October 13, 2015


Last week, we headed up to Fairbanks, Alaska so I could do a visiting lecture at the University and we could hang out with friends, try to see the Aurora, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Alaskan Interior.

Running was, predictably due to the travel, quite light.  Mileage for the week totaled 19.83 including several hiking miles and about 2 hours of snow-hiking (which is no cardiovascular joke!).

We got *very* lucky, and on our first full night, we saw a beautiful Aurora display.  We'd planned our visit specifically with the goal of seeing the Aurora, so we were very pleased.  This trip reminded me every single day that a camera phone is nowhere near as great as a real camera, and I'm hopeful I'll take this lesson and actually do something about it soon...

Work for both of us was a bit more hectic than we'd hoped, so we didn't get Friday or Monday off entirely, but Saturday and Sunday were glorious days off, on Alaskan time, which is much slower than SV time, with deliberate space for weather calamities, unplanned social interactions with small-town friends, hours between cell service, etc.

Just out for a drive along the Alaska Range

Seriously.  How gorgeous is this?

The Alaska Pipeline.

The view from one of the turnouts -- breathtaking and not a car in sight.

The four of us: me, E, D, and Arvay

One of many gorgeous photo ops from the drive.
Sunday, we drove out to Chena Hot Springs and hiked to the summit of one of the trails before soaking and dinner with D & Arvay.  It was a perfect way to spend the day.

See the hot springs steam behind us?

I'd never done true snow-hiking before.  Cardio!

The Summit!
The only real downside was that I cut my big toe in the hot springs while trying to clamber out of the hot water.  The algae on the rocks was quite slippery, and the edges were sharp.  The first time I needed a break from the heat, I surprised myself by using my residual upper body strength and bouldering out with shoulders and back and finger strength and direct foot force against the slippery algae.  There might have been a discussion of mu and force diagrams...  (4 engineers get in a hot spring...)

Emboldened by my initial success, I thought I could do it again after 30+ minutes of hot spring water relaxing my muscles... Wrong.  I angled slightly, the algae did, in fact, have a very low mu value, and my foot slid right over the oh-so-sharp edge of the rock I was trying to climb.

This is a nice clean slice, but fairly deep, unfortunately. 

Thankfully, between the mineral spring water and antibiotic cream, I seem to have avoided an infection.  So now, I'm focused on workouts for the remainder of the week that don't aggravate my toe.  I'd hoped to do a trail 10K on Saturday, but I'm skeptical that it's a good idea at this point.  The plan is to do non-running toe-friction-free cardio 'til Friday and then tape it up and go for a test run.  If it holds up, I'll shoot for the 10K.  If it seems remotely likely to rip open, I'll likely play it safe.  Wish me luck...

No comments: