Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Run

Memorial Day weekend is probably my favorite holiday, and not because it usually falls on my birthday but because it reminds me of my father. He died when I was six and sometimes I think I've been missing him my whole life. When we were young, my mother and grandmother would take us to the cemetery and my sisters and I hopped from gravestone to gravestone, trying not to touch the grass as my mom and gramma fixed up their husbands' graves. It's a happy and comforting memory.

So today as I ran 13.3 miles in the sunshine I thought of many things: Life and death and choices and how random it all is, how the fact that we are all alive and breathing in such a small miracle. Because when you think about it, there is so much damned beauty in the world.

Here are a few pieces of beauty from today's run along Resurrection Bay:

And the loonnggg hill, which was so fun to run down and so not-so-fun to run back up on the way home:

The run went well. I ate organic cereal two hours prior and then half of a Shot Blok every 20-30 minutes during the run. Nutritionally, I felt strong.

The problem was the traffic. Since it's a holiday weekend Seward is packed with tourists, cruise ship passengers and Alaskans driving down from other parts of the state. I'm used to running in the middle of the road and alas, I had to run on the shoulder, which was narrow and sloped. Plus all of those RVs and rental cars zooming past--ugh!

Still, it was an awesome run and after I finished, I grabbed the dog and headed out to Fourth of July Beach, which is tucked away in a secret area that most tourists don't know about, and we like it that way just fine, thank you very much. I'll post pics of the beach later. It's incredible, like something out of a travel poster.

Running: 13.3 miles, 2 hours, 2 minutes 9:10 pace
Reading: "Fear of Flying," by Erica Jong  (Oh Erica, how I admire thee)
Writing: Almost finished with Chapter Four of my very, very final novel edits

My Sucky 10K Race

I ran a really sucky 10K race last weekend, the kind where you feel like crap from the very first step and want to quit the whole way and wonder why in the hell you paid money to do something so stupid as to run down a road in the middle of nowhere in Alaska for a lousy tee-shirt that probably won't fit.

That was me. I signed up for the Exit Glacier Run the day before the race, and forget the fact that I had just run a hard 12.5 miles, I was sure I would hit a 48:40 or, the worst case scenario, a 49:20.

I finished in 50:21. Worst yet they typed in my results wrong and credited me with 50:31.


I don't think I've ever felt so crappy during a race. I truly wanted to quit, and I never quit, not even in practice runs.

The race was over Exit Glacier Road (duh!), and they bussed us out to the start and let us loose to run back, which meant that we ran into a strong wind the whole way. But that wasn't the problem. It was me. I felt heavy and fatigued.

The course was marked in kilometers and by the time I reached the first, I was ready to quit. By the second, I was thinking of outs: I could pretend to fall and twist my ankle; I could fake an asthma attack.

The fourth kilometer was unspeakable, it was THAT bad. Luckily I was running with a woman named Jen from Anchorage (thanks, Jen!), and if not for her, I think I would have curled up on the side of the road and died.

When I hit the fifth kilometer marker, though, I knew I could finish. Three miles was the middle of a tempo run or a segment of a pace run. I could suffer that long. I even managed to pick it up the last mile and run a fairly decent 7:30 pace. But it was, as the old saying goes, too little too late.

It was a humbling experience and whacked my confidence a bit. I suppose it's good to get whacked every once in a while, though. It keeps one hungry for better things.

Running: Exit Glacier 10K: 50:21
Reading: "Slow Motion" Dani Shapiro

Tonsina Point Run

Tonsina Point! This is fast becoming one of my favorite runs. The trail is quirky and runs through creek runoff, making for steep and slick footing. Then, just when you're becoming impatient, it evens out to spruce forests and later, birch trees with soft, even footing.

The trail isn't very long but there are enough hills and switchbacks to give it a bit of heft. I went at low tide and was able to run on the beach.

The forest section on the way back (please excuse my dog's rump. She likes to show off sometimes).

Seward is a paradise when the sun shines. Unfortunately, it rains most of the time.

Last week it rained every day. Every. Day. Running in rain in 42 degrees temps is NOT pleasant. It's difficult to stay warm, impossible to stay dry. But as they say in 17th century novels: One must endure.

Running: 5 miles, today
7.4 miles pace yesterday, 60.23, 8:09 pace

Writing: Chapter Four final edit is NOT going well, sigh, sigh