Miles for Meg #megsmiles

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On 1/14/14, as Virginian Meg Menzies was out for her morning run, she was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Last Saturday, before we embarked on our cruise, we joined the world to run for Meg. Forever part of out running community, we woke up early, tired from 2 days of traveling across the country, to run on 2 strong legs and with 2 strong lungs. Some days, we run for others, in memory of and to give strength to.

3 miles for #megsmiles

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A How-To for Homemade Trail-mix

I recently discovered the joy of making my own trail mix! I’m still working with different ingredients, and the right mix of each, but it’s great having a trail mix you love and know you’ll eat all of!

To top, I add a similar mix to my morning oatmeal (usually dried berries such as cranberries or cherries, flax seed, walnuts and almonds).

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I started by hitting up the bulk section. My local grocery store has one, and we have an organic co-op that has a larger one. I picked out and bagged all of the things I wanted that just happened to be packed with the right nutrients that you need to keep going (see why this is double great?)

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Stick it in a gallon size bag and shake. Divide how you want in whatever containers you want. I like keeping it in the bag for traveling on the road, but also love using mason jars for smaller portions and to keep at my desk.

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So tell me, what goes in your trail mix?

Winter Living in Alaska – Can I really see Russia?

If you’ve kept up with the weather, social media, or live in the USA – you know that Alaska has seemed to play games and switch weather patterns with the lower 48. I think it’s fantastic – I’ve been cross-country skiing my little legs out in this ridiculously warm weather while seeing the posts of negative temps across the country. I keep thinking, “Come on people! It’s not so bad!”

But enough about the weather, it made me start reflecting on when I moved to Alaska coming up on 3 summers ago. There’s also been a lot of hype lately about the crazy questions people ask Alaskans, whether it’s tourist that come here or when we travel outside (aka to the other states). Let me give you some famous examples and remind you that these questions are real, we have all been asked them and you will quickly realize that our children obviously need to be taught geography in a better format. For fun, I’ll give you the correct responses to these questions – for some education.

  • Can you drive to Alaska from the United States? Yes. Please refer to your world map.
  • Do you have different currency? Well, we are a state, so we use US currency.
  • If you’re so close to Hawaii, why are your climates so different? Again, please refer to your world map.
  • Do you live in an Igloo? No, but I saw one in someone’s yard once when I was working in Barrow. It was for fun, not function.
  • What’s it like on the big Island? I don’t know, I haven’t been to Hawaii.
  • If it’s dark all year long, how do you tell what time it is? For half the year we gain light, and half the year we lose light (just like everyone else, actually, just at a faster rate). So during the summer the sun sits at the horizon and essentially it never “sets”. In the winter, we get less daylight, but we do get daylight. Farther north, like it Barrow, it sets and does not rise for 2 months of the winter, but there are a few hours of dusk.
  • Can you really see Russia? Only in western Alaska, from places such as Little Diomede where Russia is 2 miles away and from the end of the Aleutian Chains. Neither place I intend to live. From Palin’s house, she in no way can see Russia.
  • Do you need snowshoes or a dog team to get everywhere? No, my car has snow tires and we have planes. I might try snowshoes for fun and my cross country skis can get me places, too. 

Now onto the reason for my rant. When I was moving to Alaska, I had already been here twice. I came once in the winter to Fairbanks and once in the summer when I traveled the Parks Hwy from Fairbanks through Anchorage and down to Homer. Believe it or not, even people that live in place like Alaska can tell you the most ridiculous things – because they literally don’t know what they are talking about. I have embraced an amazing life here, one that took me some stepping outside of my box to settle into, if you will. I love being outdoors, traveling the state, and  seeing everything I can when I visit new places. The only people I knew when I moved here were not the kind of people that did that and so I had a lot of misinformation about this AMAZING place other than the fact that it is, really it is, beautiful. Here are some things that I was told before I moved here and learned on my own, weren’t so true. So as you read these – realize they very much – aren’t true. This list is much longer… I just picked a few.

  • You can’t drive into the Denali National Park. You can only take a day-long bus in.
  • Once you enter Denali, there are no gas stations for hours.
  • In fact, I was told you can’t hike, backpack, or bike in Denali. All of which – are incorrect.
  • Anchorage is a city with nothing to do. You’ll hate it.
  • You aren’t allowed to visit villages.
  • You can’t go outside when it’s below zero.
  • You’ll frostbite your lungs! (Here I will insert my favorite quote – “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.”)

 There are also the things that no one told me about, but I learned quickly:

  • “Square Tire” – When it gets around -20 or colder, your tire freezes flat, and when you start driving, it feels like you have a flat. Once your tire warms up (around a mile or so) it rounds back out.
  • A dry winter means dry skin. Moisturizer is your friend.
  • You can’t get auto start on European cars. Yep – every winter I think about a second car.
  • Leather seats – are cold on your bum. I mean… cold. Note to self: Get cloth seat covers.
  • Winter tires are really better than all-season tires.
  • Carry lock de-icer with you. My cabin-door once iced up while it was -35 out.
  • The rating of your winter clothing – is extremely important.
  • If it’s -60 outside, you’re still going to work!
  • If you need to travel in the winter, fly there. Sometimes, the roads are closed.
  • “The odds are good, but the goods are odd” – this refers to dating life for women in Alaska. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but the sea is rough, and the pickings aren’t always ideal. Sometimes we luck out, though. 🙂

2014 in Preview: Running and Fitness Goals

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This year, I decided enough with New Year’s resolutions! There are many things I intend to work towards and achieve this year, not simply because it’s 2014 and it’s a new year, but because it’s what I do all the time. I set goals; I work towards them, and then (in all hopes) exceed in achieving them. Sometimes we take a step forward just to take two steps back, but if we are always looking forward then we will continue to move forward.

So I recently sat and pondered, then got lost in the holidays, then pondered some more, cross-country skied a bunch, and then looked at the schedules that finally came out for 2014. Then I sat with my planner (yep, this is the part where I got really excited) and started to plan out my 2014. What races did I have goal of finishing this year, what are my race goals, any lifestyle changes I need to commit to? Here’s a short list of what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Get back to my AM routine. Finally the holiday schedules are over! AM workouts are the best!
  2. Eat Small. Eat Often. Eat Whole. www.facebook.com/eatsmalleatofteneatwhole
  3. XC Ski Tour of Anchorage 25k (March) www.anchoragenordicski.com/tour_of_anchorage.html
  4. XC Ski Sonot Kkaazook 25k (March) http://sonotkkaazoot.wordpress.com/
  5. Beat Beethoven in the Beat Beethoven 5k (April)
  6. Finish my first Triathlon – The Breakup Tri (May)
  7. Fundraise for and finish my fist bike race – Tour De Cure 50k (May)
  8. Complete Midnight Sun Run 10k Sub-60 (June)
  9. Run my first half marathon (postponed from 2013 due to injury)
  10. Bike the Denali National Park Highway

How can you set and achieve your goals?

  • Make a bucket list for the next year, 2 years, 3 years… maybe a lifelong goal of running the Boston Marathon or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (come on, you know you want to!)
  • Put it on your fridge, your calendar, your mirror! Make it your phone’s screensaver.
  • Email what you plan to do to your friends & family. I know from experience when you tell people what you plan to do, they expect you to do it!  
  • Sign UP! When you sign up for an event, you’re more committed to it!
  • Set a goal for the race that’s personal for you. It could be that you want to finish, you want to run the whole race, run a sub-30 5k or a sub-60 10k.
  • Train with a buddy and/or find a buddy to race with you!  
  • Find a group! Every community has running, biking and hiking groups. If you live in a place like I do, you might have ski and snowshoeing groups. Maybe places have women-only groups, too!  
  • Want to run a race, but struggling to find motivation? Find a cause that’s meaningful to you. Where does the money you pay to sign up go? Some of it goes to the t-shirt you get and to running the event. The rest may go to local school programs, local non-profits, or causes such as autism, diabetes or breast cancer.  Fun Runs such as The Color Run are run by for-profit organizations that donate a small portion of the profits to a local organization in the community that the event is being held, but fun runs are a great way to get together with friends and get started in running!

It doesn’t have to be a new year to make changes in your life, to set and achieve goals, or to be a better you; but I encourage all of you to seize whatever day of the year it is – and DO JUST THAT.

What are YOUR goals?! I want to know! Post them in the comments and share them with me, share them on your facebook, on your own blog, with your friends & family! Add to them all year long and remember – write down when and where you achieve them!