Sunday, December 16, 2012

18.5 miles of air-bubbled bliss

It's hard to write about running when 20 children were senselessly gunned down a few days ago. It makes me realize how frivolous running is, and how much a luxury. Think of it! Even a bad bonk, even a run that's a struggle from start to finish is still a gift because we're alive, we're breathing and our bodies and lungs are healthy. I hope to always remember this and never take running for granted. I hope to always appreciate it.

My heart and prayers go out to the families of all the children, teachers and school administrators. What a terrible and brutal time. (I remember when my son was six, it's such an innocent and magical time.) And, not to get all political or anything, but what the f**k? I'm all for the right to bear arms but there must be limits, people. Limits.

Okay, my little rant is over. Now it's time to talk running.

This past week I had a bunch of dismal runs. We had weeks of cold, clear temps so that the trails were packed down and fast and oh, it was so lovely! Then the snows came, over 10 inches, and it immediately became colder so that the new snow froze into hardened chunks, and the trails are a mess of frozen footprints and ski grooves so that running becomes an ankle-twisting feat of endurance. It's okay for short runs but longer marathon paced runs? I don't think so.

I took it inside to the treadmill. Now the treadmill is great for anything up to eight miles. After that, it becomes hideous, trust me on this.

So Saturday, with a 17-miler scheduled and the trails still a mess, I took it inside. I took it to The Dome.

People who don't live in Alaska probably have no idea of the wonders of this odd and ugly building.

Doesn't it look like a giant insect or something? Or maybe a huge and breathing balloon.

It's supposedly the largest air-supported sports facility in the country. And yeah, I said air-supported. This is what the walls look like.

It's like running inside an inflatable swimming pool. And the lighting is weird, too, so that everything has a strange cast and really, it's all so very odd. But when one lives in Alaska, one becomes immune to oddities.

Plus, it has this:

And folks, this track is awesome. It's level and smooth and kind of the joints. And it's fast.

Here's what the Website says about it:

The Dome features one of the only 400 meter indoor tracks in the world; the same materials and markings used in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the 1984 Olympic Games. World class athletes still consider this the finest track ever installed in the United States.

Well, I've never actually seen world class athletes running on it, but who knows, eh? And all of this inside a balloonish, inhaling mass of rubberized walls. Crazy!

I ran 68 laps in the fifth and sixth lane, which I later figured out to be 18.52 miles. It went well, I must say. I felt strong until the last two miles, when that sly voice inside my head urged me to slow down and that other voice inside my head said, thank you very much but I'm maintaining my pace.

The track from above: See the field, I think it's big enough for indoor football, too. Wild. Photo credit: The Alaska Dome

The cool thing is that inside the track is a large stretch of green (artificial turf) where soccer games are held, and while I was running parents were sitting in the stands cheering on their kids. Each time I rounded this area I pretended that they were cheering for me. (Sorry, but one must amuse oneself how one can while running around a track 68 times like a demented gerbil.)

Today I'll do recovery miles on the treadmill, since I need to stop at the laundromat (our washer broke, such a shame, though I secretly love laundromats, love how warm they are inside and the churning and comforting sounds of so many machines cleaning so many clothes) and will throw my clothes in the washers, head to the gym, pound out 6-8 miles and return to, hopefully, find that no one swiped my heaps and heaps of work out clothes.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And hug your kids, okay? Even if they are oversized and sulky college students who think they're smarter than you are. They're still beautiful beyond words.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Speed ladder and Christmas dog

Last night it was 2 degrees outside and the air was sharp and cold, so I escaped to the gym for speedwork on the treadmill.

I used to hate the treadmill but I'm beginning to appreciate its charms. I like that I can set it to a pace and run evenly, without slow or fast lapses. I like that I can program in hills and make them last as long as I wish. But mostly, I love the treadmill because it causes me to sweat.

I love to sweat. It's the best of things.

Yesterday I did speedwork ladder: .25 miles @ 7 pace; .50 miles @ 7:30; .75 miles @ 7:41; 1 mile @ 8 pace, and then back down again: .75, .50 and .25. I kept the treadmill on 1 incline setting.

I hit my paces with effort but not agony. I love when that happens!

The only negative point is that after I finished my second interval, this muscular guy in a tank top hopped on the treadmill next to mine, looked over and smiled.

"I see you're running on your heels," he said (I wasn't; I had been watching my feet in the mirror). "You're gonna ruin your knees."

I nodded but didn't answer.

"Your arms are too stiff," he continued, "and your steps are too big. You're gonna mess up your legs."

"My stride is fine," I told him. "I've never had an injury."

"Soooo," he said, glancing down at my legs. "You run much?"

"I'm training for a marathon."

"I trained for a marathon once," he said. (The whole time he's walking, not running, on the treadmill.)

"How fast did you run?"

"Oh, I didn't run I just trained." A pause. "So where is this marathon?"


"I love Phoenix! Hey, have you ever been ..."

"Sorry," I said, "My next interval is coming up." I strapped my headphones back on and cranked the treadmill up to a 7 minute pace.

The dude stared at me a moment and then began running (stomping the treadmill), striking down hard with his heels, his arms swinging wildly, his knees wobbling with every step. After my interval was over he tapped me on the shoulder.

"Hey," he said, "how far is a marathon again?"

This dude was trying to give me running advice and he didn't even know how far a marathon is! Get real, okay.

But there are more important things happening. Like the Beebs, who is ready for Christmas, or at least tolerating Christmas, since her owners do stupid things like attach a hideous red bow around her neck and situate her beneath the tree.

Poor Beebs, she has since a hard life!

It's 8 degrees outside. It's supposed to reach 9 in an hour, which is when I'll pull on mass layers of clothes and head out the door for a 10 miles run.

Cheers and happy running, everyone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

16 miles and more moose

Well, we did it.

We suffered through 16 miles in 9 degree temps.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, either. The funny thing is that the distance didn't scare us, just the cold. So either we are becoming stronger runners or wimpier Alaskans.

We ran along the Coastal Trail, and in open areas the wet air drafting over the inlet was brutal. My face was so cold by the time I finished that I couldn't talk. I do need to get a face mask. I had a neck gator, which I pulled up over my mouth, but it became damp and then froze, whick only caused my face to become colder.

So sorry, no pics. I couldn't stop running, for fear of becoming chilled. When you are out running in skinny tights and a thin windbreaker and expecting your body energy to keep you warm, there is a thin margin for error. But we did run negative splits and finished strong and within my MP goal (I was trying for a much slower pace but I wanted to get it over before my face permanently froze into a runner's gasp).

Today, we were blessed with a visit from another moose, a big male with a huge rack, which I found sleeping in the yard when I went out to get the mail.

Without further ado, meet my new favorite moose.

Don't you love the blues? This is how the light looks each afternoon. It's like nothing else.

And one pic with the flash, which highlights the moose but fades out the beautiful blues.

Stay warm and safe, everyone.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Moose madness

This cute moose paid us a visit this afternoon, right before dark. Good looking, no? (I think it has a crush on me. It followed me and The Beebs home from the park.)

There's something so magical about encountering moose, even though it happens often in the winter, when they move in closer to town and use the trails instead of trudging through deep snow. I often see them in neighborhood yards when I walk the dog, stripping the heck out of people's prized trees and shrubs.

Some people make jewelery from the nuggets (i.e., poop) and sell them in the tourist stores down on Fourth Avenue. I'm ashamed to admit that I've actually bought these for Christmas presents for out-of-state relatives. I'm sure they were a big hit. How many people can say they have a piece of Alaska moose poop dangling from their ears?


Have a moosey weekend, everyone. And send me some good energy. I have a 16-miler scheduled for Sunday. The expected high? Nine big, fat degrees.

Sucky speed work and vegan muffins

I knew I was in trouble when I hopped on the treadmill at Planet Fitness (temps were a balmy 2 degrees outside) and I could barely handle my warm-up, a generous three minutes slower than my interval pace.

It was not good.

After a looonnggg mile, I skipped my iPod to a fast song and cranked the treadmill up to a hearty 7:35 pace.

It was one of the longest half miles of my life.

My eyes frantically glued to the treadmill program, I watched each number inch by (ever so slowly!). I struggled. My legs flailed. My arms pumped in useless time with my body.

I'd like to say that the next five intervals became easier, but they didn't. The only thing that got me through was Alicia Bridge's "I Love the Nightlife," and a few hearty tunes by Prince, back when he was still Prince and hadn't changed his name to something unpronounceable and then back again.

Ah Prince, you wanna come up to Alaska and run with me?

The coolest thing, though. After I finished my workout, as I was sweating over the weight machines with my puny arms, a twenty-something man who had been on the treadmill next to mine complimented me on my running.

"You make it look so easy," he said. "You ran without effort."

Well! Imagine that. I told him that it had indeed struggled but he didn't believe me. He said that I was an inspiration. I kind of made me teary-eyed. I had to escape to the bathroom to blow my nose.

Who would have thunk that as I was struggling and fighting someone else would view me as running confidently and easily?

After that, I braved the 2 degree weather (brrr!) and came home to this:

Vegan blueberry muffins to die for (I ate three in one night, hee, hee)

I adapted the recipe from The Vegan Mom blog (thanks, VM!), added nuts, an extra half banana, and substituted the maple syrup for honey, and they are SO good! You must try these muffins. They are moist and filling and awesome.

Blueberry Walnut Muffins (Vegan)

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup plus small handful pastry flour

Tsp baking soda

Tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Tblsp cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup canola/light olive oil

1 cup soy/almond/hemp milk

1 ½ bananas, mashed

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all dry ingredients, fold in wet ingredients, pour into baking cups (I used a large six-count muffin tin) and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or knife pulls clean. Makes 12 standard or six large sized muffins.

So freaking good!

Happy eating, everyone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter running in cold temps (oh, yeah!)

This is why I stay in Alaska and fight the cold and freeze my face off almost every winter run. It's the blues. I love the blue shadows, and the way the snow turns lavender, and how everywhere I look, there's more and more blues, and in every possible shade.

View from the Coastal Trail at sunset
It's cold, though. It was 12 when I set off for my 11 miler this afternoon, and 7 when I finished. I need to get a hat with an attached mask. My poor face, the only exposed part of my whole body, can't take much more. The cold is exhilarating, but only to a point. After that it simply becomes painful.

I didn't take any photos of today's run, but I have some from this weekend.

Saturday, MM and I did our marathon pace runs on the treadmill at Planet Fitness. I love Planet Fitness, love how it caters to everyone and doesn't allow grunting and everywhere you look, there's such a wide variety of people, from tired housewives to young things in matching outfits to serious athletes, all of us flocking through the doors the moment the temps dip lower than 15 degrees.

It was MM's first time running on a treadmill, can you believe that? He lost his virginity! Poor guy stumbled around at but soon got the hang of it. It was fun running side-by-side while watching "House Hunters" on the overhead TV.

Sunday was a marathon training kick-back week, and our long run was only 10 miles. It was about 15 degrees was we set out, with a cold wind blowing off the inlet so that by the second mile, our hair froze and our mouths became numb.

The reversible side of my insulated running skirt is hot pink, how cool is that?

See the moon peeking out from the trees?

Sunset/moonrise over Westchester Lagoon

The return portion of the run was brutal. The sun had set and the temps soared downward. I pumped out the miles at faster-than-my-half-marathon-pace, just to try and keep warm.

The Chester Creek Trail is lit up to halfway around Westchester Lagoon and then the lights quit, thank god. I love running in the snow in the dark. It feel surreal and magical.

This weekend we have a 16-miler scheduled. The high both days is forecasted as 12. Along the inlet it will be even colder. MM bought me some new mittens (supposedly a Christmas present but I couldn't wait that long) and finally, my hands are warm. Such a blessing, these small things.

If anyone has any running tips for single digits and below zero temps, I'd love to hear them.

Stay warm!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turnagain Arm with The Beebs

Today we took The Beebs out for a short, four-mile run on Turnagain Arm to work off all of that Thanksgiving turkey (MM and Beebs) and tofu (me).

This is one of my favorite trails. The footing is gritty, the hills are obstinate, and there are enough curves and dips that the run never becomes stale.

We ran on hard-packed snow, and I fell in love all over again with the screws on the bottom of my shoes. I never slipped! I charged down the hills without a care!

Perfect running conditions

Beebs is 13 this year, so we have to be careful not to overtax her. But she loves to run. She loves being out on the trails. She refuses to slow down. Her heart is so, so big.

The Beebs taking a breather at the two-mile point.

While it was a short run, it was refreshing to be outside in the cold, right before sunset, when the air was lavender and everything was quiet and the birch trees spread out before us in milky shadows.

Ridge above the trail.

Turnagain Arm: Isn't it gorgeous?

MM and The Beebs, cruising down the last hill

Sunset over the water through the trees.

Sun almost set: Right now we're down to about 6 hours of daylight, with sunset around 4 p.m.

Sunset reflected in blocks of ice over the inlet.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and didn't spend too much money during Black Friday (I stayed home and shopped online, hee, hee).

So far:
Monday: 90 minutes, elliptical
Tuesday: 9 miles, MP
Wednesday: 70 minutes, elliptical
Thursday: Rest (power eating)
Friday: 4 miles trails, 60 minutes elliptical

Monday, November 19, 2012

Screwing around

Well, I think I've finally beaten the worst of my cold/flu (knock on coffee table). It took me countless packets of Emergen-C, golden seal root, calendula leaves tea and lemon water, but I think (hope, pray) the worst is over.

I started working out at the gym again on Thursday and Friday--how nice to sweat again! I ran for the first time in a week on Saturday, six miles at MP. It felt so, so good to run again, even though I didn't feel as strong as normal.

Sunday I drilled screws in the bottom of my running shoes, for traction. This was great fun. I followed these instructions, and it was SO easy.

Tiggy Mon holding watch over the drill.

I used 3/8 inche hex screws, which were hard to find. They didn't have them at Lowe's, Home Depot or Alaska Industrial Hardware. We finally found them in this odd little store called Fasteners and Fire Equipment, Inc., which was filled with screws and fasteners of every imaginable size. The service was wonderful, too, and we were able to choose the width and length of our screws. Best of all, a box of 100 was about $3.

Here's how I attached the screws: First I drilled starter holes in the bottom tread. If you have a drill with a magnetic tip, you could skip this step. I placed the screws along the outside and then added a row through the middle. I used 19 on the right shoe and 20 on the left. Probably that was overkill but better too many than not enough.

I hand screwed the screws, which was easy since I had already pre-drilled the holes. The entire process took less than 15 minutes.

Then I put on my running gear and headed out the door with MM for our 14 miler long run. It was about 20 degrees at the start, with a wind coming off that inlet that was brutal and unforgiving.

I didn't feel strong, since I'm still not fully recovered from the flu, and the wind was so cold on the way back that I was sure my face was going to shatter. But my shoes felt great. The screws gripped the ice, and the only time I slipped was in areas of deeper snow; for that I think I'll need Yak Traks.

My feet, so happy in their non-slid screwed shoes. See how the snow is lavender tintede? It's always like that in late afternoon. I love it!

No, I'm not flapping my arms or trying to fly. This is one unflattering running photo, but I had to include it because this is how Alaska looks in the winter around sunset: all blues and lavenders and pinks. Isn't it beautiful?

We passed this moose around the six mile mark, when we crossed the road by the wastewater plant (and yeah, it doesn't smell very sweet running past it, either). The moose often stroll along the side of the road and sometimes even down the middle of the road, and they pay no mind to cars or traffic noise. They simply walk along, in that knobby-kneed walk of theirs, and stop whenever they find a tasty tree or bush to nibble. They remind me of teenagers walking around trying to look cool.

And finally, a photo of my poor face, frozen into a permanent blank and agonized expression, hee, hee. I'm wearing the new Nike insulated running skirt I got on Ebay for $20 (regularly $80). I love it! Finally, a way of keeping my behind warm when I run. These things are important! Still, it's ridiculous how much I wear to run up here. I have on a tank, sleeveless running shirt, insulated half-zip, windbreaker, heavy tights, insulated running skirt, shoes and two pair of mittens. And we haven't even hit single digits yet!

Don't I look like one of those kids so bundled up in snowsuits that they can barely move?

Stay warm, everyone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Me and Emergen-C

I haven't run for four days.

Four days, people.

Not only have I not run, I haven't swum, biked, worked out or so much as lowered myself into plank position.

I have been sick with a ghastly cold that is so clever that, just when I think I finally have it kicked, it slyly turns up the volume and slams me with a bout of coughing so strong and wicked I end up I slumped on the couch, sweaty and breathless.

(But wait! Coughing can be counted as ab work, no?)

I am in an evil mood. I can barely stand myself. Earlier tonight I decided that this all MM's fault. I tried to tell him, too. I wanted to yell and scream, hurl accusations and blame but alas, since I had lost my voice hours before nothing came out but a squeak. So I retired to the couch, coughed and worked on my abs.

I have been popping Emergen-C packets like crazy. Heck, I think I'd snort them if they didn't make me sneeze. I took five today. The back of the box advises to take no more than two. I hope I don't die of an overdose. That would be embarrassing.

My drug of choice.

I haven't run for four days yet by not running I realize how thankful I am that I can run, that I am healthy and live in a country and environment that allows me to follow my heart and passions. That is no small thing. Many people spend their whole lives searching for their passions. I've managed to find two, running and writing.

But enough of the sappy talk. It's getting late and I'm going to take my sixth dose of Emergen-C of the day, put in a strong set of coughing, brush my teeth and take my box of tissues to bed.

As Judy Garland once sang, there's always tomorrow. (I wonder if I could beat the Scarecrow in a marathon?)

Definitely not a heel striker.

'Night, everyone. Hope you don't catch this nasty bug. (If you need some Emergen-C I can sell you some real cheap, hee, hee.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Too young to run?

Anyone see this story in the New York Times about the two young runners, Kaytlynn, 12, and Heather, 10, Welsch, who run tough adult trail races?

It's a long article but I recommend. It's fascinating and causes one to wonder: Do these girls really want to run or are they running mainly to please/fulfill their father's dreams and ambitions?

Photo credit: New York Times

Look how small these girls are! They barely reach the others' elbows. And Heather, the youngest, pins stuffed animals on her shirt before each race. She also cries during most races.

Granted, they are talented runners. The oldest clocked a 1:28 half marathon. Yet the father's attitude is unsettling.

The article followed the pair through a rugged and steep trail race in Utah. Kaytlynn was expected to place in the top 5 female finishers (adult finishers, I must stress). She stubbed her toe the day before and it was black and blue on race day. She ran anyways and place 30th out of 75 women, darned good for a 12-year-old.

Her father didn't seem to think so. Here is what he was quoted as saying in the car on the ride home.

“You quit on us today,” he said.
“No, I didn’t,” she responded.
“Yes, you did. A lot of people run with a stubbed toe, even a broken toe. They put it aside and do their best. Did you do your best?”
“Your time shows you certainly didn’t.”
Deep down she believed he was right, and she kept her eyes on her phone.

Heather, 10, after a race. Photo credit: New York Times.

Jesus, she's 12. She should be out playing with friends, not racing every weekend and especially not racing with a stubbed toe. I've been there, done that and it hurts.

At the same time, I admire these girls. It sounded as if they really love to run, really love to feel their bodies move, and really love to compete.

They also compete in tris and both have bikes worth about $5,500, each. At ages 12 and 10. If that doesn't set up the expectation to succeed at all costs not sure what does.

I think the article's title sums it up best, "Too Fast, Too Soon?"

Let me know what you think, if you have a chance. It's long yet fascinating read.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bread, snow and cold hands

Yes, I am still alive. And right now I'm back in Anchorage, baking bread and homemade pizza and watching the election results (Go, Big O!). Regardless of your political mindset, I hope you all got out and voted. It's our right, and especially our right as women, since so many of those before us suffered to allow us this luxury that we so often take for granted.

Enough of serious talk. Let's chat about something better. Something like food.

Ain't it pretty? My homemade pizza with tofu and goat cheese. Yum!

I don't know if it's the cold weather or the rapidly leaving light (the sun doesn't rise until almost 9 a.m. and it's dark by 4:30 p.m., and we haven't hit the worst of it yet), but I have become horribly domesticated and have this deep, overwhelming urge to cook. To bake, actually. Go figure. I'm thinking it's like a virus, bakeitis or something. Maybe there's a herbal remedy I can take or maybe I'm doomed to bake (and pack on the pounds from said baking) all winter long.

Regardless, there is something primal in kneading dough. Why is that? Sometimes, as I'm folding and kneading, I imagine all of the millions of women before me who have done the same thing, and I feel connected and warm.

Oh, dough, how I love to knead you!

And I know you're waiting breathlessly for the finished product, so here it is.


Okay, now that I've devoured two pieces of pizza (imagine a ladylike burp here), it's time to move over to the good stuff: Running.

Returning to Anchorage and 20-degree temps last week was a bit of a culture shock after balmy Nebraska City. I had to pull out the tights, the long sleeve tech shirt covered by the windbreaker, the hat and mittens, and still I was cold.

It's sad how easily my body adjusted to the warm climate and how stubbornly it's resisting the cold (I think it wants me to move to a more moderate town).  My first run was a 10 mile tempo with MM, and it went great.

That, unfortunately, was the last outdoor run that went well. Every single one since I've been cold. I even wore two (two!) pairs of gloves on our 12 miler Sunday and my hands were so cold by the end that I couldn't even shut off my Garmin. I screamed at MM, "Shut it off! Shut it off!" as he looked around the wooded trail, wondering what the hell I was yelling about.

Do people ride fat tire bikes where you live? I bikes look plump and cheerful, though they do take up a lot of room.

Basically, my runs have been going well. I'm hitting my paces. Heck, I'm going faster than my paces in many cases, in desperate attempts to stay warm. I feel strong. My body wants to move, and I love that. I'm just bummed at how cold I've been.

And it's still in the 20s.

Time to bring out more layers. The sad thing is that I'm wearing now what I wore last year while runnng in single digits. My body is wimping out on me, sigh, sigh.

Funny, isn't it? I was moaning and complaining about running in Nebraska, and now I'm moaning and complaining about running in Alaska. I need to shut my mouth and just run. I need to be grateful that at my age (spoiler alert: I ain't exactly young) I am still able to run, and that it brings me such joy.

I am working on that. I am baking bread and working on my attitude (now that song is in my head, "New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle).

Weekly stats (from last week):
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 90 minutes elliptical and stair torture machine
Wednesday: 10 miles nighttime trail run (awesome!)
Thursday: 8 mile speedwork on treadmill while watching "House Hunters"
Friday: 1 mile, swim
Saturday: 7.3 miles, tempo, paved Coastal Trail
Sunday: 12 miles, slowish, trails

"Pretty is What Changes," by Jessica Queller
"Wilderness Tips," Margaret Atwood (love you, Margie!)

A lot of promo and publicity brainstorming for my book--ahhhhh!
A lot of contest and resideny deadlines. My brain feels as if it's run a marathon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm in!

It's official.

My next marathon humiliation will be the Lost Dutchman outside of Phoenix on Feb. 16.

I'll be here in 3.5 months! (Lost Dutchman Marathon: Photo credit)

MM is in, too.

Sweet! Maybe I'll finally beat him. It's kind of my goal (sorry, babe). It keeps me going when I don't want to run. I think to myself: If I have a really, really good race and he has a really, really bad race, it's possible yet highly unlikely that I could zoom past him as he crawls to the finish.

Look! Campfire before the start. Too, too cool. (Photo credit: I dunno, but thanks)

It's a cheery thought, though I doubt it will happen.

Plus I really don't want MM to crawl to the finish (though sometimes, I must admit, such thoughts bring me malicious pleasure).

My goals for this marathon? To finish. To not die. To finish. That's about it at this point.

I don't seem to race well. I hit all my target paces on runs, I practice fueling and then, I don't know, I stand there at the starting line and I'm all hyped up and excited yet, at the same time there's this part of me that longs (longs!) to be out running by myself on the trails.

Running beside people I don't know feels cluttered, like standing with strangers on an elevator, and everyone just stands there and no one says anything, and if you do say something everyone looks at you as if you're a freak or, worse yet, laughs like you just told a joke, even though you didn't.

Luckily, we don't have many elevators in Alaska. (stock photo)

Racing feels like that to me. And yeah, I'm that woman who talks to everyone she passes. Last marathon a guy got so fed up with my chatter that he sprinted ahead in the middle of a hill (I caught back up on the downhill and he sprinted ahead again. I think I scared him).

What I love the most about racing is the anticipation and planning, the dreaming and the training. I love the training. And I'm going to really love slogging out long runs in dark, subzero Alaska weather.

So pretty! But so cold and so icy.

Friday is my last day in Nebraska City. It's storming now, thunder and lightning, which we don't often get in Alaska. Such a treat.

Earlier today I took my last swim at the Ambassador Wellness Center, which I will miss terribly.

Goodbye, goodbye. We had ourselves a time, yes?

So far:
Monday: Swim, 1 mile
Tuesday: Run, 8.35 miles
Wednesday: Swim, 1 mile