Mark Simon

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?

I’ve never done the relay or the ultra.  I’ve run the full marathon two or three times.  

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?

I’m inconsistent at training.  One year, I trained with someone who was doing one of these regimented internet training plans and I would do what he was doing.  Otherwise, I start two to three months before.  I try to be more consistent about longer distances.  I’m not really a long distance type of person.  I would run the course a lot, and maybe run the Dome five or six times.  

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

It’s getting in distance, because I more naturally run for 30 to 45 minutes, so I had to force myself to get over that hump, and be out there for up to 2 1/2 hours.  Having a regimen and having to do an 18 mile run on a certain day was really useful.  And like most things, it’s more mental than physical.  The biggest challenge is mental, and staying out there and getting in shape.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

This race is Fairbanks.  They go hand in hand.  It represents everything great about Fairbanks: the people, the event, the challenge, the fall colors.  It’s a little microcosm of Fairbanks tied up in a couple of hours.

What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?

I don’t think I have one.  Although I don’t love the chute, it’s a defining part of it, and certainly, you feel so much differently at the bottom of the chute than you do at the top.  If it ever disappeared, it would be a little sad.  I love it all.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.

Whenever I finish something like this that’s a challenge, it’s a euphoric feeling when I’m done.  I haven’t had any complete crashes on the course.  It’s a great event to be a part of.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?

I consider myself an internally competitive runner.  One year, Greg Finstad and I were neck in neck in running so we had some fun external competition.  I like to feel like I’ve run hard and competed well.  I like to be active.  I recently got exposed to this whole ultra thing which isn’t really natural for me.  I’m toying with the idea of going less hard for longer.  It doesn’t have a natural appeal, but it combines more of an experiential event with exercise because you’re not at that point of nausea or utter fatigue.  Getting up to those higher mileages at a slower pace is a different level of pain.  More like a chronic pain than an acute pain!

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Being out on the course and doing it is a good thing.  Like most things in life, sometimes there’s an intimidation factor and people talk themselves out of it.  As one of my professors said a long time ago, you got to keep showing up, and if you keep showing up, then eventually you accomplish things.  Knowing the course makes it a whole lot less intimidating, and you can break it down into parts that are very manageable. 

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

One of the Equinoxes I did, I got a little underfed and under-watered, and that hurt.

When I had the race that I felt I did well in, I think the key was coming back from the out and back with something left in me.  To still be able to be strong after the out and back means you can take advantage of the downhill. Whereas if you get done from the out and back without energy then you got this long downhill and you can run out of steam.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year? This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country!  What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

I wanted to do the ultra, but I tweaked my knee and am very slowly trying to get better.  I will be at the crossing at Ballaine helping all the ultra runners.  I look forward to seeing them all out there and cheering them on.

Again, it encompasses Fairbanks.  Being a part of an event that is so representative of Fairbanks is something I want to do.  From a physical point of view, it’s always good to have those challenges out there to achieve, and this is always a challenging race.

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