Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alaska Mayors Half Marathon Recap

The long awaited Alaska Mayors Half Marathon was this past Saturday, in Anchorage, Alaska.  You may remember that my goal was to walk the entire thing.  I can tell you now that I failed at that.  My time was 2:36 and change (11:58 min/mile pace) which was obtained by alternating walking and running, approximately 2 minutes each, though I varied that depending on the terrain and how my knee was feeling.  To save energy/time, I'm just going to give you the highlights of the race.  I have added comments to the photos I took at the race, so you may be interested in clicking through those for more information than you might get in this post.  I pulled a DetroitRunner and took photos of the mile marker signs (except mile 1, you get a video of that one instead, and mile 13, you get mile 26 instead.)

One photo taken during the race.
Here we go:

  • Price.  The race registration was reasonable, in the $60s I think.  
  • Scenery.  The course was along the water, through a park.  Part of it was actually on trails.  Very pretty. 
  • Nice medal and T-shirt.  I love them both.  
  • Alaska.  'Nuff said.  
The trail part of the race! 
  • Mosquitos!  People were getting eaten alive at some points on the course.  We had heard the mosquitos were bad in Anchorage that weekend so we bought some bug spray the night before.  There were random people (non-official volunteers) out on the course offering bug spray to runners. 
  • Signage.  There were no direction signs on the course.  At any turn, the only guidance was a person standing there telling you which way to go.  This was not an issue for me, because I wasn't wearing headphones and also had plenty of people to follow, but there many people (including kids) that ended up on the half marathon course because they missed the turn for the 4 miler.  It didn't help that the kid calling directions at that split kept getting tongue tied.  He was trying to say "Half Marathon to the left, 4-miler to the right!".  What he ended up saying when I went by was; "Half MILER to the RIGHT.......I mean left!  4-miler to the right!".  Ummmm what now??
  • Hot for my taste, but it was okay because I wasn't going fast and didn't have a time goal.  Also might not have been an issue in previous/future years.  
  • Water??  There was no water stop until mile 4.  Way too hot for that.  The website had said water at mile 2.6, but I didn't see it, and neither did any of the other people I asked that were running near me around mile 3 when I was dying of thirst! 
  • You didn't get your shirt or your medal until you finished the race.  I have never seen this before (usually you get your shirt with your number at packet pickup) but apparently it is somewhat common at races in that area for some reason.  
  • They made you climb a nice steep hill at the very end, right before the finish.  Meanies! 
Apparently said hill has a name.  
As for my experience, I was really NOT looking forward to the race, the night before.  If it had been anything other than likely my only chance at running a race in Alaska, I wouldn't have even started.  I had a horrible cold and a nose running like a faucet.  I was blowing my nose so much that I actually caused it to bleed (on the outside, due to the repeated skin irritation).  Our hotel room was filled with Kleenex.  My legs were also horribly sore from a workout class I did on the cruise ship on Thursday.  Lots of squats and squat jumps, which I am NOT accustomed to, plus some glute exercises.  And then there was of course the knee question, and I had no idea what to expect in that department, since it had been a while since I'd tried anything on it.  (It did behave pretty well on a 7 mile hike on Tuesday, except for on the long downhills, and I did have my ITB strap on.).  But, like I said, it's Alaska, so I showed up and lined up.

While I was waiting to start, I programmed the virtual pacer on my watch for 12:00 min/miles and set up run/walk alerts for 2:00 min run/2:00 walk.  So my plan to walk the whole thing didn't last long, which is unfortunate, because I dressed for walking!  It got hot fast! Luckily, running cures everything, so my nose stopped running and leg soreness felt much better after I got moving.

I wasn't super consistent with my 2 min intervals, because I had to adjust it based on the terrain.  I had to walk a really long downhill because it hurt my knee to run it, and it took way longer than 2:00.  I also walked most of the trail section because everybody else around me was and it was too hard to navigate around them.  Toward the end I was trying to make up that time (I was more than 5:00 minutes behind my 12:00min/mile virtual pacer at one point), so I would run a little more (like 2:30 running to 1:30 walking).  It made for a very interesting looking pace plot!!

My knee behaved really well.  I did wear my ITB strap, and I'm convinced that that does help A LOT.  It only really hurt on downhill runs, and even then it was just discomfort, nothing excruciating.  I didn't get any sharp and debilitating pains until around mile 12, and at that point, what do you expect??  I haven't run at all since May 3rd except a 30 minute run /walk at a 00:30 to 4:30 run/walk ratio nearly a month ago.  I did do some hobbling and wincing that last mile, but it faded with walking and wasn't continuous.  It was really sore the next day and the plane ride home was no fun, but by the second day after the race I was able to walk normally and not favor it at all, which is a huge improvement.  The rest is finally paying off.  Better late than never! So, after a week to let the irritation calm down from this race, I'm going to start into the run/walk program progression.  Clearly I can walk for 30 minutes without pain now!  (Although the strap is still a variable.... I haven't tried without it....)  

Anyway, back to the race.  Here is a map of the course.  It was a lollipop route, and the return course was run with the marathoners.  

 If you want to zoom in or out or check out the satellite view, you can do so here:  Map and Elevation.  The course definitely wasn't flat, but it wasn't terrible either.  At least not for someone who wasn't running the whole thing and didn't have a time goal.  ;)

I just realized I don't have a good picture of the race shirt, so I took one on my computer as I'm typing this.  (Sorry it's a mirror image!)

 The medal is pretty pimp too.  Big and solid (TWSS!).   The marathon medals were even nicer.  Blue ribbon and silver medal (vs red and copper colored for the half).  I have pics of them in my photo album if you want to check them out.  I do like that they gave distance specific shirts and medals.
The Solstice Festival took place in downtown Anchorage the same day as the race, so that was a nice perk.  Photos from that are also available for your viewing pleasure.  

There's a photo of the race shirt after all!  I have no idea who that kid is.  
In summary, I'm glad I did the race, but I probably wouldn't do it again.  It was something to do once, but not awesome enough to warrant a return trip.  If you ever decide to do it, I would do like Jeff and I did, and visit other locations in Alaska, not just Anchorage.  Anchorage itself was nothing special, at least not compared to the other awesome places we visited leading up to the race!  (You'll hear more about those another day.)  Oh, and it's true, it is daylight at midnight.  Unfortunately, it's just not that interesting to someone who sleeps during the day every day! :)  Jeff was amused though.  

So what was that, half marathon number 5 this year?  Not that I'm counting.  Thirteen is out the window unless I want to heavily load the back half of the year and end up re-injured.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I loved the run/walk thing!  If I can pull off 11:58 pace with 50% walking, imagine what I can do with more weight on the running side!  75/25 or 90/10 run/walk intervals.  I think I'll try it.  I heard a dad talking to his daughter as I went by (I must have leapfrogged with them before).  He said "I love that lady. She's got the right pace.  And she gets to mix it up with walking!"  Damn straight.  

And now...time to get ready for work, my first night after like 12 nights off!  And only 12 shifts left, before I start my operating room internship (which, obviously, I accepted).  

1 comment:

  1. "Pulled a Detroitrunner" ha love it. It looks nice. The medal looks incredible.


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