Kenai River Marathon 2013 – Race Recap

It is such a great feeling to know your hard work paid off!

After being in training mode since May, a 100 mile week + several other high mileage weeks this summer, and dedicating every non-working hour to training (usually twice a day), eating properly, getting enough sleep, I am happy to report I PRed at the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday and was 1st for the women!

Woohoo!! Can’t believe I won a marathon!!

I had hopes of being able to win the race—I have to admit, this was one reason I wanted to run the race, but at the same time I didn’t want to get my hopes up. There’s a lot that can happen in 3+ hours, and I didn’t know who else was going to show up to the race. But I did my best to train properly, take care of my body, race smart, and thankfully  it paid off.

Saturday afternoon, we drove down to Kenai. The fall colors are at their peak now, so the drive down was absolutely gorgeous!


Mostly sunny and mild temperatures made for a beautiful fall day.

Saturday night we stayed with some friends and had a carb-filled dinner of pasta, garlic bread, and brownies. I went to bed around 10 p.m. and actually slept pretty well considering I knew I would be running a marathon in the morning. Usually I toss and turn all night, but I slept solid for the first two-thirds of the night and then tossed and turned only for the last third.


I got up at 6 a.m.—three hours before the race start and spent my morning leisurely getting ready. I ate breakfast #1 at 6:30 a.m. and breakfast #2 at 7 a.m. Actually I continued to eat or drink calories up until 30 minutes prior to the race. Here is what I had race morning:

6:30 a.m. Multi-grain Cheerios and almond milk (150 calories)

7:00 a.m. Cinnamon raisin gluten-free bread with peanut butter and banana slices + a graham cracker (200 calories)

8:15 a.m. Approximately 4 or 5 oz. of caffeinated coffee (the only time I have caffeine is prior to racing) + Generation UCAN drink (100 calories)

(I was thinking about having half of a Luna bar because I usually have about 500 calories, but I had had such a large dinner the night before that I was hungry and didn’t want to stuff myself before the race.)


With 5 minutes to go, it was time to get myself to the start. (A major perk at a small race.) Actually, there were many perks at this small, hometown race: parking one block away from the start, use flushing toilets with literally no waiting, and finding a spot on the starting line. DSC_0020

Yes, the field was very small—53 (men and women) people running the marathon and 20 relay teams. DSC_0026

I started out in the front with this lady for the first few miles. (I apologize that all of the pictures are blurry. I guess I was just too fast for Craig.) I started running right around 7:30 for the first few miles. Actually, most of my splits were very consistent throughout the whole race. I felt good starting out and wanted to push the pace a little more, but I held back.

1 – 7:32

2 – 7:35

3 – 7:27

4 – 7:27

5 – 7:35DSC_0030

By mile 4 I was leading and feeling really good. It was hard to hold back on the pace, but I knew I had to if I wanted to be able to run the whole race and have something left in my legs for the last few miles.

6 – 7:36

7 – 7:37

8 – 7:31

9 – 7:34

10 – 7:33DSC_0039

Craig would give me updates on how far behind the other runners were behind. I gave me a thumbs-up to let him know I was feeling good. DSC_0044

I was shocked by how quickly the miles went by. There were very few people out on the course cheering, so it felt like a normal Saturday long run. I guess it is a good thing I always run by myself because I am used to having to push myself mentally and not rely on any crowds cheering. DSC_0048

By mile 10 I had about a half a mile lead on the girl in second place. I was optimistic I would be able to pull off a win, but at the same time I still worried I might have to take a bathroom pit stop or some major injury would derail me.

This is also when I really started to focus on a PR. I still wanted a 3:15, but when I came through the half-way point in 1:40, I knew it was going to be a long shot, so I reassessed my goal and went for a PR with the goal of running as close to 3:15 as possible.

11 – 7:34

12 – 7:29

13 – 7:34

14 – 7:47

15 – 7:34DSC_0057

The miles continued to click away, and I was still feeling good. At mile 15 my left hip started aching, and I was worried the pain would intensify, but thankfully the pain subsided within a mile or two. I continued to put distance between my competitors and focused on a strong finish.

I tried to be really smart with fueling and not wait until I felt like I needed a pick-me-up. I ended up taking an Accel energy gel (Accel Gels are my favorite when racing) at mile 8, a Roctane GU brand energy gel with caffeine and amino acids at mile 14, and a second Accel Gel at mile 20. It was the perfect amount of fueling. In between I grabbed water from Craig or the aid stations.

16 – 7:36

17 – 7:31

18 – 7:43

19 – 7:33

20 – 7:31


21 – 7:29

22 – 7:30

23 – 7:35

24 – 7:24

25 – 7:21

26 – 7:14

By mile 20 I was starting to wish for the finish line. The miles started to drag on a big, but I was thankful that I still was able to find the energy to keep pushing. Usually at this point in the race, my times start to drop and get considerably slower, but I was actually able to get a few miles to be faster.

The last mile was definitely the longest, and I was so thankful to see the finish line. My official time was 3:17:24, and I was 14 minutes in front of the second place female.

Garmin Results

Time: 3:17:24

Distance: 26.21

Average pace: 7:32 minutes/mile

Overall place: 5/53

Female place: 1/26

Age group (30-39): 1/10

So yes, I will be the first to admit that the field was very small. But I did win a marathon, which still feels good—and the race is a Boston-qualifier, so maybe I’ll run it in 2015!!DSC_0104

So thankful for my #1 fan and best pit crew person out there!! He supported me through all those crack-of-dawn runs and evenings I was running or lifting instead of making dinner or hanging out, and he never complained about it. DSC_0112Craig said Sadie is my #2 fan. She came along to watch me run as well. I will forgive her for not being a running dog since she has such a sweet personality.

DSC_0085It was a great weekend, and I feel like I capped off my running season with a bang. As soon as I can comfortably sit down without having to brace myself, go down the stairs and take one stair step at a time, I will be back out there on the roads running. But for now I am enjoying some extra time to sleep in in the mornings, make dinner and actually sit down to have dinner with Craig (Aren’t you proud, Mom?), take Sadie for walks, and enjoy the down time. But soon enough I will get antsy, and I will be back out there hitting the pavement.


31 responses to “Kenai River Marathon 2013 – Race Recap

  1. Great job, Michelle! You’re hard work really has paid off. No matter how many participants there were, you won a marathon this weekend AND PRed! Right on!

  2. Congrats! You PR’d and came in 1st – that’s huge, even if it was a small field!! Your hard work definitely paid off 🙂

  3. Michelle, we are so proud of you!! You won a Marathon!! Where are all the other runners? It looks like you are doing your normal daily run. I am also happy to hear that you and Craig are sitting down to eat together. Relax and enjoy life!

    • Thank you! I was pretty much by myself the whole time–not like Boston or Twin Cities. “Relax and enjoy life”–I hope you are taking your own advice as well! 😉

  4. Michelle, you flew by us at Mile 20 or 21 (we were doing the half) and you looked strong and FAST! Good job on your marathon PR and WINNING! My running friend and I both commented on your cute running skirt. Where do you shop?

  5. Awesome work lady! I tried to race stalk you online on Sunday but the results weren’t up yet. I had a sneaking suspicion a PR was in the cards! Awesome job!

  6. Congratulations! It has been fun following your training this year and seeing how everything came together for you perfectly this time. Enjoy that win, you definitely earned it! It is even harder to stay motivated in small races!

  7. Congrats!!! You are amazing! I was working a water station as part of a company volunteer effort & remember thinking to myself “I swear that is the girl from The Runner’s Plate!” I’m a huge fan of your blog, you are an inspiration. CONGRATS on the win. If anyone worked hard to achieve that spot, it is clearly you! Way to represent the Peninsula & the State of Alaska as a whole, lady!

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