Adventures below zero

Instead of traveling across country for a stressful trip we didn’t really want to take, my husband opted for a staycation the week of Thanksgiving. The temps happened to drop at the same time, but we didn’t let it slow us down. We started our staycation off with a beer tasting at The UAF Pub Annual 40 Below Beer Tasting. Most people know we have also been casually house shopping, since it’s winter and the market is not really ‘hopping.’ But surprisingly, we came across a house we decided to look at with our realtor that we loved.

Mid staycation, we took a couple of days and ventured off to try some of our wedding presents out, which included some great camping gear. I also got a great Osprey backpack at an REI garage sale that needed testing. So the 3.3 mile trek to the Angel Creek Lower Cabin was the perfect opportunity. We left the trailhead at a hovering 0 F and arrived at the cabin at -18 F. The cabin was 0 inside and we finally got the wood stove to warm us up to well into the 80s.

We tested out of camping meals, ate snacks, drank cocoa, and played games. I taught my husband how to play rummy and by the end of the night, he had beat me at my own game. The clear skies showed us no aurora, sadly, but there were more stars than I can even describe. I can tell you, we slept like crap on the platforms and I blame my toss and turn husband for that.

We awoke and make pancakes on the wood stove, enjoys eggs out of a bag, and tea in our camp cups. We packed out bags, refilled the wood box, and played a game of rummy before hitting the trail to trek out. As we headed out, we took in the crisp and quiet air while peering across the frozen creek. We set up the camera to snap a photo of us – our first cabin trip together. Somehow we managed to layer just right and stay warm the whole time. The trails were in good shape for needing only hiking boots, but weren’t ski ready yet – which would have allowed us to pull more gear behind us and less backpack on us. We enjoyed the sun peering onto Angel Rocks as we headed back. The trees and dead plants have frozen crystals and snow that had remained untouched. Over two days, the cold air kept away any signs of wildlife – not even a bird. We reached the trail head excited to enjoy our sandwiches for lunch. Much a great way to spend two days of our staycation!

spent a relaxing Thanksgiving making one dish to take over to a friends house and had a true Friends-giving, as they call it. We were, however, truly thankful for the friendships. We enjoyed great food, and pie (which of course is its own category), wine, and games before retiring for the night.

As staycation came to an end, we ended up making an offer on the house we looked at and fell in love with. We are now in escrow! Look at us – adulting and shit. Had we not opted for a staycation, we may not have found our soon to be home!

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My “Fitness Journey” is really just my life

Bing, bang, BOOM! So, lets chat about this little “fitness journey” of mine that’s really just, well, what is now my not so lazy life. Four and half years ago, I decided, “I want to run.” So, I threw on a pair of old sneakers, cotton shorts and shirt, and a bra that didn’t hold my (then) 36D ladies. Needless to say, I hated it. But I learned to walk before I learned to run. And before I knew it, I was killing 5k races and completed marathon relays and training for half marathons. And then – BAM.

Injury. I hurt my ankle running, ended up in PT and couldn’t run for months. I turned to indoor cycling and swimming – both of which I sucked at. It’s also when I found Crossfit. Injured and whiney, it became a no excuses playground for me to learn and grow. I healed and became stronger than ever, and figured out that lifting barbells was pretty fun. My push press went from 10lb dumbbells to a 90lb max and I was learning to throw weights over me, around me, through me, and I loved it.

Then I decided I’d sign up for sprint triathlon, mainly because a friend convinced me. My swimming improved a little and I stopped looking like a fish out of water and not knowing what I was doing, I bought my first bike since I was a child: a hybrid. With some setbacks, I still completed my first triathlon in under my goal time and 2 weeks later, bought a road bike on craigslist, practically new, for hella cheap. Right after that, I did other triathlon and killed it on my new bike. Basically, I fell in love with road biking – put on well over 1000 miles on my new bike that summer of 2014.

Then came grad school that fall. That meant little less time in the gym and lots of time on my indoor trainer. I learned to downhill ski and at that point, had been cross-country skiing with my hubby for 3 years. But came February of 2015, and boy did my fitness journey throw me for a loop.

So to quickly go back, in 2014 I was peaking. I looked like a triathlete/runner with tiny arms and I was the smallest I had ever been at 120lbs. Looking back, though, I was doing workouts a day, working out at a Crossfit gym focused on endurance and not as much on strength, and I was not eating nearly as much as I should have been. So my body, reflecting back, was moving into a breaking down point. Then I was learning how to do jerks with a coach in the gym, and tore my quad.

Guys…I TORE MY F**KING QUAD. I couldn’t believe it. I still have the forever indent in my leg to prove it. I was struggling through grad school, working an unnecessarily stressful full time, a part time job and interning, verging falling apart and then, I all of a sudden couldn’t run, bike, lift… nothing. I could do nothing involving my quad for months, and no coach at my gym could figure out how to help me modify. It was the most frustrating thing that could have happened to me. Many times I would go in and try to do a workout, and just leave, frustrated and crying.

Finally, months later, I was released to start lifting, biking and running again. Yay! I tried training for a marathon, but my knees would hurt and my muscles weren’t strong enough yet. Biking and swimming were the only things I felt I could do and not feel like I’d have to spend days recovering from. 10 months later, in December 2015, I decided to leave my Crossfit gym, feeling it wasn’t a good fit and I wasn’t making any improvements. I felt lost, and weak, frustrated, and unsettled that I wasn’t working towards anything.

Then my friend said – come try Crossfit Fairbanks, see how you like it. So I did. And I did. Shortly after starting, I did my first ever weightlifting meet. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun and felt that strong. I started the RP Diet and my quad gained so much strength and recovered so well and so quickly (don’t forget ya protein yo!).  I was able to downhill ski (finally) with no pain from my quad. I started a cycle of Oly lifting and it was fun, but frustrating, and I discovered I am definitely a Powerlifter.

So here I am, 7 months later, stronger than I have been in close to 2 years. My endurance is not the same, but I PRing lifts like crazy, and I have never enjoyed something so much. I still love biking, it is my passion, and lifting only complements it. So the bottom line is that this journey has brought me here. I have tried this, and tried that. I thought I might be a runner forever, but my body had better plans for me. I thought swimming might be next and I took time to improve my technique, but just realized it’s become a nice backup for me. I love to lift and I love to ride and it’s taken me some trial and error to get here, and what I do inside helps me to be strong and play outside and that’s just as important to me. Lifting makes me strong when I bike, and biking keeps my endurance up. You need endurance and you need strength if you want to get outside and hike, paddle, ski, and play play play!

So I encourage all of you to stay active, and find things you love. Don’t let people but you in a box, or tell you what fitness is supposed to be, and that to love one thing you have to be able to do another (i.e. if you want to love biking you have to cross training – do what you love!). Want to bike all day every day? Then do it. Want to run everyday? Then do it. Do what you love and love what you do.

A Journey to Self-Discovery: Part IV

Well, well, well. Happy New Year!

Here we are, part four of my journey to self-discovery. So, how did I get here? Well, being unemployed since the end of October, I’m happy to say I have accepted a job offer (woohoo!). This piece is really a reflection on my past few months digging through the trenches of myself and figuring out what is important and what my goals are. I saw a great post on Instagram where someone had brilliantly split up their goals in such a simple way that I had to follow suit.

Goal categories:

  1. Home 
  2. Health
  3. Wealth

Home: What do you want this year at home? This can include your relationships with friends and family, larger projects around your home that you want to complete, etc.

Health: How are you going to take care of yourself this year? Your fitness, eating habits, self-care, etc.

Wealth: This doesn’t mean “how do you want to get rich?” Goals like buying a home or a new car, saying more money each month, starting your retirement fund or life insurance, paying off this bill or that loan, exploring a new career, etc.

So, this is how I’m moving along on my journey to self-discovery. Next up, what goals did I come up with and what’s next? Stay tuned! Don’t forget to follow my blog. 🙂

What are your 2016 goals, wishes and wants? 

On Second Thought…

I decided to give in and rented a road bike…

After staring out at the sunshine here in Southwest Virginia on Thursday, I decided the voice of the road calling was too loud. I had to go and rent a road bike. So I headed out to Blacksburg to HokieSpokes in the early afternoon, rented a bike for 2 weeks (being their off-season helps to get a good deal), and hoped on my brand new Fuji road bike (new brand for me to ride!) rental and headed up the road to hit the Huckleberry Trail and get my cycling legs back.

A short 12 miles felt great and I kind of liked the thrill of racing the sunset back to the parking lot. It reminded me of a 34 mile ride me and my friend Erin did to end out 2014 season by riding the Goldstream – Steese – McGrath – Farmers Loop circle where we just barely made it back on our Alaska fall ride before the sun set on us. Sometimes you’re just out having too much fun!

2015 Tour de Cure RIDE for Diabetes!

It is that time of year again, readers!!

This year, I’ve decided to team up with my graduate school and ride with the USC School of Work! We have created teams across the nation to ride together in spirit and raise money for diabetes! This year, I have a bigger goal and I’ll be riding twice as far! I am working on surpassing my goal and shooting to raise $750!! This year, I’ll ride twice as far as last year to thank everyone for their donations and do the 100k in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure cycling event on May 30th here in Fairbanks, Alaska! Diabetes touches so many of our lives. PLEASE share this on your own blog, though your email and on your social media sites! Whats its going to hurt to do a little sharing for a fellow blogger?

Why am I riding?

For my community and the many neighbors, friends, and consumers that I work with every day that deal with Type I and Type II diabetes. I have been personally touched by diabetes – having loved ones who’s diabetes has lead to serious medical conditions including heart attacks and heart surgery. I thought to myself, what if I could work towards preventing this? Community education and prevention is close to my heart, no matter the topic. I want the people around me that I love and care about to be able to live happy and healthy lives and know how to take care of themselves. These are the people I am riding for!

What’s my goal & Where does your donation go?

I’m trying to fundraise at least $750 (thats right!) for the American Diabetes Association! Donations go towards:

  • Funding research for a cure
  • Community-based programs education programs
  • Diabetes prevention information
  • Advocacy for those living with diabetes
  • Public awareness events

Go here to my Personal Page and Click “Donate Now” to make a donation of ANY amount for my ride! Even $10 makes a difference!!! You can make a donation by credit card or paypal. If you’d like to send a check made out to the American Diabetes Association instead, please let me know!