Friday, August 1, 2014

Alaska......The Scenery

Yeah, I'm still talking about Alaska when I'm not throwing in a race report on this "fitness blog."  This is the last one.

I swear I am still dreaming about Alaska most nights.  For the first week or so at home I would wake up and have a hard time knowing where I was - all those nights of being in a different place I guess.  I am reading Alaska by Michener.  Phew.  I am a fast reader but I feel like it is taking me forever.  I was going to read it before I went but couldn't get into it.  I  have to say it's worked out well as now I can visualize a lot of it. It takes about 1/2 the book IMO to get into it. The beginning is interesting but moves slowly then it finally picks up.  I have read over 900 pages of small print and still have not quite 200 left.  I love reading books set in places I have been so if you have any books set in Alaska to recommend please do. I like both fiction and non fiction.

Alaska is very much in my heart. If I was younger I would consider moving there. It is a place beyond description.

I was astounded by the scenery from the flight in and flying over miles and miles of snow covered mountains.  This went on forever! This post is mostly pictures and believe me only a small portion of the ones I took.  Enjoy!

Denali National Park.......I couldn't get enough of the caribou.

I feel incredibly lucky to have seen Denali in all her glory.

Anchorage - taken from the Coastal Trail

Talkeetna (maybe my favorite place). This is the river when Denali 
wasn't showing but not too bad without it!

The sunset which went on forever.  Also in Talkeetna

Another one from the river in Talkeetna

From a rest stop on the road. 

Driving to Alyeska.

At the top of the train at Alyeska (Girdwood?)

Why wouldn't you want to try para sailing here?

Carmen Lake - part of our jetboat excursion

Carmen Lake

One of my favorite excursions was in Alyeska on a jet boat
up Twenty Mile River.

Hubbard Glacier - off the cruise ship - Unreal

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier 

Hubbard Glacier There's a reason the water
is two distinct colors but I have forgotten it!

We see another cruise boat when leaving Hubbard Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau - This one we walked to.

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau -

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau - 

On a whale watch in Hoonah.  

Ketchikan if you want to be south in Alaska.  Yes, please.

"scenery" in a bar

Leaving Alaska.

Denali National Park

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau -

Okay these last two pics are not scenery but how can I not include some cute puppy pics before I "leave" Alaska.  Jaxon was not pleased at all when he saw them and sent me a very dejected selfie.  But I assured my Jaxon I love him best and this was just a short snuggle with some far inferior dogs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alaska - Trying Some Craft Beers

What else did I do in Alaska?  I did a fair amount of checking out their craft beers. Someone had to.

Conclusion - I like Alaskan beers.  A lot!

I actually started keeping a list and rating them.  I wasn't always as specific as I should have been.

I admit I am shallow and taken in by beer names and logos.  Put a bike on your beer and I'm going to try it. Craft brew makers take note.

First night, first beer. I also tried Alaskan amber.

The first two I had were from Alaskan Brewery which were quite easy to get.
On the cruise ship later, staging some beer pictures
because why not?

Sitting in the Alaskan sun, warming up after the 
whale watch, playing with my beer.

At the Alaskan Brewery

Great cycling shirt. Well, sure I'll get it.

The kinds I had were summer, amber, white, and free ride. I liked them all.  We visited the brewery when we were in Juneau.  I did a sampler while there. I was not crazy about the smoked porter.  I got a sweet new cyling jersey there.  Samples were flowing freely.  We were on the liquid tours shuttle so no driving problems.
Midnight Sun Brewery

Why wouldn't you go to a brewery that decorates their bike with their beer logos?

We went to Midnight Sun Brewery. This was on Jamoosh's recommendation.  Thank you, Jamoosh.  We may have spent a bit on a taxi to get there and back thinking it was closer than it was.  At first I thought they weren't open but with a little more exploring we found out that yes, they were so in we went.  I had a sampler and an excellent lunch. I can't tell you what was in the sampler but I did have a pumpkin beer.  It wasn't my favorite pumpkin ever but I did like the various samples.  I started my beer t shirt souvenir and pint glass frenzy here.
I loved Talkeetna. I loved Denali Brewing. I loved Denali.  
We had lunch and beer here.  

I bought a t shirt with this picture.

I had this beer while waiting for Denali to show.  How perfect.
I love the can.  Like I said, I'm shallow.

When we were in Talkeetna at Denali Brewing I tried Mother Ale and some others.  I loved this beer.  I liked most of the beer I tried. I loved Talkeetna maybe the best of all the places I went so this beer has a special place in my heart.

While in Alyeska I tried two beers from the 49th State Brewing Company. I loved both of these - Blonde Ale and Amber Borealis.  I know I keep saying I loved the beers, but I did.  Until.....

While in Skagway we ate lunch at the brewery and strangely enough no one liked any of the beer.  I did  a sampler of 4 and was quite disappointed. I doubt we all have the same taste in beer so I was surprised that we all had the same reaction with various beers.  I bought nothing there.
I hadn't had Denali Brewing for quite some time so
it was nice to find it later in the trip.

When I was in Ketchikan I got to try Denali Brewing Single Engine Red which I loved.  I also tried some Denali Brewing in Denali but I don't have it written down. Too many samples perhaps?
One more before heading home.  Or maybe it was two more.

The last beer I tried was in Vancouver where I tried Granville Island Brewing Maple Cream Ale which I liked enough to have two.  I didn't know there was a brewery on Granville Island when I was there or I would probably have more pint glasses and t shirts. Their pint glass was great.

All my pint glasses made it back unharmed!

I didn't buy this pint glass. Why not?

I know I've missed some but you get the basic idea. Alaskan beer is good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Horrible Triathlon

I took this when I got there, pleased for the sunny morning after
the rainy ride I had had to get there.

First, let me say I love social media.  I do not have a lot of friends who get it when I talk about racing, tris etc.  Yesterday I put a short blurb about my tri experience seeking some advice on both Facebook and Instagram.  I got a lot of advice and sympathy. I wasn't looking for sympathy (well, maybe a little) but it was nice to "talk" to people who had been there and could share their experiences.

 Taken before, I'm feeling just fine.

So what happened?  I had a triathlon that I have done before but they moved the start.  I am not sure why because it was not nearly as good. You had to park a mile away and ride your bike to the start with all your stuff. No one came with me but it wasn't as good for spectators either.  My least favorite change was the swim.  It was exceedingly weedy and that may have been my problem.  I had a panic attack while swimming.  This has never happened to me.  I ALWAYS get nervous before I swim but usually once I start I am fine.  Not yesterday.  We started and soon I was in tall tall weeds which just flipped me out.  It took a bit to get out of them but I never got past it I guess. I couldn't put my face in the water and breathe.  As we rounded the first buoy I knew I was in trouble but still thought I would get past it. I never did. I did the breast stroke without rhythmic breathing which I can usually do easily. I tried doing the side stroke. I even floated on my back a few times to try to get my breathing under control.  Nothing worked.  I was quickly in last pace by a lot. I knew I was moving slowly but didn't care at all other than that it was taking me longer to get out of the water. The girl on the paddle board kept asking me if I wanted to hang on.  You can legally as long as you don't move forward. At one point she went right in front of me as I think she was so sure I wanted to grab it. I was afraid if I held on I would never let go.  This went on and I heard her yell to the people close to the shore not to pick up as there was one more swimmer.  Yep, I was DFL.  (Thankfully without the dead part.) I eventually got out, WALKED up the path to the transition and got ready to bike. But before I biked I  hit the porta potty.  The swim had done a number on my digestive system and there was no skipping this stop.

 The water crew, my friends for sure.

 The path to transition, I did not even attempt to run.

I took off biking with the police car and whatever you call the biker who follows the last person behind me.  I thought I was doing fairly well but when I look at my overall time and pace I was not. I don't know how long I was in the bathroom but it didn't make up for such a difference between last year and this year. My pace was much slower although I felt good at the time.  I did feel like throwing up but not enough to stop.  I did pass a few bikers but not many.  It was threatening a thunder storm and was quite dark when I turned around. But the biking was way better than the run.

So I got ready for the run and took off.  I was shocked and I do mean shocked at my lack of energy.  I could not run.  I had a very hard time going 3.1 miles. I walked a good deal of it. I would start to run and tell myself I was going to run 100 steps. Nope. Didn't happen.  I could not believe I was walking in a 5K. I knew my time was going to be horrible but I couldn't do anything about it.  I just had nothing to give.  I was finally done.  It was a nice rail trail along the lake and I felt bad I wasn't appreciating it.
The swag and age group pint glass.

I did end up getting an age group 3rd place (about an hour behind 1st) but felt it was a showing up award.  I had to sit in a chair while waiting for the awards. Standing around so wasn't happening.

Once I got home I got done the bare minimum I needed to do and went to bed. I googled panic attacks while swimming, endlessly.  I was curious as to whether others felt it had effected their entire race.  I felt still like I had been beat up and had this horrible feeling in my chest.  I feel somewhat better today but not 100% .  I am going to try running but I am a little nervous about it.

Looking back all I can think of is the weeds.  From all that I read cold water, crowded waves, wet suits,
lack of OWS experience and other things  can cause panic attacks.  Many people experience them.  While racing yesterday I was thinking I never wanted to do a tri again. Well, I will but I am worried I have lost my love for them.  I have one in two weeks right here at home where I practice often and I think that will help a ton!

I think what bothered me the most was that it wasn't just the swimming that sucked.  Plus how truly awful I felt the rest of the day.  Stress can certainly do a number on your body. I knew that but yesterday was  huge proof for me.

Thanks to those of you who responded on FB, IG and text messages. It helped. I found myself easily tearing up which seems ridiculous but it is what it is.  I know everyone has bad days but I wasn't prepared for this at all.  Even my swimming daughter told me she had a panic attack in her first ocean swim in a tri and almost quit. I remember her telling me this at the time.  Now, I really get it.

So what was good yesterday? Let's see.

I got the last small race shirt.
I got not one but two finishing maple syrups because they forgot to give it to me and I had to go ask for one.
The thunder storm held off until I was in my car about to head home. Getting struck by lightning would have put everything else into perspective and really made me have a bad day.
 As I was leaving the skies opened up.

 This is not the only junk food I ate on the way home.
At this same place they had a box of homemade glazed donuts.  
It was unbelievably good.

So thanks for listening. Any advice welcome.