How to Make Outdoor Friends with Amy’s ‘Running Wives’ (Rachel Gernat and Clare Shea)

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How to make outdoor friends

You’ve heard them mentioned, you’ve seen their pictures — and now you get to hear them on the Humans Outside podcast: Amy’s “running wives,” Clare Shea and Rachel Gernat. In this podcast Season 2 premier, Amy, Clare and Rachel discuss outdoor-based friendship, what makes it special and how, exactly, you, too, can make outdoor-minded friends. What’s the secret sauce? How do you even find great friends?

Some of the good stuff:

[1:51] Rachel Gernat’s favorite outdoor space

[2:20] Clare Shea’s favorite outdoor space

[4:12] How Amy met her Running Wives

[4:34] How Rachel and Clare met

[6:12] What makes us such great friends

[9:19] Favorite memory of the wives together

[16:30] The importance of finding friends who push you

[18:15] What brought us to Alaska

[23:00] How to find outdoor friends

[34:16] How doing hard things outside helps you find friends

[47:22] Clare’s favorite outdoor gear

[48:30] Rachel’s favorite outdoor gear

[50:04] Clare’s favorite outdoor gear again

[51:00] Rachel’s favorite outdoor gear

[55:57] Amy’s favorite outdoor moment

[56:35] Rachel’s favorite outdoor moments

[57:59] Clare’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Follow Clare Shea on Instagram

Follow Rachel Gernat on Instagram

Palmer, Alaska (the best little town ever, in our opinion)

Kate Arnold (Humans Outside Podcast episode 32)

Clare’s favorite outdoor gear: Sockwell compression socks 

Rachel’s favorite outdoor gear: Her Frosty Bottom marathon hat
Clare’s most essential outdoor gear: Buff
Rachel’s most essential outdoor gear: Montbell down pants (“The Pants.”)

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Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:31

Welcome to season two of the Humans Outside Podcast. I am so stoked that we’re back for another season. And even more excited about this episode because I’ve got not one, but two guests I’ve long wanted to get on here. Now, you’ve heard me mention them, you’ve heard stories about them, if you’re a Patreon subscriber, you’ve heard a bonus episode that includes one of them. But today for the first time ever, I have on the podcast, the friends, the legends that are the ying to my yang, Rachel Gernat and Clare Shay, two of my running wives. They are with me on many of my outdoor adventures and we’re going to get into what makes us go and why having friends to do stuff outside with can change your life. Clare and Rachel, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.

Rachel Gernat 1:17

Thanks for having us!

Amy Bushatz 1:21

Yeah, heck yes. So okay, you know, we start all these episodes imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space. But since we have two of you, and maybe your individual favorite places are not the same, this could get complicated in our imagination. So first, I think we’ll just start with our individual spaces, and then we’ll deconflict them just like we do when we decide what we’re going to go do outside. Rachel, where are we with you today?

Rachel Gernat 1:51

Okay, well, we are somewhere we were all together, which was up on the ridges in the Seven Peaks when we did the Seven Peaks last summer and it was beautiful and sunny and we were just us, we hardly saw anyone else and it was just majestic. And that is where we are on any of those seven peaks.

Amy Bushatz 2:16

Perfect. I like it. I’m good with that. Clare, where are we with you?

Clare Shea 2:20

Man, Rachel took a lot of my feelings there. But uh, can I be more vague? Because it’s really just any ridge that’s flat enough for us to jump on is my favorite place to be.

Amy Bushatz 2:29

Fair enough. Okay, so to deconflict, we can be on a ridge on the seven peaks run. Problem solved. Easy. Got it. Perfect.

Okay. So, wives, first I want to tell people how we met. All right. It was a cold winter’s day. And there was running. Okay, but I think Rachel you met Clare at a different time. But I met you during one of the weekly community runs here in Palmer. You walk up to me and start talking to me and I was like — Who is this chick? The next week it happened again. Before I knew it, I was going the longer route with you on this run because there is more than one route for this community run, one’s long one short, but I was going to the longer one with you, because I am prone to peer pressure and because you made a very compelling case that it was too dark to go alone, and therefore I was needed. Is this your recollection?

Rachel Gernat 3:32

That is my recollection. That is true.

Clare Shea 3:35

Rachel does not like going to dark places, or unsafe places. That’s like, red flag.

Rachel Gernat 3:40

And that particular route goes through a tunnel. So of course, I was not going to go alone in the winter. Yes, I had seen Amy running so many times and for some reason, we had not run together and so I decided that wasn’t gonna happen anymore. And then it I got a very persuasive

Amy Bushatz 4:03

Yes, yes. Very attorney of you. Good job.

And then Rachel and I met Clare at the snowshoe race when she literally bounced up to us and was exceptionally friendly, announced she had never once run in snowshoes, and then – whoosh, she was gone. That was the last time I saw her on the run because she beat me by like a lot. And then she wanted a photo at the end.

Rachel Gernat 4:34

Clare and I met before that snowshoe race at the equinox, unbeknownst to us, because we were talking about the town we love, which is Palmer. And then at the end of the race, there was Clare with my friends and there was I with her friends.

Clare Shea 4:50

And I was like — Oh, the cute little purple skirt was right next to the whole race. We can be friends!

Rachel Gernat 4:57

And then she did show up with snow shoes with that announcement, but they were the winning snowshoes that she had borrowed from someone. And then she continued the legacy by winning.

Clare Shea 5:08

It was really just a matter of like needing to do that – it was out of obligation.

Amy Bushatz 5:15

Yeah. And then at the end, you’re like — photo, girls! And we were like — Who is this?

Clare Shea 5:21

Can we just establish right now that Rachel is our Safety Queen, based on your story, that she is in charge of making sure we are all safe, whether we’re with her or not?

Rachel Gernat 5:34

And Clare takes the pictures so everything is documented.

Amy Bushatz 5:38

Right. All boxes are checked, and a beautiful relationship was born.

Yeah, because Clare, I then started to follow you on Instagram. And then we met on the trail one day, and then all of a sudden, somehow we were all coordinating runs and doing all the things and now we’re basically married.

Clare Shea 5:56

Yes. True. And we have lots of matching socks.

Unknown Speaker 6:00

And Goodrs!

Amy Bushatz 6:05

No, that’s right. That’s right. We’re very strong believers in the power of matching is what it comes down to.

Okay, so what do you think, now that we’ve established the origin story, what do you think is different about this friendship compared to other friendships? Because we all have other friends. So Clare, what’s different here? Like what is the secret sauce?

Clare Shea 6:27

Well, I tell people the story because a lot of people are like — Why are you running with people in Palmer all the time? Like that question comes up a lot to me. And I think there is this weird timing combination, because we all had flexible part time jobs, and we all have kids. And so we had like, the same categories of responsibilities, and we like to run. So we were able to like carve out these weird little pockets of time at like, one o’clock on a Thursday go running. And we all like to run the same stuff. So I think it was like this magical combination that you really don’t find with everybody else. Even if you try it. It just doesn’t happen. But that’s what I always tell people – like that was the secret ingredient that we didn’t know we needed. And then we all happen to like each other. And you guys bring me doughnuts.

Amy Bushatz 7:11

Yeah, yeah. There are pros. No cons. Rachel, what do you think the secret sauce is?

Rachel Gernat 7:18

Oh, I agree with Clare, of course. But it was fun. Everything was fun. There is sometimes pressure to keep a certain pace, pressure to go a certain distance, pressure to not go a certain distance. There was no pressure. It was just — how long do we want to run? Oh, you want to walk now? Okay, we’ll walk. Oh, you want to stop and take pictures? Okay, let’s take pictures. It was fun. We laughed. It was always fun. And so the next one was fun. And everyone wanted to try, you suggest something and it was — Oh, I’m gonna do that one. No, no, I want to do that one. Oh, let’s do that one. Oh, yeah. Let’s do that one. And then Clare had us jumping and that was fun and it’s fun.

Amy Bushatz 7:56

We are fun. We’re fun people, guys.

Okay, um, so what I’m hearing you say is two things. One is just like your schedules match. Right? And then the second thing is it is like very low key. I think that it’s easy to come into a friendship with a lot of expectations. And then sort of had them squashed, like to sort of be disappointed, right? But I think we have been really good about not having a lot of expectations and being like, very low key about stuff. But then at the same time, like, I think that in that fun is the fact that we push each other. So I mean, I know you guys have hauled me out there to do some stuff that I had no interest in doing.

Clare Shea 8:49

Winter running! Anything between summer and March!

But I think, Amy, there is a huge portion of the mom part here because I think we’ve all been able to help negate some of the, like — I shouldn’t be doing this, I can’t be doing this, how do I do this? And try to like navigate that. There’s just tons of running moms out there who are like — I just can’t, how do I make that work? And you guys have helped make that happen in a big way.

Amy Bushatz 9:19

Yeah. So okay, so what’s your favorite running memory with the wives? I think it should be noted that two of said wives are not on this podcast today. We’re missing our buddy Kristi and our buddy Kate. Both of whom have other stuff going on. So sad, but I feel like three out of five is a successful gathering.

Rachel Gernat 9:43

It’s a quorum.

Amy Bushatz 9:49

Okay, so what is your favorite running memory with the group for whatever reason, funniest best day, whatever. I mean, we’ve had a lot of adventures guys.

Clare Shea 10:00

This is a really hard question. You have to start – do you have one, Amy? Can you start with yours so we can think about it?

Amy Bushatz 10:09

I mean, I love the seven peaks day, but I think that like, some of these magical days where we just like make it work are like top of my mind. Johnson Pass would be one. We did this adventure this year, it was 23 miles of just perfect, perfect weather. Hot, there were challenges there were, you know, moments in there where I was like — I wish we were not doing this anymore. There’s a lot of discussion about the virtues of Fairbanks, which I have not been to yet. And Clare came even though her foot was hurt, and she improvised, like you improvise, you made it work, you know. I took off work to do it and I wasn’t even sorry, you know, it’s just like, we all sort of had to do stuff to make it happen. It was that for me was a lesson in the value of reshuffling your priorities and say — You know what, like, the other things are important. But this is also important, and I’m gonna make it happen by making it a priority today. So I mean, that’s one of my favorite things.

Clare Shea 11:26

I’m glad you said that because I was thinking about this and like mine, one that sticks out my head, and maybe it’s just because I like to be food centric, but it’s that feeling that I had from you guys. And it was probably where I was at the time and then the fact that you guys showed up that day. And so it was like a combination of those things. It wasn’t the most epic place we ran, we ran on my school trail, but the day that you guys showed up with doughnuts, and both came to my work, so you could run on my lunch hour. You totally accommodating the fact that I was in Chugiak so you guys had to move, but you guys showed up with treats. We went on a great run. It was like a beautiful fall day. And the feeling of that day meant a ton to me. It meant a lot that you guys showed up and did that. I mean, it wasn’t even a long run. It was just the feeling of it, knowing that I had those kinds of friends made me feel like a total winner. I love you guys.

Rachel Gernat 12:25

So let’s see, I think I have more. I’m gonna give two because I think we have to talk about our seven peaks. So I’m going to get one that’s not the seven peaks. And then I’m going to say why go back to the seven peaks. So when we ran to the Kinect glacier, because first of all, it’s far, you know, it’s marathon far. It was winter. Well “winter,” but we had to have enough light.

Amy Bushatz 12:48

People who are listening to this, like, it was winter. It was winter. There was snow, it was cold. If you don’t live in Alaska, that was it. That’s winter.

Rachel Gernat 13:01

We had to cross the stream and Clare and Kate or Kristi put on the trash bags to try to hop across and then we ran out there – and nobody runs out there, everybody bikes out or uses motorized – we were kind of like, you know, badass chicks because we were running and then we got to the glacier and it was just that absolute beautiful color. You felt like — nobody sees this and we ran here. And that was just, you know, it’s just to do things together, that other people wouldn’t do, was like, there’s just something like that, like that. It’s so epic, and then you get back and you can’t explain it. So you share that, just the group of you. And I always go back to seven peaks because I think that’s the first time all five of us really did something epic together. And it was, like I said, just like you couldn’t have picked a more perfect day and it’s just everything matched and you just, you know, however long we were out there, hours and hours and hours and hours and just talking and laughing and I thought — these are my people. I’ve waited almost 50 years and I found my people. Oh,

Amy Bushatz 14:15

Oh, that’s so nice!

Clare, when you said like, showing up, so I think that reminds me also of the day we did, it’s called Day at the Beach and it’s a 24 hour, 12 hour, or six hour, whatever you want it to be run. Yeah, you do these four and a quarter-ish miles, we’ll call it four miles. No, it’s longer than that – loops on trail. And you guys decided to do 24 hours and I was like — no thank you — and I did 12 or six or whatever. I remember at this point, and I think it did only six, and then I came back the next day and finished it out with you guys and it was just, well it’s just like that. The thing though, it’s just like you do the thing and you show up and you know, you’re there for your friends and they’re there for you. And it’s everybody’s unique experience. And that’s great.

Clare Shea 15:12

And you guys made a sign for me, that was so sweet on that one.

Rachel Gernat 15:17

Oh, yes. It was Clare’s birthday!

Clare Shea 15:20

You failed to mention it, all five wives came but we all placed in some way or another – even with like doing 6,12 and 24. We did every category and everybody placed.

Amy Bushatz 15:35

We dominated!

Rachel Gernat 15:42

There’s so many instances like that. But I can think of like, I mean, just comes to me like I just ran that virtual race across Tennessee and Clare ran my mile to reach 1000 K. And then Amy came out, even though she’s nursing an – I’m not going to say injured – a sore muscle. She shouldn’t have been running. But she did and she came out and she brought gifts since she recorded and she cheered and and it’s just those little things like that. It doesn’t have to be a great epic run.

Clare Shea 16:13

It’s that feeling that you get, that showing up feeling. I’ll point out that I ran that last mile of your 1000k at 5am.

Amy Bushatz 16:30

But I think that brings me back to this idea of pushing each other to do something sucky because I think that you know, I said my favorite things are those times that I made it a priority when it wouldn’t have been a priority, but for the fact that I was pushed to do that. But there’s also the really sucky moments where you guys carry me by feeding me or insisting I eat my own food which I’m for some reason hoarding, or having an extra jacket on hand or whatever. Whatever makes me do something outside of my comfort zone, you know. I don’t think, I’m certain that if I didn’t have you guys out there waiting for me for that stuff, I would be doing the same old same old thing again. I just I’m just not the person who goes and finds new stuff to do without some sort of a shove down the line. Yeah, and that may be me that gets me trying new things in that vein, once I’m already there, but I never get there without somebody just shoving me into the lane.

Rachel Gernat 17:46

That’s a lot of empowerment. Go ahead, Clare.

Clare Shea 17:49

Well, there’s an obligation that happens when you have a group that you know, is going to be there and you want to be there with them. And you know, and we come up with ideas of stuff and adventures you want to do but it makes you – like, I had a different obligation once we started doing this because I’m like — I have to go, the girls are going, so I have to be there. And I like that in a really good way and stuff that I maybe wouldn’t have done without having both of you.

Amy Bushatz 18:15

Right. So both of you are wonderful at making new friends in your own ways. But like many people in Alaska, all three of us are not from here. Okay, but we came here for an adventure or an opportunity or fresh start or something. So Rachel, what brought you to Alaska? I mean, we don’t, I always joke — Tell me about your life, start when you were born. We don’t need to do that.

Rachel Gernat 18:38

It’s very helpful when you do a 24 hour race because it takes 24 hours to go from birth to current.

Well, I came up for adventure. I mean, I wanted to live in Alaska. I love the outdoors and wanted to check it out for a year and that was 24 years ago. I’m still checking it out, there’s a lot to check out. So I just love the outdoors. And when I go back and talk about things like — oh, I did this when I was a kid, and it was outdoors and was outdoors and outdoors, but I don’t have an outdoor job. So I never thought of myself as like — I have to be outside. That’s how I ended up here. And then, I mean, I’m an attorney. And when you’re here, it’s kind of like if you’re here, you will find a job. Like you know, once you’re up here, and that’s always been the case and I’ve lived in Anchorage and Eagle River, and we lived in Nome, and I live in Palmer – it is the best. That’s where I live now, of course, goes without saying, but I’ve lived and worked all over the state and I just love it. So that’s how I ended up here, was just checking it out for a year.

Amy Bushatz 19:45

Yeah, I can see that that year is extended. Clare, what about you?

Clare Shea 19:49

I’m barely keeping track of all the shameless Palmer promotions. I think we’re at two so far, maybe three.

Amy Bushatz 19:59

We’ll let the Chamber of Commerce know how it’s going.

Clare Shea 20:03

I came up here from a call from a person named Ashley. And she called me while I was working in a lab in Michigan. I was trying to keep things going with the love of my life at the time and I was 20. And so only 8 years ago, but we just decided to go our separate ways. And I was going to fly back to school in Seattle, and tears streaming down my cheeks. And I was like — What am I ever going to do? And how do I live without this person? And Ashley called me and was like — Hey, you should come to Alaska. And two weeks later I bought a ticket to Alaska. That’s how I came. But yeah, I mean, I stayed because I felt like I’d never seen so many trees in my life. And it offered such fun opportunities, and I just can’t seem to leave it.

Amy Bushatz 20:51

Yeah. Well, I mean, and there are just endless numbers of trees to still see.

Rachel Gernat 20:56

There’ll be no leaving!

Clare Shea 21:00

Rachel’s making it clear.

Amy Bushatz 21:04

Yeah, she’s laying down the law. How many attorney references Can we make, too?

Rachel Gernat 21:10

We should be keeping track of that.

Amy Bushatz 21:14

And of course, everyone has heard my story that we came up here looking for ways to spend more time outside. So I’m sensing a theme here, you know, that all three of us are just enamored with the outdoors. But I liked what you said. And Clare, I think it’s pertinent to point out that you came up and just found work. I mean, you had never been a chef, if I remember correctly from the story of your life. You were not a chef, and you ended up being on a boat and cooking. Is that accurate?

Clare Shea 21:45

Yeah, yeah.

Amy Bushatz 21:47

So I mean, people come to Alaska, I get a lot of questions from podcast listeners and readers of the Humans Outside blog, asking — Well, you know, like, thinking about coming to Alaska, how’s the job market? But what we’re saying is — If you want to come to Alaska you come to Alaska and you figure out the job market.

Clare Shea 22:03

But head’s up, you might stay.

Amy Bushatz 22:07

Yeah, warning!

So we’ve made lives here, but finding people to be friends with who have the same interests as you can be a long process and it can be really hard. Rachel, you pointed out that it has taken a long time for you to really find your people. So I do want to focus on that a little bit because I think people who hear me talk about you guys might wonder how they find friends like we have found friends, right? Because we know it can be done because here we are. So I want both of you if you can give me a few tips. How do you find friends that mesh with your lifestyle? Rach, you first,

Rachel Gernat 23:36

Okay. Well, I mean, I do a lot of different things. I have my work life and I coach and I play soccer and I run and so I feel like I could be friends with lots of people. I am just a happy person. I like to talk to people. I like to encourage people. When someone likes something, I want to encourage that — loh, this is the best team, this is the best place, you should work here, this is the best restaurant, or you should do this, you should do that. I like sharing what I know because I feel like when I moved up here, everyone was so excited to share Alaska. Like I just love sharing Alaska, so whatever I’m doing, I’m just always making friends. And there’s different you know, there’s people you just talk to and you see them, there’s people you talk to on text, there’s just like sort of different levels, so I just talk to lots of people. Like you said, I think the joke is – right, Amy, well don’t you get nervous running in the woods? And you said — now I have Clare and Rachel show because they just talk the whole time. I just like to talk to people, but then you find those people I think, like we talked about, that you realize you miss them if you’re not just seeing them. And so maybe you only talk to that person on the happy run where we met, but then it’s like but I want to run more with her. I liked her, like once a week isn’t enough. And, you know, I think like anything, why you gravitate to certain people, and that’s just kept going with us.

Amy Bushatz 25:12

What I hear you say is that it’s not just like, it doesn’t just happen. Like you take steps to react, you take steps to make that contact. You have chased me down no less than twice on runs, and made it very clear that we are friends now and this is what we’re doing. That’s great, right? Because I needed somebody to chase me down a little bit. Like, I’m not necessarily the person who’s gonna be like — and now we’re friends. Um, but you totally are. And that’s awesome. So you’re out there. You’re, I guess in business, we call this networking, but it’s networking for friends. You’re networking, you’re involved in a lot of things. And you’re actually like taking actionable follow up with people you meet who may share the same interest as you to keep doing that.

Rachel Gernat 26:10

Yes. You know, my mom only said — Rachel’s a friend for life. Like if she likes you, she will be your friend for life. So then you just have to find other friends for life. Yeah, and then people love to do what you do and they make you happy.

Amy Bushatz 26:29

Like, if they’re having trouble finding friends who fit their interests or whatever, they just think that other people are going to fall into their laps. And finding friends who mesh with what you want to do is a fair bit of work, which I think is what kind of what you’re saying. You’re out there hunting.

Rachel Gernat 26:47

I guess it’s easy for me. I mean, wait till you talk to Clare. She talks to everybody. But for me, it’s just easy to talk to people. So I guess I never really thought of it as work, but it is work to cultivate a friendship and keep the trust and not feel like — well, if my friends aren’t calling me, it’s not because they don’t like me. It’s because something else is happening. I mean, there’s all of that.

Amy Bushatz 27:17

Yeah, but you’re very much like a meet people in person thing. And so what I like so much about Clare’s method of friend finding is that Clare’s the queen of social media friends, who then she actually meets in real life. So talk to us about that, like is that, I mean, it’s 2020, so we meet people online. That’s totally a thing, that’s normal, it’s been normal for me for a long time. I don’t know that I’ve ever met as many people online and met them in person on purpose as you have. So talk to us about that. Like how do you make friends? How do you keep friends and how does social media play into that for you?

Clare Shea 28:02

Yeah, that’s so weird. I’ve never really stepped outside of that and thought about it. But then when people do ask like — how do you know them? I’m like — Oh, yeah, actually, I know them from Instagram. So hi, online Instagram friends who are all listening. I hope you guys are all listening. It’s funny because I think what I, for one, we met like, you know, mid midlife crisis for me. So it was a timeframe when I was coming back to my like, redefining who I was as a person that post-having kids and kind of, you know, figuring out where I wanted my priorities to be. The people I wanted to hang out with were in the places where I wanted to be. So like — Oh, I’m going to go to this trail run and I’m going to meet these people and I want to hang out with them more. And running in such a neat way to kind of gauge – running or hiking – is like a fun way to kind of gauge what kind of people they are like — are they going to show up? What kind of things are they going to bring? Will they have good snacks? Do they like to drink beer afterwards? All these things that I think about. A particular moment in my friendship with Rachel is, we did some pretty lakes together. And I was like — sweet, she’ll do a long run with me on a whim in the middle of March. Awesome. And then I was like — Hey, you cool with jumping? And she was like — Yes. And I was like — are we best friends now? Okay. Yes. And then like, and I think you know, and once we all ended up with matching argyle socks, I was like — we’re all best friends! Like, I just needed those, those little moments. And it was kind of, you know, running, as punny as it sounds, it’s like a test run. And it’s a fun way to get to see what kind of like, what people like to do, how do like to spend their time and if it’s fun. It’s a little weird that I’ve met so many people via Instagram, because I know a lot of people meet online and like husbands and wives have met online and online dating things, I don’t have experience with that. But things like Instagram, that have people I follow who are local, and this was kind of a new thing. They end up in the same places. So they’re like — Hey, we should do this together sometime. Hey, you seem fun. Hey, let’s try this. And it’s a really fun way to connect those interests. And you notice that they’re out at the same time of day or, you know, I’m a teacher, so people are off in the summer and have time to go do these things in the middle of the week. So I think some of that, for us, like having a similar schedule was helpful.

Amy Bushatz 30:27

Two things you just said one, that we’re all in the same place. I think that might be an Alaska function, because there aren’t that many people here. I mean, in the greater scheme of things, right? And so if somebody posts about running, and you live in the Washington DC area, and you follow a runner, the odds of like, actually running into this person on a trail, even if they’re in your same area is probably pretty low. But the odds of seeing the runner you follow on Instagram here at the race and actually recognizing them are pretty high, because the race is not that big.

Clare Shea 31:04

Totally, totally true. But however, I would say the biggest thing is like taking that step, which I don’t personally have issues with, like Rachel said, I’d like to talk to anybody. I love talking to strangers. But taking that step outside of your comfort zone. I’ve flown to Chicago to meet a whole bunch of people that I’ve met online, and not out of like –, yeah, we need new friends. It was that we all wanted to go run together. And then we met up and we hadn’t met in real life, and some of these women are some close friends of mine who live in big cities and other things. But we all made the purpose like — let’s go here and do this run together. If you see somebody running your same run, be like — hey, maybe we should do this together sometime. You know, I mean, I think that’s doable.

Amy Bushatz 32:00

Oh, totally. And it’s funny because some of your online friends who you’ve actually met in person have become my online friends. I have actually been, like following your lead. I know some of them are probably listening to this.

Clare Shea 32:16

My friends will be like — Hey, I saw your friend because they know, you know, the pictures or whatever. I think it’s a connection and why not? It’s great. This is fun.

Amy Bushatz 32:25

Yeah. Rachel said that happened a couple of times. You know, like — Oh, I saw you on Instagram.

Rachel Gernat 32:33

Aren’t you friends with Amy? And I’m like — I have no idea who you are. I follow her on Instagram, and I’ve seen you jumping! Yeah, like, yeah, that’s, that’s me.

Amy Bushatz 32:43

That’s one of the rules of flying back to Alaska from anywhere is that you will know someone on your flight. Like that’s just, I mean, it’s almost a law. They should just put it in writing. I know, Rachel, you’ve had people stop you at the airport, or they’ve messaged me from like the gate in Arizona like — I think your friend is on my flight.

And then one time I went to the state fair and I was shopping for a gift for Clare, of course. And I said to the person in the booth — I’m looking for something orange because my friend likes orange. Like this is the state fair. Like this is not a small gathering. It’s not happening this year, by the way. And so there’s like a bajillion people there and how many people in the world like orange? But the person in the booth says — is her name Clare? Yeah. Like how would you know that?

Clare Shea 33:45

I really like orange. Okay, I just really like it. Everybody should know this.

Rachel Gernat 33:52

My daughter’s a competitive gymnast. One of her teammate’s mom’s saw Clare on my Facebook page jumping or running and said — Oh, that’s Miss Shea. She’s my daughter’s favorite teacher.

Amy Bushatz 34:09

That’s amazing.

Clare Shea 34:11

Yeah, yeah. Alaska is very small, though. I mean, it’s very big and very small.

Amy Bushatz 34:16

Mm hmm. It is. The second thing you said was that you like to test people on a run, whether that’s how you thought about it or not. I wonder if there’s a corresponding thing for people who don’t do something as challenging like that, because, I think you’re right. It really does fast track understanding how you mesh with someone. And because when you do something challenging with a group of other people, you see what they’re made of really fast. And that’s one of the reasons I think that people you go on like an outdoor retreat or something like that, with who you maybe meet for the first time ever at something very intense like that, become friends for a long time, because you understand them at a level that you don’t understand someone if you just know them in passing from your office or whatever. And so when you get out there on the trail, in our instance running or on the road, and you hit mile seven to nine, and I’m having a meltdown, my water, bladder explodes or whatever, right? Like, you see what a person is made of when they’re uncomfortable, and that really peels back the layers on who they are, and how they handle adversity, how they handle overcoming adversity if they can even get to that point, in a way that you don’t see when you’re just casually friends. And I think that that’s a big part of it. Because you know, you create a connection through that and an understanding of each other at a deeper level that you don’t know necessarily, ever even have the opportunity to have with other people in non adverse circumstances.

Rachel Gernat 36:07

I mean, you show your vulnerability. Everybody, not just you. Do we help each other out? Or someone’s really getting cold – how many jackets can we give them (Amy!)? Someone else needs to find the tree again (Rachel) you know, things like that. You can’t run 12 miles in 30 below weather and somebody’s not have something that, you know, they have a “meltdown,” for lack of a better word. We don’t. I mean, we all continue. Or you don’t run 25 miles or you don’t run 24 hours and not have moments where you need your friends to pick you up. And there’s, you know, and it’s not an issue. It’s not like you’re done with the run and the next day you feel embarrassed about it. It was what it was, right?

Amy Bushatz 36:56

Yeah, because we’ve all had our moments. Go ahead, Clare.

Clare 37:00

Well I think it goes the other way, too. By the way, I judge people totally on what kind of snacks they bring. That’s important when you go places.

Amy Bushatz 37:08

I would like to take this moment to tell everyone that Clare who, other than beer, I think that’s obvious at the top of the mountain, has a habit of whipping out a stromboli. I’m like — I brought a PB&J! And Clare’s like — I brought stromboli!

Clare Shea 37:25

Mountain Pie, I think that’s the name of the food truck, it’s good stuff. But I think you’re totally spot on. Like the people that you have these weird friendships with could be someone you problem solve with at a conference. When you need to tackle something together, it changes your bond.

But I think the other side too, is like we’re talking about, I love how you brought up cold is one of the like issues that comes up because the two of you are the queens of cold, or the opposites of the queens of cold. But that also how people respond when you’re the one who’s having issues like — Oh, I have to go to the bathroom in the woods multiple times, like that run on Turnagain Arm, which was another one of my favorites with you guys. But I had so much sugar the day before from my donut tour on bikes that I felt like I had to poop my pants all day. You guys were like — Cool. All right, let us know when you’re done. We’re here. It’s neat to see that. Or you know, excited to go with people and they just want to be fast or they might be way ahead of you and they just don’t like that. There’s never that uncomfortableness between us when we go and I think that’s important too — how do they respond with like, you’re not doing well. Are they encouraging? Are they sympathetic? Are they sadly disappointed? You know, there’s a lot of reactions people can have. Yeah, yeah, annoyed, all those kinds of things, whereas we just like to turn them into fun situations. Rachel tries to solve problems or I take pictures of them so I can tell stories about them later.

Amy Bushatz 39:07

We all have our role. Now that I went on a glacier tour recently with people I didn’t know, because you know, you sign up for these tours you show up and it’s just whoever’s at the tour, right? And it was a great time that the couple that was on this like it just meshed really well and we were of this similar pace like we had similar aspirations for the tour. It went really, really well. But they spent some time waiting for me to get my life together. Every time that people are like standing around waiting for me to pack my bag again — I was like this is normal. I’m sorry. People wait on me a lot. I’m always the one you’re waiting on. I’m sorry about that.

Rachel Gernat 39:50

Amy’s also the one who will show up. I think of all the times you’ve shown up, I know Clare has sometimes, too and Kristi has and Kate, but like, when you came back for the Day at the Beach, like I and Vera asked who you know, we all want to be like Vera. Vera, by the way, who’s over 70 and does all the running. But you like when you showed back up Amy and we were on our I don’t know, Clare, hour like 22 or 23, It was so long and I couldn’t have made that last lap without someone to be like — oh, we’re walking now. We just like someone to be there. Or when I did Crow’s Pass, and you and your boys showed up with signs, you know, and Clare walked up the first hill with her little ones at the top. Like, we’ve all had those moments where we’ve shown up. When you ask how you make friends, you have to keep friends. So that’s part of it. It’s not an obligation, if you’re going to race something that I can’t race or didn’t race, like I want to be there if I can.

Clare Shea 40:59

Yeah. Like racing across Tennessee. Amy wanted to do it too. So she did.

Rachel Gernat 41:08

She didn’t tell anyone, but she did. Or when Clare makes us wear onesies in the race-

Amy Bushatz 41:15

You liked the onesie!

Rachel Gernat 41:17

Because it’s warm!

Amy Bushatz 41:18

Side story, really fast. Here we go guys, we’re on this run. My dear listeners, we’re on this run in the freezing cold. By the way, this was the same run where we decided – and by we I mean me – that I was buying a hot tub. I was like — that’s it. I’m cold. We’re buying. We’re on the trail and Rachel is extolling the virtues of Christmastime and how much she loves Christmastime. And then Clare said something about running in onesies and Rachel said something like — I will never do that and I thought to myself — but you shall.

So I, in my wisdom, purchased us not matching onesies, but onesies in the theme of Christmas. Yes, thematic onesies. Rachel has an elf onesie. And Clare has a snowman onesie, which she put on and her daughter acted like — Why have you never worn this before?!

Rachel Gernat 42:22

And I’ve worn mine multiple times now.

Amy Bushatz 42:28

Yeah, and I have a reindeer onesie.

Rachel Gernat 42:30

Kristi was the penguin. And it was so much fun. Again, how do you be a friend? How do you have fun? And that’s another thing my mom said, she said — I look at pictures of you and no one has as much fun running as you and your friends, just doing little fun things like that.

Clare Shea 42:52

Or like, Rachel, you’re actually a real life elf. I mean, it’s true.

Amy Bushatz 43:04

I think the conversation in that moment was how Clare does not like Christmas very much.

But I think that if you can find an activity, and outdoors is great for activities that challenge you, by the way, it doesn’t have to be running, right? It could be hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, whatever. If you can find an activity that challenges you, and have other people join you in that, you can see who they are and what they are and whether or not they mesh with you. And then you just center what you do around that activity, so that you can make sure that you continue your friendship and then it just blows and blossoms into other parts. Because we now don’t just run together, we do other stuff. We don’t just jump and run, right? But really, that’s something that we all enjoy, and that we can continue do and come back to. And we know that it’s our therapy and we know that it gets us outside and we know that it connects us with each other. We also spent a tremendous amount of time together because of that. So I know these ladies extremely well now, because they have told me their life story starting with when they were born.

Rachel Gernat 44:18

Yeah. Amy, I think that I was gonna say I think that’s great. What you said is because I noticed that and some other things I do, like I said, I coach soccer and I noticed some of the women that like that’s like that’s their main thing is coaching soccer. So, playing soccer. I see them, then they fish together and then they do something else together or people that are really into you know, bike riding, then you see that they’ve taken a trip together. I mean, running is our thing. We love running, but I like how you said, if you find something that you just truly love doing, you’ll find people that want to do it. And then the next thing you know you’re taking your kids out camping together. Ours was just through running, which we happen to think is the best, but listeners I’m sure have their own thing. But there’s so many things to do that you like and find your thing.

Clare Shea 45:18

Yeah like hot-tubbing. Like why are we having this podcast in the hot tub? That’s my question.

Amy Bushatz 45:23

It would be very splashy sounding.

Clare Shea 45:26

Good for us though!

Amy Bushatz 45:31

You also take care of each other. Right? Not just on long runs. But like, Rachel, you and I have shown up on Clare’s door before. Somebody body slammed you, Rachel, and made you put on warm pants. I mean, we are there.

Rachel Gernat 45:55

We’ll get to the pants later.

But that’s so true. And I think, you know, it can be everything. I was trying to make a decision about whether or not I should take a certain job. And you know, it just was text after text to my running wives. I mean, not that I didn’t ask my husband, I talked to my kids because they’re older and they would have, you know, they had a stake in it. But it was really like people that I knew, I didn’t have to explain all the background, it was just like — here’s the situation. Here’s the cons. Here’s the pros. Help me figure it out.

Clare Shea 46:26

Yeah. And people use running to process stuff all the time. And we use running all the time to catch up, but also to process something goes down in one of our lives. We’re like — Cool, let’s run the rail trail and figure it out like that. We know we can be together for an hour or so and just be like — sweet. Let’s, let’s talk it out. Everybody asks the questions and it helps you process and I always feel better coming back after running with you guys.

Amy Bushatz 46:55

Problem solving good endorphins magic.

Yeah, okay. I know we could talk forever because we’ve done that before. So let’s impose that on everyone who’s listening right now. We’re going to move to the leftover time, which I think might feature the pants we just mentioned.

We talked about our favorite outdoor gear. So, Clare, what’s your favorite outdoor gear?

Clare Shea 47:22

Hey, beer rhymes with gear, but I’m not allowed to say that. Right?

Amy Bushatz 47:28

You could say that. But is that your most essential? That’s a separate question.

Clare Shea 47:32

Well, I bring it every time. I don’t know if that makes it essential. I’m gonna go with my buff. Because I don’t run without it at least somewhere on me. I have a favorite buff, but like, obviously, in winter sometimes I wear three buffs. But I always take that with me. Whether it’s a neck warmer or covering my face. Sometimes it’s holding my hair back, sometimes it’s just on my arm. Sometimes I’m wiping sweat with it, sometimes I lay it over my legs like it’s a big blanket and it’s a tiny little towel. So I use it for all kinds of things, I wipe things up with it, like I use it all time. One to three buffs, minimum, depending on the hike or run.

Rachel Gernat 48:19

You can lend buffs, too! You lent me one, once

Clare Shea 48:22

You can borrow buffs, I’ve given you guys buffs for Christmas. I think buffs are great!

Amy Bushatz 48:27

Buff life. Rachel, what about you? Favorite ever gear?

Rachel Gernat 48:30

So okay, so my favorite outdoor gear is my Frosty Bottom hat. So first of all frosty bottom. Am I doing that race again? Mmmm mmm mmm. I have now done it twice. I didn’t even want to do it the second time. For those that are listening, the Frosty Bottom is in January. It was originally a bike race and then they added a marathon. It is very, very cold. It was like 15 below this year. It is just on trails, markings are optional. It’s just very cold and it’s January. It’s very dark. But the hat that you get for doing the frosty bottom, I now have two, but my favorite is the first one. It’s just perfect. It’s lightweight, but it has like a fleece lining around the ears. I’ve worn it under hats, like in the 20 below as an extra layer. I can wear it in the summer if it’s raining like windy day, like it’s just perfect and it’s light. I thought I lost it once for a while, but I didn’t.

Amy Bushatz 49:38

Also, let’s just brag that you did that horrible thing.

Rachel Gernat 49:43

And no one has to know how awful I think it is.

Clare Shea 49:48

I’m surprised you’re not wearing it right now.

Amy Bushatz 49:53

Okay, most essential outdoor gear. Clare, go. Beer does rhyme with gear. It’s okay to say that if that’s how you feel.

Clare Shea 50:00

It’s essential!

Gosh, it’s tough because I think my buff really goes for essential. Can I switch favorite and essential?

Amy Bushatz 50:14

Yes. I will allow it.

Clare Shea 50:20

Okay, so for essential I will go with one of my favorite things that I love running with. I have some compression socks that I love. And they’re actually wool blend from Sock Well. But those are one of my favorite things to run with almost any temperature because it also allows me to wear shorts, which I also enjoy. And so I love those socks. Anytime I get to wear them, I’m like — ooh, favorite socks. And I think if I were to go general, I love favorite socks.

Amy Bushatz 50:55

All right, all right. Okay, Rachel. I think I know and I think Clare knows, I think anyone who ever talks to you knows, but maybe the listeners don’t know about your most essential gear. Tell us about the pants. I mean – what is it?

Clare Shea 51:10

How did you meet the pants?

Rachel Gernat 51:14

I need to talk about that. First of all, let me describe the pants. They are down pants. They weigh nothing. I carry them now all the time. And so as Clare mentioned in the podcast like I am, I’m cold. I get hot when I run but as soon as I stop I am cold. We went up Wolverine Peak in May. It was deceptively cold because it was not cold down low. In fact it was hot – people were hanging out in the parking lot when we got back. But there was a lot of snow on Wolverine Peak and it was windy and I had worn the wrong pants. I had worn light capris. We got up to the top and it was beautiful and Rachel did not want to stay at the top because I was so cold. Kate, one of our other running wives – who, by the way, runs with like a pack that must be like 35 pounds and you can have all the gear and food –

Amy Bushatz 52:24

And also was on the podcast season in one – and then told us that the pants – and this was before we did Wolverine. This was mentioned in her podcast episode, said pants.

Rachel Gernat 52:37

So I wanted to go down the mountain. I was done. And they said — no, put on the pants. and I said no, I was adamant. I’m done. I’m going down the mountain. And Kate literally said — put on the pants! And put the pants on me. She tackled me. I’ve never been so instantly warm. I can’t even explain. Like you put them on Instagram and I bought myself said pants. I had them last weekend camping in the summer because when we woke up in the morning, it was cold and windy and raining a little bit and my son even said to me — I thought you’d have on the pants! And I said — Oh, but I do under the rain pants.

So the Montbell pants, worth every penny and more.

Clare Shea 53:26

I was gonna say my memory of the situation was I had just unwrapped my burrito at the top of the peak and Rachel’s like — bye, I’m leaving, I’m so cold. And I was like — oh, sad and like, I just cracked a beer and it’s sunny, even though it’s cold. And like you were done, and we’re like — well don’t get in that woman’s way. She will run you over. And then Kate tackles you and it was like you went down. It was like being baptized. You went down and then you came back. You’re like — Oh, this is a nice place to hang out. Let’s stay here.

Amy Bushatz 54:02

Exactly like that. It was like somebody inoculated you. You’re like a raging lunatic. And then you got shot in the arm and now you’re like — oh, how are you?

Rachel Gernat 54:15

I mean how those cannot be essential.

Amy Bushatz 54:20

I think we also need to know that you spent the entire run down talking about the pants like you had just met your forever love and you were starstruck, you had hearts in your eyes.

Rachel Gernat 54:43

I’m looking to see if they have a top to go with the pants.

Clare Shea 54:47

And let’s note – the three of us are in a group text message so we plan our runs and that the name has changed several times and the name of our group text is “put on the pants.” It’s been the title since whenever we did that peak.

Amy Bushatz 55:07


Okay, so the way we finish this podcast is by talking about your favorite outdoor moment, just sort of leaving us with that vision. So, Rachel, tell us, if you close your eyes and envision yourself just your favorite moment, just like I’m looking for peace, I’m looking for a time outside that I want to think about and dwell on. Where are you?

Rachel Gernat 55:30

Well, here’s my problem with the question, Amy. There’s me with my friends. It’s me with my family. There’s downtown Palmer, like there’s a lot of outdoor moments and I’ve been thinking about that, since I knew I was going to be on the podcast.

Amy Bushatz 55:50

Okay, well, I’ll tell you mine because I’ve never told anybody.

If I’m having trouble falling asleep or whatever, I close my eyes and I’m like — okay, like, let’s take a chill pill, right? And envision myself doing something calming outside. And I envision I am running on the running path in town, past wildflowers. It’s just that moment where it’s like sunny and the wild flowers and just like very happy to be there. And that rhythm in my head of the stepping and breathing just sort of puts me to sleep right then.

Rachel Gernat 56:28

Can I have two?

So my two are being on a mountaintop anywhere. Often with my running wives, sometimes it’s by myself, sometimes with my running partner Dave, sometimes with my husband or my kids. You know, those tend to be shorter, shorter mountains. But just being up there and having nobody talk and looking around and it’s like — how could you not love this? How is this not the best place you want to be all the time? So that’s it’s just so calming. And it’s just such a great perspective.

But when I cannot get up into the mountains then being in – here’s my other Palmer reference – in downtown Palmer on a weekend morning, when there is nobody there. And it’s just this little Main Street and a mountain surrounds you. And maybe you’ll see one car and it has that same, like, it’s all gonna be okay. So again, being outside in having a moment even if it’s with other people, just quiet.

Clare Shea 57:50

You like it quiet, Rachel? I get it.

Rachel Gernat 57:54

Everything else is so hectic.

Clare Shea 57:59

Mine is in the fall – I love the fall. I thought as a kid I loved the summer, but turns out I love the fall. And for me going on a run in the fall, whether it’s mountains, or just trail, there’s a feeling – the falls are always hectic for me as well. School is starting, this is pre kids and post kids. Like the fall is just always a big – like everything hits the ground running. And I’m getting back into work and there’s always a lot happening at one time. And being out running at any time when like the leaves are yellow, or you’re way up high, and the Alpine’s all red, and being able to have those moments, like the sun so much lower in the sky. It’s really noticeable for us to like get that crazy like sun rays coming across beautiful colors surrounding you. And at that moment just makes me – I can smell all this fall all around you and I love that and that brings me peace and happy. And I mean it’s great if it’s after work and and this is my like — relax, you know, take it in and we’ve done this together and run. Man, that feeling it’s truly, like the golden hour for me is my favorite hour.

Amy Bushatz 59:10

Running wives, thank you for being on the Humans Outside Podcast today.

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