PR Coaching Athlete: Heather

Heather is one of the athletes on my team: PR (Personalized Running) Coaching. When she came to me this past July, she had taken nearly a year off with a nagging injury and a move across the country from Alaska to Virginia. In just a few short months, starting out slowly and conservatively, we were able to build back and come within 3 minutes of her half-marathon PR. She runs the Marine Corps 10K on Sunday, and I’m excited to see what she is able to do. I’m very optimistic it will go well for her!


Hi!  I’m Heather, mom to Reese (8)  and Lincoln (5), and wife to Will.  I grew up in Valdez, AK but we are currently living in Stafford, Virginia.  My husband and I are in our 11th year with the Coast Guard, which currently has him working in Washington, DC.  Prior to our move here this past summer, we spent three years in Homer, AK, which we loved.  Before that there were three years in Anchorage, a few years in the San Francisco area, Cleveland, OH, Bellingham, WA… we get around!


I’ve been a stay at home mom since Reese was born in 2008, although for the past 3-4 years I’ve been developing myself into a fitness professional, a never ending journey of learning and self-growth.  I started in 2013 when we left Anchorage and moved to Homer.  I wanted to start a group fitness business like the one I belonged to in Anchorage and loved so much.  One that was for women, where kids could come and play alongside their moms who were working out.  I began with a group fitness certification, lots of help from the owner of the group I was leaving, and an idea for Sweaty Betty Mamas.  It didn’t exactly take off the way I hoped it would, but I kept at it and stayed consistent, and eventually it grew.  That was a really fun and rewarding thing for me to focus my extra time and energy on while we lived in Homer.  I’m proud of the group it has become, the service it is for women in Homer, and the fact that it is still thriving with some wonderful ladies instructing classes now that I’m gone.  It has become quite the little community of fit-minded mamas!  I’ve since added a personal trainer certification and a few other courses to my resume, done some online group fitness bootcamps, and continue to offer an online monthly fitness subscription to help women get started with workouts at home.


I was never a runner growing up.  I thought running was awful.  I played sports a little bit in high school but it’s safe to say I was not a super athlete.  I didn’t start running until I was 29.  It was a few months after Lincoln was born, and I found myself with about 50 extra pounds that I wanted gone as quickly as possible.  I didn’t know much about fitness or strength training at the time, so like a lot of other women, I just got on the treadmill and thought I would run myself skinny.  (More on that in another post).  I was surprised to find out that I couldn’t even run a mile without stopping to take breaks.  That really lit a spark under me, and I decided I wanted to run a 5k.  I played all the games with myself, like “today I’m going to run 5 minutes, then walk 2” or “today I’m going to get three miles in regardless of how long it takes” or “I’m going to run 30 minutes today and see how close to 3 miles I can get”.  I kept setting new goals as I achieved them.  Once I could finally run three miles without stopping, my next goal was to run 3 miles in 30 minutes or less.

My very first race was the Shamrock Shuffle 5k in 2012.  I was six months postpartum, and had only been running for about three months.  My time was 30:45, pace just under 10 min miles, and I was just so friggin excited that I didn’t finish last!  (For the record, I’m proud of the people who do finish last and I don’t say that as a bad thing, but rather to make the point that I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself as an athlete at that time).  I had so much fun, and was so proud that I accomplished my goal.  I was totally hooked after that race.  From there on out, I kept playing the treadmill games, setting new goals all the time.  “Well if I can run 3 miles in 30 minutes, why not 28?”  I started meeting a bunch of new friends at the time who were also beginner runners, and so we began running in groups and going for longer distances, which eventually gave me the confidence to sign up for a ½ marathon, a distance I still thought of as a mammoth undertaking.


If I had to pick a favorite race, I’d probably choose the Her Tern ½ marathon in Anchorage, although Seward’s Lost Lake mountain race is right up there as well.  The Her Tern is a favorite though because it was my very first ½, and it was an incredible experience.  It was one of those gorgeous, bluebird summer days in Alaska, and I had at least eight girlfriends who were also running the race that day, which made the experience even better.  Add the finish line cupcakes and mimosas, cute finisher’s bracelets and t-shirts and the block party expo and I think you have one of the best Alaska races.  In 2015 when I ran that race, I finished with a PR of 1:38, and somehow came in 11th place overall (I still think that’s crazy), so that definitely solidifies Her Tern as a fave in my book.


This year was not the best for me in terms of running, though it was great year in general.  For the first time since I started running 5 years ago, I did not hit any PR’s.  I spent the beginning of the year in physical therapy, trying to heal some glute issues, then moved across the country.  My running season didn’t officially start until July 1st, which is when I began working with Michelle (my first experience with a running coach).  My goals were simple: get back to 2015 running level while being careful to not hurt myself again.  I didn’t quite have enough time to get there for my ½ marathon back in September, but I’m very pleased with how close I came in such a short training season.  I finished the Navy Air Force ½ last month in 1:41:40, just three minutes behind my PR last summer.

My next goals are still in the works, however I want to do another marathon in 2017, and even though it’s a stretch, I’m going to shoot for a Boston Qualifying time.  That’s a full 10 minutes faster than my current marathon PR from last September, but I’ve only done two marathons so far and I know I can do better with good training.  The ½ marathon is my favorite distance though, and I know I haven’t hit my peak yet with that distance.  I’m looking forward to 2017!!


I am looking forward to 2017 with Heather as well! I love her passion for fitness and helping others. She works hard, and she  is always challenging herself to see what her potential is. You can find her on Instagram as Sweaty_Betty_Mamas or on Facebook under Heather Albright – Fitness Life.

Cullen Turns Two

Today was Cullen’s 2nd birthday!

This happy-go-lucky boy is so much fun these days! He is putting 3 and 4 words together, which really makes communicating so much easier. He knows his first, middle, and last name; tattles on himself and says no-no when he’s doing something he shouldn’t be; and gets really goofy at night.


If you want to read his birth story, click HERE. If you want kids some day, do not click on the link because I’m pretty sure I’d scare you away from every having a baby.

We celebrated Sunday night with a small party with some close friends and family. It was perfect: low-key, good food, and Cullen had a blast (minus almost burning his lip on the candle #momfail). I worked 11 hours on Saturday and then again Sunday afternoon, so I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to devote to putting on a big party. And right now the party’s still up to me, so I decided to keep things low-key and minimal.


Cullen was so excited for cupcakes. Anytime we talked about his birthday, he made sure to mention the fact there would be cupcakes. I made chocolate cupcakes that used a box chocolate mix but had other ingredients in them as well (semi-sweet chocolate shavings, sour cream, and instant pudding). They tasted great, but majorly fell after taking them out of the oven. I ended up covering up the hole with extra frosting, so you couldn’t really tell until you took a bite and got way more frosting than you were expecting.


Cullen had some of his best friends come, including one of his many girlfriends, Maddie.


Today we mostly hung around home. I lifted weights at the gym while Cullen played with other kids at the child care, which is actually one of his favorite things to do. After that he took a 3 hour nap, he then spent some time playing with his new toys including his new shopping cart and a kid’s tent and sleeping bag from Cabela’s that Craig picked out.


I got Cullen a sled, so we went for a walk this evening and took the sled with us to try it out. Cullen and I went down the hill one time, but he didn’t enjoy it. I think he either got scared with how fast we went or he got snow in his eyes and didn’t like it.

img_4087He brings a lot of joy to our lives, and we love being his parents!

Getting Paid to Live in Alaska – (a.k.a. the PFD – Personal Fund Dividend)

A lot of my readers and followers are those interested in moving to Alaska. I often have people who hear you can get paid to live here. Read the post to find out more about the PFD – Personal Fund Dividend. 


So you’ve heard you can get paid to live in Alaska. Well, while this might sound all wonderful and everything, there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s what you need to know before you pack up all of your belongings and move to the Last Frontier hoping to find your pot of gold.

The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) was created after the discovery of oil as a savings account for future generations who would no longer have oil revenue to operate the state. The fund initially started off with approximately $730,000 in it, while today the fund has over $53 billion. The state uses the fund’s earnings to pay out the PFD. This amount varies each year depending upon the fund’s earnings and performance.

In 2016, each person was supposed to receive $2044, but the governor vetoed half of that due to the state’s current budget crisis. In reality we each received $1022 this past October. In 2015, the amount was $2072, which was the largest pay-out ever.

Image result for alaska pfd amount over the years

In order to declare residency and obtain this dividend, you must live in Alaska a full calendar year (January 1- December 31) before receiving the money the following year.

For example, say you moved here on January 15, 2017. This means you would not be eligible for the 2018 dividend. Instead, you would need to live here from January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018 before you received the money October 2019.

Other things to note:

  • Any baby born to parents who are Alaska residents will receive their PFD the following year. (Cullen was born October 2014, and he received a PFD October 2015.)
  • One question asked on the PFD application is: “is it your intent to remain in Alaska indefinitely?”  If you say it is not your intent, you would not qualify for the PDF. (This could pose a problem for military personnel.)
  • If you are sentenced, convicted, or were incarcerated for a felony during the year, you would be disqualified from receiving the dividend.
  • If you declare residency in Alaska, you have to spend a certain number of days living here, so check the specifics if you “snow bird,” are in college out of state, or spend several months living elsewhere during the year.

There’s a lot of exceptions and special case scenarios (adoption, military, “snow birds,” etc.), so check out the FAQ page the state provided if you have more specific questions.

Setting A, B, and C Goals for Running

Setting goals and achieving them, gives me such a high! There’s nothing like working your butt off for something and then actually achieving it on race day.
A lot of my goals are running-related, especially those I post about on the blog, but these guidelines could apply to a lot of other areas of your life.

As you start to prepare for your next race and think about your goals for it, these are my tips for setting appropriately-hard goals so that you can walk away from the race knowing you gave it your all and you feel satisfied about your performance.

Screen shot 2015-08-17 at 2.47.58 PM

I highly suggest setting an A, B, and C goal for any race you do. Rather than having only one goal (i.e. “set a new PR or personal record”), having 3 different goals allows wiggle room for the unexpected on race day: poor weather conditions, GI distress on race day, up the night before with a sick kid, etc.

The goals you set for yourself don’t always have to be based on time. They could be: finish the race with no pain, run at least half the distance, take no walk breaks, have negative splits, etc. People run races for different reasons, so make the goals fit your situation so you can feel satisfaction when crossing the finish line.

‘A’ goal = This is a ‘shoot-for-the-moon’ goal.

This goal might be something that seems a little out of reach, but on a perfect day it would happen! Don’t be afraid to DREAM BIG!! Ask your training buddies, significant other, or a coach what they think you are capable of. Oftentimes they will push you outside your comfort zone and challenge you a bit! Even if you don’t meet your ‘A’ goal, you still have two other goals to fall back on.

‘B’ goal = This goal should be within your reach, but still challenging you a bit.

Your ‘B’ should be a little more attainable and should leave you smiling about your effort after the race. Your ‘B’ goal should happen even if you don’t have a perfect day.

‘C’ goal = A goal that would leave you satisfied and knowing you gave your best effort.

To have all of the stars align on race day is hard to come by. At almost every race I’ve run, I can think of something that didn’t go as planned, which is why there is a ‘C’ goal. This goal allows the unexpected to happen but for you still to be successful and leave the race knowing you gave it your best effort. Sometimes this goal for me has been ‘to finish the race.’ Even that in and of itself is a big accomplishment for most!



Take time to think about your goals, and then write them down on paper as it makes them much more real. Then tell others! If you don’t want the whole world to keep you accountable via social media, tell your closest pals because they’ll continue to love you no matter how you do. In the end, running a race should leave you feeling accomplished and ready to sign up for the next one.

More Fall Favorites


I came down with a nasty cold last week–not just your typical stuffy nose, but a fever, headache, body/back ache, sinus congestion, horrible hacking cough, and stuffy nose. I wasn’t even fully over my last cold when I started feeling sick a week ago. I was out of commission from Friday – Sunday, laying in bed most of the day, no running, and not caring about how messy the house was.

Luckily I am on the mend now, although I woke up last night with a coughing fit and it took nearly three hours for me to fall back to sleep. Ugh! BUT I did run TWO miles today with no hip flexor “pain”/awareness. (I haven’t had any true “pain” for the last few weeks, but I can still feel it from time to time when I run.)


I am continuing to do a run/walk as I recover from this injury. I am running very, very easy (for me) at a 9 minute mile pace, which is about one minute slower than my usual easy, training pace. I ran for 4 minutes and then walked for about one minute, alternating until I reached two miles. It was such a confidence booster, and I hope things continue to progress forward.

Fall is in full swing here. Last year we had had snow by this time (See this post where it snowed on September 30!), but so far we’re in the clear yet and we haven’t had any snow, and I am a-okay with that! So we are enjoying everything fall: fall walks, two kinds of pumpkin bread, boots, down jackets, sweaters, etc. I made a huge pot of Craig’s Chili yesterday with cornbread, and I have more soups planned for next week. My Nuri ArcTeryx Coat is also seeing a lot of use already as it is a perfect down coat for the fall.


I have yet to buy a PSL from Starbucks (and I don’t think I will), I haven’t bought any pumpkin-flavor foods of any kind, nor have we been to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, which I guess kind of makes me a little anti-fall, but I am loving the following items! I know already posted of my Fall Favorites last month, but I have more I want to share with you!

Bath & Body Works Autumn Candle

Now that we have darkness (versus nearly endless daylight during the summer), I love lighting candles in the evening and sometimes even in the morning as the sun doesn’t rise until after 8 a.m.!! I am a sucker for the fall scented candles at Bath & Body Works, and after smelling about twenty of them, this one was the winner.


Zoya ‘Zanna’ Nail Polish

I love this Zoya ‘Zanna’ Nail Polish. It is the perfect purple color for fall, and I find myself wearing it often. Zoya is a natural, vegan nail polish (not really sure how nail polish can be natural??), but I do think it stays on better than a lot of other brands I’ve tried (including Essie and OPI).



Gold Jewelry

I used to be all about the silver jewelry, but lately I have been loving gold, and I especially love it during the fall. I picked up this necklace from H&M, and the earrings are from Primp Boutique in Minnesota.


Athleta Stripes Chaturanga Capri

I was serious lusting over these Athleta Stripes Chaturanga Capris when I saw my coworker and then one of my athletes wearing them. I quickly scoured the internet for the cheapest pair and found a pair that was brand new without tags on Poshmark. They fit very similar to my Lululemon Wunder Unders with a wide waistband, inside pocket, pant legs that actually stay down, but I don’t know how they would be for running.


Run Fast Eat Slow

I am not one to buy cookbooks. I can find plenty of free recipes online and on blogs, but when I took a quick glance through my friend’s <a href="http:////“>Run Fast East Slow cookbook by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky , I knew I would be buying my own copy. I have made several of the recipes already including: Can’t Beet Me Smoothie, Superhero Muffins, Kale-Radicchio Salad with Farro, and Coconut-Kale Smoothie.


Tazo ‘Zen’ Green Tea

When I first moved to Alaska nine years ago (How has it been nine years already??), I started drinking tea because I was always cold. I’ve never acclimated to the cold here in Alaska (even though everyone said I would), so I have to drink my hot tea quite regularly, especially now that the temperatures have been in the 30s and low 40s. Wah! I am pretty basic when it comes to tea, so I really just like a good green tea like this <a href="http:////“>Tazo ‘Zen’ Green Tea.


Daniel’s Running Formula

The obviously is not a ‘fall favorite,’ but I have been reading <a href="http:////“>Daniels’ Running Formula book to help with my coaching knowledge and have picked up several good tidbits of information.


Returning to the Basics: Running/Walking

Injuries really humble you.

In May I did a 95 mile week, in June I ran Grandma’s Marathon in 3:12 in very hot conditions, and my total mileage since July has been whopping 27 miles! That’s less than half of what I usually run in a week!


If you’ve been following along, you know I injured my hip flexor after running the marathon (I still don’t know how.), so I have been on the mend since. I think I am finally healing! I have done four 1 mile runs with no pain and then today’s run/walk with no pain. I know it is going to take some time to get back to 90+ weekly miles, but I am happy that things are finally progressing in the right direction.

The first four runs back, I mostly ran continuously for 1 mile. I did take one or two walk breaks on all of them, but they were pretty short. This is an okay method to run to running, but my gut told me I should take a different approach.

After having Cullen, I waited four weeks before I started exercising again. My first “run” back I can hardly say was a run because I walked way more than I ran, and I probably only ran for 0.25 – 0.5 mile. I really listened to my postpartum body during this time, which was huge in my ability to return to running without any injuries. After that first run, I slowly increased the time I ran and decreased the duration of the walk breaks. Within a few weeks, I was able to run 3 miles without stopping. You can read more about my return to running after a c-section HERE.


Overall, I think my run/walk approach after having a baby was a smart move, so I am going to try the same thing after being unable to run for the past 3 months. I have decided that I am going to continue to do a run/walk pattern to build back up to continuous running. This morning I ran for 3 minutes at a time with about 1 – 1.5 minutes of walking. I honestly didn’t even time my walk breaks; I just went on feel. I would stop running, catch my breath, and then start up again.

I had no pain or discomfort in my hip flexor, and it wasn’t until the very end that I felt the presence of my hip flexor again, which means it was starting to get fatigued. This workout boosted my confidence that I am on the mend, and the chiropractor I am still seeing also seemed optimistic I am on the road to recovery.

Next time I plan to run for about 4 minutes and continue to take the 1 – 1.5 minute walk breaks. I’ll add time to each running segment and hopefully things will progress nicely from there. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!


My cooking tidbit with Channel 11’s Daybreak crew aired this past week, and you can watch the clip of me preparing one of my favorite fall soups: Bacon Kale & Potato Soup.

A Day in the Life. . . of an almost 2 year old

I know I said I probably wasn’t going to do any more of these posts, but I was looking back on one about a year ago, and I love having the diary to reread and see how far we’ve come, so I still might do these occasionally.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Cullen will be two next month, so we’ve gotten to the point where we say his age is: ‘almost two.’ He loves being outside, throwing rocks into puddles/ponds of water, going on walks with Sadie, reading books, and playing with other kids.

Today (Friday) was a pretty typical day for us: errands, a walk with the dog, time at home, cleaning/laundry, and working out.

Thursday, September 29

9:00 p.m. I put Cullen down for the night. Of course he doesn’t go down right away. He fusses for a while, so I have Craig go put him down.

9:30 p.m. He’s down for the night.

10:00 p.m. Lights out for me.

Friday, September 30

5:38 a.m. I hear Cullen fuss. He’s been waking up once every night for the past couple of weeks. I don’t know if there is a reason or not. (I did notice his 2 year molars are coming in on the bottom, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by them during the day.) This time he only fusses for a few seconds and then puts himself back to sleep, but almost every other night I have had to go check on him. Sometimes I will just cover him back up and give him his pacifier, sometimes I rub his back, and other times I rock him back to sleep. Luckily it hasn’t taken too long before he falls back to sleep–veruses the nights we’d be up 3 hours with him before he’d go back to sleep! While it isn’t fun getting up in the middle of the night, it is no where near as awful as it was just 6 months ago.

5:40 a.m. By this time I figure it isn’t worth it to go back to sleep, so I get up since my alarm was set for 6:00 anyhow. I get ready to go and workout at the gym.

6:10 a.m. Arrive at the gym and start my 75 minutes of stationary bike riding. I don’t love the bike, but the TV and my phone are good distractions. This is the only time I watch TV–specifically HGTV.


7:30 a.m. I am done with the workout, and I have a little bit of time before I have to be back home, so I spend a few minutes stretching because I know it won’t happen at home.

7:50 a.m. Arrive back home. Cullen and Craig are just waking up. (Craig gets up about 30 minutes before he has to leave for work. Ha!) I take the opportunity to take a shower since I know it takes Cullen a few minutes to wake up anyhow. After the shower I get ready for the day while Cullen looks at everything in my make-up drawer.

8:30 a.m. We go downstairs for breakfast. I make a yogurt bowl with Silk soymilk yogurt, oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and mango. I also toast half of an English muffin and spread a mashed avocado on it. Cullen has some yogurt, string cheese, and mango. While Cullen is washing his hands, I notice the baseboards are dirty, so I decide to wipe them down. (I neat freak in me can get out of control sometimes.) Cullen helps me put clean dishes away, and then I finish cleaning up the kitchen.


9:35 a.m. Back up stairs to pick up the bedrooms, finish getting ready, make the bed, fold a load of laundry, etc. I am constantly picking up the house throughout the day, but I like staying on top of the cleaning the day rather than waiting until the end of the day.

10:30 a.m. Now that the house is picked up, we are finally ready to venture outside the house. We drive to the mall, and I stop at Banana Republic, Lululemon, and Bath and Body Works. I find a shirt for $18 at Banana Republic, but what I really wanted were some new running tights at Lululemon. I don’t find anything I love, and I have to love something there since I would be spending a minimum of $100. We find some soap, a candle, and a bottle of lotion at Bath and Body Works. While we are shopping there, we run into a friend, so we chat with her for a while.


12:20 p.m. Of course our time at the mall took longer than I had anticipated.  Normally we would head home for nap time, but I had been telling Cullen I was going to take him to the park after shopping, so I know I have to keep my word now. We make a stop at Westchester Lagoon to play at the playground, throw rocks in the pond, and watch the ducks. Cullen is not happy we have to go after a short period of time, but then again he wouldn’t be happy leaving if we had spent two hours there.


This is the best picture I could get of the two of us.

1:00 p.m. We arrive home, and I change Cullen’s diaper and then lay him in his crib. I can tell he is tired, so I hope he will fall asleep right away.

1:30 p.m. Of course he doesn’t, so I go read some books to him, rock him, and sing to him.

1:45 p.m. He fights it for a while longer but finally he is down.  I thought he might skip his nap today, which can happen once or twice a week. Last week he napped every other day–no bueno. He still needs a nap.

I snack on some chips and salsa and do computer work. I almost always do as much computer work as I can during his nap so that I’m not on the computer while he’s awake. I answer e-mails, work on this blog post, update my time sheet for work, do some online shopping, etc.

2:20 p.m. Time for some real food: a piece of toast with fresh tomatoes from the garden (they do not compare to the ones from the grocery store!), avocado slices, avocado oil, salt, and pepper. I also have some carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and some Honeycrisp apple. Every fall I get so excited to see the Honeycrisp apples in the store. They look so good: shiny red apples that look like they were just picked, but every time I buy that overpriced Honeycrisp apple, and every time I am disappointed with how it tastes.


3:45 p.m. I’m still hungry, so I snack on a Luna bar.


4:10 p.m. As much as I hate waking a sleeping baby, I know I should go and wake Cullen up, otherwise he’ll go down even later tonight. I rock him for a while and he falls back asleep for a few minutes. We slowly wake up and then go and get a snack. Cullen eats while I clean up the kitchen and pack my lunch for tomorrow.

4:50 p.m. I start working on Cullen’s birthday invites. Cullen plays with blocks, and I take breaks to play with him.

5:30 p.m. Craig gets home from work.

5:40 p.m. We swap baby-duty, and I leave for my nail appointment. I’ve had shellac nail polish for 6 weeks now, so it is time to get it taken off. I opt for regular nail polish to give my nails (and wallet) a break from shellac.


6:30 p.m. I’m done with my appointment and drive to my mother-in-law’s to pick up Cullen. (Craig took him over there.) We chat for a while before Cullen and I head off to the park.

7:30 p.m. Play at the park and let Sadie run around for a while.


8:10 p.m. Time to head back home as it is getting dark out now.

8:30 p.m. Eat (a very late) dinner. (We never eat this late.) I don’t have time to cook anything, so I have a bowl of cereal and some roasted broccoli.

9:00 p.m. We head upstairs for bedtime. I have Cullen sit on the potty (no success), change into his pajamas, brush teeth, read books, and rock.

9:30 p.m. I finish cleaning the kitchen, fold a load of laundry, clean the toilets, and finish this blog post.

10:30 p.m. Cullen still isn’t sleeping. (I told you I have the Worst Sleeper Ever.) I go and check on him, and he says he is hungry. Sigh. . . .

10:35 p.m. We go downstairs to eat some cereal.

11:00 p.m. I’m ending this blog post now because I’m tired and have to be to work in 8.5 hours, and who knows when the little rascal will go to bed.

The end.