Thursday, December 20, 2012

more on winter running!

Wow, these winter running stories just keep coming!  I just finished reading two of my friends blogs on being mole like and hiding inside for winter.  I too have been much less active than I have EVER been in any winter.  The days seem so much shorter now, especially working 8 to 4:30, through all the sunlight of the day and then walking or biking home in total darkness. Hooray for the upcoming solstice!

However, thanks to Aaron at least 1 day a week, I am pulled out of the house for an afternoon, pitch black dark, trail run.  This weeks run was more fun than ever however because Aaron and I found ourselves turning off our headlamps, at 5pm, and running in the light of the moon!  Since the trail was covered in snow and the moon and stars were out we weren't in need of our usually necessary headlamps.  At one point we were running hand in hand by the light of the moon, ahhhh how sweet!  I love that man!

Second crazy winter run experience was Sunday morning and much less romantic.  At my normal 8 am pop out of bed weekend wake up time, I laced up and hit the trail.  I was so excited because not only was it beautiful outside but the trail was still runnable, not too much snow pile up yet.  Everyone was out, shoveling their driveways because of the fresh 2 or 3 inch new dusting of snow.  Like the previous snowy runs of the winter I followed deer trails onto the trail and when the access trail hit the main trail I noticed another sort of tracks, much larger than the previous set of tracks, BEAR!  What?  No way, I couldn't believe it, but when I heard a rustling in the bushes, believe it I did.  I high tailed it out of the trail, right back to the road, where I decided to plug in a few more miles before heading home.  So much for a dreamy white trail run, that would have to wait for another day. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

let it snow!

In Sitka snow is not a guarantee.  The winter typically isn't cold enough for snow and the few days a year the temperature drops below freezing means the insulating clouds have lifted.  We get gobs of snow on the mountain peeks, but our coastal town rarely sees snow down low.  This week however the snow kept coming.  Each morning I'd jump up to check the weather: is the snow still on the ground? did we get any new snow? has it started raining yet?  And the answer was the same: yes, yes, no... Then I'd check the temperature to see what would happen if precipitation came and cross my fingers that by some miracle it would keep snowing.  Luckily enough today, a week after the had begun  to fall, we had accumulated quite a base of more than a foot of fluffy white powder!

So when I peeked out of the windows this morning and the snow was still there I was lulled out of bed by the thought of my x-country skiing dream actually becoming a reality.  Next, I rushed to our weather station, 29 degrees!  Hallelujah, that was absolutely perfect for a x-country ski!  I was the first person on the snowy trail this morning following deer tracks as I meandering up and down a white wonderland.  It might be my only x-country ski of the year, but it sure was delightful while it lasted!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

winter running

I am so proud of my dad, formally known as a fair weather runner, he just recently called me to let me know that he would be running through the winter this year.  He was curious to know about any hot tips I had, in terms of gear he should accumulate.  At first I had a nice chuckle to myself wondering what winter weather he was talking about living in sunny South Carolina, then I shared. 

Today on my snowy trail run I was wondering how my dad is enjoying winter running.  I can find nothing more refreshing.  Plus it helps keep the sprirts high when the darkness is creeping in and everyone else is just bundled up under blankets by the fire waiting for summer. And while running you produce your own body heat and get to have a rewarding hot shower.  It is so rejuvenating, especially compared to stuffy gyms.  Also, the fresh air component is huge!  However, proper gear makes all the difference.  Here is my list of the best of winter running:

1.  A light weight beanie or toboggan.  Experts say 80% of your body heat is lost from your head, this is an essential, nothing more is needed.  And the good news is, it's easy to pack away if and when you get to warm. 

2. A base layer for your legs.  I don't ever break this out until it is below freezing, any warmer and I find I just get too overheated.  For less competitive runners, or people who feel like they're wearing underwear with the base layer, I advise light weight pants with a leg zips for easy on/off over shoe needs. 

3.  Mittens, mittens are better than gloves for multiple reasons, the main being you can ball up your hands for extra warmth.  Also, if your hands do get sweaty, you've got extra breathing space. 

4.  A light weight long sleeve with a thumb hole and a front zip.  I say light weight for economical reasons, you can always layer it with a short sleeve shirt under it if it is really cold.  So if you are going to buy just one long sleeve shirt, make sure it isn't too thick.  Also the thumb hole is essential to insure that you keep that cold air out of your hands.  The front zip is to help regulate your body temperature. 

5.  And fifth and finally socks!  Socks are often overlooked, but key to a happy winter run.  Make sure your socks are tall enough so that your base layer will cover them with no open skin. 

And this can't be a blog post about running without excert on running shoes, if you want to take care of yourself and body and you are planning on logging miles regularly, it is worth it to go to a running store and have them look at your feet and one or two shoes that will work for you.  Then buy that exact shoe for the rest of your life! Also don't bother with those hip cool looking trail shoes.  As a trail runner I've found they just aren't built to last like road shoes. 

Happy snowy trails!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

...Here's to friends!

Hooray I found my missing camera, uploaded loads of photos and now I am ready to post the post I've been wanting to post for weeks.... I and this one features the amazing friends I have come to know these past 5 years: 

My first year here I became FASCINATED by not only ALASKA itself but by ALASKANS.  I also discovered blogs...

How is this all related to friends, well it is and it isn't, we'll get there just hold your horses... 

The blogs I followed my first year here in Sitka were blogs of teachers from "up north." For all my non Alaskan readers, "up north" refers to interior Alaska and "down south" or "the lower 48" is the rest of the US.  As I followed these numerous blogs I was intrigued, I wondered oh so much if I could live in a village "up north," so I followed their lives, for awhile I was obsessed. 

When I talked to my mom about it, she had a clear answer for me, "No! Emily, you are much to social to live in a village!"  I don't even know if she really understood the cultural or weather extremes of living in a place like Chevak or Emmonak, but she knew they were small and she knew that they were isolated, both of which in her eyes, were huge red flags!

So... this past month I entered into my 4th decade.  To celebrate Aaron and I invited as many friends as would fit into our house to celebrate.

All night I looked around at the extraordinary people that surrounded me as I entered my 30th year.  It felt so good to be enveloped by a house full of friends.  Here are the pictures from the experience, a step back in time to 1912 on a boat in the Atlantic sailing toward England... a murder mystery party!

 Your right mom, Sitka is a much better fit!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

reflections of running buddies

Warning:  THIS POST IS CUT AND PASTED FROM MY ACTUAL JOURNAL,  if you choose to read this blog you will be in the head of a REFLECTIVE runner,  read at your own risk.

Sept. 29th, 2012.

"I've had lots of running buddies over the years:  in elementary school it was my dad.  He pushed me to run my first 5k (36mins), after college it was Stephanie and Leigh training for triathlons together.  Then there was my summer while in grad school in Juneau, there was 71 year old self proclaimed "old geezer" Glenn who used to run in the 60s in jeans and flannel shirts.  Glenn calls me Emalie and has always reminded my a lot of my own Grandfather.  One day, as he was jumping of the summit of a mnt. to slide down the snow on his rear, he told me if I wanted to run with the geezers I had to be half mountain goat (and I guess I am cuz I kept on running with those old geezers for 6 beautiful weeks).  Also in Juneau I ran with my first celebratity runner, Geoff Roes record holder of the biggest 100 mile mnt. race in the world and acknowledged as the ultramarathoner of the year, this guy was all over the running magazines.

However over time 3 specific people, due to the shear miles we've run together stand out.  The 1st was in college, Jennings Berry.  Jennings was wild and fun and had a similar running style to my own, we didn't run to win, we ran because we loved it.  He and I trained for our first marathons together.  The first one because it had been a dream of my to complete one, the second because he didn't like that I had taken him down!  Jennings and I didn't really know what we were doing, or how to train so I printed off an intermediate runner training schedule from runner's world on-line.  I followed it by the books, terrified of the marathon, Jennings frolicked, running in and out my training regimes. 

Then there was Emily.  Our friendship, like Jennings, was founded on running.  In fact my first words to her were "are you a runner?" And runner she was, she had run for Gonzaga 4 years in college, and on our first run together we ran a 2500 ft. in elevation mnt.  I always felt strong running the trails with  Emily, the rhythm of our running always seemed in sink as we laughed about whatever strange occurance had happened that day.  People knew us around town as the Emilys and always asked us who was faster.  Honestly neither of us I think really knew, oldly as much as we ran, we only ever raced together twice, each of us taking 1 victory.  Emily and I lived and ran together 3 years and when we weren't running we talking about it and planning our next trail combination.  We wore the same shoes in the same size and had the same running heart. 

Lately my running buddy has been Aaron.  I don't know if he really ran before me, but I am so thankful he runs now.  He runs and trains very different than both Jennings and Em, he loves speed work and mnt sprinting.  He likes to run fast and far.  He loves to talk and he chats and tells stories throughout each run as I try to keep up beside him.  I always feel like I am slowing him down when we run, but he never seems to get frustrated.  He just says "I'm going to sprint ahead for awhile"  and proceeds to run circles around me.  The competitive spirit in me used to HATE this behavior, thankful I've since gotten over it.  This summer we had the opportunity to run across the country together.  We ran in: Oregon, Michigan, Wisconson, Indiana, Virgina, NC, and SC and Aaron always used the runs as an opportunity to explore."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

the end of the earth

I'll NEVER forget my memories of flying into Alaska for the first time.  It started pre-dawn in Charlotte, NC and ended in a sea-of-trees.  The flight from Seattle into Ketchican was where the magic started.  My eyes were glued to the window the entire 1 1/2 hours: trees, trees, more trees, ocean, ocean, more ocean.  Where was I going?  And wherever it was it couldn't be where any other life forms existed!  Then was my 4th and final flight from Ketchican to Sitka, and however unbelievably, it felt even more remote.  I was sitting by an Alaska Native and asking him my questions, endless questions still glued to the window, and on this flight I was actually starting to get a little scared.  What if I had a medical emergency and needed to go to the hospital? Would I get to one in time?  Was I going to die this summer living on the edge of the earth?  Yes, these were true thoughts that entered my head as I continued to stare at the trees, mnts., and ocean.  I couldn't believe it!  Then landing I noticed mesmerizing Mnt. Edgecumbe, still fresh with snow, despite it begin June 11th.  My fear then turned to desire and a need to be outside... I was fantasizing about snowboarding down the volcano? (was it really a volcano?) into the ocean.  And then, 17 hours later, I landed, unknowing that I would over the coarse of the summer fall head of heels in "life" with Sitka.

However, this past weekend I've realized that Sitka is closer to civilization than I had formally believed.  This past May our friend Ben took a teaching job in Delta Junx., to where he and his wife Emily would move even further off the grid.  Also in May Aaron, Sam, and I put the Fairbanks Marathon, on our calendar, as an excuse to travel up to Delta Junction (90 miles south of Fairbanks) for a visit with our former dearest Sitka friends.

Delta Junx, even though on the road system has weather, people and wind that seemed much more extreme than Sitka.  The stores are fewer, smaller, as were the berries, trees, and hills.  Emily and Ben are now tundra dwellers.  We were glad we were able to make the trip to the real end of the earth to see them and their new interesting adventure.  And if you are interested in learning more about tundra life Emily is currently a blogger and true pioneer woman! 
Emily, Ben, Sam, Aaron, and I with our Fairbanks friends, Nelly and Pete in front of their cute cabin. 

This photo was taken after the marathon... it is another dear friend Glenn, from Juneau, at the awards ceremony.  He broke the 70-80 age record by 9 minutes!  Way to go Glenn.

Aaron with his second place in his age division medal!  Look how excited he is!

Em and I in front of their cabin in Delta Junction, you can also see their new car, Birch in the photo!

A rainbow in Delta Junx.
Ben, Em, me and old grampa Sam with his post race walking cane. 
On the trails of Delta Junx., fall is in full color!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

hanging on to summer...

Spending 6 1/2 weeks down south, meant we had a lot of Sitka summer to catch up on when we got back!  Here are some photos of our adventures in the sunshine...  and many good wishes that you may also find some of your own!
Aaron and I out on Edgecumbe... I am look at town.
Here we are on top of the crater!
Us running around the bowl of the crater... something neither of us had ever done before but we can't wait to do it again.

Overnighting on our favorite spot, 3 enterance bay, notice the boat in the background (beached :))... needless to say we ended up having a longer than excepted morning on the beach!  

I could have sat here all day!

A newly discovered creek

... ahhhhh there is nothing like a beautiful summer day and a wonderful person to spend it with! 

Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strenght or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boat about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


8 states, 12 airports, 6 and a half weeks, and 51 dear friends and family later we have finally made it home. Aaron and I are both so grateful for all the memories we made, babies we meet, and people we reconnected with this summer. We didn't take any of it for granted and our only regret that we couldn't do it all (meaning see EVERYONE). We have so much support from so many different places, so THANKS!

 In Oregon with Noelle and Samara, Debbie and Gary!

Macinaw Island in Michigan with our friends Pat and Chantel, we had a lot of fun zipping all over on our  bikes, can you tell?

 In Madison with Joseph, Katie, Bird, Tom, Delia and Cecil... somehow Cecil snuck away to Circus camp before we could photo him!  Below is the crew again at Devil's lake, pup Pepe also joined us for the photo...

 Indianapolis with Stephanie and Dan Dillard... good looking couple!
In my backyard in York, SC with my cousin Anne, her husband Chris, there two kids Mac and Molly, and Uncle Jim and Aunt Libby.

 Music festival in VR with my folks, Melanie, my cousin Julia and her husband Patrick, and Julia's friend Diana.
The crew again at our cabin.
Climbing with Julia.
Playing music at the music festival with my dad.
Me and Aaron at our 2 anniversary date location! 

At Hilton Head with the fam!

Visit my grandma, beautiful lady!

In York, SC visiting with Rachel, Micheal and baby Thomas.