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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Running Greek

Today I got home and the early spring sunshine called to me and I had to get out and enjoy it. The weather has been quite warm the past few days and things are rapidly melting. This does not mean it is spring as those of us who are seasoned Sourdoughs know spring never really comes for another month or so. The days in March tend to be some of the best of the winter season though and today was a shining example of a perfect afternoon.

I headed out to the bluff overlooking the tidal flats as it is only 1.7 miles from the house. It was a good run out and back after a pause to admire the tidal flats and the skiers and hikers taking advantage of the frozen mud flats. My Nike+ chip got the distance down to the bluff park spot on for accuracy, but on the return trip it only registered .93 miles. I think this a bit odd as it is almost all downhill to get to the bluff park and uphill for the return, but the device didn't register the increased foot falls as the same distance, but much less instead. I can honestly say that the Nike+ device is a sub-par piece of equipment and I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a way to monitor their running.

While I was running and avoiding the puddles and the cars splashing mucky water and debris I was hit by a tidal wave from one Animosity Research Special Expert (ARSE) as he motored his jitney intentionally into the puddle to drench me as he was the only vehicle on an otherwise empty street. This was the only downside to my run today. On the run I was considering that once men ran great distances in the nude. Running "commando" isn't the greatest form of entertainment and I could not imagine running au natural, and never in Alaska. I know there are different cultures in the world and the Greeks brought us many of the grand sporting spectacles and many of them where originally done in the nude. If this were the case today it would definitely separate the athlete from the average citizen, as most folks do not want to exercise in their birthday suit.

I saw that this year marks the 2500th anniversary of the Athens Marathon. That is pretty impressive as not too many things can claim that kind of history. I would like to run this one. What a thrill and an honor to run the historic course that gave birth to the running craze. I can't do t this year, but perhaps in the near future I can make my way to Greece to be a part of some of the history. If you want to be part of a historical milestone make your way to Greece on Halloween this year and take part in the race. You don't have to be naked to run this one. Aren't you glad that times change?

With my 3.4 mile run today my total comes to 95.56 miles with 4869.44 in front of me on my journey to Davie. This puts me just short of the entrance to the Matanuska Glacier Park and Rest Area. The glacier is just about in view.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Falling off the Horse

I have been busy recently and not made time for myself. Time for me is important and I need to do it more often. I had resolved to run everyday this year and that has fallen away. I have run multiple times on certain days so I my get 365 runs in this year which would be an accomplishment. Today I got in a run of 1.69 miles. Nothing spectacular, but some distance and got the blood flowing.

It is time I climbed back up onto this tall stallion known as Running and see if I can break it in. This distance puts me at 92.16 miles in and 4872.84 miles ahead of me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brawl of the Wild

This is a bit late in coming, but last Saturday the Rage City Roller Girls played host to the FBXRG (Fairbanks Roller Girls) at the AT&T Sports Pavilion in Anchorage for a bit of in-State rivalry. There were elbows and knees flying as well as some hard-felt body checks as these two titanic contenders brought their game faces to the floor and circled the oval hell bent for leather for two hours.It is always a grand event when the two cross-state sister rivals meet to bout for glory on the flat track. This bout was no exception. From the very onset the air was filled with a frenzy as the sold-out crowd cheered on their favorite players. The visiting team while still a young team have grown tremendously over the season and are soon to be a powerhouse in their own right.Rage City has some new blood in it's ranks as some of the fan favorites where missing from the lineup. These girls put in a lot of time and dedication to produce this sport and that time away from "life" can take it's toll both physically and mentally. My hat is off to all of those who participate with roller derby as it truly is a love affair that requires strong dedication and commitment.Both FBXRG and Rage City put on an epic performance and in the end Rage City took home the victory, but the girls from The 'Banks gave them a run for their money and the next time they meet it might have a totally different outcome.
If you have never seen roller derby and are in Anchorage or Fairbanks April 3 (Fairbanks Carlson Center) or April 17 (Anchorage AT&T Sports Pavilion) drop on by and check out the bout. I recommend buying tickets early as they will sell out.Today I was able to grab quick lunch run of 1.56 miles. I only had a short lunch break and dashed out of work and hit the gym for a fast run (I hit 12 mph for the first time, although, as always with a new speed I only held it for 50 paces, but it felt awesome to hit that speed). After a quick run and a shower it was back to work. This now puts me at 90.47 miles in and 4874.53 from my goal. I am just coming up on Tim's place, look close and you can see my waving as I stroll on by. Too bad Tim isn't in right now or I stop in for coffee and a palaver. Tim is a lucky guy, he quite a view. This is just past Victory as well. I have friends who help build it years ago. I have never been there, but the area is magnificent.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life Gets In The Way

Things have been crazy hectic of late and I have not had the opportunity to run at all. Today I grabbed a quick run at lunch and headed back to the office. Two miles was my distance today bringing my total to 88.91 miles for the year and 4876.09 miles from the shores of Davie.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Walking Past The King

I was able to squeeze in a quick run today. Much going on and I am trying to balance everything in life in a finite amount of time. I got in 3.84 miles today, bringing my total to 86.91 miles. This brings me to 4878.09 miles from Davie. That puts me just past the head of the Puritan Creek Trail, a popular ATV and hunting trail and the Old Road, which got used quite a bit over the past two years as they were widening the road and making a scenic roadway even better.

I am now out of view of the majestic Kings Mountain.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Barbeque & Petrol

Today's run was rubbish. Everything about it was junk. With the first step off the porch I felt a twinge in my shoulder, odd I hadn't felt any pain before stepping through the front door. I was excited to run. I had been looking forward to it all day and while I geared up I was preparing for at least a bit of distance. But alas, I got on the road and realized that the 40+ temperatures outside where too warm for the gear I was wearing today. I should have left my cap and gloves behind today and perhaps the slick ice of the streets would have been alright.

I pushed into the downhill being careful of my footing, wanting to at least break into a pace of some kind, but the melting snow kept me from any break-away. I know all runs can't be good ones and some days the wall just beats you in the face and this sadly was one of those days. I made my way to my uber-short course and as I finished the long straight away and was rounding the curve I was KO'd by raw gasoline. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from as no cars where running and no one was outdoors at any of the houses in the neighborhood. It was fresh and there was a lot of it.

I continued through the trip, mentally willing myself to find inspiration and salvage this run. Turning up the hill I passed a neighbor out running the opposite direction, waved and turned down a road that resembled a luge track. It was all wet, crowned ice. I traversed the road and made it to the intersection and contemplated turning up the hill again to take the long way around when a blunt toking smiling hippie in a plow truck just about made this my end run.

I decided to pack it in and head for home. On the last street before my turn there was a horrid odor of charred chicken in the air. I tried to push up my pace, but felt like I was running with cement buckets on my feet. Eventually I made it to the landing and hit finish on my Nike+ and walked inside, done with my short, slow run. When I plugged in the phone to sync I saw the run wasn't as slow as I thought, with a 9'15"/mile pace. I guess that is not bad, it sure slower than that. Tomorrow will be another day and since this was one of those rare bad runs I will look forward with great anticipation to tomorrow. The good thing about this run is that it put me 1.28 miles closer to Davie.

That makes 83.07 miles so far, which places me at Wiener Lake, another destination fishing hole both summer and winter and a nice view. That is 4881.93 miles from sunny Davie, Florida.

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