Race Report: 2018 Kenai River Half Marathon

(Note: I’m writing this report more than a year post-race. I reviewed my notes and logs to complement my memory of the day.)

Following up on my August half marathon debut, I had something to prove. I finished that first race with a time of 2:00:54. Albeit somewhat arbitrary, that 54 seconds beyond the two-hour mark taunted me. Fortunately, I had a chance at redemption a month-and-a-half later, at a local half marathon.

After the Skinny Raven half, I ran a reduced mileage week before basically jumping right back into a modified version of the training plan I had been using.

To beat the 2-hour mark, I knew I just needed to average below 9:09 minutes per mile. I kept track of my estimated finish time via an app installed on my Garmin watch.

There’s not much noteworthy about this course. It started at the Kenai Visitor’s Center, took a quick tour of ‘Old Town Kenai’, before dropping down Bridge Access Road. From there, you get on Beaver Loop Road and begin your long circle back to the Visitor’s Center.

I just ran my race, enjoying the music in my headphones and taking in the sporadic crowd support (basically, a few isolated groups of people waiting to cheer people that weren’t me). After exiting the far end of Beaver Loop and getting back to the path along the Kenai Spur Highway, I grabbed a cup from the aid station. I wasn’t thirsty, but I was a little hot so I figured I’d toss a cup of water on my head to help cool off. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding between me and the aid station volunteers and I ended up dumping a cup of blue Gatorade on my head. Oh well, it still served the same purpose–except for the minor burning as some of it worked its way into my eyes.

I had my location shared via Google Maps so that my family could track my progress and meet me as I passed the street our home is on. Unfortunately, there was some delay and I saw them pulling up to the intersection as I passed it. The support still registered, and looked forward to meeting them at the finish line just a few miles ahead.

Back into town proper, there was one point where we had to cross Bridge Access Road again. I had assumed there would be some sort of traffic control to give racers the right-of-way. There wasn’t. I had to wait for a break in traffic, losing precious seconds, before I could cross the road and get back to the sidewalks that would carry me to the finish line.

In the final mile, my nephew appeared out of nowhere and ran next to me for a hundred yards or so. We didn’t speak. After he broke off, I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing.

My legs were starting to fatigue, but the finish line was close and I wanted to finish strong. I picked up the pace over the last quarter mile or so.

I finished the race with a chip time of 1:58:37.5, safely under my sub-2-hour goal.

During the race, I felt comfortable and in control. I didn’t experience any pain, just a little fatigue. That evening, some soreness started to develop near the side of my right knee. I woke up in the middle of the night barely able to bend my right knee without some severe burning sensations. While this pain mostly subsided by morning, it was a harbinger of a bigger issue that I would have to spend the next couple of months struggling with.

What do you think?

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