September 30, 2012

Check that off the list

Well this week I finally caught the terrible cold that has been going around our team. I am pretty proud of myself though because my housemates have been sick for the last month and I held it off for almost the entire 5 week interval training block we were in....almost. I missed the last 3 intensity sessions of the block, but all in all, I still was able to get some good training in, I guess my body just couldn't take it anymore, so be it. Honestly, as the rain continued to fall and the air grew colder every day, I was quite content curled up in bed. However, I woke up yesterday, pulled up my shade and saw this:

I didn't think much of it, but our coach sent us an email suggesting we try skiing up higher in the mountains. So Sadie and did just that and found a little bit of snow, although a bit scratchy it was beautiful and sunny out and that feeling good feeling of gliding on the snow came back. With that, I have now officially skied every month of the year!!!!!! 
Check it out:
October 27th, 2011 Skiing in Hatcher's Pass, AK
November 30th, 2011 Enjoying a beautiful ski in West Yellowstone, MT

December 15th, 2011 Sprint Racing in Silver Star, Alberta

January 4th, 2012 Sprint at US Nationals Rumford, ME
February 3rd, 2012 Enjoying some new snow in Sun Valley, ID
February 9th, More new snow in Aspen, CO
March 25th, 2012 Racing in Toblach, Italy
April 15th, 2012 Sunshine in Truckee, CA
Just so you know we were actually skiing! Truckee, CA

May 4th,  2012  Alaskan Crust Skiing!
May 28th,  2012 Interval Training Bend, OR

June 28th, 2012 More Intervals Eagle Glacier, AK
July 26th, 2012 A glorious day on Eagle Glacier, AK

August 17th, 2012  I couldn't find a picture of me, but I promise I skied on these tracks! Eagle Glacier, AK

September 29th, 2012 First tracks of the winter Glen Alps, Anchorage, AK

September 24, 2012

What is happening???

I cracked!

I know I spent my last post talking about how much more tolerant I have become of the weather, but I lied. The weather this month is killing me. Those 3 sunny days I posted about last were the only 3 days I have seen the sun and not been rained on the entire month of September (for those that are bad at math, that's 21 days of, excuse the language, shit). It hasn't just been rain we are dealing with here, but extreme wind as well. I like to tell people I've been living in an extended hurricane. And just when you see a glimpse of sunlight, you wake up the next morning to a new storm full of more rain and more wind. Mediocre days have become awesome and horrible days mediocre. I have actually been lucky as I have not had to be evacuated because of flooding and I have not lost my power again and again as many of the people in South central AK have had. But it still hasn't been all that enjoyable, so much so that I started a desktop countdown, to the sec, of when I will arrive in Utah, where the sun always shines.

All I can say is the rest of the ski world better hope the weather is not bad at any races because they won't stand a chance against the APU Elite Team.

Being the geography major that I am, I was in tune with reading about the weather and putting some thought into that. No one ever takes pictures in the bad weather so this post will be word heavy, but hopefully share a thing or two about what is going on. It turns out that this month of ridiculous extreme weather is greatly coincidental with a new record low of sea ice in the Arctic, set at the beginning of the month. Or maybe this isn't so coincidental. Sea ice is reflective sending all that heat from the sun back where it belongs, but ocean water is dark and absorbs all that heat so, when the sea ice melts more heat is absorbed raising the temperature of the water and then the air and melting more ice and so on and so on...

This warming that has occurred simply creates more moisture available and more heat to more rapidly evaporate it making for more storms. There is debate as to whether or not this Arctic sea ice melt is cause of extreme weather events around the country. Some believe the warming has created a change, slowing, of the jet stream forcing weather events to stay in one place for extended periods of time. Regardless, it is believed that the Arctic, which I consider AK to be part of, is experiencing and will experience more extreme weather events as a result of the ice melting and this I most certainly do believe after the month I've had.

Here are 2 NY Times articles for more info:

Maybe most frightening is this statement from the above article:
"Now, some scientists think the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice as soon as 2020. But governments have not responded to the change with any greater urgency about limiting greenhouse emissions. To the contrary, their main response has been to plan for exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including drilling for more oil."

Which is, of course, often is in the headlines of the Anchorage Daily News as Shell most recently expanded oil drilling out into the Arctic Ocean, something never done before. All interesting things to think about. Look what I do when its no fun being outside....

Here we are, "taste the rainbow"
We, the APU Girls, have also been fulfilling our duties as chefs. At our 2 fundraisers, a dinner prepared and served by us is always auctioned off. We complete both dinners this month featuring all the fall favorites and extending as far as learning to cook duck (and eating it for the first time) all went well. 

My teammate Holly enjoying a wet ski (Courtesy of Holly)

We also took some time to volunteer at some running jamborees held for kids. Here we use some awesome dance moves to warm up the 5th/6th grade girls. 

September 16, 2012

Post-Storm Beauty

After the storm cleared and most people got their power back, the weather did a 180 bringing us the clear, crisp fall weather I am more accustom to. Having not traveled around much of Alaska this summer, I took the opportunity to head a little south to Hope, AK. Hope is a VERY small town across Turnagin Arm that was established during the gold rush. My teammate Holly and her husband are in the process of building a cabin down there so a bunch of us girls went down to join Holly for a long run/hike in the mountains and spend the night at her cabin. It was a great weekend to get out of the city!

We drove up a valley, parked the car and just headed up the hillside. I have found that trails are generally not popular here in AK, much in contrast to the incredible trail network we have in PC
Getting to the top of the ridge involved plowing our way up the mountain through this tall grass. I would have thought I was in the midwest, except for the fact that I was walking straight uphill. 
Reaching the ridge

The colors were just incredible! I wish I new some of the native Alaskan plants, but I'm still waiting for my mom to come visit and inform me.
Becca on top of the ridge pointing to Anchorage.

Ridge Running! AK is great for this
On top of the ridge, psyched for the 360 degree views
The first part of the ridge was pretty thin, but it was exciting to be on that razor edge
More pretty plants!
My Teammates on top of a mountain

Being girls, taking pics everywhere
Thanks Swix and PowerBar for keeping us fueled up and prepared
Saw some caribou up on top of the ridge. I think this is the first caribou I have ever seen!
Love that red
I was told the name of this flower but I can't remember it....
Headed down the mountain

We made it almost to the bottom when we hit the dreaded alder bushes. This is a classic Alaskan thing! Alders generally occupy the space above treeline before it opens up to mosses, tundra, and low lying plants so they are always that obstacle between the road and the ridge. We successfully avoided them on the way up but on the way down we hit them. There was a dried up stream bed that we were able to literally crawl in and get a little lower allowing us to sort of army crawl through the bushes. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the worst part is that alders are generally joined by Cow Parsnip and Devil's Club, 2 evil plants that causes large blisters and have thorns that get into your skin. Luckily we all survived without to many lasting scars. This was my first true Alaskan bushwhack so it was a little exciting, despite the frustration in crawling through bushes. 

When we returned to the cabin we cooked up some grilled cheese and tomato soup

The crew at the cabin
Our delicious dinner! Check it out, Holly even got me to eat some salad!

Once back in town, the weather remained clear for a few more days. With the crispness in the air, Denali is ever more prominent so I spent some time rollerskiing and running up high in order to get a view of the Alaska Range and Denali. It was just spectacular. You need a very fancy camera to capture the view so I will leave it as a hook to convince some of you to get up here and visit me someday. The storm also left all the peak snow capped and its only September....... Alaska is crazy!

September 15, 2012

An Alaskan Hurricane?

I am slowly learning to deal with rain...I am still a first class weather complainer (who can blame me, I grew up in Utah), but now working on year 6 outside of the Utah sunshine, I have sorta come to terms with what the weather brings us. However, everything is bigger in AK, including storms.

We started into our intensity block for the year, meaning lots and lots and lots of hard, fast training. Think somewhere between 1-4 minutes as hard as you can go repeated over and over in every workout, usually up a big hill. In my junior days, I did a lot of this type of training so I don't actually mind it all that much, but now that I am a big bad senior, I have to do more. In other words, it never really gets easier, but it is without a doubt rewarding and I appreciate that. But back to the storm. After our first week of brutal training, we headed to the movies to watch Magic Mike (yes, we are poor skiers who have to go to the discount theatre to watch movies that everyone else saw months ago) for a few laughs, but when we came out the weather god was getting his laughs in too. The wind was just howling and the rain coming down sideways. As we drove home, road signs were whipping across the road, trees were falling right and left and anything not tethered down was airborne. Fortunately, we made it home without any mishaps and quickly decided we best move our cars to a lot with less trees than our driveway. On our walk home from the university parking lot, transformers around city were blowing up creating epic lights in the sky and then just like that, the power was gone. Luckily, we are the outdoorsy type that has headlamps within an arms reach. Our roof is flat so we could hear branches flying off the trees and ricocheting across our roof. It was very much terrifying and made it a little hard to get to sleep.

The following morning, we were supposed to get a couple of workouts in on our own, rollerskiing and biking. After a quick survey around the house, we realized either of these activities were going to be near impossible with the amount of debris around and the number of trees down. My new housemate and I set out for a run instead. It was a far cry from a run as we couldn't make it many steps before we had to climb over a down tree. I think there were more trees down than there are trees in all of Park City. It was really something.

I got this awesome headband because of my extreme fear of the wildlife

If you didn't know better, you'd think this picture is sideways, nope there are that many trees down!


A few real big ones got ripped out of the ground
We were very lucky as we were only without power for a night, but many were without it for 3-5 days!!! Turns out AK doesn't even have enough transformers lying around to replace them all so people had to wait until transformers from the lower 48 arrived. Needless to say we all survived.....just in time for round 2. Another storm is predicted to hit tonight. Costco was a zoo, people really want to be prepared this time around!