Runners Tale in Alaska: Over the River and through the Woods

Time for another run on break from court in Alaska. A new direction, new day. I was fortunate to be running on the Old Glenn Highway (Arctic Street) in Palmer. It's difficult to explain how unique Alaska is. People are very laid back and the pace plods much more slowly. In my day to day life as it is with most people, I think about what time I have to get up, when I have to be there, how long will it take to get there, how long will this last.... Everything seems to be determined not only in increments of time but in how quickly everything can be accomplished.

And then enters Alaska... It isn't that Alaskans get less done. They get quite a lot done in fact. More than most of us in the lower 48 actually, however, their pace is just, well, more laid back and everyone helps. When Kellie and I broke down on the side of the road (which for some reason seems to happen with unusual regularity there) someone we'd never met before offered to give us a ride back to the vehicle. Not even a question about it. As opposed to the "lower 48" where we tend to avoid jumping in and helping out even if we'd like to.

The run starts fantastically with a well-maintained bike path (found everywhere in Alaska) and views that are quite literally breathtaking. I'm all about checking the Garmin to maintain my pace, however, there are so many things to slow down and look at - the field with nursing calves and sheep, the fireweed blooming, the glacier in the distance or the fast-moving Mat-Su River.

Without realizing it, I began to slow down and pace myself with the world around me. I stopped and took a picture because I couldn't believe the beauty surrounding me until I ran around the bend where another vantage point was equally as breathtaking. Then I thought about how I'm naturally never IN any of the stories I write because I can't take a picture of myself.

As I wind along the river, under the road twice and over a bridge, I decide that if I run into someone I'll stop and ask them to take a picture. The unsuspecting tourists from Houston were the first and we had such a good chat that I decided to keep the idea going. Next, since the state trooper had obviously completed writing out his ticket, I asked him, then a woman along the river and a couple of families. I had such a great time stopping, getting a picture, and chatting that I completely forgot about the time I was making and focused on the time I was having.

The run was only 4 1/2 miles and if I had taken up an entire day of chatting with strangers and taking pictures I could have run perhaps ten. Unfortunately, time is still an obstacle and things still have to get done. The reminder to slow down will hopefully remain with me long after I've left Alaska far less easily than my time was erased from my Garmin. 

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