkshake from Shake Shack.  Noticing a trend here?

20140309-224855.jpgI’m the one wearing a long sleeved blue shirt at the point of the arrow

Looking back on my happy racing memories is helping me feel more confident about my next race in September.  There’s nothing like looking back on your favorite race memories to help put you in a better mood!

What’s your favorite race memory?  Do any RunDisney events make your top 5 list?

A Bit Of A Wakeup Call

Hi everyone!  This post is kind of stressing me out but I need to share it.  Recently, I’ve been noticing a few things:  My clothes fit tighter, I get super tired easily during runs, I’m constantly tired, I cry a lot, and worst of all – my heart has been beating funny and I’ve been having chest pains and some trouble breathing.  On Friday it was so intense that I thought I was going to throw up and pass out at work.  Given my very deep family history with heart disease, both Andrew and I were extremely concerned about the heart issues.  I coincidently had an appointment scheduled with the Anchorage Women’s Clinic yesterday, so everyone encouraged me to talk to the doctor about how I’ve been feeling lately.

I woke up before my alarm went off yesterday morning and was surprised to find that not only was I not tired for the first time ever, I really wanted to go for a run.  So despite the fact that I had to leave Seward by 8:00 to get to my appointment in time, I headed out for a 2 mile run.  Crazily enough, I started running at 6:45 am which is something I’ve never done before.  I hate waking up early, but I’ve been so tired after work lately (well, and before work too) that I never feel like running anymore.  It was awesome to run through my sleepy town before the tourists took over for the day!  Plus I got to see lots of salmon in the lagoon which is always fun.  I had been so stressed and tired the last few days that it was so nice to start my “weekend” off with a relaxing run!

20140806-014221.jpgThe salmon were running with me!

After my run I drove to Anchorage with my friends to distract me, but I was nervous for my appointment.  It turns out that my doctor was really nice and I was able to talk to her about everything.  First of all, according to their scale I’ve gained like 8 pounds in the past 4 months.  Ugh.  That is not acceptable and I’m pretty disgusted with myself.  I know that sharing a kitchen with 40 other people is making me want to make only quick meals and they’re not the healthiest, but I need to get it together and stop eating like crap.  That’s also what’s causing me to get tired faster when running because I’m not fueling properly.  I think I’ve known this for a while, but I need to tone it down with the free cookies and processed dinners and start eating real food again.  I’m scared that I’m going to struggle with this, but Andrew and I are stocking up on good snacks like fruit, nuts, hummus, and veggies.  I’m also going to bring some snacks to work with me like pretzels and almonds so that whenever I get hungry I’ll reach for those instead of buying unhealthy snacks.  I’m a picky eater so I know it’s going to be tough to eat healthier.  If you have any kid approved (since I’m basically a kid) healthy recipes pass them over to me!

20140806-014201.jpgAt the mall, falling in love with massive inflatable donuts.  I have a problem.

Second, my heartbeat was normal and my doctor couldn’t find anything medically wrong with it which is awesome!  But the tiredness, sadness, and heart issues all seem to be stemming from my unending and overwhelming stress and anxiety.  Moving up here was stressful, but now in order to stay here and avoid spending thousands more dollars to move back home we both need to get jobs and a place to live by the beginning of October.  We’re also struggling finically more than we did in Philly because the move cost so much, and I’m obsessing over paying off our moving expenses as soon as possible.  Even just typing those sentence made my heart beat faster, so the doctor was pretty confident that my stress has negative effects on my body.  We discussed using running as a coping strategy (she was a runner too!) and I’m also thinking that even just adding a few small stretching sessions of yoga in the mornings or after my workouts will help keep me relaxed.  I plan on spending all day today and tomorrow applying for jobs so I’m hoping that we will hear something soon and my poor heart can get a break!

Third, the heart issues might be connected to my caffeine intake.  I usually only drink 1 cup a day in the afternoons, and I only do it 4 days a week when I’m at work.  Lately I’ve been so tired that I’ve been drinking 2 cups a day, and that combined with my stress might be causing too many issues with my heart.  My doctor told me that some people can’t metabolize coffee well and that I should try tea instead if I want to wean myself off caffeine.  I can tell that I’m addicted so I’m worried about giving it up, but I bought some Tazo Tea at Target yesterday and I’m excited to try it out.  I also need to drink lots more water and Nuun to stay hydrated instead of dehydrating myself with coffee.  I guess cutting down to 1 fancy coffee drink a week didn’t end up helping my problems so I’m cutting it out altogether!

20140806-014328.jpg My body needs more days like this at work

There will be lots of changes for me in the next few days as I attempt to get adjusted to new food, more workouts, and no coffee.  My doctor discussed ways to prepare me for these changes slowly because so many people try to start too many things at once and they end up failing.  I know I will make mistakes along the way, but I’m hoping that overall I’ll start feeling better soon once I clean up my diet and stop drinking coffee.  And once I’m feeling better, I’ll hopefully feel less stressed!  I’m optimistic that I can feel and look better by the time we move out of Seward on September 14.  I need to stop worrying about the future and trust that things will turn out as long as I keep working hard to meet my goals.

Since I love you all and value your opinion so much, I’d love to take your suggestions on getting healthier!  Leave me a comment if you have any info about the following:

  • Yummy, simple, healthy recipes that work for a picky eater
  • Tips for coping with stress, sadness, and anxiety
  • Giving up coffee/caffeine
  • Ways to relax and stay calm during a stressful day
  • Awesome yoga routines that will put me in a zen mood
  • If you’ve ever been where I am right now and how you dealt with it.  It’s hard.

Why 5Ks Are My Least Favorite

Hi everyone!  Last week I decided to sign up last minute for the Alaska Sea Life Center’s 5k Wildlife Rescue Run on Saturday.  It’s one of only 2 5Ks held in Seward all year, and I originally was bummed I couldn’t run it because I had to work.  The proceeds help rescue and rehabilitate sea animals in the Seward area and since my company works pretty closely with the Sea Life Center I was sad I couldn’t help out.  Last week my manager brought it up and asked me if I was running it.  I said of course not, since I had to work.  She then told me she’d give me some time off during the day to run it since she knows how much I love running!  At first I was really excited since I haven’t run a 5K since April.  But as the race day approached I realized that while I’ve been running a lot of long runs lately, I’m not really prepared for a fast and short 5K.

20140803-195756.jpgProbably the prettiest race course I’ve ever run!

The race started at 12:00 pm at the Sea Life Center and followed my usual waterfront running route out to the harbor and back again.  I did not like having a mid-day race because I’d already eaten breakfast and had no idea how to fuel for a race at that time of day!  I ended up eating my usual pre-race oatmeal at 10:30 since I felt weird breaking my race day food tradition.  It was a beautiful day for a race, although a bit warm (68 degrees!) and sunny since it was already noon.  I usually run at night when it’s cooler!  The race was run really well and there was tons of crowd support from both Alaska Sea Life Center employees and tourists who happened to be camping along the waterfront trail.  The finish line area was also decorated with chalk art congratulating us on finishing which was so cute!

20140803-195804.jpgAbout to finish!

The entire race my stomach was hurting and I was so hot.  I would have given anything for some shade!  I can honestly say I pushed as hard as I could but I still didn’t manage to break 30 minutes by a few seconds as usual.  My time got me in the top 75% of finishers, which was pretty good considering the fact that the entire front row at the starting line was made up of teenage track stars who were doing sprints before the race.  As I paced back and forth in the shade after the race to try to cool down and not puke, I realized something:  I don’t think I really like 5ks.  Why?

  1. I’m not fast.  And I hate trying to run fast.  It’s stressful and painful and my body hates it.  I can run a 10:00/mile pace no problem, but anything under that causes my stomach to hurt and my breathing to be all over the place.
  2. Everyone else is fast, and the race is so short that you don’t ever get the chance to catch up.  In half marathons you can start off slow and then pass lots of people at the end, but that’s rarely the case with a 5K.  It’s so mentally difficult pushing through the fact that you’re being passed by so many people that you won’t ever catch up to.
  3. You have no time to enjoy the scenery or live in the moment.  You have to push so hard that you can’t take any time to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
  4. It’s so hard to turn off all the negative “You need to slow down NOW” thoughts going through my brain.  When I only have a short amount of time to fight them off I find that I can’t do it.  I always try to stay positive but when my Garmin is telling me to hurry up or I won’t get there under 30 minutes yet again I just kind of shut down.  In case you couldn’t tell, I stress over time goals!
  5. They sound easy in theory – I mean, I run 3 miles a few times a week so how hard can it be?  But for some reason my body freaks out when it’s in a 5K situation and it seems so much harder than a regular 3 mile run at the exact same pace!  It’s kind of depressing that a 5K can tire me out so much after all of the long runs and half marathons I’ve been through.

There are some things I like about 5Ks – the excited new runners that are running their first race, the cute race shirts (that I have way too many of), the fact that they are so popular and I can usually find one to run whenever I have the urge to challenge myself, and the fun themes that some of them have.  Everyone has their favorite race distance, and for me that’s currently half marathons.  Even though I used to love signing up for 5Ks when I first started running, I no longer really enjoy them the way I used to and I’m looking for other races right now.  I’m also kind of bitter about not hitting my sub-30 goal yet again (I’ve only done it once), but I don’t really feel like training for that right now.  Maybe after Beat The Blerch I’ll be more willing to try that out.  For now, I’m going to stick with my longer distances and focus on running long, happy runs!

20140803-195812.jpgPost-race pic at the Sea Life Center celebrating race #2 in Alaska!

What’s your least favorite race distance?  Do you like 5Ks?  Would you rather run fast or run long?

Friday Five: What’s New?

Hi everyone!  It’s time for another Friday Five with Mar On The Run, You Signed Up For What?!, and Eat Pray Run DC.  This week we’re talking about what’s new, and I’m happy to have some new things going on up here in Seward!

1.  I went to Homer this week!  Andrew and I realized that the summer is slowly winding down and we are running out of time to travel the Kenai Peninsula before moving to Anchorage in September.  So we took a 5 hour drive over to the other side of the peninsula to spend a night in Homer.

kenaipeninsulaA map of the Kenai Peninsula to keep things in perspective

Homer is basically Seward’s “competition” for tourists because they are very similar, and I have to say that overall I like Seward better.  But you know, I might be a bit biased  :)  To get to Homer you have to drive a really long, boring road with no fun distractions – there aren’t even mountains on that side of the peninsula!  When we got to Homer we found out that there is virtually no hiking which is totally unacceptable for me.  But they do have the Homer Spit, which is a long sandbar that goes out into Kachemak Bay.  There are lots of cute restaurants and stores out on the end of the spit, and it basically looks like you’re at the beach so we did enjoy having a mini beach vacation.  The population is twice as large as Seward and they even have a traffic light and a McDonalds over there so I felt like I was back in civilization for a bit!  And yeah, they did have better Mexican food.  But I probably won’t make the drive out there again any time soon unless we can fly over to Kachemak Bay State Park for better hiking or fly to Katmai/Kodiak to see the bears!

20140731-203644.jpgThe Homer Spit from the top of the 1 hill in town.  Kachemak Bay State Park is on the other side of the bay.

20140731-203539.jpgOur view at dinner from the end of the Spit!

20140731-203608.jpgApparently I need a jumping picture everywhere I go  :)

20140731-203622.jpgIt looks like it could be the Atlantic Ocean…except it’s the Gulf of Alaska

2.  Seward’s donut scene is ruining my life.  While I may be getting my training under control, I have a new evil sugar-filled snack that is threatening to destroy my health:  the waffle-nut.  No lie, that’s its official name.  It’s a new creation at Safeway that involves taking a waffle square, frying it like a donut, and covering it in sugar.  It’s basically a superdonut but tastes like a funnel cake!  I had one and then told my coworkers about it, and now we’re having weekly waffle-nut feasts.  I love those girls but they are definitely enabling my donut addiction and I need to stop!

In related news, I bought the most amazing donut at The Moose is Loose in Soldotna on our way to Homer.  It’s called a “roadkill cinnamon bun” – it’s a cinnamon bun, but it’s smashed totally flat and covered in sugar instead of icing.  It’s delicious and huge!  Thank god Soldotna is 2 hours away or I’d be eating there all the time!

20140731-210150.jpgAll the people trying to eat healthy need to ignore this picture

3.  I’m still on the fence over which race to choose and I’m freaking out.  It hit me on our long drive over to Homer that every “little” trip that I plan is going to be such a huge process now that we live in Alaska.  And I’m freaking out over it.  I don’t know when or where to race next year and I’m having anxiety over making a choice.  And not making a choice would be even worse because I really, really want to run one of these three races.  Even living in Philly, these would be considered big trips so it’s not like Alaska is technically holding me back from registering.  But I’m still a mess and I wish I had enough time/money to travel to a new state whenever I wanted to run a race.  If I was rich I would spend all my money on travel!  How can I choose just 1 place to visit a year when there are so many beautiful places out there that I haven’t seen yet?

4. I (accidentally) ran 7 miles and forgot I was running a long run. While we were in Homer I couldn’t help but notice that there was a 4 mile walking/bike trail that ran the entire length of the Homer Spit, and I was thinking about how nice it would be to run on it when my husband actually suggested I go on a run! This is why I love him, he can read my mind :) Anyways, I headed out for 6 miles and had a fantastic time running! It was warm but windy, and the flat trail and new scenery made the run go by quickly. I didn’t have any of my usual “Oh my god it’s a long run I’m going to die” feelings. When I finished I tried to call Andrew to pick me up near the end of the spit but his phone was off. So I ran another mile towards the parking lot and then walked the remaining 2 miles. It was cool that I had the extra time to walk because I got to see a bald eagle closer than I’ve ever seen one before!

20140731-203657.jpgWhat all my long runs would look like if I’d chosen to live in Homer instead of Seward!

20140731-203721.jpgThe running trail

20140731-203745.jpgThe view at the end of my run

20140731-203706.jpgA bald eagle on the top of the tsunami siren

5.  I’m trying to cook more.  Andrew and I are pretty much done with eating fish and chips and caribou burgers out with our friends all the time, and we’re trying to cook more.  Yesterday we made homemade chicken-stuffed manicotti which was so delicious!  I got the recipe from Pinterest and Andrew was a big fan.  We like to work together in the kitchen so it’s a fun way to relax and catch up after work.  It’s not super fun when you have to share a dirty kitchen with 40 other people, but it’s making me excited for the fall when we’ll finally get our own kitchen!  I can’t wait to take my Kitchen Aid mixer out of storage!

So that’s what’s been going on in my life lately.  Hopefully next week I’ll have some new job or apartment prospects to report on, or maybe a new cross training workout?  I’m hoping that I’ll keep on trying new things in our last few weeks in Seward!

What’s your food downfall?  Have you run anywhere new lately?  Do you have any favorite recipes to share with me?