Monday, August 5, 2013

I ran in Alaska! Douglas Island 1/2 Recap

State #42 - Juneau, AK

Lifetime 1/2: 52
13 in 13 progress- 10/13
Finish time: 1:52:51

Prior to this trip the only thing I knew about planning to race in Alaska is I wanted it to be in the summer and all the hype was around Anchorage.  Based on other races / obligations, I had to run Alaska in July, and the Douglas Island 1/2 fit best into my schedule / had great logistics- I traded in Anchorage for Juneau and I couldn't have made a better decision. 

Douglas Island is located in Juneau, Ak- across the Gastineau Channel from downtown Juneau.  All 4 races (marathon, half marathon, deci (2.6 mile) and 1/2 deci (1.3 mile) started and ended in Robert Savikko Park. 

Mom and I scoped out the beach the day before to make sure we wouldn't get lost, and also get some photos of the scenery- very naturesque. 

We really lucked out- originally forecast called for rain. What actually happened was overcast, slighty chilly at the start (high 50s) and low 60s by the end.  Although  this weather is ideal, I still sweated quite a bit; story of my life. 

Mom was running the deci, 2.6 mile run, so it was neat for her to be to join in the pre race fun as well:

My race started at 9 (oh my god I could NOT imagine that starting time in the South), and mom's race started shortly after at 9:15.  It's nice having a spectator around to take photos for me hehe

The Course: All 4 races were an out and back outside the park and along the main road in Douglas Island. Silly me thought that since it was advertised as at sea level (which it was) that it would be flat- FLAT it was not. Lots of long gradual hills. All the photos I took were 'blah' because the gorgeous hills and water were on the opposite side of the road we were running on. I also think that since we did a lot of sight seeing on Thurs and Fri prior to the race, I was a little de-sensitized to the scenery as well. 

The Good: 
  • Small field size- 143 participated in the half marathon
  • The marathon started 2 hours before the half ( 7am), so it was neat to pass some of the marathoners as they were heading back to the finish. 
  • Aide stations every 2 miles- perfectly spread out
  • Cliff gels out on the table for the taking so  you could choose your own flavor 
  • Weather- not too hot, NO humidity, slight breeze
  • First half was filled with mostly uphills, which meant the 2nd half had mostly downhills (although there was a slight mix both ways) Downhill / flatish finish
(I think its really cruel to have the finish line be on uneven grass!) 
  • Huge BBQ at the finish- although I wasn't that hungry, I did enjoy all the fruit, chocolate milk, and chips. (meat immediately after done running doesn't appeal to me) 
  • It was a family affair- the deci and the 1/2 deci were more kids runs... mom was one of the the few 'masters' running it, so much so, that she got a standing ovation when she crossed the finish line--- run / walk 2.6 in 32 min ain't bad (wish I could have seen her cross the finish line) 
The Bad:
  • Within the first minute of the race my shins were really sore--- this has actually never happened to me and I think it changed my stride because within a mile my calve started acting up REAL bad. 
  • By mile 3 my calves were so tight, it started causing my feet to tingle and my left foot went numb- stopping to stretch didn't help, but i resorted to a run walk for the first half of the race anyway. RANDOMLY as soon as I hit the turnaround all pain stopped and I was able to actually stride out and have a negative split 2nd half. 
  • Water station at mile 8.5 / 9sih ran out of cups, so had to skip it. I felt bad for the marathon folks who would come to it on their way back, thank goodness it wasn't hot out. 
  • Not necessarily bad, but no spectators on the course
  • Originally they said they were going to start awards at 11. Times were posted and I deduced I got 4th, but so many times I get 4th I miscount and realize I really got 3rd. We waited around till noon and they STILL hadn't started awards so we left. 
  • The half marathon medal was TINY- mom's deci medal was twice the size of mine (i think because it was a kids race haha)- in all actuality, I believe this is the first year they had medals, so small medals are better than no medals.

Overall the race was a no frills small town race. This year was the largest year of participation  with over 200 participants for all 4 races. I do like how the kids were able to get involved so it can truly be a morning for the family. 

Two marathon maniacs were staying in the room next to us at our hotel- one of them ran this race a few years back and said its his favorite race in Alaska (he's done a few elsewhere) He pointed out that Anchorage is just like a normal city and you have to drive to get to the heart of nature, whereas Juneau is so small, everything is right there if you just turn around. (TONS of pics to come in my follow up Alaska post) 

They are both in their 50s- so impressive

Based on everything I've heard, and all that I saw while in Alaska for a week- I would recommend this race knowing that its cheap ($20 for the 1/2), its easy to get around, and although the race itself isn't anything special, everything that you will see in Juneau will make up for it. 

State #42 done. SD is coming up in a handful of weeks...

The REAL Alaska post will be up next, aka a plethora of photos. 


  1. "Naturesque", haha. Totally cracked me up.

    Nice job on #42, but just plain more impressed with MJ. Way to go!

  2. Very cool that you were able to complete Alaska and have your Mom part of it. Had to laugh at the starting photo and everyone so glued to hit start on their watches! Sorry to hear about your calf pain.

  3. Awesome! I too would call high 50's warm and I'd be sweltering in the 60's. What up with a tiny medal?? We've gotten so spoiled and picky with our bling. Ha!

  4. You are getting so close to your 50 states! High fifties is a little warm for me to run in also, I kind of like the high forties if we want to talk about perfect running weather. I love that your mom went with you to this, sounds like a great time.

  5. You are awesome!! Great job on placing 3rd:) I have never been to Alaska but it's on my bucket list for sure. Love the skirt BTW:)

  6. So cool that you ran in Alaska! I can't wait to see the photos.

  7. still can't believe you are almost done!! it will take me another 5-7 years I think. i must admit, i think I want to do anchorage instead-even though it looks pretty!

  8. Alaska! SO exciting! Congratulations on another half...and closer to your goal! Sounds like a nice half, despite not having many spectators...and I'm sorry about your shins!