2017 Her Tern 1/2 & 1/4, and a little humility

The Her Tern Half is my favorite Anchorage 1/2 marathon. The course is straight forward, enjoyable and I know it like the back of my hand. The swag is ridiculous and not junk. And, the energy of running with hundreds of other women is unbeatable (I think of that song by Aretha and Annie Lenox, Sisters are doing it for themselves).

I’ve been running the half since its inception in 2013, only missing the summer we were in France. This year was no different, except about two weeks before the race it started to feel a little…. stupid… to run a half marathon that I hadn’t been training for. At all. Like, it’d been about a month since I’d last run (4 miles).

A year or two ago, HT introduced the quarter marathon – same route, same swag, same energy – different mileage. 6 miles felt way more doable than 13, so I switched my registration and went for it. My logic became: pushing myself to run 6 miles well, versus killing myself to run 13 miles poorly, will make me feel like a champion at the end, not a waste case. The logic worked. I pulled out 6 miles in an hour, 13 minutes and finished on the hill with a smile.

Celebration of Life: Erin K. Johnson Memorial Fund

Last month our community and beyond lost a bright light. Erin was a friend through friends, introduced to us back in our early days here (circa 2012). I couldn’t tell you when we were first introduced, or how. It was simply that one day, Erin was a friend that I’d bump into around Alaska.

She was kind, she was funny, and she was a total badass. I knew her as an amazing skier, a backcountry woman, a woman doing things I could only dream of being brave enough to attempt. And, she did it with ease and humility and humor.

Two memories (albeit fuzzy, given the circumstances) stick out with her passing: Christmas eve-eve-eve 2013 or 2014, when our mutual friends rented the Manitoba cabins and we filled every bunk and inch of floor space with bodies. I remember catching a second wind mid-evening, and sitting around the table with Erin, her then-boyfriend Abe, dog Scamp, Adam and other friends laughing, and laughing, and laughing. The next day we skied, and Erin, Adam, friend Jared and others shredded the big hills while I lapped the smaller section (‘practicing my turns’ I said… yea right.).

The next happy memory doesn’t have much meat behind it, but good vibes. I went to the Blue Fox with my friend Stacia, and maybe her husband John, and when we walked into the bar, Erin was sitting at the bar with someone. And come to find out, I knew Erin and Stacia knew Erin’s friend, Aliza. We merged our duos (or more, if John was there) and shared beer and laughs. That memory doesn’t stick out as anything particular except highlighting the importance and joy of small communities, friends with friends who know friends, and what relationships can do.

To honor Erin’s memory and keep her spirit alive, her parents have set up a memorial fund with the Alaska Community Foundation. Take a look, consider giving, and share with friends and family who might also be inspired to keep this special gal’s memory and light alive.

Until it happens to you: bicycling accidents in Anchorage

In what will go down as the Worst Tuesday Ever, Adam was struck by a vehicle on his regular commute, on his regular route. It was a Tuesday morning like any other: we got up, shared coffee, laughed, and he took off at his regular time. No rush, no hurry, nothing special.

Adam is fine. This post comes over a week later; after the dust has settled and my heart has stopped pounding. The driver failed to stop and yield to oncoming traffic at a stop sign, where Adam was making a left-hand turn with the right-of-way. The driver turned left as well and hit Adam with the hook. The bicycle and rider went down, and partially under the tire before the vehicle stopped.

Just writing about the accident makes me furious. Furious. Adam text me as soon as it happened, the simple: ‘I’m okay, but…’. In minutes I was there – he rides less than a mile to work every day. The driver was there, and rightfully accepted responsibility for his negligence. He drove up too fast to the stop sign, rolled through it without looking clearly for oncoming traffic (he admitted to only looking for headlights), and rolled right into the man in the bright blue coat in front of him.

At the end of the day, I can only be grateful that Adam was able to walk away. A trip to Urgent Care determined he was bumped and bruised, but luckily not cracked or broken. His bike, on the other hand, is totaled. That beautiful Surly, that went all over France for those happy memories, is no more.


Bicycle, meet bumper.