In this episode we recap our big road trip to Alaska, which we are calling “Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure” plus we talk about why you should take the plunge in marathon training and life.
Plus, we have an important announcement about this year’s MTA Podcast Virtual Half Marathon!
Lot’s of photos ahead . . .
As many of you know, I am working on running a marathon in all 50 states. So, for my Alaska marathon we decided it would be a little crazy if we drove to Alaska from our home in Pennsylvania.
- Days Spent in our Camper = 64 days; June 10th to August 13th.
- Miles traveled = 10,437 miles total
- States and Provinces Traveled through= Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, Yukon (territory), Alaska, Alberta, Illinois, and Indiana.
- Great Lakes seen= Huron, Michigan, Superior
- Ferry rides= 6
- Hikes in the Mountains= Too many to count!
- Marathons run = Grandma’s Marathon, Juneau Marathon
- Money spent on gas = Let’s not talk about it!
- Breakdowns = 2
- Bears sighted = at least 8
- National Parks Visited = 5
Our first major stop was in Michigan and we took the ferry out to Mackinac Island where cars haven’t been allowed since 1898. Even the Island’s 492 year-round residents must either bike or take a horse drawn carriage to get around. It is a community frozen in time. A short boat ride took us to the Island where we rented bikes and rode the 8 mile loop around the island. The kids really enjoyed this activity, according to them it was “so lit!”.
Driving through the beautiful and remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan we saw Lake Huron, Michigan, and Superior in the same day.
We pushed on to Minnesota and enjoyed a large MTA meet up in Duluth and I got to run the Grandma’s Marathon. It’s a great course and well supported and organized event. It was state #42 for me in my 50 state quest. You can listen to the recap here.
After the Marathon we also spent the day at the Mall of America (4.8 million square feet) in Minneapolis where the kids enjoyed a ropes course and some rides (malls give me overwhelming fatigue and I enjoyed watching people).
A highlight of our drive through North Dakota was stopping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and going on our first hike of the trip. This area is so named because Teddy Roosevelt (the 26th President) operated a cattle ranch there in the late 1800’s.
You drive through the park going West on I90 but if you have the time, definitely drive down to the town of Medora. It is a hidden gem off the interstate set back in time with lots of Roosevelt history. The landscape of the Badlands is very unique but the ticks that time of year were plentiful.
Roosevelt lived by the principle of the strenuous life and it’s been said that, even though he died at age 60, he packed several lifetimes into one. We have a famous quote of TR’s on the wall called “the man in the arena”
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Running marathons is my (and Trevor’s) own personal way of embodying the strenuous life and living life to it’s fullest.
When we got to Montana we enjoyed a couple days in Lewistown with my dad and ventured out for a nice hike in the Judith Mountains.
I grew up in Denton and Lewistown, Montana, before the days of smart phones. We didn’t get dial up internet until I was around 16 and we didn’t have a TV for most of my childhood which meant that I spent a lot of time playing outside and reading. Our family vacations consisted of camping trips and visiting relatives. I’d consider it an idyllic childhood.
Of course there are a lot of stereotypes about MT that I’ve run into over the years. Things like it being the Wild West, riding horses instead of driving cars, everyone owning a gun, everyone being a cowboy/cowgirl, everyone owns a truck, everyone is a redneck. Yes, there are more cattle than people in the state and getting to the next town is often measured in how many hours it takes. Montanans also notoriously don’t like whiners, especially about things like the weather and they’re hard workers. They also tend to be on the trusting side, like leaving the keys in their car of their door unlocked.
We next went to Billings to see our friends and did a couple short hikes together with our combined 7 kids. It was here that we stumbled into the best restaurant of the whole trip -a place called The Burger Dive.
Next we drove to Bozeman and saw my brother Matthew and his family. My brother took us down one of the most rugged mountain roads I’ve seen for a while and then we hiked up Sacajawea Peak in the Bridger Mountains.
This was by far the most challenging hike of our whole summer . . . complete with snow fields, steep switchbacks, and lots of wind. Our 7-year-old son Liam made it to the top (not without duly complaining) but what’s even more impressive, my little 6 year old niece made it as well.
We next drove to Washington and stayed at one of the most beautiful camping spots right along the Columbia River. I got to run in the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park nearby.
Our next destination was near Port Hadlock near where Trevor’s parents live. Trevor’s mom, Sandy, owns a shop in Port Townsend called the Lively Olive Tasting Bar.
We actually had a camp site near them with a view of the Puget Sound, can’t argue with that! I always enjoy running in the cool weather of the Pacific North West and several times I went to meditate near the ocean. Trev ran up Mt. Walker in the Olympic National Forrest for one of his training runs.
On July 15th we crossed the border into British Columbia at the Sumas Port of Entry. Our mission was to drive the Cassiar Highway north to the Yukon Territory and then drop down into Skagway, Alaska. The Cassiar is a very beautiful and remote route that is mostly paved now. Cell services was zero and gas stations were often few and far between. It felt like we would drive all day and stop and look at the map and see that we hadn’t made that much progress, such is driving to Alaska!
The mountains, lakes, rivers, and wildflowers were absolutely gorgeous! We enjoyed seeing several bears and bighorn sheep, camping near a lake, and getting to discover and run on new roads and trails.
Here is where we stayed in Canada on the way up.
- Cache Creek
- Prince George
We made sure we were always stocked up on gas whenever we saw a station (sometimes at $1.90 a liter or about $5.50 a gallon). It felt like a long haul as we didn’t stay more than one night. The pattern of our life was – drive, eat, sleep, dump septic tank, drive, eat, ect. We went into Canada with no produce because we weren’t sure what they’d allow across the border. It always feels like we don’t have any food without fresh food and the grocery stores along the way were somewhat lacking in selection. I started having heel pain (different than my mild PF) around this time with my next marathon fast approaching.
On July 19th we crossed into the Yukon Territory which is, as Trevor would say, an epic place!
We stayed one night in Teslin and had a plumbing problem in the camper. Thankfully a kind first nations man gave us his plumbing snake. Problem solved. The next day we discovered a broken side window on the camper and had to duct tape a trash bag over the opening. Casualty of the Alaska Highway.
I’d like to think that we were relatively prepared for most mishaps (except for not leaving home with a plumbing snake). We had a spare tire for both the camper and the suburban, various tools, clamps and screws, duct tape, Guerrilla Glue, a tarp, a ladder, flash lights, hoses, cords, first aid, lots of water, engine oil, jumper cables, and two propane tanks.
Tesslin to Skagway was one of the best sections of the drive- dramatic entrance with the landscape, a mountainous moonscape, beautiful green water, weather was beautiful.
It was a treat to get to cross the American border again into the state of Alaska. It was the first time I’d been to Alaska and the only state I’d never been to. The mountains, lakes, and vast tracts of untamed land were absolutely amazing. In fact I’m ready to move there!
Our first stop in Alaska was Skagway and we spent a few days there seeing the historic sites, doing trail runs and hikes, and watching the boats, planes, and helicopters come and go. One interesting thing about northern Canada and Alaska is that it stays light for long hours during the summer (about 18 hours where we were). It was interesting having it light up until 11pm and then light already by 5am. Lots of Europeans visit Skagway and it’s a huge cruise ship destination.
1. There’s never a perfect time.
If you wait for the stars to align you’ll probably never take action toward your marathon goals (or any goals for that matter). Often we want to wait until we have enough time, have the right body, have enough money, or have the support system we desire. But people who actually achieve their goals keep moving forward despite the imperfections in life. There may never be the perfect time to train for a marathon, but there can be a good enough time. And if you wait until you have enough encouragement remember that no one is going to make you run a marathon or achieve your time goal. You have to make it happen for yourself. And as you push through the challenges that arise in every person’s path you’ll find that you have the strength and fortitude to overcome. When you make right now the right time and tackle your goals step by step you’ll find yourself on the right path.
2. Do your homework then just do it.
For people who like to maximize their options or who have a questioner nature it’s often their nature to continually be doing research and exploring every single option. They often feel like they never have enough information to tackle a big goal like the marathon. It’s definitely important to educate yourself and not enter into big decisions blindly but at some point you have to let go of any fears and doubts that you have and take action. For example, I could learn everything I could about traveling on an airplane and all about flying. But I wouldn’t actually get anywhere unless I buy a ticket and step foot in the plane. Often the learning is in the doing.
3. Your future self will thank you.
When you look back in 5, 10 or 20 years you’ll be happy that you overcame the obstacles and worked toward your goals. You may have heard the quote by Earl Nightingale that says, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” If you’re a rebel in the Four Tendencies framework using this mantra (of your future self) may be a good way to accomplish things in life. Someday you may be unable to run and train for a marathon, but today is not that day. St. Benedict famously said, “Keep death before your eyes.” Death is the ultimate reminder of impermanence and the fleeting nature of life. It can help us remember that there are no days to waste and that every moment matters. We can use the reminder of death to help us be truly alive. (1)
4. A new world of experiences and opportunities
When you start taking action toward your goals it opens up a whole new world of experiences and opportunities. I love this quote by Kara Goucher,
“That’s the great thing about running: your greatest runs are not measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”
When I started training for my first marathon I never dreamed that I would someday have a podcast and business based on marathon training, that I would become a running coach, and that I would travel the world and run in amazing places, and meet a community of awesome goal oriented people. Each person’s running journey will look different, and there’s no one-size fits all way to go about reaching your goals. We should also avoid falling into the comparison trap. But you have to take action to open up the world of possibility. It’s the proverbial “putting your boat in the water.” Taking steps outside your comfort zone is always worth it and as Bart Yasso says, “You never know where running will take you.”
Also Mentioned in This Episode
The 2018 MTA Virtual Half Marathon! The medal design this year is ridiculously cool and registration is officially open!!! Early bird pricing now available click here to learn more: http://marathontrainingacademy.com/half