Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Alaska Bound

February 20th, sunrise after the storm

I made a plane reservation last week for a summer adventure in Alaska. In October, I committed to joining my friend Julia’s support team for the Alaskaman Extreme Tri in Seward at the end of June. The race entails a 2.6 mile swim in frigid Resurrection Bay, a 112 mile bike leg along the Seward Highway to Girdwood, and a 27.5 mile run that includes climbing Mt. Alyeska twice. Kinda insane. Julia competed in Challenge Roth last year in Germany, while a mutual acquaintance, Christina, took on Alaskaman that same month, so it makes perfect sense (to me) that Alaskaman would come next on Julia’s bucket list. These girls go hard!

Christina’s husband, Schreck, who Julia and I rode with during the EOD Undefeated Ride several years ago, also planned to race Alaskaman this year. With Julia’s husband Jim onboard, it was shaping up to be an EOD reunion! (Minus Tim Brown, but plus Christina, who was deployed at the time of our ride. Go, Navy.)

Together again? Me, Schreck, Julia and Jim, (with Tim Brown, front)
EOD Undefeated for the EOD Warrior Foundation
Despite the many Ironmans and triathlons my friends have competed in, I’ve never had an interest in doing the same. I’d much rather be on the sidelines giving aid and support where I can. Different from most triathlons, Alaskaman requires athletes to have a 1-3 person support team during the race. I planned to join Jim, and their son Elye, as part of Julia’s support team — assisting with transitions and driving the support vehicle along the route. (Much like I did during the Race Across America). Jim planned to run the final ten miles of the ultra marathon alongside Julia, as each participant must have a run partner on Mt Alyeska. Christina planned to be Schreck’s support runner for his final 10.

And then plans began to unravel. Jim and Elye will not be traveling to Alaska with Julia, after all, so I am now her only support. (Hopefully she’ll find a runner in Seward for the final ten miles. She is reaching out to triathlon and running groups based in Alaska. Meanwhile, I’m working on a training plan to be her backup runner.) Next, Schreck tore his ACL while skiing and is going to require surgery, so he and Christina are out as well. (Both will now race Alohaman in Hawaii, another X-Tri produced by the same company, at the end of the year.)

I’ve gone ahead and booked a one way flight to Anchorage. It’s possible that Julia will have to bail on the race, and I understand if she does, but I still want to move forward as if it’s a “go”. I had planned to spend the week before the race exploring the Kenai Peninsula with my mountain bike, doing some day hikes, and seeing the fjords and glaciers. The excitement of seeing Alaska is what’s getting me through the long gray days of winter.

February has always been a tough training month, but I do have a plan underway. There are four months to go before race day — I know it will go fast.