Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Alaska Endurance Trail Run race report - part 1

This weekend, I ran my first 24 hour race, the Alaska Endurance Trail Run, in Fairbanks. Let me tell you all about it. Fairbanks is about 300 miles from where I live, so I took the day off work on Friday, and drove up there. I totally enjoyed the trip because I got to drive my new car, and the sun was shining the whole way (hello, sunroof!!). I took my 17 year old daughter and one of her friends with me to crew for me, and that was a GREAT decision, even though said 17 year old daughter did not enjoy the sunroof nearly as much as I did.

“Mom, can you please close the sunroof and turn the music down? It’s too loud.”… talk about role reversal… it’s like she’s the old lady and I’m the teenager… very weird.

The course for this race is a 6 mile loop, with an aid station at the start and finish line, and an unmanned water drop at about halfway around. Because there was such frequent opportunities for water, I didn’t feel like I needed to wear my hydration vest, and instead opted to carry a small handheld water bottle, refilling at both places each loop. The only problem with this was that on Friday morning I could not find my handheld anywhere. So when I got to Fairbanks, I made a quick stop at Beaver Sports, and got a Nathan handheld soft flask to use. It was the first time I used such a thing, and it worked pretty well, and wasn’t too cumbersome to hold. It had a strap that wrapped around my wrist so I didn’t have to grip it at all to hang on to it, just to use it.

I had arranged to have access to a friend’s cabin. Susie was also running the race, and agreed to let us stay at her place for the weekend. I went there before the race and grabbed a quick nap, since I was tired from the drive. After my nap, I got to the starting area with about an hour to get ready, which I thought would be more than enough time, but turned out to just barely be enough. There were 9 people that chose the 24 hour race, and soon enough we were all lined up at the starting line, setting our watches:

Photo credit: Chris Butcher

Susie ran the first loop with me, which was pretty helpful. The course was well marked,  but there were a couple of places where there was at least a possibility of going the wrong way if I had been by myself.  We ended the first lap feeling pretty strong:

Photo credit: Chris Butcher

That's me in the pink. The second lap I ran by myself. I started with Susie, but she had decided on a run/walk interval strategy. I had no strategy, except to walk up all the hills. I decided to simply run for as long as it felt good to run, and then walk when I needed to. I waved goodbye to Susie, and ran off when she did her first walk interval. We wound up leapfrogging each other throughout the race, I think.

Travis paced me on the third loop, and I had begun to feel the miles enough to complain about his fresh legs.  I was still moving along fairly well though, and we finished that loop right after midnight, and I said goodnight to Travis.  I told him to thank his wife for letting him spend his Friday evening pacing me. I hope he remembered  Kim, you’re awesome!!
Loop 4 and the first half of loop 5 passed without incident. At some point during these 2 loops, the sun set and rose again. The sun is just amazing during Alaskan summers, and this was one of the most amazing things about this race. Luckily I wasn’t too tired yet to appreciate it. As I was running, the sun slowly set, and the sky in that direction turned pink and orange. It never got dark, and at some indefinable point, the sunset became a sunrise, and the sun slowly rose. It was truly beautiful.

 Just after leaving the water station halfway through loop 5, my Garmin died. I am missing a good chunk of data from loop 5, which I found very annoying. When I got back to the start area, I plugged my Garmin into a portable charger, tucked it into a waist belt, changed my shoes, and put on a long sleeved shirt and long pants over my shorts and tank. I had also planned on dealing with some chafing to my chest where the band of my sports bra was rubbing, and forgot, until I took off down the trail, and noticed it within about 50 feet, and had to turn around and come back. I applied some KT tape, which was actually fairly difficult as there was no privacy and I was trying to hide in my sleeping bag and put the tape on at the same time. Then I took off down the trail again, on loop 6.

This was when things really started getting hard. By the time I was done with loop 6, I was really tired and cold. I stopped at the end of the loop, and curled up in my sleeping bag. I figured I would sleep for a little while, but didn’t wake up until heard the race director announcing the pre-race meeting for the 12 hour race, just before 8 am. I probably wound up sleeping for an hour and a half or so. To avoid the crowd, I stayed put until the new runners left, then got up and got moving again.

Probably because I had stopped running for so long, my legs were really stiff and sore when  I started loop 7, but I still managed to run about half of that loop. At that point, I started contemplating quitting. I was tired, I was hurting, and I just didn’t feel like running anymore. I even texted Travis, who was planning on running another loop with me later, saying I was done. But I knew at that point it was just because I was tired, and off I went on another loop.

Loop 8 was horrible. By then, it was late morning, and it had gotten hot out. My water bottle that needed to last 3 miles, lasted me less than a mile. By the time I got to the water station, I was really struggling to just put one foot in front of the other.  I refilled my water bottle, and sat down against a tree for a few minutes to gather strength for the last 3 miles of the loop. During the second half of that loop, a lot of it was in fields, out in the sun, and I was getting pretty dehydrated, I think. I knew I needed to drink my water, but I didn’t want to. I had to force myself to drink it, and even then, I still had a couple miles to go when I ran out.  My feet were killing me, and my quads were totally cramped up, and I felt that it was physically impossible to run. I watched fresher 12 hour and 6 hour runners go by enviously. I didn’t feel like I would ever make it back to the starting area. By the time I made it back, I felt like I was in pretty rough shape. Travis had shown up by that point, but I wasn’t able to go back out. Everyone was very helpful, and offered me Tailwind, a different flavor than what I had been  drinking the whole race, and which I suddenly found completely revolting, water, apples, etc. The only thing I could even remotely consider was a popsicle, which I accepted gratefully.

Of course, as soon as I stopped, I started shivering, which is completely normal for me. I sat in a chair, wrapped in my sleeping bag until I warmed up again and ate my popsicle. It was delicious. At that point, I knew that I really was done running. Loop 8 had taken me almost 3 hours.

I knew Travis was going to check on me when he got back from running his loop, and I know he was hoping to convince me to do another loop. I felt bad, but at that point, all I wanted was to get a shower, so I left before he got back. Sorry, Travis!! We got some dinner, then went back to be there for the end of the race.

All told, I got 8 loops, officially 48 miles, in 18 hours, although the course was just over 6 miles, so it was actually a little more. I had 2 goals for this race: to keep moving for the full 24 hours, and to get 75 miles. I had gotten 41 miles last September during a 12 hour race, so I thought that was doable. I didn’t make either of those goals, but I did go farther than  I ever have before, and I knew when to stop. Although I didn’t perform as well as I wanted, and was miserable for the last little while of the race, the race itself was amazing. The trails were all very runnable, with no exceptionally steep climbs, and the route was pretty.

The aid station was well stocked with just about everything imaginable. The volunteers and director were kind and helpful, and I lacked for absolutely nothing during the race. I brought my own fuel and only used my Tailwind and Nuun out of my own stash. I think it was a really good idea to have staggered start times so that almost everyone finished at the same time, because the finish area became a great little party, with burgers and grilled salmon, and plenty of time to trade stories and ccelebrate with friends:

We stayed the night Saturday night at my friend’s cabin, which was just overwhelmingly cute, then drove home on Sunday. Halfway home, I stopped to get my daily run in on some trails close to the highway, and managed 1.17 miles without any significant difficulty, which sort of surprised me. I’ve run every day since then, with virtually no residual soreness. I took amino acids before the start, every 4 hours during the race and immediately afterwards, and I think it helped prevent some of the soreness.

I’m definitely doing some version of this race again and I would totally encourage anyone that feels like they can do at least the 6 hour event to give it a try. It really was a great race!!!

Thursday, March 9, 2017


I am almost 100% an impulse shopper. And I love sock yarn. I had decided not to buy any more for a while, and then stumbled across this post by Must Stash Yarn on Instagram:

(Screenshot of photo by @muststashsheep)

I immediately decided I had to have it. There was the main striped skein (named Be Mine), and then a coordinating speckled skein (named Conversation Hearts). I bought them both and impatiently waited for it to get here. I was ecstatic when it arrived, and I haven't been able to knit anything else since.

The striped skein was actually two half skeins, cut so that they started and ended in the exact same place, so that anything you made would match perfectly.

(Screenshot of photo by @muststashsheep)

First I made socks, starting at the toes, with the toes and heels using the speckled yarn. I couldn't stop knitting them, and I totally love them. I was sad when they were finished because I didn’t want to have to stop knitting.

When I was done with the socks, I still had quite a bit of the striped yarn left, so now I am making fingerless mitts to wear at the office, since my hands are always cold.

I also contacted Must Stash, hoping to get another mini skein of the speckled yarn. See, I make all my socks with either afterthought or short row heels, so that when they inevitably wear out, I can easily replace them and keep wearing the socks.  I've replaced holey toes too. After making the socks, I know I didn't have enough yarn left if I needed to replace the heels or toes. After some emails back and forth, I wound up ordering two full skeins of the speckled yarn that she graciously agreed to custom dye for me. That gives me enough to not only be able to replace the heels and toes, but also to make a shrug that coordinates with the socks. This thrills me because almost all of the colors that I wear a lot of are in the speckles, so I would be able to wear it with almost everything I own.

I don't have a great pic of the shrug yet, because it is all bunched up on the circular needle, but you can see what the fabric looks like, at least:

This is the first time I've ever ordered yarn from Must Stash, and I have to say I'm very pleased. The yarn is soft, and feels wonderful in my hands and on my feet and is a dream to knit. Plus the colors are amazing, and the stripes did wind up matching perfectly:

Really? I'm a tad obsessed with this yarn...

Sunday, January 1, 2017


So, you might be thinking that since I'm posting on New Year's Day, that it's going to be about my New Year's resolutions.  Well, yes. You'd be absolutely right. But first, Happy New Year's everyone, and thank you to all the people that have taken the time to read my blog!

So, some years I do more resolutions than others, but generally, I'm kind of a fan of them. Yes, they are often the same old things that everyone says, but I think that's because most people want to better themselves,  and the new year is a good time, psychologically speaking, to sort of take stock of where you are, and where you want to go. And I'm no different than anyone else in that regard.  This year in particular, I'm feeling pretty goal oriented, and I have lots of things I want to accomplish in the next 365 days or so. I'll divide it into categories, as opposed to one big list.

1. I started a project today, a sky scarf. Basically, I will knit 2 rows every day, reflecting whatever the sky is doing that day. I'll finish it on December 31. Here's the beginning of that:

2. I'm participating in a sock club this year, that includes shipments of 6 skeins of sock yarn, one every other month, starting at the end of January. I typically get far behind on things like that, but this year I want to have all 6 of them knit by the end of the year.

1. Last year, I had a goal to run every day in 2016. I missed 4 days in August, starting with a backpacking trip with the family. I'm going to nail it this year, at least 1 mile every day.
2. I ran 1225.1 miles in 2016,  according to Garmin. I'm setting a mileage goal for 2017, of 1500 miles. A friend suggested 2017 miles, but I don't think that's realistic. Not with my crazy job.
3. I tried twice last summer to do a 50 mile run. The closest I got was 41.7 miles. I'm going to nail that this year too. I'm actually thinking about signing up for a 100 miler, but I haven't decided yet. My first opportunity will be at the Alaska Endurance Trail Run in Fairbanks on June 3. I'm already looking forward to it. I also plan on running Kesugi Ridge (about 29 miles), Resurrection Pass (either 50 or 100 miles), and A Day at the Beach (12 or 24 hours). I'm going to have to miss the Angel Creek 50 this year because I'll be in Utah that weekend for an important family thing. But AC50 is on the list for 2018 already.

1. Training for all the long running mentioned above. Plus, I've got my eye on the Tahoe 200 in 2018, and I want to be in the best shape I can be to get ready for that. 200 miles is a long ways, even if I have 4 days to do it.  I have a running training plan that started on Christmas Day, actually. Tomorrow, the plan calls for 12 miles. That's the longest I've run in a few months, and I'm excited.
2. In addition to the running training, I'm incorporating cross training in the form of yoga and strength training. For strength training, right now I'm doing Insanity Max:30, which is a blend of cardio and tabata style strength training. When  that's done, I'll transition to the Hammer and Chisel workout program,  then go from there. I really like Cross fit, but I haven't been able to fit the classes into my schedule and I don't have the equipment I need to do it at home.
3. Right now, I'm out of shape. After Christmas,  my weight was at 147.1, with a body fat percentage of 36.5%. That is way too high to let me be an efficient runner. I need to get it down to less than  130, and about 22% body fat.  I started back on the Take Shape For Life eating plan (I'm still a health coach for TSFL) the day after Christmas,  and even though I've had a couple slips, I'm down to 144.1 and 35.9% body fat.
4. I've got a room in my basement that I have been planning to set up as a home gym for a while now, that is currently mostly storage and construction work space. By the end of the year, it's going to be a functioning home gym. I don't know if I'll have a treadmill by then or not, because those are crazy expensive,  but it's going to have everything else.

1. I'm trading in my car. I think I'm actually going to be ordering a car. I've never done that before.
2. Only 3 more payments on Becky's braces!!! Yay!! Then we will apply that money to pay off another bill. Start the snowball effect going! Long term goal is to be out of debt except my student loans by the time Steven graduates, in 4 and a half years. Student loans shouldn't be far behind that.
3. I'm really going to focus this year on not spending money frivolously. Not really sure how I'm going to keep track of this, or what parameters I'm going to set yet, but I'm mulling it over.

So there you have it. As concisely as possible, that's what I plan to accomplish this year. What are your resolutions? Feel free to share in the comments!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Angel Creek 50 Miler race report

So, this is a really, really late race report. Here it is October, and this race was in July. But I've been thinking about it ever since. I wrote some parts of this post right afterwards, and some of it more recently. In some ways it was sort of difficult to write. But here goes.

On July 16, I ran the Angel Creek 50 mile race outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.  Some parts of it went really, really well. And some things just fell apart. Long story short, I scratched at mile 30.  But I'll give you the long story.

The Angel Creek 50 miler was my first ultra, and it was a doozy. The website says it has over 12,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, and it was right. I trained for it as much as I could, given work demands and family stuff. I had to squeeze training around real life. Luckily, my family seemed happy to ride their bikes alongside me when I ran occasionally, which let long training runs do double duty as family time. By the time of the race, I felt well prepared distance wise, but not so much as far as elevation goes. All of the mountain runs I had done had turned into mountain crawls. This race would be no exception.

I took off work the day before the race, and we all drove up to Fairbanks. We camped at Twin Bears Camp, which is at mile 30 of the Chena Hot Springs Road, and not coincidentally, where the race started. We figured (correctly) that staying at the same campground as the race start would make things much easier with an early start time. Twin Bears Camp has several rustic cabins and we were able to pick one that was about 20 feet from where the safety briefing, drop bag dropoff spot, and race start were located. The camp has a kitchen, where I was able to get everything sorted and my Camelbak filled. The only downside to staying at the camp is that all the beds were twin bunk beds, and sleeping in the same room as my husband but in a different bed was a little weird. Not that I slept much. It poured all night long, with great huge buckets of rain, thunder and lightening. I probably spent 3/4 of the night wondering if I would run if the weather was still that bad when I woke up. Luckily, it wasn't, so I didn't have to decide.

The first 15 miles or so was on dirt trails, with mostly rolling hills. Those miles went by pretty quickly, and I kept a good pace. I had figured out the average slowest possible pace to still make the cut off at mile 42, basically 18 minutes per mile. The first 15 miles, I averaged about 13 minutes per mile, and I felt pretty confident about making the cutoff. I knew there were some more difficult miles ahead, though, and kept pushing. I was pretty close to last, but through the first 15 miles, there were two other runners that I sort of leapfrogged with, Travis and Karen. When the terrain started getting steep, however, they pulled ahead for good.

After about mile 15, the trail quickly became steep and my pace slowed significantly. I really have trouble maintaining a decent pace going uphill. I knew this about myself already, though, which is why I worked hard early in the race to stay ahead of schedule. I climbed and climbed, and eventually the trail, such as it was, bounced along the tops of the domes (big round hills) for several miles. That was easier in the sense that I wasn't going up and up for long periods of time, but harder because of a couple of factors. One was that the trail essentially disappeared into a fairly barren landscape of unstable rocks and lichen. This made moving quickly difficult for an entirely different reason: uncertain footing. The other thing that made it difficult, and was decidedly the biggest factor in my DNF, was that up on top of the domes, it got FOGGY.

On top of the domes, where there was literally no trail, there were rock cairns meant to guide hikers/runners through the domes. In addition, the race crew placed little pink flags to mark the course:

I had a Garmin Vivosmart HR, but Travis had lent me his Garmin Fenix 2, which has GPS, and displays a map, with the race course already programmed in. However, we didn't meet up so that I could learn how to actually follow the little map. I was wearing it though, hoping that if I needed it, I could figure it out (this hope was in vain). I probably looked pretty silly though,  with a Garmin on each arm:

I managed fairly well until halfway through mile 23. There was no trail, and the fog had gotten really bad. I had been inching my way along looking for cairns or pink flagging. I got to the top of one hill, found a pink flag, and could not see another flag no matter which way I looked. I walked as far as I could in several directions without losing sight of the flag at the top of the hill, with no luck. I finally decided that the course probably kept going down the opposite side of the hill that it had gone up, and headed down, hoping to find a flag at some point. I didn't. After walking downhill for some time and not seeing a flag, I decided to go back to the top of the hill where I knew there was a flag, and try again. I had gotten almost back up to the top of the hill, and saw a dog coming towards me out of the fog, from across the hill to my left. I sidehilled in the direction the dog had come from, and found his people. They were the course sweepers. They were also picking up all the flagging and were heading down the hill I was going back up. They had already picked up the flag I was looking for.

I had been doing fine as far keeping myself under control and focused on the job until that point. But when I realized all that, I was just overwhelmed. Not only was I happy to see them, I also realized that if their dog hadn't found me, they would now have been ahead of me, REMOVING THE FLAGS I NEEDED TO FOLLOW. I would then have been well and truly lost. At that point, my throat completely closed up, I had to fight to not cry, and that was it. My confidence was gone.

I followed them the rest of the way through the domes and the fog. There were times that it took all 3 of us to find the flags, with one person standing as far as they could from a flag while still being able to see it, and another person going far enough that they could just barely see the person that could see the flag. Even with that, it still sometimessed took several minutes to find the next flag. There was no way I could have found my way through the rest of the domes by myself. The fog was just too dense. In addition,  by that time, I was exhausted mentally, and really struggled to keep going at all.  As we came closer to the checkpoint at mile 30, and down off the domes, the fog dissipated and at one point, the sun even came out. I really wished it had been  sunny for my trip across the domes. I think I would have done much better.

I got to the mile 30 checkpoint with about 2 hours to get to the mile 42 cutoff. If I had been running on a smooth surface, with fresh legs, I could have made it. On a rocky 4 wheeler track on tired legs, and a more tired brain, I knew I couldn't make it in time, so I decided to scratch. It turned out that Travis,  who at the start of the domes was only a few minutes ahead of me, but got to the mile 30 aid station an hour ahead of me, wound up missing the cutoff at mile 42 by one minute, so i'm pretty sure I could not have made it. In total there were 8 people that DNF'd.  I got a 4 wheeler ride down the trail to the road. Just the 4 wheeler ride took almost an hour. I got a ride to the finish, where my family was waiting. I was at the finish when Travis arrived. He reported that because of all the rain, the stretch of trail between  the mile 40 and mile 42 checkpoints had standing water up to his chest that he had to swim across. That made me sort of glad I didn't attempt it.

Only two things that I think should have been  managed differently.  First, more flagging!! That fog can get really dense! Second, the aid station volunteers had radios. And I really think the sweepers should have waited till everyone had checked into the aid station ahead before removing the flagging. If I hadn't found the sweepers, I would have needed that flagging to find my way out of the soup.

There were also things that I could have managed differently. I needed more practice on hills. And I need to work on navigating difficult terrain in general. I go really slowly when the footing is uncertain. I think I'm just pretty risk adverse. I think I need to work on building confidence so I can move more quickly across difficult terrain. That will just take time and practice.

Overall, it was really a fun race, at least the parts that I did. I think I would have done much better if the weather had cooperated. I really hope the weather will be better next year. I'm determined to finish next year.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wednesday weigh in: Whoops...

So, not only is this Thursday, not Wednesday, I didn't even do a post last week at all. The last two weeks have been difficult, work has been crazy, I've been busy all the time, and not really taking care of myself. I did have some good runs, though!

1. Nutrition: in the toilet. So in the toilet that as of yesterday morning, I was back up to 145.4. That's ok though, I'm back at work on it. I'm looking forward to some forward progress to report on this front next week :)

2. Exercise: In 2 weeks, I managed 2 strength workouts, and 0 yoga sessions. I did run every day, though. In the last two weeks, I've ran almost exactly 60 miles. My longest run was 21.85 miles, at the Alyeska Mountain Run last Saturday. That was so much fun, and so painful!

3. Supplements: I actually did better at this. I've been getting at least my vitamins B, C, and D, calcium, and glucosamine almost every day. Fish oil a couple times. I need to force myself to take the fish oil more often. It's good for my connective tissue, and my IT band has been achy since the Alyeska run. Thanks, Daisy.

4. Sleep: So-so. I got less than 8 hours of sleep 6 nights out of the last 14. I know myself well enough that I function much better with a solid 8 hours, at least. Gotta work on this one more too.

So, there you have it. I think keeping track of how I'm doing like this will help me see trends long term, and what things I really need to focus on. And I definitely know what I need to do this week. Eat right and go to bed earlier!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday weigh in: week 1

I'm tired, so I'll get right to the point. This week was a bit... inconsistent.

1. Diet: I started out the week at 145. Yesterday morning, I was at 143.2 so not bad, not bad. The only really big thing I had that wasn't part of my plan, until yesterday was Red Robin one night with my hubby.  Those fries though!!!  Yesterday and today, though, I've been travelling for work, either driving or working non-stop. When I'm driving I eat. I use crunchy foods to help me stay awake and alert on long drives. So yesterday,  today, and tomorrow I am "off plan". And then I'm getting right back to it.

2. Exercise: I've got to break this into 2 types, running and other exercise. I've ran at least 1 mile every day, but I didn't get as many other workouts in as I wanted.

  • Thursday: I did a short pover yoga podcast in the morning before work.  I also participated in a local 10k trail run. 
  • Friday: I did a P90X3 workout DVD (Warrior, a full body strength workout) before work, and ran 1 mile on the treadmill after work. I knocked that baby out in 8:45, and was pretty happy with myself. That's the fastest I've run a mile in a long time.
  • Saturday: my day did not go as planned. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon buying a wood stove. Then I had to go to work. By the time I got off work, it was about to rain, so I got in a quick 2 mile run before heading home.
  • Sunday: 10 miles on the coastal trail with my pup. That was awesome.
  • Monday: I slept in. No before work workout. Took a lunch break to run 4.2 trail miles, some much needed stress relief. 
  • Tuesday: I had an early court hearing, so once again, no morning workout. I had to leave the house as soon as my kiddo got on the bus. I was travelling all day, in an area with lots of wilderness but virtually no trails. I managed to find one tucked away behind a National Forest visitors center, and got 1.8 miles in.
  • Wednesday: I stayed at a B&B last night and didn't have an opportunity to workout, plus had to get an early start. Then worked until I got to my next hotel room at 8 pm, and managed to get one tired mile in before it got completely dark. Now I'm updating you guys, and hitting the sack. 
3. Supplements: I mostly got my Vitamin C and calcium in, because I keep themy on my desk in the form of gummies and chews. I only remembered the rest a couple times this week. 

4. Sleep: According to my Garmin, I only got less than 8 hours of sleep Sunday night and Monday night. I NEVER sleep well on Sundays. I need to work on that.

My goal for this week is to try to be a little more consistent.  The only thing I nailed every day is the running. But I've got a busy life, and I know better than to think I should be able to hit all these goals 100%. But I also know I can do a little bit better. 

On a scale of 1-10, this was at least a 9

My piece of Alaska has been pretty rainy recently. This has been one of those falls where you start thinking that it's going to rain until it snows. It does that some years. It rains and rains, then it freezes, and water keeps coming down out of the sky, first as freezing rain, then sleet, then finally snow. The bad part about that kind of fall is that the ground gets so saturated that we start getting big, huge puddles of rainwater everywhere, and things flood. And one day, the puddles and ponds of water freeze. Which means that some spring day, months later, they thaw. And things flood. Ugh.  It's been raining a lot this fall, almost every day recently. It's been driving me crazy.

On Sunday, I woke up, and it was SUNNY. The sky was blue, the birch trees outside my window were glowing in the sun, and I knew it was a perfect day for a longish run. I really wanted to run the Turnagain Arm trail before all the leaves fell, but I knew with all the rain it would be muddy. So I decided on my favorite paved trail around, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This trail runs around the west side of downtown Anchorage, along Cook Inlet, and the scenery is beautiful year round.

There's blue,blue sky and blue, blue water:

There's birch trees with leaves turning a golden yellow, bright in the sun:

There's bridges:

And airplanes, because the trail runs past the west end of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport runways:

That's a lot of entertaining stuff to look at in one 10 mile run. So off Daisy and I went. We started at Westchester Lagoon (because there are port a potties) and my plan was to run to the 5 mile marker and back. The zero marker on this trail in both directions and the connecting Chester Creek trail is at Westchester Lagoon. So if I ran to the 5 mile marker and back, that would be 10 miles.

We made it to about mile 4.3, and saw this mama moose:

(The bit of asphalt you see inches from Mama is the trail I was on)

See how close to the trail she is? She was calm and eating when we arrived, so normally I might have gone past her, but it turned out her baby was on THE OTHER SIDE of the trail, and to get past her, I would have had to walk between her and her baby, with a very excited dog jumping around and barking. As I stood there considering, with a couple of cyclists who had come up within a few seconds of me, Mama Moose started looking at the dog and put her ears back, and was looking much less mellow. Then I remembered that I only planned to run to the 5 mile marker and turn around, so in another 15 minutes, I would be right back in the same spot again but this time with the moose between me and getting home. I decided to turn around early and head back, and then run past Westchester Lagoon another .7 miles or so, before turning around again and heading to the car, and getting my 10 miles in that way.

I just want to note here that I think when you are running, your heart is so busy circulating blood to your muscles and lungs that it forgets about your brain. This decision should not have been hard to make. But we stood there for probably 5 minutes looking at that moose before I figured out what to do. I mean, really.

Mama moose + baby moose + barking dog = DISASTER!!!!
(Danger, Will Robinson!) 

That's a no brainer. Anyway, we did turn around and follow plan B, and the rest of the run went smoothly. I had Tailwind in my hydration bladder, and drank about a liter, which is less than I should have had, but not disastrously so, given the length of the run. I also had a Honey Stinger Waffle at about mile 5. My times were not bad at all, either. When considering only moving time  (not counting stops to let Daisy poop, or pee, or drink, or sniff other dogs, or stops for me to take pictures or look at moose) my  fastest mile was 9:29 (!!!), and my slowest mile was 10:50. I wore my new-ish Hoka Conquests, without my orthotics. My feet didn't hurt, my leg didn't go numb, and I didn't get shin splints. I think my feet, ankles, and legs are finally maybe getting to the point where I don't need the orthotics anymore. That is something I am very glad for. I felt great throughout the run. I think Daisy enjoyed it too:

Daisy's post-run nap

I think this run was a total success!