Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seward, AK

We have seen so much and been so busy, I really don't know where to start. I guess I'll just have to wing it from memory as the days just seem to fly past and I'm having so much fun that I don't seem to have time to get this blog done in a timely manner. I so want everyone to read my blog and at least get a feel for this very beautiful state.

We left Wasilla on Sunday morning and drove through Anchorage, without spending any time there. Our plan is to see more when we go back there on our return. Between Anchorage and Seward was the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. Again, we did not stop very oftern because we want to plan for more time to really appreciate it. We arrived in Seward to find the entire town packed with people. Susan Davidson had told me that if we were anywhere near Seward on July 4, we had to include it on our trip. So, we timed it that way and she was absolutely correct. The people of Seward and all the visitors really do know how to have fun and to celebrate. This *is* small town America at its best.

We attempted to drive around and find a place to park our trailer in or close to town, but finally realized that would be impossible. Seward has a population of about 4000 and it is estimated there are about 40,000 in town for the 4th. We had passed several private RV parks on the way into town so we drove back and stopped at a couple of them. At the 3rd or 4th stop, we found one that had a space. It is the Bear Creek Lake Campground and although it is a bit old, it is fine for us. It is about 7-8 miles from town and has everything we need, so we will be here for 3 nights, leaving tomorrow.

The morning of the 4th, we got into town early enough to get a good parking spot so that we could walk to various areas to view the start/finish and parts (mostly through binoculars) of the Mountain Marathon race. This is not a marathon distance, but it certainly is a mountain race. I really cannot do it justice by trying to give a description. Briefly, it is a 3.5 mile race up and down a mountain without the benefit of maintained trails. The shortest distance that one could do is 3.5 miles, with an elevation gain of over 3000 feet. Some people choose routes that make the distance longer. There are three races, one for ages 7-17 that goes halfway up, and one each for male and female 18 and over. If you are interested, there are several youtube videos of the event. The one I like best is The Mountain Marathon Experience mp4

In all my years of running, coaching and watching races, I have never seen anything like this. The first section is asphalt street, followed by gravel road and then up the mountain. I would have had trouble running the asphalt part.

When I was watching the age 7-17 race, I got rather emotional. In today's society, it is so unusual to see kids who would even think about doing something like this. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT!!! To see young boys and girls pushing themselves so much both physically and emotionally gave me chills. As they were approaching the finish area, some of them were muddy, scraped and bleeding but nearly all of them looked so pleased and happy. The crowds were so supportive and appreciative of their effort.

That race was followed by the women which turned out to be a duel between two young women who were teammates on the US Olympic Cross Country Ski Team. They ran/crawled/slid together for much of the race, with one turning it on within the last 200 meters to take the victory.

By the time the men ran, I was exhausted. All together, I took about 700 pictures. I have a new camera and it lets me take multiple shots in a matter of a second. Of course I don't know any of these people, but it was still fun to take pictures and view them on computer where I could really see their expressions and how physically spent they were.

Today we did a hike to Exit Glacier. That was really beautiful and interesting to see how much it has changed over the years. On the way back to the campground, we spotted an eagle and a nest and I took quite a few pictures. When we got to the campground, we walked about 500 yards toward the lake and I spotted another eagle. I was so busy taking its pictures and even though I saw that it was getting ready to take off, I was so in awe of it that I couldn't react quickly enough to get pictures of it in flight. We then walked down a bit more and saw a juvenile eagle.

Running-wise, I hve been using the wide shoulder/bike path of the Seward Highway. The drivers seems to be used to runners and bikers and give me a wide berth when I am on the highway. With all the walking I did yesterday, I had a hard time running, although I did manage 3 miles. The day before I had done 5.75. Today, I'll try for 4-5 miles. I am finding that I want to run each day, but I just don't want to run fast; I want to enjoy everything and not push the pace.

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