My running goal for 2014 was to make it to the start line of the Boston Marathon on April 21st in one piece. I began the year dealing with an injury, and the future was a fuzzy blur into the unknown.
The first few months were spent rehabbing, cross training, and gradually introducing running back into my routine with the help of my coach Jerret Mantalas and my PT Jonathan Eng at Portland Athletic Center of Excellence (P.A.C.E.). Though seemingly against all odds, I made it to the start line in one piece, ran the race with no pain or problems at all, and finished happy in 3:22:31. It was more than I could have ever asked for.
Another special thing that happened at Boston was getting to meet Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher, two of my favorite pro runners that just happen to run for my favorite running apparel company, Oiselle. I’d felt a connection to the Seattle-based brand since being introduced to their clothing in 2009 while working at Portland Running Company. Their clothing stuck out because of their chic, runway-inspired designs and flattering silhouettes. Seeing all of the amazing ways the company had grown over the years by developing an elite team, speaking out for athletes’ rights, and connecting a huge network of like-minded (fierce, competitive!) female athletes all over North America, had me longing to be part of it. Not long after Boston, I reached out to Kristin Metcalf, the team manager, to see if they had room for one more on the team. To my delight, she said yes, and even asked me to be an Oregon team leader!
After successfully running and finishing Boston Marathon, I felt like I was “back”. I went on to run a new road PR in the 5K at the Bowerman 5K in June, and then a few weeks later ran an all-time PR of 18:25 at the TrackTown 5K in Eugene, Oregon. When I began to think about what was next, I thought of my lifetime goal, a somewhat farfetched dream of qualifying to participate in the US Olympic Marathon Trials. The minimum required time for a female to qualify for the 2016 trials, aka the ‘B’ standard, is to run a marathon faster than 2:43 before January 13th, 2016. That’s really, really fast. 6:13 per mile fast. But I like to dream big! I figured the next logical step to take whittle away at my PR, which at the time was 3:13 from the 2013 Vancouver Marathon. I decided my next goal would be to run under three hours.
I planned for my goal race to be the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd, with the Portland Half Marathon on October 5th serving as a check point along the way. My training got off to a bit of an unexpected start as my coach Jerret and I decided to part ways. He had just accepted a full-time position as interim head coach at Concordia University and understandably would be putting all of his energy and focus there. I felt pretty lost at first; I had had a ton of success with Jerret, as I had run a PR in every distance from 1500m to the marathon in the two years I had worked with him. He recommended that I get in touch with Greg Mitchell, a college coach and national-caliber distance runner from McMinnville. I’m going to brag about Greg for a moment- he has run ten marathons between 2:20 and 2:27, holds the American Master’s 20K track record, and capped off the 2014 cross country season as USA XC Club Master’s Champ. He also happens to be extremely humble, positive, and encouraging. Lucky for me, he was game to take me on.
I had immediate success working with Greg. We had about a month to prep for the Portland Half Marathon and I ended up lowering my PR from 1:28:56 to 1:25:24. As I continued to train for the Philly Marathon, I felt more and more confident about my sub-3 hour goal. The training plan Greg made me was focused on strength based workouts, lots of practice at race pace, and long runs at a slightly faster pace than I was used to, including a whopping 24 mile long run. All of the hard work paid off and I ended up finishing the Philly Marathon in 2:59:22. Check and check!
Last year, looking ahead to 2014 seemed a bit bleak. It ended up being my best running year in every way. When I look ahead to 2015, the possibilities seem endless. My goal is kind of crazy, but no matter what happens, I’m just excited to get out there and see what I can accomplish. Here’s to the new year!