It’s Finally Here – The Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K!

Hi everyone!  I’m so excited to announce that my very first virtual race, the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K, is happening on Sunday!  Are you ready?

Solstice Sprint Logo with link

There are probably two types of people reading this post right now:

  • If you don’t know what I’m talking about:  Sign up here!  The race is a celebration of the shortest day of the year passing us by.  It’s free and you can run anywhere in the US at whatever pace you choose.  There’s no competition with this race.  And the best part is that you can win a Black Diamond headlamp if you finish!

headlamp

 

  • If you’re already signed up:  Get excited!  Sunday is going to be awesome!  Feel free to run the race whenever you want – I’ll be running it at about 12:00 Alaska time (4:00 Eastern).  Once you run the race, click here to submit your race results as soon as possible.  This page is my way to confirm that you ran the race and will enter you into the prize giveaway. I’m closing the results page at 10:00 pm Alaska time (2:00 am Eastern) so that I can use a random number generator to choose the winner and will have the giveaway ready for Monday!  I will also be doing a massive shoutout to all of my participants during my race recap so if you want to take a picture at the race, tweet it to @RunAwayWithKK and I’ll include it!

If you want to wear a bib to make it more race-like, I made one here:  Solsitce Sprint Bib.  I’m totally printing mine out to hang on my bib hanger!

I am so excited to be running with you all on Sunday!  It’s been a long, dark few weeks here in Alaska and I’m looking forward to getting through the shortest day with you all while getting in race #13 of 2014.  So excited to run with Stacey,  Melanie, Rebecca, Helly, Nunzia, Rachel, Courtney, Gina, Sara, Shawna, Maria, Annmarie, Letty, Beth, Jenny, Krystin, Teri, Stephanie, Inna, Brienne, Katie, and John!  Andrew might be joining me in person so I’m not physically running alone!  That puts us at a total of 24 runners!  I can’t believe that I’m about to run in my own race, and that I have so many awesome people joining me from all over the US!  Have fun and good luck!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas…If Only In My Dreams (Friday Five Linkup)

Hi everyone!  It’s Friday again, which means that it’s time for the Friday Five Linkup with Cynthia, Courtney, and Mar! This week’s theme is holiday traditions.  And to be honest, I didn’t really know how to approach this topic.  This is my first Christmas ever outside Philly and away from my family, and to be honest I’m kind of taking it hard.  At first I was all “YAY CHRISTMAS!” like usual, but as we get closer and closer to Christmas and the sun comes out less and less I can just feel myself becoming sadder.  I’ve started realizing how sad some Christmas songs are – especially “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”.  Seriously?  What is Frank Sinatra trying to pull with that kind of song?  Not everyone can be home for Christmas, and we don’t need to be reminded of it constantly.  He is making me sob while driving to work, cry silently in my office during lunch, and get teary eyed when I read blog posts about other people doing stuff with their families.  I am so happy we moved here and I’m still so in love with Alaska and my job, but I can’t deal with not being with my family on Christmas.  Last year I even spent the night at my parents’ house and had so much fun feeling like a kid again.  And now…everything is different.  I’m realizing that my excitement over Christmas came from doing the same fun things every year, and I have none of those fun things here.  I feel like you don’t know what you have until you can’t have it anymore.  And the stupid sun is not helping my mood at all, even though I’m using a Happy Light and Vitamin D pills.  And where is the snow!?!?!

So when I thought about holiday traditions, I didn’t really know what to say.  So far we have done almost nothing Christmasy in Alaska because we don’t really know what’s out there.  So I decided to take a look at my usual Christmas traditions and see how I can try to keep them going here in Alaska:

1.  Look at Christmas Lights - This is my #1 holiday tradition.  I take this really seriously!  I knew about all the crazy Christmas houses in Bucks county, Montgomery county, Berks county, Delaware County, and Philadelphia County.  Seriously, if you live in any of those places just ask and I’ll fill you in on where to go.  We used to live in a very festive neighborhood and would drive around a few times a week looking at lights.  Our block had some impressive stuff!

20131224-011804.jpgPart of their light display was a snowman cowboy – wearing an Eagles shirt in case anyone got any ideas  :)  Their neighbors had a blow-up manger scene acted out by cows.

 South Philly was the most impressive with The Miracle on South 34th St.!

20131224-012007.jpg

And no Christmas is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens.  I’ve been going here since I was younger and it never gets old!

20131224-011910.jpg

Here in Alaska:  I’ve been googling where to find the best Christmas lights in Anchorage and I can’t find a thing!  It seems like most places here don’t put up lights.  I think it’s probably because there’s supposed to be a lot of snow on the ground, so having tons of inflatable Christmas things all over the place and lights all over the roof will get tricky with snow.  Since there’s hardly any snow, it’s not an issue this year and things just look weak.  The Alaska Zoo has a light display but I’m still looking for other places to go too!

2.  Baking/eating Christmas cookies - When I was younger my family would host Christmas Eve parties for our entire family, and my dad would bake a ton of cookies.  His favorites were chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, pecan butter balls, and nut wreaths.  They are soooooo good!

IMG_0567Santa ate my dad’s cookies!

Here in Alaska:  I’m going to ask for my dad’s recipes and try to recreate them here.  I’m also all about finding my own recipes to make my own Christmas cookie traditions!

3.  Christmas Eve parties - As I said before, every year my family would host a Christmas Eve party.  It was a huge part of my memories of Christmas, and when Andrew and I moved to DelCo after grad school I started hosting them myself!  We had my family and Andrew’s family come over, and I would bake a turkey (and my dad would bring his cookies of course!).  After our families would leave, Andrew and I would put Bella in her sweater and go for a drive around the neighborhood to look at the lights.

IMG_0557At our party 2 years ago – we weren’t even married yet!

Here in Alaska:  We bought a turkey to have our own Christmas Eve party…for just the two of us.  I’m a little afraid of my emotional state during a two-person, Bella-free Christmas Eve party, so I’m trying to think of something super awesome to do to make me forget how much I miss everyone.  Suggestions?

4.  Christmas morning - I act like a total child on Christmas morning!  I run around screaming about Santa, opening presents with my family, and eating our traditional Christmas breakfast of cinnamon rolls while listening to Christmas music.

20131226-114043.jpgBella helped me unwrap everything!

Here in Alaska:  I’ve already got the cinnamon rolls in the fridge.  My mom also mailed me all of my presents and they’re already under the tree.  Seeing her handwriting on all of my presents made me cry, but I’m so grateful to have them.  She told me she couldn’t bear the thought of me having any empty spots under my tree.  We’re going to open them over Skype so we can pretend we’re together!  Will I cry?  Yes.  Will it help me feel like we’re together?  Yes!

IMG_3693

IMG_3695So excited to see what she sent me!

5.  Christmas dinner with my mom’s family - We always head over to my aunt’s house for Christmas dinner, Pennsylvania Dutch style  :)  So much ring bologna and cheese!

IMG_0580Getting silly after too many cookies!

Here in Alaska:  I guess I’ll have to attend over the phone!  And find something else to do for Christmas dinner.  And they don’t sell PA Dutch food up here so maybe I’ll attempt to bake my first Shoo Fly Pie?

Writing this out helps me realize that there are ways to continue my Christmas traditions here in Alaska.  It won’t be the same, and won’t ever fill the space in my heart that my family holds.  But there are ways to make Christmas fun here.  I’m hoping we can start to create new traditions, and this time next year I’ll be writing all about those instead!

In happier news, my very first virtual race is this Sunday!  The Solstice Sprint Virtual 5k is being held on the darkest day of the year, and we’re celebrating the return of the sun with running and the chance to win a Black Diamond headlamp!  Not running it?  Enter here – it’s free and you know you want some virtual company on your weekend run!  And for the 22 people already signed up, check back tomorrow for a quick post on how to get your bib, run the race, and enter to win the prize – plus a huge shoutout!  I’m so excited!

Have you ever spent Christmas away from your family?  How did you handle it?  How did you fill old traditions with new ones?

Would You Rather: Holiday Edition!

Hi everyone!  It’s no secret that I LOVE Christmas.  Love love love it.  There is nothing better than listening to Christmas music while baking Christmas cookies while snow falls outside.  I feel like I don’t even really love Christmas day – just the Christmas season and all the fun activities it brings!  That being said, I love when I get to do anything Christmasy while running!  So when I read Runs With Pugs’ holiday edition of Would You Rather? I knew I had to participate!

Holiday would you rather

Would you rather…

…run a Christmas themed event in the heat or the snow?  Is this even a real question?  Christmas in the heat is not normal!  Snow all the way!  Bonus points if it’s physically snowing during the event!

…sing/listen to Christmas songs during your run or wear a Christmas outfit during your run?  I don’t listen to music when I run and I LOVE dressing up, so Christmas outfit all the way!  I have so much fun planning my race costumes whenever I get a chance to run in one!

IMG_2224Twinsies!

…get a new running watch or a free race entry?  I hardly ever wear my watch – due to safety reasons I carry my phone with me on every run so I just use that to track my miles – so I’d go with the free race entry.  I sign up for so many races anyways that I need all the help I can get!

…go for a run before your Christmas meal or after?  Before!  I hate running on a full stomach and I know I’ll feel super lazy after I eat anyways.  I plan to get a run in on Christmas morning after I open presents!

…listen to an audiobook/podcast while running or read a book about running?  I’d say read a book.  I love reading and last time I read a running book (Born To Run) I really enjoyed it!  Plus like I said earlier, I don’t listen to things while I run.

…have a year’s access to an online running coach or 5 one-on-one visits to a running coach?  I think I’d like an online running coach better.  I hate running with other people – it makes me feel like I’m back in high school!

…give up your Christmas to help those in need (like a soup kitchen) or spend your Christmas with ALL of your family?  This might make me sound selfish, but I’d choose to spend it with my family.  I miss my family so much and I’d give anything to be with them for Christmas.  Maybe someday…

…watch Love Actually or The Holiday?  I’ve never seen these movies so…neither?  I’m overruling both of these in favor of Elf!

elfPerfect day

…eat ham or turkey for your Christmas meal?  Turkey!  Every year Andrew and I used to host a Christmas Eve party with both of our families and I would always cook a turkey.  I think we’ll be doing that again this year, except we’ll be by ourselves this time.’

And bonus question that I added myself:  …hang out with the Heat Miser or Snow Miser?   I’ve always hated the heat and stupid green Christmases (still never had a white one!) so Snow Miser all the way!

snow miser

What would you rather do?  Let me know in the comments or post this on your blog and link back to me!  I want to see your answers!

And don’t forget about my Solstice Sprint Virtual 5k happening this sunday on the Winter Solstice!  If you haven’t signed up what are you waiting for?  It’s free, you can win a Black Diamond headlamp, and you know you’ll be running anyways  :)  I’ve already got over 20 participants and I’m so excited to run “with” everyone!

Running With A Newbie: The Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis Recap!

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  My weekend was a blast!  I’m feeling better mentally but still feeling totally dead tired all the time.  We did buy Vitamin D pills so that should start helping soon!

Friday night:  My coworkers and I had a virtual holiday party!  We had mailed cookies to each other (one in Juneau and one in Soldotna) and played Mad Libs over GoToMeeting.  Apparently virtual meetings and parties are the norm in Alaska where it’s too expensive and time consuming to travel from office to office.  The best part was when my manager gave me my present – a Happy Light!!!  Now I can start trying to reverse the affects of SAD!  After the party ended, one of my coworkers and I went to a shopping event at our local running store!  It was a women’s-only event where we made a gift list, drank wine, and played fun games to win raffle tickets (like “Guess which abs belong to which celebrity”).  I also played their online “Tree of Gifts” game and won $10 off a purchase, so I’ll be back to get some running gear soon!

Saturday:  Andrew and I ran the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis!  The race didn’t start until 11:00 for daylight reasons, so we slept in a bit and then dressed in our ugly sweaters before heading over to the University of Alaska Anchorage where the race was being held.  We got to hang out inside the student union until the race started, although it wasn’t too cold out – probably in the upper 20s.

IMG_3654

Andrew hasn’t been running too much lately, and only agreed to run the race because he knew I was missing home and all the fun Christmas stuff we’re usually doing this time of year.  We had a ton of fun planning our outfits and a bit less fun doing some last minute training for it, but I knew that he was not going to have as much fun as the race as I was because he’s not a big fan of running.

IMG_3652Really proud of my headband – $1 at Target!

IMG_3659Drinking reindeer sweater

IMG_3651Best socks ever!

Despite that fact, I think we had a pretty good time out on the course.  The race was mostly in the woods on pretty snow-covered trails, and we got a surprise – the sun came out!  I was running along thinking about how amazing it was that I was out running in the sunshine with my best friend.  Although we went at a much slower pace than I’m used to and took a few walk breaks, I think we did an amazing job!  The other runners were super supportive and festive (one girl in a santa costume was running with Christmas music playing!), there were carolers singing by Goose Lake, the volunteers and police officers had super encouraging words for us as we ran along, and one special volunteer at the end ran with us for a bit before letting us cross the finish line strong!  Andrew was so worried we were in last place, so I was happy to see we finished around the 50% mark!

IMG_3665

Overall I loved this race and would definitely run it again next year – even if Andrew’s not up for doing it again.  I really liked that the vibe was more about dressing up and having fun instead of racing for time.  There were lots of walkers, runners with dogs, and strollers involved so I know it was a chill race.  The winning runner came in right under 20 minutes which is pretty slow for the winning time!  I just loved seeing all the Christmas spirit and fun outfits everyone had.  Any race with fun Christmas photo ops is a good race to me!

IMG_3664Oh hey Frosty

A note on running this race with my newbie runner husband:  I’m not used to running with other people, and I found it challenging at times.  I was constantly worrying about stuff – was I going too fast?  Was I being supportive enough?  Too supportive?  Was he miserable?  Were we taking up too much space on the trail?  And this one I’m afraid to admit: what was our finishing time going to be?  It’s hard when every message about running is focused on getting a PR and having a fast finishing time, and even Andrew is caught up in finishing fast.  I usually finish somewhere around 30 minutes, and my last 5k was run in 35 minutes on the ice.  Our finishing time of 43 minutes was the slowest I’ve ever run a 5k with the slowest race pace I’ve ever had.  But honestly, I didn’t even care.  It was so great running with my husband and even though it was far from a PR, I loved getting to take my time and run with Andrew.  I don’t think I’d want to run every race like that (I’ve got to push myself sometimes) but it was nice not caring for once and running just for fun.

IMG_3657Always jealous of the husband shoe pics.  Totally had to get one with our jingle bells!

Sunday:  The sun made another appearance so we took a walk around Westchester Lagoon.  It was 32 degrees and it felt so warm – no gloves required!  Tons of people were ice skating on the thin ice and we saw tons of cross country skiers as well.  One person was on skis and was letting his dog pull him down the trail, and one guy was riding his bike and pulling his kids on a dogsled behind him!  Crazy stuff going on here in Alaska.

IMG_3675Believe it or not this is 1 pm.  But yay sun!

IMG_3684An eagle on the trail

IMG_3679

Andrew and I are so excited to try this stuff out on our own and we’re hoping for some good weather next weekend!  Sunday will be spent doing my Solstice Sprint Virtual 5k of course (have you signed up yet?  It’s free!) but hopefully I’ll have a little more daylight left to do something on skates or skis!  And I’ll leave you all with this:  Santa on top of a semi truck parked in the Taco Bell parking lot playing country music.  Merry Christmas from Alaska!

IMG_3685

How was your weekend?  Any fun races?  Have you ever raced with a newbie runner before?  And where is the craziest place you’ve seen Santa?

Friday Five: Winter Activities I’m Dying to Try

Hi everyone!  It’s Friday again which means it’s time for the Friday Five Linkup with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!  This week’s theme is “Favorite winter Activities”, but I’m tweaking it a bit!  I’m going to start off by writing about winter activities that I want to try this year.  I never got the chance to do these activities in Philly and I’m excited to try them in Alaska!  And then I’ll finish up with 5 of my current favorite winter activities.  I love winter and I’m so excited to get more snow and get cold enough temps to start doing everything on my lists!

Friday Five Winter

5 things I’m dying to do this winter:

1.  Outdoor ice skating:  All the outdoor rinks are currently still classified as thin ice, but I am so ready to rent some skates and try this one out!

IMG_3601Westchester Lagoon on Wednesday

2.  Cross country skiing:  REI rents skis and the parks and rec department has classes (yes we are that uncoordinated that we probably need a class on how to move while wearing skis) so this will be done as soon as possible!

3.  Snowshoeing:  We don’t need these yet, but if we ever get a ton of snow and want to hike we’re going to need some snowshoes!

4.  Snow machining:  Known to people in the Lower 48 as “snow mobiling” – I was told that if I say that here I’ll look like a tourist.  Great.  No chance of this happening since we don’t know anyone who has one, but it looks like fun!

5.  Running in the dark:  I’m so afraid to do this because of the close run-ins I’ve had with moose that were lurking near me in the forest without me noticing until it was too late, but I have to get over it at some point because it’s so dark after work!

5 of my current favorite winter activities:

1.  Running in the snow:  SO MUCH BETTER THAN SUMMER RUNNING.  My studded shoes have made such a difference and now it’s like I’m running on normal snow-free ground – except it’s prettier!

IMG_3613

2.  Finding the Northern Lights:  I’ve done this once already, but I want to see them as much as possible while it’s so dark out!

bigdipper

3.  Building snowmen:  When it starts snowing I immediately drop everything to do this.  I can’t help it!

20140105-225244.jpgLast year’s snowman!

4.  Perfecting my winter baking skills:  I’m currently eating some incredible candy cane chocolate cookies that were made possible by my lovely Kitchen Aid.  I made them twice this week.  #sorrynotsorry

IMG_3628Recipe coming soon!

5.  Catching up on my reading list:  I brought so many books with me to Alaska – I’ve read most but there’s a list of ones I’m planning on reading all winter long!

IMG_3493

I’ve got a lot to do – I better get started ASAP!  And if you’re looking for a fun winter activity that will get you outside on the darkest day of the year, join me at the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K on December 21st!  It’s the first virtual race I’ve ever hosted and all of the details can be found here.  We’ve already got quite a few people signed up and I can’t wait to run “with” everyone!

What’s on your to-do list this winter?  What are your favorite winter activities?

Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K: The Cure for Winter Running Blues

Hi everyone!  I’ve got some big news on the blog today!  But first, I want to give you all an update on how winter has been going here in Alaska.  Before I moved here, everyone told me how snowy, cold, and dark it would be here as if it was a frozen wasteland that I had no point in going to.  People got REALLY intense about it.  I was definitely worried as the days creeped towards winter.  So let’s take a look at the current winter situation in Anchorage:

Snow:  We have about 2 inches on the ground and the roads are clear.  My mom just called about the snow they’re getting outside Philly tomorrow though, you could ask them how winter is going.

Cold:  Um, not really.  It was 38 today and rained.

Darkness:  HOLY CRAP WHERE IS THE SUN!  Has anyone seen it?!?  Oh wait, it’s that orange thing low on the southern horizon that kind of puts out light 5 hours a day and is constantly covered by clouds?  I am too tired for this ish, I’m going to take a nap now considering it’s dark out anyways.

adaywithoutsunshine

Yeah, that’s basically what is happening with the daylight.  And my sanity.  It seems like everyone is acting a bit crazy right now – my manager is hilariously dancing around my office eating candy with me like she’s sleep deprived, I’m hiding in her office because she has windows (although since it looks like it’s constantly 6:00 pm outside it’s not really helpful) and talking to her keeps me from falling asleep at my desk, and even Andrew is getting more into napping and playing video games instead of going outside to do things.  And I am beyond lazy right now.  I’m constantly tired and my body seems to hurt – like it’s screaming for a nap.  I’m getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but I’m still so tired every day that I’ve upped my daily coffee intake to at least 2 cups and I still feel nothing.  I have no motivation and would rather nap (I hate naps!) than run after work.  And although I’m not really sad – I can’t be sad at Christmas! – I do feel like crying sometimes for no reason.  I think we’re all suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It’s caused by lack of sunlight and can be helped by using a “happy light”, tanning, or taking vitamin D pills.  Andrew and I really need to get some of those!  We thought we’d be fine, but we’re definitely not.  I’m not myself.  It’s hard to be when the sun rises above the mountains around 10:30 and starts setting at 3:00.  And even when the sun makes an appearance, it’s so low on the southern horizon that it looks like the sun is setting, even when it’s not.  And there have been weeks of clouds keeping it hidden from sight.  To put this into perspective, our streetlights only turn off from 12:00-2:00 now.

IMG_3544-0Noon in Anchorage, AKA the brightest part of the day.  Every day.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the lack of sunlight would make on my body, but it’s definitely real and so much worse than anything I felt in Philly.  I mean, the sun no longer rises up above us like it does in the lower 48.  It’s pretty bizarre.  And all we can do is wait until December 21st, the winter solstice, to finally experience the darkest day of the year and begin moving towards the brightest day of the year again!  Each day we lose 5ish minutes of sunlight, but on December 22nd we’ll start gaining 5ish minutes!  I remember how excited I was on the summer solstice to see that it was still light out at midnight, and I want to get excited on the winter solstice about the return of that sunlight!

20140622-194912.jpg

Midnight on the summer solstice…kind of looks like noon near the winter solstice.

As I was trying to think of a great way to celebrate the winter solstice, I realized two things:

1.  There are probably other runners out there who are suffering from SAD, lack of winter running motivation, and wishing the sun would come back.

2.  I have only run 13 races in 2014 – I’m one short of my goal of 14!

So I decided to try something I’ve never done before, and host a virtual race on the winter solstice!  It’s called the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K.  It’s a free event that I’ll be hosting on December 21st and can be run anywhere by anyone!  More details about my event can be found here.  Once you sign up, I’ll be giving shootouts on my blog and twitter to all participants.  And once you submit your finish time, you’ll be entered to win a Black Diamond headlamp so that you can keep running all winter long!  I’m hoping to see a lot of you sign up and join me as we beat the winter blues and celebrate the start of more sunlight!

Solstice Sprint Logo with link

Do you suffer from SAD or any similar symptoms in the winter?  How do you keep yourself motivated to run even when it’s dark out?  And will you be joining me for the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K?

A Slight Chance of Sun

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  Mine was actually pretty awesome and I’m excited to share it with you!  I feel like I never recap full weekends but it was a pretty good one with a surprise happy ending!

Friday:  Our office had book club after work AKA an excuse for us all to hang out at my manager’s house drinking and loudly discussing Alaska politics.  This is where I learned that Baileys + coffee =  the greatest drink on earth.  Then I picked Andrew up from work and went ugly sweater shopping!  We went to a thrift store but had the most luck at Walmart.  If you’re running an ugly sweater race this month, go to Walmart – they had some hilarious stuff there, including a vest that said “I fish you a merry Christmas” with a hideous picture of Santa fishing on it.  I had to pass that one up in favor of one that was a bit warmer.

IMG_3584A pile of ugliness just waiting to be worn!

Saturday:  Andrew and I have started setting our alarms for 9:00 on the weekends because otherwise we’ll totally sleep until the sun rises at like 10:30.  But my mom called me at 8:30 and woke me up to discuss Christmas presents!  I am so excited – she’s getting me nice black business casual waterproof boots that I can wear to work on snowy days!  Although those are much cheaper on Amazon  :)  After online boot shopping with my mom (not the same as shopping with her in real life but I’ll take what I can get these days) Andrew and I went for a run!  He hasn’t run since the summer but since he signed up for the Jingle Bell for Arthritis 5k with me it’s time for some last minute training!  He’s never run in the snow before and honestly I’m not sure he enjoyed it.  But I had fun running around in the woods with my best friend!

IMG_3559

IMG_3554Whoever decorated this tree on the trail is my new BFF

IMG_3563

Sunday:  I had to go to a work event in the morning, but when I came home I was greeted with the most amazing surprise:  THE SUN!!!!!

IMG_3566I could see it from my living room!

There have been weeks of never ending cloudiness here in Anchorage and we only have about 6ish hours of possible sunlight in a day anyways.  But I can’t even tell you the last time I saw the actual sun, not just sunlight through the clouds.  So I was jumping around screaming!  Andrew was watching the Eagles game, but I drove down to Earthquake Park to watch the sunset at 3:30!

IMG_3572

IMG_3575Don’t mind me, I’m just drinking coffee out in the snow

IMG_3571

Things are definitely getting rough here in terms of daylight.  I’ll go into it in more detail on Wednesday, but it’s slowly driving me crazy and I need to do something to cheer myself up and remind myself that on December 22nd we will begin gaining daylight every day instead of losing it!  So watch for a super fun announcement in Wednesday’s post!

hellosunshine

Do you like running in the snow?  What do you consider a must-have at a Christmas race?  When is the last time you saw the sun (I’m about to get jealous here!)

Friday Five: Friday Favorites

Hey everyone!  It’s finally Friday!  And that means it’s time for the Friday Five Linkup with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!  This week’s theme is Friday Favorites, and since it’s finally December I’ve got a lot of favorites right now!

Hello December

1.  Christmas decorations!  Our tree is up and we’ve got the “Christmas Miracle” up too!  What is the Christmas Miracle you ask?  Well, it’s a lovely story.  Once upon a time back in college, my roommate and I bought a light up Christmas garland for our apartment.  It stopped working, and we were really sad.  And then one day, it randomly started working again after being broken for a while!  We dubbed it the “Christmas Miracle” and now all garlands after that one have had the same name.

IMG_3545Garlands everywhere!  And yes, I took this laying down on my couch.  It’s been a long day.

2.  Christmas music!  I cheated and started a few days before Thanksgiving.  I can’t help it!  I play it at the office, at home while I’m cooking, and especially in my car while driving around.  My absolute favorite is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”.  It’s especially magical with snow falling!

IMG_3519Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

3.  And on that note, IT FINALLY SNOWED!  Yeah, we only got like an inch.  But it’s a start!  It finally looks like stereotypical Alaska now!  Every day there are little periods of super light beautiful snowfall.  It doesn’t stick to anything but it’s beautiful!

IMG_3518Mostly excited I got home from work without driving off the road.  It’s slippery out there!

4.  Cookies.  All the cookies.  Mostly chocolaty and pepperminty ones.  I literally can’t stand peppermint until the holidays roll around and then I put it in all the desserts and coffee that I can eat!  I was holding off on baking any since I’m still not over pumpkin (pleeeeeease don’t let pumpkin season end!) but the education department of my company has decided to throw a little holiday party next week and we’re all baking cookies for a cookie swap.  The twist is that 3 of us work in Anchorage, one works in Juneau, and one works in Kenai!  So we have to mail our cookies out this weekend to make sure they get to the other offices in time.  The cookie swap theme is chocolate, so I’d love to hear all your amazing chocolate cookie recipes!

5.  Holiday themed races!  I always make sure to run some kind of race in December because it’s always a lot of fun.  Ever since I started running I’ve signed up for the Kris Kringle 5 Miler in Reading, PA which came with the best race swag – hoodies!  I obviously won’t be there this year, which I’m actually not too upset about because every year there seems to be some sort of weather disaster that I have to deal with at that race.  Last year I also ran the Ugly Sweater Run in Philly with Andrew and it was so much fun running around in the fake snow wearing silly costumes with him.  And I am super happy to report that Andrew has agreed to sign up to run the one and only Christmas race here in Anchorage with me!  We will be running the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis on December 13th and I’m excited to be running in real snow this time!

20131209-231139.jpgLast year I made these costumes, but this year we’re going to rock some ugly sweaters!

Those are my favorite things about December!  What are you favorites?

Holiday Wish List for Runners – Alaska Edition!

Hi everyone!  It’s December, and you know what that means?  Time to make those holiday wish lists!  Last year I made a long list of all the running things my heart desired, but this year I’m narrowing it down to 5 things that all of you should have on your wish list that I’m in love with, and the 5 running things on my wish list now that I live in Alaska!

holiday wish list

5 things that all runners should wish for:

1.  BAMR Bands – these are my favorite running headbands!  They don’t slip, come in tons of cute patterns, and are cheaper than big brands out there.  Check out my review of them here.  Unfortunately you won’t see them on any of my outdoor runs until the temps are in the 40s again.  But they’re great for the gym!

20140731-203657.jpgMy fav yellow chevron BAMR Band back in the summer

2.  A foam roller – this chunk of foam has made a huge difference in my ability to recover from long runs.  It really hurts so good and totally takes away any pain I have.  I even used it the other day after spending all day in my Sorel boots and I felt great afterwards!

20131204-085841.jpgI found mine at TJ Maxx a year ago for less than $20!

3.  YakTrax Run – if you’re not able to stud your shoes, get a pair of YakTrax Run shoe covers!  They fit snugly over your running shoes so that you can transform into an amazing winter running machine!  They work really well on packed snow and ice.  If you’re trying to get into outdoor winter running, this will make you so much more comfortable on your runs!  Believe me, you won’t fall!

20131215-215738.jpg

4.  A Road ID – I just got mine in the mail and haven’t tried it out yet (look for a review soon!) but I love that it’s literally a life saver.  Mine includes important information about my family heart disease as well as emergency contact numbers so that if anything happens (like a moose attack) the first responders will know who to call.

5.  Pro Compression Marathon socks – I got a pair of pink ones last winter and fell in love with these socks!  When I was a new runner, compression socks intimidated me for some reason – are they too tight?  Do I need them?  Are they hard to get on and off?  But after wearing them after a tough run I was hooked!  They go on pretty easily and have a nice squeeze feeling that really helps make your legs feel better (hey, just like my foam roller but with less work!).  I started wearing them after every long run for a few hours.  As I began running my long training runs on my treadmill for the Disney Princess Half, I wondered if my Pro Compression socks could help make my legs feel better during the run too.  And after wearing them once during a long run I never went without them again!  They helped prevent any muscle pain in my lower legs which is great on a 2 hour run.  I highly recommend them if you run because not only are they comfortable, they’re cute too!  Pro Compression has a ton of colors and fun prints available on their website, and they’re always running great deals to help you save money.  Right now, you can get 40% off your order if you use the code PINK2 by December 15th.  The snowflake socks are on my wish list right now – they would be perfect for a snowy run!  Pro Compression sent me an awesome pair of black marathon socks recently* and I love that even though they’re not a super bright color, they will go with all of my running outfits.

IMG_3524Resting my legs in my Pro Compression socks after my Turkey Trot last week!

5 things that I’m wishing for up here in Alaska:

1.  The Brooks Infiniti Headband – yes, this was on my wish list last year.  And I even gave one away to a lucky reader.  But honestly, it is so warm and comfy that I want more!  I found it with a “run happy” print on it, and although Brooks sold out they’re luckily sold in other running stores online!  I love how it perfectly covers my ears without taking over most of my face.

IMG_3455My current polka dot Infiniti headband!

2.  A Polar Fleece Buff - I love my original Buff and my trail scarf from Run Pretty Far, but now that I’m in Alaska I need to step it up a notch.  The original version is super thin, and while it helps keep my neck warm during runs I’d like something a bit heavier when it starts getting super cold.  I’ll also be able to wear it while skiing and snowshoeing so it’s definitely at the top of my list.

3.  Really good running mittens – After reading an article on the best running gloves on Be Well Philly, I discovered these 3-in-1 mittens from Eastern Mountain Sports.  They come with touchscreen gloves as well as a waterproof outer mitten to keep your hands warm (with a nose wiping area too!).  I love that they’re convertible for varying weather situations.

4.  A headlamp – I have resisted so far, but I am now becoming one of those runners who owns a headlamp.  It’s just so dark here all the time!  After doing some research, I learned that the Black Diamond Spot headlamp was named the “best headlamp” for all-around use at a lower price point.  Although I won’t have any use for a headlamp during the summer due to our awesome midnight sun situation, I do need it now while we have 5 hours of sunlight a day and there are moose lurking in the woods where I run.

5.  A tablet – I am signing up for the gym any day now (no, really) and once I shell out that incredible amount of money to join I’m going to actually need to go running there.  And since treadmill running is kind of rough without trashy reality TV to get me through it, I want a tablet so that I can watch whatever I want while I’m running!  I’ll be half marathon training through the winter and I need all the help I can get in order to get through my 2.5 hour runs.  And that’s a lot of Teen Mom right there.

So there it is!  My 2014 Holiday Wish List.  I hope you found some great new products and have some new ideas for your lists to Santa!  As for me, my tree is all decorated now and I’m excited to see what shows up underneath it in a few weeks!

IMG_3530

What’s on your wish list this year?  Does your list have anything in common with mine?

*Disclaimer:  I was given a pair of Pro Compression socks free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own, especially about the cuteness of the snow socks.  Which I still want for Christmas FYI  :)

Race Recap: Skinny Raven Turkey Trot

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and enjoyed your long weekend.  I had a blast making my Christmas list, online Black Friday shopping, and baking up a storm while the snow fell outside!  That’s right, we FINALLY got snow!  More on that later.  For now, it’s time to recap my very first Turkey Trot in Alaska!

IMG_3512

On Thanksgiving morning Andrew and I had the chance to sleep in a bit because the race wasn’t until 11:00 am.  The sun doesn’t begin to shine through our windows until about 10:30 (and if it’s cloudy it doesn’t shine at all) so it’s really easy to sleep super late on days that we don’t have work.  We set our alarms for 9:00 and woke up in the dark so we could start preparing a few things for our Thanksgiving dinner!  As always, I ate a pre-race breakfast of oatmeal.  In Anchorage there is only one Turkey Trot, and it’s put on by Skinny Raven which is the awesome running store here.  Back in Philly I feel like I had tons of Turkey Trots to choose from (and ran a different one every year!) so it was nice having only one choice and knowing that it was going to be awesome.  It was around 20 degrees outside so I wore my fleece tights, a tank top with a fleece half zip over it, and a fleece ear warmer.  I also wore my trail scarf to help stay warm while waiting for the race to start, although I took it off my face once we got moving!

IMG_3496

There were a few thousand people running the race, which had a 5k and a 3k option.  The race started right outside the Dena’ina Convention Center so we could wait inside until a few minutes before the race started.  It also ended inside which was awesome since it was so chilly outside!  At 11:00 us 5k runners were off.  I seriously love Turkey Trots – I feel like they’re such low pressure races and are focused more on fun than on being intense.  Plus I can think about food the whole time!  I spent most of the race listing to funny conversations going on around me, most of which were about food.  It seemed like everyone was running with friends or family and I’m going to try to get Andrew to do it with me next year!

IMG_3497

Although the race was timed, I didn’t really go crazy with this race.  I didn’t wear my Garmin or record my time at all, and just ran at a pace that was comfortable and pushed it whenever I felt good.  It was by far my most slippery race ever with all the random ice on the roads, and I was so glad I wore my studded shoes!  As for the course, most of the race was flat and looped around the Delaney Park Strip downtown.  At one point we were near the coastal trail and I could see the inlet and the huge mountains across the water.  It was a really fun race and seemed to go by quickly.  There weren’t many spectators, and there were no water stops (can you even have those if it’s below freezing?) but the support between runners was awesome.  I made sure to thank each police officer that was blocking the road for us, and also made sure to tell runners behind me when I hit super slippery spots.  One thing that initially frustrated me about this race was that the 3k runners met up with us near the halfway point, and they were mostly parents with their very young children (many under 10 years old).  This meant that there were little kids all over the course sprinting, sliding, stopping, and crying randomly, and I spent a lot of time weaving my way around families and strollers.  But in the spirit of Thanksgiving (and not caring about my race time) I tried to not let it bother me that there was literally no race etiquette going on and instead tried to enjoy running with so many little runners-in-training!  By mile 3 most children were crying though, and I felt really bad for them because even though they were only in mile 2, it must have seemed long.  When I was nearing the finish line I passed a little boy who was crying and begging his mom to let it be over.  I could hear that she was trying her best to cheerfully keep him going, so I told him he was doing a great job and that we were almost done!  He stopped crying for a bit and his mom looked pretty happy at that point!  And I was so happy to be sprinting my way into the Dena’ina Center and toward my turkey dinner at home!  Although it was my slowest 5k ever, I felt awesome and thought I did pretty good considering the road conditions, the poor race etiquette of the other runners, and the crowded course.  My pace was 11:20 which is faster than most icy runs I did last year, so I’m excited to see how much I improve by the spring!

IMG_3498Super blurry shot that Andrew took by the finish line!  Notice my hilarious attempts at waving at him while not tripping on the carpet 

Post-race refreshments were basically nonexistent – we had to stumble through a huge crowd to find coolers of water in the corner that we used to fill our own cups, and there was no food.  I guess they figured we were going home to eat a lot anyways, but it was 11;30 and I had barely eaten all day!  We left pretty soon after I finished and went home for a hot shower and the yummiest cinnamon rolls ever.  Oh, and a big win over Dallas!  #FlyEaglesFly

IMG_3499

The rest of my day was spent baking my very first cheesecake, slow cooking a turkey (seriously, best way to cook one!), and using my Kitchen Aid mixer for the very first time to make yummy mashed potatoes.  And of course I had the chance to Skype my parents and my dog, who totally responded to my commands over Skype.  I miss her!  Overall it was an awesome Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to do it all next year!

IMG_3507

Did you run a Turkey Trot this year?  What did you eat after the race?