Visiting Fairbanks

Hi everyone!  As I mentioned in yesterday’s week 4 training recap, we spent our long Memorial Day weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska!  We had been thinking about camping somewhere for the weekend but noticed as the weekend grew closer that it was going to be raining everywhere that we wanted to camp.  We decided to check out the weather up north in Fairbanks, and it looked sunny and warm.  And we’d never been there before!  So we threw together some last minute plans and headed out on Saturday morning.

There are three main things you need to know about Fairbanks:

1.  It’s the northernmost city in the US, which means that in the summer months the sunlight is seriously crazy.  The sunset times don’t really seem to matter because it never gets dark this time of year.  I kind of should have thought more about this since I was sleeping in a thin tent…

IMG_5371The sun level at bedtime.  Note that the sun is still actively shining.

2.  It’s in the interior of Alaska, which is pretty flat.  That makes the climate very unique – this is the place in Alaska that gets -30 and below in the winter, but in the summer it can go up to 90 degrees!  And NO HUMIDITY!

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3.  Mosquitos.  They’re all over this state, but holy mosquitos up there.  They were in clouds.

On the 6 hour drive up there we were able to stop in Talkeetna for lunch at the famous Roadhouse, and then again outside Denali National Park for a beer at 49th State Brewing Company, which we drank outside in 80 degree sunshine.  It was at this brewery 2 years ago that Andrew and I had our first serious talk about moving up here, so it was awesome to get to go back!

Once we got to Fairbanks, I was surprised to see how flat the city was – no tall buildings, no mountains.  It was mostly farmland around the city!  I was also horrified by the amount of mosquitos at our campsite and I’m pretty sure they ate my entire body by the time we were done setting up.  We spent the night hiding in our tent trying to sleep under the midnight sun.  Not the best start.  But it was okay because we woke up bright and early the next day to cross something off my bucket list:  Visiting North Pole, Alaska!

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Santa let me take a selfie!  And then when I asked him why I never got that pony I always ask for, he just told me to keep asking.  So I wrote my mom a post card (stamped with the North Pole postmark!) asking her to buy me one this year  :)

All of the street lights in the town were candy canes, and the streets were named after Christmas stuff!  I am obsessed with Christmas so I had way too much fun there, although it’s a really small town.  After lunch downtown, we headed out to the Trans-Alaskan pipeline to act like tourists.  It passes right by the highway!

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Because there was basically no hiking in the immediate area, we ended our afternoon at Pioneer Park.  It’s a touristy area of town where you can look at the oldest buildings in Fairbanks, all of which are only about 100 years old.  We were starting to get bored until I discovered that we could rent kayaks from a company at the park!  We were able to kayak 7 miles down the Chena river.  It was a really lazy, calm river and we had so much fun floating by all the beautiful houses in the warm sun.

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On Monday we woke up at 5:30 am to rain, and between getting wet and the mosquitos trying to murder us as we packed up our tent it was not a fun morning.  But the drive back to Anchorage was fun and I’m glad to be back home!

Overall, if you are thinking of flying into Alaska and don’t know which city to chose, I’d go with Anchorage.  We have the ocean and the mountains, and I just feel like it’s closer to much more fun things like the Kenai Peninsula and awesome hiking trails and has way more stuff to do.  But in the winter Fairbanks has the Chena Hot Springs and the northern lights, so it may be worth it for some people.  I’m not sure if we’ll ever make the long trip back up there but we had a fun time exploring the north!  The best part was finally making it to the final mile marker of the Alaskan Highway, one year and 1523 miles later.  So much has changed and I’m glad we finally got to finish our journey north!

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Where’s the farthest north you have ever been?  How did you spend your labor day weekend?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 4

Hi everyone! This post is coming to you from the eternally sunny city of Fairbanks, Alaska! I’ll have a full post about our weekend trip up soon, but for now let’s take a look at this week of training:

Monday: a few hours of disc golf in hilly Kincaid Park with my husband. 

Pigeon pose on the course for some extra stretching!

Tuesday: I decided to double up on workouts today and took a Pilates class at noon and then went to the pub run with my other GOTR coach. The Pilates/running combo did not go well – I was exhausted and the entire back of my legs hurt from my hips down to my calves.

Wednesday: this is when the craziness began. I woke up sooooo sore in my glutes and hamstrings, and I realized my rest days have been nonexistent. But I couldn’t really skip my Wednesday group speed run at the track, so I powered through it and did four sets of 5:00 tempo runs at the same pace! Yay! Afterwards I could tell I was going to be even more sore, so I took an ice bath. More on this later, but for now I’ll say that it was hard but probably worth it.  

 Thursday: so much glute/hip flexor pain. I did all of the #LoveYourHips challenge yoga poses in a row and it helped with the hips but not the glutes. 

Friday: I had the day off, so I went to my very first flow yoga class at the most popular yoga studio in town. I just felt so tight and really needed to stretch. The class was in a heated room and despite sweating my face off, I came out of there so stretched out and in no pain at all! It was magical. I always feel sore after Pilates, and now I’m tempted to switch back to yoga because it felt so good!

Saturday: we drove up to Fairbanks all day and I got to rest in the car. Since taking that yoga class my hips felt awesome, but my glutes still felt pinched and painful occasionally. 

Sunday: we spent some time walking around Fairbanks, and then kayaked down the Chena River! But still no running although my pain is almost totally gone.  

 Some thoughts about this week: I decided to skip my attempt at a long run in favor of some rest days and I’m glad I did. I am beginning to feel 100% better and I’m going to take it easy next week and hopefully will be able to get right back on track. I think the reason for the glute and hip flexor pain is Pilates – I know that I accidently use my hip flexors sometimes, and a lot of the exercises use glutes and hamstrings and I think between Pilates and running they’re being overused.  And I also think I need to make sure to take real rest days and tone it down with the hiking/strenuous activities that I do on non-running days. Sigh. I think I need to change things up if I want to avoid a real injury this training session!

Do you ever have to take accidental rest days while training? Have you ever been injured from cross training? Has yoga helped you stay injury free?

GOTR Season Recap

Hi everyone!  It’s the day that my students have been dreaming about since last August…the last day of school!  I think it’s so crazy that the school year is over and it’s officially summer in Alaska!  Although I won’t have any classes to teach at schools for the next few months, I’ll still be working and getting ready for next year.  I ended this year on a high note with all of my groups, and I’m so proud and amazed by how far they came since day one!  I love working with teens so much and I can’t say enough good things about my first year as an educator in Alaska  :)

With the end of the year also came the end of my volunteer coach position with Girls on the Run.  Our last session was last Thursday, and I was so sad to have to say goodbye to those amazing girls!  We had a fun party to celebrate their accomplishments and reflect on how amazing they all were.

IMG_5144   IMG_5138They all signed our shirts!  This shirt is priceless  :)

IMG_5135Pretty sure we were dancing around to Disney music

It made me really think about why I joined the program.  I was very busy at work, but with my flexible hours I was able to leave early twice a week to make it to practice by 3:30.  At first, I was so nervous about what I’d have to do!  I’m used to teaching from a curriculum book, but I usually have lots of time to prepare and perfect my lessons.   With GOTR I was able to read from the book while adding a bit of my own flair, and once I felt comfortable with the flow of the lessons and what I was going to teach each week I started to relax and have fun!  I also loved that the lessons were so relevant and serious – we talked about bullying, media, gossip, being a good friend, loving yourself, being healthy, and having effective communication, but we did it in a fun and unique way that really worked with the 3rd-5th grade age group.  My favorite part was how we tried to make running as fun as possible.  We tried a few different strategies including stickers and beads on bracelets to keep track of laps, and played fun games like tag and “Running Hangman” where the students guessed a letter and had to run laps if they couldn’t guess a letter in the word.  By the end of the program each girl had come so far with running and friendships, and I can tell that the program impacted them in a positive way!  I think that we have some future runners in my group for sure, and I look forward to seeing a few of them on race courses soon!

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Overall, I HIGHLY recommend working with GOTR!  I loved so much about it (you can check out more about what to love about the program in this post), but here are my favorite parts:

  • Working with 3rd-5th grade girls is so much fun!  I’ve been working with middle/high schoolers for the last few years, but I have a special spot in my heart for elementary girls.  They are going through so many changes – they are moving from being little kids to being tweens and are about to enter a really difficult and scary period of their lives, and I loved that I was able to help make a difference at such a critical time.
  • The program was so positive!  Even when talking about something like gossip, we didn’t criminalize it – we discussed strategies to avoid it and things you could do to end the problem.  There was never a lesson that made girls feel bad about their situations, and we always had time to reflect and for the girls to ask us questions or get feedback on tough situations they were facing.
  • They introduced running as a fun activity, and made it into a team sport.  I hated running as a kid and avoided the mile run in high school whenever possible, but this program took out all the competition and made it not only fun, but something you could do with your friends.  I don’t think I ever saw a girl run a lap alone!
  • Meeting my co-coach and our teacher host for the year. They are both avid runners and I loved getting to know them and learn from them throughout the season. We’ve already run together outside GOTR a few times, and we have more plans for trail running this summer!
  • The girls got to celebrate in a big way.  Why run laps twice a week if you’re not going to eventually run a race with all that training?  I loved that the girls had a special section at a local 5k where they could get shirts, have their hair braided/colored, and then run with other athletes from the community.  They all got medals at the end and they looked so proud!

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I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the chance to be a coach again because it did take up a lot of my time and I’m not sure what my work schedule will look like next year.  But I will be signing up as a Running Buddy for all of their future 5ks and will do whatever I can to continue helping this awesome organization!  After all, Girls on the Run is so much fun!

Do you work with GOTR or another organization that helps promote healthy activities for kids?  Did you like to run when you were younger, and what made you decide to start running?

 

Mornings + Long Runs = Ugh.

Hi everyone!  It’s the middle of yet another sunny, gorgeous week in Anchorage and I’m loving it.  I mean, mid-60s and sunny from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm?  That’s basically perfection.  I want to be outside ALL THE TIME and so does the rest of the city!

IMG_5198Potter Marsh around 10:00 PM

Anyways, if you read my training update from Monday you’ll know that my hips/glutes are not feeling so great right now.  Maybe it’s the fact that I fill every possible moment with some sort of outdoor activity or a Pilates class?  I clearly need more rest days despite the fact I don’t have time because there are a million different hikes I need to do in the next few months.  And since the sun is staying out longer my body is trying to adjust to that too – it’s super common for me to forget what time it is and stay up way too late because it’s still sunny out!  And on top of all that, add in the fact that I’m NOT a morning person, yet my training group’s long run happens at 8:00 am and my body has no idea what’s going on or how to deal with the aftermath of running so far so early in the day.  After my long morning runs, I’m not really recovering well and end up feeling terrible all day.  Despite the fact that I’ve done so many long runs and early races in my life, they’re not getting any easier.

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I feel like I’m doing some things right – I wake up an hour and a half before the run to drink water and eat oatmeal, I carry water and fuel with me while running and I’ve got a pretty solid routine for mid-run fueling, and I recover right away with water, pretzels (I crave salt after running), Nuun, and chocolate milk.  Right after stretching, foam rolling, and showering I eat a full meal, and I keep eating/drinking regularly throughout the day.  But I still end up feeling like death after a few hours, and all I want to do is nap and eat.  No matter what distance I’m running in the mornings – 3 miles or 13 miles – I’m still equally exhausted by long morning runs.

IMG_5226Happily running in the afternoon

I’m realizing now that I need help to get better at morning running and recovery!  So I recently asked some of my fellow bloggers for some long run recovery advice, and I got the following tips:

  • Christine from Run Out of the Box suggested waking up 1.5 hours before the run to eat breakfast.  She eats a PB&J sandwich that she puts on her nightstand the night before, and then goes right back to bed!  Even though I already eat 1.5 hours before long runs, I’m impressed by her ingenuity with eating and then going back to sleep  :)  Every minute of sleep is precious!
  • Jen from Marathon Mom suggested a post-run protein to carb ration of 3:1. I never think about that kind of stuff while recovering (my brain is just like EAT EVERYTHING) so I’m going to look for some post-run meals that satisfy that ratio.
  • Kim from Two Years to Kona suggests including enough iron, protein, and B12 in my diet.  I don’t take vitamins right now (I take Vitamin D in the winter) so I’m thinking that adding some more vitamins to my diet may help with recovery.

And then just to make sure I’m not missing anything big, I checked out some expert advice on long run recovery and found the following articles:

  • Long Run Recovery Done Right: Even elite runners take naps after long runs!  It’s not just me!
  • How Do Morning Workouts Effect Sleep?:  This is so my sleep pattern, but with early work start times instead of workouts.  Once again, I find it interesting that early wake up times for workouts leads to naps later in the day.
  • Recovery From Running Hard Workouts:  I have never taken an ice bath/epsom salt bath before, but all of the baths and napping on this list makes recovery sound kind of fun  :)

One thing that I heard from almost everyone – including comments on Monday’s post – was that I need to make sure I get enough sleep.  I wake up at 6:30 every day for work so I thought getting up at 6:30 for a long run would be no problem.  But then I realize that I’m not a morning person, and by the time Saturday rolls around I’m usually tired and need a slightly later wake up time.  And I hate napping because it messes with my sleep schedule.  Maybe early long runs just don’t work for my body, which is unfortunate since almost all races happen early in the morning!  But I’m going to try to take some of this long run advice and hopefully I will feel better next time!

How do you recover from long runs, especially morning ones?  Any advice you think I’m missing and need to try?  Are you a fan of ice/epsom salt baths?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 3

Hi everyone!  Week #3 of HTH training is complete!  I also completed week #1 of the 14 day #LoveYourHips Yoga Challenge, and you can check out my week of poses over on my Instagram! Here’s what I was up to each day:

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Monday:  I decided to try out a mid-day Pilates reformer class at my studio.  The teacher was very different than my usual teacher and I left not really feeling the usual crazy ab burn that I feel in my afternoon classes, so I might not go during that hour again.  But it was nice having my afternoon free for once!

Tuesday:  GOTR practice, and then the Skinny Raven Urban Challenge Run with my GOTR coach!  We probably ran about 3 miles around town trying to get raffle tickets from as many businesses as possible.

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Wednesday:  Speed day downtown with my training group!  We ran 2 tempo runs for 5:00 each, a 30 minute easy run, and then another 5:00 tempo.  I was surprised to discover that I was able to run all 3 tempo runs at the same pace!  Win!  My running buddy thinks we ran 4ish miles during the timed portion of the workout.

Thursday:  My last GOTR practice of the year, and then I got back to my regular afternoon Pilates reformer class.  I also supervised a field trip at one of my high schools in the morning!  It was a geocaching field trip in what I thought was a small park near the school, but we must have walked all over every single inch of that park looking for the hidden geocaches!  It was tons of fun, but 6 hours of hiking up and down hills and through swamps really wore me out.  I actually counted this as a replacement for one of my short runs this week.

Friday:  My husband got out of work early, so I used the car to get to a 5:15 Pilates mat class with one of my favorite instructors from Pilates boot camp.

Saturday:  I was able to attend my training group’s long run at 8:00 AM (ugh) and despite the fact that we had to run an hour and a half, it flew by with the help of my new running buddy!  I am still so excited to have found an awesome person who runs at the same pace I do – talking to her while running makes the miles fly by!  We ran at a 11:50 pace for a total of 7.5 miles.  I then did my usual stretching/yoga routine and felt pretty good…until about an hour later when I started getting the same hip/groin pain on my left side that I had during Zion Half training!  It really hurt to put any weight on my left leg, and I tried everything to stretch it out and get rid of the pain while trying not to freak out.  It turned out that the pain subsided with a short walk along the coastal trail later that day, but I’m now a little bit freaked out that my injury will come back again.

Sunday:  I FINALLY got to sleep in a bit (8:00!) and rested all morning and afternoon.  My legs felt back to normal, so we went for a short and easy 4 mile hike in the Campbell Tract…which of course turned into 6 miles because we took a wrong turn and got a bit lost on an unmarked dogsled trail.  Fail.

IMG_5221Our wrong turn unfortunately did not have this sign on it.

While the week was great, I am concerned about the pain I got after my long run.  I’m worried that doing 7.5 miles already in this training cycle is what caused it, but I felt great during the run and didn’t think it would lead to hip pain again.  At this point I don’t know if I can safely add in that 4th day of running because I’m worried about doing too many miles too soon. I’d rather skip a short run each week in favor of a walk/hike instead than get injured and not be able to run at all.

IMG_5230Seriously, I don’t want to stop running.  I love it too much.

I also need some recovery advice from my fellow long runners:  After every afternoon/evening long run, I’m able to recover pretty well.  But after any length run in the mornings I end up feeling super tired and worthless the rest of the day.  I make sure to begin hydrating right away, and I always eat pretzels and Nuun within 30 minutes of the run.  I feel like I’m hydrating and eating enough before and after the run, but I always crash hard within a few hours of running and end up needing a nap.  Does anyone else ever feel this way?  Any advice to help me recover easier with morning long runs?

Some Midweek Awesomeness

Hi everyone!  I feel like I’ve got a bunch of things going on lately that are too small for an entire post, so here’s my list of some awesomeness that has been happening this week:

  • On Tuesday night my GOTR coach and I hit up the local running store for their monthly summer running challenge called the “Urban Challenge Run”.  We had 1 hour to run around hitting up all of the checkpoints for raffle tickets, and at 7:00 they pulled our tickets to win tons of prizes.  Despite not winning anything, I had a blast running around downtown Anchorage and getting to know tons of different new businesses.  I also loved seeing the other 700 runners who attended the event running all over town.  There were so many people there that they even had to shut the road down in front of the store to make room for everyone!  It’s cool to see how many people here love running!

IMG_5120The course map which they revealed at 6 pm

IMG_5121We hit up 11 out of 13 businesses and got an extra ticket for signing in!

  • I started a few mini fitness challenges this week.  I started a squat challenge (10 squats on Monday and I’ll be adding 5 squats a day until I reach 100!) and the #LoveYourHips Challenge with Lora Hogan and Brittany Suell!  Both challenges only take about a minute or two of my time, so I’m excited to do some little things that will hopefully give me good results with running and hiking.  I need to get stronger and stretchier for sure!

IMG_5125Yep, totally doing yoga at work.  Ballet flats complicate things!

  • I’ve been chosen as a RunGo Ambassador!  I’m so excited to be part of the group, and really pumped to be the only person in Anchorage using the app so far.  If you love finding new places to run but hate getting lost, this is the app for you!  You can search other runners’ routes and get turn-by-turn directions so you never get lost.

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  • Getting to act like a little kid.  My GOTR coach is really into yoga and inversions, and she taught me and some of the girls how to get up into a basic inversion after practice on Tuesday.  I was freaking out because I’ve never gone upside down before (literally can’t do cartwheels!) but I was so happy to finally be able to do it!  Me and the girls had way too many silly moments trying to get upside down  :)  We also spent most of the practice celebrating our recent 5k, which meant that the girls taught us some new games and showed us the best ways to use the playground equipment.  I wish I was in 5th grade again!

IMG_5115Next order of business: upper arm strength so I can do more of this!

Other awesome things worth noting:  the gorgeous warm weather, the end of school being next week (whaaaaaat!) which means tons of reflections and celebrations every class, and the fact that I get to be a chaperone for a geocaching field trip at one of my schools on Thursday!  Seriously, so much awesomeness.

What awesome things are going on in your life right now?  Have you ever tried an Urban Challenge Run, a fitness challenge, or inversions?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 2

Hi everyone!  Week two of HTH training is complete!

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Monday:  I literally had 30 minutes between getting home from work and picking up Andrew from work to get this run in, and I was so proud of myself for squeezing it in there!  It was just too warm and sunny for me to wait until later.

Tuesday:  GOTR practice (note: playing tag is like a speed workout for adults!) and then a Pilates reformer class.  During class I had a pretty strong calf cramp – cramps are normal but this one was intense and didn’t go away for a while!  After class it still hurt.

Wednesday:  To my horror I woke up with severe pain in my calf muscles, especially on my right leg.  My muscles felt so tight I could barely walk!  After stretching it felt better, but I was hobbling around all day.  I really almost skipped my HTH speed workout because I was convinced I was injured, but I couldn’t bring myself to skip the exact type of workout I need, so I powered through a 4 mile tempo workout with the group.  We had to run 2 loops of 2 miles each, alternating between a tempo pace and a recovery pace each time we ran past the cones that were set up on the course through the neighborhood.  I did the first 2 mile loop on my own, but on the second loop I met up with two women who were running at the exact pace I was and we alternated between pushing ourselves as hard as possible and then sharing running tips on our breaks.  Overall, our pace was 10:30 – and that’s including walk breaks between cones so I must have been running REALLY fast!  My running buddies were just what I needed to push faster than I’ve ever run before!  My legs felt a bit looser after the run so I’m glad I went.

IMG_4992The view from the trail

Thursday and Friday:  rest days because my calf still hurt and I was so afraid of overdoing it and making it worse.  I was so tempted to get in one more Pilates class but also felt like another cramp would do me in for sure.

Saturday:  I woke up early for the 5k that my GOTR team was running.  We ended up having enough running buddies for all of the girls who showed up, so me and the other coach sprinted across the neighborhood to meet up with the runners later on the course with the signs that our girls made in practice on Thursday.  When the girls saw us with their signs screaming their names they got so excited!  Near the end of the race we waited for the last girls in our group, and helped them cross the finish line while everyone from the other groups screamed at the finish line!  It was such a cool event and I’m so excited I got to be part of it!

IMG_4985Best GOTR team ever!  The girl in front of me actually ran the 5k in 27 minutes so we’ve got some speedy girls!

I then had to race across town to do a gig for work, and when I got home I was ready to do my long run for the week.  My goal was to do 5 miles in an hour with a 15 minute cool down, but then something crazy happened:  I went out fast, and never slowed down!

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WHAT!  If I kept running for another .2 miles at the same pace, this run would have put me only a few minutes behind my 10k PR – that’s how fast it was!  I felt tired but really great afterwards.  I could tell I was running faster than usual but it didn’t feel harder and I actually really felt great the whole time.  I’m hoping this speedy trend will keep up for the next 10 weeks and I’ll be able to run my fastest half.  After I went home I was inspired to sign up for a few upcoming short races that I’ve been dragging my feet over signing up for.  It’s been so long since I’ve PRed a race and while I’m not sure if I’m there yet, I do feel like trying to push myself in a race to see how fast I can get.

Sunday:  I decided to follow up my 6 mile run with a 6 mile hike!  We hiked out at Eklutna Lake for the first time and it was flat, sunny, and gorgeous!

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If this trail wasn’t so far from Anchorage I’d be running here all the time.  We plan on coming back soon to ride bikes on the gravel road and rent kayaks to use in the lake.  The trail is 12 miles one way and the hiker in me hates not getting all the way to the end this time – but I’ll do it someday!  And the best news from today is that my calf didn’t hurt at all!  The super fast run must have been exactly what it needed to go back to normal.

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Next week I’ve got 4 runs instead of 3, getting back to normal with Pilates classes (with less cramping!), and a bit more yoga for extra stretching.

How was your week?  Have you ever gotten a cramp mid-workout?

Friday Five: Five Reasons to Share Your Running Love With GOTR!

Hi everyone!  It’s Friday AKA time to link up with Cynthia, Courtney, and Mar for another Friday Five!  This week we’re talking about sharing the running love, and it’s perfect timing because tomorrow is my very first 5k as a coach for Girls On The Run!  GOTR is an awesome program that teaches girls in 3rd-5th grade how to be amazing, strong, and confident girls while also helping them train for a 5k.  It’s my first season as a coach and I’ve been having a blast!  I obviously love teaching life skills (I’ve been doing it at various jobs for years), but my favorite part of the program is where we get to run together as a group.

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Sharing my love of running with my GOTR team has been an awesome experience because:

1.  I get to teach girls valuable life skills through running.  Pushing through the fear of joining a new team, the discomfort of training, and the nervousness of preparing for a race are skills that will prepare these girls for future struggles in life.  We spend a lot of time making parallels between running and life, and my goal is that they’ll leave this program feeling stronger and more confident after reaching their goal and will be ready to take on the world!

2.  We value going at your own pace.  Sure, we’re all running a 5k this weekend that is open to the general public and it’s called a “race”.  But we don’t focus on the racing aspect at all – we encourage our girls to go at their own speed so that they can finish feeling like they tried their best!  We discourage comparing girls to each other, and don’t focus on speed in practice.  There will be tons of time for that in the future!

3.  Running becomes a team effort.  Running is a solo sport right?  Well, up until a few weeks ago I would have said yes!  But I’m learning that having a supportive group of runners who are preparing for the same goal as you is so helpful!  At GOTR we spend so much time cheering each other on and encourage positivity and support as important qualities.  I’m looking forward to cheering on a lot of runners with my running buddy this weekend as we make our way through the 5k!

4.  We mix things up.  When adults run, we go out and simply run.  When we run at GOTR we make it way more exciting!  We set lap goals and then have girls keep track of their laps with “bracelets” (pipe cleaners and beads), we play “running hangman” where girls have to guess a letter and if it’s not in the secret word they run a few laps, and we use fun games to sneak in some unexpected running.  For example, sometimes the girls aren’t interested in doing the planned track workout…but they’ll do a running scavenger hunt (run to something red and do 10 jumping jacks, run to a friend and give them a high five, etc.) or play some form of tag instead.  As long as they’re moving and having fun we’re pretty happy!

5.  GOTR is so much fun!  This is the official GOTR motto and I love it!  Running is so much fun and I don’t know where I’d be without it in my life.  I love that I get to share my love of running with a younger generation and hopefully I’ll be seeing some of these girls at future 5ks!

Tomorrow our team is running in a local 5k and each girl on my team will be paired up with a running buddy to help them get through the race successfully.  I’m looking forward to getting a chance to run with one of my students and help her accomplish a goal that she’s been working on for the last few months!  Every GOTR girl gets a medal at the end of the race and I’m so excited to have been part of their journey to earn that medal!  Look for a recap next week, and make sure to check if there is a local GOTR chapter near you that might need running buddies for an upcoming race!

How do you share the running love?  Have you ever participated in a GOTR event?

Getting Ready For Summer #2 in Alaska

Hi everyone!  Exciting news over here:  after a mild and pretty snow-free winter, we are launching right into summer up here in Alaska!  Yeah, we’re a bit behind the Lower 48, but that’s fine by me!  Some things I noticed on my Monday run:

1.  The leaves are blooming!  Look at the new green stuff!

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2.  The inlet and the lagoon are totally melted, and the sound of the waves hitting the shore is so relaxing mid-run!

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3.  Notice anything about my arms?  Yeah, they’re bare!  #tanktopweather!  (for reference, it was 60 degrees)

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I’m the kind of person who hates hot weather, so when I lived in Philly I hated the summer.  High temps and humidity?  No thanks.  Summer is supposed to be about long sunny days and doing fun things with your friends, but I used to spend my summers indoors with my AC wishing it would just be fall already.  But not here in Alaska!  I really enjoyed my summer in Alaska last year, and I’m looking forward to a repeat this year!  Why are Alaskan summers the best?

  • No humidity
  • Temps rarely go above 80
  • We don’t need AC!  Yay for low electric bills!
  • The midnight sun!  On the solstice it gets dusky for a few hours, but overall you can run and hike and do normal outside stuff at midnight (well, not in my neighborhood.  But whatever).  And that lasts for a few weeks before/after solstice too.  Today’s sunset was around 10:15 (twilight lasts about an hour after that) and the days will keep getting longer until the summer solstice.  Note:  this does initially throw me off when trying to sleep, but blackout curtains work magic!  You’d be amazed what your body can adjust to.
  • There are tons of hiking trails within 15 minutes of our apartment.  With an extra 15 minutes we can really get out into Chugach State Park and into the mountains.  And if you’re not feeling like a hike, there’s so many other things to do in nearby parks: kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, biking, disc golf, sailing…the list goes on.
  • The roads are clear and the sun stays out late, so driving to nearby towns is easier than any other time of the year.  We’re planning a few road trips to Seward as well as trips to Girdwood, Homer, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, and to a new location for our anniversary – Valdez!
  • Chill Alaska summer activities include cookouts and bonfires on the beach and last year we had a permanent stash of s’mores supplies and summer beers.
  • The wildlife gets pretty crazy.  Want to see salmon, a bear, or an eagle?  You probably will during the summer – even doing normal stuff like going for a quick run!
  • Oh and the best part:  our summer temps are the ideal running weather!  If you’re looking for a summer race, this is the place to be!

I’m so excited for the summer to get here so that I can spend 99.9% of my time outdoors enjoying the last frontier!  People may have a lot to say about our winters, but you all have nothing on our summers  :)

20140622-194847.jpgMidnight at the beach on last year’s solstice!

Are you excited for summer?  What are your favorite summer activities?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 1

Hi everyone!  I’m officially 1 week into half marathon training for the Her Tern Half and it was a pretty good week!  The girls who are running the HTH training group sent out week 1 of our training plan on Monday, and I was surprised to see that it was yet another minute-based plan!

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I’m following the beginner plan because I am not a 5 days a week kind of runner  :)  Here’s what my week looked like:

Monday:  I kind of cheated and did a 32 minute run because I really wanted to reach 3 miles.

Tuesday:  This was my GOTR team’s practice 5k, so we walked over to the nearby high school to use their track!  Wrangling 13 3rd-5th grade girls together, walking them over to another school on busy streets, cheering them on as they ran around the large track, and getting them back to their school on time to be picked up was pretty exhausting and I’m counting it as a workout!

Wednesday:  This was the first HTH group track workout!  I was pretty nervous since I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was really nice and I learned a lot!  We did some strides, but the main activity was tempo runs.  We did three 5:00 runs around the track, and I managed to have equal pacing with each lap that I did which was so exciting!

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Thursday:  Pilates reformer class

Friday:  I had set up a private Pilates lesson with one of my favorite instructors who has been working with me over the last month, and it was amazing!  She double checked my form in some of the main exercises that are done in every class, made some corrections, and gave me some homework so that I can practice at home and get stronger faster.  But the best part was that she said she’d noticed so much progress with me over the last month and that my abs were getting stronger while my hips were taking a step back!  Yay!

Saturday:  Long run #1 of the training plan!  We met downtown at 8:00 AM.  As you can imagine, I was not feeling the start time.  But after a few miles I was finally getting into it and met a girl who ran at my exact pace!  The miles flew by while we talked and before I knew it we were done!  I did 5.35 miles in about an hour, and walked the last 10 minutes of the workout to cool down because I was feeling pretty hot and tired (seriously, early morning runs kill me).  While walking up the giant hill towards downtown I met Michelle, who blogs over at Boots and the Bear!  It was awesome getting to meet her in person and I’m excited to have a few running buddies after week 1 of training!

IMG_4935From the HTH Facebook page

After showering I did Yoga With Adrienne’s Yoga for Runners Cool Down Sequence and then played disc golf for a few hours with some of our friends.  Busy day!

Sunday:  Rest day

I’m feeling pretty good so far, and I’m looking forward to the next 11 weeks!  Especially because the sun doesn’t set until after 10:00 (and it’s not fully dark until around midnight) and I now have the urge to stay out late running and hiking mountains.  It’s already happened once this week and it’s only going to keep getting lighter  :)

IMG_49489:00 PM and I need sunglasses!

How was your week?  Are you training for anything right now?