The author stumbles at the rock marking the race point on the Mount Marathon Race trail during one of her many training runs in preparation for the July 4, 2018, race. (Photo provided by Kat Sorensen)

The author stumbles at the rock marking the race point on the Mount Marathon Race trail during one of her many training runs in preparation for the July 4, 2018, race. (Photo provided by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: A double-edged sword

Registration for the 2019 Mount Marathon Race opened March 1.

Within hours of getting the email, I sent my information off into the internet tubes to travel down the street to the Seward Chamber of Commerce office.

I can be a frugal person (private school college loans funding a degree in journalism will do that to you) and usually an $85 charge is saved for a biannual Costco run, put in the coffer for a flight to the East Coast or at least mulled over for a day or two. I’ve been thinking about the same food processor for three weeks, but it’s not getting out of my Amazon cart anytime soon.

With Mount Marathon, though, I didn’t hesitate. I’ve heard signing up for the race used to be a feat in itself, so I should count myself lucky I could register for a day of discomfort from the comfort of my living room. I grabbed my wallet and entered my credit card details alongside my emergency contact’s number. (She may be thousands of miles away, but it has to be my mom, right?)

I found out I had a race bib just two weeks before the 2018 race, so I didn’t have time to train the way I wanted before my first July Fourth run up and down Mount Marathon. I did manage to finish in the top 225 and secure a spot for this year’s race. Goal accomplished.

From the time I crossed the finish line — knees, legs, everything shaking but a smile on my face — the Mount Marathon Race has been a double-edged sword, defined by Merriam-Webster as “something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences.”

Unfavorable: Starting July 5, the 2019 race has been in the back of my mind. Problem is, I don’t want to be thinking about putting my body through a torturous 5K while wrapped in blankets on a cozy winter afternoon.

Favorable: Since July 5, though, I’ve been putting in a more consistent physical effort. Before getting wrapped up in those cozy blankets, I make sure I do some sort of training beyond light stretching to stoke the fire.

Unfavorable: While skiing, my mind would wander to running. There would go my flow, the biggest reason I ski.

Favorable: I can ski longer and faster thanks to a lot of October and November runs that never would’ve happened if the Mount Marathon Race wasn’t looming.

I would never pay for a personal trainer and I’m still not sure about that food processor, but journalism degree aside, I do know a few things about investing. The $85 race fee is just that.

It’s an investment in my motivation, which is rekindled each time I see the mountain. On my way to the coffee shop. Walking back from the post office. When I look out my bedroom window. It’s always there, keeping me sharp.

The best part about this double-edged sword is that I’m not the only one wielding it. Throughout Seward, the Mount Marathon Race is often a topic of conversation.

On dark December runs, talk of race goals, training plans or thoughts on whether this will be the year the lottery gods will be favorable are broken only by the sound of ice cleats striking glazed snow.

Have a nice dinner with friends planned? If there are a few runners at the table, someone may be pulling up result times to compare or hinting at this year’s race nemesis.

When reaching out to friends who have left town, text conversations tend to find their way to statements like, “You can totally crash on my couch for the race this year.” Although, do I really want my nemesis on my couch? They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but what about nemeses?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I’ve only just registered. It’s March. There’s snow falling out my window as I write this. Should I text a friend and ask what that could mean for snow chute on the descent this year?

No, no. No need to fret about race day yet.

I think I’ll go for a run instead.

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