I ran my third Kenai River Half Marathon this weekend.
I remember sitting in the newsroom at the Peninsula Clarion in 2017 and telling our pressman at the time that yes, of course I would run the Kenai River Half Marathon with him.
I wasn’t much of a runner. In fact, I ran my first race ever earlier that summer at the Run for the River 5k. I had to stop halfway through to catch my breath and stop myself from barfing. It was your typical first foray into running story.
But I enjoyed it well enough and continued to run a few miles here and there, enough that my co-worker figured I would want to join him at the half marathon.
My goal was to run all 13.1 miles without stopping. I was fine going slow, and more than happy to shuffle along Beaver Loop Road for a few hours. So, the morning of the race, I popped my headphones in and went for a two and a half hour run.
I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin and found myself more bored than anything else, but I eventually crossed the finish line at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and was proud of myself. I came in 61st place out of 74 female participants with a time of 2:39:05, but I didn’t walk once and I was happy.
I ran my second Kenai River Half Marathon that following September. I had spent the winter skiing and preparing for my move from Soldotna to Seward. I did some ski races at Tsalteshi in the winter and was feeling more confident at start lines, and becoming more accustomed to increased heart rates.
I moved to Seward in May and was immersed into a running community quickly. After work was spent exploring new trails, and I finagled my way into the iconic Mt. Marathon Race.
I putzed along the waterfront, tried my darndest to keep my footing on the rooty Seward trails, and met a boy that ran around town in the shortest of short running shorts.
I mentioned in passing how nice the Kenai River Half Marathon had been, he said he had wanted to sign up, and the next weekend he picked me up before daybreak to make it across the peninsula in time for the race.
He ran fast and came in second place, but had no problem waiting around for me. I ran faster than before, finishing in 2:14:31, and was beaming as I crossed the finish line.
On the drive home, I popped my shoes off and put them on the dashboard of his car, asking if he thought the giant blister on the bottom of my foot was gross or not. It definitely was, and he didn’t hesitate to tell me so.
“I still can’t believe we went out again after I pulled that stunt,” I told him as we drove over to Kenai for this year’s race.
After a two-year hiatus, and many different races, runs and adventures in between, Patrick and I toed the start line at the Kenai River Half Marathon again.
I was excited to see how it would turn out. I have grown as a runner, spending more time on my feet than ever before in 2020 and 2021, and actually working on getting fast. And 13.1 miles of running confirmed that! I finished in third place with a time of 1:43:50. (Patrick did well too, but this story isn’t about him.)
So, long story short of it, I’m glad to have a race like the Kenai River Half Marathon in my repertoire. It’s been there with me from the start of my running career and is a great benchmark for how I’m progressing. If I’m feeling particularly low, or fatigued, I can look at this recent result and say, “Well, look how far you’ve come!”
And I’m looking forward to seeing how far I’ll go.