While summer’s only just starting to wind down for you guys down in the Lower 48, in Alaska, it already came and went. I figure it’s a good time to share some of the highlights, challenges and stories of my summer with you all who make this possible!
Summer started with a bang! May featured the typical dream life of crust skiing in the morning, either in town or at Hatcher Pass when work allowed a late start to the day, then finishing the day with a post-work run on dry(ish) trails. The beginning of weekends spent exploring the mountains, hunting for morels and fishing all filled up my Alaska happiness bucket. Work took off with summer programming and events flooding the calendar. With strong coworkers and an exceptionally supportive director, I managed to keep the load of training and work aligned a bit better than in years past. A quick 3 day trip down to Wisconsin to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and see my extended family after an almost 10 year hiatus made the kick off to the summer a whirlwind.
In June, a lot of the strong younger athletes from the Lower 48 came up to join APU’s team training for a couple of months. The influx of some strong competitive spirits and a lot of determination and focus raised the quality of our team training sessions to the next level, and you could find motivation and enthusiasm every day. As per usual, I jumped into a few of the Alaska mountain running races, including iconic Mount Marathon. I had a tough day at the Bird Ridge Climb a few weeks before, racing well off my time from 2019, but the fun of Mount Marathon made me quickly forget that struggle-bus of a day. In Seward, at the “Alaska Olympics”, I matched my uphill time to the top from my 2018 time (which I was happy with considering the rocks were slick on the way up from rain), and miraculously I lowered my downhill time by several minutes. I say ‘miraculously’, because I truthfully did not practice any downhill running. I guess three more years of mountain running under your belt does produce some improvement! #perseveranceforthewin
July brought some fun long mountain adventures, including Skyline Traverse and a solo Devil’s Pass to Cooper Landing 27-mile run through prime bear country. I had never attempted a big solo run in Alaska and I was nervous because of all the bear stories you hear. I decided that as long as I carried bear spray, made noise and was alert, I could safely take on the challenge. I was so empowered by accomplishing that run that I truthfully enjoyed all 4 hours. I also did a lot of salmon fishing, including a one night dipnetting frenzy at the Kenai River, where Lex and I caught 35 fish on one outgoing tide. That was followed by a bleary-eyed 1am drive back to Anchorage. Between the fish and August blueberry picking weekends, the freezer is full! I ended the month by saying goodbye to my twenties, and spending the first day of my thirties running (of course) to a third place finish at the Alyeska Cirque Race (second woman to the top though!).
While August plans for an altitude camp in Utah were derailed by the wildfire smoke suffocating the American West, ironically we had to buckle up and brace for one of the rainiest Augusts I’ve seen in Alaska. There were days I did hard intervals in two raincoats and rain pants, which tested both my lungs and muscles, and my mental fortitude.
I managed to get a little break from the rain by heading to Portland, Oregon for my sister’s wedding over Labor Day. I went down a week early to sneak in some adventure running time at Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. I was blown away by the beauty of the Mt. Hood area and I cannot wait to return to tackle the entire Timberline Trail that circumvents the volcano.
The summer also included weekly Mountain View Boys & Girls Club Run + Ski + Bike Club practices (I think we should just start calling it “Outdoor Club”). Each Wednesday we came to the club and took a cadre of up to two dozen kids biking around the neighborhood or down the Ship Creek trail. With consistent weekly practices, and the strong support of the best volunteer coaches we’ve had yet, we got to know some of the kids really well. The highlight of the summer was the two field trips we took to Glen Alps in July and Alyeska in Girdwood in August. A lot of logistical planning had to go into each trip, including transportation, COVID protocols, permission slips, sponsorships, snacks, etc. We had record turnout for each trip. Over 20 kids hiked up the new Little O’Malley trail out of Glen Alps. A few older ones ran up the entire trail (in Crocs!), racing to see who could touch the snow field at the top first. In August, on a typical Girdwood stormy day, Alyeska Resort donated tram rides and guided our group through the Alyeska bowl, looking at the glacier, the glacial creeks and the high peaks surrounding Girdwood. None of the kids had been on the tram before, and very few of them had ever been to Girdwood. Watching their reactions to the swinging of the tram is something I won’t forget. Into the fall, we are back to normal weekly practices, and the minute we have snow on the ground, we will break out the skis to get kids back skiing!
From a training perspective, we now are in an intensity block with intervals every other day for a couple weeks. The reward of getting through some of the toughest weeks of the year is the return to one of my favorite places: Park City in October for a fall altitude camp with the US Ski Team. But until then, I’ll just keep watching the snow creep down the mountains and hopefully I’ll be able to sneak a few fishscale skis in before leaving.
Thank you for reading! I’ll send a few more regular updates now as the season approaches so please unsubscribe below if you do not want to receive these emails.
And one last shameless plug to the companies, organizations and brands that make this journey possible: Rossignol Nordic, Alpina, Toko US, Altra Running, Polar USA, Out There Nordic, the Simon Family, and National Nordic Foundation. And of course, a big thank you to APU Nordic Ski Center for providing the home for all of the hard work to happen.
Thanks for reading! Take care!