Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dog musher uses the F word

Oh my!

People in Alaska are in an uproar over a dog musher's alleged use of the F word.

Blayne Streeper was disqualified from the Fur Rondy World Champion Sled Dog Races in Anchorage after spectators and race official reportedly saw him punch and swear at Luke Sampson while coming up the hill by Cordova Street.

(As if athletes never swear, come on!)

Check it out right here

It does look like Streeper wacked the guy in the arm but since I wasn't there, I'm gonna be like Switzerland and stay neutral.

And here's a really cool video clip I found on youTube of this year's race for all you folks who don't live in Alaska, 2011 Fur Rondy Race

These dogs LOVE to run. It's the coolest thing to see.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alaska Runner's Calendar--yes!

It's here! It's here!

The 2011 Alaska Runner's is out.

Browse through the enjoy.

(Can life can any more exciting??)

Here comes the wind

Earlier tonight the winds swept down upon town and I huddled in a blanket and waited it out with the cats, all the while wondering if the house was going to blow away, like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." If so, what would I wish for when I met the great and powerful Oz? New running shoes? Faster race times? World peace (like a toothy Miss America contestant)?

Imagine, getting ruby slippers of my very own!

But the wind died down about an hour ago, so no yellow brick road for me, no munchkins, no scarecrow singing "I wish I had a brain."

Also, no running today, since it was my rest day. How hard it is to rest! All day it was beautiful and warm, and I wanted to run so, so badly. Instead, I took my laptop to the Sea Bean Cafe and wrote for a couple of hours.

I LOVE the Sea Bean and will post pics soon.

I also signed up for the Iditarow. This is a yearly happening in Seward, when a bunch of people get together in teams and try to beat the Iditarod teams to Nome. Instead of mushing in sub-zero temps, we're rowing in a cozy gym with music and hot showers, but no matter. We're still racking up the miles.

I'll be rowing 30 minutes six days a week plus running my normal schedule. I'm hoping this will build up my arms without having to lift weights, hee, hee.

Here are pics of the "real" Iditarod athletes: The dogs.

Some animal rights groups protest the Iditarod but anyone who has ever watched the race in person can attest to this: Those dogs love to run. They live to run. They aren't being forced to run. They run with joy, the way we do. I think the Iditarod to them is what a marathon is to us: A painful and glorious challenge.

As for me, yesterday I ran three slowish miles along the beach with my own dog, whose grandmother came from Libby Reynolds' dog team. (Reynolds was the first women to win the Iditarod, and a personal hero of mine. I used to keep a photograph of her over my writing table and trust me, her inspiration helped pull me through some dark and terrible times.)

Anyway, yesterday was a picture-perfect Seward day, clear and very blue. Oh, how I love the blues!

After the run I cross-trained at the gym: Hour of spin plus 15 minutes of rowing practice.

Tomorrow is my 10-miler and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather. I am so not in the mood to pound out 10 mile son the treadmill again.

And oh, as much as I love being back in Seward, I miss being here, in my cozy cabin at Hedgebrook writing residency writing my butt off:

Happy weekend to everyone.
Running: Rest today. Three miles yesterday plus cross-training

Reading: "Lonesome Dove." A cowboy story before the Iditarod--kind of makes sense, eh?

Writing: Four glorious hours

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Six sunny miles

I'm back!

Took some time off writing, and a week off running. The running hurt more than the writing. I was grumpy. I ate too much popcorn. I cleaned the house, caught up on the laundry. When I found myself scrubbing the bathtub, I knew it was time to tie on my shoes and hit the trails.

Except there were super high winds (again) and horribly icy roads so I consoled myself with the treadmill and road running for almost a week.

Yesterday the sun was out, shining over the mountains and giving off happy vibes.

View from my living room window yesterday morning.

So I took Beebs for her first longish trail run since her injury. We hit the historic Iditarod Trail for 6 miles. The bummer is the trail is 8 miles out and back but I wanted to keep Beebs at six. It was painful having to turn back with only a mile to go.

Beebs was feeling great, charging ahead and flying down the hills.

Beebs on the snowy trail. If you look close you can still see where the dogs tore into her hip; I think she'll have teeth marks fover, poor dear.

As always, the views were awesome.

I found myself praising the snowmachiners (in Alaska, it's snowmachine, not snowmobile--go figure) for packing down a nice, sturdy trail. The first 1.5 miles was fast, and then it got a bit clumpy but still runnable. I planned on taking it slow, since I had done hill work Tuesday and speed intervals Monday, but it was very difficult not to pick up the pace on the firmly-packed stretches.

Here's a pic on the way back, blurry from dropping my camera in the snow.

It was wonderful to run trails again. After I got back from my Hedgebrook Residency, I handed in my novel and then slept for about a week. Truly! I was that exhausted. I surfaced to attend work functions and write news stories, and then I fell back to sleep again.

Now I'm wide awake, working on my second novel and dreaming of running this:

The Prince of Wales Marathon. It's on my birthday, May 28. I don't think I can be in marathon shape by then but I'm seriously thinking of running it. It's only $35 plus plane fare and ferry ride to get to the island. But man, the views would be worth the suffering.

I'm also signed up for the Mayor's Marathon half in June, which I'm running with my sister, CK (we're wearing making cheetah running skirts from and are gonna rock the course) and the full Big Wild Life marathon in August.

My big dilemma, however, is that there are three races I want to run on the same week in May: The Exit Glacier 10K, the Knoya Ridge Mountain Run and the Turnagain Trail 8-miler.

Two years ago when I ran the Knoya Ridge Mountain Run, a 20 something kid collapsed and died about a quarter mile from the finish at the ridge of the peak. It was awful, truly dreadful, and I'll write about it sometime in this blog but not tonight.

Anyway, my tentative race schedule. Actually, looking it over, I realize that if I run the Prince of Wales Marathon I'll miss out on some of my fav races. Oh, such tough decisions!

Knoya Ride, May 22 or Turnagain Arm Trail Race, May 24
Trent/Waldron Glacier Half-Marathon Race or POW Marathon, May 28 (both as training runs only)
Government Peak Mountain Race, June 4
Mayor's Half Marathon, June 18
Mt. Marathon mountain race, July 4
Master's 10K, July 21
SeaLife Center Wildlife Rescue 5k, mid-August
Lost Lake 16-miler trail race, Aug. 27
Zombie Half Marathon, Oct. 15

Running: 5 miles intervals Monday; 4 miles hill work Tuesday; 6 miles trails, Wednesday

Reading: "The Right Questions" by Debbie Ford (nonfiction self-help book 'cause I have some big decisions ahead of me and want to choose carefully)

Writing: Oh yes, please!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Barefoot on the beach

Oh, how nice to be in a warmer climate.

Today I ran 7 miles, half of it one the beach in my bare foot. Oh, oh, oh, the joy! I almost wept to be running along the shore, the waves splashing my ankles. It was pure bliss.

Passed a woman walking her dog. She had on a winter coat and hat, and I had on shorts, a long-sleeved tech shirt and bare feet. I swear, her mouth dropped open when she saw me. 'I'm from Alaska,' I said as I ran past, and she nodded as if it made all the sense in the world.

The food here is awesome. The cook prepares vegan dishes just for me and I've been eating like a pig, truly! I mean second and third helpings. I mean practically lowering my face down to my plate and slurping up the veggies and tofu.

Good eating, good writing, good running. I hope that heaven is like this.

Running: 7 miles

Writing: Oh yes, yes, yes!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hedgebrook (!!)

While some of my writing friends are at the AWP conference, I'm on Whidbey Island on my Hedgebrook Writing Residency, holed up in the cutest cabin and writing my ass off.

The Internet is limited so I am copying and pasting this from a word document--hope it all the pics come through.

Here is the view from my window seat--isn't it wonerful and peaceful?

The drive up to Anchorage before my flight was great. I dropped the dog off at "Uncle" David's and then I went to Target. I couldn't resist. I had discount shopping withdrawal. I didn't buy anything except 90 percent chocolate and a pair of running socks, but just walking through the store made me blissfully happy.

After that, I got to visit and spend the night with my friend Sarana. I forgot to take a picture, though, so here's one from her FB page:

Sorry I swiped your photo, Sarana, and thanks for your couch!

 I slept on Sarana's couch and one of her cats kept crawling under the blankets, curling against my legs and then jumping up my stomach, over and over all night, hee, hee.

Early in the morning (and bless Sarana's heart for waking me in time), I drove my snow covered car to the airport, and checked into my flight minutes before the cut-off.

Standing in line to board, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my lucky writing sweater back in the car in long-term parking a few miles from the airport. I thought: I can either go without it or I can cough up $25 and catch the next flight to Seattle.

I coughed up the money.

I HAD to have my lucky writing sweater at Hedgebrook. It was That important.

My ratty lucky writing sweater

The crappy thing was that there weren't any storage lockers available at the terminal so I had to lug my suitcase and heavily-loaded backpack back down to baggage claim and wait for the shuttle to the parking lot.

I lied to the shuttle driver and said I had forgotten my laptop cord, hee, hee, and he rushed me back. (I left him a nice tip for his effort and to appease my lie.)

Then I escaped through the boarding line the second time with my too-heavy suitcase. The guy in front of me wasn't so lucky. He was pulled out of line and his suitcase weighed, and I took the opportunity to scurry, fast, to the agent, hand over my boarding pass and practically sprint on the plane.

Then we flew and oh, the blue, blue sky. How nice it must be to be a bird, can you imagine the wonder and glory of flying?

I took a run today (of course). In fact, I brought almost no regular clothes but a pair of jeans and my lucky sweater. Everything else is running gear, hee, hee.

I learned fast that it's HILLY on Whidbey Island. Now, I'm used to running hills as in running up mountains, which is running extremely uphill on the way and extremely downhill on the way back. I'm not used to rolling hills, over and over, miles and miles of nothing but rolling hills.

The first four miles I felt strong. Then I turned around and ran a slight downhill grade for about two miles. I was feeling great, I was in the groove, I was loving it. Until I hit the first steep hill and my legs poofed out. They were jelly. They were mush. Granted, the hill was steep, but last week I was running up Lost Lake, which is a mountain and SO much bigger than a wimpy steep hill.

I gritted my teeth, I trudged. That's when I realized that my legs aren't used to running downhill and then back up again, over and over and over. I"m not sure why this would be but it must have to do with muscle formation. My downhill to uphill transitional muscles must be weak--is there even such a thing?. Whatever the case,. my heart sank when I came to another hill, and another. (The worst was when the school bus passed and I could feel all of those eyes on my poor struggling ass.)

The last half mile the hills were gentler and I picked up the pace. But I truly need to start running more rolling hills and not just steep mountain trails.

Back to writing, writing, writing all night, night, night. Hope everyone is having a great day, and to those of you in Alaska, there's no snow here, hee, hee, and warm enough for shirt sleeves when I run.

Running: 9 grueling miles

Reading: Short story collections

Writing: Oh my, yes!