Solstice Means Darkness. And Awesome Hair. (Weekly Recap)

So I call these weekly recaps but it’s occurred to me that really I just usually write about my Saturday workouts. Uh, sorry. It’s really because there’s nothing notable about my mid-week workouts. They’re all morning workouts so it’s lots of treadmill time and strength work. Pretty soon I’ll be posting a review of my favorite new strength training app though!

Anyway, this week I skipped a few workouts this week due to being generally unmotivated busy at work and sick with a cold. I think I did one day of strength training at home and one day of walking on the incline at the gym.

But…. luckily Saturday rolled around and it was time for my weekly run/skate morning workout! I’m lucky to have a no-excuses workout buddy, and even though it was dark and cold when we started out, it got done! I knew the day was meant to be awesome when I started off with hair like this (AFTER pinning back with bobby pins AND a headband).

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When I was at the Turkey Trot a few weeks ago, I noticed some women running in fleece skirts. Since I finished getting ready at 9:06 and I didn’t have to leave until 9:15, I figured I had time to whip one up. I found the most random fleece in my collection for my prototype, and BAM! A little extra warmth for the coldest temps yet!

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Our original plan was to run at 9:00, which is still pitch-black darkness here. Luckily we were able to bump it to 9:30 so that it was just dusky, finishing up the run portion at about 10:15 with a gorgeous sunrise. The Winter Solstice is this weekend, meaning it’s our darkest time of the year. I know the darkness can be miserable, but I try to just mentally find things to enjoy – when else do you get to exercise at sunrise?

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Here we go at about 10:30, transitioning to our skate. Still so dusky! But gorgeous…

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The whole time we were skating this morning we kept saying, “Isn’t this gorgeous? This is so pretty. I can’t believe we live here. This is the best way to start a weekend.” For sure so obnoxious. But seriously.

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Then later today my youngest asked if she could paint a rock. I absentmindedly said yes and all of the sudden she was walking in from outside with this giant planter bowl full of snowy rocks. *sigh* This child. Think she’s a little excited about her plan?

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Thoughts on fleece skirts for cold weather running?

How many days off do you get this week from work for the holidays?

Any races coming up before the end of the year?

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Sunny Beaches to Snowy Trails: Weekly Recap

While I’ve been loving my routine of treadmill workouts, strength work at home, and a weekly outdoor run/ice skating session, it’s always nice to change things up a bit. Especially if that means traveling from Anchorage to San Diego!

I went out of town for a few days since both my sister and my sister-in-law recently had babies, and I had to meet the new additions! While I was there, I of course had to indulge in some of my favorite San Diego food (Anchorage is seriously lacking in its restaurant scene). The two rules I made for myself were to only eat if I was hungry, and to avoid my favorite sit-down restaurants.  Overall I did pretty good, if you don’t count my airplane snacking. Ummmm…

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While I was there, I had lots of opportunities to be active. I went for a walk with my sis…

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a run with my dad and sister…

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and a walk/run with my mom, followed by tap class later in the day (which was much more challenging than I had anticipated)!

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I had a great time snuggling the two sweetest babies alive, but I was happy to come home to my own little family, and by Saturday I was back to running in the snow, with our beautiful mountains in the background. Home sweet home.

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Best 50K for Beginners?

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So when I was running with my dad on my vacation last week, he started out our conversation like this, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you girls about something for a little while now. I wasn’t sure if I’d get a chance to talk to you privately, so I’m really glad we’re doing this so I can tell you what I’ve been thinking about.” Of course my mind jumps to several horrible scenarios, which is the only explanation that my first emotion was just relief when he followed it up with, “I think we should run an ultra together.”

I distinctly remember telling someone this year that not only was I done with marathons, but I was pretty sure I didn’t even have another half-marathon in me. I’ve fallen in love with the shorter distances and triathlons, and I’d pretty much given up on longer distances. But… how much fun would that be, to run with my dad and sister? So, I’m in – on one condition. The race has to be in late summer or early fall, so that I don’t have to do the bulk of my training in the snow or on the treadmill.

None of us have ever done one, so we’re looking for a 50K, hopefully something not incredibly challenging and with a relatively generous time cut-off. We’re hoping to take it easy, and just get out there for a fun day together and cross something off our running bucket lists.

So… any suggestions for a 50K somewhere on or near the West Coast in the last half of 2015?

Ever thought about doing an ultra?

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Proudest Fitness Moments!

This week’s Dish the Fit is about our Proudest Fitness Accomplishments. Of course my thoughts immediately went to running, but I tried to branch out at least a little bit! Here they are, in no particular order….

Sub-28 minute 5K
During the summer of 2013, I ran a 5K every month, trying to shave off a full minute each time. When I started out, I was running pretty consistent 10 minute miles, with my normal 5K time right around 31 minutes. I first tried to get it under 30 minutes, then 29, and so on. My last race of the summer I went all out, and finished in a 5K PR of 27:35! This was an awesome pace for me – I had tried forever to bust past that 10-minute mile pace! I was sooo proud of myself for getting down to a sub-9 minute mile average.

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Learning to Ski
While most people think the worst thing about Alaskan winters is the cold or the darkness, for me it’s the length of the winter. We usually get our first snowfall in October, and it’s not all the way melted until May. Yes, you are counting correctly – that is EIGHT MONTHS of the year that we have snow on the ground.

In 2012 I decided I needed a wintertime sport. I was not willing to run outside (working on conquering that this year), so I decided to learn to cross country ski. My aunt and I skied all over the gorgeous trails of Anchorage, and my attitude towards the winter changed almost immediately. Forecasts of more snow and a longer winter meant more ski dates, more gazing out at the most beautiful scenery on this earth. I was out and enjoying nature, and best of all, I was warm!

I hate downhill skiing, so trying cross country skiing was a leap of faith, and one I’m proud of myself for taking. One more awesome way to get a cardio workout in, and enjoy the outdoors at the same time! Best of all, it’s something I can do with my kids!

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Marathon
It wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t pretty, but I met my goal and I did it. I never want to do another one, but it’s something that I believe should be on every runner’s bucket list, and I’m proud of myself for tackling the challenge. It’s a boring one, but it’s gotta make my list. No pics – pre-digital camera days – that’s how long ago it was!

Triathlon
Last year I was a little restless. A little tired of running, and ready for a new challenge. I’m not sure how I even got the idea of a sprint triathlon in my head, but once it was there, I couldn’t shake it. Training in 3 sports while juggling a full-time job and raising 3 kids? Atrocious. But I did it. The running was no big deal, but it had been 15-20 YEARS since I’d done any sort of biking or swimming. But thanks to the Internet and my husband, I figured it out, made time for the training, and completed the race – blowing my goal time out of the water. Oh, and falling in love with triathlons in the process. I’ll be back at this same race next year, and hoping to add another to the agenda as well!

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Staying Active with My Kids
Alaska has an incredibly high childhood obesity rate. It’s easy to stay inside and stay warm and toasty during those eight. long. months. of winter. However, it’s not good for me, and it’s not good for my kids. It’s a challenge sometimes to get them out and moving, but we do it, and I’m proud of us! Running, hiking, biking, skiing, skating, hockey – we do it allllll!!!!!

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Watching My Dad Run the Boston Marathon
Okay, I know. Watching a marathon is a fitness accomplishment? Um, okay, whatever. But hear me out. The year we went to Boston to watch my dad run the marathon was unbelievable. To watch all those thousands of runners, to watch them struggle and persevere, to think of all the hours and sacrifice by themselves and their families, to watch them running with both pain and pride – it made me so proud to be a runner. So proud to be a part of this community. So proud to be a spectator and cheering on my dad as he did something truly amazing. I had tears running down my cheeks, and I’ve never been so proud to be an athlete.

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Do you cry when spectating races?

What sport have you tried that was totally outside your comfort zone?

Favorite Fitness Accomplishment?

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Posted in Family Fitness Fun, Finding the Time, Goals | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Lake All To Myself: Weekly Recap

Four days off of work, where do I begin? Such a great weekend full of being active with and without my kids.

Thursday
When I woke up on Thursday I got dressed for the Turkey Trot. Because it didn’t start until 11am (whoop whoop!), I was wandering around in my running clothes for a good long while. “Are you going running?” my kids asked, as soon as they saw me. “We want to come!” They couldn’t race with me, but how could I say no to that? They tossed their coats and boots on right over their pajamas and we were off on a little one-mile Turkey Trot Jr.!

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Friday
I had big plans on Friday that included a park trip, going up to our cabin to ice skate, and the downtown tree lighting ceremony. I tried to make peace with the fact that it wouldn’t all happen, but we actually managed to fit it all in!

Park date…

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Love this park with the view of the mountains.

Cabin trip…
We’ve never gone ice skating at the cabin before, because there’s always too much snow! Here in Anchorage they maintain rinks at several local lakes, so we just stick around and skate in town. But since we haven’t had any snow, the lake was perfect for skating. We had it all to ourselves, and when we got cold, we just went up to sit by the fireplace inside!

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Family hockey game!

 

 

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Such a small boy in such a big world

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Time for resting. And bananas.

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Moose tracks across the lake. My son wanted to follow them, but I wasn’t comfortable going that far out!

Saturday
On Saturday a friend and I tried a modified Alaskan “brick workout,” with a 3-mile run followed by ice skating.

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Pretty darn amazing.

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This is my proud face. An hour of exercise outside, and it snowed the whole time. I don’t know why I’ve put off exercising outside in the winter – it’s actually so much fun! Wish it wouldn’t have taken me five winters to figure that out!

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Ever been ice skating? Love it or hate it?

How much snow do you have where you live?

How are you detoxing from all the overeating this weekend (or is this just me)?

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Linking up at Running ‘n Reading and TotR!

Posted in Alaska Life, Family Fitness Fun, Week in Review, Winter | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Turkey Trot 5K!

As part of my goal this winter to get out and run in the snow, I registered for a Thanksgiving run this year. It was always a family tradition to do a 5K on Thanksgiving morning when I lived in California, and I’ve really missed it.

Unfortunately for my running goals, we STILL haven’t had any snow! Pretty much unheard of in Alaska not to have snow by Thanksgiving. Guess that means I’ll be registering for another one next month!

Race Recap: Skinny Raven Turkey Trot

Before the Race
The race organizers had this nailed this year. Staging for the race was inside at a large convention center downtown, so you could get there nice and early and wait inside where it was warm. We didn’t have to try to time it perfectly so that we weren’t too late for the race, but we weren’t so early that we froze to death. Here’s what it looked like inside – the race started outside but ended inside. Awesome, huh? We got there about a half hour early, did gear check with our winter coats, and hung around, stretched, and visited. Another bonus of indoor staging? Real bathrooms! :)

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The organizers did have to cajole a little to get everyone outside to start the race though – ha ha. We all wanted to keep hanging out inside where it was warm!

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Waiting until the last possible moment to go outside.

 

During the Race

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This was a relatively flat, easy course with some beautiful views of the water. My Garmin died before I even got to the starting line (boo!!!!), so I had no idea of our pace. It was my first winter race anyway, so I just wanted to focus on not slipping on the icy roads, and enjoying everyone out getting exercise with their families on Thanksgiving!

After the Race

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Hanging out by the finishing chute, taking blurry selfies.

 

 

LOVED finishing inside! It was a little bit toasty warm by the time we were done running, but nice to hang out and visit without freezing to death.

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Ready to head home and make up for those lost calories!

Our finishing time was 30:12. I was hoping to come in under 30 minutes, but considering this was my first winter race, I didn’t have a watch, and I didn’t see any mile markers, I’ll take it!

Overall, I LOVED the organization of this race, the course, and the vibe of the crowd. Definitely doing it again next year!

 

 

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How Flexibility Makes an Active Lifestyle Sustainable

For years I had the same New Year’20140804-224504-81904956.jpgs Resolution: Work out regularly. And every year life got too crazy. Three little kids. A full-time job that requires a LOT of energy. And, you know, life. But after literally years of trying, I’ve finally got this one down. The topic with Jill Conyers and Jessica Joy this week is: How do you simplify active living to make it a sustainable lifestyle?

I think the key to simplification is flexibility. When I think that “the way I exercise” is to go running, or to exercise in the morning, or to run 9 minute miles, or whatever, I’m closing myself off to other possibilities. The more you think outside the box, the easier it is to fit active living into a busy lifestyle.

4 Ways Flexibility Makes an Active Lifestyle Sustainable

Flexibility in Your Sport

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I’ve always been a runner. For much of the past decade, for me exercise = running. But last year I trained for my first triathlon. While it was definitely time-consuming to train for three sports, it pushed me outside of my comfort zone of “I’m a runner.” I bought a bike and figured out how to bike. I jumped in the pool for the first time in almost 10 years and started swimming laps. This opened me up to so many more possibilities for exercising around my family’s schedule. When my kids were in swim lessons, I was in the pool swimming laps. I’d poke my head up every few minutes to gasp for air watch them, cheer them on, wave at them, and then get back to business. I didn’t feel guilty exercising instead of watching their lesson, and I could squeeze in an extra half hour of cardio that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Since moving to Alaska I’ve added not only biking and swimming, but skiing, ice skating, Zumba, strength training, yoga, and boot camp as well. Each one of these opens up new possibilities for when and how I will stay active.

Flexibility in Your Timing

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I have always been a night person. And because of that, I was always hesitant… well, okay, maybe downright hostile… toward the idea of working out in the mornings. I’ll spare you my proselytizing about the glory that is morning workouts (unless you want to read it here), but let’s just say that I’m so glad I was finally willing to open my mind to a different possibility. It wasn’t until I actually tried morning workouts that I realized just how much more sustainable it was for me.

And, on the flip side, even though I now workout in the mornings, when I get the opportunity to do something fun after work, I’m all over it. Don’t get trapped in the mindset of a certain time that you do or do not work out. Try different things. See what works. Be open to the possibility of change.

Flexibility in Your Location

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I’ve run laps around the soccer field during practice. I’ve run laps around the playground while my kids play. I’ve run on vacation more times than I can count. I run up at our cabin, I run at the gym, I run on trails, and I run on the good old sidewalk. When the opportunity comes up, I’m on it. I don’t have the luxury to wait for my favorite location. I just run, bike, or swim wherever I am.

Flexibility in Your Thinking

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One thing that I would love to change about myself is my fixation on the numbers. I get annoyed when I can’t run the pace I want to. I get annoyed when I can’t get my miles in. I’m mad at myself when my legs feel like lead and I don’t have a good workout. But I’m trying to let go of that and remember that I’m not a professional athlete – I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a teacher. I have a body that needs to move, but it also needs to rest and heal. I want to stay fit and healthy, but I also want to cheer for my kids when they score a goal, and go out with my friends and eat too many desserts. To stay active through the busy times and seasons of my life, I need to prioritize and juggle lots of things, and staying active is just one of those things.

The funny part is that as I let go of my expectations of what “running” is supposed to look like, and replace that with a vision of long-term fitness as a working mom, my running has become better than ever. Exploring different sports has made me stronger. Working out with my friends and kids has made me happier. I’m not fast, but personally, I’ve never been faster. But most importantly, becoming more flexible in my thinking has helped me to know that working out regularly is no longer just an elusive New Year’s Resolution.

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Bald Eagles and Ice Skates: The Weekly Recap

Of course my workouts during the week were my same old boring stuff: treadmill workouts and Tone It Up videos at home. I am incorporating some incline walking at the gym and I’m really liking that.

On Saturday I met up again with my friend Kayse and we headed out on my new favorite path.

I’m still messing with my layering as I get used to the cold weather. This week I went with tights on the bottom, and on the top, an Under Armor shirt, a running shirt, and a thicker fleece-lined top. It was about 25 degrees when we started and I definitely could have lived with one less layer on top. The trail took a lot of concentration this week because even though we STILL didn’t have snow, it’s getting pretty icy out.

Highlight of the run? Seeing a bald eagle in the tree! And those white things off in the distance that look like clouds? Those are the mountains. Breathtaking.

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Later that day I took the girls ice skating. Ice skating is one of my favorite ways to stay active, but this was the first time we’ve been out this winter, and skating at the pace of a wobbly 5-year-old isn’t exactly a calorie torcher. But it’s something we love to do together, and I know they’ll be skating circles around me someday!

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Because there’s no snow, you can see right down into the ice. Kind of trippy. We loved seeing these bubbles frozen under the surface – they looked like bubble jellyfish.

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Also, WHAT?

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And WHAT?

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Target, this is a problem.

Coming up on Thursday is the Turkey Trot – can’t wait!

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Weekend Recap

This weekend was just what I needed. Friday night we hung out at home – got some pizza, watched a movie. Saturday was my awesome run outside, and then we packed up for a staycation at a hotel about an hour out of town.

One lame thing about Alaska is that it’s obviously really expensive to travel out of state. We try to go once a year, but the rest of the time, we try to just explore this amazing place. One of our favorite places to go is Girdwood. We stayed in the hotel, hung out, and generally had a great time. My daughter fell in love with this little ketchup bottle and insisted on sleeping with it. You know, just regular life.

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After we checked out the next day, we took the kids to the park (one of our faves – it’s so unique and has so much personality)…

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Two years ago I would never have said this, but… PLEASE SNOW! Alaska winters are ugly and boring without snow!

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Discovered some ginormous cookies at a nearby bakery….

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P.S. Shouldn’t every food magazine have a picture version of its table of contents? Food Network magazine is the absolute best.

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Anyone have any great Thanksgiving dessert ideas? I always like to step outside of the traditional a little bit…

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Where I Try to Run in the Snow But There Isn’t Any

So I set this goal at the beginning of winter (that’s October around here, folks) that THIS would be the year I started running outside in the snow. It snowed mid-October and I mentally geared up. And then…. nothing….

I’m ready to see if I can stick to my goal, Mother Nature!

Whatever. Saturday my friend and I set out for an easy three-miler. The scenery and good company started the weekend off perfectly. I dread exercising when it’s cold out – but I always come home all pumped up, happy, and ready for the weekend.

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Anyway, you know it’s gonna be a good day when you wake up to this…

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In other workout news from the week, Dylan McKay and I had a good Tone It Up workout on Wednesday. He was pretty proud of me, which meant a lot, coming from him.

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Posted in Alaska Life, Winter, Workout Recap | Tagged , | 2 Comments