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!

Highlights from the Week

I hope your week was a good one, and you have fun plans for the weekend. I am working at the store all weekend, but then we are celebrating Cullen’s birthday on Sunday night. He officially turns 2 on Monday!! He’s pretty excited to have cupcakes and play with his friends.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from my week.


I really enjoy lifting weights. I know most runners kind of dread the gym, but I love it. I told Craig that after my running career I am going to join Crossfit. Ha!

I spent 45 minutes lifting weights, targeting all the major muscle grounds during this time. I don’t have a set routine right now, so I am enjoying the flexibility to do whatever I want right now.


Mondays are usually a ‘get-caught-up-on-everything’ day since I work all weekend. Cullen and I ran errands and picked up groceries for the house, including this super yummy non-dairy creamer. I have not been impressed with any of the other non-dairy creamers I’ve tried, but I am really digging this Califa Hazelnut Almondmilk Creamer! It is so much thicker than regular almond milk, and it has a much better flavor than any other brands I’ve tried.



Craig had the day off for Alaska Day, which was nice to be able to spend the day together since he’s working during the week, and I work all weekend, which means we don’t get much time together as a family. I ran 2.5 miles before we grabbed some coffee at the coffee shop and then took Sadie for a walk. While we were out walking, Sadie was exploring in the woods and came out of the woods with what Craig thought was dirt and leaf debris all over her coat. He wiped the items off her coat but soon realized it wasn’t what he thought it was. He went to sniff his glove and realized it was poop! I saw him start to gag and he said he didn’t think it was dog poop. The more we thought about it, the more we both think it was human feces. We take Sadie on walks all the time in areas where there is dog poop, but she has never rolled in dog poop before. (She has rolled in a dead carcass a couple of times. Bleh!) There are some homeless people in the area, so we’re pretty sure that’s where it came from. As soon as we got home, Sadie got a bath, and I washed everything on the sanitary wash cycle in the washing machine.



Wednesday night was our Couch to 4K training group practice through the running store I work at. I love working with new runners because they are so eager to learn and are willing to try anything, even if I make them do crazy running drills. We did a series of warm-ups and talked about pacing before moving into our run/walk workout. I was a gorgeous (but cold!) night, however then we saw a spectacular sunset, which kind of made up for it.


I had another appointment with the chiropractor who also does ART on me. ART seemed to be the golden ticket for healing my hip flexor tenonitis. I went and saw him for an adjustment, some ART on my hip, and then we talked through some good exercises I could do to help my hip heal a little faster because it seems like it is still weak. Everything seems to be progressing forward, but the sooner I can get back to my training plan the better.




This wasn’t a highlight for me today.


We got about 3-4 inches of snow last night (Thursday night), which marks the first snowfall of this winter for us. This now means training is going to be even harder if the snow sticks around. Boo!

Thursday night as we were going to bed, it was raining, and Craig “promised” me the rain wouldn’t turn to snow overnight because it was too warm. When I woke up Friday morning, I saw a text from one of my athletes saying how hard it is to run in the snow. Sure enough, I pulled back the curtains and saw a blanket of white snow on everything. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt saying that the first snowfall is very pretty, but I am still not particularly excited about it.

Cullen slept a full 12 hours and didn’t wake up until 9:30 a.m. this morning. (I would prefer he went to bed earlier than 9:30 p.m., but every time we try, he doesn’t fall asleep until 9:30/10:00 p.m.) When Cullen woke up, he was pretty excited to see the snow outside. He didn’t really play in the snow very much. He mostly just stood in one spot as if his feet were stuck. Ha! Maybe he was just taking it all in.


I spent the day getting ready for Cullen’s birthday party on Sunday: cleaning the house, decorating, buying all of the food, and getting as much done today since I work all weekend. We have been talking up his birthday, so Cullen’s pretty excited about it. He’s especially excited to play with other kids, eat cupcakes, and play with the balloons.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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.