Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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!

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