On a sunny Sunday morning I borrow a bag from my dad and a bike from my mom and catch the train to Seward. The four hour ride passes mountains and glaciers and streams from one port to another.
In Seward, I eat a pastrami sandwich and start pedaling into the wind at noon to begin my 127 mile ride home.
Two miles down the road, I ditch my pants and fleece by the side of the bicycle path for the climb out of town.
Thirty miles down the road I stop for coffee in Moose Pass. It’s early tourist season in Alaska; little traffic and roadside merchandise is sparse. The offerings are a mix of country and city. Homemade rhubarb pies share shelves with Little Debbie. Everything is monster sized. I pack a snickers and roll on.
Riding a road bike is fun, especially on a sunny day, even into the wind. I listen to music, sprint up hills, sneak nips from my flask and soar free.
I stop for a frittata and a bagel and a juice at a log cabin.
Chilled by sunset, I buy a sweatshirt at the gas station in Girdwood.
Ten miles out of town it is dusk in Potter’s Marsh– as dark as it gets this time of year in south-central Alaska.
I make it home before midnight, my skin soaked in sun and evening chill, my brain and legs a little numb, but happy.
I would do it again, even into the wind, especially on a sunny day.
Kincaid sand dunes
Knik River beaver ponds
Kincaid Bluff Trail, March 2014
There are tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks, all over the world.
Sung as a round. Second person begins when first person sings: “There are tracks and tracks…”.
Song almost never ends.
Anchorage Coastal Plain
Knik River floodplain
Kincaid sand dunes
Alaska RR to Seward, on the way to Resurrection Pass Trail
Spenard Road, Anchorage
Middle Fork Trail, Chugach State Park
Middle Earth Trail, Kincaid Park
Half a mile from midtown Anchorage, is the Coastal Trail. It’s only a couple minute ride, but some days it is a world away.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
January 25, 2014
It’s icy, definitely icy.
Last week we got about a half a foot of snow. Since, it’s been freezing and thawing, getting up to 50ºF one day. The roads and sidewalks and trails are bumpy and slick.
Nick put nearly 200 studs into my fat-tires. We had a few left to thread into my running shoes.
Each stud weighs less than a gram. A pinch of metal makes a huge difference in traction.
We gained nearly five minutes of daylight today. I hope it snows soon.
This is my scholarship application for 2014.
1. Briefly describe your running history/background and where you see your running going in the future:
I crave running every day. When my legs get moving my body becomes a support system for my mind. Everything starts making sense. Running is the best part of my day.
I run because I love it and I like to run long and fast. I applied for the Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp scholarship last year and received a $300 partial scholarship. While I couldn’t afford to attend the camp, applying for the scholarship inspired me to race a couple of times this year.
Last April I ran the Cedro Peak Ultra 45K in Tijeras, NM. At the time I lived in Albuquerque. The night before the race, I rode my bicycle twenty miles to the start. I slept out for a few hours before waking up at 5AM to compete. It was so cold out that I sat in my sleeping bag until just before the start. I was the first female finisher, crossing the finish line 26 minutes ahead of the second woman. After the race, I ate a hotdog, drank a beer and rode back to Albuquerque.
In May, Nicholas and I left Albuquerque to bikepack around Europe for the summer. We spent five months riding hiking trails and dirt roads on mountain bikes. We cooked and camped, supporting ourselves and each other through changing landscapes and cultures. The biking was strenuous and incredibly fun, yet, I still had energy to run every day for an hour or more.
We finished our European trip in Ukraine in September and flew to Denver. We spent the fall bikepacking in the southwest, primarily in southern Utah and Arizona. We rode through southern Arizona in December and I ran the Tucson marathon. The night before the race, we camped in the sagebrush across from the race shuttle pick-up. At four in the morning, we packed our bedrolls and pedaled to the shuttle. I was the fourth female finisher in a time of 3:14. My legs took a beating as I hadn’t trained for the distance, but I was just happy to be a part of it. I smiled the whole way. On the shuttle ride back after the race a runner complained that the driver didn’t drop us off close enough to his car. I hobbled to my bike and rode the 13 miles to town.
We biked out of Tucson the following day to fit in a few more days on the AZ Trail. In mid December we flew from Phoenix to Anchorage, my hometown. We’re spending the winter here with my family in order to work and save money for next year’s bike trip. We’re thinking about a dirt tour of the Black Sea countries for the summer of 2014.
I’d like to spend the winter running snowy trails and riding my fatbike. I’m competing in the Frosty Bottom 50 this weekend and plan to run the Mayor’s Midnight Marathon next June. My goal is to break three hours. Regardless, I will continue to run for the rest of my healthy life.
2. How did you first hear about Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp?
I heard about the camp two years ago through endurance blogs.
3. What are your main reasons for wanting to attend Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp?
a. I grew up in Anchorage, but I’ve never been to Juneau or southwest Alaska. From photos, it looks stunning. I would love to run the mountains with locals.
b. I rarely run with other people and I’ve received little coaching. I want to learn from the best. Geoff is the best.
c. The camp looks like a lot of fun!
4. Please describe your financial dynamic which you feel makes you a good fit for a need based scholarship:
In 2008 I graduated from college. That fall I started traveling by bicycle. For the past six years I’ve spent half the year working and the other half traveling. I’ve biked around the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. I generally work in restaurants, tutor or teach yoga. I pay student loans, live without a car and do my best to keep moving.