"Location is Everything"
Kotzebue is located in a transitional climate zone characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Because it is on the coast, the Kotzebue climate is more temperate than elsewhere in Northwest Alaska. The average low temperature in winter months ranges from seven degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) to 12 degrees below zero. The average winter high temperatures range from two to nine degrees Fahrenheit. Summer lows range from 25 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit, summer highs 50 to 60 degrees. Temperature extremes have been measured from 52 degrees below zero to 85 degrees above. The daily low temperature in Kotzebue dips below freezing around 250 days per year. Snowfall averages 40 inches per year, rainfall nine inches, with more than 100 days of precipitation per year. Kotzebue Sound is free of ice from early July to early October. Kotzebue topography consists of a gravel and tundra spit, low bushes and no trees.
Training the dogs is truly a year-round effort. In the summer, we will focus on free-running the dogs in a low stress and low pressure environment. This breaks up the seasons nicely and gives the dogs a chance to recover from the long winter season. In the fall, we work with the dogs on sleds in the tundra. This teaches the dogs to pull because there is quite a bit of drag on the sled in these conditions. Once the ocean freezes, in November, we can start putting longer runs on the dogs. Before we know it the first race starts in Bethel in January!
Fall training has its perks! Like 'Dancing with Caribou'
Training for Ironman races above the Arctic Circle requires a tremendous amount of time inside on a bike trainer, inside on the swim trainer, and inside on the treadmill. Living in Kotzebue (with no swimming pool and only a few miles of paved roads) makes training a unique logistical challenge. The most recent addition to our gym is a VASA Trainer which mimics outdoor swimming using a power meter. Definitely makes my form significantly better! The real testament will be on December 1st on race day morning. That will likely be the first time swimming in actual water all year.
In order to prepare for an Ironman distance triathlon, an athlete must spend hours upon hours biking countless miles. The restriction of having no roads to ride on causes the need for creativity as I put in 4 plus hour bike rides. I am thankful for this stellar set up which has taken years to build up to. The Computrainer allows me to bike based on power. The flywheel is controlled electronically by a computer. I have various real course videos which allow me to ride on actual courses such as IM Kona or IM Coeur d'Alene. I also utilize ERGVideos which allow for very creative intervals and training scenarios to make the long hours not so passive. I also have a screen to watch movies, so I am very caught up on all the latest flicks.
The beautiful thing about running is the simplicity of it. A pair of shoes is really all you need. There are enough roads in Kotzebue to get the needed mileage. When the temperatures are low and the winds are high-there is always the treadmill standing by.