I’ve run three full Equinoxes and two relays. It’s been fun at times, challenging, and even maddening.
When do you start training for this race? How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training? How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?
Usually right after Midnight Sun Run 10K, which is probably my favorite local race. Through June my long run is maybe 12 to 14 miles, usually on trails, so transitioning to Equinox isn’t all that big of a deal. I just start upping my weekly mileage and length of long runs so by late July I’m up to 18 or 20 for the long ones. I run on the course about once a week, maybe twice over the last month. The Dome, maybe once every 10 days.
What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?
That has varied some. I like to hit each section at marathon pace, usually at 8 or 9 mile segments incorporated into a long run. So I have the feel of running hard for an extended period on the trails. For example, I might do an easy 9 to the base of the Ester Dome and then run at my expected pace from 9 to 17.
Last time (2008) I worked a little more on the downhill segments, although ouch I hurt for days afterward!
What’s your favorite thing about this race?
Trail segments (except the Chute), the fall colors, and gnarly uphills on the Dome. The whole community gets behind this.
What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?
I like mile 4 to 6 on the Skarland Trail and by the Musk Ox Farm, and then after the chute from mile 18 to 19. I’m always alone and it’s peaceful.
Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.
Winning the relay in near record time in 2009 with Werner Hoefler and David Norris was a highlight. Old guy (51) with a couple of teenagers. That was a riot. And I really enjoy the relay. Probably my 2008 finish the full and M50-54 record was the next best.
Worst, without a question was 2006. I’d had a great summer and felt really prepared to knock off a good one, and I was hoping to go for a 3:05 or 3:06 to challenge for the age group record. But I caught a cold a few days before and just wasn’t sharp. I dialed back my goal to 3:07 or 3:08 but just couldn’t hold the pace over the last 6 miles, so I dropped from 4th to 5th, and held onto that until the final 80 meters but got outkicked by a guy much younger who had been an all-American xc runner. It was disappointing and that cold lingered for more than a month. Bleh!
Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?
Yes I’m compulsively competitive, but I’m getting older and it’s hard to keep that going. I just want to stay fit and have fun with running. I’ll run as long as things hold up. But Nordic skiing is becoming my main sport.
What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?
Consistency and varied training are most important. You need to train frequently and throughout the year if you want to be competitive (with yourself as well as others) and to approach your potential. And it’s good to train at different paces, to incorporate different physiological systems.
Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?
The biggest mistake was 2006 again, even though I was trying to hold back a bit, I ran the 2nd mile too fast. I adjusted right away, but that cost me some time at the end.
In 2004 (my first) I tried running down the chute hard, about a week or 10 days before the race. But I got a massage about 4 days before the race and was fine by race day, but I’d never do that again.
And in 2004 the train incident was a big disappointment. Not that I could do anything about it. I had just caught race legend Bob Murphy and legend to be Matias Saari on Black Sheep. We were chatting away and heard the ominous horn–no way could this be happening! We got there right when the train came through and waited 2 or 2.5 minutes while a half dozen other runners caught up. We were all pretty livid. It was a cold day and my legs were knotting up and I felt off all the way up the Dome. Murphy took off at incredible pace, Saari was more steady. I hung on for 5th by the end but that train cost a 4th place and an age record, both by about 20 seconds.
Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?
Maybe. I’d like to do the relay and would like to be on the first masters team to break 3 hr. A co-ed team would also be fun. I have done 2nd and 3rd legs and want to do 1st this time.
This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country! What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?
It’s the only marathon in town for one. I like the trail aspect of it and the race is a big deal around here, a rite of autumn. Wish the last part would be all on trails instead mostly paved roads over the last 5 or 6 miles.