Monday, July 23, 2012

Fairbanks, Alaska, July 22, 2012

This quote from a very good friend came to mind as I was running the 47th annual Gold Discovery Run - a 16.3-mile adventure just north of Fairbanks - in Fox, Alaska on Sunday.

I'm not the biggest fan of trail running in the world, but it can be a nice diversion from road races. My friend, Becky Spaulding, would probably like to see me do more trail races than road or at least she keeps trying to talk me in that direction.

I stated yesterday that I was going to get back into Tony Dungy's daily devotional book, "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge".

"We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, "What amazing things the Lord has done for them." - Psalms 126:2.

Dungy's point was that "Christians can be some of the most dour people on the planet."

He added, "Times can get tough. I know; I've been there. But as followers of and believers in Jesus Christ -- if we have asked Him into our lives -- we have the joy and hope of the Lord of lords and the King of kings in our lives."

I didn't read the July 22 entry in his book until after we made it back to the hotel here in downtown Fairbanks, but I was reminded of feeling joy of doing something different and thankful that I had the opportunity and the ability to do so.

And more importantly it was a welcome respite from some negativity that I shouldn't have been embracing.

But back to running, the vacations that I take my daughter, Waverly, on always seem to be adventures and it is something that I annually look forward to.

We kind of plan on some major things that we want to do, where we want to go and then work details in between.

It seems like most major vacations have always included a race or two, and I'm thankful that Waverly lets me enjoy that opportunity.

While I was running on Sunday, I thought about all of the years and all of the places that I've had a chance to compete in over time while we've been on vacation.

Here's a little bit of a recap:

2011 - Kona Marathon

2010 - Lewis and Clark Half Marathon (Bozeman, MT) and the Bear Lake Half Marathon in Garden City, Utah plus the Altoona (PA) Summer Biathlon and the Meet the Press 5K in Washington, D.C.

2007 - Lander (WY) Half Marathon and the Leadville (CO) Heavy Half Marathon

2006 - Squamish (BC) Days 10K

2004 - Cigna Healthcare Corporate Road Race 5K in Manchester, NH.

It seems like in other years, a race has been incorporated here or there but nothing is coming to mind and Athlinks wasn't triggering anything either.

There have been other times - such as the Philadelphia Marathon the last two years, the Alpharetta (Ga.) Marathon and the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in Parkersburg, West Virginia - where Waverly has come along for the trip. (Three out of those four have been to visit my grandparents.)

Two races this past weekend. The Alaska Men's Run in Anchorage on Saturday and the aforementioned race on Sunday.

I ran the Alaska Men's Run - a 5-miler - in a pretty good time for me, 48:12. It is a pace of 9:38/mile and just a few weeks ago, I finished a 10K in Texas City at a 10:17 pace. Yes, I know. Temperatures and humidity make a major difference, but I've been running better as a result of better and more consistent workouts.

It is very possible that the 48:12 may have even been a PR for me.

The Gold Discovery Run was tough. It had 1,648 feet of elevation gain, despite 3,198 feet of drop. Plenty of water on the course with a lot of the recent rains, especially on Saturday, that moved through the region.

It started high atop Cleary Summit and near the Fort Knox mine put. Interesting, to say the least.

Mile 1 -- 11:23.40
Mile 2 -- 12:42.72
Mile 3 -- 10:56.84
Mile 4 -- 11:37.25
Mile 5 -- 15:10.29 (included time going to "The Rock")
Mile 6 -- 13:47.87
Mile 7 -- 14:08.47
Mile 8 -- 12:12.26 (mostly downhill)
Mile 9 -- 14:08.46
Mile 10 -- 9:58.44 (definitely downhill)
Mile 11 -- 11:05.02
Mile 12 -- 13:46.60
Mile 13 -- 10:23.54
Mile 14 -- 10:54.25
Mile 15 -- 11:39.81
Mile 16 -- 12:07.43
Last .3 -- 3:59.29

Used the trail running axiom and approach of "walking the uphills and try to run everything else". Just two aid stations over the course -- one close to mile seven (7) with a cup-rationing worker and another just after mile 14.

Never saw any pre-race instruction about carrying water, but I'm glad that I carried two bottles the entire way. Of course, that is just getting ready for Rocky Raccoon in February.

The last mile was even slightly uphill and the downhills were actually punishing on the quads.

All in all, a great experience.

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