Alaska Part Two

If you have a free hour with Dave and Michelle they make sure to make the most of it so next up was a stop to Lululemon Athletica. And thought it was just a showroom, it was an awesome (as always) visit as the ladies there were as friendly and as active as at any store I have been to. The store manager asked me all my opinions on their clothes and did not avoid any questions. She let us sit on the ski lift seat to take an awesome picture and the other associate had run five marathons! I could tell even Liz enjoyed our visit there and she is not a Lulu regular at all. Not everyone agrees but Lulu should be the official sponsor for marathoning.

We went to dinner that night organized by our Michelle. It was a really good showing considering how far out Alaska is! We had at least 20 and I was lucky enough to meet a couple new maniacs at the event. Though I met several people at the dinner, a few stood out as always. It was great to see extremely fast Marc and Amy and talk with them. Does talking to a fast runner make you faster? It was also great to catch up with Denis (though his obsession with times put off more than a couple runners) and Mike had a breakdown on the course elevation that I paid attention to and was thankful for the next day. Jorge, was another runner I met for the first time and we found out we were both aiming for a 3:15.

Pictures were taken in bunches. Dinner was served and was excellent. And Michelle gave out the door prizes which are always a huge success. I did not win but I was jealous of the person who won the French Fries flavored chap stick! Of course, it was great to enjoy a local ale. I used to never drink before a race but now I make sure to enjoy a local brew whenever I can. The winning brew for me is still the Jalapeno Cream Ale in Park City, Utah at Wasatch Brewery.

The next morning could not come quick enough! Honestly, it really did because I was still waking up at 5 AM and it was a nine AM start. I will be honest, it was raining and the last thing I wanted to do was get up and hang out in the rain. The picture was at 7:50 just before the early start. I did not want to go early but it lessened to a sprinkle and I headed out with Dave for the early picture and we lined up for the Marathon Maniac picture with a bunch of first timers and early starters who I think believed it was normal to do a picture before the run. There was not much time to spare before the early starters lined up. A race official got all our attention and announced a bear was on the course with her cub! It was pretty exciting to hear a bear had been spotted at mile 9! No one ever saw the big lady after that but to hear that before the race starts can be exhilarating!

The early group took off and there was nothing more to do so we spent about an hour at Kalani before we got around to it. They opened early in the morning on this day and I hope they did fantastic! I love it when local businesses accommodate the marathon. I know they got a win out of Michelle. She went there again that night. I was able to try and gleam any information I could out of Amy and Marc. Man they are fast. I can only dream!

The start was like any other and I even ran into a friend Kevin from Florida. I am not sure how I have run into the same guy in Florida, Hawaii, Arkansas and Alaska. This was a bad sign. He passed me in every other race around mile 16. I get out fast but his consistency gets the better of me! He recognized me and we said our hello’s. Michelle also came up and talked to him as well – we really are one happy running family. We took off and it was a mile through city streets of twisting and turning. Then the course straightened out around mile 1.5 to go onto a trail. The trail was mostly through forested land, a bit winding and far from boring. I was able to keep a good pace through the first six miles and felt really good.

At mile 6 and a half or so there was a big cheering section and I thought I was running alone but the first female was just behind me and trust me, you always know when she is coming through! People love to cheer her on and it seems like she is usually a local especially when she is around me at Mile 6. Dave had started before me and we had thought I would run into him at Mile 6 but he was not there. I actually did not pass him until Mile 11! Dave was having a great race! He snapped a picture of me as I went by and I was running alone but I was not losing pace either. I was able to keep the pace up until Mile 12 and was feeling great! I was nervous about that time…

Until the crowd cheered me on at Mile 12 and when I looked at my watch at Mile 13? They had pushed me to my best mile since Mile 2! I had to think strategy at this point. I had hoped to hit the halfway point at 1:30 which would give me 15 minutes of cushion for a BQ and when I hit halfway I was still at 1:31. Not bad at all! I kept the pace up and at Mile 16 we made the turn to go on the same path as the half marathoners. So now the traffic was going both ways. It can get a bit crowded sometimes but it is also nice to see friendly smiling faces coming at you. I will be honest – sometimes it can get a bit lonely up front. I was passed by a guy at Mile 13 but did not pass or get passed by another runner until Mile 18. I was still within .1 of a mile of him at Mile 17.

I hit the Mile 20 point and I was slowing down but I kept checking my watch and I knew I was good. I knew I needed to average 7:22 miles overall and I was still way below that. I figured if I kept running 8’s I would come in around 3:12 – perfect! And on top of that, after listening to Mike I knew the last mile was uphill so I needed extra time. At this point I started seeing all my friends and kept pushing and trying to wave at them. They were a lot friendlier than I was – I was on a mission!

I hit the hill and at first I looked good but I kept slowing and eventually when it ended I was totally jazzed. All I had was .4 left and I was at 3:11! Then it hit me. The hill was not over. As a matter of fact the worst part was yet to come. What I had not realized was that even though the trail had a hill, the hill on the road was much steeper! I struggled up that hill and was passed by two runners with ease. My left leg hurt and I was struggling! How long could this hill be? But the second I got to the top of that hill? I turned it on and ran it in to a 3:13:43 – BQ!!!!

I went over and had a couple beers with Amy and Marc. They had both came in second overall and were satisfied with their runs even if a little disappointed in the placing. I was able to meet a local runner that had run her way to a BQ as well. We had a nice time chatting and when Michelle came in to yet another BQ her and my new friend got along famously as well. I found out after the race my new friend Jorge missed his BQ. It was nice to see Dave beat the cutoff time and claim the state as well. He was doing really well until he got to taking pictures and then he took things much easier. That doesn’t matter though. That is what Dave is loved for – great race pictures. Liz commented she did not even catch up with him until Mile 22.

After washing up, Dave and I barely had time to ourselves before checking out and heading over to the after party. Marc and Amy had secured the largest table and were into drinks already. I made sure to make sure they did not feel like alcoholics. The food was good and the company was great. We ran into a lot of our friends from the night before and I was able to meet Marina White – the youngest woman ever to complete 100 marathons. I wish I would have gotten to know her better but really that is all it takes, an opening, and the next time you see each other odds are on the running paths you will be friends for life. We had to leave before the festivities really began to catch our flights but I believe the four of us were quite pleased with the entire trip.

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