I’ve got a few exciting things coming up that I want to write about, but I’m behind on my race reports and felt like I should get those out first. So here they are in a two-for-one special:
Back on September 21, I ran the 40 mile Equinox Ultra up in Fairbanks. I ran the full marathon last year and had a great time, so I figured I’d go with the ultra this year. There is a good amount of climbing in this race (the marathon is typically considered the 2nd hardest marathon in the country, behind Pike’s Peak), so I didn’t put too much pressure on myself in terms of a goal time, just to go out there and have fun, and see what the day brings.
It ended up being an absolutely beautiful day up in Fairbanks, albeit a cold one. It was around 28 degrees at the start of the race. That meant a few places were pretty slippery, especially as we climbed higher. Early in the race, around mile 10, my foot slipped out from under me and I went down. It wasn’t a particularly bad fall, but I landed in such a way that the wristband of my Garmin popped off on one side. Not wanting to take the time to stop and try to fix it, I stuffed the Garmin in my pocket and kept on running. Of course this meant that I hardly looked at it during the race, which really wasn’t such a bad thing.
Shortly after the race started, I bumped into Jeremy, and we started talking and running together. Not long after that we ran into someone else I knew from my Monday night running group and he joined us. Soon after, we picked up a 4th guy who was stationed at the army base in Fairbanks. We had our own little “ultra train” going, and I was reminded of this:
At different parts of the race, we picked up and dropped other runners too. There were 6 of us running together at one point, and we were having a great time. I ended up finishing with 2 others (one of whom I ran with almost the whole day) in 8:10.
The only disappointing part of the day is that I got separated from my buddy Ray (who I had planned to run with) right before the start of the race, and we never found each other again. Even worse was that he missed the turnoff for the ultra, and ended up “just” running the marathon.
Kenai River Marathon
The weekend following the Equinox Ultra was the Kenai River Marathon. I thought this sounded like a fun “end of season” race, but knew that I’d be tired having just run 40 miles the weekend before. I waited to see how my recovery from the first race went, and I was feeling pretty good, so I signed up for the marathon the Wednesday night before. The race didn’t start until 9am, and it’s about a 3 hour drive from Anchorage. Instead of paying for a hotel or dealing with camping, I just left my house at 5am and drove down that morning.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a “fast” race for me, so I started out at what I thought was a conservative pace. But after only a few miles, I was quickly becoming aware of how tired my legs still were, and it didn’t help that my right hamstring was already tight. Still, I managed to keep a pretty decent pace until around mile 20, when the wheels really came off. After a series of 3 long hills, my legs were pretty much done at this point, and I had to start applying liberal amounts of walking.
The rest of the race was pretty much a death march from that point, and I started cursing myself for thinking that running a marathon the weekend after a 40 miler was a good idea. Eventually, I crossed the finish line in 4:07, a minute slower than I ran this race 2 years ago. At least they were serving free reindeer sausage and beer for the runners at the finish line. Then I had the pleasure of the 3 hour drive back home with sore legs.