Summer vacations. Typically, folks head to the beach or to water parks, or amusement parks, or someplace fancy…
When I vacation, I go north. North to the future. North to The Last Frontier. That’s right. I vacationed Alaska-style this summer, and I got my run on while I was there. Because vacation doesn’t mean you can slack on training. Miles are miles, wherever you run them.
It was actually wonderful to be back in my homeland for a bit – my trip was full of family time and good food and beautiful scenery. But one of my favorite things about Alaska is just how comfortable it is to run there. I lucked out big time on the weather – nearly the entire time I was home, it was sunny and warm, without being oppressively hot. And humidity? Not a thing there.
In my marathon training cycle, my long run for the week I was on vacation was only 6 miles, which was a nice improvement to the 20 I had to run when I was home last summer. Six miles is manageable in the morning and it’s possible to still have the entire day ahead of you. Twenty? Not so much.
My parents live just outside of Anchorage, and while we spent the majority of my time home at their house, we took a jaunt down to the seaside town of Homer for the Fourth of July. Homer is about a 5 hour drive from Anchorage and is located on the Kenai Peninsula. It’s known for great halibut and salmon fishing and the breathtaking views of Kachemak Bay. It also happens to be one of my favorite places ever.
Usually, Homer is socked in with clouds and drizzle and is often chilly. When we pulled into town on Thursday night, the clouds had scattered, the sun was bright and it was a balmy 70-ish degrees. After 5 hours in the car, we all needed to stretch our legs, so we parked the RV and strolled down the spit (a really, really narrow peninsula) to Boardwalk Fish and Chips, where I couldn’t say no to the halibut.
The next day wasn’t any different, weather-wise, except for the sky was blue-r and the sun was warmer. It was a perfect day to get some miles in, with the best running partner a girl could ask for!
Ruby and I headed out on the spit and got a few good miles in, and by the time we got back to the RV, both of us were hot, sweaty, and in need of water. But there were no complaints, because that run was probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever done.
Every time I get to go back to Alaska, I’m reminded of how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful, unique place. You live within nature, and are blessed with incredible views every single day. Growing up there without a doubt shaped who I am today and I’m grateful to have been exposed to so many activities as a child. Whether it was camping or hiking or skiing or biking, we were always outside and we were always learning something. My parents are wealths of knowledge about the natural world and have passed that appreciation on to me and my sisters. I can’t stress enough the value of getting your kids out in nature. It’s such an incredible place for them to be active, to learn and grow, and develop a respect for the natural world and all that it provides us with.
So, way to go, parents. Thanks for making Alaska a playground for us as kids and continuing to do so even though we’re much bigger kids now.
And thanks, Alaska, for always being the best running location ever. Also, for generally just being great.