Sunday, July 24, 2011

Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise, Day 2

photo by Jenny Hadfield

Sunday was stage 1 of the "marathon" -- a three-mile deck run. Before leaving for the trip my colleagues and I estimated how many laps that would be -- 15? 21? More? But I was astounded to learn that a mile is a mere three laps around the promenade deck. That's one big boat.

We met in the Queen's Lounge for breakfast and a pre-race briefing -- part info, part pep talk -- and John and Jenny explained the rules and described the different stages. See, rather than just have each race be "won" by the fastest runners, each race had a different challenge. Stage 1 was a predictor race -- whoever was closest to their time won the stage. Stage 2, a trail run in Juneau, was a standard, first to the finish race. Stage 3, an "amazing race" in Sitka, would be determined by the people who drew the aces at the finish line. And Stage 4, a trail run in Ketchikan, was another predictor race. Finally, the overall winners would be the people who came closest to their predicted combined time. Very cool.

Then we were asked to submit our predictions for the first stage. I predicted a gentle, slowish 35 minutes. The catch? No watches or training devices of any sort on the first run. We also submitted our predictions for the overall race -- I went very conservative, knowing that I would be walking at least two of the stages with Wil, and predicted a gentle 6:02.

photo by Jenny Hadfield
We buddied up to time each other, and the first wave got to the starting line. Wil went first, given that he was going to be walking the whole thing. Everyone set off running while the timers stood and cheered.

The fast family were impressive to watch, running six-minute miles and finishing under 19 minutes. But I was sad to see that when they finished running, they seemed to turn in their times and leave. So much for the camaraderie of runners! Everyone else stayed and switched places; the timers becoming runners and vice versa.

photo by Jenny Hadfield

There was a lot of nice support, lots of whooping and hollering. I stood with Mike and Dan, and Wil got extra big cheers each time he passed. When he finished, in 46:31, we swapped places and I stripped down to shorts and a top and headed out.

photo by Jenny Hadfield
I was the last to start, so I probably took off a little too fast. I ran the first mile flat out and started to feel a little sick -- not sure if it was too much breakfast or just the fact that every time we ran around the bow of the ship if was lurching a little. I worked out that I could run the long long straightaways and walk the tight turns and get through it okay.

All of the runners had to do a bit of dodging -- lots of other promenaders -- but people were friendly and for the most part quick to get out of the way -- except at the end of my 8th lap, when I had to weave through a bunch of my fellow runners!

Nice that a bunch of people waited for me to finish and cheered me on before going in. Sure, a bunch of people were gone, but not everyone.

photo by Jenny Hadfield
Nice memories from the run: Lynn taking off an item of clothing each time she came around. She got down to just her jog bra and capris and we were wondering what on earth she might take off next. Bill just kept collecting her gear, and had quite a pile of it by the end.

Lynn shouting at Bill to stop running because of his hurt knee.
photo by Jenny Hadfield

The lady on the deck chair on the starboard side, telling me that I was on my last lap.

Mike, a fast walker, telling me I needed to stop lapping him, and telling people that he was going to get the yellow cap.

My time? 31:10; fastish for me. I was pleased to have "banked" a little time for later, since I was kinda dreading the trail run.

Then back to the room where I showered (I was really sweaty!) and then we hustled up to Jenny's talk about exercise and stretching. We were in the Crows Nest again; a little weird to be sitting on towels and essentially just watching her. I guess no one wanted to be the first to actually do the exercises. I wonder what Jenny thought?  Still, it was nice to chill out as a group.

The rest of the day was all ours. Wil and I had a pre-lunch cocktail and then went up to the Vista Dining Room for lunch. We sat at a table against the stern windows with two couples -- one from California, one from Oregon -- who were ver nice and asked lots of questions about the runs. It was clear that the red vests were already making an impression on the general passengers.

Sunday night was our first Formal Night, so we got up at 5 (yeah, we napped...) to get ready. I wore my velvet top, jacket, and swirly skirt. So versatile...

At first no one joined us at our table -- but then Ann and Barbara from Chicago sat down. (Our 5th and 6th never made it... we were losing a companion each meal!) Ann had had a good run in the morning, nice and steady. Barbara, her cousin, was an enthusiastic supporter along for the cruise. Very nice.

After dinner we went up to the Crows Nest for happy hour -- and found Jenny sitting on her own. We joined her, and then John arrived. We talked business for a bit -- but then he bought us a round of drinks and we went back to socializing. More and more folks joined us -- BJ, a meteorologist, ex Air Force, and super fast runner; Page, who I had been calling "Lulu" in my mind because she wore lots of Lululemon gear; Kelsey, Page's daughter; and others. It still delights me that most people -- really almost everyone -- was super friendly.

Wil and I had planned on seeing the 8:00 show, but then we were enjoying ourselves so much that we hung out in the Crows Next for another hour or so. Good company, good evening.

Wil had ordered the ravioli for dinner -- the one questionable meal of the entire trip. Four ravioli wasn't going to cut it, so after walking around the Observation Deck for a bit, we wandered through the Lido Buffet. It was nearly all closed except for the pizza station. Heck, if you still have pies made, why not serve them? So we had a slice of veggie pizza each. That made us wonder if there was still sushi, so we wandered over to the other side. No sushi, but we did find Javier, who was nibbling a cookie, saying "I just can't stop eating!" :)

We told him we were going to the show and he said, "Oh... I saw it at 8..." and gave it a decidedly poor review that started with "I don't want to prejudice you, but...". I said, "But they're up there, singing and dancing their hearts out, right?" "Well, they're up there..."

Still, we toddled along, had some of the captain's free champagne, and made it through about 20 minutes of the show before fleeing. Decidedly mediocre, and hardly anyone was there, which felt sad. We slipped out after the can-can number, did a loop of the promenade deck -- much emptier at night! -- and then bed.

"Pardon me! On your right!"


  1. I'm loving reading this as I'm doing the Alaska Running Cruise this coming summer! :) One question on the deck race and no training devices...were run/walkers allowed to use their timers that simply tell you when to run and walk?

  2. Hi Beth - glad you enjoyed the blog write up! We absolutely LOVED our Running Cruise; it remains one of our all-time favorite vacations.

    I'm a run-walker myself, but I didn't wear my interval timer during the deck run. I simply divided up the loops of the deck (1/3 mile each) into walking and running sections.

    Enjoy your trip, and let me know how it went!

  3. Thanks Sunny! I'm super excited!! I'll definitely be blabbing about it on my blog ( Good advice on dividing up the laps!


  4. Great write up on the cruise! I just came across it and had a few questions. Would you have time to talk about it?


  5. Great write up on the cruise! I just came across it and had a few questions. Would you have time to talk about it?

  6. Hi Kate - I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about the Running Cruise. We had SO MUCH FUN and are still friends with people we met on the boat.