Alaska: Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half Marathon

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I was in a hurry to get Alaska done. My “strategy” is to do a mix of close and far away states during a year so that I’m not left with a lot of expensive travel in the final races of my Run50. Alaska is the furthest state from me, so I started looking for runs. This one happens on the Saturday after the summer solstice! I actually expected this run to take place in the evening, but it starts in the morning.

The Training
As I’ve mentioned several times because I am a person who cannot stop talking about it, I am training for a marathon in October. But I have let myself slack a little in May and June because it’s so. Flipping. Hot.

I have noticed some improvement during my training runs though. Even though I feel slower, it looks like my pace is actually improving. But this race has shown me that I still have a long way to go. Plus, I still have issues figuring out how to run at a specific pace rather than just going for it and hoping for the best (my usual MO).

The Run
I’m used to starting in waves. In particular, I am used to starting in the last wave. For the half at least, there were no waves — only direction to hang back if you’re a slower runner and get up front if you’re a faster runner. I hovered near the middle and ended in the back of the pack anyway.

The course started and ended in Delaney Park. It went along the Coastal Trail, part of the road by the FedEx airport?, through a wooded trail area, and then back on the Coastal Trail. I need to do a better job of reading about these courses in advance because I didn’t realize this was considered a hilly course until well after I had registered. And it was a hilly course. I felt pretty confident about hills thanks to Nashville, but I think that was overconfidence. The hills were long.

So I sort of expected the hills, but I did not expect the trail. It really slowed a lot of people down. It was a beautiful part of the course, but it was muddy and narrow and full of trip hazards. I have zero trail running experience, and this did not endear it to me.

Runners were warned about mosquitoes, bears, moose, and other wildlife. I saw none of these! I’m not complaining about the lack of mosquitoes, but everyone did warn how terrible they would be. I think the cold weather kept them away. If they had been out, I’m sure the trail would have been 110x worse.

I’m bitching a lot, but the course was truly wonderful. It was pretty narrow for the most part which limited spectators, so that was a bummer, but the sights more than made up for it. I thought it could have used a couple of more water stations, but the stations never seemed close to running out of anything and they offered water, Gatorade, orange slices, and pretzels. Like. Amazing.

What was especially fun about this race is that I found myself chatting with several people. Usually, I hate this! But a nice woman I was somewhat pacing spent mile 12 speaking with me about other races she has participated in and ones that are upcoming. She was a delight and really helped get me through that mile (which I mostly walked).

The last .10. Oh boy. So mile 12 was a struggle for me, more mental than physical, but I had absolutely planned on booking it to the finish line. And I did! Then when I was literal FEET away from the finish, my left calf suddenly cramped so badly I stumbled. I had to adjust my leg a little so that my jog to finish became an uneven shuffle, but I made it and got to hear my name get mispronounced. Memories. <3 <3

Takeaways
I would absolutely recommend this race. The pre-race food offerings are great and FREE, and the post-race offerings are even better and still FREE. Like, slices of local freshly baked bread, fruit, and sandwiches. The runners are really supportive of each other.

In case it wasn’t clear, this was not a great run for me as far as time and physicality. This is my last half for the year, so I need to focus more on my marathon training. I plan on getting a check up to have my left leg looked at because KT tape and Excedrin aren’t cutting it anymore. Is my left leg to blame for my bad run? Nah. No excuses. I just got careless with my training. But I still want my leg looked at before October.

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