Posted in Dog Life, Fall Training, road running, Running

The Girls of Summer are Preparing for Winter

My favorite thing that drives me wild
Is when a city girl walks a country mile
For a boy she loves
God bless the child inside the girls of summer

Girls of Summer by Aerosmith

Well, this city girl did waaaaay more than walk a country mile, and it sure the hell ain’t summer anymore in Fairbanks, Alaska. Sunday morning, Java and I dropped down from our hillside home to Ester Gas only to be blasted by frickin’ cold as we started our run to Geist Road. Unfortunately, I was already grouchy and still tired from my race in Canada the weekend before. Java had also chewed one of my shoelaces to protest my decision to sleep in an hour. That didn’t do much to improve my mood either.

The late start to our morning run also put Java in rare form. With breakfast being delayed by hours, she suddenly lost her ability to hear commands. Given that we were running on the bike path, I had her leashed. That didn’t keep her from trying to pull me off the path into the woods or across the highway to chase whatever it was she smelled. When she didn’t get her way she decided to make frequent stops to sniff EVERYTHING. This irritated me since I was freezing! I knew I should have worn a coat.

Then there was the miscalculation.

Yeah, see I just intended on running 8 miles, maybe 9. I also intended to run to Geist Road. Little did I know that Geist Road is 5.12 miles away from Ester Gas. So yeah, I could have turned around at mile 4, which is at Sheep Creek Ext. Or 4.5 which is in sight of Geist Road. But once you’re invested in a goal, it seems such a shame to stop a measly 0.6 miles away.

And so, I turned around in a high wind zone where Java really, really wanted to stop every few feet to sniff grass, climbed uphill over a mile before I could descend into Ester and make my way back to Ester Gas. As soon as we hit the 10 mile mark I stopped and walked the rest of the way. I had surpassed my original goal and after having several conflicts with Java needed to take my own attitude down a notch, so she and I could enjoy the rest of the day.

So after piling on many “treats of gratitude” in her little green plastic bowl, she and I went to Gold Hill Express where they give dogs bacon instead of biscuits. I picked up coffee for Phil and I and then returned home for a huge breakfast all around. We spent the rest of the day packing the old house on College Road and getting it cleaned up for the new tenants to move in next month.

Are we allowed to say “Winter in Coming” without a bunch of weird Game of Thrones memes littering the comments area? Maybe it’s just better to end with some poppy tune that really says goodbye to the season:

I like girls that
Wear Abercrombie and Fitch
I’d take her if I had one wish
But she’s been gone
Since that summer
Since that summer

Summer Girls by LFO
Posted in Dog Life, Fall Training, Running, trail running

The No Race Run on Moving Day

This is not a biking story.

Instead this is a story of Java and I running the Musk Ox Trail Run not for a race time, but for the sheer enjoyment of each others company…

…and to pick up pin flags from the course because I’m not sure I’m capable of doing anything for “fun”. I’m mission driven like my dog.

This race included several objectives:

  • Run a half marathon distance as part of training for the Klondike Road Relay.
  • Run the course of the Musk Ox Trail Run without actually racing. This course is hilly, slightly technical, and easy to get lost on if you aren’t paying attention. Plus the race insurance doesn’t allow dogs, and…
  • I needed to take Java somewhere for the afternoon so the guys could move the beds and couch to the new house.

The easiest way to accomplish all this was to pick up pin flags after the race was over. And what should have been a straightforward training run had some adventurous moments thrown in there.

Two weeks until my “B” race: a half marathon leg of the Klondike Road Relay. Java and I hit the trails for a training run last weekend while the guys moved all the heavy furniture to our new house.

First, was the iffy trail conditions. It had rained heavily the day before and so I expected the trail to be sloppy. On my own this wouldn’t be a problem; however, Java is a powerful 16 month old dog that we affectionately call “the huskador” because she likes to pull on her leash. And though she used to be so much worse, it is something she does when we run to get me to go faster, and not give up when I face something challenging like a really big hill. Unfortunately, when we are facing a really steep downhill with wet roots and mud, things can get dangerous. Only once did I lose footing on a root during the very steepest part of this race. And when Java heard me come to a halt in a crouched position she completely stopped. That didn’t stop her from trying to pull me, especially in the last two miles when I was completely tired.

Second, we had to deal with an aggressive dog with an owner that couldn’t control him, nor gave a real inclination that I should worry. Let me breakdown the conversation:

Her: Is your dog friendly?

Me: Yeah. She’s just a puppy.

Her: Well, my dog has the tendency to bring out the worse in other dogs.

Me: My dog just likes to play.

Her: Yeah. She won’t want to play after meeting my dog.

I barely think What? when her dog lunges at us, drags his owner across the trail to attack Java. Java yelps and I fall down the hill behind me as Java is trying to escape this dog. I have no idea if the owner even has a hold of the leash anymore and am fully ready to be bitten.

Eventually, we get out of reach of this crazy dog and the owner, who is sitting on the ground pulling her dog back to the trail. Java is sitting at my heels no blood and no sign of anxiety at this point. She is quiet and stoic as this lady apologizes. She then asks her dog why he is such a jerk. I don’t know how I managed to stay calm when I really wanted to ream her for not admonishing her dog’s behavior more.

She then told me that she was just going to sit there until we climbed out of the thorny brush ahead of her. I looked at all the stumps we had to climb over and told her that was not possible. We waited until she got up and got a down the trail. We climbed out and saw this dog trying to pull his owner back towards us.

From here on out Java is leery of every dog we meet on the trail. She does eventually warm up to another chocolate lab that we meet about a mile after the attack. I warn the owner about this crazy dog. He decides to go to the Secret Trail. Java and I make it to the turnaround point and begin to collect pin flags. We drop piles in several roadside areas and pick them up later.

If I were racing, I would probably finished the Musk Ox Trail Run in 2:45:00 or just a bit more. But picking up pin flags requires a lot of pausing, and we stopped a bit because of the dog attack and to let her play with the other Labrador. It was 3:39:00 before we made it back to the Musk Ox Farm where I finally got a photo of said beautiful animal. I thought Java might bark at it, but she was too preoccupied with food to care.

For the next couple of days I struggled to walk without grimacing. Java was running around the new house by 6pm that night. Oh to be young again…

Posted in Dog Life, Running

New House, New Adventures

Let’s make one thing clear. I am a city girl.

Born in South Central Los Angeles, I am very comfortable with small yards, sidewalks, and views of my neighbor’s peeling sea green siding. I’ve grown up in all kinds of environments–from the undeveloped wilderness of Wasilla, Alaska in to the compact neighborhood of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. I don’t believe good fences makes good neighbors, but an invitation to thieves who want to know what you’re hiding. Sure we had one minor break-in, and two thefts from our yard– a mere 3 incidents in 22 years.

So I hold my tongue when outer city people lament the difficulties of inner city living. Usually, they list crime, lack of privacy, and noise as the reason they would never live in the city. But I’ve lived on both sides of that inner-and-outer city coin. My neighbors knew more about my business despite an acre of surrounding land; I had stuff stolen by people invited into my home; and, once a large dog yard sounds off, they most likely won’t stop for a while.

Off my pulpit. I’m about to move 12 miles out of town to the community of Ester, Alaska, affectionately referred to as the Republic of Ester. The house is big. The dog yard is big. We have an acre and a half of undeveloped land where I want to build a dirt running track. It’s a dream come true considering that my parents used to collect cans to buy my diapers. And believe me, I am grateful. It’s still had for a city girl to move so far away from all her activities. To learn a new set of trails. To develop new routines.

I envy Java. The moment I unlocked the door. She bum rushed her way through the garage and up the stairs. She investigated every level and hidden passageway. Then she went to the unfinished dog yard and hunted down old toys left by its previous occupants. She had such a good time investigating her new home that I almost feel bad for not being more excited about the move.

After checking out the new house, she headed to the dog yard to hunt out old toys left by its previous occupants.

It will be a few more weeks before we have everything out of our old house. My parents are coming up next week to help me fix the dog yard and unpack the house. The kids will move into our College Road house. When I asked my son how he felt about moving back to the house that he grew up in, he responded, “Weird. But I’m accepting of it.”

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Mountain Biking, Summer Training

Where We Ride

In a lot of these posts, we feature pics from our favorite riding spot Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. It’s a fairly new park that is flat with a number of trails, a swim beach, and gun range. Before Java joined our family, I practiced my open water swims down at the beach. Later I joined my husband at the gun range. Now I mostly ride with Java . Funny how our use of an area evolves.

Recently, I started capturing video of places that Java and I ride and run. There are a lot of beautiful areas we go all year around with old friends and meet new people. Before I started hanging out with Java, I would run and ride well-known areas since I’m prone to getting lost. Now I am open to explore areas because the only thing worse than an unexercised dog, is a bored one.

Below is a minute long video from my ride with Java a week ago. It was a sunny morning between the smokey days, and there were so many people. This is just a clip from our 30 minute ride. Enjoy! And see you on the trails!!

Java and I exploring Tanana Lakes Rec Area a week ago. Look at her go!

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Mountain Biking, Running, Summer Training

The Paw Recovery Ride

Java is back! After a week on the doggie injury list, Java is back to running with the bike. We had an intense ride on Gilmore Trail picking up race signs on Sunday, and it was the first time she ever ran with a skilled mountain biker. Forrest is about 3Xs as fast as I am even with a backpack of stakes and signs and so Java went full out for 13 miles trying to keep up with him. Prior to that ride, the most miles she ever ran was a 6.2 miles and that was at my jog speed.

No surprise that she was sore and stiff on Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, she also wore down her paw pads. No bleeding. Thank goodness. So a lot of gentle walking for most of the week. Yesterday, we slogged through a 5 mile rainy run on campus. She seemed fine afterwards. So today we tried an easy trail on the bike.

After a week on the doggie injury list, Java is back to running.

She was slow. Maybe she was tired though she sure seemed able to sprint after stuff she really wanted. My guess is that she was being gentle on her paws since they bother her worse when she pushes her full power.

Honestly, I was in worse shape. I started weightlifting again after a year off. Though I posted faster race times this year, I haven’t had the strength or the power to train all three disciplines needed for another Ironman. Weightlifting has always been the answer, and I know this. Unfortunately, it leaves me extremely sore and my brain has a hard time accepting that I am benefiting from a half hour session. Even when the proof shows in the stats.

Java will spend one more week on light duty before we head up Gilmore Trail again. This time we will either have someone drop us off at top and ride down (8 miles), or do an out and back that’s about the same distance. I need to get back into winter riding shape, which includes way more hills than I’ve been riding this summer.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Mountain Biking, Running, Summer Training, Uncategorized

Fueling for the Weekend

Enjoying the last relaxing day until the weekend. Tomorrow I kick into high gear finalizing the last details for the 54th Annual Gold Discovery Run on Sunday. For the most part, I’ve been on top of things. For the most part. I did almost forget to pick up the medals. I haven’t yet seen the new part of the course up by the gold mine. And no matter how prepared I am on race day, I always seem to forget something. Even something as simple as trash bags.

This race is pretty unique in that the first 8 miles are on a trail the drops from the Kinross mine down to a paved neighborhood that continues across the highway to a brewery. The trail part is a multi-use trail and so you have both motorized and non-motorized traffic. No cars, but ATVs like four-wheelers and side-by-sides. And since we only half a day to mark all 16.8 miles, we take both a fourwheeler and side-by-side up the trail.

Originally, just Java and I were going to ride the 13-mile out and back of Gilmore trail on Sunday afternoon to pick up signs, but my friend Forrest volunteered to help. Two years ago he picked them up by himself because I was too tired to go. Last year Felipe and his friend too ATVs out. This will be Java’s first time going that distance. I told her she needed to start carb loading. She wisely chose raspberries growing in our yard.

Java has a small addiction to raspberries. Luckily we have have several growing in the yard.

It’s gonna be a tougher ride for me. I spend less time riding steep hills in the summer than I do in winter. And though I haven’t seen the new trail yet, the old one was already hilly. I anticipate a lot of pushing and some sore muscles Monday morning.

Posted in Uncategorized

Trails Almost Dry

We are mid-May and while you can still find snow in places, most of Fairbanks is drying out. Now is the time when people get real eager to go on wet trails and those of us responsible for trails politely ask them to stop. Java and I are still hanging at Tanana Lakes though walking/reconnaissance trips up to the university have shown us drier trails. They are still soft and easily rutted, so I plan to hold out until June.

At the end of May my sister-in-laws are