As one of the country’s top marathoners ponders what might be her last “fast” race, she reflects on the lessons learned in her shoes.
By: Krista DuChene
It was announced recently that I would be running my fifth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, on Oct. 22, 2017. It would likely be my last attempt at running a fast marathon, and also my 15th marathon in 15 years. I started using the hashtag, #15in15 with my social media posts to celebrate this incredible journey. I’ve come a long way since my 2002 debut marathon of 3:28:08 in Niagara Falls, Ont. Just how far has it been? Take a look at my progression from recreational to elite:
- Niagara 2002 3:28:08
- Ottawa 2003 3:09:02
- Boston 2005 3:00:46
- Mississauga 2009 2:51:38
- STWM 2009 2:50:36
- Hamilton 2009 2:46:27
- Ottawa 2010 2:39:07
- Rotterdam 2012 2:32:06
- STWM 2012 2:32:14
(Worlds Moscow 2013 DNF)
- STWM 2013 2:28:32
- Rotterdam 2015 2:29:38
- Rio Olympics 2016 2:35:29
- STWM 2016 2:33:59
- London 2017 2:43:31
- STWM 2017 TBD
So what have I learned from marathon racing and how can I reflect upon the accompanying blessings and trials along the way?
- Each marathon hurts. Each broken bone hurts. But nothing compares to the pain of childbirth.
- I have grown deeper as a person—far more during my injuries and disappointments than during gruelling marathon training blocks resulting in successful performances.
- Running has never been the number one priority in my life. My faith, husband and children take top notch over anything else; this where I have complete joy.
- Juggling responsibilities as a parent, dietitian, community member and volunteer has given me tremendous career satisfaction alongside becoming an elite marathoner.
- My husband speaks wisdom and gives objective advice, which I often eventually apply to my life. He inspires me to embrace change, think beyond the box and reach higher.
- I’ve influenced my children in ways I could only dream. They’ve seen me cry with disappointment when injured; collapse with fatigue on the couch after an exhausting run; sweat through tough cross-training workouts on a bike in a stuffy cabin; enjoy kale and beets to optimize my diet; complete my preventative maintenance routine when I’d rather be doing anything else; share my story of blessings and trials to encourage and inspire others; pool run at length when running wasn’t possible; and embrace them with incredible elation moments after they witnessed me, their mom, becoming an Olympian.
- Consuming carbohydrates in the form of multiple eLoad gels during marathons has been a consistent key to each and every marathon; there are some things you do not change.
- Daytime naps and early bedtimes allow for productive training and successful races, even after sleepless nights with sick kids.
- One of the best things I was ever told was from former record Canadian holder Silvia Ruegger when I became the second fastest marathoner, 32 seconds behind Lanni Marchant: “It takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well.”
- I’ve never been more motivated than during a return to running after an injury or pregnancy.
- Consistently and steadily increasing the quality and quantity of kilometres, along with solid off-seasons, was key to my gradual progression over several years. Nothing happened overnight.
- The pool has endless benefits. To name a few, I’ve enjoyed it to recover from intense races or workouts, for X-training during or to avoid injury, as a quick way to decrease my heart rate after a warm run and as a place to complete preventative maintenance exercises.
- Each and every day I look forward to physically moving my body and increasing my heart rate to earn that hot shower and delicious green smoothie, bowl of oatmeal and multiple coffees upon my return. I can see myself doing this for many, many years.
- I hope I can continue to inspire other parents, athletes and women across this wonderful country in which we live. I enjoy sharing my story of blessings and trials, adding new chapters along the way.
- I look forward to spending more time and energy with my family. I want my kids to feel like they won’t harm me if they accidentally bump into or step on me. I want to ski and skate with my family without fear of injury. I want to have a pecan square, butter tart, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookie or warm brownie with vanilla ice cream a bit more often. I want that extra energy to keep being active, able to jump into any activity at any time with my kids.