Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon Race Report

Here is our race report and pictures from the Mayor's Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010 in Anchorage Alaska.

We arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday, June 15th and we were lucky enough to stay until Tuesday, June 22. We stayed with Bethany's parents who are in AK for the entire summer with the motor home (yes, they drove to AK from Cape Cod, MA).  We really didn't know what to expect for the race, although we heard a couple of interesting things about this course beforehand. We heard that it was hilly, and half of it was through rocky trails through the woods. We also heard that numerous grizzly bear maulings had occurred in the Far North Bicentennial Park, which we run through for a few miles during the race.

So, we got to Alaska on Tuesday and had a couple days to see the sights, beautiful mountains, walk on glaciers, acclimate ourselves to the time change, enjoy the midnight sun, and get ready for the race.

The race had a relatively small expo at a local Anchorage hotel, with some vendors and bib pick-up. The most interesting (and somewhat disconcerting) table at the expo was a table addressing Bear Awareness, and what to do if we encountered bears along the course.

Saturday morning, June 19th, we got to the race start about an hour or so before the race, and much to our surprise, there were only two other runners there already. I guess things are a little more laid back in Alaska. Most of the other 1,000+/- runners sauntered into the starting area with around 20-30 minutes before racetime. We did get to meet fellow blogger Becca from "Running Becca."

Our race plan was to just go with the flow, and kind of take whatever the course gave us (and avoid getting mauled by a bear.) So we enjoyed the first 7 miles which ran along bike paths along the highway, we cruised these miles around 9 min/mile pace. Then at mile 7, we took a turn into the woods, and that's when things got interesting. The next 10 miles or so were on extremely rocky (and somewhat hilly) trails through the woods. I'd compare it to running on a crushed golfball-sized rock driveway. (I still have bruises on the bottoms of my feet.) There were bear droppings everywhere, we had to cross a couple small creeks, and at points the trails narrowed down to some serious singletrack. We kept our eyes open, but didn't see any bears, thankfully. We slowed down a bit in this section, but picked things up a bit once we got out of the woods, to finish the last few miles on bike paths again. We finished with a time of 4:17:09, which put us around 300th out of 1000 runners. Our goal was to finish between 4:15-4:20.

The only complaint I have was that the race shirts were not given out at the expo, they were given out after the marathon. In addition to the marathon, there was also a 1.3 miler, 5 miler and a half marathon, all three races finished much earlier than the marathon, obviously. By the time the marathoners had finished, all the small T-shirts were long gone. I (Bethany) thought that was pretty lousy and very unfair. Not to down play anyone's accomplishment, but the marathon runners ran the furthest, did the most work and paid the most, it's not fair that there were only Large shirts left when we finished. I think races should give out the shirts at the expo, that way if you are worried about not getting the size you want, you just get to the race early. Fair and square. Well, the race shirts were realllllly cheap anyway so as soon as I saw them I didn't care about getting a big shirt. They were white cotton with a TINY logo on the front. Good thing we bought nice Brook's shirts at the expo! :-)

Overall, it was a fun race. Nothing too special about it, aside from the location. After the race, we refueled with some mix1, which we brought all the way to AK with us. We also got some AWESOME race pictures! Including a great one of us holding hands while crossing the finish line.

All in all, it was an amazing vacation, such a beautiful area, and we're already thinking of heading back someday to run Alaska's other marathon (Humpy's Marathon?).

We still can't believe what an amazingly beautiful place Alaska is. The whole trip was wonderful and still feels surreal. Originally we said it was a 'once in a lifetime vacation,' but we know we will definitely go back again someday!!!

 Pre-race, sporting out RaceMenu gear 

 The start line
Taken by Bethany's parents at mile 18

Mile 23 (mom and dad surprised us here! Thanks!)

Running to the finish

 He's fine, just taking a little rest :-)

**A special CONGRATS to Steve Taylor for finishing the Western States 100 Miler today!! You can check out his blog here**

Have a good week everyone!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We're Back From Alaska!

Hi everyone, we got back from Alaska this afternoon after the most amazing vacation ever! We have a lot of cleaning up to do and need to get to bed soon so here is just a quick update on our marathon and trip. We will most likely share all our pictures and stories with you over a few blog posts.

The Mayor's Marathon was on Saturday and we agreed to take it nice and easy and shoot for 4:15-4:20. Our actual time was 4:17:10. The course was pretty boring, mostly on bike paths and we had to run 9 miles off-road on a trail that was covered with loose rocks. The weather was perfect, 55 degrees with light rain.

Have you ever been to Alaska?? HOLY CRAP, you have to go. Everything about it was breath taking! We had an amazing time and squeezed SO much into 1 week. We were both very sad to leave and Bethany actually cried a bit as the plane took off. It was so sad to leave such a wonderful place. We said it was a once in a lifetime trip but after going we both agree that we MUST go back again!!!

Here are a few pictures from our week. Please pardon the same clothes in every picture, it was chilly and we could only pack so much...

 Portage Glacier kiss. We took a short boat ride out to see a glacier.

Saw this moose on the side of the road, pic taken from our car. We saw a total of 10 moose throughout the week.

Just arriving at the starting area race morning.

Alaskan Husky puppy and future Iditarod runner

Another Alaskan Husky/future Iditarod runner, soon after this pic the puppy fell asleep in my arms.

We hiked out to this glacier, freakin' amazing!

Panning for gold. Bethany got 1 little piece and her dad got about 4 pieces.

 This picture was taken around 11:00pm.

HUGE mountains EVERYWHERE!!!

The pictures on Ryan's camera are MUCH better. Look for more pictures and a race report soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leaving for Alaska!

Today we leave for Anchorage, AK! We fly from Boston to Denver, and Denver to Anchorage. We'll get in at 10:30pm AK time, 2:30am Boston time. Hopefully we will be able to snooze on the plane.
The marathon is on Saturday, we are just running it for fun, will probably finish around 4:15:00-4:20:00. Maybe even slower, we hear it's pretty hilly. Of course they are showing rain for the whole week!
 We will be staying with Bethany's parents who have been out in Alaska for about a month now. They drove there in their RV all the way from Cape Cod, MA, lol. They created a blog specifically for their trip so people back home could keep in touch. The stuff they have posted so far is amazing! Ryan and I can't wait!
Not sure if we will have access to the internet where we are staying. Mom says services comes and goes, so you may not hear from us until we get back on June 23rd. We will post then if not sooner!!!!!

So long for now!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pineland part 2, and Miss Bethany's Elbow-Licking

So here's part 2 of our Pineland Farms write-up. Today we'll be blogging about one of Ryan's favorite parts of the weekend. The trail running festival also had an event called the Canicross, an event that Ryan wishes he could do. The canicross is the sport of cross-country running while hitched to a dog. The dogs had little harnesses on that were attached to their human's waist. At this event there were dogs of all shapes and sizes, some that looked like they could run forever, and others that looked like they were just little lap dogs. However, all the dogs (and humans) did great, and it was quite an event to watch. Ryan's already recruiting a dog to run with at the next one. 

Here's the team that ended up winning, coming in under 20 minutes.

I love the dogs' enthusiasm.

Another action shot.

And now here's the pic you've all been waiting for. . . . Miss Bethany licking her elbow: