Last year you streaked for 367 days, lost 30 pounds and hit your goal weight… all the while drinking beer. How did you accomplish this?
I had always considered myself fairly thin until I had a physical in 2010 and the doctor told me to watch the weight, I never thought I would here those words, too much fast food, pizza, and ice cream got me there. I lost 20 lbs that fall then over Christmas that year my uncle wanted to run streak, so I ran at least 2 miles, everyday, from January 1st 2011 through January 2nd 2012. During that time I lost an additional 15 lbs and got a PR in ever single race I ran in 2011, all the while drinking beer. I never even thought about cutting back on the beer, I cut out all fast food, and generally tried to eat less processed food, and more whole foods. As long as you are smart about the beer drinking, there is no reason to cut that out of your diet.
How did you get into both beer and running?
I started running in 2006 when I ran a local 5 mile race with my sister in support of my mom and my other sister who were running the marathon as part of the same race. Later that same year I ran a 1/2 marathon, then I ran my first marathon in 2008 after running a variety of local races in just about all distances short of the marathon. I didn’t get into beer until I started trying some local micro-brews here in Anchorage, and I haven’t looked back since! I didn’t notice the correlation between beer and running until I saw several runners at a local trail race enjoying a post-run brew and heard them talking about how good of a recovery drink it really is, both mentally and physically. I cut back on beer leading up to a marathon a few years ago, but just didn’t enjoy the experience so I haven’t done it since, beer is a great companion to running.
I moved to Alaska in 2002 when the military transferred me up here. Almost 10 years later, like many people, I am still here. Alaska is a wonderful state and everyone should move here even if for a period of time to enjoy it and see what the Last Frontier has to offer.
What are the craft beer options like in Alaska and in Anchorage?
Anchorage is home to many wonderful breweries, plus the town is fully supportive of quality brews as most of the eateries have local brews on tap. While Alaska Brewing Company may be the most well known, in my opinion there are many other breweries that have more to offer. Midnight Sun Brewing Company, Moose’s Tooth Brewing, Denali Brewing Company, and the new player in town Anchorage Brewing all have wonderful beers, but most of the beers can only be found locally, although a few are starting to distribute in the northwest. There are even a few local brewhouse’s in town I didn’t mention, plus there are a more breweries scattered in various towns around the state.
What’s it like to run through an Alaskan winter? Does beer help?
Anchorage actually has fairly mild winters, they are just really long, think November through March with cold temps and lots of snow. I grew up in Montana where the winters were worse, but not near as long. Luckily the temperatures in Anchorage don’t get extremely cold, this winter we only had a few days down in the negative teens, most of the time the temps are in the single digits at night and teens in the daytime. The big difference up here though is that over winter solstice we only get about 4 1/2 hours of sunlight, so running in the winter requires a good headlamp, but luckily the snow reflects the light which helps quite a bite. I ran a 50k race in February so I trained all winter in the snow, it was challenging at first but over time you learn to enjoy the solitude and the experience or running during the winter in the snow, which can be quite beautiful. Winter is when I stick to the darker beers, such as stouts and porters. Nothing like a good, dark, strong stout to warm you up after a cold day on the trails.
What is your go-to post-run beer?
I have discovered IPAs are the best post-run beer, a good single or even a mild double is great after a run. I tried a stout, but it was a little too smooth, post run you need something with a little bite to it. If the run is early in the morning and you are making breakfast when you get back, browns are the best for the morning, or a good red even.
What are your favorite running spots and races in Alaska?
My personal favorite race is Crow Pass Crossing. It is a 24 mile trail race that goes point to point on a local pack trail. After climbing a few thousand feet to the pass, you drop down into the valley and end up at a river crossing halfway in then finish off running along the river to the finish. I just love the trail and the race gives me a chance to run it. Lost Lake Breath of Life Run is also a really good race. A 16 mile trail run that is considered the most scenic race in the state, plus one of the local breweries donates a couple of kegs for the finish line cookout. For training I run most days on the Tony Knowles Coastal trail which is just a mile from where we live. It is a paved multi-use trail that starts in downtown Anchorage and follows the coast for about 14 miles before ending at a large recreational park on the south side of town. You can add on more miles by turning onto the Chester Creek trail which goes through town in the greenbelt along the creek for about another 10 miles. Anchorage is a really wonderful city to run in, and Alaska too for that matter!
Now that you’ve accomplished all that, what are your running goals for the future? What is on your beer bucket list?
I have finished 6 marathons, so now I am moving up in distance and trying my hand at ultramarathons. I ran a 50k in February and right now I am training for my first 50 miler the last weekend in July. If that race goes well my goal is to work up to a 100 mile race in 2013, I would really love to some day run Western States, so right now that is my motivation as I need a qualifying time. Overall though I still run many local races, both on roads and on trails, and in November I will be lucky enough to be able to go back to New York and run the marathon. I got in last year via lottery and then this year I have the opportunity to run it again but with several family members and a few friends, so it will be an incredible experience that I am really looking forward to.
Anything else to add?
More people need to run and drink (quality) beer, I think if they did the world would be a better place!