Back running again … in Alaska

After a little more than two weeks of resting and trying to rehab a sore ankle, I started running again last week — in, of all places, Alaska.

My ankle felt better, and I missed running. I missed exercising. And a week-long vacation had taken me to Alaska, where I’d taken my running bag with me just in case I felt the urge.

Let me say, for the record, that I like running in distant places. I enjoy the opportunity while running to sight-see, people-watch, and scout out places to visit later. I don’t like getting lost, as I did a few years ago in the Phoenix area, so I am careful now not to stray too far off main roads.

The two runs I did in Alaska were both three to four miles each in length, and started out stiff and awkward. Once I got warmed up, my ankle — heavily taped and with a brace on over my sock — felt OK (not perfect, but OK). The rest of my body started kicking in too, and I felt much stronger as the run neared completion. When finished, I still felt some ankle pain — my ankle’s way of telling me I still need more rehab.

Enough of that.  What’s more interesting is where I ran and what I saw.

  • First run, 4 miles, through Kenai: Located on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula, this community of 7,500 is situated along the Cook Inlet to the Pacific Ocean. Slathered in mosquito repellent, I ended up running east, away from the water, past a surprising number of strip malls and past a large Wal-Mart.

When you think of Alaska, you don’t think of strip malls or Wal-Marts. But certain fishing communities on the peninsula, located directly south of Anchorage, had plenty of both. Fortunately, Alaska is still only minimally developed, so you can drive extremely long distances through forests and along rivers and see mountains in the background before you come across any Targets and Home Depots.

Also, a big thumbs up to Alaska for having running and bicycling trails running parallel with major roads. My run was on an asphalt trail that ran directly besides the Kenai Spur Highway, which gradually becomes desolate as it crosses into the nearby community of Soldotna. There were only a couple of bicyclists on the trail as I ran, but at other times, I saw a few runners and a skater.

  • Second run, 3.1 miles or so, through Talkeetna: This community of 772 north of Anchorage and Wasilla is, as I said in a tweet, the closest thing to Northern Exposure’s Cicely that I found in a five-day tour of Alaska. No Wal-Marts here. No Motel 6, 7-Eleven, Jack in the Box, or Denny’s either. Just tall trees interspersed with country homes and lodges here and there, the Talkeetna Spur Road into town (the main way to get in and out), and three-block Main Street lined with tourist-friendly indoor-outdoor restaurants, craft and gift shops, and the historic Nagley’s General Store and Fairview Inn tavern.

Here is what Wikipedia says of Talkeetna: “Although the town of Cicely from the television series Northern Exposure is widely thought to be patterned after Talkeetna, filming [of Northern Exposure] actually took place in Roslyn, Washington.”

My run was a jaunt from where we stayed along Talkeetna Spur Road to Main Street and down a few side roads and then back. Gave me a chance to see ALL of Talkeetna, which didn’t take very long. Some might worry about a bear jumping out of the woods to chase you as you ran, but I didn’t … at least not too much. I ran by several pedestrians, and in my last half-mile, greeted a fellow runner going the other way. “Finally, I have a running partner!” he shouted gleefully as he passed by.

Back in the Seattle area since last Friday (Aug. 20), I’ve done two four-mile runs since these in Alaska. It feels good to be back at it, and the ankle pain is not overwhelming — just annoying and concerning. I think I need to visit a sports medicine clinic. Bear with me. My insurance won’t cover it.

Till next time.

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About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
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One Response to Back running again … in Alaska

  1. Chris Carson says:

    Monte,
    My first job out of college was working at the little 5-day-a-week paper in Kenai. There was just one mall way back then, and certainly no WalMart or Target. Glad to know you still found more wilderness than civilization. I hope you had a chance to sampel some of the local salmon, fresh out of the inlet. I think it’s the best anywhere. Safe journeys, and I look forward to your next post.
    Chris Carson

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