The last open marathon I ran was in LA ten years ago. In total, between 1993 and 2001, I ran 12 open marathons. My biggest achievement as a marathoner was 30th place at the 2000 Olympic Trials in a personal best of 2:47.03.

Triathlon eclipsed my marathon running. The season began earlier, ended later, and I started doing multiple Ironman races each year. I substituted marathons with half marathons and suddenly a decade has passed since my last marathon attempt.

With my cycling derailed by injury, I started slowly increasing my run volume. As my running progressed in both speed and duration, a crazy idea popped into my head. Wouldn’t it be fun to try to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials? And by fun, I mean an interesting challenge, because truly, running marathons is not really that much fun. If you have ever run an open marathon, you know that the fun stops around mile 16 and does not return until the finish line has been crossed and you are lying down.

My thought was to run the LA marathon. Aside from the synchronicity of it being the last marathon I ran, I enjoy racing in California. The trip from Colorado is simple, my family is there, and I get an extra hour of sleep. Additionally, the new course passes oh so close to my sister’s house that if I need a potty stop or a nap it can be easily done without wasting too much time. And, I figured it would give me plenty of time to run another marathon should I miss the time standard.

I laid out a plan that included varying workouts of speed and tempo. I started doing some double runs. My long runs, once capped at 2 hours, reached 2:30. I handled the mileage well, but I could not commit to such an endeavor until I ran the successful half marathon in San Diego.

You may be wondering how I can be so audacious as to think I can run a personal best by over a minute at 6 weeks shy of 41. Even though eleven years have passed since I set my best time, I have several things in my favor. My run form is much better now; I have worked hard with running experts to maximize my biomechanics. I have corrected many of the muscle imbalances that plagued me in the past with consistent and targeted gym work. I train smarter. My nutrition has improved. I have more respect for the distance now than I ever did in the past.

The race is March 20. The time to beat is 2:46.00. Let the fun begin!

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Wow! Go get em Joanna- get to WORK! 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    Woot woot! You can do it!

  3. Nan says:

    You can DO it!!
    And hey, Marathons ARE fun. All except the last few miles, that is.

  4. Jill says:

    Oh man, this is SO exciting!!!!

  5. The Dude says:

    I’m VERY excited for you! As a *ahem* “seasoned” athlete I can relate to your adventures…albeit from a much slower perspective! I have also run more this year, and am looking forward to attempting a PR at the Coeur d’Alene 1/2 Marathon in May. It has been 12 years since I set my last one, at the age of 39! Thanks for letting us enjoy your racing vicariously!

  6. Good luck Joanna! In 2008 I was at the Olympic Trials as a spectator in Boston and I got to see one of my idols Joan Benoit who had hit her 50s out their enjoying the moment. Go get it!

  7. The Dude, good luck at your half in CDA! Keep me posted.

    And, yes, it is amazing what Joan Benoit Samuelson still runs at 53. She just ran 1:24 at the Austin half marathon for 3rd place.

  8. Lara says:

    I am so excited for you! Super fun. In a painful, just-might-vomit sort of way, that is.

  9. Billy says:

    Audacious, no! Realistic, yes!

  10. Bob Mitera says:

    Good luck (and good health). I’m running again for the first time since 2006. Feels good to be a serious(fun) athlete again.

    Be great.