Hi everyone! I’ve got some big news on the blog today! But first, I want to give you all an update on how winter has been going here in Alaska. Before I moved here, everyone told me how snowy, cold, and dark it would be here as if it was a frozen wasteland that I had no point in going to. People got REALLY intense about it. I was definitely worried as the days creeped towards winter. So let’s take a look at the current winter situation in Anchorage:
Snow: We have about 2 inches on the ground and the roads are clear. My mom just called about the snow they’re getting outside Philly tomorrow though, you could ask them how winter is going.
Cold: Um, not really. It was 38 today and rained.
Darkness: HOLY CRAP WHERE IS THE SUN! Has anyone seen it?!? Oh wait, it’s that orange thing low on the southern horizon that kind of puts out light 5 hours a day and is constantly covered by clouds? I am too tired for this ish, I’m going to take a nap now considering it’s dark out anyways.
Yeah, that’s basically what is happening with the daylight. And my sanity. It seems like everyone is acting a bit crazy right now – my manager is hilariously dancing around my office eating candy with me like she’s sleep deprived, I’m hiding in her office because she has windows (although since it looks like it’s constantly 6:00 pm outside it’s not really helpful) and talking to her keeps me from falling asleep at my desk, and even Andrew is getting more into napping and playing video games instead of going outside to do things. And I am beyond lazy right now. I’m constantly tired and my body seems to hurt – like it’s screaming for a nap. I’m getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but I’m still so tired every day that I’ve upped my daily coffee intake to at least 2 cups and I still feel nothing. I have no motivation and would rather nap (I hate naps!) than run after work. And although I’m not really sad – I can’t be sad at Christmas! – I do feel like crying sometimes for no reason. I think we’re all suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s caused by lack of sunlight and can be helped by using a “happy light”, tanning, or taking vitamin D pills. Andrew and I really need to get some of those! We thought we’d be fine, but we’re definitely not. I’m not myself. It’s hard to be when the sun rises above the mountains around 10:30 and starts setting at 3:00. And even when the sun makes an appearance, it’s so low on the southern horizon that it looks like the sun is setting, even when it’s not. And there have been weeks of clouds keeping it hidden from sight. To put this into perspective, our streetlights only turn off from 12:00-2:00 now.
I didn’t realize how much of an impact the lack of sunlight would make on my body, but it’s definitely real and so much worse than anything I felt in Philly. I mean, the sun no longer rises up above us like it does in the lower 48. It’s pretty bizarre. And all we can do is wait until December 21st, the winter solstice, to finally experience the darkest day of the year and begin moving towards the brightest day of the year again! Each day we lose 5ish minutes of sunlight, but on December 22nd we’ll start gaining 5ish minutes! I remember how excited I was on the summer solstice to see that it was still light out at midnight, and I want to get excited on the winter solstice about the return of that sunlight!
Midnight on the summer solstice…kind of looks like noon near the winter solstice.
As I was trying to think of a great way to celebrate the winter solstice, I realized two things:
1. There are probably other runners out there who are suffering from SAD, lack of winter running motivation, and wishing the sun would come back.
2. I have only run 13 races in 2014 – I’m one short of my goal of 14!
So I decided to try something I’ve never done before, and host a virtual race on the winter solstice! It’s called the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K. It’s a free event that I’ll be hosting on December 21st and can be run anywhere by anyone! More details about my event can be found here. Once you sign up, I’ll be giving shootouts on my blog and twitter to all participants. And once you submit your finish time, you’ll be entered to win a Black Diamond headlamp so that you can keep running all winter long! I’m hoping to see a lot of you sign up and join me as we beat the winter blues and celebrate the start of more sunlight!
Do you suffer from SAD or any similar symptoms in the winter? How do you keep yourself motivated to run even when it’s dark out? And will you be joining me for the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K?