Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anchorage/Yakutat 2010 - Half Marathon and Fishing Report

This would be my 8th trip (I think) up to the big state to fish the streams and waterways - 1st trip for my son - Ryan. I tacked on a 1/2 marathon that happenned to work out just before the trip much as I tacked the full marathon in Anchorage 2 years ago on my last trip to Yakutat.

I've been training since Boston Marathon to compete in the Buffalo Springs 1/2 ironman and was having some great success learning how to swim, getting some running fitness back again, dropping a few pounds and changing how I bike to incorporate things like aerobars to go faster. I wasn't following any structured program just pretty much tried to spread my available workout time among the sports as I could.

On my last long bikeride planned before heading up to the Alaska fishing trip I was practicing the transitions. I started in the backyard pool for 10 minutes swimming very short laps, transitioned quickly to the bike then road ~50 miles and as I was finishing up the bike I practiced the preparation for the transition to running. On the last turn before the house I reached down to loosen the shoes (not normal tri shoes with just two velcro straps but cycling shoes with 3 velcro straps and a slip-tightening strap which is a bit more complicated to loosen). While making the turn, fussing with the slip strap and focussed on avoiding a car that happenned to be making a turn also - I neglected to notice a bump in the road and after hitting said bump I couldn't maintain control with only the one hand on the bars - so I went down. Crash Results - Roadrash on knee, shoulder (no big deal) and a few days later I discover a likely cracked rib (bigger deal). After a little googling it's clear swimming is not going to happen on a cracked rib although I was pleased to discover many example of the other two sports largely unimpacted by such an injury - as guided by pain. Buffalo Springs in cancelled and I switch around my plans to be sure to instead run the Anchorage 1/2 marathon (made a couple flight changes that I was on the fence about making).

With focus shifted to the 1/2 marathon - I start really looking forward to a nice cool 1/2 marathon as I'd been living in the tripple H's (Houston Humid Heat) for months.

After the normal travel hassels - my son and I get to Anchorage Startline:

I didn't really know what to expect I was capable of but I was hoping the 3000m I did the prior weekend in heat would provide some indication. A 10:12 3000m in hot conditions suggested something faster than 1:20 half marathon in cool conditions. I couldn't use a heart rate monitor as it bugged my rib so my race plan was to try out something around 6 mpm pace and see how it felt then adjust from there in the race. As it turns out that was an aggressive plan.

After a few miles it started felt pretty darn fast especially as the hills came along. The race started with a 5 mile race for the first few miles and after they broke off I could count into the distance the runners ahead of me and by that count I was figuring to be around 7th (I didn't know three mega fast dudes were way out ahead so really I was around 10th). Through 6 I lost a couple spots and traded back and forth with one guy until finally I passed him for good. Another guy came from behind just after this and I watched him ahead for some time. A couple of the mile splits in the middle were slowed by some trail running I wasn't expecting. Apparently they changed the course vs what is shown on the website and the new course cuts across trails to a bike path instead of going a simple out n back by the airport runway (yes I got my runway running in - sorta). Somewhere around 10 a pack of high schoolers eased by me and all of a sudden I dropped 5 places as they were moving just a little too fast for me. As they passed the other guy that passed me earlier I was able to catch him and from there to the end I pretty much stayed in the same place within a reasonably good gap. I was really hoping to AG win in this race but with the pace dropping I figured someone ahead must be older - although the guys that did pass me seemed pretty young - so just maybe a possibility. The final mile has a big cruel hill in it and I somehow pushed up it without much slowing emptying the tank then finished strong. I was a bit surprized to see the 1:24's click away as I sprinted to the line as I was figuring closer to 1:22-1:23 and later realized the course was long. No big deal but I couldn't quite out-sprint the "5" from showing up and ended up with a final time of 1:25:01.

# Split Elev. chg
1 5:50 -41
2 5:59 -14
3 6:04 +57
4 6:20 +8
5 6:37 +33
6 6:17 -30
7 6:29 -38 (trails)
8 6:29 -9 (trails)
9 6:42 +63
10 6:27 -58
11 6:24 -25
12 6:28 -7
13 6:31 +63
13.38 5:50 (pace) 0

Ryan takes on the Photographer role at the finish:

After the race I'm thinking a 1:25 is not going to be good enough to do it - just maybe I won't even get a top 3 AG award. I replayed the 4th place I got a few weeks prior at the Astro's Penant in my mind and thought that scenario was a possibility again here. Awards are posted ----- I didn't get 4th place - in fact I WON the Age Group - in fact I was the fastest of the >40 year olds too - although they don't give out a Master's award in this race if they had I'd get that. What a great surprise that THAT time was good enough to do it.

On reflection trying to figure how a 1:25 could get an AG win in my age group - I'm supposing the middle age Alaskan male has many obsticles to overcome to be a competitive runner with 6 months of darkness and bears/moose to avoid on the trails - I guess not many overcome the obsticles. I'm certain in Houston the biggest 1/2 marathon of the year for the city would not have put me in contention. Regardless - I'm delighted to get the bragging rights of the AG win.

So I get my award and we finish up in Anchorage and fly down to Yakutat for the fishing trip. As I've been there many times before for me the experience was more to watch it through my son's eyes new to it all. A few pictures of it all:

Deep Sea Fishing for Halibut - Very much like MY last experience doing this - Ryan got a bit sea-sick and didn't have fun with this at all:

My Dad pulling in a Skank (get's thrown back) on the trip:

As it happens I ended up with the only big'ish halibut on the trip with a ~110-120 lb'r and another guy catches a few smaller ones - unusually light total take for the day's excursion with only 60-70 lbs of meat after processing.

Next my Brother pilot's a small boat with Ryan, Dad and I down a river as we hunt for more fishing holes.

Ryan is getting pretty good at the fishing part - the catching - not so much:

Our group decides to try to fly to another river none of us had ever fished before:

One of the 10 of us has success catching a couple big King Salmon but the rest of us spent the rainy 9 hours on the river just getting cold and a little frustrated. Here's Ryan with on of the guy's fish (the smaller one).

A great group of guys to hang out with, fish and play poker into the night:

Last fishing day - Ryan is finally experiencing the catching part of fishing:

And we both have a ton of success once we and a few others in the group got a good fishing hole dialed in:

A good day's fishing:

Overall Tally at the end of it all was around 500 lbs of fish split about half-n-half Salmon/Halibut with a some smaller quantities of Lincod, Rockfish and Seabass. A pretty good take. Ryan seemed to have a ball which was really fun to watch.

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