Monday, July 7, 2008

Mount Marathon Year II

I'm back from Seward and resting up from the race. Mt. Marathon was a ton of fun again this year, despite the fact that I didn't meet my time goals. Once I got on the mountain and realized how different the conditions were from last year, I stopped thinking about time and thought about just going as fast as I could without getting hurt.

The temperature was only about 50 in the morning and cloudy which was exactly what I had hoped for. The gun went off and we started up the 1/2 mile road section. I heard many of the women reassuring their rookie friends that this was the hardest part of the race and I agree. It's a gradual uphill and for some reason it is tortuous.

I did manage to get myself in the middle of the pack when arriving at the mountain. Unless you are out front, once you get to the base of the mountain, you actually have to stand in line to wait to go up. This year I was happy to be amongst a group that was going the same speed as me, so their was no pressure to pass on the cliffs, which is virtually impossible.

At the "quarter of the way up" point, I saw Brian cheering me on and Kim who was singing the theme to Rocky. "De neh nehhhhh, De neh nehhhhh" Later it was decided that I looked more like Ralph Macchio in the Karate kid than Rocky, thanks guys. Anyway, the trees seemed to take forever this year. I was definitely going faster, but I wasn't as happy to be there at this time.

The "halfway up the mountain" point came and I felt nauseous and light headed. I seemed to be sweating more than usual, maybe I was pushing harder, but something was not right. I had to get something in me. I took out a Gu and forced it down. I immediately felt better. I charged up the top half of the mountain feeling unusually good. I lost all sense of pacing and just started passing people. I was actually running for a few steps on some parts. I heard some girl say, "We are doing this in 1:30!" and I thought, "Oh good, I am with the 1:30 crowd."

The top of the mountain is so much fun with stretches of trail, mixed with bits of fun scrambling. It is steep!

Rounding the top felt great, and I think I let out a "Yippee!". There was a woman standing at the top that said, "Snow Chute to your right, trail to your left." I had decided earlier on that I would stick with the trail because I had never done the very top section of snow and it was very steep. But for some reason I saw Deedee Jonrowe go down the snow and I followed her. Bad idea.

I freaked on the snow and lost control. The previous racers had cut a three foot deep chute into the snow and I dug my arms and legs into the sides and stopped myself. I tried to control myself with one foot under my body and one out in front, but my charge to the top had drained me of all leg strength. I struggled in the chute going slow, losing control and stopping. I looked to my left on the trail and saw all of the women I had passed, passing me.

I lost at least 10 minutes trying to get down this snow chute safely. I knew the 1:30 crew had come and gone and I was now just trying to survive again. I finally got down to the scree, oh the beautiful scree, and started running down.

My hands were numb and my arms were bleeding from scraping in the snow. The rest of the way down my legs felt like jelly, but I can't help but have fun down the waterfall section. This year the water was rushing like crazy and you just had to run through the stream all the way down. I was sweating so bad that when I would tip my head forward water would pour out.(This is not normal)

When I got to the pavement I realized how many rocks were in my shoes. There was a thick lining of rocks under my feet and also along the front of my shoes where my toes touched the front.

I was tempted to walk at this point because my feet were screaming and my legs were non-existent. But when you hear the cheering of the crowd along Jefferson Street there is no way that you can walk. I turned the corner to 3rd Ave and saw the finish line. At this point I just wanted to be there, it seemed so far away.

The announcer said, "Julie Perilla from Anchorage, AK" and I had a moment of clarity. I thought about how far I have come in the past few years. I live in Alaska. I am Julie Perilla of Anchorage, AK. I'm an ice climber, a mountain biker, a mountain runner and I am about to finish one of the hardest 3 mile races there is. I let go all of my regrets about decisions I made on the mountain and just enjoyed the roar of thousands of people and the beauty of downtown Seward and floated to the finish.

Note the gimpy foot

Ralph Macchio in full effect

I can't say I don't have any regrets about the decisions I made in the race, but I'm trying to see them as a lessons learned. There is so much strategy when it comes to this race and it is not just about fitness. It's about picking a route and practicing it, sticking to it, and having the guts to go fast on the the downhill. I think that's why I love it so much. After the race we spent some time strategizing over beers for next years race. I think I may have even talked Brian into entering. Yippee! Your going down Garcia!


Geoff said...

awesome race report. one of these years this race is going to work out with my schedule and then i'll probably get hooked on it like you seem to be now.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Congrats and good on ya, mate! I watched the race a couple of times in the early 80's but never entered it (of which I'm still kicking myself for as my running days are pretty much over now).

Seward on the 4th is a great party. Do the coasties still set off fireworks from the bow out in the bay?

Catherine said...

Nice work, Julie! I, too, made the mistake of going down the snow chute, which was terrifying. I got myself out of the luge and just watched people whiz by while I collected myself. I wore shorts, and am still healing from all the chafing on my booty!
My goal next year is also 1:30 -- I think with some strategic planning it's possible.

Congrats again!