18.5 miles of air-bubbled bliss

It’s hard to write about running when 20 children were senselessly gunned down a few days ago. It makes me realize how frivolous running is, and how much a luxury. Think of it! Even a bad bonk, even a run that’s a struggle from start to finish is still a gift because we’re alive, we’re breathing and our bodies and lungs are healthy. I hope to always remember this and never take running for granted. I hope to always appreciate it.

My heart and prayers go out to the families of all the children, teachers and school administrators. What a terrible and brutal time. (I remember when my son was six, it’s such an innocent and magical time.) And, not to get all political or anything, but what the f**k? I’m all for the right to bear arms but there must be limits, people. Limits.

Okay, my little rant is over. Now it’s time to talk running.

This past week I had a bunch of dismal runs. We had weeks of cold, clear temps so that the trails were packed down and fast and oh, it was so lovely! Then the snows came, over 10 inches, and it immediately became colder so that the new snow froze into hardened chunks, and the trails are a mess of frozen footprints and ski grooves so that running becomes an ankle-twisting feat of endurance. It’s okay for short runs but longer marathon paced runs? I don’t think so.

I took it inside to the treadmill. Now the treadmill is great for anything up to eight miles. After that, it becomes hideous, trust me on this.

So Saturday, with a 17-miler scheduled and the trails still a mess, I took it inside. I took it to The Dome.

People who don’t live in Alaska probably have no idea of the wonders of this odd and ugly building.

Doesn’t it look like a giant insect or something? Or maybe a huge and breathing balloon.

It’s supposedly the largest air-supported sports facility in the country. And yeah, I said air-supported. This is what the walls look like.

It’s like running inside an inflatable swimming pool. And the lighting is weird, too, so that everything has a strange cast and really, it’s all so very odd. But when one lives in Alaska, one becomes immune to oddities.

Plus, it has this:

And folks, this track is awesome. It’s level and smooth and kind of the joints. And it’s fast.

Here’s what the Website says about it:

The Dome features one of the only 400 meter indoor tracks in the world; the same materials and markings used in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the 1984 Olympic Games. World class athletes still consider this the finest track ever installed in the United States.

Well, I’ve never actually seen world class athletes running on it, but who knows, eh? And all of this inside a balloonish, inhaling mass of rubberized walls. Crazy!

I ran 68 laps in the fifth and sixth lane, which I later figured out to be 18.52 miles. It went well, I must say. I felt strong until the last two miles, when that sly voice inside my head urged me to slow down and that other voice inside my head said, thank you very much but I’m maintaining my pace.

The track from above: See the field, I think it’s big enough for indoor football, too. Wild. Photo credit: The Alaska Dome

The cool thing is that inside the track is a large stretch of green (artificial turf) where soccer games are held, and while I was running parents were sitting in the stands cheering on their kids. Each time I rounded this area I pretended that they were cheering for me. (Sorry, but one must amuse oneself how one can while running around a track 68 times like a demented gerbil.)

Today I’ll do recovery miles on the treadmill, since I need to stop at the laundromat (our washer broke, such a shame, though I secretly love laundromats, love how warm they are inside and the churning and comforting sounds of so many machines cleaning so many clothes) and will throw my clothes in the washers, head to the gym, pound out 6-8 miles and return to, hopefully, find that no one swiped my heaps and heaps of work out clothes.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And hug your kids, okay? Even if they are oversized and sulky college students who think they’re smarter than you are. They’re still beautiful beyond words.

5 thoughts on “18.5 miles of air-bubbled bliss

  1. Karen

    I sometimes imagine the cheers are for me too. And running in the balloon sounds more fun for warm running than a treadmill! 🙂 How much does it cost to use?


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