What a wonderful racing experience. It was exactly the motivation I needed to get back into distance running. The course was just as written - challenging, but beautiful. The hills between miles 3-5 were wicked, but nothing compared to the long incline at mile 9 and the very challenging half mile incline at mile 12-ish. By the time I finished the unforgiving hill at mile 12, the less than half-mile finish was relatively easy!
mile 1 - 11:02 (too many walkers in the front-lots of dodging)
mile 2 - 10:18 (can't leep up this pace for 11 more miles)
mile 3 - 10:49 (this feels much better)
mile 4 - 11:08 (that felt like a little bit of a hill, right?)
mile 5 - 11:55 (ok, quads are telling me that was a hill)
mile 6 - 10:49 (better - this seems to work for me)
mile 7 - 11:51 (hello, trails - I don't remember reading about you)
mile 8 - 11:34 (still trails, but picking up the pace thanksfully)
mile 9 - 12:45 (ok, that was a monster incline - whoa, nelly!)
mile 10 - 10:50 (where did this energy come from? oh yes, powerbar!)
mile 11 - 10:44 (are we there yet?)
mile 12 - 10:57 (must hurry)
mile 13 - 12:59 (ok, THAT clearly kicked my ass)
.1 - 00.75 (uhm, Garmin swears this was 13.29 miles with my finish in 2:27:46.
The first 3 miles were run along Northern Lights Boulevard to help weed out the crowds. I really do dislike walkers who line up near the front. I never know if it's a newbie move, or just plain lack of running etiquette. We ran past the airport, which was weird seeing planes about to land overhead. At mile 4, I stopped to take a picture and a lady came up to me to tell me that if I looked off in the distance, I could see Denali. So awesome! Around mile 5.5-6.5 we turned onto an access road which made footing difficult (very rough, uneven road and my least favorite of the course). Then totally unexpectedly, we veered into the forest. We started out on a wide bridal trail, mostly of grass, then the course narrowed to single track before spilling out onto the Coastal Trail. The beauty was breathtaking and all around us. The greenery, the water, the view. At mile 8.5-9.0 you could see downtown Anchorage from a distance. Funny moment was when I ran into Gumby at mile 12 - he was holding a sign that said he was a better running partner than Sarah Palin! Just the laugh I needed!
Start line (love taking pics to show the crowds). Greg swore that was Teen Wolf in front of me!
This picture was around mile 4. The view of the mountains in the distance was just simply awe-inspiring!
Somewhere around mile 7-8. The picture doesn't fully show how beautiful the canopy of trees were.
The beauty before the storm. When we popped out of the secluded portion of the trail, we were greeted by this view - right before being greeted by mile 9's incline - argh! You can see downtown Anchorage in the distance.
Meg took this picture right after I finished. Loved the medal, but loved having my family with me even more!
Kim and I posing with a moose - cheesy, but so much fun!
Loved this race. I totally enjoyed myself. I took pictures along the way, chatted with runners, thanked EVERY volunteer and police officer, and was thrilled to receive my medal (which was awesome since it had the state of Alaska on one side). As usual, Megan greeted me in the runners corral as I was trying to grope my way to the food tent and Bridget eventually found me and gave me a bouquet of the biggest dandelions she could pick.
Best runner's food was by far the fresh-baked cinnamon chip bread with a table full of whipped butter. I even got an end piece - my favorite! Orange slices, fresh watermelon, and bananas were wonderful to eat. No stale half-sliced bagels!
Small race, which I do love. I really don't enjoy the monster-size races of 25,000+ participants. I think this race had around 3,000-4,0000 for the marathon, half-marathon, and 5k races. Perfect. I only had to wait 2-3 minutes to cross the start line (I hate waiting 20+ minutes to cross the start line). The weather was perfect - mid 50s, slight breeze, and sunny - couldn't asked for a better day!
All in all, I give this race 5 stars. Can't think of anything to change and would recommend the half marathon to anyone wanting a good reason for visiting Alaska.
And did I mention, I checked off the 31st state!