Jingle in July – Post Race Recap

I haven’t done a real good running post in awhile!! This should be exciting! Check out my Jingle in July – Pre Race Review.

For the sake of seriousness of this race….I had none! lol! Seriously, I really didn’t expect to do anything of value during this race. After all, I was on vacation. I mean, I’m not a lazy vacationer, we went hiking and walked a lot, but I was’t running. Luckily, it was only a 5K.

I found this race the same way I find most of my races, just searching the Running in the USA website. It did look fun! And it was, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t going into this race with much “race attitude.” With that said, do you guys ever sign up for a just for fun race, but still have a secret, potentially unrealistic, goal?? In the back of my head, I had the notion that being at pretty close to sea level, maybe I could potentially set a PR……maybe.

However unrealistic my secret goal was, I had to complete my race no matter what! After all, why go all the way to Alaska and not run a race!?

For good measures, I brought my santa hat all the way from Colorado just for this one day. (And yes, I DID get to meet Santa!)

HO HO HO

I do not recommend wearing a santa hat on any other regular run because it was a sweaty, hot mess. I couldn’t put my hair in a pony tail, I had to braid it, which added to the hot messy-ness.

Sexy and I know It

The event was pretty fun indeed – minus the horrible christmas music (yes, they even had N’sync christmas carols). They started this event off with a costume contest. The winners were a bunch of clowns – literally. I don’t like clowns, so there will be no pictures of that. The king and queen of the North Pole were there (and they were not just for the costume contest – as much as I understood, I believe the city of North Pole votes on a king and queen every year). Shortly after, a local fitness club did a warm up zumba dance routine. Not too many of the crowd participated as most were just watching the cute leader instead.

Our race packet included jingle bells of course! I tied mine to my shoes!

Finally, it was race time. I actually was getting nervous, strangely enough. There’s something about a starting line that really can kick your competitive drive on. I sized up the crowd of about 400 participants, maybe I could turn this into something good! I waited for count down – brought to us my Santa of course –  and we were off!

The starting line

THE COURSE ITSELF: The course was pretty decent. Half asphalt/sidewalks and half gravel. Starting at the Santa Claus House, the first part wound through a wildlife refuge area with lots of shade and pretty views. The second half of the race was just on the roads around town. No hills, luckily for me, I don’t think I would have made it up any hills!

THE RACE: For a majority of this race, some young kid chose to pace with me. I’m pretty sure he as like 12 years old, and I laughed in my head at his immature, gangly-ness. He was a decent but clumsy runner, and I’m sure as he gets older he will get much better form, but I left him in the dust!

It was an hot day, actually. Well, warm. I should have ran in shorts, but that’s ok. The hat didn’t help either. Despite the unexpected heat, I did set a PR!!! Crazy, huh!? So, my new 5k PR is officially 24:15.6! WOOT! Only a handful of seconds faster, but still! I also placed 12 our of 240 women. I’m pretty proud of myself. My awesome, personal photographer got some pretty awesome running shots of me too!

I’m laughing at Alaska Man

There are two things I didn’t like about this event is 1) It took a week and a half to get the posted race times, which I’m really disappointed about. I spoke to one of the directors at the race, and he told me they would be online and in the paper. For obviously reasons, I wouldn’t get a paper (he actually was super nice, and after telling him I was from CO, he was super excited that I had come all this way). I also contacted the listed email for the event (who was different than the man I spoke to) and she emailed me back saying they would be posted sometime last week. She gave me the link to the same jingle in july website where I was already looking. Finally, a week and a half later, I got my official time. Without it, I would have had to claim my new PR as unofficial – and I also couldn’t remember the exact time!

Number 2) thing that I didn’t like about this race was that it was a one of those events where they constantly want you to raise money for their foundation. Even when you register is asks for an additional donation. Now don’t get me wrong, I choose to do events where the proceeds go to good causes and charities, however, I’m not a fan of the ones that want you to select a goal fundraising price, and expect you to email all your family and friends to pledge their money – maybe if it was a cause that was super dear to my heart it would be slightly different. But so far, I have yet to find that one cause that gets me in the fundraising mood. It reminds me of when I was in high school volleyball and we had to do letter writing campaigns to send to our family asking for money, and I hated it. This foundation even sent me A LOT of emails before the actual event just asking if I raised money, and I only registered 4 days before! It was kind of annoying.

Overall, though, it was a great day, good run…they even had hotdogs for a post race snack!! Here some more awesome running shots by my personal photographer!!

I don’t know how well you can see it, but there’s totally a guy puking up ahead of me in this photo!

Right before the finish line, I saw the clock and HAD to get a PR!

Alaska Part 2!

Our story of Alaska continues! If you read my last post, you saw my journey on the train to Seward and my crazy Mt. Marathon climb. After we came back from the coast, we spent a few days in the valley, in Palmer, where the Alaskan Man lives. It was a nice couple of days just relaxing around the house not doing much except spending quality time with Alaskan Man.

On the 4th we went on a nice, cool hike in Hatcher Pass. The great thing about the valley is you’re only 30 minutes from SOO many different, beautiful areas and fun things to do. Hatcher Pass is up through some pretty green mountains. You can park in one of the lots and just hike around in the blueberry fields, or drive up farther and hike around a lake. There’s a lot of area to enjoy the outdoors in without the crowd. Hatcher Pass is home to the Independence Mine that was shut down back in 1951. You can do underground mine tours and it’s said that there’s plenty of gold left to find! In the nearby river, you could even pan for gold!

Hatcher Pass

We just found some random trails and meandered around enjoying the views. The mountain air up there was crisp and fresh! I didn’t want to leave!

Friday, we rented a car and drove to Fairbanks. We actually got to drive a Ford Focus…now, I never used to like those, but the new ones are NICE! It was a smooth, fun, and zippy little car – made my car feel so clunky when I got back home! (Side note: if you do travel to Alaska and rent a car, I highly suggest getting the insurance. The roads aren’t traveled as much there because of the intense winters and less people, so there’s a lot of debris. In the two days we had the car, we were hit with a rock and it made a pretty good sized scratch…but luckily it didn’t matter because of the insurance.)

The road to Fairbanks takes about 5 hours, but the views make the driving bare able. We pulled over a few times to take pictures of the landscape. We got a pretty decent shot of Mt. McKinley, but the top was covered with clouds.

Mt McKinley, aka Denali, is the peak just left of that tallest tree.

Unfortunately for my driving buddy, the motion of cars on long trips puts me to sleep like a baby, but I did wake up at important moments to take some nice pictures.

Another view along the way

We got into Fairbanks with empty bellies and stopped at a restaurant recommended by my travel book as the best shakes and burgers around! And, they were probably spot on. We ate at Brewsters and each had a delicious burger and we split a cookie crumble shake. MMMM…

I actually wasn’t all that impressed with Fairbanks itself. I didn’t like the atmosphere; think college city mixed with military base mixed with the south. It was strange. Our hotel was decent though. Nothing special, but the staff was pretty nice. We stayed at Pioneer Park Inn. It’s right next to Pioneer Park, which is kind like a ship-themed amusement park – minus the roller coasters. We didn’t actually check it out, but it didn’t seem that interesting to us.

That afternoon, we went up to Chena Hot Springs and took a dip in the hot water! This resort is really nice (probably really expensive) and is open all year round. During the summer, people enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. There’s an ice museum, but it didn’t look that cool (no pun intended), so we skipped that. During the winter, there are even more activities like dog sledding, snow moiling, etc. The main tourist attraction in the winter is coming to sit in the hot springs while there’s snow on the ground and to catch a glimpse of the Borealis lights in the sky! I want to visit around that time of year and see that! They have full-service spas, and of course, guests get into the pool for free (only 10 bucks for non-guests like us!). There’s an indoor pool area for kids and a few just regular hot tubs (which was god-awfully loud and annoying) but luckily the outdoor pool is ADULTS ONLY, no children….yessss!

The outdoor pool is actually cool. It was pretty natural: a sand floor with big boulders around. The water is the natural hot springs and actually has to be cooled down to make it stand able. It was wonderful. I love hot springs. I actually don’t have any pictures of this place because I took them on a disposable waterproof camera, but I left it in the rental car. Luckily, Alaska Man was able to get it and eventually I will see those pictures!

After a relaxing day at the pool we went to the hotel to crash because the next day was…RACE DAY! On that Saturday I participated in the Jingle in July 5k race. I’m going to write a separate race review post about that…but it was a blast! However, it took place at Santa’s House and I was really excited to see what kind of attractions they had around but was pretty disappointed because Santa’s house was nothing but one big store. Just a huge Christmas gift store. There were a few reindeer outside. Maybe during the winter they have a lot more activities.

I’m guessing this was Comet

We made our way back to the valley (stopping first at Skinny Dick’s…it’s a bar/tourist trap..and yes, I got a t-shirt) after the race, we returned our rental car, and just relaxed at home for my last day and a half. Sunday before my flight (which was at 12:45am, technically Monday morning) we went on one last hike at Eklutna Lake. This was another quick trip from Palmer to more beautiful hiking trails. We were planning on renting a kayak, but the wind was too much and made the water really choppy and hard to manage, so we passed and just walked around and let the dogs swim.

Eklutna Lake

Bongo and Taz…I love those dogs!

Alaska was wonderful for many reasons, and I really miss it! Next time I go, I would like to do see all the islands and cities of southeast Alaska…maybe some kind of cruise around that area! I also want to check out Nome, AK for two reasons: 1) It’s where the Iditarod ends, and 2) It’s where that movie the Fourth Kind supposedly takes place! I even want to venture up to the 30 Days of Night area of Marrow, AK….scary!!! And,  reallllllllyy want to see a humpback whale! So much to do there!

I can’t wait to go back.