Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Putting On A Burst Of Speed (Playing Catch-up)

Life has gotten in the way for the past few months. I have been working quite a bit and trying to finish a big home remodeling project and beat this mental block I have been having with my running. All of this is probably just a lame excuse for not following my goals as closely as I would hope to. But the short of it is that I am going to bring my mileage thus far up to date and move forward from this point in a single post to all those in reader-land, if there is anyone out there. I took a trip to Florida a few weeks ago and even managed to get to my goal of Davie, but oddly of everywhere on the entire trip, the one place I did no running was Davie.
I'm saving it for the climax I suppose. I don't want to just jump into Davie now, what would the draw be to continue the trek? So I visited some friends, had a grand time, went to the beach in Fort Lauderdale and then headed for the Gulf Coast and beautiful Naples. I had my feet in the ocean on both coasts of Florida in a 24 hour period.

I pulled my mountain bike out of the shed and got some good miles on it as well as I had a couple evening meetings in midtown and didn't have time for a run those days, but could grab the bike and spend the time traveling to and from the meetings to get some miles on my feet. That combined with my runs a few hikes here in Alaska and Florida have brought me farther down the road.

The racing season has began and I have been able to run in several races that I have not run before including the Do Run Run 10K and the Exit Glacier 10K in Seward. I got in 37.73 miles to wrap up April and 59.16 miles so far in May for a total number of catch up miles: 96.89. Add this to my current total 123.02 and it brings me to 219.91 miles so far traveled and 4745.09 miles to go to be once more on the old time western streets of Davie Florida.

This brings me flying through the towns and road houses of Mendeltna, Tolsona, and Glennallen, turning North off of the Glenn Highway onto the Tok Highway heading past Gulkana and Gakona. Gakona is the location of the HAARP array in Alaska. This is a joint communications project between the Air Force and the Navy to communicate around the globe with submarines using the ionosphere to skip trace communications signals. Currently I way on a long stretch of lonely road between Gakona and Christonchina, AK. The road will widen out soon and then it will be a long wide road until we reach Tok.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Information Please

I was able to get in four short runs today, making up for lost time I suppose, or perhaps me punishing myself for not being able to find the time to get done what I need to in order to run. Whatever the reason, my runs added up to 4.77 miles. This brings my total to123.02 miles and 4841.98 miles from Davie.

This puts me just past the road/ATV trails that goes up into Belanger Pass in the Eureka area. This was the primary racing area for the Alaska Adventure Racing Club's 2009 24 hour adventure race, Bushwhack This!. This is an incredible area filled with thousands of miles of ATV trails. You can see it all on foot or with a mountain bike, but the ATV will get you back into the area much farther and quicker. This area is also home to more parka squirrels than I have ever seen in one place. I believe this must be what prairie dogs were like for the early settlers of the West. This area is worth visiting and exploring. A person could spend many entire summers in the area wandering around and still not scratch the surface of the glory in the area.

I have just passed the Eureka Lodge,a major roadhouse providing gas, food, and lodging year round for ATV enthusiasts, hunters and snow machiners. This is a great place to stop, stretch the legs, get some pie or a burger and take in the wonder that is Alaska.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Short and Sweet

I'm struggling to find the time, but I got in a 1.24 mile run today, bringing my distance to 118.25 and my total to go to 4846.75. I am getting there on step at a time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Twice the Fool

Here we are in April and I am falling behind in my running. Work and my remodel have consumed my time and I am working to get back on schedule. I managed to get two runs in today for a combined distance of 6.94 miles.It is adding up, but I really need to get my head in the game and get back on track.

I made a pact with Mr. Furious but mostly with myself that we would not drink any alcohol until after the marathon on June 19. I plan on sticking to this so that I can get my body in shape and who know perhaps I will just keep on going.

This brings my total distance for the year to 117.01 miles and 4847.99 miles to go to reach Davie, Florida. This puts me on a lonely stretch of highway with a spectacular view where I will remain for several more runs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm With Furious

The sun was out bringing heat and the hint of summer and I had the chance to finally hit the trail with my running partner in crime, Mr. Furious (currently on hiatus from roller derby fame to finish his long sought after but ever elusive undergraduate degree). I stopped and picked up a new Garmin Oregon 550t unit on my lunch break today. After much soul searching I settled on the handheld GPS unit over a wrist watch due to the fact that I can monitor my trekking and hiking as well as get turn by turn vehicular directions as well as monitor my running with the handheld and it runs on AA batteries and those batteries last a few days opposed to a few hours in the wrist watch. With the multi-day trips I have planned for the summer a battery life of a few hours will not work and would be as worthless as my iPhone in that regard.

Now that I have a new device that can monitor my distance I put it to the test with our inguaral run as we officially started our marathon training. The Nike+ recorded our journey as a trek of 2.17 miles when the Garmin registered the actual distance of 5.28 miles. This was a great run on the trails of East Anchorage through the University district. I hadn't been on some of these trails since the marathon last year. It was great to get out and run with Mr. Furious again. Our distance seemed so easy and comfortable. It is always better to run with someone, the conversation makes the miles go by rather quickly and the scenery is always a great bonus. We will be on te trails more soon enough. The snow was just starting to get soft and if the warming trend keeps up theer will be muddy spring-like conditions soon.

With 5.28 miles added to the tally that brings the total for the year to 110.07 and 4895.93 miles to Davie. The maiden voyage of the Garmin was a smashing success. I need to get out get familiar with this unit but so far it is a great device.

This puts me just past Sheep Mountain Lodge and Alascom Knob. The Knob is a radio relay tower and provides a bounce for cellular communications in the area among other things and is an access point for one of the largest collection of ATV trails in Alaska. This area was the site for The Alaska Adventure Racing Club's 24 hour race (Bushwhack This!) last fall. The race had teams from Texas, California and Alaska who competed in a multi-sport race involving canoeing, mountain biking and trekking along with orienteering and some bonus events thrown in for fun. The area is breathtaking and the adventure race was a great experience for all.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Walk Around The Block

I have been working on remodeling my home this winter and the fruits of my labor are almost in blossom. In the next couple of weeks I will be able to put the house back together and it will be like living in a new place. I love the feeling of freshness and revival of remodeling. Today I spent much of the day troweling drywall mud onto sheetrock and setting corners. Tomorrow will be the first sanding and then a second coat of mud. This pattern will repeat throughout the week until the handful of trouble spots are made to look immaculate. Then it will be time to texture and paint. After all the time getting to this stage it is hard to believe it will finally be over soon.

After my morning of buttering up my walls I decided to get out of the house. I have been contemplating a new device for monitoring my running and hiking. I am planning several multi-day hikes this summer and the iPhone is not up to that challenge as Apple neglected to give the phone any sort of battery life and after six hours it will be dead. I have been looking at the Garmin Forerunner 450CX and think it is a fabulous device, but in looking at it closely this week I discovered that it will not meet my needs at it only has eight hours of battery life. I did discover that the Garmin Oregon 550t can work with the Garmin heart monitor and can track running, while not as running specific as the Forerunner series should do a better job of tracking speed and distance that the Nike+. I will have to look into it farther.

I got in 3.23 miles today on a fast walk to the grocery store giving me a total of 104.79 miles. 4860.21 miles to reach Davie. Turn around and look behind me, that is the cinder cone from the Lion's Head. The Lion's Head is the plug from a long extinct volcano. This is one of those rare geologic spots where a volcano and a glacier collide. An actual merging of fire and ice as this volcano became plugged prior to the Ice Age and the glacial snows packed on top of the volcano and the river has carried the sediment from the volcano out towards Cook Inlet and into the Pacific Ocean as the glacier has melted and receded. The Lion's Head gets it's name from the resemblance of the volcanic cone when viewed from the river. Ir really does look like a lion's head. From the top side view it really more resembles a sphinx.

This is a marvelous place to hike, raft, and explore the vastness that is Alaska. The colors in the hills here come from the sudden supercooling of the volcano as it went extinct.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From Matanuska to The Moose's Tooth

To celebrate this Saint Patrick's Day I joined my wife and some friends at The Moose's Tooth Pizzeria for dinner. This is a local brew-pub that serves up some good food and beer. It once was the best brewery in Alaska, but its popularity is hurting it as the quality of their product is going downhill. They are still good, but the beer isn't aged out enough to not produce excess carbonation and the flavors are not setup fully. This produces a product that makes a lot of folks ill, to put it bluntly it gives them gas. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the place but I rarely will go there to eat as waiting for hours for a table in a restaurant that has been open for over ten years is ludicrous when I can get the food to go and enjoy it with friends elsewhere. The Moose's Tooth gets it's name from a mountain in the Alaska range just to the Southeast of Denali. There is another restaurant in the Moose's Tooth family that is a movie theater named the Bear Tooth. Public belief is that it get's it's name from another peak in the same grouping as the Moose's Tooth, but it is either not an official name or is a very small rock peak as it doesn't appear on standard maps of the area. The Bear's Tooth does get referred to by local climbers a lot. It is a peak right next to The Moose's Tooth but must not be officially classified a mountain peak. Another mountain in that chain is called The Broken Tooth. Somehow I don't think this one will be going on any restaurant expansion signs anytime soon. I got in 6 miles today as I ran from my house to midtown for dinner.

This was a good run although I am sure I will pay for it tomorrow as I know I pulled something in my right hip while avoiding getting wet from melt-off puddles and the drivers not watching the road and narrowly managing to not get hit twice. It was great to run outside today and while the weather was great, it is not really Spring just yet. We still have a few snow-falls to get in before Old Man Winter finally lays down his head for a short summer hibernation.

This 6 miles brings me to 101.56 miles for the year. This breaks the 100 mile mark. I am a little ways behind where I would like to be right now. I am going to hit it hard after the middle of next month as all my personal projects should be completed and I will have time to go out and play. It is time to get dedicated to my marathon training. There are 94 days until the marathon. I would like to take off a considerable amount of time this year over the first one I ran last year. I have some projects I need to finish before the first summer guests arrive at home and after that it will be hardcore training for me.

This brings me to 4863.44 miles left to go to reach Davie. Every step brings me closer to the goal. This puts me almost to the water at Caribou Creek (the one by Matanuska glacier, odd how this State has at least a half dozen Caribou Creeks). This is a great place to put in if you are interested in doing some white water rafting and getting to see the Matanuska glacier up close and personal. If you put in on Caribou Creek and float down the 1.2 miles until it reaches the Matanuska River you will be in for a great ride. NOVA Rafting took a group of us rafting through The Lion's Head area last summer. It was a blast. Everyone liked it so much they signed up to go raft Six Mile Creek, the largest guided white water in Alaska. Both trips were truly memorable and well worth doing. I would recommend them and would do them again. In fact in the spring when the water is at its highest there are several of us who are going to take on Six Mile Creek again.

This also puts me just past the Matanuska glacier, the headwaters for the Matanuska River and also the source of the cold silty wind that blows through Palmer insistently. This is a very spectacular place as the road follows the ridge-line above and away from the glacier. This provides a stellar view of the vastness of the glacier.