Run It Fast – The Club Profile Michelle Mitchell #133

RIF #133 Michelle Mitchell

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Michelle Mitchell #133. Michelle is one of our international members who currently lives in Russia. Michelle is hard core! You should see the snow and the temperatures she runs in! I guess after having lived in Alaska, she’s used to freezing temps. But the cold may just be her secret weapon for running fast! Check out her profile to see how amazing and speedy Michelle is:


Name: Michelle Mitchell
RIF #: 133
Blog: RunnerChickey
Twitter: @runnerchickey
Facebook: Michelle Mitchell


Years Running: 25 or so but seriously only since about college  and into my early 20s.
Favorite Race Distance: 50/100k
Favorite PR: Chicago Lakefront 50K CR2012 3:44 not only because it was a 10 min improvement over 2011, but because I did it at age 37.
Favorite Race: Oh that’s tough, but I love the Humpy’s Marathon (now Big Wildlife) in Anchorage in August. I won it all 6 times I did it and being Anchorage in late August always meant perfect weather in the 40-50 degree range. I want to better my CR there while I still can. I miss that race probably more than the rest.
Favorite Bling: Hard to narrow it down, but my three 100k World and European Championship medals are up there with my two 50 and 100k Latvian national titles. Winning a national title is something to be proud of.
Next Race: Next biggie is 100k Euros on April 27th in Breves near Bordeaux, France.
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: If I run smart, I usually negative split in the second half and pass people along the way especially if they are fast runners say 10-20 years my junior. 🙂 Years ago, I worked with a coach in Alaska who had this strategy down to a T and we then used it with the high school track and xc teams and had great results. I have to say, I felt fast in the final 10k or so at Chicago Lakefront 50k last fall. I dropped to half marathon pace with about 8k to go and ratcheted down to a 3.33 final km (5.40 mile) at the end. I had no idea I had that in me I just went eyeballs out with about 10k to go to see what would happen.


Who inspires your running and why?
The master blasters because they give me hope that you can still do well late in your career. Meghan Arbogast will be 52 in April (looks 32) and finished fourth in 100k Worlds last year after leading most of the way. I also know several of the top Russian marathon women who are still kicking some serious tail like Maria Konavalova (3rd and 6th in Chicago), Lyubov Morgunova (won more big marathons than you can shake a stick at but Russian national champion in 2011 at 40 in 2:30 deserves respect) and several others into their 40s still not slowing down. I train at the same facilities and usually the same times that many of the national team runners do and see what hard work and discipline is all about. We all know each other and encourage each other.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
ALASKA hands down especially the Anchorage/Wasilla area. I used to go out in the afternoon right after work and time my run for the mid-late afternoon pink moment before sunset over the mountains! On the Coastal Trail in Anchorage, the view was to die for with the mountains in the backdrop along the coastline heading out to the ocean. I loved running the mountains and trails and miss it so much.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
STEAK and wild rice.

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
This question needs a picture! I honestly don’t know but I’d guess over 40 are in my shoe closet which has shelves to the ceiling. In the entryway of my flat I have a 4 levels of shoe shelves my coach helped build. I travel back to the US once a year for most of my shoes, and last year, 12 pairs came back with me. I don’t buy in Moscow, the markups are insane. This includes spikes,flats,summer training shoes, winter icebugs for training, waffles, trail shoes, you name it! I go through shoes like water because of the mileage I do to prep for my ultras. My friends tease me when they visit and see all the shoes in the entryway assuming a centipede must live here!

Why do you race?
I do it to challenge myself. I am a competitive, goal oriented runner. I also like pushing the envelope and seeing what I can do. It motivates me to have a goal  to work for. I am also still at a point in my career where I can improve as was quite evident last year even in the shorter distances. I still want to see how much I can cut from my 50 and 100k times. I was going to try for another 1:24 ish half before the 100k, but my options sadly have been cancelled which is super frustrating. My next chance to run a half will not be until August and likely too hot to run a blazing fast time…sigh.

What running moment are you most proud of?
There are quite a few. This one is tough to narrow down. One that does stick out in my mind was crossing the line at 100k Worlds and Euros in Gibraltar in 2010. That’s one heck of a place to make a 100k debut! I got selected to the 100k team based on my marathon and 50k performances and was offered the slot only 4 1/2  months before the race! I didn’t accept right away because I wasn’t sure that was going to be enough time to prepare properly. I had planned to try the 50 mile at Chicago Lakefront that fall and see how that went and move to the 100k in 2011 if I handled the 50 mile well. Hmmm, I guess the process was just accelerated a bit! I finished a modest 40th that yr but have since improved quite a bit.

3rd place in the Riga Marathon in 2009. That was my comeback race after all of 2007 and half of 08 were a disaster where I was in this serious hole of bad performances that seemed to go on forever and nearly caused me to retire. That really gave me a badly needed boost of confidence.  Riga is one of the major European marathons with 12-14,000 runners. The weather was nice and cool and I went out conservatively to really pick up after 25k. That’s also what got me noticed in Latvia and I started winning more commercial races there more as a result of a need to pay bills during what was the economic crisis and a time when there was much less work at my work. Ironically, that’s what led to the tap on the shoulder for selection to the national team!

My heyday in Chicago at the marathon 2003-05 also stands out not for the times but because my mom, despite feeling really awful tired from the effort to ride into the city with me and the walk to the finish and wait for me and watch me come in, did it because she really wanted to see me. She had terminal breast cancer.  I remember in 2005, telling her she could stay home and rest, she didn’t have to go through the trouble of going to the city with my dad and I, but she wanted to be there. I was still living in Alaska then and by 2005, was already in Moscow, so I tried to make it back to Chicago to my parents when I could. That was the last time Mom got to see me finish. By 2006, she was too tired to ride in with my dad and I. TV coverage usually went on just past the 3 hr mark so I remember thinking I’d better get this one right around 3 ish again so Mom could at least see my finish on TV-and she did. Less than 3 months later, Mom went to heaven.

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
A witch with a capital B flying about town on my broomstick because I’m not very nice to be around if I can’t run. 🙂


How ’bout them shoes, eh? I’m totally jealous. 🙂 But seriously…love that Michelle is so fired up about racing and works so hard to get faster and stronger. And that she’s not letting her age be a deterrent to her goals. Age is just a number, right? It doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 70, you can still be the best runner YOU can be and you may just beat someone a lot younger than you in the process. I’m still waiting for that to happen. 🙂 It could happen, right?

Thank you for taking the time to do the profile with us Michelle! Good luck at the 100K Euros! We are excited for you and know you will Run It Fast!

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[All photos submitted by Michelle Mitchell]



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This post was written by:

- who has written 717 posts on Run It Fast®.

Lisa (RIF Club Member #5) has completed 27 half marathons, 13 marathons, 5 50Ks, 2 12 Hour races, and 1 100K. Her favorite races to date are the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Leading Ladies Marathon, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Jackson Jackass 50K. You can follow her on Twitter @runlikeacoyote

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