Monday, August 24, 2009

Ditch trail

Living out of a suitcase for four months hasn't bothered me at all until today, when I was suiting up for a run with Abby on the Treadwell Ditch Trail, and all three pairs of running shoes were in various states of muddy and wet. I probably have an extra pair of running shoes stashed away somewhere; I may even have a boot drier. But today I had to pull on one of my wet pairs, green slime still glistening on the laces, a musty aroma of mildew on the mesh, bits of bark pressing down on my toes and muddy water gurgling out of the soles, as I contemplated the life of a runner in Juneau.

I am really starting to hit my stride with trail running ... starting to think about all the places I can take it ... starting to think about ways I can improve it ... starting to (gulp) enjoy it. If I can bear to leave my bike at home, there's still a whole lot of terrain surrounding me that I have yet to experience. And while walking can be relaxing, running tends to get you there faster, with larger doses of happy chemicals, and a greater feeling of accomplishment.

I still have little interest in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons ... really, anything that involves pounding feet on pavement. Which is good. It means that if I do start running more, my fun won't be threatened by the temptation to turn it into training for some kind of race, because what kind of foot races are held in Alaska in the winter? (OK, there's the Little Su 50K. Don't tempt me.)

Or maybe ... do tempt me? I'm still very uncertain what I really want to do with this winter, but I do need goals to keep me motivated and I do need daily excursions in the outdoors to keep my spirits up. And right now, I am struck with this feeling that I need to do something different, even as I remain in Juneau with the same job and the same limited bike route options. Training for a 50K? Is that a completely idiotic idea? Or is it maybe just what I need?

Either way, it's fun to formulate different ideas and goals, even ones that contradict each other.


  1. It's amazing how much faster you go when you have a dog chasing you. I always think to myself..."big dog coming behind you!" Works when you need that boost. As for running, its awful nice to have a granny gear for an easy spin when you are that far out from civilization...think I have said enough!

  2. Yes, but this dog seems very nice <;)... Imagine your best performance with a bears or a wolf <:)
    Have a good day Jill !

  3. Watch out for bears in those woods Jilly!

  4. I think that you're just mentally stuck in a rut in Juneau and you're just using running as an excuse to avoid that reality.

    I also think it's funny that you took on the GDR after Geoff did it, you beat his performance in the race by finishing it, and now you're taking up running more seriously. Either you're competing with him, or you're becoming more like him.

  5. A 50K trail run, in my opinion, is easier to train for than a marathon. Trail running and biking both take me to a place to ease off the stresses of life.

  6. I don't think it's moronic - I'm training for a 50k this winter. Winter biking can be kind of a chore...

  7. I think it's great I'm actually trainning for a 50k this Oct, and I've just started training for the Arrowhead 135 in Feb. Go for it girl :-)

  8. If you keep running/hiking with Abby, you are almost certainly going to find yourself xc skiing thus winter. And that would be a good thing!

  9. Trailrunning - Go for it! you have to remember to dry your shoes, but you don't have to oil your chain, fix flats, push bikes through mud, etc

  10. Just caught up on the last couple of posts - Happy Birthday! I'm close to that lucky # 30 myself.

    Fritz Cove - nice! Went kayaking out there last night for my first time ever. Cruised over to outer point and back and was spent.

    Thanks, your bike to hike thing has opened my eyes to more Juneau MTB'ing. I admit I got after it during the nice weather doing Treadwell Ditch full length and going back into lemon creek, climbing Eaglecrest, and some other short stretches of dirt here and there in the valley, but that got old real quick. I guess I have a few more options now thanks to you.

    Have you ever biked up to the Top of the World outside Moab? At the top you can stand over a crack and look down maybe 500+ feet. Your story about sliding towards the unknown coming down McGinnis reminded me of that for some reason even though the two places are not even similar besides the cliff aspect.

    Good luck with your training and running!


  11. Kyle,

    Thanks for the birthday message! Do you really ride on the Lemon Creek and Treadwell Ditch Trails? Since I started running more, I've hit those trails for the first time and they are burly ... slippery log bridges, off-camber, slimy root-clogged singletrack and endless deadfall. In my opinion, they make for a techincal run. I couldn't imagine having the patience to drag a bike through there (I would end up walking it likely 80 percent of the time.) So I'm intrigued.

    I haven't been to the Top of the World in Moab. In fact, I've done very little trail riding in Moab - just the Slickrock Trail and the Kokopelli Trail, which comes into town on a road.

    Thanks again for the note. Hope to run into you outside someday! If I every see a biker during my Treadwell Ditch runs, I'll probably assume it's you, because I don't expect there are too many mountain bikers in town who are that dedicated.

  12. I am sure your thoughts are for the most part rhetorical - however as I have followed your blog for so long I am pretty sure if the thought were "run up the side of the Empire State Building backwards" you would/could do it. I have also found that certain anonymous commenters are such negative nancies - whatever. Thankfully that has not seemed to slow you down in the past. Do what you like.

  13. How about a winter pentathalon? Sierra says this is what's next for her.

  14. I host a winter pentathlon:

    ping pong
    mini bowling

  15. Jill,

    No doubt riding the Ditch is an excercise in patience. I made it home one day after bonking and feeding on any blueberries I could find. They were a life saver. I grew up riding and racing east coast roots, did a bunch of riding when I was at the U in SLC, but more or less just take my time these days and enjoy being outside. I've seen some other tire tracks out there so I can't the only one.

    I only get out to the sandpit overlook in lemon creek. It's short but a good way to work the tech skills. The DH getting down there is pretty fun. I haven't ventured any further as I am mostly ride solo.

    Do you recommend any other trails besides the Perseverance area? I haven't been on the MTB in a while and riding to work on the same (only) route is getting pretty boring at this point.


  16. DO it! Who cares why you need to break up the monotony? As long as you aren't shooting heroin or similar, I say go with it! Explore your crazy athletic side! Give yourself something to look forward to

    However, I echo the other commentors with - PLEASE TAKE YOUR BEAR SPRAY WITH YOU LADY! :)

    Hey, I'm a Jill, and I'm just about to exit 30 and plunge into 31. It has been an excellent, excellent year for me. I believe it will be for you, too.

  17. Don't knock the heroin.

    Lou Reed.

  18. Can you swim? Have you ever thought about Exterra event? That way you still get to ride. Plus a zillion hours of training in 3 sports is right up your alley

  19. Jill,
    A great way to cross-train in the winter is on skis (or split board) with skins. And trust me, the ride down is just as fun - and more - as on a bike! This rain will turn white soon enough ... so help me god. And once that happens you don't need no stinkin' trails. Ask me about Wedding Bowl sometime at the office. You'd love it. Kim M


Feedback is always appreciated!