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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Alaska - Eating

I must have eaten well or at least a lot as I gained 10 pounds!  I've already lost some and am feeling fine about it.  I made it a point to eat a lot of fish even though generally it isn't what I would choose.  I have always said I didn't like salmon but  when it is fresh.....bring it on. One of my favorite things with salmon was the salmon tacos I had in Ketchikan.

I had cod, king crab legs, smoked salmon, scallops, mussels, lobster (not as good as in Maine at all), haddock and shrimp that I can remember for fish.  I tried reindeer sausage and an elk burger.  I did have pizza one night and turkey another. But I really did try to eat "Alaskan".

While on the cruise ship it was impossible not to overeat. I had 2 appetizers every night, once or twice two entrees and often 2 desserts.  I loved the chilled soup!  My favorite dessert was the chocolate sensation which I had most nights and of course I had baked Alaskan. I had to.

I loved dinners on the cruise ship staring out the window at the ocean going by.  Loved it.
Cod at Denali Brewing

Best dessert the whole time - in Alyeska. I don't know
what it was called. It was something chocolate.

A sampler  - smoked salmon, crab legs, shrimp

Salmon on a plank.  

Orange mousse - YUM!

Chocolate sensation

Chilled soup - I liked the red berry ones the best.

Baked Alaska

A dessert sampler.  The cake was flourless.  Fantastic.


This was my breakfast on the train which included reindeer sausage.  It was excellent.

Pasta with mussels, shrimp and I have forgotten what other fish.

Believe me there was more but these are some of the highlights.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Alaska -- Challenges

The challenges I am referring to are pretty simple.  At some point I decided to try some new things I might be a little hesitant to do while I was on the cruise ship.

First I tried line dancing. I have always been intrigued by line dancing but have never given it a try. When I saw in the ship's newsletter that there would be line dancing that evening I decided to give it a try. I got one other person to go with me. I found it harder than I thought it might be. It was crowded and hard to see the leader and I needed to be following closely.  I never really got it but it was fun and do think I could do it in a less crowded, more organized setting.  But, I gave it a whirl.

Second, I tried karaoke.  The first thing you need to know is I am a terrible singer. Really terrible. But isn't that what karaoke is?  Well, not always. The first two people who got up were trying out for one of those reality shows I think: America's Top Singers.  Well, not me and I almost lost my nerve but the young lady running it got me up there. I also didn't choose a boring song like the better singers. What did I choose?  Leader of the Pack!  My new friend who tried line dancing with me also went up with me to sing karaoke.  I don't know if we were so bad (well, I do)  that another new friend, Joe, joined us part way through.  It is hard to follow those quickly scrolling words even when you kind of know them!  But we did it. Most singers went up several times but I decided to take mercy on the audience and only went the once.  I stayed and watched it all.  My favorites were the ones who didn't sing well, including this sweet man who sang to his wife with his daughters crying in the audience.

Third, I tried rock climbing on the rock climbing wall. When we got a tour of the ship the first day I said I wanted to do this. A young woman who was on the tour told me she would do it with me.  I didn't go up there again until the last day which was a gorgeous day when we were only sailing so everyone was up there. I didn't mind a long line though although it gave me more time to get nervous and nervous I got!  I really wanted to reach the bell although I knew just trying was awesome!  It was both harder and easier than I thought.  I took what I thought was the easier side and I did make it!  Woot!  Woot!

This one is my friend who did it with me just to show you perspective. Remember it was on the
12th floor of a moving ship!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

First Tri of the Year

You think pretty, I wonder what is in there?

Nervous time before the start.

On my first weekend back from Alaska I did a triathlon after only practicing once!  I drove to NH to do it because I had a conflict with the one here on Sunday.  The bike was short but so was the swim so I guess it was okay.  It was a little more pond than lake but I have gotten better about that. I was in the last wave of 4 so I figure things will be "gone" by the time I go and if you know otherwise don't tell me.  The swim seemed longer than 400 yards to me but I finally got it done.  I was nervous before the whole thing started and it was about half way through the bike before  I got over it.  The bike went well and I ended up doing best during the bike leg. I passed a lot of people which rocks in my world. My pace was good (for me) in spite of not doing any serious biking except the one practice this week.  I think there were a lot of new people so I wasn’t the only person not thrilled with swimming at all!  I did better on the run than I have in awhile, getting my best 5K time of the year in spite of it being at the end of a triathlon.  I was second in my age group and they only gave a prize to the first person which was too bad because it was pretty sweet.  I was glad I went to get a tri under my belt where I had nothing to compare it to.  

Today we did a memorial bike ride for my friend who died this year.  It was a very nice and apt way to remember her. I think it is going to be an annual event.  It was good to see people but sad to not have Sharon there.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Alaska - Biking

I got to bike twice in Alaska despite my whining before I left that I wouldn't be biking for 16 days.  It was Biking Lite but completely awesome.

The first time was along the Coastal Trail in Anchorage.  We got there a day early so were not on tour yet. We had an outstanding breakfast and then rented bikes. We went along part of the Coastal Trail.  It followed the water with gorgeous views in the distance.  You could see tall snow covered mountains in the distance and had it been clear I guess you could see Denali.  It was a beautiful day and this was a beautiful path.  It wasn't my wonderful road bike but it worked!  I was at the start of my Alaskan adventure biking in Alaska!  Wow!
Looking into the distance at these gorgeous mountains.

The sand/mud was supposed to be like quick sand and
there were lots of warning signs not to go on it.

There were some beautiful lakes.

Of course I had to do some bike propped pictures.

I even had a kickstand for pics!

Loved biking toward this view.

Then when you turned around you had Anchorage to look at.

That is a dog on the paddle board with the guy.

The next time I got to bike was several days later. It was on one of the excursions off the cruise ship in Skagway.  It was a colder day with some rain but it was completely awesome. We took a small shuttle bus 15 miles up a mountain and rode down. They only let us stop 3 times so I didn't get the pictures I would have liked. We had to go through customs but we never left the US.  The people who took the jeep excursion went into the Yukon. Had I known this I might have forgone biking just to go there.  But the biking was also awesome so it was a win win.

It was an overcast cold day but that was just fine.

Animals we might have seen but didn't.

One of our three stops.

It was a pretty steep cliff on the other side.

Going through customs.

We saw trains several times.  

The river at the bottom had class 5 rapids.  

A pretty awesome sign I saw in town.