I went into this race without much of a goal. After talking with Jess, I was supposed to just run off of feel. If I was tired, don’t push. If I felt like it, go for it. I knew I would be doing a lot of sight seeing and the time change would be rough and I really wanted to enjoy the race. I set a goal for myself to finish between 1:40-1:45. If I wanted to take pictures, I would stop and do so. No PR pressure. Plenty of time left this training cycle to see how well I can do.
I plan on posting an entire Alaska post, so this will be about the race. Abby, Sally, and myself picked up our race packets on Thursday (since we had Friday glacier cruise plans). The expo was small and organized. I think this is the only race I’ve done so far that didn’t give you the race shirt upfront.Abby and I took advantage of the free chiro services. I had my hip worked on (much needed after 7 hours of flying) and she had her shin taped.I will be honest, I hadn’t really looked at race day weather since I left Atlanta. I saw the Mayor’s Marathon facebook page mention something about rain on Friday night and realized that it must not be good. YOU. HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING. ME. I swear, rain follows me wherever I race. I have only finished 4 races this year WITHOUT rain. And, this was the ONE day of our entire trip with projected rain. 40-90% chance for the morning.
We woke up Saturday morning to a cold drizzle. The race didn’t start until 9, and we woke up around 6:30 (body still adjusting to the time change). I did the usual: Nuun energy and breakfast. Initially I was going to wear a tank and arm sleeves, but decided to switch to short sleeves (so glad I did) to not get as wet/cold. We had plenty of time to get ready, and our Airbnb host, Heather, was super nice and offered to drive us to the start since it was raining.
We had about 20 minutes to kill once she dropped us off and we stayed under a tent to stay as dry as we could. I skipped my mile warmup because I just couldn’t bring myself to run in the rain before I absolutely had to.
The first 3-4 miles were easy. The rain wasn’t too bad and I was starting to warmup. I can now look back and say I started way too fast (another downhill start) and felt comfortable on the coastal trail (where I had run on Thursday morning), which was the first part of the race. I knew exactly what to expect.
It started to suck right after mile 5. We hit a headwind that was between 20-30 miles an hour. The rain literally felt like needles hitting my face. My pace dropped and there was no point in fighting it and wasting all my energy. It wasn’t a goal race and I was trying to have fun.
The course turned around mile 6 and I was hoping that meant no wind. What I didn’t realize is that it meant we were on trails. MUDDY trails. I slowed down, not worth twisting my ankle or falling, and was thankful that I was at the front of the race. I couldn’t imagine what those trails were going to look like in an hour or so. I was surprised at the people flying down them, I just didn’t trust myself. My music stopped around this point (assuming I lost my signal in the woods with spotify so silence for a while) and I just focused on the scenery.
A little ways into Mile 7 and the course ended up back on the coastal trail. I was able to regroup and get back to what felt comfortable. I found myself looking down a lot to avoid puddles, but wanted to look around for animals. I’m glad I did, because I saw a moose! I’m mad at myself for not stopping to take a picture, but I was finally getting back in a groove and didn’t want to pull my phone out of the ziplock and deal with it. I yelled, “Moose!” and the guy behind me was just as excited and yelled too. Apparently we were around locals because no one else seemed to care.
The course did an out and back, the back half being on the paved trail part and the first half more on a real road. So of course, we hit the same sideways hard wind. It only lasted a mile or so, and I was thankful to be tucked back in the woods/trees avoiding a lot of it.
The last few miles were uneventful. I was surprised/impressed to see people out cheering in the weather, but it was a nice distraction. Not that I didn’t enjoy the course, I think it just wasn’t as exciting because it’s was the same part of my run from Thursday and the weather was so nasty.
The last half mile or so was uphill…I gave it what I had and finished.
For the weather and muddy trails, I am very happy with my time. I hit my goal. I’m definitely learning that I need to slow it down in the beginning.
It’s funny to look at my splits and see the exact correlation to the downhill start, headwinds, trails, and uphill finish. Otherwise, I’m quite consistent.
I grabbed my medal, cup of water, shirt and did a cool down mile. I went back to the finish to grab post race food and to cheer for Sally and Abby, who both did great!! They grabbed their goodies and we walked back to our house to shower and get ready for brunch. We spent the afternoon hanging out in Anchorage.
This wasn’t high on my list of favorite races. I think if the weather had been nicer, I would’ve really enjoyed the views more. It was pretty much a no frills race (I really do wonder where those race fees go) and there are definitely some things that could be changed to make it better.
- post race food (great harvest breads, watermelon, oranges, bananas)
- seeing a Moose
- Um, it’s ALASKA
Not so Much
- weather (can’t control but does affect opinion. It rained the ENTIRE 13.1, 20-30mph winds on some parts of course)
- lack of course communication (no course description. Not even in race guide. Just elevation chart)
- race communication (issues with start line having to be clarified in an email the night before is not okay)
- muddy trail in non trail shoes
- unisex shirts
I actually really like the medal. Partly because it’s two sided with Moose on the back (I’m slightly obsessed with them). I don’t mind that the shirt is orange, but wish they had gender specific sizes. The smallest they had was a Men’s small. First come first serve shirts at the finish, and that really sucks if you weren’t fast enough to get the size you wanted. Based on the fact that over 1100 of the 1800 finishers were women, they may want to change that.
All along, I knew this would be my Alaska race. I really planned a long vacation around it and that is the highlight (very detailed post on trip to come soon). The race was NOT the highlight. It truly was something to check of my racing the states list in the middle of a really cool trip to Alaska. I recommend this race simply for planning a vacation, not for the race itself. Out of all of my races, it falls in the middle. Not my favorite, not the worst.
What’s the furthest place you’ve traveled to race? Do you feel like you are lucky or unlucky in weather on race day? What’s the craziest animal you’ve run into during a race?