It’s been three weeks since MMR. I’ve never felt so relieved to have an event behind me. Not that the experience was a bad one - far from it. But I’ve rarely experienced so much anticipation and, in a way, anxiety prior to a race. I think it was the unknown of the all out downhill portion of the course and the significant possibility of bodily injury with such an effort that caused a lot of the ruckus in my head. It seemed that nary a night passed that I didn’t think about some aspect of the race as I tried to fall asleep. And my sleep is the first thing that got better on the night of July 4th.
Well, 10 weeks of focused preparation have lead to this event. Tomorrow I get to lay it all out there and answer a few questions I've had about how this will go for me. It's hard to describe to outsiders the atmosphere of the weeks of leading up to Mt. Marathon and the general vibe in the community of Seward during this event. In South Central Alaska, there really is no other event that generates as much buzz and media attention as MMR. It's really something. And to think I have the good fortune to experience it for the first time as a competitor is pretty cool. It's certainly going to suck for part of it but if I can make down in one piece and pull off a decent performance along the way, I'm going to be pretty psyched.
Mount Marathon Race is one week away. I’ve prepared as methodically as I ever have. I’ve raced two events and hit target performances with PRs on both. The performance data from my Suunto Ambit 2 indicates that I’m spot on with both fitness and rest. I just finished my de-load week with only a couple of 1 hour bike rides and a short run. This was preceded by a good week of training, about 12 hours worth.
On July 4th each year for the past nearly 100 years, Seward, Alaska has hosted the Mount Marathon trail race. Officially held for the first time in 1915, MMR started as a sort of bar wager that morphed into the yearly spectacle that it's become. The name is a bit of a head fake for outsiders. It’s not a marathon but rather climbs a shoulder of a mountain baring the name. Climbing from downtown Seward 3,022 feet and 3.5 miles to the turnaround and back to town, the race has tested mountain runners for nearly a century.
There's little argument that fueling athletic efforts, whether it be outings in the mountains or competitive endurance events, has become increasingly simple over the last two decades. When I first started bike racing in the mid '80's, figuring out what to eat to get through a 4 hour race was tricky. In training, I was eating Pop Tarts and Sweet Tarts, the latter being mostly maltodextrin, a good source of complex carbohydrate which, at the time, was gaining some noteriety in endurance nutrition. But using this stuff while racing was not straight forward. Hell, I didn't even know how many calories I needed each hour to keep from bonking.