I am awake early this morning for no great reason. I have not had time to write much lately as I just finished a week of living with the pager (24/7 on at St. E) and a night of covering the two big hospitals here in town. So I really should be sleeping but my thoughts seemed to want to be calmed. I have had a great two days since I finished my little work stint. I went for a great ride with a bunch of partners from work on Monday which was really fun to be with a pretty tight knit group of guys again. It was a bit like training in my college days with a group of close friends, although we were all a little slower and more talkative.
Yesterday I went for a great little run. I found myself down below Anchorage along Kincaid beach. It was an amazing spot that time of the morning. I was sheltered by the Kincaid bluffs from the chill north wind and the sand was just a slight bit frozen and easy to run on. The sun was just huge, dancing across the top of the Chugach mountains, streaming down the Turnagain arm as it bounced along the Kenia mountains to the south out over the Cook inlet and reflected off the tip of Iliamna Volcano and the massive Redoubt Volcano before illuminating the Mt Spur and the Tordilla range. I could just see the hair of the Sleeping Lady Mt. Susitna covered in her early winter blanket of snow. I will attach a picture but it just doesn’t do it justice I realized as I sat there looking out over one of the largest tidal zones in the world below a town of 300,000 and I was all alone in such wonder.
Running on the beach reminded me of a race I once did in Homer. It was one of my earlier summers in Alaska. I was trying to do some more running as I wanted to do the Crow Pass crossing which is a 26 mile mountain run which is amazing. I couldn’t really do much running in the Cove because you can only loop together enough smaller loops to get about 5 miles so many times before you are tired of it. Running in the State park is akin to sprinting through a bear enclosure at the zoo a bunch of times and I don’t really like that feeling of being watched while I run so I didn’t go very often. The funny thing about Halibut Cove is that most people are doing so much hard labor and projects if I did have time to run no one else could really go. So I found this race about a week before Crow Pass called the Homesteader Classic. It turned out to be the “first annual” and only time this race was run to my knowledge. It consisted of a race from Bishop beach in Homer up the coast about 15 or so miles to Anchor Point.
The idea was pretty cool. IF you timed it right which that year the 4th of July worked just perfect you could cover this stretch of beach/tidal zone during the ebbing tide. On the right hand side was a 200-300 foot tall sloughing bluff and to the left was the Cook inlet across which you could see the three big volcanoes and numerous smaller mountains. The day ended up really nice, warm, not to windy and sunny. There were only bout 30 of us who showed up and it was pretty fun little crowd. After a very brief little talk about how to get out/up the bluff if you had to we all agreed to start. Yeah, it was essentially everyone saying “go” together and we were off.
I don’t remember how long it was before most of us were convinced this idea was rather idiotic. The top part of the beach was either really fine deep sand or 1-2 inch pebble gravel, the middle of the beach was larger rocks with the occasional patches of sand. The bottom of the beach was mostly tidal mud. IF we were lucky there was a strip of mildly wet packed sand just above the mud. This made the weaving up and down the beach more entertaining and clearly lengthened the race more than most of us thought it would. My run yesterday I had a nice mildly frozen sand the whole beach, great for running.
As the race wore on and we all got stretched out we could still see each other from time to time when we picked out heads up from high stepping over random rocks. At about 12 miles we hit a spot where the beach was flatter and the tide lower. There were sand bars interspersed with 6 inch deep ponds of water which we all essentially just decided it was easier to run through. It was flatter out there and this made me realize we had been running at a nice slant for the past 12 miles. My right leg liked finally being on level ground with the left. After about two miles of splash dancing we turned up and finished on a mile of nice gravel road which was very welcoming at the time as the blisters had started to become annoying.
Those blisters stuck with me for the next two weeks before the Crow Pass Crossing and were not helpful in my preparations. The most interesting thing about that race and that day though was its metaphor for life though. Overall it is a sunny affair. There are times I felt like I was spinning my wheels in the sand, there are times I have to pick my way through the rocks, there are moments when the weaving up and down seems pointless, but there is always so wonderful view to be had, eventually you just have to jump in and get your feet wet, and when you do turn up onto easy street you look back and think well that wasn’t so bad. Maybe even realize that the easy street just isn’t as entertaining. You may be left with some blisters but they remind you of what you have done, where you have been. Most importantly you can look back and say you did it. I was more ready for the Crow Pass Crossing. I could cope a little more. I will openly admit I have checked quite a few times in the last decade to see if someone has rekindled that crazy idea of a race from Homer to Anchor point. I am not sure I would do it again but I bet if I saw it was there I would probably go for it.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.
Said Picture will be attached shortly.