Four thousand miles later, here I am. Doing what I do.
The best way to explore a new town is to lace up the sneaks and run it.
Unless your new town is a lion-infested African savannah. And unless you’ve just moved to a place that happens to specialize in coal-production, lead smelting, or flagrant street crime.
If, on the other hand, your new town is this place, I reckon you’re safe:
Despite that the Juneau weather forecast looked like this,
I nearly skipped out the door this morning, ready to leave my waffle footprints all over this joint.
True, perhaps the race calendar for the remainder of the year is sparse, and true, perhaps black bears are a constant concern (for people who seem to naturally attract animals, like… me), and true, perhaps it’s always cloudy and rainy, but the trails! Oh, the trails! The mountains! The trails! Pinch me. Or maybe just punch me, for all of my gushing fresh air enthusiasm.
After trotting out of Douglas Island (where I’m living) and across the bridge, I ran around downtown this morning and stumbled my way onto the Perseverance Trail for about six miles of the run.
I met a pair of ladies at the trailhead who turned around with matching smiles and asked me, “Did you see the black bear just back around the corner?”
I was immediately flooded with unease, so I stopped my watch and hiked with them for about two minutes, chatting and exchanging in-a-nutshell backgrounds. Juneau locals, they assured me that the shy little black bears around here are well-fed from all the fish and foraging available in the woods, so they won’t eat me like all those crazy Grizzlies in certain national parks recently. They also assured me I would see many of them. Frequently.
“Should I keep running?” I asked, anxious.
“Oh yeah, you’ll be fine. This is a busy trail. If you see a bear, just stop running, maybe give it a yell, try to make your body big, and don’t make eye contact. It will leave you alone. The biggest thing is not to surprise them.”
I thanked the ladies and re-started my watch, occasionally yelling, “Hey bear” when I couldn’t see around trail corners. At one point, I heard some suspicious rustling around a corner. I yelled at the rustling because I was convinced it might be a bear. It was just a confused-looking girl running with her dog. Facepalm.
My bear fears dissolved as I saw other runners and hikers passing me in the opposite direction, and I was able to relax and set things to cruise control.
Speaking of cruises, if you ever take one that docks in downtown Juneau, this trail is the place to run. Maybe I shouldn’t say that yet, because it’s the only one I’ve explored so far, but you have my fervent recommendation anyway.
It’s fairly hilly in spots, but never too technical or rocky to preclude a proper running pace. And it’s absolutely 100% wha-bam grade jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The mountains are trussed up in sassy wildflowers and glittering waterfalls and misty rainforest garb, with vistas so punishingly pretty that you might start to hyperventilate, particularly if your vista involves a nearby black bear.
Really, though. What a run. What a run.
Sixteen miles really flies when you’re in a new town, especially if it’s a town like this:
With trails like that:
I consulted mapmyrun for a few pacing estimates, and through my downtown/Douglas roads on the way in and out, I managed something around an 8:15-8:25 pace. I’m not sure of the mileage on the trail, but I have to suppose my paces didn’t fluctuate too far out of that range. I ran for 2 hours and 18 minutes, which puts me at sixteen miles for the day at the very least.
I haven’t run this long in a while, and it felt effortless. That’s what fresh mountain air and 50*F temperatures can do for you, though.
P.S. That weather forecast was wrong, because after a grayish morning, it’s become quite sunny here. More proof:
Yes. Life is good today. Time to get back outside.