Friday was the last day of our friend’s visit to Fairbanks. After their sixth night here, we decided we should probably do something “touristy,” and took them to the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Museum of the North.
It’s been years since I’ve actually gone through the displays. The last time I was in the building was when I was taken downstairs for a genetics class, and my class got to see all the taxidermied animals not on display.
This time, I was pure tourist. Granted, I looked through things a lot faster than I would have if I hadn’t seen them all before, in multiple different displays.
Regardless, it was fun to see Otto the Brown Bear, who has greeted tourists at UAF Museum since the ’80’s. I remember him when I was growing up!
I took a drive the other day, just for the heck of it. Up the Steese Highway, and straight on through to the Elliott Highway, I turned onto Old Murphy Dome Road. It’s a long road–I’d forgotten just how long it was, and I only made it less than halfway before turning around. (I had a sleeping baby in the backseat.)
I’m not sure why I drove there, but for the reason that my baby was waking, and I knew if I stopped the car, he’d wake up for good, and it was too early for him to end his nap. So I kept driving, and eventually stopped and took some pictures. Because it was just too pretty to ignore.
Just a few miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, you can get these kind of views. The kind where you don’t see another living soul for miles.
In driving five or so miles, on a relatively well maintained road (I was surprised, although we haven’t gotten large amounts of snow for awhile, there was evidence of this road being plowed), I saw no one. A couple residences, sure, but no live being, other than many birds. It would be the perfect place to go running. A long stretch of solitude.
And a view like this…
This is probably what people move to Alaska for.
Even though I grew up in North Pole, Alaska, about fifteen miles from where I currently live (as the crow flies–in reality, those fifteen miles are a forty minute drive), I was never one to engage in winter running.
But when I moved to Washington five years ago, I got more into running than ever before. I did track for a year or two in high school, but I wasn’t good enough to be super interested in it, and my interests lay more in soccer than boring running. I think I was talked into joining track by a friend of mine. (It was more social than anything, and I never distinguished myself.)
Anyway, in Washington, I began running. There was a fantastic trail near where I lived that went on for over thirty miles. I could run and run and run and
not grow tired not run out of paved trails. I had finally found the enjoyment of running, and I began to see just how far I could push myself.
I began to run longer distances. I upped my distance from three miles to five. Five to six. Six to seven. Seven soon became ten, and ten finally became thirteen. I ran half marathon distance.
Not only was it great for me, but great exercise for the high-energy dogs too.
Like most runners, I’ve combated injury. After running half-marathon distance for the first time, I injured my foot and ended up in a boot because I could hardly put weight on it. After that healed, I got back into running, but stayed shy of that distance for awhile. I was finally working my way back up to it when I got pregnant.
Pregnancy does weird things to your body, and although I didn’t disagree with running while pregnant, I didn’t feel good, and felt tired most of the time. Motivation was difficult to come by, and my running slipped off the daily “to-do” list. Ironically, toward the end of my pregnancy, I developed “runner’s knee,” which usually afflicts runners due to a weaker inside quad muscle. (I never had this problem while running, mind you, just when I stopped running.)
Now, I have a seven and a half month old. And I just started running (for real) again. Dare I say I’ve found the pleasure in running again? It’s not that I haven’t run with my baby before, I’ve done the sporadic, guilt-induced exercise, knowing I needed to get out there and do something, but I didn’t really feel any pleasure in it. This past week, I’ve found the pleasure. Finally.
After my first two runs this week, realizing how much I missed it, and, even though the roads around my house are hills and hills have never been my friend, I knew I needed new shoes. I had some old Adidas trail shoes that I used the first couple of times, but I’m running on ice now. Pushing a stroller. It’s not so much a matter of my own safety, but the safety of my baby that I’m worried about. What if I slip and lose control of his stroller? He’ll go zooming off down the hill, and I may be injured–unable to run after him.
So I headed out to a local outdoors store that is popular in Fairbanks: Beaver’s Sports. I’ve been there before, lots before. It’s a local place with a great variety of winter gear. They have bikes, skies, snowboards, shoes, coats, hats, gloves, sunglasses, camping gear, pretty much anything you can need for outdoors in Alaska. Think REI, but think Alaskan, and local.
It was there that I purchased my first pair of winter running shoes. I half expected to get studded shoes, like snow tires, you know? But the helpful young man there showed me two pairs, a couple of Icebug shoes and a pair of Salomon shoes. I had heard of the Icebug shoes, and even gone so far as to look them up online. But I’m glad I didn’t buy them online. When I tried them on, they felt quite uncomfortable for my feet. My toes were a little smushed, and my foot almost felt as though it were slipping over the sides of the sole. The Salomon, on the other hand, fit extremely comfortably.
And so, I found my new shoes.
Aren’t they pretty?