Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Raven Run Club: Alaska Training Program for Runners of all Levels

This fall I'm going to Anchorage at least once a week as part of the Raven Run Club, a 15 week training program put on by Skinny Raven and coached by their employees. It has been so fun so far and I'm glad I signed up!

Running is something that anyone can do, but all the technical stuff can be kind of confusing for beginners and seasoned runners a like. I decided to join the training program as a first step towards having a coach planning workouts for me with the goal of improving my pace. It is so nice to have someone more experienced than myself to write out workouts that I just get to show up and complete. I also love getting feedback while I'm running, on my form and pace during Tempo segments. It's also great to get to know other people in the Alaska running community - it's always great to find more running buddies!

Even though the training program started August 19, I believe you can still sign up and pay an adjusted fee for the remaining weeks. And I think that Skinny Raven plans on offering training programs year round in the future, which is so exciting! The programs are open to runners of all levels and the coaches are all extremely friendly and easy to talk to. For anyone looking to improve at running, I highly recommend signing up! There are three times offered: 6am, 10am and 6pm and we meet every Wednesday for the main workout and then there's an optional Saturday long run as well at 8am.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: Portage, Alaska

On the way home from our camping trip to Portage Valley a couple of weeks ago, we stopped into the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Located at mile 79 of the Seward Highway, the AWCC is about 55 minutes outside of Anchorage and is well worth the drive. Opened in 1993, the AWCC is committed to conservation of Alaska's wildlife and educating the thousands of visitors they receive each year.

I hadn't visited the center since my teenage years when I was still living at home, and my have things changed around there! It is such an amazing place to visit, both for adults and for kids of all ages. There is a visitor center with restrooms, a snack bar (well stocked!) and a gift shop.

As for seeing all the animals, there are three different options. You can drive, walk or a combination of both. Personally I would always rather park and walk. That's what we did when we visited, and it worked wonderfully. We brought the stroller which Raina spent most of her time in, and Riggs rode along when he chose to. I can see how it would be nice to drive in inclement weather or if you have someone in your group who can't walk for long distances (I think all the loops combined are about 1.5 miles).

I cannot say enough about the quality of the enclosures, the friendliness of the staff, and the overall experience. We had such a good time, and I could not get over how non-cage like all of the enclosures were. Wide expanses of land have been fenced off for each animal to roam, and the more confining enclosures (for the Lynx and Eagle, for example) were beautifully laid out with plenty of enriching details included to entertain the animals. Each animal had an informational panel (or two or three) and even as a lifelong Alaskan who loves nature and the outdoors, I learned a lot!

Location: 49 miles from Anchorage near Girdwood and Portage
Price: $12.50 per adult; youth (13-18)/seniors/active duty military $9; children 12 & under are free.
Hours: 8am to 8pm every day. Hours change September 17, see their website for more information.

click on photos to see larger versions/slideshow:

Visitor Center with gift shop and cafe at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Grizzly bear putting on a show for the guests during the staff member's presentation at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Wood Bison.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation is involved in an extensive project to reintroduce Wood Bison into the wild in Alaska. 
Herd of male Elk, some of which will be flown to the island of Akun to provide economic diversity and opportunity for the Alaska Native community there on the island.