Alli Harvey

Recently I attempted some spring cleaning. I’d read an article about the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and was making a serious effort to go through my clothing and ask myself what feeling that each article evoked in me. According to the book, nothing less than joy was acceptable. Holding up a faded yellow running tank top I bought at Wal-Mart to run in a gold-themed relay race in 2013, I asked myself: Did I feel joy? A pair of Smartwool socks with the heels worn through that I appropriated from my husband when we were dating: joy or misplaced nostalgia? Then, under a pile of clothing in a cardboard box that had been sitting in the darkest part of our basement, I picked up a rollerblade. I turned it over, examining its Velcro, the buckles and small rubber wheels. The...Alli Harvey
On April 21, 2000, the high temperature in Anchorage reached 44 degrees, according to U.S. Climate Data. Snow depth on the first of that month was approximately 18 inches, but declined sharply in the days leading up to the 21st, when snow depth was marked as zero. And we all know what rapidly melting snow leaves in its wake: Fragrant reflecting pools, all over town. Now, there are zero puddles on the ground. Temperatures have been in the 50s this week. Looking around, I see May. It used to be that I spent April glowering and thinking about how it was the worst month . Then, when the matted, tan ground was finally revealed and dry-ish by May, I started to feel better. But for me, that “feeling better” is happening now. It’s a bit unnerving, but like a sun-deprived plant pushing out of the...Alli Harvey
There’s a common assumption about “outdoorsy” types that goes something like this: Outdoor enthusiasts were either born with the outdoor gene or dragged outside by their parents early in life. Hopefully I am not alone here, but there is a third type -- the bizarre human, brain fully developed and able to spend a full weekend on the couch, who decides to trek outside and learn to like it. Actually, learn to love it. The steps toward that feeling, and a desire to be outdoors, offer a mixed bag of emotions. To be blunt: some moments in the outdoors are euphoric; others are awful. Being outside is not typically a neutral experience, unless maybe you’re in a temperature-controlled swimming pool or picking up the mail. So, why go outside? Is it possible to learn to love it, even as an adult?...Alli Harvey
Many outdoor enthusiasts remind me of kids — in a good way. Climbers dangle from rock ledges, swinging from handhold to handhold. Skiers spend their workweek toggling in their web browser between email and avalanche forecasts. Hikers regard the natural world with childlike curiosity, spending hours watching birds or examining plants. While I admire this wondrous quality, I have accepted that I have a stodgy old person’s orientation to the outdoors. I love going outside. But I want to know approximately how long I’ll be out, how difficult the trail is and how much water and food I should bring. This week, on a family vacation in the desert Southwest, I headed outside one morning to run. My hope for this week is to soak up as much sun as I can and be active as many days as possible. This is...Alli Harvey
Caroline Byrd, a mountaineer, former National Outdoor Leadership School instructor and friend does not walk around wearing a sign that says, “Hi, I experienced a major earthquake and avalanche on the side of (17,400-foot) Mount Foraker.” It’s also not the first, second or 50th thing she shares about herself. She talks about her daughter, her work, something she read. But recently, she told me this story about the earthquake and avalanche during a casual conversation, and it seemed unbelievable. So I busted out Google and found this from the 1991 Denali Park and Preserve Mountaineering Summary: “The 1991 mountaineering season on Denali began with a rumble as a major earthquake hit the range on April 30. Measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, the epicenter was just south of Mount Foraker. Huge...Alli Harvey
Regular gym-goers nationwide were irritated Jan. 2. Suddenly, there were lines for the elliptical machine. The new guy didn’t seem to know where the sanitizing spray was; or simply refused to use it after finishing on the bike. Americans resolving to work out more in the New Year took over until, by this time of year, they faded away again. This year I had the opposite resolution. I resolved to stop exercising so much. Unlike many other Americans, my promise to myself was to create space for other things — gardening, art, cooking — by reducing the quantity and distance of races I trained for. I love training. I love the schedule of getting outside regularly, the friends that come along, the endorphins, and ultimately the finish line. However, last year I did so much training that I...Alli Harvey
“Pizza, beer, refreshments, live DJ, & sweet prizes” reads the brochure. A First Friday art walk? An open house? Something happening at Mad Myrna’s? Nope, this is the description for the Twilight 12K run , listed in the Anchorage Runner’s Calendar on June 3. Many Southcentral Alaska races such as the Twilight 12K — which with its companion Skinny Mini 6-K attracted 2,108 participants last summer despite registration fees that top out at $55 — have grown in popularity while more and more new races crop up. That leaves stalwart Alaska racers with more options than ever while the bar of entry for new racers or would-be runners feels lower and less scary. As many Southcentral runners map out their training plans for summer, participate in winter races or consider a 5-K for the first time...Alli Harvey
When I was in my early 20s, I wanted badly to travel but worried about going without a partner. I had romantic ideas about adventures and sunsets, and I was scared that if I experienced these things myself, I would feel lonely. I was also worried about carving out a life that was so independent I would eventually find that I didn't want to be with anyone. Some of my friends would probably push back and say I didn’t need another person — a “man”, as people say with some indignation — to be happy. Which is true, sort of. I knew I wanted someone in my life. I also knew I was bullheaded enough to get so set in my ways I ultimately might not want to accommodate anyone else. But, I still wanted to travel, and I wasn’t getting any less single. Maybe I could go with friends, I thought. My friends...Alli Harvey
Two weeks ago I tried to write a column about the triumphant return of daylight, and how some Alaskans are basking in it. But in the early morning darkness my cursor blinked at me a long time. Then I got on a plane and got out of town. Sunlight does strange things in Alaska come winter. It dials slowly back from June until December until it comes to a grinding halt on solstice. Then it rolls back in. At first, in late December and early January, it’s just seconds more of daylight. But by spring equinox in March, Anchorage gets about six minutes more daylight per day. Barrow rakes in lots of daylight after six weeks without a sunrise — initially more than 50 minutes a day in late January. You’d think that would be enough for me to roll up my sleeves and fire off an exuberant set of...Alli Harvey
At some point in my adult life, I realized I was prone to getting cold and staying cold while playing outside in winter. This scared me. It really hit home when one day after skate skiing from my house, I arrived home and found my hand and forearm were too cold to properly fit my key in the lock. I fumbled a while before I finally got it, using my other hand to brace the hand with the key semi-clasped between my gloved fingers. Inside, I stood in a hot shower for a long time. I warmed up eventually. But I was rattled by the experience. I shouldn’t have become so cold that parts of my body weren’t functioning properly. In a state that hosts winter for more than half the year (at least in fits and starts), it’s important that I am able to comfortably and safely play outside when it’s cold...Alli Harvey

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