Best Places to Run in Anchorage, AK

I am starting to get questions about running in Anchorage as people are starting to plan trips here during the summer, so I thought I’d write up a little blog post to highlight some awesome places to run in the Anchorage area.

Westchester Lagoon

If I have to pick just one spot to recommend to tourists, my first pick is always going to be Westchester Lagoon. Views of the mountains, ocean, wildlife, and the trail system takes you in three different directions.

  1. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail > heading towards Lyn Ary Park, Earthquake Park, Point Woronzof, and Kincaid Park

    This is the most-talked about trail in Anchorage! Fittingly because you can’t beat the views as the trail takes you along the ocean with mountains off in a distance that seem to go on forever.

  2. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail > heading towards downtown and the train depot

    From Westchester, the Coastal Trail goes one of two ways, so take your pick; you won’t be disappointed either way.

  3. Chester Creek Trail

    The third direction you can travel from Westchester Lagoon is along the Chester Creek trail, which takes you through the woods and along the creek. Not quite as much pedestrian traffic at the Coastal Trail, this is still a very popular trail and a great path to run under the tree cover if the suns too hot for you or you want to escape the rain.

View from Westchester Lagoon

Lake Hood

Lake Hood is the largest seaplane base in the world. The loop around the lake is about 4 miles, so it is perfect for a quick run while watching planes take off and land on the water. The road around the lake has a nice shoulder for running on, and the auto traffic is minimal as cars are driving more slowly anyway. There is also a great view of the Chugach mountains during part of the run if you get tired of looking at airplanes.

Sorry for the winter picture. This is also a good place to run in the winter because the roads are often cleared sooner.

Campbell Creek Trail

This is another paved trail system that starts in West Anchorage and eventually connects to the Chester Creek Trail System. A wooded running experience takes you by Taku Lake and along the Campbell Creek. I’ve seen everything from moose to beavers to swans on this trail.

Chugach State Park overlooking Anchorage

Best Trail Runs

I personally don’t do much trail running, but these are by far the most popular trail runs in the area. They offer a little bit for everyone: rolling hills, wide open spaces, beautiful scenery, and even Ia road runnerhave ventured onto these common trails.

Kincaid Park

Kincaid Park is comprised of 1500 acres and many, many miles of trails. Some of the trails are single-track for biking, while others are multi-use. These mostly-grassy, non-paved trails wind through the woods, up steep hills, and across highly-populated moose areas and with sightings of an occasional bear.

Powerline Pass

I’d say this is the most popular mountainous trail run there is: a wide gravel path that’s not too technical and wide open spaces (no trees) with incredible views, in the Chugach Mountains. You access it from the Flattop parking lot, which is also the most popular mountain to climb. (Too popular for some.) The trail goes back for many miles, so bring your water and some fuel.

Turnagain Arm Trail

This is a very easy drive just a few minutes outside of Anchorage. This trail is more technical with roots, rocks, and wildlife. Not for the faint at heart with some decent climbs but views worth every step.

**I won’t go into a lot of detail about each of the different trails to run because a quick Google search will pull up more information than you need.**

One of the many parks in Anchorage with trails through the woods.

PlayHard GiveBack Trail Mix

Trail mix is one of my weaknesses. I could eat it all day long! I love the combination of flavors, the sweet and savory fusions, the crunchiness, and how healthy it is (in moderation).

I recently discovered this trail mix from PlayHard GiveBack. They have several different flavor combinations that are all delicious! The green Karmakandy Power Mix has banana chips, mini peanut butter cups, and protein bites in them. The yellow Rise and Shine flavor has dried mango and chocolate covered espresso beans in it, which was seriously delicious, but I was hoping for more espresso beans in my packages. Ha! Those things are so good! Finally, the blue Fuel and Flow Power Mix was filled with ginger, antioxidant bites, and dried apples. Honestly, I don’t know if I could pick a favorite; I truly loved all of them, but the Karmakandy would probably be my first choice if I had to choose. Those peanut butter cups were so good!

These are the 3 flavors I tried:

See how much we loved them! I couldn’t get a photograph of them all unopened.

Not only was the trail mix delicious, but the company PlayHard GiveBack also works hard to give back to the community as well. (Hence the name!) Five percent of all of their profits from the sale of their trail mixes and energy bars goes to support the program Hope Sports, where professional athletes build homes for those in need! It reminds me of when I went to Texas on a Habitat for Humanity trip. (Let’s just say the hammer and I didn’t get along so well.)

I love when companies support their community and people in need. It reminds me there are good things happening in our world! I featured a few other companies who are doing similar things in this post.

These bags are the perfect size for packing in a lunch, taking out on a hike, or in the car on a road trip. Just be careful: there are 3 servings in each bag, and it’s easy to turn it into one!

Cullen and I went for a walk at Potter’s Marsh and took some of the trail mix with us. It was a picture-perfect summer day here in Alaska. Cullen liked Fuel and Flow Power Mix flavor with the ginger in it. Is it weird for a kid to like ginger? He actually loves candied ginger.

All of these flavors in the 2.5 oz size are on sale for $3.50 right now. AND you can also get 15% off any order with this coupon code: RunnersPlate15

I’d stock up now for all of your summer adventures! I got 9 packages, and they were gone within a very short time period. . . .probably 9 days. Ha! They also have energy bars, so check them all out here!

Play Hard Give Back Trail Mix

Trail mix is one of my weaknesses. I could eat it all day long. I love the combination of flavors, the sweet and savory combinations, the crunchiness, and how healthy they are (in moderation).

I recently discovered this trail mix from PlayHard GiveBack. They have several different flavor combinations that were all delicious! The green Karmakandy Power Mix has banana chips, mini peanut butter cups, and protein bites in them. The yellow Rise and Shine flavor has dried mango and chocolate covered espresso beans in it, which was seriously delicious, but unfortunately there weren’t many espresso beans in any of my packages. Finally, the blue Fuel and Flow Power Mix was filled with ginger, antioxidant bites, and dried apples. Honestly, I don’t know if I could pick a favorite; I truly loved all of them, but the Karmakandy would probably be my first choice if I had to choose. Those peanut butter cups were so good!

These are the 3 flavors I tried:

See how much we loved them! I couldn’t get a photograph of them all unopened.

Not only was the trail mix delicious, but they also work hard to give back to the community as well! Five percent of all of their profits from the trail mix goes to support the program Hope Sports, where professional athletes build homes for those in need! It reminds me of when I went to Texas on a Habitat for Humanity trip. (The hammer and I didn’t get along so well.)

I love when companies support their community and people in need. I featured a few other companies who are doing similar things in this post.

These bags are the perfect size for packing in a lunch, taking out on a hike, or in the car on a road trip. Just be careful: there are 3 servings in each bag, and it’s easy to turn it into one!

Cullen and I went for a walk at Potter’s Marsh and took some of the trail mix with us. It was a picture-perfect summer day here in Alaska. Cullen liked Fuel and Flow Power Mix flavor with the ginger in it. Is it weird for a kid to like ginger? He will eat candied ginger plainno joke!

All of these flavors in the 2.5 oz size are on sale for $3.50. AND you can also get 15% off any order with this coupon code: RunnersPlate15

I’d stock up now for all of your summer adventures! I got 9 packages, and they were gone within a very short time period. . . .probably 9 days. Ha! They also have energy bars, so check them all out here!

Twilight 12K 2017 Race Recap

I was hopeful, but I couldn’t quite pull off another PR this last Friday at the Twilight 12K.

Two years ago, I was 7 months postpartum and ran the 12K in 48:26. This year I ran 27 seconds slower in 48:53. This race did occur just six days after racing the Pulsator 10K this year, so that didn’t give me much recovery time. Two years ago I had two weeks in between the two races.

throwback Adidas top (from a thrift store) | Oiselle competition brief | racing flats

For the record (and those of you who don’t live here), this race does not take place at true twilight or midnight. Our sun sets at almost 11:30 p.m. right now, but the race actually starts at 7 p.m.

I felt quite good throughout the entire race. I ran by myself for much of the race, which is kind of lonely, but thankfully I am good at pushing my pace and maintaining an appropriately-hard pace. It was a picture-perfect eveningperfect racing temperature in my opinion.

After taking a look at my splits from 2 years ago and comparing them to this year, I realized that most of my splits were actually faster this year, and I had a net time of 14 seconds faster this year compared to two years ago (through mile 7). However, when you look at the distance traveled, I ran a tenth of a mile more this year, which is why my overall time was slower this year. Let’s break it down.

Splits from 2015:

1 6:16

2 6:38

3 6:34

4 6:38

5 6:24

6 6:33

7 6:42

0.4 6:44 pace

Total: 7.4 miles | 48:26 | 6:30 average pace

Splits from 2017:

The number in parenthesis is the number of seconds faster (-) or slower (+) compared to two years ago.

1 6:12 (-4)

2 6:37 (-1)

3 6:20 (-14)

4 6:31 (-7)

5 6:26 (+2)

6 6:37 (+4)

7 6:48 (+6)

0.5 6:40 pace

Total (stats from my GPS watch): 7.5 miles | 48:53 | 6:31 average pace

throwback Adidas top (from a thrift store) | Oiselle competition brief | racing flats

My overall pace was only one second per mile slower this year. And when add up the net time differences between the two years, I was 14 seconds faster through mile 7 at least. Plus with an overall faster pace for the last portion of the race, that leads me to conclude that if I would have run the same distance, I would have had a faster time this year. Either I didn’t do a very good job running the tangents or the course was changed. I did notice in the 2015 photo, the finish line is at a different place than it was this year. (But that’s not to say that other parts of the course were slightly changed as well.)

Anyway, with that all said, I feel like I had a solid race effort, and I feel like I am getting stronger each week. I have really only been training consistently for about 6 weeks, so I feel like I’ve made quite a bit of progress in those six weeks.

I love that Cullen is finally understanding what it means for me to run a race. Here he’s standing (in the blue), waiting for me to finish.

I’ve been doing a lot of coaching this week, which is why it took me a while to get this race recap completed. Summer running and racing is in full-swing, but I am loving it!

Getting Back in the Groove

I am so happy this is a positive update for once. There were far too many ‘debbie-downer’ posts this winter, but after two months of consistent running pain-free, I can now confidently say my hip pain is behind me!!

I still am not entirely sure what happened that ultimately healed my hip. As soon as the snow and ice meltedand I was able to run on dry pavement, I’ve been fine. Anytime I ran on the treadmill or indoor track this winter, I had no pain as well. However, my hip started bothering me during the summer last year, so it wasn’t entirely dependent upon snow and ice that caused my pain. I did a lot of physical therapy, ART (active release technique), saw the chiropractor, had a steroid shot, and took a lot of time off. I’m not sure it was a combination of everything or one thing in particular, but I am SO incredibly glad I am through this injury. Ten months was far too long!

shirt | shorts | socks | racing flats | watch

There was a lot of uncertainty this past winter, and I honestly thought I would never run pain-free again. I know, it sounds a little extreme now, but I thought I was going to have surgery and then always deal with a bum hip. (Because let’s be honest, surgery is not a 100% fix.) Thankfully, THANKFULLY the doctor said surgery was not necessary, which made me so happy.

Now that I’ve been able to start training formally again, I’ve had a couple successful track workouts, including some good long runs. (As good as long runs can be since they always wipe me out.) My most recent track workout went especially well. I did a ladder workout with my friend Kelly at the track last week. It was a wet, rainy one with some wind but still successful.

2 mile warm-up

200 meters 0:36

400 meters 1:21

600 meters 2:08

800 meters 2:56

600 meters 2:07

400 meters 1:21

200 meters 0:36

**equal recovery after each interval

1 mile cool-down

7 miles total

I remember doing 200s a couple years ago and having the hardest time running under 40 secondsmy legs just could not move faster! But then, after working with my coach Nichole for a few months, I specifically remember a break-through track workout one early morning, and I felt like I was flying on those 200s. And lo-and-behold I was running under 40 seconds. During my most recent track workout, I felt especially strong, fit, and fast running those 200s, and I surprised myself by still running under 40 seconds. Maybe I didn’t lose as much fitness as I thought I had!

I’ve also been able to race 3 times in the past 5 weeks:

Alaska Heart Run 5K

Get in Gear 5K (Minnesota)

Pulsator 10K

tank | sports bra | shorts | racing flats

Also, I can’t complain about the fact it is summer. Summer because it has been a cool, rainy May, but it is still WAY better than snow, ice, cold, and darkness! I’ve been able to wear shorts a couple of times in the afternoon, but most mornings are still cool in the low 40s. I’ve been pushing Cullen in the stroller once a week for a run, and I am so thankful he still enjoys sitting in the stroller for 45-60 minutes at a time.

shirt (similar) | shorts

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Pulsator 10K 2017 Race Recap

I often (okay, make that ‘always’) have a time goal for a race I’ll be running. Sometimes I make that goal know on social medialike my sub-3 hour attempt last summer, and other times I don’t share itlike trying to break 40 minutes in the 10K this past weekend.

Coming off a 10 month long injury, I haven’t known what to expect for my racing performance this past month. My first race back from an injury was a 5K in April. I had barely been pain-free for a couple of weeks but ran a 19:51 at the race. At the time, I had secretly hoped to be closer to 19:30, but then only one week later I went on to run a 19:28 at the Get In Gear 5K in Minnesota. My confidence started to build!

Since my 5K three weeks ago, training has been filled with a moderate amount of mileage (35-40 miles per week), one track workout each week, and a long run each weekend. Everything has gone really well, but I know I am still far behind where I was last year at this timeand even behind where I was two years ago at this time. Two years ago I was 7 months postpartum and running 75 miles per week! Two years ago I ran the Pulsator 10K in 40:09 with the hope of breaking 40 minutes. I didn’t quite have it in me at that time, so I didn’t know what I would be capable of this year knowing I haven’t been doing nearly the same amount of mileage.

BUT you take a deep breath, give it your all and see what comes of it.

The Pulsator 10K is coupled with the Trent/Waldron Glacier Half Marathon, which I did last year and a few other times as well. I’ve said it beforeand I’ll say it again: if you are local, I highly recommend running this race because it doesn’t end on a hill! (Unlike so many other races in town.) It is a small race with some decent food afterwards and a mug if you beat your time from the previous year.

I was excited and nervous to race again this past weekend. My training had been going well, but I still get nervous because I want to do well. The day was cloudy and cool; for most people it was probably the perfect racing conditions. While it wasn’t terrible for me, it definitely was on the cool side with temps in the low 40s. After warming up for 30 minutes, it was time to race.

My first mile (per usual) was my fastest. I quickly settled into my groove and found a pace that was challenging but one I could maintain the whole 6.2 miles.

Mile 1 6:18

Mile 2 6:31

Mile 3 6:35

I knew I had to get to the half-way point in 20 minutes or less, and I literally got to the turn-around just as my watch was clicking over to 20 minutes. I had paid attention to what my splits were on the way out, so I knew I had to stay under a 6:30 pace in order to break 40 minutes. Luckily on the way back (It is an out-and-back course.) this course is slightly downhill, and I can always tell because it often feels like I’m flying.

Mile 4 6:25

Mile 5 6:22

Mile 6 6:27

I was running by myself for the entire second half, but I passed the 10Kers going ‘out’ and many of them offered words of encouragement, which was so nice. (If any of you are reading this, I’m sorry I couldn’t say anything back, I was out of breath!)

Running by yourself is tough because you really have to stay focused and not ‘let up,’ but I kept thinking keep pushing, go for the sub-40! Luckily it paid off, and I crossed the finish line with just a few seconds to spare.

Overall, I’m very happy with how the race went. I felt good and got my secret goal. Three days later I’m still sore, but it probably didn’t help that I was on my feet working all day on Saturday and Sunday. I’m just doing some easy mileage this week before running the Twilight 12K on Friday night!

Now let’s talk about the clothes I chose to wear. In short: I LOVED racing in this outfit! I was the first time wearing the shirt and sports bra, which I know I’m not supposed to do, but that’s how much I trust Oiselle’s clothing. The tank it so light weight, breathable, doesn’t stick to your skin, and I love the fun pattern with the sheer material. I purposely got the sports bra to go with the tank. The sports bra is a fun pop of color under the sheer tank. Usually I’m not that picky about my sports bra, but I especially liked this sports bra! It had a wider band, which made it so comfortable t wear during the race. My shorts are a little longer than some of my other compression-style shorts at 2.5 inches, and they were also very comfortable to wear during the entire race. Lastly, if you are on the market for a pair of racing flats, I’d highly recommend mine! This is a perfect time to try them out because they are 64% off right now. Check them out here.

tank | sports bra | shorts | watch | shoes | socks

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Memorial Day Sales

Happy Friday and happy long weekend!

I’m going to be busy working this weekend, and I am also going to run a race tomorrow morning! I’m excited and nervous, per usual. I’m going to run the Pulsator 10K here in Anchorage. I love it because it is a low-key race, you never have to worry about parking, bib pick-up before the race (because I completely forgot to pick it up on Thursday!), and the race doesn’t end on a hill! The weather is always perfect for racing, so I hope that trend continues. (Although, the weather is pretty much perfect all summer here for racing.)

I’ve got a post coming next week about how my training has been going, so I’ll fill you in more then, but spoiler-alter: it’s been going really well!

If you know me, you know I LOVE a good sale! While I’m not expert on the marketing areaas far as when stores have their best sales, but it seems like they always pair with a holiday weekend. So I’m not waiting around, and I am definitely going to be grabbing some of my favorite things this weekend.

Half-yearly Sale at Nordstrom with savings up to 40%. This is one I’ve heard a lot of people talking about!

I have these booties and love them.

I have been eyeing these boyfriend distressed jeans for a while now.

If you are on the market for a racing flat, I highly recommend these. (But they only have sizes: 5 & 12 left. Boo!)

These are my favorite training shoes for under $100. (Not on sale but a great deal.)

40% off everything with the code VACAY

I more than likely will be buying this dress and this shirt!

Beautycounter is offering a FREE full-sized product with a $150 purchase. This is a perfect chance to stock up on sunscreen for the summer, try a facial oil, or the Dew Skin.

For your free item, you can choose between:

  • Body Butter
  • Nourishing Day Cream
  • Nourishing Eye Cream

Personally, I would pick the Nourishing Day Cream. I recently purchased it and absolutely love it!

Brooks Running Spend $100 on footwear and receive $20 off a full-priced apparel or select sports bras.

You could buy my favorite running shoes (I want the Anthracite/Beach Glass/Silver color.), and then use the discount to buy this tank, which would be very light and airy for hot summer runs. Plus the tank would end up being 50% off.

Oiselle Take an additional 30% off sale items with the code SUNRUN.

Express Up to 50% off everything.

There are many, many more deals, so check your favorite stores!

Companies With a Greater Purpose

Recently, I’ve started to notice companies who are going above and beyond what most other companies are doing. These companies are taking the time improve the greater good of this world by giving back, supporting fair-trade and appropriate-pay, or trying to keep jobs in the US. I realize there is a lot that goes into running a business, but it is encouraging to see companies working to make a difference. I appreciate their efforts and hope more will jump on board.

I’ve highlighted just a few of companies who have recently been on my radar. I realize there are MANY more, so if you want to give a shout-out to a company or business who gives back to their community or takes time to help others, be sure to leave a comment below!

Oiselle

Just go onto Oiselle’s Instagram account, and you will see a strong following of female runners who adore this company. This womens-only running clothing company really takes a stand for women’s rights and help empower women with all sorts of programs throughout the year. They are currently working to donate 2000 sports bras to teenage girls and communities in need.

Some of my favorite Oiselle pieces: Lux Layer | Aero Tights

Wear It To Heart (WITH)

Everyone loves a comfy pair of high-waisted tights with fun patterns, but unlike most companies, Wear It To Heart (WITH) manufactures their products with sustainable and sweatshop-free labor. They provide training to local mothers and offers them a healthcare clinic and on-site child care. The process for dying their fabrics is 99% chemical-free and uses 85% water. (Read more here in their About Us section.) Plus these are high-quality leggings with a 4-way stretch, so they are designed to move WITH you when doing yoga, running, or while working out at the gym. I picked a few of my favorite patterns below, but you can shop all the patterns here!

Just Black Denim

I recently purchased a pair of Just Black jeans from Primp (a local boutique in Minnesota while I was home), and I noticed the tag on the jeans said they were made in the USA, which is always a good feeling. They fit really well, and I can tell I’m going to get a lot of wear out of them.

PlayHard GiveBack

It isn’t too apparent by the name, but the company PlayHard GiveBack sells trail mix and energy bars. When you purchase their products, they will give 5% of the proceeds to Hope Sports, which uses athletes to help build homes for those in need. If you are interested in purchasing any of their products, use this coupon code for 15% off: RunnersPlate15. They have several items currently on sale too!

Balega

Our rep for the running sock company Balega came to speak to us this morning at the store, and he talked about the manufacturing of their products. Balega uses US threads, and they really care about a superior product with high thread count and ultimately a product that lasts longer. They also partner with other organizations through their ‘Steps to a better community’ programs.


Leave a comment below and tell me about a company you know who has a great purpose!

Springtime on the Farm

Today is our last day in Minnesota. Boo! It never gets easier to leave. This will always be home-home.

 

We’ve been busy playing on the farm but also doing work: trimming trees, moving pigs, buying parts, picking up rocks, planting, etc. Actually I didn’t help out with much of this; I drove the tractor instead of pick up rocks and watched Cullen when everyone else was busy. My mom also watched Cullen a lot, so I was able to go running whenever I wanted, work on Beautycounter stuff, and prep blog posts.

 

Grandma showing off her tractor to Cullen. There are only green John Deere tractors allowed on this farm. Cullen loved pretending to drive it of course.

Cullen has been loving every second being on the farm. There were two things Cullen requested to do each day: go play with the kitties and see the pigs.

I found many vintage toys while at home, including this cow on wheels along with this barn that I think many other people my age had growing up. (Craig said he had the same one.)

As any boy, Cullen loved climbing onto the big tractors and trucks and pretending to drive. That smile cracks me up!

Riding the Rhino with Dad. He loved taking rides on it!

 

While this wasn’t a true vacation, it was still a nice break from the city-life and hopefully we’ll be back soon!