Monday, September 03, 2007


Alaska Trip, Day 5, Juneau

(Day 05 Photos), Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is only accessible by airplane or boat. The highways in town all end in dead ends, visible at this link - yet there are tons of cars around Juneau. Well, we used our boat to get there! This was another full day excursion, and ES and I planned to join my bro and JK on a Bike and Brew which was happening later in the day. This ended up being the only excursion day that went as originally planned!

The town (West Juneau - not really where most of the populous is) had a bunch of gift shops of course - we checked out a couple, but really, they had the same stuff that Ketchikan had. JK got some turtles (a type of candy) from a candy shop which were wonderful, but overpriced. Something like $8 for two handfulls. That ended up being his lunch. We walked out of the main touristy area and kinda got a feel for how it might be to be there in the winter. DM mentioned that the kayaking instructor from the day before was saying it was really easy to study in Juneau during the winter. Can't really go outside much, and it's dark a lot. There were many lost and found signs around, and I photographed one that was particularly strange. Could have been some joke, or maybe a scam.

Dan spied a hill (er, mountain) and wanted to just, "climb right up it." But we eventually decided that'd take all day and maybe then some. Got lunch on the boat (free) and met up for our bike and brew. We rode in 15 passenger vans with bike trailers to a gravel parking lot and got our bikes. On the way, we got a very quick view of the Mendenhall Glacier, pretty much the main sightseeing attraction in Juneau. I wasn't quite sure what this bike trip entailed, luckily we got much better views later.

ES got a crappy bike - the brakes didn't work, and yet they tried to talk her into taking the bike anyway. Nuh uh, brakes are important, so she got a bike that was a bit better. I snapped a few shots in the parking lot while our folks were all gearing up with helmets. I tried to figure out how I was going to carry both the big and small cameras, but got them all hitched on my shoulder and or belt and we were under way. Almost immediately I found out that my bike did not shift into 3rd gear. I was stuck with 2nd gear, and half way up in the back gears, so I wasn't really getting much speed on this trip under pedal power. So basically, this tour had junk gear - either it has been overused, or just under maintained. The frames were pretty neat though - much lighter than the beast I ride at home.

I tracked the ride with the GPS as we went. Prolly 14 miles in total. We stopped at one chapel/church that had a big view of the glacier out the window. The bike ride mostly went around the lake to the south of the glacier. There were many houses in the area along with pretty dense trees. The floor of the forested areas were all a lush green moss. One hill we saw to the West of the glacier was all brown rock/gravel on the south, but it was that lush moss on the North which showed up as an odd shade of green.

We all stopped at various points along the route to regroup - some folks were pretty fast, but it's just as nice taking in the scenery. We arrived finally at the lake shore, and there were some small waves in the water. This was on the Western side ofo the lake, and offered some neat views of the glacier. Everyone was snapping pictures, then a gal from our group ran out into the lake for pictures. That's glacial runoff, so it's cold, maybe 48 degrees F the guide guessed. And also there was a lot of extremely fine sediment suspended in the water - a cup of the water in a glass wouldn't settle for perhaps multiple days. She survived though, so JK went out and got some funny pictures - not sure why he had his helmet on still.

We were eating some small (skimpy if you ask me) snacks and some tasty hot apple cider, and at the last minute decided I'd get out in the lake and have some pictures taken. The guides were still in a rush, but whatever. Took my shoes and socks off and had DM take the pictures. The bottom of the lake fell off very slowly, so I walked out maybe 10 feet into the lake. It was quite cold, but bearable for a short time. We took some fun pictures and I got out. But once I got out I could feel my feet tingling from the cold. I doubted I'd last too long out there in that cold water. I could feel the warm blood pulsing as it went thru my feet for the next 10 minutes or so. Tried washing the gravel off my feet, but we were in a hurry, so I just put socks and shoes back on and we got underway to our next biking destination.

Up to this point, we were all on roads and sidewalks by roads. But on the next leg we got to do maybe a mile or so on an "off-road" trail. Very well maintained though. It was just fun to be among the forest. This trail started South of the lake, and made its way up along the Eastern edge of the lake. We finished up at a parking lot and headed on foot up to a second, Eastern vantage point on the glacier. This was packed with people. There were many tour buses, RVs, cars. And we only had 15 minutes to check this place out. Not sure why this trip was in such a hurry.

On our way back to the vans, DM spotted a brown bear in some high bushes. But instead of informing me that a bear was headed towards me, he waved his hand motioning towards the lake with his camera. So I thought, "huh? He wants a picture of me by the lake? OK," and I headed towards the lake, and, towards the bear also. I jumped back when I saw the bear and got a couple pictures, but Dan's picture was much clearer. Ends up it was a cub the size of a large dog, and probably heavier than a large dog. The cub ran off into the forest pretty quickly.

Next the van took us to the Alaskan Brewing Company. I thought this portion of the trip went a tad long - I'd have rather had more time on the bikes or at the visitor's center. The brewery had 6+1 beers of all different types light to dark. I tried them all, then tried the amber a few times after that. There were empty beer cans and bottles from all over the world on the walls. We noticed that there were no beers from Nebraska, but they did have Quilmes (aptly pron. "kill-mes") which we drank in Argentina. Side note, but at some point I ate some trail mix which was generated by Snak Club, Inc., located only a few blocks from where I work. Small world, which is neat.

We got the van back to the boat and decided to do a late dinner. We were to leave port right around sunset, so we got into the hot tubs on the back of the ship to watch the sun go down as we made way overnight for Skagway.


Disneyland Half Marathon

Just finished the Disneyland half marathon this morning with ES. It was a hot race though - the officials suggested over the PA system that they may have to cancel the race if things got too hot which included disabling the timing systems. Clearly they didn't want to get in trouble if someone got hurt from heat exhaustion, etc. We woke up at 3a, and got to Disney by 4:15a. At that time it was probably 73 deg F or so already, and it was pitch black. I emailed into the race beforehand with my 10K results - I didn't want to get relegated to the last wave or anything.

The race organizers took my pace from my Brentwood 10K and placed me assuming I could keep that pace up for the entire half marathon. That didn't happen, so I was getting passed through the entire race. ES, on the other hand, was much more conservative in how fast she said she could run the race, so they placed her in the third wave in the back, so she was passing people during the whole race.

Anyway, race started a little after 6a, and by then it was easily > 80 deg F, and everyone was sweating before we even ran the first step. The race started by heading through California Adventure and then Disneyland before we headed over to the Honda Center (formerly the Pond). Next was Angel's stadium, and a pretty direct route back to Downtown Disney where they had the finish line.

I wore my camelback the whole time despite there being water stops. I knew I'd want a lot of water and I didn't want to have to wait until I got to the water station. But the backpack did get hot - not sure if I'd wear it again if I did this race again.

Along the route they had high school marching bands, flag teams, cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, girlscouts - a lot of people showed up just to stand along the route which was neat. I flashed the Boy Scout sign a few times, so hopefully they found that cool (recall, I'm an Eagle scout!). They had all sorts of costumed characters in the park (goofy, captain hook, monsters from monsters inc.). Some pirates on the (new) pirate island fired a canon at us and the cannonball splashed into the water just in front of us (heh - neat).

I took pictures during the race, and a video too as we exited the castle:

Then as we exited the park on Ball to the East, we were running uphill and straight into the sun - that was where I first walked. I wanted to be sure I had enough gas to make it the whole way, and I knew there'd be no way I could run the whole thing. Once we got to the 10K (~ halfway mark) I was doing a decent amount of walking - not really sure how my pace decreased as I went along, but I'm pretty happy with my time given the heat. I could have definitely prepped with longer runs, too! Well, should be easy to PR on my next half marathon, whenever that is.

Back to the race - once we got outside the park, a mariachi band was setup, and they had some hawaiian dancers and musicians playing also. During the race they suggested not listening to an iPod, however I always run with mine so I brought it. I listened to 1.5 hrs of Radio Lab shows - one was about "the placebo effect" and another about "sleep". When the marching bands were along the side of the road though I just paused the playback - enjoyed the race ambiance :) After too much of the "sleep" episode though I was getting really sleepy myself! I switched over to some techno for the last 2 or 3 miles of the race.

The 10 mile mark was in Angel Stadium - we ran in from the East through Tunnel A, and then in along the edge of the field (coming in from 1st base to home, then around to 3rd). They had a camera setup so everyone running got to be on the jumbotron, and then we headed past 3rd base and out of the stadium. I did a lot of walking during that last leg along Disney Way. But once we got to Downtown Disney, the home stretch, I decided to run the rest. So I think I ran the last 1.1 miles. A WHOLE BUNCH of people were in Downtown Disney. Some cheering on with things like, "Only .1 miles to go!" but I heard one wise guy with something like "1 mile go go!"

I ran across the finish at 2:21 official time, and was happy to find things were running pretty smoothly once I got in. I hate races where they funnel you down after the race - I need to cool down with some brisk walking, and there was plenty of room for that. I got some snacks and then walked around to recover, and when Emily showed up, we got some pictures.

I had no idea how long the race would take me let alone her, so I was relieved to see that she made it ok afterwards. Without any real idea how long it would take me, I was guessing a pace of about 10 min/mi, putting me at a 2:10:00 finishing ballpark. Even that was a little optimistic, it turns out! However perhaps with cooler temps I would be able to pickup that 10 minutes. It was certainly 90 deg F by the time the race was over, though, and there was not much shade to be had at the end. Add that to some black asphalt and we were really ready to get out of there. I think we made it home by 10:45a (after a McDonald's breakfast feast!).

All in all, beautifully executed by Disney - they just couldn't have controlled the heat wave though.

So here's my race stats:
Bib 1399
Div 25-29 M
ChipTime: 2:20:12
Pace: 10.7 min/mile
Official Time: 2:21:05
Overall Place: 2851 (out of 9768 finishers, 2851/9768=29.1%)
Sex Place: 1669 (out of 3984 finishers, 1669/3984=41.9%)
Divison Place: 164 (out of 445, 164/445=36.8%)
5K Split: 29:05
10K Split: 1:01:32
15K Split: 1:36:51

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