Photo Credit: Saucony Canada
By Krista DuChene
So what does it take to make it to the Olympics? This seems to be something that I find myself explaining to a lot of people. It’s not as easy as one might think but comes down to four steps:
1. Achieving the Canadian qualifying standard of 2:29:50 within the January 1, 2015 to May 29, 2016 qualifying period. Note: international standard is 2:45.
Completed a 2:29:38 on April 12, 2015 at the Rotterdam Marathon.
2. Proving fitness, or competitive readiness, by running a 1:13:00 half marathon because I achieved my qualifying standard prior to March 1, 2016.
Completed a 1:12:30 on April 24, 2016 at the Montreal Half Marathon.
3. Staying in top three ranking of fastest qualifying within the qualifying period.
Completed May 29, 2016. Other than Lanni Marchant, no other Canadian woman achieved the Canadian qualifying standard. Athletics Canada official team announcement to be made July 11, 2016.
4. Getting to the start line fit and healthy.
If competitive readiness is questionable due to lack of fitness, injury, or illness, athletes may be removed from the team at any time. Final decision date to be July 28, 2016.
Photo Credit: Saucony, Canada
For more information about Rio 2016 Olympic Games Selection Criteria: http://athletics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016-Olympic-Final-Selection-Critieria-JAN7Version_JM.pdf
So, I think it is safe so say that I will be named to the team! Whoohooo! It is so very exciting. I look forward to calling myself an Olympian once I cross that finish line after 42.2 km on August 14.
So after achieving my proof of fitness at the Montreal Half Marathon, I had a relaxed week of my usual cross training, strength, and preventative maintenance routine, running only mileage and no workouts. I then started to increase the weekly mileage and resume tempo and interval workouts on the track, trails, roads and treadmill. Additionally, I started to implement a bit of heat acclimation training, mainly with the sauna, extra layers of clothing, and timing of runs. I realize it’s early but we are taking a slow and sensible approach, which seems appropriate particularly considering my 2013 World Championships experience: http://kristaduchenerunning.blogspot.ca/2013/08/not-in-plan.html I certainly do not want to repeat that again!
This past weekend was the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary, a race I was favoured to win (http://calgaryherald.com/sports/krista-duchene-set-for-calgary-tune-up-to-rio-olympics), particularly due to the fact that much of the field was divided between the Calgary and Ottawa Marathon race weekends. Ottawa hosted the Canadian 10 km Championships and provided the last day of qualification for the Olympic marathon standard. Unfortunately Ottawa faced sweltering heat, which forced many athletes to alter their game plan. Tarah Korir ran an impressive 2:35, certainly making her mark in distance running! She is someone to watch out for now! Way to go, Tarah! Out in Calgary, we had excellent racing weather. Perfect, in fact. Everything leading up to the race was ideal. However, for me, while I didn’t have to suffer through the heat in Ontario, I had a new challenge of my own by running at altitude. I am aware that the elevation in Calgary is much less than that of the training camps where many athletes spend weeks at at time. Usually I get headaches when I am in Calgary but I didn’t this time. Shake out runs with some pick ups on Friday and Saturday felt great so I was cautiously optimistic I could run around 1:12-1:13 for the win. However, around 4 km into Sunday’s race, I knew it was definitely a factor. I should have been feeling settled into a pace that was familiar to me but was struggling. Emily was running with me but by about 8 km, I let her move ahead and decided this was a race I was just going to have to grind out. I felt like I had already run a marathon while I was only a third of the way into the race. I kept my eye on Emily the entire race, ignored my watch, and figured the only way I would get the win is if she came to me. There was no way I was going to be able to close the gap and get to her. She finished about 50 seconds ahead of me and I was so happy for her. Although unfamiliar to some, Emily is not new to the running scene. Sunday’s race was the second time she beat me at the national half marathon championships. The last time was in Montreal in 2010! Shortly after that, Emily took a break from competing; moving and travelling for work and school with her new husband. It was so nice to get to know her more on the weekend and see her back, making her mark again. Watch out, Canadian women!
Back to my second place finish. It is not new to me. Read here: http://kristaduchenerunning.blogspot.ca/2013/10/articles-1.html
This season it seems to be something that is happening a lot; I’ve been 2nd at four out of my last five races! Of course I was disappointed to not get the win but being humbled is always a good thing. Losing to Emily Setlack, Risper Gesawba, Leslie Sexton, and Dayna Pidhoresky this year is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. They are very talented women. I’ve always respected and valued the importance of winning and losing with grace. The goal has always been about Rio this year and so far my best race of the season is the one I needed most; proving fitness with a 1:12:30 in Montreal last month. Everything came together perfectly that day.
The next 10.5 weeks is all about sticking to our training and racing plan, while crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s to stay fit and healthy. Onward!