Trading in racing shoes for running shoes

When I moved to Alaska, I knew one of the hardest things to give up was going to be drag racing. No, I haven’t had to “give it up,” but I was going from living in drag racing country, a place where were you could jokingly be told directions in sentences such as “it’s 3 drag strips, a left turn and 2 oak trees away…” to being 6 hours from the closest sanctioned drag strip. I lived in 1/8th mile central, could drag race most of the year and I loved it.

racing2 I love racing so much I had a christmas tree added to my tattoo collection when I was 21. Lets just say selling my race car and searching for a new adrenaline rush is much like searching for your soul.

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Drag Racing has never been and will never be far from my heart and soul. The last time I was home in Virginia, I raced a friends street car in the street class – just for that bracket racing rush. I can’t help but love dialing in a car and being chased down just to whomp whomp someone at the finish line – its what I’m good at.

But alas, in 2012, I began searching. I decided I may want a career field change and to make that change, I had to meet fitness standards. One of those standards was running 1.5 miles in under 15:12. At the time, I could barely run a mile in under that time without wanting to puke. But in time, it came. Then I started running 5Ks and 10ks and training for a half marathon. Then, I ran a marathon relay on a 3-person team. I fell in freaking love with running.

Now lets talk about runner’s high. Have you never experienced it? Well, I’m not sure if everyone does. But I didn’t until after I started running longer distances. I’m not talking about marathons, but you have to get out there and not quit after a mile. The first time I felt it, I was brought back to the first time I saw a win light bright as a sun on my side of the track. Yep, I was in love. I was in love with running. I had hung up my racing shoes and laced up running shoes to fill a void that I didn’t think I – very much an adrenaline junkie just like my Dad – could ever fill.

I started training for different distances, different types of races like this Triathlon I’m racing in this weekend. I found my sweet spot aka my favorite distance to run. Its the distance that any day, any time, I can lace up, step out the front door, and go run (mine is 5-6 miles, by the way). It’s the distance I love to go out and think, vent to myself, enjoy the sunshine, maybe I get to say to myself “you’re tough because you’re running in this cold a** weather,” or get out all my aggression for the day.

But it gets better. The runner’s high gets better. RACEDAY. You train hard and you think “this is what’s going to happen and this is my goal.” Then adrenaline kicks in and it feels so freaking good. It brings me back to moments in a racecar on the starting line. That rush coming through me, waiting for GO. Its an incredible feeling. It’s what keeps me going, It’s what got me green lights then and gets me my PRs now. It’s what makes me love racing. It always has been and probably always will be.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I got my first win light and I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I crossed the finish line during my first race – the Beat Beethoven 5k. I might not get back to those racing shoes anytime soon, but these running shoes sure are treating me good.

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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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Running at 30 below

Today’s Date & Location: December 16th, 2013 in Fairbanks, Alaska
Temperature: -35 in town… around -28 at my house
Sunrise/Sunset: 10:54am/2:39pm – 5 days until we gain light again!
Listening to: Running mix on my iPod Shuffle
Success of the Day: 2.5 miles on my coldest subzeo run to date!

As I was driving home from work this afternoon, I wondered what I was going to do. Veg out and watch TV? Work on more handmade Christmas presents? It was well below 0 outside, and our weekly LOL group (an all women’s cross-country ski group) had been canceled since the temperature cutoff is -16 and in the hills, it was around -20 today. I even thought about going skiing anyway. Then I looked over and saw someone running, and not for their life or to catch the bus. It was someone as crazy as me and all of my running and ski friends. Then I thought of a woman in my running group, Cathi. She runs everyday, no matter the temperature. Today, Cathi would be my inspiration. It didn’t matter how cold it was, today I was going to go home, gear up and RUN.

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Pre-Run – How much gear does it take?

So how does one gear up to run in -30 degree weather? There is the saying that there is never bad weather, only bad gear. Layer in the right clothing, and cover your face with the right gear, and you are set. But what about gadgets? They work too. I wore my GPS watch, under my coat to protect it, with no problems. My headlamp survived the weather (that was a test I was happy it survived!) and my ipod goes under my clothing too. Gear works – just protect it like you do your skin.

My favorite part? Keeping my butt warm enough and not overheating my hands. It’s a balance that takes time to figure out. My second favorite part? The icicles that form on my hair and eyelashes (they make them want to stick together). My pictures did not dipict that well enough.

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Post-Run faces

Remember, there is no bad weather, only bad gear! Find yourself some inspiration, and go run, ski, snowshoe – whatever it may be that keeps you active, happy and healthy!

A Week of Adventures in Alaska

Today’s Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Temperature: A WARM 28F mmm mmm
Sunrise/Sunset: 10:46am/2:45pm – 12 days until we gain light again!
Listening to: Christmas Radio on iTunes
Success of the Day: cross-country skiing in this warm weather!

My apologies, I have some blog catching up to do! The weather in Alaska has been unpredictable, to say the least. It is very warm right now, which I am not complaining about!

Thanksgiving: Much to be thankful for this year! A year of so many fitness goals met, being happy and healthy, getting to travel all over Alaska and to 9 different states, and for a wonderful & supportive partner who I’ve known over 2 years now! I’m surrounded by incredible people, to top it all off! I spent thanksgiving in Anchorage, where it was much colder than anticipated, and not enough good snow to bring the skiis down for some cross-country skiing. But I did get some new running shoes at Skinny Raven that aren’t out at any other stores in AK yet. Very nice, indeed!

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Juneau at Sunrise

I was lucky enough to break in my running shoes trail running the mountains of Juneau, Ak! Whoa! Talk about incredible, breathtaking beauty!! It was my first time there, and there is alot I didnt get to see so I am definately planning a visit back! I was lucky enough to have sunshine and warmth the entire time I was there. Seeing new places in Alaska renews my love of this great state. What a place to be, what a place to live, what a place to call my home!

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Trail running in Juneau

After Thanksgiving and Juneau, its been a little tough to get back into my routine, but I’m trying! Starting out with some local hockey isn’t a bad way to start, eh? Go Ice Dogs!

hockeyNothing like a good hockey fight that the refs have trouble breaking up!

It helped that as I went to pick up a friend who lives on the ridge for the game, the Aurora (aka Northern Lights) were out in all their glory. Oh my oh my! What a view it was from up on the ridge! Allow me to share the view:

This week, I have remembered why I love Alaska so much. I got to visit Juneau for a statewide Prevention Summit and see many people from around the state that I only get to see at these events, and met so many new and incredible people to network with. To see what our state is doing about violence prevention, to see the amazing people and their passion, and to see new and beautiful parts of Alaska – THIS Alaska Girl on the Run is one lucky girl.