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Eve Vents Four Awl Inn Terrace Dead

There’s a particular point of realization that you’re no longer where you used to be. There’s a good chance that I’m talking about getting lost again, but in this case it’s more of a metaphorical realization point.

I realized that my running – a source of frustration and self-inflicted derision – has switched from being a considerable weakness into a bit of a strength. Not a huge strength, mind you, but a strength all the same.

For the last months, I’ve focused not on short term speed, but long term durability in my running. To wit, I tried to not injure myself. I’ve slowly built up my tolerance for longer and longer runs, my longest being 7.5 miles. My shins have been mostly better, still needing some TLC after harder runs.

In the interim, I’ve done other things. Most notably, I organized a mountain bike race at Tsalteshi Trails with others from the Tsalteshi Trails Association and the Kenai Peninsula Cycle & Ski Club.

Leading up to the race, I had been trying to come up with some kind of fun event that Tsalteshi could host. I learned that Tsalteshi had previously had mountain bike races in years past. I had been running frequently, and often exploring some of Tsalteshi’s adjacent, not-real-trail offerings. After weeks of consideration, TTA Chair Adam and I came up with a rather ridiculous mountain bike racecourse that would challenge any rider. The most fun aspect was having the racers go “off-piste” from the usual trails and experiment with radically steep and muddy downhill sections and decidedly vertical ascents, often wandering through root-ridden singletrack trails, which were an absolute delight with the considerable rainfall we had had. I contacted the indomitable Coach Angie, bike chair of KPCSC, and asked for their help.

With only a few days of warning before the race, dubbed “PsychoCross 2012,” we decided that the race be for those 18 years and over thanks to the dangerous terrain. The night before the race, we flagged the nine mile course in pouring rain, which had my Excitement Meter absolutely pegged. Saturday morning arrived, bringing with it unexpectedly nice weather. The trails were still a mud pit, but that was rather the point of the race.

The short notice brought only 10 brave riders, but that was enough for a good bit of action. One guy from California showed up with a cyclocross bike AND flames tattooed on his leg so you knew he was serious. There was also a photographer and journalist from the Clarion.

I rode the course before the race, to make sure that everything was flagged appropriately. I brought with me athletic field paint, and would stop every so often and spraypaint arrows the size of bison on the trails lest people be lost. At the top of the mudslide and wildly steep downhill, I wrote “BIG HILL” in big letters and attempted to draw a skull to warn riders of the severity of the upcoming descent. It ended up looking like a giant mushroom, thanks to my lack of artistic prowess. At the bottom of the Wolverine trail, I saw a small child walking ahead of his family, collecting pin flags as if they were flowers. I asked him nicely if I could have them back and he relented. Smart lad.

Deflagging aside, no one got lost thanks to our great volunteers. Everyone finished except for odds-favorite Mr. California, who lamentably broke his chain whilst in second place.

The event, though small, got some attention, landing on the front page of the Clarion:


The next day, I went with a group for perhaps the last road bike of the season. I had it in my head to do 80 miles, and ended up going from Soldotna past Nikiski to the end of the road at Captain Cook Park. The day was brilliant, the traffic light, and it felt good to ride long distance. I rolled back into Soldotna and took a roundabout way back to my vehicle to get my 80 miles, and called it a day.

The next weekend I entered the Tustumena 5k Run to see how I’d do in a race on more or less flat ground and pavement. It wasn’t the nicest day, but the rain wasn’t terrible and the horrendous winds forecasted didn’t yet materialize. There were 45 of us in the race, a good number of kids. The Tustumena 5k is a fundraiser for Tustumena Elementary School, and is very well represented, even with the sodden weather. Many of the kids tore off in a dead sprint right from the start, which lasted for the first 0.1 mile of the 3.1 mile course. I fell in behind a very fast woman and hoped she knew where she was going. I had glanced at the course map before the race, but was completely unfamiliar with the area and have a tendency to get lost. A good portion of it was off road, and after the first mile I thought I knew enough about where I was going to forge ahead. After a beautiful run around the Johnson Lake campground, we were back on the roads. I was leading, and imagined how classically Mike it would be to get lost with less than a mile left. Thankfully, I managed to choose the right path, and ran back into the school parking lot 20 minutes, 28 seconds after I had started.

I wasn’t thrilled with my time, but I thought dialing it back a little for the first mile was prudent, and I had a really fun time and met some great people.

So in the course of a few decades, I’ve gone from dead last to first in a 5k race. Admittedly, the Tustumena 5k is more of a fun run than an competitive crucible, but it helped me realize that my running might be taking a surprising turn into a bit of a strength.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be making a bouquet of pin flags. Just turn right at the giant mushroom.

One Response to “Eve Vents Four Awl Inn Terrace Dead”

  1.   MizBeech Says:


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